The Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody sets itself apart from the rest with a stylish and functional 3D knit weave design with lofted wool innovation. Featuring a slim fit and anatomical hood to trap heat generated during activity, this layer also releases excess moisture through the permeable fabric. The Air Hoody became one of our go-to's during the spring in the Eastern Sierra due to its cozy next-to-skin feel, thanks to the blended Merino and recycled polyester fabric. Perhaps best of all, it showed minimal wear during our extensive testing period and did not hang onto any smell from our numerous adventures. This was an easy pick for us as our favorite lightweight performance layer.Editor's Note: We updated some sections in this review on November 15, 2022, to add recommendations on other options we would recommend.
Cons: Expensive, lacks durability of thicker fabrics, tricky to layer
Compare to Similar Products
Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody - Women's
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$145.00 at Amazon
|$130 List||$75 List||$55 List|
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|Pros||Super comfortable, excellent breathability, stylish, eco-conscious, no odor||Breathable, excellent thermoregulation, extra warmth with hood, easy to layer||Cozy fleece interior, easy to layer, warm, versatile, stash pocket, kangaroo pouch, high quality||Affordable, thumb loops, long cut, easy to layer over top, soft and durable fabric||Affordable, thumb loops, soft fabric, great fit, durable|
|Cons||Expensive, lacks durability of thicker fabrics, tricky to layer||Expensive, takes a few washes to increase next-to-skin comfort||Expensive, not super breathable, boxy updated fit||Material is not midweight||Tightly woven fabric doesn't breathe very well, smelly|
|Bottom Line||A high performing lightweight base layer featuring blended Merino and recycled polyester fabrics for a wide range of thermoregulation||A top-notch lightweight performer featuring exceptional thermoregulation and breathability with an innovative Merino wool technology that gets softer with every use||This high performance synthetic layer is ready for pretty much any adventure you dream up||This affordable base layer features ultra fine Merino wool fibers that are super comfortable next to your skin, effectively wick away moisture, and remain odor-free||This durable base layer features a soft and stretchy fabric and a slim fit for a variety of activities, all for an affordable price|
|Rating Categories||Patagonia Capilene...||Black Diamond Solut...||Arc'teryx Rho LT Zi...||Ridge Merino Aspect...||REI Co-op Midweight...|
|Comfort and Fit (20%)|
|Layering Ability (20%)|
|Specs||Patagonia Capilene...||Black Diamond Solut...||Arc'teryx Rho LT Zi...||Ridge Merino Aspect...||REI Co-op Midweight...|
|Measured Weight||5.8 oz||6.6 oz||7.5 oz||6.0 oz||7.5 oz|
|Material||51% Merino wool, 49% recycled polyester||78% Merino wool, 22% polyester||Torrent 190 (84% polyester, 16% elastane)||84% Merino wool, 16% nylon||92% polyester, 8% spandex|
|Avaliable Cuts||Crew, hoody/mock turtleneck||Crew, 1/4 zip neck/hoody||1/4 zip, crew, hoody||Crew, 1/4 zip||Crew, 1/2 zip neck|
|Odor Control Fabric||Naturally odor resistant||Naturally odor resistant||Polygiene||Naturally odor resistant||None|
|UPF (sun protection)||No||No||No||50+||50+|
|Fit||Runs small||Runs small||Trim fit||Slim||Fitted, true to size|
|Flat-lock Seams?||No (seamless)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody is one of our favorite base layers that we tested. Offering a unique and innovative loft design formed by a 3D knit Merino wool and recycled polyester blend construction, this layer not only provides an incredible amount of warmth for a lightweight layer but also breathes well and feels comfortable next to your skin. Easily one of our go-to layers, scoring well in every metric, we don't hesitate to recommend this unique layer.
In order to properly assess the warmth of each base layer, we wore them on everything from multi-pitch rock climbs to big Sierra ski missions in the spring. We subjected ourselves to the successes and failures of each layer to help you select the best one for your next adventure. We were definitely impressed by the performance of the Air Hoody. The slim fit, in addition to the fine Merino wool blend, hugged our body and kept us warm during all activities.
