Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoodie Review
It has been a long, cold winter across most of the USA. Except for the lucky ones of us living in ludicrously sunny San Diego, or maybe Florida, I think we’re ready to turn the page and get into spring and summer. That is prime hiking season, after all.
Depending on your backpacking plans and level of Covid-induced cave-dwelling, you might have a lot more sun exposure coming your way than you’re used to. I know that my pasty skin is certainly in for a shock after its first winter in the Pacific Northwest. While sunscreen plays an important role in protecting us from harmful UV rays, the clothing we wear does most of the work.
Before setting out on the PCT in 2015, against my best, and admittedly nonexistent, fashion judgment, I adopted the long-sleeve hiking shirt. Although I traded the button-down look of an REI interviewee for the fresh and functional sun hoodie last year, I’ve been hiking in sleeves ever since. The Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoodie is the latest version of this garment to lie crumpled and sweaty on my floor. Spoiler alert, it is also one of the best. This shirt might seem simple, but it has an important role to fulfill. Let’s take a look at why it will be with me when I take those first, sweet steps of my next adventure.
Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoodie At-a-Glance
Type: Synthetic sun hoodie
Material: 50% recycled polyester
UPF Rating: 50+
Weight: 6.3 ounces
Country of Origin: Fair Trade Certified sewn in Sri Lanka
This lightweight, sun-protective shirt is intended to work as a base layer or all by itself in pretty much all conditions. Patagonia’s versatile tech tees are useful across a wide range of activities from boating to hopscotch, though backpacking is what we’re interested in here. This hoodie’s features, including odor control, make it an obvious candidate for days of crunching up the trail. The UV blocking fabric combined with long sleeves and hood provide dependable protection from the harsh rays of the sun. That skin coverage also provides a touch of warmth in cooler or windy conditions.
Circumstances of Review
It feels like I’ve seen more days of rain than sun this winter while testing the Capilene Cool Daily Hoodie. While I’d rather have it the other way, the dreary days have given me opportunity aplenty to see how this shirt handles cool weather by itself and as part of a layering system. This is important (at least that’s what I tell myself in miserable conditions) because, as backpackers and thru-hikers, we know that the weather isn’t always on our side. A handful of sunny days have provided me a chance to test the warm weather performance of this shirt, and months of muddy runs and damp cycle commutes have bestowed on me more soggy wisdom than I care to possess. Alone and layered, sweaty and rain-soaked. A thru-hike will test all that and more.
Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoodie Features
Recycled Fabric: The 100% polyester material is both lightweight and comfortable, but that’s not the best thing about it. Even better, 50% of the polyester used is recycled material that was destined for millennia of landfill purgatory. More recycling means less trash and reduced demand for environmentally damaging petroleum extraction, which is needed to create virgin plastic (i.e. more trash).
Sun Protection: The best way to protect the skin from UV radiation is to cover it up. The hood and long sleeves of the Cool Daily Hoodie shade the entire upper body except for the face and hands, including those regularly fried ear tips and back of the neck. The fabric is rated at 50+ UPF sun protection, which is the highest rating a garment can achieve. That number means that less than 2% of UV light is able to get through. Check out this article for details of fabric sun protection.
Hood: The deep hood does a great job of keeping all but the face shaded. It fits a little differently than other hoods I’ve used, with a closer fit at the neck, and moves well with turns of the head. It will fit under a helmet or over a hat.
Fabric Tech: Patagonia talks up their built-in miDori bioSoft plant-based fabric softener and HeiQ odor control technology. I’m pretty skeptical of unquantifiable marketing hype, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. What I do know is that the Cool Daily Hoodie fabric feels super soft and is more stink-resistant than my older polyester layers.
Better Than Sunscreen
Sun protective clothing is my preferred alternative to slathering on sunscreen—or forgetting to. It protects my skin better because it’s always there and doesn’t lose effectiveness with time or sweat. I still use sunscreen on my face because my beard doesn’t cover the whole thing, unfortunately.
But the longer I’m in the backcountry (i.e., the dirtier I get), the more I appreciate the benefits of minimizing its use. I don’t have to carry as much of the stuff, I reduce that nasty feeling of layering dirt and sunscreen for multiple days in a row, my gear is exposed to less of a performance damaging substance, and my LNT practice improves by minimizing the nasty chemicals I release into the environment when taking a dip in pristine mountain water.
