Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoody Review
Cons: Not as durable as some options, too minimal for some
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Capilene Cool Daily Hoody is one of the lightest sun shirts we've reviewed, and it's good tailoring, design, and stitching make the shirt comfortable for a variety of different activities. You won't find too many extraneous features save for the generously-sized hood — it even lacks thumbies. Still, the 50+ UPF rated, 50-100% recycled polyester material does a great job at sheltering you from the sun while at the same time, the material's thinness keeps you from feeling baked.
Comfort and Fit
The Capilene Cool is cut to fit comfortably around the body: not too tight or too loose. This allows the shirt's fabric to move freely and moisture to spread, then evaporate. The shirt easily covers the arms, torso, and head, though sizing up is a good idea if you're on the cusp — too tight of a fit may impact breathability and coverage.
When fitted well, the Capilene is very comfortable, as Patagonia's famed Capilene polyester is snuggly-soft and smooth. Stitching is done by design to be as minimal as possible. The fabric's stretch is significant when needed, and the set-in sleeves aid in excellent mobility. The sleeve design and total lack of restriction make this a great option for activities that require movement, such as paddleboarding, surfing, and climbing.
Sun shirts usually have a generous length to allow coverage of the lower torso. The Capilene Cool is slightly shorter than other products we've tested, impacting coverage slightly when the arms are raised. The shirt's cuffs push past the wrist enough to offer hand coverage, and the stretch is nicely noticeable. No thumb loops are present, though, so once you stretch your arm out, you'll be made to readjust as you move around. The fabric's stretchiness also allows you to roll the sleeves up past your elbow easily. Once rolled up, they'll stay that way for most people.
The Capilene Cool protects well from the sun, thanks to the extremely comfortable 50+ UPF rated fabric used throughout the garment. What makes this product stand out from other similarly UPF rated pieces is that the fabric material is soft, thin, and seems more breathable than others. Additionally, generously long sleeves and cuffs, coupled with good front neckline coverage, come together to offer snugness without restriction. The hood is larger than normal, allowing the wearer to cover most of their face if needed, or to put it under/over a helmet. Unfortunately, the hood's generous cut makes it easy to come off on even a slightly breezy day or casual bike ride. The minimalist design doesn't include any buttons, cinches, or a drawstring to secure the hood.
Only a few shirts we've tested felt they were "cooling" the tester, and the Capilene is one of them. The plush touch and added wicking power of the miDori bioSoft, ideal fit, and fast-drying synthetic Capilene make for a garment that feels like the other side of the pillow every time you put it on. Under a pack, it did absorb quite a bit of sweat, and lacking yoke vents like many of the button-down alternatives isn't as quick to release that tacky warm air. It does dry quickly, however, and feels refreshing as its doing so.
The Capilene is impregnated with Polygiene permanent odor control, but post-workout funk was still present after a late-night bicycle ride, so don't expect a miracle on a thru-hike that this piece will somehow stay fresh forever. Still, funk seems to mostly have been kept at bay, far better what you may experience with polypropylene-based baselayers.
This shirt may be a little too casual for administrative office duties, and not intensively durable for long-term outside work like landscaping. The Capilene Cool is first and foremost a sun shirt with a hood, and at that job, it excels. The minimalist attitude towards its design, paired with well-chosen colors and subtle heathered fabric, lends itself well to being a casual piece aprés main activity, be it fishing, hiking, or swimming. The minimal branding, especially compared to some of the other hooded sun shirts we've tested, also makes one feel less of an advertisement and more of a lifestyle piece.
The antimicrobial treatment also helps facilitate accomplishing multiple tasks on the same day. This treatment makes it a good pick for all-day travel — but bring a warmer layer, as this shirt cools, rather than warms.
Being made of such soft, thin, light, stretchy, and comfortable material, one questions the durability of the shirt itself, as these characteristics usually come at the cost of longevity. Stretch factor seems to be the most vulnerable, but the Capilene always naturally fell back to its intended form after use. The stretchability of the garment is from the fabric weave itself and not from adding elastic fibers to the fabric, which would, over time, decrease. Overall, we are left impressed, though the weight of the fabric did show some weaknesses. Small holes have developed in high use areas, like the cuffs, and lower back. If your approach to your local fishing hole involves a moderate amount of bushwhacking, you may want to look to something a bit burlier. That said, the stitching is rock solid with no sign of wear and tear. Since this minimalist hoody lacks pockets, cuffs, zippers, and other such accouterments, there's less risk of something snagging, falling off, or tearing.
You can't wear this shirt without commenting on its comfort and stretch. Thus, it's fabric and treatment choices should be considered features, and good ones at that. The UPF 50+ is the clear sun-beating characteristic. Beyond that, the hood is the most obvious physical feature. It's very light for under-helmet or over-the-hat use. And sunglasses will rest nicely under it without putting extra pressure on your ears. The cuffs expand and grip the wrists nicely, but can also hang over the back of the hand if desired.
For its comfort, head-turning looks, and sun-blocking effectiveness, the Capilene Cool is a great value for those looking for a minimalistic sun shirt with a hood. We've certainly tested less expensive sun shirts that look similar, but most of them are less comfortable.
If you're searching for an attractive hooded sun shirt that counts "minimalism" as one of its features and can take you from playing in the surf to a beachside barbeque on the same day, the Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoody makes a cool and protective choice.
— Justin Simoni