Patagonia Capilene Air Baselayer | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Patagonia Capilene Air Baselayer | Review

The '3D' knit baselayer made from a clever blend of wool and... recycled soda bottles

Since the temperatures plunged a few weeks ago I’ve been relying on the Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody (it’s more like a baselayer) for every hike I’ve been on, including a two-day backpack through the Brecon Beacons, an overnight in a bothy, a climbing trip and an early morning round of Helvellyn.

Quick verdict: it’s brilliant.

The Secret Ingredients

First of all, before we look into the Patagonia Capilene Air’s performance out in the field, I’ll give a run through the tech behind it.

It uses a blend of soft merino wool from New Zealand (51%) and a polyester fleece that’s made out of used plastic bottles – the same type of fleece fabric that Patagonia made a name for itself with back in 1993 with the release of those classic Synchilla fleeces.

These two materials are woven into a kind-of 3D knit resulting in thousands of insulating air pockets, and it’s all done completely seamlessly so there’s much less chance of any irritation to the skin.

Another clever thing about this construction is that even despite the absence of any elastane the whole knit is springy and close-fitting. It has a lovely bit of stretch to it without feeling either constricting or saggy.

The Performance

I’ve tried the Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody in a number of different ways. I’ve worn it under a rain coat, under an insulated jacket, and just by itself while out on a surprisingly mild autumn hike (plus in the pub afterwards). I’ve also hiked and camped for a couple of days in it without removing it at all. And It’s been up to the task on every occasion.

It didn’t win an ISPO Gold Award for nothing.

Wearing it as a long sleeve T on a warm autumn backpacking trip.


The material is warm and comfortable, there’s no itchiness, and the hood is useful for that bit of extra insulation during cold camps. On the occasions when I did overheat and break into a sweat, I found that the wicking performance was really impressive. The material always felt comfortable and fresh, even fresh enough to be able to hike all day and then sleep overnight in it as well. On big long-distance hikes where I tend to bring just one set of clothes, this could be a godsend.

Long Term

Baselayers made from synthetics are notorious for getting smelly quickly, and being half polyester, the Capilene Air isn’t going to be as reliably fresh as a full merino offering. That said, I used it for about five separate trips without washing it and I really didn’t notice any bad smell, and my partner apparently didn’t either. At least she never mentioned anything.

A closer look at the fibres.

Maybe she did notice, because she was eventually the one who first chucked it in the washing machine. When I’d realised this, I was a little worried as I knew it would’ve been on a full spin at around 40 degrees and with normal detergent, but it actually turned out absolutely fine.

I have noticed that the fibres have gone a little frayed and fuzzy from directly exposing the baselayer to the straps of my backpack, so I expect if I continue doing that I might not get that long a lifespan from it. However, I reckon that if it’s protected underneath another layer like a rain jacket, it should provide a few good years of use.

I’ve only tried the Capilene Air Hoody but it’s actually also available as a crew neck also. What’s more, there are Capilene Air bottoms as well, so you can get fully suited up for your next cold weather hiking, climbing or skiing adventure.


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