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Patagonia Capilene Midweight Bottoms - Women's Review

A highly breathable and comfortable synthetic base layer for a great price.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $59 List | $43.73 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Durable, quick to dry, breathable, warm, high value.
Cons:  Fabric holds moisture, not the most comfortable against the skin
Manufacturer:   Patagonia
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 20, 2019
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 10
  • Warmth - 30% 6
  • Breathability - 30% 9
  • Comfort and Fit - 30% 7
  • Durability - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Women's Patagonia Capilene Midweight Bottoms are a workhorse because of the exceptional level of durability that can really take a beating. As a classic competitor that always seems to offer the best value, it wins our Best Buy Award once again. It can be worn while tackling high mountain summits or while lounging about next to a warm campfire. Given its synthetic nature, it is very breathable and dries quickly. It performs best in cool to cold temperatures. We recommend that you layer it with a water-resistant pant with venting options for best performance. If you're in the market for a base layer that offers terrific performance at a great price, this one is a fantastic option to consider.

Update November 2019
We are currently testing the new Patagonia Capilene Midweight base layer bottoms that were updated from our previous testing cycle. Stay tuned!


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Pros Durable, quick to dry, breathable, warm, high value.All season wear, breathable, will keep you dry, warm, improved fitFleece lining is comfortable, elastic fit, amazing value, cute style, very durable, power wicking.Durable, wide range of thermoregulation, comfortable, cute colors.Warm for the weight, great breathability, cute colors and style, sustainable company model, dries quickly
Cons Fabric holds moisture, not the most comfortable against the skinLacks durability when worn aloneHigh water absorption.Not super duper warmExpensive, potential durability issues
Bottom Line A highly breathable and comfortable synthetic base layer for a great price.A versatile merino wool bottom for year round use.Our favorite bottom with a fleece-lined interior and versatile performance.This is one of the most durable merino wool contender out there.A super cute merino wool base layer with lightweight performance.
Rating Categories Capilene Midweight Bottoms Merino 250 Bottoms Rho LT Bottoms 200 Oasis Leggings Rock'N'Wool Pant
Warmth (30%)
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6
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7
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7
Breathability (30%)
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9
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8
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Specs Capilene Midweight... Merino 250 Bottoms Rho LT Bottoms 200 Oasis Leggings Rock'N'Wool Pant
Material 5.2-oz (176-g) Polartec® Power Grid® 97% polyester 100% merino Torrent fleece (84% polyester, 16% elastane) 100% merino 100% merino
Fabric weight (g/m²) & relative level of thickness 176 g/m² (midweight) 250 g/m² (midweight) 150 g/m² (midweight) 200 g/m² (lightweight) 185 g/m² (lightweight)
Measured Weight 6.2 oz 7.3 oz 5.8 oz 5.7 oz 6.0 oz
Fabric weights availiable Cooweight, Midweight, Thermal Weight Lightweight (150), midweight (250) Lightweight & midweight (AR) options Midweight Midweight
Cuts avaliable Full length 3/4 length, full length, onsie (full body w/ hood) Full length 3/4 length, full length Full length, boot length
Smelly over time? Yes No No No No
Odor control fabric Polygiene permanent odor control Naturally odor resistant Polygiene anti-odor finish Naturally odor resistant Naturally odor resistant

Our Analysis and Test Results

Capilene Midweight Updates


Patagonia updated this Best Buy winner. They're now constructed of 100% recycled polyester (previously 66%). The updated bottoms use HeiQ odor control technology. A slight amount of weight has been shaved from the pant, and the fit has also been updated slightly. Lastly, a locker loop was added so that you can easily hang these to dry. Compare the updated Capilene Midweight, left, to the version we tested, right.


Though we're linking to the updated pant, everything beyond this point refers to the version we tested previously.

Hands-On Review of the Capilene Midweight Bottoms


As a midweight synthetic contender, the Patagonia Capilene Midweight offers high performance for a lower price.

The Patagonia Capilene Midweight offers great warmth on cold days sleeping in creepy vans while adventuring.
The Patagonia Capilene Midweight offers great warmth on cold days sleeping in creepy vans while adventuring.

Warmth


As a midweight synthetic base layer (176-grams) that uses 97 percent polyester, it provides a decent amount of warmth for everything from cool to cold days. While the polyester materials aren't as insulating or warm as other merino wool contenders, we are happy with the performance of this piece while playing out in the snow.


The Midweight Capilene material effectively wicks moisture from the skin, which adds to the warmth of the garment. The thickness of the midweight version of this bottom makes it a little bit warmer and a touch more comfortable to wear alone around the house. While the material does a decent job wicking moisture, like other synthetics, the fabric does a poor job at evaporating water. While polyester does insulate when wet, if not worn with pants that vent well when the temperatures rise, sweat can stay in the fabric. As a result, it doesn't earn a perfect score for warmth.

The midweight designation makes it a great option for cool to cold weather. The material itself feels less insulative than merino wool  and offers a decent level of warmth in the form of wicking power.
The midweight designation makes it a great option for cool to cold weather. The material itself feels less insulative than merino wool, and offers a decent level of warmth in the form of wicking power.

If you seek a material that can completely move that moisture out of the fabric, look at merino wool that offers a much wider range of thermoregulation. Overall, we think this base layer is sufficient to wear for cool to cold days. Because of its wicking power, it's also suitable for everything from high to low output activities. Just make sure you have appropriate ventilation for a high performing outdoor system that will keep you warm in cold weather. We liked to use this pant for hiking and exploring the wilderness on foot.

