Gear Review: Patagonia Axuwool and Cool Weather

Axuwool Zip-T

Snug as a bug in a rug? Well, not quite, but with 16% wool on this base layer, the Auxwool Zip shirt is plenty warm for the snowboarding enthusiast…, with the extra features you would expect from Patagonia.

When I first picked up this shirt I could see the quality. Made of a high performance hybrid of soft, lightweight merino wool and fast wicking polyester, this shirt provides low-bulk warmth. The wool is positioned against your skin and then the moisture is pulled to the polyester outside where it can quickly evaporate. For additional comfort, the zipper is a deep, two-way zipper that can allow heat to escape without making your neck cold. It also features a high collar and flat seams. This shirt is contoured for a comfortable, yet snug fit. It is still easy to pull on over your head, yet it is tight enough to keep cold wind from creeping in. It comes in three color combinations and retails for around $90.

When I wore the shirt for a morning workout, I wanted to make sure that the price was worth it. Yes, Patagonia makes high quality clothes, but could I honestly advise our readers to spend that kind of money on one shirt? If you are the type of person who thinks layering is a long sleeved tee shirt, a fleece, and an outer jacket, this might not be the shirt for you. On the other hand, if you have a moisture wicking base layer, different jackets, gloves, boots, a hydration system, etc. – then you will truly appreciate Patagonia’s commitment to quality. For you the price will be worth it.

Another small drawback is the washing instructions. These consist of mainly small, hard to read pictures on a tag sewn into the seam. With 16% wool, I was worried what would happen in the washing machine and dryer and didn’t want to take a chance that I misunderstood the pictures. So I contacted customer service through their web site. They didn’t know who I was or that I was writing a review, so I know that I was treated like all customers. They responded to my questions within 24 hours, and yes, it is machine washable.

As someone who snowshoes in the Midwest I think this shirt is definitely worth the investment. You might pay less for a shirt, but then you might need to wear two of them to get the same warmth. Meanwhile, the moisture wicking design can be the difference between having fun or going home early. This holiday season, take the time to do some research on Patagonia products and don’t let the retail price deter you. In the end, it would be better to buy the right shirt the first time, then to invest in several shirts, none of which get the job done.

Patagonia Cool Weather Tights and Top

So much more than your mother’s long underwear, Patagonia’s Cool Weather Tights and Top represent the latest in base layer clothing. Whether snowshoeing, skiing, biking, or running, this system will stand up to whatever you can dish out.

This layering system is not only wind resistant but also abrasion resistant. The stretchy nylon allows for free movement while the inner polyester knit wicks away moisture. The top comes with flat off the shoulder seams of fluff thread for chafe free comfort. The tights come with ankle zippers for a tight fit. They are made of 71% nylon, 28% polyester and 1% spandex.

The one drawback to most Patagonia products is the retail price. It can be hard to convince a regular reader that Patagonia is worth the price. These layering items are close to $100 each and many consumers will not know the difference between a $50 base layer and a $100 one. Is Patagonia really twice as good as some of its competitors? My answer: yes. I really think that it is.

What sold me was the moisture wicking. When I exercise in the winter I usually end up wet. Either snow, sweat, or condensation makes me damp. That’s fine when I’m in the middle of a workout, but terrible when I quit. I know that I have to get inside quickly before I get really cold. Not the case with this base layer.

I recently had the opportunity to test how long I could stay warm after a work out. I woke up before dawn and made a long hike up a steep grade. I was bow hunting for deer on a cold November morning. The hike was long and after only a few minutes I took off my coat and put it in my backpack. By the time I got to the deer stand, I was hot but not wet. The moisture wicking and breathable material had taken care of all my excess moisture. Then I sat, and sat, and sat waiting for a deer. As the hours passed by I waited for the usual damp coldness that I had become accustomed to over the years. It never came. Patagonia’s unique material and construction kept me warm and dry.

I’m not an expert on clothing, but even I could tell the difference between the traditional layers I had been using and the Patagonia products. In the end, if you can afford them, buy them. You’ll never have to go shopping for the best layering system again.

About the author

Judy Nugent

Judy Nugent is a freelance writer and outdoor enthusiast from Chicago. In addition to snowshoeing, Judy enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking, and exploring the Wisconsin wilderness. Her articles and photography can be found in several regional publications.