Patagonia Capilene 1 SW Stretch T-Shirt

As the hot season arrived, I thought I’d try some of the extremely lightweight hiking apparel available now. I’ve had a Patagonia sweater for 30 years that works and fits as good as new, so I thought I’d look at their offerings. Patagonia marked down a lot of their summer stuff for end-of-season, so I purchased their Capilene 1 SW Stretch T-Shirt. It’s fair to say I loved it the first time I put it on, and using it has done nothing to change my mind.

I’m a little guy. I am 5’9″ and weigh about 138 pounds, with a 30″ waist. So I wear size small clothing. It’s getting harder and harder to find size small these days. It seems like the scale keeps getting larger and larger too. What is a medium now is what used to be XL 20 years ago, or so it seems to me. Patagonia offers size small, and even x-small in some items.

Natural fibers like cotton, and the wool your mother made you wear growing up, tend to hold moisture. Through exertion, like climbing a mountain, I sweat, even when it’s cold. Likely you do too. A cotton t-shirt next to my skin would simply soak up the perspiration, and hold it in the shirt. This can cause chafing, but worse, it adds unnecessary weight to the garment, and you run the risk of overheating.

For the past decade or so, apparel manufacturers have gotten much better at creating “wicking” baselayer products to keep us dry. Microfibers and polyesters have been good choices for this. Wicking occurs because of capillary action, the ability of water to flow through porous materials. If the base layer wicks moisture away from your skin, you stay cooler in summer, and warmer when it’s cold out.

The Capilene 1 SW Stretch T-Shirt has been delightful for me. Capilene® is Patagonia’s proprietary microfiber fabric. This is their lightest weight Capilene tee, the SW stands for silk weight. Capilene baselayers feature a moisture-wicking polyester fabric that dries quickly. I found that even after a strenuous climb, or session of exercise, the shirt would totally air dry within 20 minutes, or less. Capilene polyester is also recycled, recyclable and features Gladiodor® garment odor control.

The shirt does have 15 UPF sun protection rating, not a lot compared to other microfibers, but remember this is their lightest weight Capilene. The heavier Capilene also has a higher UPF level. The tee was sized just right for me. It has a snug, but not overly restrictive fit. The length is good it can be worn out, or is long enough to tuck in and show your fabulous abs. This particular shirt is a crew neck with a ribbed collar.

I’ve worn the shirt hiking a couple times now and it maintains shape well. Despite sweating considerably, it doesn’t holdsmy body odor, unlike some other microfibers I’ve tried that smell horrible from perspiration. I’ve laundered the shirt and there was no shrinkage, or stretching, no snags in the material. The shirt maintained the same snug, comfortable fit it had when new. Patagonia advertises that their garments with the Deluge® DWR finish have like-new water repellency after years of extensive use. We shall see.

This is good stuff. I am very happy with my shirt purchase, but I’m not surprised because Patagonia has built a solid reputation for quality, durable products for decades. They are a bit pricey, but don’t let the sticker shock dissuade you. If my thirty year old sweater is any indicator you definitely get your money’s worth. Do like I did and wait for their end-of-season markdowns or holiday sales.

I have not received compensation for the endorsement of this product. The product was not given to me by the manufacturer or any of their representatives. I paid for the product myself.


This post was created by Jeff Clark. Please feel free to use the sharing icons below, or add your thoughts to the comments. Pack it in, pack it out. Preserve the past. Respect other hikers. Let nature prevail. Leave no trace.


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