I first started running in 2013. At the time (read: pre-parenthood), looking like a core athlete, without looking like I cared about being core athlete, was extremely important to me. Being a professional gear tester elevated the egotistical quandary: I needed to take advantage of the trail miles I was logging by testing high-end running tops for work, but frankly, I was embarrassed by how shiny, tight, and nipple-revealing the majority of them were. I took circuitous routes from my apartment to the trails that splinter out of downtown Ashland, Oregon, to avoid seeing buddies or receiving comments from the buskers who play music around the town’s plaza. I have since lost that self-consciousness but have also found the perfect tee to solve my previous hangups: Patagonia’s Capilene Cool Trail Shirt.
I’ve been testing the Trail Shirt for six months now, and it’s the tee that I grab most for both exercise and regular wear. I have worn hundreds of synthetics over more than six years at Outside and Capilene Cool is currently my favorite material. Why? It mimics the soft feel and casual look of cotton while maintaining the moisture-wicking benefits of synthetic better than any shirt I have tested so far. The result is a tee that’s plenty comfortable for long hot trail miles and can seamlessly swap in for your relaxed cotton shirt.
On top of being built from amazing material, it fits extremely well. The Trail Shirt nicely toes the line between athletic and relaxed. The result is flattering for my sub-perfect dad bod without being overly boxy during burpees or sprint exercises. And the gusseted armpits have delivered zero chafing over the hundreds of miles I’ve run in it.
The HeiQ odor control also works shockingly well. The tech is a recycled silver chloride—which is a common antimicrobial addition to textiles—that Patagonia claims does no harm to the skin and will last the lifetime of the shirt. I planned to wash the Trail Tee after soaking it during an 18-mile long run with nearly 3,000 feet of elevation gain last weekend but didn’t get around to doing laundry before my wife and I had scheduled to photograph it. I pulled it out of the bottom of my laundry hamper where it had been marinating in my sweat for four days, and had no problem wearing it again for the shoot. It was so fresh, in fact, that I am still wearing it two days (and two runs) later as I write this review in a coffee shop. While I recognize re-wearing this much is a testament to my lack of personal hygiene, the fact that people are sitting next to me right now speaks volumes to the odor mitigating technology.
I love this tee because it quietly does everything I expect from a technical layer extremely well while still looking good. I plan to wear it during a trail marathon in November and I’m confident that it will remain comfortable, wick sweat throughout and not chafe. And it’ll look like I’m just wearing a plain old tee.