Patagonia Capilene Midweight Bottoms - Women's Review
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Patagonia Capilene Midweight Bottoms - Women's
|Price||$79.00 at REI|
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|$80 List||$55 List|
$54.95 at REI
$39.95 at REI
|Pros||Comfortable on the skin, breathable, good fit, ample warmth, cute colors and designs, recycled materials||Supersoft Polartec fabric, superior breathability, excellent warmth, great fit that enhances mobility, recycled fabric||Excellent warmth, soft elastic waistband, odor-free, high waisted design for additional coverage||Smooth and silky fabric, easy to wear alone or when layered, cute and fitted style, affordable||Affordable, incredibly breathable, soft and stretchy fabric|
|Cons||Less durable than previous versions, holds smell almost immediately||Questionable durability, fabric holds odor||Thicker fabric doesn't breathe as well in warm climates, fabric shows signs of wear after minimal use, longer drying speed||Absorbs and holds moisture, fabric retains odor immediately||Waistband doesn't provide enough structure, lacks warmth, fit runs large|
|Bottom Line||A synthetic long underwear bottom with an all around impressive performance at a fair price||A high-performing long underwear bottom that traps a ton of warmth while releasing any excessive moisture created during cool to cold weather activity||These heavyweight 100% Merino wool bottoms offer superior warmth and comfort at a fraction of the cost||This synthetic base layer option features a soft and stretchy polyester fabric that offers moderate levels of warmth and breathability for an affordable price||Lightweight, breathable, and highly affordable, these tights unfortunately lack warmth and require constant adjustment due to the stretchy fabric and wide waistband|
|Rating Categories||Patagonia Capilene...||Patagonia Capilene...||Ridge Merino Invers...||REI Co-op Midweight...||REI Co-op Lightweig...|
|Comfort and Fit (20%)|
|Drying Speed (10%)|
|Layering Ability (10%)|
|Specs||Patagonia Capilene...||Patagonia Capilene...||Ridge Merino Invers...||REI Co-op Midweight...||REI Co-op Lightweig...|
|Material||100% recycled polyester||92% recycled polyester, 8% spandex||100% Merino wool||92% polyester, 8% spandex||92% polyester, 8% spandex|
|Fabric Weight (g/m²)||147 g/m²||129 g/m²||270 g/m²||Not disclosed||Not disclosed|
|Measured Weight (size small)||4.80 oz||4.90 oz||7.36 oz||6.40 oz||5.44 oz|
|Cuts Avaliable||Full length||Full length, boot length||Full length||Full length||Full length|
|Smelly Over Time?||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Odor Control Fabric||HeiQ Fresh||HeiQ Fresh||Naturally odor resistant||N/A||N/A|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Capilene Midweight is known as a workhorse synthetic that can truly take a beating. These bottoms offer all-around performance, helping to keep you cool when it's hot and warm when it's cold. These leggings are comfortable and great for all types of adventures. Wear them on their own during the cooler months, or layer them underneath a pair of pants during the winter months.
The Capilene Midweight offers ample warmth within its versatile 100% polyester design. While not see-through or ultralight, the tightly woven fibers successfully trap heat while releasing excess moisture. The diamond grid double knit traps heat generated during activity and allows these bottoms to be worn on their own during the shoulder seasons. The smooth fabric also layers well within a cold weather kit for even more warmth.
While testing during the spring and fall between temperatures of 40 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit, these midweight bottoms provided enough warmth to keep us comfortable as long as we remained in motion. And during the winter months, we found that they provided enough protection from the cold between 25 and 40 degrees, as long as we were moving and had our thicker ski bibs layered over the top. We love the versatility of this midweight layer but would recommend other thicker long underwear bottoms to be worn during the coldest months of the year. Still, if versatility is what you're after, these bottoms will keep you warm and toasty in a variety of different activities all year round.
While not the most breathable synthetic long underwear bottom in this review, it's pretty darn close. The Capilene Midweight features a diamond-grid pattern that strikes the perfect balance between a fabric that is fully breathable and see-through and a tightly woven fabric that successfully traps warmth but is too tight for air to fully permeate. These rigid fibers run a little thinner than the previous iterations that we've tested, and we believe this helps to increase overall breathability.
