And now for my 2nd gear review! Another product I use all the time – my Patagonia Capilene 2 Men’s Crew base layer. I’ve been wearing this consistently for two years for Fall through Spring seasons since I purchased this product off SteepandCheap for $23.99. I typically wore wool or sleek polyester layers but I am sold on the lightweight Capilene. The first time I ever wore this shirt I actually ripped a hole in my sleeve which I quickly repaired and have not looked back. It is the best base layer I own.
There’s really not too much to say about a base layer. It’s one of the simplest pieces of clothing you will own for hiking. Either it fits comfortably and dries quickly, or it doesn’t. The Patagonia Men’s Capilene 2 Crew happily fits into the former category. In the past I’ve worn multiple merino wool base layers and sometimes cheaper polyester base layers made by Nike and Under Armour. I always read the Patagonia Capilene series are some of the best, most comfortable layers out there and when I saw one half price on SteepandCheap I had to buy it. It has not disappointed. I wear this layer usually during Fall and Spring seasons, and have also worn it 3 days straight as a base layer for a winter backpacking trip.
The Capilene 2 is a lightweight 100% Polartec Power Dry polyester shirt. The weave is an open-knit style, giving off a honeycomb appearance. At first, when I wore this for the first time hiking to Calloway Peak the shirt felt kind of itchy. Maybe it was because I was so used to my wool shirts and cheap, sleek polyester athletic layers. After hiking for a while I quickly forgot about the feeling and that’s probably one of the best compliments you can give a base layer. You do not want to constantly feel your clothing next-to-skin. I think after a few washes the Capilene 2 feels even better than before. Sometimes when it’s very cold in the winter I’ll wear this around the house instead of putting on a baggy sweatshirt. If hiking clothing is comfortable enough to wear at home you know the product is a home run.
For me, Fall and Spring – the shoulder seasons – are the best times to wear this base layer. In North Carolina that’s when the mountain daytime temperatures typically vary from 30°F – 70°F. During the hot, humid summers I prefer to wear a loose-fitting long-sleeve shirt that suits the sweat evaporation process better. But I have worn the Patagonia Capilene 2 in the summer without issue. During the winter I prefer to wear a heavier merino wool layer, unless it’s really cold then I typically wear the Capilene 2 under a lightweight fleece mid layer. As you can tell, this shirt is suitable in almost all conditions in North Carolina weather. It’s also nice to have a bright red base layer. This color stands out well for possible emergency situations, and for hunters. If I had to go back and purchase it again, I would try to buy orange for the numerous game land boundaries I encounter.
Of all the base layers I own – probably 10 or so – this is the best overall layer for my hiking needs. The price seems moderately high for a lightweight polyester shirt but it is well worth it. Despite its flimsy feel the Capilene 2 has held up really well over the years. The only rip I’ve received was from a slip on the trail and my arm jabbed into an exposed root when I tried to plant my trekking pole. With the gash I got in my forearm it is likely most base layers would’ve ripped. What ultimately matters is the Capilene 2 is comfortable and dries very quickly. If you are looking to upgrade on your current layer, the Patagonia Capilene 2 should be the first place you look.
- lightweight, stretchy, and comfortable
- dries very quickly
- can be worn for multiple days
- appropriate for a variety of weather conditions
- somewhat flimsy material makes it prone to rips
- best for shoulder seasons, may want to go with heavier layer in winter and loose layer in summer
- no thumbholes
Recommended use for this product:
A base layer or single layer for hiking and camping during Fall and Spring, and also moderate Winter conditions
**Disclosure – Zachary Robbins purchased this product with his own funds**
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