Review: Patagonia’s Capilene® Midweight Crew and Airshed Pullover
Cold Weather Mountain Bike Gear
I tested the Patagonia Capilene Midweight Crew and the Airshed Pullover for the first time this weekend on some singletrack and gravel rides. While these are not specifically “cycling” clothes, I wanted to see how Patagonia’s top of the line gear would work to fit my winter cycling needs. The tricky part about winter gear for Arkansas, is most of the country doesn’t really consider our winter weather “cold”. A lot of winter cycling clothing is too warm and is also designed for wet conditions. We don’t get snow, and riding on our trails in the rain is a no-no, so heavy thermal waterproof clothing is excessive. I mostly need layers that I can use to adapt to weather that will swing from 20-60 F, sometimes all in one day, and also a shell that can block our the 20 mph winter winds.
This weekend was warm by “frozen north” standards (or at least that’s what my visitors from Minnesota told me), but it was still pretty cold for Arkansas. As all of us cyclists know, the temperature may be warm, but once you start to sweat, it’s the wind that will freeze you to the bone. You can generate a ton of heat climbing, to lose it all on the descent or with a good crosswind.
My goal here was test a baselayer that could be worn under a cycling jersey, with or without a jacket, and a good windproof shell. My emphasis was windproof as opposed to waterproof because the amount I’m riding in a downpour is limited to me doing a bad job of checking the weather.
Midweight Capilene Crew
For my singletrack ride, it was sunny and I was in the trees so I figured I could test the Midweight Capilene Crew baselayer under my freeride jersey (<- not warm at all) without a jacket. The Capilene Crew has a brushed-grid pattern on the inside to provide warmth, breathability and moisture-wicking. The first thing I noticed after putting it on, is that it feels awesome against your skin and it’s not itchy at all. My skin is super dry in the winter and most of my baselayers itch until I’m riding hard enough to forget about it. The crew also has a nice “drop tail”, meaning its longer in the back, so it covers your back when you’re riding and stays tucked into your shorts. It’s also cut pretty slim through the waist, so if you’re in bibs, it tucks in well without a mess of extra fabric bunching up. Even if your not in bibs, it lays well under a jersey so you can avoid the dreaded puffy look.
I was plenty warm on this ride, and almost too warm at a couple points. However, the Capilene Crew is definitely a baselayer, so my torso was nice and warm, but it lets the wind through on my arms. Also, I needed to add a neck warmer since this was a crew. They do however make a zip-neck baselayer, so something to consider if you like more neck coverage. Basically for a warmish, sunny ride, the base layer alone was perfect, but if it was colder you’d definitely want some sort of windproof jacket…. Like the Airshed!
Final Verdict: (5/5) Nice adaptable baselayer that will work well with all of my various seasonal layers and I could wear this piece from early fall into late spring.
For my gravel ride, I was riding at sunset, so the temperature was dropping and I had a fierce wind to fight. This made the 40 F weather have a windchill closer to 30 F. Not gonna lie, I was thoroughly shocked how warm the Airshed Pullover was for how thin and light it is. The ultra-lightweight ripstop nylon with DWR coating blocks a majority of the wind, but still breathes really well. I really hate the feeling of sweating inside a non-breathing (usually waterproof) shell, and the Airshed has none of those issues. Furthermore it unzips almost half way, so you have plenty of zipper with which to thermal regulate.
The only place I was cold was the gap between my gloves and my jacket. While, I had the thumb loops from the Capilene pulled over, it lets the air through, and it would have been nice to have some kind of thumb anchor for the Airshed to cover that wrist gap. The Airshed, like the Capilene Crew, also has a long tail, so no exposed back in a full aero tuck, yay! My only small criticism, is there are no pockets on this jacket except the small chest pocket. So you need to either stick your stuff in your jersey pockets underneath, or put everything in a hydration pack. This was fine for the mountain bike ride with my pack, but a little annoying for the pack-less gravel grind.
The Airshed pullover also packs down crazy small into the chest pocket and only weighs 94g. It fits perfect in your jersey pocket or hydration pack without adding any noticeable weight, so you really don’t have an excuse to not carry it with you on every ride as insurance against wind and pop-up rain showers. I came in from this ride comfortably warm and the only thing cold was my toes. Maybe Patagonia can make Airshed shoe covers?? Please?
Final verdict: (4/5) -Almost perfect. Great lightweight wind-jacket, and if they add thumb holes and rear pockets, it would make it a ideal cycling jacket.
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