When the wind picked up and warmth became essential to performance, the Capilene Air Hoody didn't disappoint. The high collar and seamless anatomical hood, which fits quite well beneath a climbing helmet, maximized warmth without adding any bulk to the design. The base layer is constructed from 51% RWS-certified Merino wool and 49% recycled polyester offering a seamless zigzag, 18.5-micron gauge, lofted knit. While not wind resistant, this layer was one of our top picks for overall warmth, especially when layered beneath a mid-layer or jacket.
It is important that your base layer can trap heat while also releasing excessive moisture from the body. Trapped moisture often equates to being cold, and we're happy to report that the Capilene Air Hoody is one of the best layers we tested in terms of efficient breathability and successfully wicking moisture away from the body.
Fine New Zealand Merino wool blended with the recycled Capilene polyester creates essential warmth while improving wicking capabilities and allowing the garment to dry faster than most when subjected to excessive moisture. The lofted wool design allows wind to permeate the layer, while the Merino wool is capable of retaining body heat. Two thumbs up for superior breathability and excellent thermoregulation.
Comfort and Fit
When considering a new base layer, it is best to identify the type of conditions that you would like the garment to perform in, the level of warmth needed to remain comfortable, and the overall fit that allows for freedom of motion. Our testers love the seamless 3D construction of the Capilene Air Hoody, which stretches and eliminates chafe points by conforming to your body's shape while remaining incredibly soft next to the skin. The soft and stretchy elastic knit that forms the cuffs and hem of the garment also allow for added comfort while keeping a tight barrier against the elements.
The fit of the Air Hoody is considered trim or slim against the body, so if you prefer a garment with a loose or regular fit, we recommend sizing up. However, the garment will not hug the body as well and perhaps will release the warmth you generate during your activity. That said, our lead tester is typically a size small and loves the slim fit of this hoody in addition to the cozy next-to-skin feel of the fabric blend.
For this metric, we assess the ease in layering both over and under each base layer in our review. The unique design of the Capilene Air Hoody features a lofted wool innovation and 18.5 micro-gauge yarn — all very cozy. However, this lofted fabric can create small issues in terms of layering. While easy to layer a camisole underneath or a vest or jacket over the top, it can be a little tricky if you want to layer this hoody with another base layer below, as the slim design is meant to be your first layer.
Our testers love that this slim-fit hoody stayed in place during activity and didn't ride up whether worn on its own or layered beneath a mid-layer. That said, it's good to be aware that the Air Hoody may also hug that mid-layer in the same way it hugs your body. Not a huge issue; just best to point out that the lofted fabric isn't as smooth as other options in terms of layering ability.
Even though our testing period is for months and not years, we still take durability into consideration, looking at the overall construction, thickness, weight, and ability to deal with odor for each layer. Our testers were impressed by the overall durability of this lightweight blended fabric, but the lofted 3D construction of the fabric does make it susceptible to rips and snags, especially while moving through deserts or bushwhacking terrain overrun with manzanita and ocotillo.
Throughout our extensive testing period, this Merino wool and recycled polyester blend showed only minimal signs of wear and tear. We also love that the fabric did not hang onto any odor, even when we wore it several days in a row while ascending multi-pitch rock climbs during the first hot days of the spring. The combination of the strength within the 18.5-micron gauge fabric as well as the lack of odor made it easy for us to attest to the durability of the Air Hoody.
Should You Buy the Patagonia Capilene Air Hoody?
If you are looking for a lightweight base layer that offers exceptional warmth and breathability, the Air Hoody does not disappoint. While more expensive than many other base layers we tested, we believe your dollars won't be wasted on the eco-conscious, high-performing fabrics that effectively increase warmth and offer excellent thermoregulation due to the innovative weave design. The price is appropriate for the value received, and the garment is backed by Patagonia's lifetime guarantee.
What Other Base Layers Should You Consider?
The Capilene Air Hoody is an excellent base layer option. A comfortable blend of Merino wool and recycled polyester, this slim fit hugs the body while also releasing excess moisture thanks to the lofted wool design. That said, this technical layer does not come cheap. If you want to save some bucks and stick with a mostly-wool fabric blend, the Ridge Merino Aspect Midweight is excellent and half the price, though much less feature-rich. For all the features and our favorite mostly-Merino layer, check out the Black Diamond Solution 150 Merino Quarter Zip.
— Trish Matheny
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