Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily - Women's Review
Cons: Few color choices, small hood, sleeves a bit short
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily is a hooded sun shirt with a 50+ UPF rating and odor control properties. It's one of very few we tested with a hood but no thumbholes and no pockets.
Comfort and Fit
The first thing we love about the Capilene is its super soft fabric. It has an interesting quality about it that feels almost like a fine dry powder and is intensely comfortable against the skin. Though it's not the most stretchy sun shirt we tested, it is stretchy in all the right places. It's comfortable to move in, and flat stitching around the neck and on top of the shoulders add to this comfort. This trim, athletically shaped shirt fits well without being too tight in any one place.
We do feel that the Capilene runs slightly large, though not by a huge margin. Our 5'4", 120 lb main tester tested an extra small but could have also worn a small — which may have made the sleeves long enough for her self-described "monkey arms." The sleeves of the extra small aren't exceptionally short but do get easily pulled up during regular motion. When pushing the sleeves up, they feel a little tight on the forearms, but not as much as a few others we tested, and the cuffs don't dig in at all or cut off circulation. With regular seams up the arms and down the torso, the Capilene isn't built for the excessive arm motions of activities like running or paddling but does just fine on moderate hikes. This is a minor detail in the grand scheme of things, though, and we're rather pleased with the overall fit and feel of this sun shirt.
Like the majority of shirts we tested, the Capilene carries a UPF rating of 50+. Wearing the hood adds extra coverage for the neck and ears, while the lack of thumb holes leaves the backs of the hands fairly exposed. The hood is a bit on the small side and struggles to fit over a ponytail or bun. However, while down, this shirt still does a pretty good job of keeping the neck from being easily burnt.
The lack of small details that would make this shirt even more protective cost it a few points in this metric. For example, the hood is not adjustable, and some other model's hoods are. And as we already mentioned, the shorter sleeves without any way to attach them to your hands also leave that area exposed. But when we consider the protection of the features it does have, the Capilene offers a solid level of UV protection.
Though the Capilene isn't the thinnest sun shirt we tested, it's still relatively lightweight, and the looser, athletic fit leaves some room for air to move inside. Color mixed with thin white stripes keeps the shirt fairly light in color --which we always appreciate in the hot sun. The powdery soft feel of the fabric also seems almost cool to the touch, which we love. Patagonia advertises that this sun shirt is built with special wicking material, and in fact, we found that our sweat does indeed dry fairly quickly in this shirt.
While we think there's much to like about the breathability of the Capilene, it's certainly not the thinnest sun shirt we tested. Several others are thinner, lighter, and more breathable. We did test this shirt while running but aren't really big fans of it for that purpose. This is mostly due to the heavier hood pulling backward at the neck, making us feel a little bit shorter of breath than we ought to have been. We think it offers great breathability for hiking, though, and enjoy wearing it around the backyard and while hiking.
The Capilene is a fairly versatile shirt. As a hooded model, there may be certain scenarios in which you might not be "up to dress code" while wearing it — like possibly your office. However, it's not nearly as strictly outdoors-looking as just about any of the other sun shirts in this review. Between the colors and how it fits, the Capilene looks fairly cute to our team of women testers. The lack of certain details, like thumbholes and drawstrings, further adds to this increased aesthetic.
We like the colors that the Capilene is offered in and think they're a selling point for the appeal of this shirt. However, there are very few color choices, and not everyone may like them as much as we do. This top stands out from most hooded models because of its lack of thumbholes. While this does detract from some of its sun protection and coverage, we're happy to see an option out there that doesn't leave weird holes in your sleeves for the many other moments that you may not want to stick your thumbs through. Overall, we think the Capilene is pretty versatile, and significantly more versatile than just about all the other hooded models we tested.
The Capilene is made of 100% polyester, half of which is recycled content. It's treated with Patagonia's version of odor control, which contains the active ingredient silver chloride on titanium dioxide. Unlike some other tops we tested, we didn't notice an undue build-up of odors after sweating in this shirt for hours. This treatment is likely to lessen over time, though — and no matter how good it is, you can't avoid washing your shirt forever.
In terms of construction, the Capilene seems solid. Though the polyester fabric isn't ripstop, it seems to hold up well to a decent amount of abuse. We went on desert hikes and trimmed bushes without having any issues with this shirt. Overall, it is a good compromise between durable materials and breathability.
Beyond a hood, this shirt doesn't have any additional features. No pockets, thumbholes, drawstrings, or hidden bonuses. It's a simple hooded shirt.
Though it's not the least expensive option we tested, the Capilene offers a good performance for a reasonable price. Unless you're on the prowl for a very specific use hooded sun shirt, we think this simple model is a great value.
The Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily is a soft, comfortable hooded sun shirt that's easy to wear day after day with a price tag that's reasonable, winning it our award for Best Buy for a Hooded Sun Shirt. Without thumbholes or drawstrings, it provides slightly less sun protection but slightly higher all-around aesthetic appeal. It's not the best choice for really active, sweaty endeavors, but for awesome, everyday protection, it's tough to beat.
— Maggie Brandenburg