View Full Version : Capilene 1 or Merino Wool Microweight?

09-11-2007, 20:42
Anyone tried both of these? Anyone try one of these and have an opinion about it?
Upfront, the price is crazy! The Patagonia Capilene 1 is $36.00 and the Smartwool Microweight Crew is $55.00! So I'm looking at these for my base layer on my upcoming thru-hike. I will be depending on three sets of tops and bottoms. I will be using only one pair of top and bottom outers.

So what do you guys think? Which one is best, lightest, warmest (with balance to exertion), and which one will keep odor at bay the longest?

Thanks guys!!!

09-11-2007, 21:12
I've had both. I like the Capilene for warm weather/short trips. I like my Icebreaker Hopper for longer trips. I've heard the Smartwool version is a bit rougher. I've never worn the Smartwool merino so I don't have firsthand knowledge.

One of the great things about merino wool tops is that you get a wider range of temperature comfort AND.......they almost NEVER stink. In fact it might actually BE never.

For longer trips I am such a fan of merino wool that I wear the tops, socks, and even boxer briefs. I still like synthetics for pants/shorts. I am a big fan of Icebreaker tops and Smartwool (Adrenaline) socks.

09-11-2007, 21:15
Smart wool Micro weight. I used it for 2 nights so far and it is warm, perfect to sleep in. I wore it around the house and it keeps the chill off. Not cheap but boy does it feel good!
Try both on, the Capilene did not fit as well for me. Dont know if it was how they make it or how they cut the clothing.
Thats the main reason why I bought the Smart wool, comfort - if it dont fit well, you wont wear it anyways :)

09-11-2007, 21:25
The new wool 18.5 micron type shirts regulate temperature over a wider range, feel as soft as cotton, do not stink but are expensive! Ibex also has a line that is also very good.

map man
09-11-2007, 21:36
I can't vouch for wool because I've never worn it. I have hiked about five weeks in the last two years in Capilene, though what I've worn is their medium weight (Capilene 3 in their present lingo). I've liked it quite a lot -- I've hiked in it alone in temps varying from high 40s to low 80s and as a base layer when it gets colder. It didn't smell much in the first week I wore it but in subsequent washings and wearings it usually starts to smell on the second hiking day, just like all synthetics. I really have come to like the Zip T-Neck type shirt, even in temps going up to 90, believe it or not (above 80 I like to wear a lightweight Mountain Hardware Zip T-Neck I own).

But you mentioned price. I've come to believe that basic clothing (pants, shorts, shirts, underwear) is a place where I could be saving a lot of money and the next base layers I plan to buy will be a discount brand through someplace like sierratradingpost.com. Less than half the price of the name brands. I know there are lots of people here who could steer you to some cheap sources for clothing. I don't mind spending a lot if I think a piece of gear is a cut above the competition, but I've come to believe that one brand of synthetic, wicking clothing is unlikely to be that much better than another.

So I guess that's a long answer to only sort-of answer half of your question;) .

09-11-2007, 21:41
Check www.steepandcheap often and you will find Smartwool at very good prices. Very hit or miss though. Got my Smartwool lightweight zip shirt for under $30

09-11-2007, 21:42

09-11-2007, 22:20
Thanks for the link! I'll check it out.

Please keep the answers coming. I am torn about which to go with as REI doesn't seem to carry both at the same time around here. Weird.

09-11-2007, 23:03

So what do you guys think? Which one is best, lightest, warmest (with balance to exertion), and which one will keep odor at bay the longest?

Thanks guys!!!

best: Personal preference
lightest: Synthetic
warmest: Merino wool
stink resistance: Merino wool

My choice is merino wool. Understand it will be heavier when wet and take longer to dry.

09-11-2007, 23:20
I would stay with the name brands esp. on my base layer. I tried the cheaper stuff first and it pilled and did not live up to its insulating expectations. I have learned not to skimp when it comes to something that could mean life or death. But to answer the question, I have only used Capilene or the REI brand of base layers.

09-12-2007, 02:30
I've got a Patagonia long-sleeved white capilene 1 layer that I love. As mentioned earlier, the only downside is that it quickly smells bad.

I have a short-sleeved lightweight merino wool shirt; I find that it feels a little itchy at first for me (everyone's a bit different on this), and then at some point I guess I just get used to it. I normally have no problem with wool, but then I don't otherwise wear it as a torso base layer either.

I haven't worn the wool shirt as much, but my sense is that the capilene 1 layer might work better for me in warm (to hot) weather. I just wear the long-sleeved capilene 1 layer *constantly*. It's transports sweat away fast enough that I'm fine with it on at any temperature, and I never put sunscreen on my arms (hairy arms take more sunscreen than smooth skin, it adds up ...).

I didn't have any luck finding a *long* sleeved really light merino wool base layer, so for that reason alone I recently bought a second capilene 1 shirt to bring on longer trips.

09-12-2007, 07:52
i've worn both and found:

warmth: wool feels much more comfortable when wet. (thus, wider range)
stink: wool seems to keep the sharp poly stink at bay for a long time. the stink becomes more apparent when it comes time to wash, but still smells less than synthetics.
durability: both will snag to some degree, but wool seems to wear down quicker than synthetics.
wickability: i've found capilene to dry a bit quicker than wool, but wool still felt warmer during the drying process.

09-13-2007, 10:53
I tired a poly/wool blend t-shirt. Bad news..Just as much stink. I went back to my smartwool t-shirt. 3 days without a stink.