Sometimes you find a piece of gear that just works. The comfort, function, style, fit… all the important elements blend together so well that you aren’t entirely sure how you managed to get along before it entered your life. These items must be categorized as great gear, not just good gear. I’ve worked with plenty of good gear in my life, but the Capilene Air Hoody by Patagonia is in a class of its own. It keeps me warm, it breathes effortlessly, it is stylish and comfortable and beautifully thought-out in every detail.
Patagonia Women’s Capilene Air Hoody Features:
- Lofted wool and polyester yarn blend
- Seamless knit construction with elasticized cuffs and hem
- High collar and seamless hood
- Fabric is soft to the touch and offers all-way stretch
- 164 g (5.8 oz)
- MSRP: $149.00
The Capilene Air all day, every day
Patagonia’s progressive approach to gear technology and innovation is a fundamental reason that they are such a respected and recognized name in the outdoor community. The Capilene Air Hoody feels like Patagonia’s response to the demands of outdoor enthusiasts everywhere. You want a lightweight, breathable garment that’s also warm? Yeah, sure. You also want it to have a hood and 4-way stretch? No problem. Odor resistance a necessity for you? Cool, got it covered.
Since there’s so many features packed into this sub-6 ounce garment, let’s start with the most basic: material. Patagonia utilizes innovative technologies to create an “air-blasted” wool blend. This results in greater loft, meaning more warmth at a lighter weight. The blend of responsibly-sourced wool and recycled polyester results in a material that takes the best of wool (warmth when wet, odor resistance) and the best of poly (durable and synthetic). It’s a win-win.
The air-blasted technology allows the fibers to hold onto heat while maintaining a lightweight construction. While it doesn’t offer anything in the realm of wind resistance, the warmth it encapsulates is impressive, especially when worn under another layer that works to deflect wind. The Capilene is really warm, really cozy, and really comfortable.
This soft-to-the-touch material and technical construction provides a baselayer that you can put on in the morning and wear all day. Even in situations where a swing in temperature is likely (such as an alpine start while mountaineering) I wouldn’t hesitate to grab the Capilene Air. Not to mention it weighs in at a scant 5.8 ounces, so taking it along is hardly a burden.
Like every base layer should, the Capilene Air excels at wicking moisture off the skin. But the breathability on this thing is something entirely impressive. In exertion, I never felt too hot when I wore the Capilene Air. Whether I was climbing outside on a sunny January day in Washington, going on a quick run in the city, or getting ready to boulder in Arizona, this versatile piece kept me at an ideal temperature. Whether wicking sweat or drying out from external moisture, the Capilene Air dries rapidly. In fact, I can’t actually remember feeling damp while wearing this at all. Even when I’d pull it out of the wash machine to air dry, it would dry with impressive speed.
Base layers are vital in the alpine kit. If your base layer fails to breathe or fails to keep you warm, you’re in trouble. It’s a fine line between breathability and insulation that baselayers are required to walk — the Capilene air maneuvers that line with ease.
The Capilene Air is environmentally impressive. The material of this garment is thoughtfully procured, taking responsibly-sourced merino wool from New Zealand and blending it with recycled polyester. Furthermore, the seamless knit technology results in minimal waste, especially compared to patterns that require cutting and stitching. This seamless construction also eliminates chafe points. No seams naturally indicates no areas uncomfortably rubbing against your skin while in motion. The knit offers all-way stretch, adding to the already astounding comfort of the Capilene Air.
While I’m more concerned with how a piece performs, it’d be rather untrue to say that appearance doesn’t matter. And it just so happens that the Capilene Air is real stylish. I once had a friend pick me up before a day of climbing outside and her first words were something to the effect of, “wait why do you get to look so cute?” The Capilene Air looks like a sophisticated sweater with a cowl neck. Turns out that cowl neck is actually a highly technical seamless hood, and that hood is fantastic. It stretches comfortably, feels great under a helmet, and is incredibly cozy when worn both down and up. The cuffs and hem are both equipped with a little bit of elastic for added shape and recovery.
The Capilene air is outstanding in almost every way. However, there is a point where it missed the mark: durability. Let me preface this by saying that baselayers do not necessarily need to be exceptionally hardy. They are generally buried under other layers that have tougher face fabrics, and therefore the need for baselayer durability is quite reduced.
That being said, I quickly learned that if I climb without another layer over this, I am guaranteed to snag it on the rock. The knit wool snags on sticks, bouldering, and indoor climbing holds, and eventually I paid for my insistence by discovering a couple of holes in the sleeve. For some activities (like running), you can wear it as a standalone and not think twice. But if you often find yourself crawling up boulders or cliff faces, it might be best to throw on a lightweight shell or swapping the Capilene Air for a tougher top.
This shortcoming is negligible in light of the many glowing attributes of the Capilene Air. I take responsibility for those holes in my sleeve being user error (read: unnecessary abuse).
- Remarkably warm and breathable
- Exceptional comfort, thanks to next-to-skin soft yarn, seamless construction, an all-around stretch
- The hood design is both stretchy and snug. The hood is amazing, in general.
- Minimal environmental impact lets you feel good about your life choices while wearing the Capilene Air
- The knit material will inevitably snag
The Bottom Line: Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody
The women’s Capilene Air comes with my highest recommendation. I was so impressed by it’s performance in a range of activities. The Capilene Air has an amazing level of breathability coupled with warmth, which means it’s suitable for use in an enormous range of climates. While it is somewhat delicate and the price is high, the Capilene Air could easily be one of the best additions you make to your wardrobe.
Buy Now: Available at Patagonia.com