by Don Wilson | 2006-04-17 03:00:00-06
For fall 2006 Patagonia will update its line of performance base layers and will offer two approaches to the single goal of keeping dry and comfortable. The Capilene polyester garments have been updated and Patagonia will release a completely new line of merino wool base layers.
The Capilene line will be offered in four weights, now simply named Capilene 1, 2, 3 and 4. These correspond roughly, but not exactly, to Patagonia's current and previous four weights; silkweight, lightweight, midweight and expedition weight. The photo at right is Karen Wilson in a women's Capilene 3 Zip-Neck. Note that she was stung by a bee the first day she wore this Golden Yellow color layer in the field!
The Capilene 1 weight is identical to the current silkweight; 3.7 ounces/yard squared. Capilene 2 will be slightly lighter than the current lightweight (4 ounces/yard squared versus 4.6 ounces/yard squared). Capilene 3 is identical in weight to the current midweight at 4.8 ounces/yard squared. Capilene 4 is similar to the previously offered expedition weight at 5.3 ounces/yard squared.
Patagonia is striving to convert their entire Capilene line to recycled polyester fibers. The Capilene 1 fabric is the first to reach this goal and will be made from 100 percent recycled polyester fibers. The other weights are comprised of roughly 50 percent recycled fibers. All of the fabrics are 100 percent recyclable for future generations of clothing as part of Patagonia's common threads recycling program.
An infamous property of the current Capilene line is the rapid build-up of odor that will occur if you wear them for any length of time without a thorough washing. All new Capilene products will feature a natural odor control technology which Patagonia calls Gladiodor. Patagonia refers to Gladiodor as a natural odor control which uses environmentally benign amino acid chains to break down bacteria whose waste causes odor. In limited testing to date, our Capilene test products are standing up well and have built up very limited odors.
Patagonia's new merino wool line is made from 18.5 micron, 100 percent merino wool. The wool line will come in 3 weights; Wool 2, Wool 3 and Wool 4. These are named to correspond to the weights of the Capilene line and facilitate comparison and layering. Fabric weights for the 3 wool fabrics will be 4.3, 6.8 and 7.8 ounces per yard squared, respectively.
Again considering the environmental impacts of manufacturing, all of Patagonia's wool fabrics are developed using a 100 percent chlorine free process. Most other wool fabrics on the market use chlorine during the manufacturing process.
My test garment is a Wool 2 Zip-Neck. I have used it extensively this winter on long training hikes, trail runs and days climbing at our local crags. The fabric weight and performance is comparable to the lightest wool base layers available from Ibex, Icebreaker and Smartwool. It is comfortable and cool in warm weather and dries very rapidly. The zip neck is a nice feature if you plan to use it during high exertion activities such as trail running or aerobic winter sports. I haven't washed mine all winter. I just take it off when I get home from a hike or run, then toss it in with the other stinky base layers. Wool lives up to its reputation for natural odor resistance - my Wool 2 Zip-Neck doesn't stink a bit. All of the updated Patagonia base layers will have a more trim fit with the fall 2006 lines. This is a welcome change in my opinion, easing the layering process and creating garments more efficient for use in high exertion activities.
A fundamental difference between the wool and Capilene base layers is the price. The wool line will set you back quite a bit more than the Capilene line. For example, the men's Capilene 2 Zip-Neck is $43, while the men's Wool 2 Zip-Neck is $88. In the heavier weights the difference is substantial, but not quite so drastic. The men's Capilene 4 Zip-Neck is $85 and the men's Wool 4 Zip-Neck is $125.
Don in a Patagonia Wool 2 Zip-Neck in Arizona's Aravaipa Canyon.
"Patagonia Base Layers SPOTLITE REVIEW," by Don Wilson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/patagonia_baselayers_spotlite_review.html, 2006-04-17 03:00:00-06.