The Capilene Midweight Bottoms offer good warmth  even when we stop to get our jackets on this backcountry ski tour.
The Capilene Midweight Bottoms offer good warmth, even when we stop to get our jackets on this backcountry ski tour.

Breathability


Over the last few years, we've used the Capilene Midweight as a primary layer during backcountry missions and skiing during cold days on the mountain. Not only does the synthetic fabric do an exceptional job wicking away moisture, but the fabric provides a certain level of insulation that is sufficient when pairing with insulated pants in cold weather. We've tested it while running, hiking, and skinning uphill. In all cases, when appropriate ventilation was available, we discovered that our bodies stayed warm and dry.


Like other synthetics, the fabric readily absorbs water (much like cotton), but it insulates when wet. Also, when you ramp up activity, and there is enough ventilation available, this bottom proved to easily allow the evaporation of moisture, thus keeping the body warm. In our tests, we also learned that this product had the fastest drying speed of all products tested. While it did absorb quite a bit of moisture when we dunked the bottom underwater (~11.3 oz), it dried in our dryer tests in about 80 minutes. While this was about the same time everything else dried, the difference was that it was able to remove more moisture in a similar period.

Here we test the Patagonia Capilene Midweight bottoms while trail running on a snowy day. We love the level of breathability they provide for this particularily sweaty sport.
Here we test the Patagonia Capilene Midweight bottoms while trail running on a snowy day. We love the level of breathability they provide for this particularily sweaty sport.

Also, we've worn this baselayer while backpacking through the woods and skiing in Alaska. Through these experiences when we required quick to dry performance that the Midweight Capilene delivered on. As a result, we conclude that this is a very breathable layer that offers a quick-drying speed. We'd recommend it for a plethora of activities. Use it while post-holing through the snow in the backcountry or on a super cold day of cross-country skiing. As long as it vents well, you'll be happy with its breathable performance.

Comfort and Fit


Outfitted with a synthetic fiber that isn't particularly soft or cozy, the Capilene isn't the most comfortable base layer bottom on the market. The fabrics feel nice next to the skin, but they don't compare to other Merino wool contenders. The waistband features a sewn-in elastic band that is attached to a thicker strip of fabric.


Next to the skin, its reasonably comfortable, but could be made even more comfortable by adding in a little padding around at the elastic level. The elastic cuffs are the ankles provide sufficient stretch, while the entire length of the fabric also stretches to a certain degree. This allows for a diverse fit for a diversity of figures. While we like this stretch, this piece would be made a touch more comfortable with the integration of more elastic fibers. Many of our testers mentioned that throughout the length of the bottoms, it felt a bit rigid and didn't move as well as other products with the body. That said, this is OutdoorGearLab being supercritical. This is a tried and tested piece that does demonstrate mobility, just not as good as other contenders.

Patagonia Capilene Midweight -- Front (5'6"  140 lbs)
Side and length
A look at the overall fit of these synthetic contenders.
A look at the overall fit of these synthetic contenders.

The length of the pant is just perfect for an average 5'7" woman but doesn't really offer additional length for those who might be a little taller. If you have height on your side, you'd be better off to seek a base layer with a longer length.


Regarding retaining its shape, the Patagonia Capilene stands out from the rest. It maintains its form and bounces back into place. This is unlike merino wool contenders that stretch out until the next laundering spell.

Overall, size is true to fit, but we wish for a few more comfort features to ramp up the scoring in this category. We wore it for days on end, but in the end, we prefer merino wool if seeking out a super comfortable and cozy experience.

This is only available in full-lengths options.

Durability


If you're a tireless person that beats their base layers to bits, the Capilene Midweight may be a great friend in your quest for utter exhaustion. The Capilene polyester fibers are incredibly resilient, with the fabric offering a high level of durability to snags and snares along with your adventures. The face fabrics are not fragile, allowing you to wear this piece on its own if you felt so inclined. Also, during our testing period, we didn't note any wear or tear, pilling, or random stitching fly-aways. Traditionally, the Capilene has been known for its awesome level of durability, and it continues to stand true to that reputation. If you seek a durable midweight base layer, this is our Top recommendation! We've had ours for years, and you should expect the same level of quality.


The polyester fabrics feature a fleecy-inner bricklayer that is comfortable and incredibly durable. The face fabric is smooth and doesn't catch on even little snags. Good enough to be worn on its own.
The polyester fabrics feature a fleecy-inner bricklayer that is comfortable and incredibly durable. The face fabric is smooth and doesn't catch on even little snags. Good enough to be worn on its own.

Even though this piece integrates Polygiene® permanent odor control technology, we still notice a slight smell after wearing it for days on end. This is the norm with most synthetics. As a result, we'd recommend laundering it in between uses or using a tech wash to remove lingering scents.

Value


This is one of the highest value products out there! It wins our Best Buy Award for this very reason.

Alison layers her climbing pants overtop her baselayer while climbing on a cold day in Red Rocks. The abrasion of upper layers can cause holes to wear through if not careful. However  in the ultra-durable Patagonia Capilene Midweight  this didn't prove to be a problem.
Alison layers her climbing pants overtop her baselayer while climbing on a cold day in Red Rocks. The abrasion of upper layers can cause holes to wear through if not careful. However, in the ultra-durable Patagonia Capilene Midweight, this didn't prove to be a problem.

Conclusion


This Best Buy Award winner is a 100% polyester midweight long underwear bottom that balances high performance at a fantastic price. While it's not perfect, it's certainly a great option if you're looking for a less expensive base layer that will perform and last you for years. It's versatile, and you can use it for most cool to cold weather adventures.


Amber King