In summer 2021 we were contacted by Patagonia, and offered to test some of the iconic brand’s outdoor clothing in return for unbiased reviews. I asked for the Capilene Cool Trail t-shirt, and have worn it as much as possible since for both outdoor activities and everyday life since I received it. I can thus confirm that the Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail t-shirt is suitable for the following activities:
- Everyday life
When I first unpacked and touched the Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail t-shirt, I was almost incredulous that it was synthetical. Others have described it as cotton-like in texture, which I will not dispute, but it does also have a certain smoothness to it which is reminiscent of my Klattermusen Eir t-shirt – a mixture of silk and Merino wool. The Patagonia t-shirt does not feel synthetic to the touch at all, although it is made exclusively of polyester spun jersey. The striped version which I received is made of a 4.1 oz./yd2 (= 139 g/m2) fabric with 86 % recycled polyester, while the solid colored Capilene Cool Trail t-shirts are made of a 4.4 oz./yd2 (= 149 g/m2) fabric of 100 % recycled polyester. The fabric is bluesign-certified, meaning that it has been manufactured to be safe for both workers and customers, while minimizing the impact on the environment. This Patagonia t-shirt is also Fair Trade Certified Sewn, which means that the brand pays a premium for each garment sewn this way (read more here).
When I put on the t-shirt I could, however, immediately feel that the material is not like cotton or silk. In spite of its name, the Cool Trail t-shirt has a certain warmth to it! I don’t have that much experience with synthetic fabrics as I rarely wear them, but also others (for example in this Reddit thread which compares the Capilene Cool Trail with the Capilene Cool Daily) have noted that the Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail does not feel so cool for warm weather or performance sports. I received the t-shirt in late August when the summer was definitely over in Denmark, so I haven’t tried it in temperatures over 25ºC (77 ºF) but it does seem like it could be too warm. For my hiking activities in the first months of autumn, it has been perfect.
Sizing and Fit
With a chest and waist circumference of 92 cm (36”) and 77 cm (30”) respectively, I asked for a size medium based on the size chart. I should mention, nevertheless, that when I recently used Patagonia’s (European?) Fit Finder, it advised me to take a size L rather than a size M. While the size medium t-shirt is far from tight on me, I can see on photos that it is not as loose on me as it is on the models wearing a size S on Patagonia’s website. It is intended as a regular fitting garment, and I’m fully satisfied with the size M as such. My only concern is that the hem of the sleeves (but not the sleeves themselves) feel a bit tight around my upper arms, at least when it has just been washed. The length is neither too long nor too short on my 173 cm (5’9’’) tall frame.
Comfort and Functionality
Besides the slightly narrow sleeve hems, the Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail t-shirt for women has some good construction details such as a drop tail hem and raglan sleeves with underarm gussets for extra freedom of movement. It is also equipped with a loop at the back of neck, which is practical for hanging it to dry or air out from a long day on the trail. To avoid chafing, the Cool Trail t-shirt is sewn with flat-lock seams and has Patagonia’s logo etc. printed at the back of the neck, rather than on a flapping neck tag. There is, however, also a small tag with the iconic 1976 logo at the bottom hem, so the outside world can properly identify the brand of the shirt!
An important part of functionality when we are talking about synthetic activewear is the anti-odor performance as polyester can get very smelly very fast. The Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail t-shirt is treated with HeiQ Fresh durable odor control, which unlike many other odor treatments is silver-free. After testing the t-shirt, I would say that it can be used for two, maybe three days maximum before washing it, but it should be mentioned that I have a very sharp sense of smell and that it anyway depends on what you use it for, how much you perspire, if you are under stress etc.
Washing and Drying
The Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail t-shirt can be machine-washed at 40ºC or lower. It should not be tumble-dried, but indeed there is no reason to as it absorbs very little water and feels slightly humid rather than wet after being (machine-)washed. It airdries completely in very little time although it of course depends on the temperature and air humidity when you hang it out to dry. The washing instructions are printed on a very long and annoying tag, which is obviously meant to be cut out, so I did that almost right away.
The Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail t-shirt is sustainably made and a great all-around synthetic technical t-shirt with HeiQ Fresh anti-odor treatment. While the material might not be cooling enough for very warm weather, it is soft and supple and doesn’t feel synthetic to the touch. The t-shirt is equipped with good functional details such as flatlock seams and raglan sleeves with underarm gussets, but is still casual enough to wear for everyday life.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.
We field tested this product. The rating shows its overall performance.About Rating
- Soft and lightweight material
- Flatlock seams all-around
- Raglan sleeves and underarm gussets
- Sustainably produced
- Material not as cooling as name suggests