The henley is my favorite type of shirt, and Patagonia’s Capilene Cool Trail bike-specific edition has become a favorite. I’ve previously espoused on my love of Patagonia’s Capilene shirts and base layers, and the henley features more of the same, with the care Patagonia puts into making their products, utilizing recycled polyester materials plus fair trade manufacturing.
- Soft, lightweight recycled polyester
- HeiQ® Fresh durable odor control
- Articulated seams and longer back hem contour to body posture on bike
- Moisture-wicking, fast-drying fabric features HeiQ® Fresh durable odor control
- 4-button placket
- Chest pocket with button closure
Durability vs Sustainability — can you have both?
The bulk of my cycling/activewear tops are polyester, though my collection of merino wool continues to grow. As much as I like my merino wool blends, I still often find myself choosing polyester over merino for long-term durability. I’ve been finding many of my favorite merino pieces with the fancy blended fabrics still end up developing holes, and while polyester isn’t the most sustainable fabric, it does last a long time. As I previously mentioned, I still have a Patagonia Capilene base layer in rotation (it is showing its age though)
As a conscious consumer, these are things I think about when I shop. Admittedly I’m guilty of owning less expensive activewear tops and pieces as well, and the amount of apparel filling plastic tubs (last season’s colors, etc) is a bit embarrassing. The older I get, the more I’m focused on selecting basic pieces that I can wear both while riding and while recreating afterward. Plus they are less likely to be out of fashion.
A brief history of the henley
I am a bit obsessed with henleys – not only is the henley the OG of activewear tops, but they are one of the most versatile menswear pieces you can have in your closet. The henley has a long history of being activewear, so it is no wonder they’re still popular today.
The henley shirt is defined as a collarless pullover shirt with a placket of two or more buttons. Available in long and short sleeve iterations, in appearance, they resemble a polo shirt without a collar, which provides a bit of sophistication in a top that can be dressed up or down, or worn in a variety of scenarios.
Henleys were first seen in nineteenth-century England and initially utilized as men’s undergarments. Known as undervests, they were some of the first collarless underwear and were known for being more comfortable, and were soon become utilized as sportswear by rowers, who enjoyed the increased ventilation from the placket and lack of collar. The name came from its history of the traditional uniform of rowers in the town of Henley-on-Thames.
On the trail
Disclosure: a rep for Patagonia provided the henley for this review. Being a Patagonia fan, I was looking forward to adding the pieces to my collection and selected the top in black – a staple color that I’ll likely have in regular rotation for a long time. While it’s not at all photogenic, it’s been worn doing everything from trail riding, to rock climbing, to paddleboarding, on dates (as a base/under layer), and for days at time on road trips. While black isn’t the most photogenic, (or great to wear on warm summer days) it’s a staple and a solid piece of activewear. The four buttons offer similar cooling functionality to a traditional cycling top without the bike-geek look. In addition, I find the Capilene material doesn’t wrinkle the way my other merino cycling henleys do, which gives it an edge after a few days of being dirty in a van. (though the merino pieces smell better, so its a trade-off)
Fit & Sizing
At 5’10” and 163lbs, I am wearing the size small. (I wear a size 38 jacket) I prefer a more fitted top, more inline with traditional cycling apparel, and the top is long enough to be utilized off the bike without looking too small. I’d consider the fit a multi-sport fit, but Patagonia designers did add a cycling-specific dropped tail for coverage in the back.