The Capilene Cool Daily Hoodie is one seriously comfy shirt. I’ll even put myself out there and call it my comfiest shirt. The fabric is the key. It is one of the smoothest and softest materials that I have ever had the pleasure of calling clothing. Is this the miDori working its mysterious softener magic? I’m not sure, but whatever it is, I like it. The result is a lightweight, flowing garment that feels great next to the skin.
The material is also reasonably stretchy so it doesn’t restrict movement, even in tight spots. This effect is achieved through the fabric weave, which is a more permanent path to stretch than adding spandex.
Fit and Sizing
For my body type, the fit of this shirt is excellent. It strikes a good balance between providing freedom of movement and cutting out baggy excess. Patagonia calls this a “Regular Fit” and I think they got that right. There’s enough space for air to circulate on warm days, or to squeeze in a base layer for cold excursions. The aforementioned fabric stretch forgives any overzealous reaching. I’m a small dude, a trait that is accurately reflected by the fact that the size small shirt fits me great.
The hood provides good coverage when in use without intruding on peripheral vision, and it is easily forgotten when hanging loose. It fits closer at the back of the neck than other hoods I’ve used, but so far that hasn’t become more than a stylistic curiosity.
Nothing out of the ordinary here. Sweat-encrusted polyester used to be one of the most egregious offenders of the olfactory system, but fabric nerds have made respectable gains in this department. The HeiQ at least brings the ripening speed of the Cool Daily Hoodie up to average. It resists stinking up the joint for about a week, depending on use. A regular wash cycle leaves just enough flavor to remember the good times.
Cool Daily Hoodie Pros
Soft fabric: I’ll say it again. The fabric of this shirt feels incredible.
Sun protection: UPF 50+ is the highest sun protection rating possible for clothing. Wearing a long-sleeve hoodie has many benefits over slathering on sunscreen or getting sunburned, and it’s impossible to screw up. For long days (or months) in the sun, a sun hoodie is the easiest and most effective way to protect your skin.
Quick-dry: The thin polyester fabric is incapable of absorbing much water. Therefore, what moisture there is hastily evaporates. All that back sweat will be dry by the time you finish lunch.
Hood: It casts some sweet shade when it’s sunny and adds a little warmth when it’s not. And for the times when your ears need to breathe, it drapes out of the way without feeling bulky.
Recycled material: 50% of the polyester in this shirt is recycled. That’s not as high as a lot of Patagonia’s other gear, but it’s an important step nonetheless. Less plastic in the landfill, and less petroleum extracted to make new plastic. Trash never felt so good.
Company activism: Patagonia has been on the leading edge of company activism, environmental stewardship, and ethical/sustainable business practices and products for an awfully long time. Buying new gear comes at a cost greater than the price tag suggests, and Patagonia has done a lot of work to minimize the invisible consequences.
Price: Not only is the Cool Daily Hoodie one of my favorite shirts, but it’s also one of the most affordable sun hoodies out there. $55 might be big-budget if you’re popping tags at Goodwill, but in the realm of tech shirts, that’s value.
Cool Daily Hoodie Cons
No thumb loops: I miss thumb loops on this shirt. During winter, this actually hasn’t been a big issue at all, but come the sunny days of summer, I like to protect the backs of my hands, and thumb loops make that easy. They’re not for everyone though and so will not be missed by everyone. But if you’re like me, fortunately, the Patagonia Tropic Comfort II Hoodie is pretty much the exact same shirt with thumb loops added.
Availability: As good as this shirt is, it won’t help you one lick if it doesn’t exist. At the time of writing, the Cool Daily Hoodie is scarce, but hey, it’s winter. Look for it back on the online shelves this spring and summer.
Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoodie: Final Thoughts
If you’ve stuck with me this far, then you must either be my mom (Hi, Mom!) or you’re really into shirts. Either way, you won’t be surprised to hear that I strongly endorse the Patagonia Capilene Cool Daily Hoodie for just about any activity. Of course, it excels at reliably and unobtrusively keeping sun exposure to a minimum, but its fabulous comfort also makes it one of the first shirts I grab from a fresh load of laundry. Lightweight, soft, stretchy, good fit. Patagonia has a winner here.
Similar Sun Hoodies
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Product donated for purpose of review.
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