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Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew - Women's Review

Long Underwear for Women

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Best Buy Award
Price:   Varies from $41 - $59 online  —  Compare at 5 sellers
Pros:  Good temperature regulation, versatile, comfortable, affordable, quick to dry
Cons:  Observed wear and tear, boxy and short fit
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Patagonia


The Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew is a tried and true base layer that has won our Best Buy Award two reviews in a row! The main author has owned this piece for five years and loves it for its functionality, affordable price, and versatility. Our team of testers agreed - over the course of our three-month testing period they wore it for everything from skiing to rock climbing. As a midweight 100% polyester baselayer, it regulates a wide range of temperatures keeping you warm in temperatures down to 0 degrees F when integrated into a layering system. As a stand-alone top, the Capilene Midweight has great lines and looks cute too! What's more is it shows good overall durability; in three months, we didn't notice any holes or fly away stitches, although there was a little pilling observed.

Overall, this was a functionally awesome layer, but there are still a few things we would change. We'd give it a less boxy fit and use stretchier fabrics like our Editors' Choice Award winner, the Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip - Women's. We would also fit it with more solid thumb loops like those found on the REI Space Dye Zip-T. Finally, we'd find a way to make it more odor-resistant - instead, we found that it got stinky after one or two uses.

Aside from those few wishes, we thought that for only $59.00, this top was worth its weight in gold. The Capilene Midweight's top competitor, the Smartwool NTS 250 Crew - Women's, was a little cozier, but far more expensive ($95) and delicate. If you're in the market for an affordable synthetic base layer that will dry quickly, take you where you want to go, and won't drain your wallet, this may be for you. If you're looking for an affordable merino wool option, check out the Minus33 Ossipee.

Product Name Change - November 2016
The Capilene 3 Crew has been renamed as the Capilene Midweight Crew. Over the course of the past year, Patagonia has done away with their numbered classification system of the Capilene line and has renamed the line using the categories daily, lightweight, midweight, and thermal weight. Patagonia has assured us that only the names of the Capilenes have changed, not the products themselves. However, a few changes have occurred since we last reviewed the Capilene 3 Crew. Read on to learn more.

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Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Amber King
Senior Review Editor

Last Updated:
November 30, 2016

The New Version of the Patagonia Capilene 3 Crew vs. the Older Version

The Capilene line has recently undergone a name change - you'll no longer find the 1, 2, 3, 4 classification system. The numbered system has been replaced by the categories daily, lightweight, midweight, and thermal weight, respectively. The latest version of the Capilene Midweight Crew uses Polartec® Power Grid™ fabric, as opposed to the old Polartec Power Dry.

Check out the side-by-side comparison below, with the latest version of Capilene Midweight Crew pictured on the left and the older Capilene 3 Crew that we tested shown on the right.
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Here's a summary of the key differences between the new 2016 version and the older Capilene 3:
  • Updated Fit — The newer version has a bit of a slimmer and longer fit.
  • Material Change — The Capilene line now uses Polartec® Power Grid™ fabric, which has a waffley kind of look to it on the interior of the shirt.
  • New Colors — The new version of the Capilene Midweight Crew comes in 14 updated colors, so surely there's an option for everyone!

We haven't had the opportunity to test out this new version of the Capilene Midweight Crew yet. That said, we find the changes made to this latest model are not likely to have a major impact on its performance, and we expect it to perform in a similar manner, if not better, than the old version. The text and ratings in this review still reflect the older version.

Hands-On Review

A classic all-around midweight synthetic, the Patagonia Capilene Midweight is affordable, quick to dry, and a perfect temperature regulator. This long underwear top won our Best Buy Award and is loaded with great features for a low price of $59.00.

Performance Comparison

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Amber gets ready to switch from hiking uphill to snowboarding down a backcountry mountain. The Capilene 3 was a perfect friend on this powder day: releasing heat while skinning up the mountain and keeping her warm while hanging out talking with friends. This best buy award winner has great quality for a low price.


In both a layered system and as a stand-alone top, the 100% polyester Patagonia Capilene Midweight did a great job keeping us warm and comfortable in all sorts of weather.

Patagonia has a numbering system that represents the different weights of their fabric; "1" is ultra lightweight while "4" is heavy weight. The Capilene Midweight represents a midweight layer good for 3 seasons (as a stand-alone top) and will do well on colder adventures in a layering system. Keep the Capilene 4 for expeditions where you will constantly be exposed to wind and nasty conditions. Wear the Capilene 1 for your most aerobic pursuits.

We tested our Capilene Midweight on many cold skiing adventures and found that it provided ample warmth, similar to the Hot Chillys Micro-Elite Crew - Women's. The tightly knit fabric provides a bit of wind protection, keeping you warmer in windy weather than the Smartwool NTS Mid 250 Crew or REI Space Dye Zip. If you are seeking an even warmer synthetic, check out the Arc'teryx Rho LT Zip or if you prefer a merino wool layer, check out the Minus33 Ossipee. If you plan on spending time in sub zero conditions, we would highly recommend looking at a thicker layer like the Patagonia Capilene 4 Expedition Weight 1/4 Zip Hoody.

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Layered under the Patagonia Nano Air, this Patagonia layer does a great job at keeping us warm at this bachelorette party on Red Mountain Pass.


