A good base layer makes a real difference
When you’re out watching wildlife you often find yourself in unpredictable weather, in inaccessible and exposed places, out early in the morning or late into the evening, and often a combination of all those things. If you want to stay comfortable you need the right kind of clothing.
While the Irish climate hammered home the need for a good waterproof shell long ago, and the value of a decent high performance fleece or jumper is universally acknowledged, I’d never really paid much attention to base layers. After all, how much better than that a comfortable old t-shirt could they really be?
It wasn’t until I pulled on the Patagonia Capilene 3 Midweight Crew base layer recently that I realised what I’d been missing.
The folks at Patagonia sent a very fetching “Red Delicious with Molten Lava” coloured garment — which is really lovely, but given the choice I’d have been more likely to opt for the more wildlife friendly “Tuscan Olive and Hickory” version I’ve used in the photograph (Photo from the product page on Patagonia’s website, by the way).
But hey… this is a base layer — which generally means you’re wearing stuff over it, so having a slightly “jazzy” colour isn’t the end of the world.
Comfortable, warm and dry… from the inside out
The first thing you notice when you pull on the Capilene 3 base layer is how comfortable, warm and stretchy it is. It “hugs” you in all the right places, and yet has plenty of give and movement to feel roomy and unobtrusive. It really is a joy to wear: in fact you soon forget you’re wearing it, which is a great sign.
Thanks to the high performance Capilene fabric the Crew stays comfortable too, whatever you find yourself doing. It performs beautifully whether you’re sitting immobile for long hours on a seawatch, power-hiking up a hillside with all your gear on your back, or running like a lunatic to twitch the latest autumn migrant. It’s far warmer and more comfortable, over a far wider range of conditions, than the ubiquitous old t-shirts it replaces, and yet, somehow, it also manages to stop you over-heating too. Magic!
You stay dry too — which might sound like an odd statement for a base layer — but most of the time when you get damp it’s not because of rain, it’s because of sweat. With Capilene fabrics sweat is wicked away from the skin quickly, and I never once felt hot and clammy while wearing it. Even if the Capilene Crew does get wet (if, like me, you have a tendency to leave your waterproofs in the car) it STILL performs well — keeping you warm, and drying more quickly than any fabric has a right to.
I wore the Capilene 3 Midweight Crew for a camping expedition to a small island just off the West Cork coast last month. We canoed back and forth from the mainland to the island, ferrying equipment, supplies and people. It was hard physical work paddling too and fro across the channel, but I never once felt sweaty and uncomfortable — the Capilene worked beautifully. I did however manage to get wet (my fault, not the garment’s).
Somehow I overbalanced getting into the canoe for the return journey and ended up soaking my left arm, shoulder and half my chest. Despite being wet, the Capilene continued to work it’s magic, and I stayed warm on the return leg. Better still, by the time I reached the other side the garment was practically dry. I was suitably impressed.
Green credentials match great performance
OK — so the base layer I was sent for review was red… but bizarrely it was also green. Capilene is a high performance polyester fabric made from at least 50% recycled material. It’s also 100% recyclable when it reaches the end of its useful life, and Patagonia offers a nifty “Common Threads” recycling programme. I haven’t been using the Capilene 3 Crew base layer for very long — but it has been through the wash quite a few times. It dries quickly (did I mention that?), still looks, feels and performs as good as new, and thanks to Patagonia’s proprietary Gladiator Odour Control system it still smells like new too.
For everyday nature walks in good weather I still wear the comfortable old t-shirts under my fleece. For serious wildlife expeditions, bad weather or both (it’s funny how often they coincide) I now choose a performance base layer, and more often than not it’s the Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew.
It’s just a shame it’s red!
Taken from the Patagonia website:
- Stretchy, double-weave fabric wicks extremely well
- Durable smooth jersey face slides easily beneath layers
- Fabric is brushed for warmth, softness and compressibility; provides excellent insulation and breathability
- Rib collar
- Raglan sleeves and single-piece shoulder panel merge out of the way of pack straps
- Machine-wash cold, tumble dry at low temperature
- 5.4-oz Polartec® Power Dry® 100% polyester (Solids: 65% recycled; Heathers: 51% recycled; Stripes: 56% recycled) double-knit. All with Gladiodor® odor control for the garment
- 221 g (7.8 oz)
- Made in Mexico.
I’d like to thank Patagonia for submitting the Men’s Capilene® 3 Midweight Crew Base Layer for review on Ireland’s Wildlife.
NB. Ireland’s Wildlife has no specific affiliation to any optics or gear manufacturer and all reviews on the site are completely independent and objective. If you’re an optics or gear manufacturer and would like to submit your product for review on the site please drop us a line using the contact form and we can take things from there.