I first laid eyes on the Patagonia Capilene Air while on expedition in Nepal with Colin Haley. He had an early sample that didn’t make an appearance until we were away from the masses. It certainly caught our attention, and not just because it was an extra kind of bright green.
It was a curious, sweater like piece with what appeared to be a built in scarf. The material looked like it belonged in an office more than en route to Nupste.
Colin assured us that it was very much a technical layering piece and well at home for what he does in the mountains, which is to be rad.
Fast forward a few years and I’m on the Patagonia site where low and behold, there’s that sweater thingy again, labeled as an Endurance piece no less. Say what?
After a little reading about its performance traits for high exertion, aerobic sports, my interest was piqued. And being half Merino (my fave) and half Capilene (my synthetic fave), with loads of guarantees about being super breathable and moisture wicking, my finger hovered over the Add to Cart button. What solidified the deal was that I, an American, with a long history of being a climber living in Europe, appreciated it for what it wasn’t as much as what it was. It wasn’t a) neon, b) a billboard, c) compression or d) all of the above. It was also made of 30% recycled fabric by a brand I believe in.
That’s right, I clicked that button!
I used my Capilene Air Hoody throughout the Alps’ fall and am 100% in love with this piece. Worn over bare skin, this layer has an enormous range of comfort regardless of exertion. The material is very loosely woven, which contributes to the sweater appearance, and allows for it to breathe and regulate itself. Paired with my favorite puffy jacket or vest, the Patagonia Nano Air Hybrid, and you have an ultra-breathable layering system for cold weather trail running, ski mountaineering, and if I were an ice climber, I bet much appreciated for that as well.
Close the system down with a waterproof, breathable shell of your choice and you have a very light, effective system for staying dry and warm in cold weather.
I ordered the Hoody and have found that the one thing I don’t always like is that the high neck gets very hot, and there is no way to dump that heat. While I do love, and use, the hood, the Crew may be more versatile unless you’re playing in some seriously cold weather.
Overall, the Patagonia Capilene Air may well be the best all-around layering piece I have ever worn and no matter where you are, you are always a bit dressed up. Best of all, you can cover all your sweater and layering needs with an assortment of colors. Yes, it’s that good.
By Dan Patitucci
The Good Points
- Stretchy, form hugging design and material
- Anatomical hood
- Built in neck gaitor thanks to that hood
- Warm when soaking wet, again merino and capilene.
- Fast drying
The Points to Consider
- Best for endurance sports, not so sure I’d climb in this due to it feeling fragile.
- Neck gaitor on the Hoody gets very hot, consider the crew for versatility.
Visit Patagonia.com to learn more about the Capilene Air
Gear Review Disclaimer: At ALPSinsight, product reviews are a result of either finding gear we love and wanting to support it, or working with brands we partner with and believing in the gear enough to want to heap praise in support of what works well. If we don’t like something, we just don’t review it. We do not publish sponsored posts but do get some product for free with the agreement that we truly must like it enough to review it.