Not only does the Capilene Midweight keep you toasty, but it also gets rid of unwanted heat when you need it. This makes it a great temperature regulating baselayer. When we took it running on winter mornings and backcountry skiing on warm spring days, we learned that it provides good overall breathability, wicking sweat away from the skin and keeping our testers dry and comfortable. That said, it wasn't quite as breezy as say the Under Armour Base 2.0 Crew - Women's. We usually layered a tank top underneath and shed the Capilene Midweight when the mercury rose above 70 degrees F. That said though, if you are looking for a more aerobic purposes, check out our Running Shirt for Women Review that outlines some ultra light options. Also check out the Capilene 1/4 zip option that allows you to zip or unzip the collar whenever you might need it.

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Are you planning on going on belay in the desert any time soon? If there's a little nip in the air this Capilene Crew 3 has good enough breathability to wear on warm or cold days as a stand-alone piece.

Layering Ability

We thought that layering with the Capilene Midweight was a breeze. Unlike the Smartwool NTS Mid Crew, the Cap 3 didn't bunch, grab, or twist our layers. We did find though that the fabric wasn't the stretchiest which didn't make it as easy to layer as the REI Space Dye. If the fabric had been a bit stretchier, we would have awarded it with a higher layering capability score. However, the hidden thumb loop did help to anchor the sleeve when pulling things one and off - BONUS!

This Patagonia base layer has a smooth face fabric and interior that doesn't bunch, grab, or twist. This helps make it a perfect piece to wear in a functional layering system.

Comfort & Fit

The Capilene Midweight Crew has a long enough torso, is true-to-size, and just feels comfortable. Its flat seam stitching, found in all the base layers we tested, prevent chafing, while the hidden thumb loops add a little versatility. The fabric is not itchy or uncomfortable, but the fit is a bit boxy. Some of our testers thought that the length could have been longer for better comfort, with a tad more stretch and a burlier thumb loop. We also noticed that this piece got stinky fast, despite the Polygiene odor blocker in the fabric. It washed out easily, but if you are planning a multi-day trip where you can't wash your layers, a merino wool option may be a better option. If that's the case, then check out the affordable Minus 33 for only $60.00.

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Getting ready to go on belay in Rocky Mountain National Park. The Capilene 3 1/4 zip is a little more versatile than the crew, but still has all the same perks. Consider this option when looking at what to buy.

Drying Speed

Even though the Patagonia Capilene Midweight couldn't dry as quickly as the porous fabric of the Under Armour Crew, it was tied for second with the Arc'teryx Rho and Micro-Elite Crewneck during our drying competitions. Feel free to take this on any trip where you might get wet and need to dry out quickly. Over the last 5 years the author has worn this layer on many fishing and river trips on the Colorado, San Juan, and Green Rivers.


The author has had a Capilene layer for over 5 years now and has really put it through the wringer on many climbing, backpacking, and boating adventures. Despite some pilling and a couple of thread fly aways, we can vouch for its great durability. The synthetic fibers make this more durable than most merino competitors like the Minus 33 Ossipee and the face fabric weave is nice and tight. We did observe that after a month of use, the Capilene Midweight's face fabric was pilling pretty badly and we did notice a tiny bit of shrinkage (length wise) after the first wash and dry.

Expect to keep and wear this layer for many years to come. And don't be afraid to really get dirty - it will hold up!

Best Applications

Take the Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew on your next vacation or mission to the mountains. It has great all-around use, ranging from cold morning runs to rafting down the Grand Canyon. Because of its decent and fairly high scores over most categories, it is versatile and ready for anything that you throw at it. For ultra cold weather, we would recommend the Patagonia Capilene 4 - expedition weight hoody, which won a Top Pick for Versatility in the men's review. This is a heavier and more versatile option suited for sub 0 degree F weather.

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Amber, the author, styles it up the Petit Groupon in Rocky Mountain National Park in the Capilene 3 1/4 zip, a variation of the crew neck that we review in this article. There are many options, styles, colors, and features to choose from when you consider your next base layer. Learn about what's out there!


At only $59.00, you get a synthetic base layer that will last years and perform well throughout. The Capilene Midweight is a tried and tested piece that saw multiple mountain summits, trail runs, and riverside views during the course of our review. It's a bomber shirt for a bomber price. The Smartwool NTS had a similar overall score to the Capilene Midweight, but the biggest difference was the price tag of $95.00. If you are looking for a more affordable merino, check out the Minus 33. If not, the Capilene Midweight has the best value of all our pieces tested.


Our Best Buy Award winner scores high points in all the major categories with a low price tag of only $59.00. This classic is perfect addition for you next big adventure, wherever the wind may blow.

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Patagonia's Capilene makes Amber quite happy! She loves everything about it, especially its affordable price and high value in one cute purple package.

Other Versions

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Capilene Midweight Zip Neck- Women's
⁃ Weight- Mid-weight (same as the Capilene Midweight)
⁃ Cost- $69.00 ($10 more than the Capilene Midweight)
⁃ 1/4 zip for more versatility

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Capilene 4 Zip Neck- Women's
⁃ Weight- Expedition weight (heavier than the Capilene Midweight)
⁃ Cost- $99.00 ($40 more than the Capilene Midweight)
⁃ 1/4 zip for more versatility

If you are looking for a great pair of long underwear bottoms to go with the Capilene Midweight, check out the Capilene Midweight bottoms.
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Capilene Midweight Bottoms- Women's
⁃ Weight- Mid-weight (same as the Capilene Midweight)
⁃ Cost- $59.00 (same as the Capilene Midweight)
⁃ Flat mesh-backed waistband for increased comfort

Also check out the men's version, the Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew.
Amber King

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: November 30, 2016
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