We tested these bottoms in various conditions, from fall training runs to ski missions in the depths of winter, and noted that the fabric can wick moisture away from the skin without it being so tightly knit that the moisture can't escape. Whether layered or not, this bottom did a good job of moving moisture away from the body to keep us dry. That being said, the midweight construction is not nearly as breathable as other synthetic options we tested for this review which feature see-through/air-permeable designs, strategically placed ventilation panels, or ultralight fabric.
Comfort and Fit
One of the first things we noticed when trying on the Capilene Midweight is the stretchy comfort offered by the combination of the 100% recycled polyester fabric and the elastic waistband. The fit is true to size and features a gusseted crotch to enhance mobility. We also appreciate the flatlock seam construction that inspires confidence in the quality and helps to reduce chafing, especially when adventuring for multiple days in a row.
The soft waistband is not too tight or too loose, measuring about 4" at its widest, and is similar to the fit of a modern yoga pant. There is also a smaller elastic waistband that is sewn inside, measuring about 1.5 inches. The inner waistband is the one that actually holds these bottoms in place, and this design increases comfort and layering ability. While backcountry skiing or trail running, this waistband stays put, but when stretching or doing yoga, the thinner elastic waistband tends to roll and requires adjustment. While not as comfortable as a Merino wool fabric or other synthetic designs that are less rigid and feature even more stretch, the polyester has its advantages without sacrificing too much comfort.
Synthetic fabrics are known for their exceptional durability, especially when compared to Merino wool, and these bottoms are one of the most durable in the entire review. The updated 100% recycled polyester construction is a better environmental choice without sacrificing the quality we expect from a high-performing base layer. The diamond grid double knit successfully resists abrasion, stretch, and wear, making these pants suitable for wear on their own or with additional layers over the top.
If anything, our only complaint is that the HeiQ Pure odor control technology does not actually keep the fabric fresh and free of odor. If this is important to you (or your partners), we suggest a Merino wool option that naturally remains odor-free. Minus a little smell after pushing it in the mountains, our testers haven't experienced any issues with the Capilene Midweight throughout our years of testing.
To test this metric, our testers simulated what it would be like to wash and dry layers while traveling for extended periods in the backcountry. After soaking, wringing out, and tossing on a line to dry in the sun, we noted the drying speed for each layer. The Capilene Midweight was one of the most impressive layers, featuring a drying time of only 32 minutes, notably faster than other layers we tested.
We believe this is also a testament to versatility because this layer has no fancy ventilation panels to aid in its speedy drying time. We even noticed that these bottoms were dry as a bone after only 30 minutes when we timed their drying speed after working up a sweat on the trails. If you're interested in a layer that will dry quickly on your body or when exposed to fresh air, the Capilene Midweight is at the top of our list.
We had no trouble layering the Capilene Midweight with additional layers. The polyester fabric and the brushed back grid allow for a smooth interface with other layers over the top. The double-banded waistband adds some thickness around the waist, but the high-rise fit allows for other layers that fasten at the natural waist to sit flush with the waistline. Overall, the polyester design is easy to layer and doesn't restrict any range of motion.
Should You Buy the Patagonia Capilene Midweight Bottoms?
Given the good durability, decent price, and balanced all-around performance of this synthetic contender, it's most certainly one we recommend. If you're seeking a base layer that'll last and perform without emptying your wallet, this is it. The midweight design is quite versatile, offering year-round use to wear on its own or underneath other pants. The thinner fabric is also okay to wear underneath a pair of jeans or work pants when the temperatures really begin to dip into the negatives. After testing several synthetic base layers for this review, we found better options in terms of fit and breathability, and we don't love that the Capilene fabric retains odor quickly, but this is still an all-around high-value product.
What Other Long Underwear Should You Consider?
The Patagonia Capilene Midweight Bottom is one of the best-selling synthetic base layers on the market. This is primarily because of its well-crafted design that is comfortable to wear all day while offering a versatile balance of warmth and breathability. The only other fully synthetic bottom that we like more is the Patagonia Capilene Thermal Weight, which offers even better comfort and breathability thanks to the soft, cozy, and high-performing Polartec Power Grid fabric. If synthetics work great for you but you're after a little more performance, check out the Arc'teryx Rho Lightweight Bottom. And if you'd rather have Merino wool, the Ridge Merino Inversion Heavyweight Merino Leggings are our absolute favorite.
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