John 

 I CANT SAY I'M A COMPLETE FAN of recycling. I ought to be, but the flaws in the practicalities are so obvious.
Richmond Council gave us a black box for glass and tins, a white linen bag for cardboard, a blue bag for paper and a foul-smelling green box meant to sit steaming with a weeks worth of organic waste.
All went well until the blue bag went missing - once emptied, it simply blew away. A stronger wind got rid of the white linen bag. So now we put everything in the remaining black plastic box. Each week, a recycling operative cherry-picks what he wants from it before we have to put the rest back in the ordinary bin, a week later than we would have done otherwise.
As a friend in charge of recycling for another borough nearby would say: The job is rubbish!
The Patagonia Performance base-layer is made from Capilene, a recycled polyester. The US manufacturer has hung its hat on the recycling hook, and likes to promote itself as Planet Earth-friendly. Thats all very well but is this man-made fibre diver-friendly
Capilene is obviously good at wicking away sweat, and is quick to dry. Its fully machine washable, and tends not to produce unfriendly odours when youve been wearing it for a long time. Thats because it uses a naturally derived amino-acid chain that kills odour-causing bacteria.
Its made from at least half-recycled polyester and is totally recyclable. When you have finished with it, you can return it to the manufacturer for that purpose. It would be useful if you were at all allergic to wool.
A sample was posted to DIVER in a manila envelope. I pulled it out, and it seemed to shrug off creases. If you have to photograph items of clothing, this alone earns it kudos.
The fabric feels very silky, too, and I didnt hesitate to wear it under my drysuits thermal undergarment next time I went into water cold enough for a drysuit. I have sensitive skin!
Before I put it on, I took a close look at the stitching. Owners of Savile Row suits will know that its the stitching that betrays inferior workmanship, but I couldnt fault it here.
The Mexican machinists who made this garment have the edge on their Chinese counterparts. All the seams appear to be stitched and overlocked without a missed stitch or a loose end. The hem at the collar is nicely finished with tape, too.
The fabric itself has a dimpled texture to its waffle-stitch weave to stop it clinging to your skin. In fact, despite its man-made heritage, it felt a little like cashmere to wear.
I wore the Capilene 3 Performance base-layer under a Weezle Oxygen two-piece undersuit and was as warm as a warm thing, so it worked as a garment. Whether it works as well as ecologists would like, I dont know. We have to accept the green claims of the manufacturer.

Other base-layers to consider:
Icebreaker Bodyfit 260, 50
Fourth Element Drybase, 37


Divernet
SPECS
PRICE
around £32
SIZES XS-XL
COLOURS 6
CONTACT www.patagonia.com
DIVER GUIDE 10/10