Ben’s Packing List: 2/11/19

This list was for a week long business trip, 4 nights and 5 days.

For this trip I wore:

Notes: this all barely fit in the bag, and I could have left the laptop behind. Of the clothing I brought, I didn’t need to bring the Shemag — I wore and used everything else.

Ben’s Packing List: 2/11/19

Underwear Roundup

Underwear is an important part of an everyday wardrobe and can make or break the comfort of any activity. I’ve tried out quite a few new pairs of underwear over the past year or so, and I’ve made a change to what my go-to pairs are. While this is nowhere near an exhaustive list, this roundup includes all the technical boxer briefs I’ve tried.

A few commonalities

Across all the boxer briefs I tried, there are a few commonalities across the two main pain points — rolling of the waistband and riding up of the leg.

It seems to me that rolling of the waistband is a thing of the past (at least across all the brands I discuss here). This is something that can be very annoying, and something I haven’t had to deal with since I switched away from my cheap Hanes underwear.

On the other hand, having the leg ride up is not something that has been solved (except for maybe the new Wool & Prince Boxer Briefs 2.0, I haven’t given them a try though). I find that all of my pairs of underwear can ride up under the right conditions. Two features that help mitigate riding up include a proper fit (tightness and length) of the leg.

Lastly, I’ve yet to find any underwear that I can wear more than once (even with an antimicrobial treatment or merino content). That’s fine with me as I don’t find it appealing to wear underwear more than once. This makes drying time important for travel.

The Competition

ExOfficio

The Give-N-Go Boxer Brief was my first foray into the performance underwear market. A few years back, they were the ones everyone talked about, but since seem to have declined in quality.

The fabric is 94% nylon and 6% Lycra with an antimicrobial treatment and a diamond knit. This makes the fabric have a rough handfeel and more likely to get caught on your pants.

These do not have a structured front panel and have a somewhat baggy fit.

The fit and fabric kill the appeal here.

Duluth Trading

The Buck Naked Performance Boxer Briefs were next. They are still popular and are the most heavy/durable of those I’ve tried.

The fabric is 93% nylon and 7% spandex with an odor resistant treatment and a diamond knit. The knit here, while not smooth, doesn’t seem to get caught on my pants.

These also do not have a structured front panel and a similar fit to the ExOfficio pair.

Again, the fit and fabric make these uninteresting, unless you’re going for durability.

UNIQLO

Once I got tired of the heavier fabric of the previous two brands, the AIRism Boxer Briefs seemed the natural way to go. Also very popular in the travel/performance community, these are hands down the lightest pair I own (in both fabric weight and packability).

The fabric is 89% polyester, 11% Spandex with an extremely smooth finish that feels like silk. No matter what fabric you wear on top, these never get caught.

The structured front panel adds to the comfort, and the tighter fit (and shorter leg) makes you forget you are wearing them. These are a good example of how the right fit helps keep the leg from riding up.

These are my favorite overall.

Y Athletics

Along the way here on Everyday Wear, I got the opportunity from Y Athletics to try both their SilverAir Merino (full review) and SilverAir Ultralight Boxer Briefs.

The Merino pair is 90% 17.5 micron merino wool, 5% metallic, and 5% spandex. The fabric is luxuriously soft and is quite thick. There is a custom leg grip system on each leg band that definitely helps keep these from riding up even when the legs aren’t quite as snug.

The Ultralight pair is 50% nylon, 35% Modal, 10% Spandex, and 5% metallic with an open-knit. Just like the name says, the fabric is very lightweight and has an excellent silky feel. While there are no leg grippers here, the legs fit a bit tighter so I didn’t feel like I was missing out.

I find the structured front panel in both of these pairs to be the most comfortable of all on this list.

Overall, can’t beat the luxury of the Merinos and the Ultralights are right up there with the UNIQLOs. The fit is spot on here.

Pistol Lake

Finally, I also recently had the chance from Pistol Lake to check out their Minimalist Boxer Briefs (full review).

The fabric is Pistol Lake’s custom Lightweight Eudae fabric, which is 76% polyester, 19% Tencel, and 5% Lycra. The fabric looks and feels similar to a cotton t-shirt.

While a snug fit, these do not have a structured front panel.

Overall, these are great if you’re looking for cotton-like comfort and are willing to sacrifice performance.

Comparison

Performance

All of the boxer briefs perform well in all conditions with two exceptions.

The SilverAir Merino feels a little heavy with a lot of sweat, just like any merino piece, but dries quickly as the moisture evaporates from the core of the fibers.

The Minimalist Boxer Briefs feel heavy and moist with a lot of sweat. This was a surprise after trying their shirt made from the same fabric, but these are the only pair that I don’t really enjoy wearing for exercise.

Travel

Hands-down I prefer the AIRism Boxer Briefs for travel. Their extremely light and silky fabric and shorter length makes them pack down to nothing and dry quickly after a sink wash. Also, if they do ride up, they are the least noticeable.

Comfort

The most comfortable of the lot are of course the SilverAir Merino, nothing beats the luxurious soft feel of high quality merino. When combined with a great structured front panel, these will be hard to beat in the comfort department.

The Minimalist Boxer Briefs also up there in comfort because they have a cottony feel and the long length helps keep the legs in place.

Conclusion

After wearing most of these boxer briefs for at least six months, if not longer, the UNIQLO AIRisms have become my top pick. Not only are they lightweight and comfortable, they are a great value at just $10 (and often can be had on sale for $5). At that price, there is no reason not to stock up. If the cost wasn’t involved, I would say the Y Athletics SilverAir Ultralights would be my top pick, as they are a bit more comfortable than the AIRisms. Finally, for comfort above all else (while still maintaining excellent performance), I haven’t found anything more comfortable than the Y Athletics SilverAir Merinos.

Underwear Roundup

Steve’s Packing List: February 2019

Trip Details: Two night, three day trip by air for a convention.

Packing List

GORUCK GR1 26L w/ Simple Side Pocket:

I wore:

Notes and Considerations

This was my first business trip in a while, so I overpacked a little (I didn’t end up needing my extra undershirt). I could have done with just the Wool & Prince shirt, but I wanted to have some variety. I also brought my gym shoes and clothes as I knew I would have some downtime to hit the gym.

Steve’s Packing List: February 2019

Is Merino Necessary for Everything?

Among performance (or travel) clothing favorites, you will often see the seemingly magical properties of merino touted. Properties like odor resistance and thermal regulation are king as these allow the garments to wear more comfortably and to go longer before they develop odors. Merino can be made into fabrics anywhere from luxuriously soft (Outlier’s Ultrafine Merino T-shirt being a great example), to durable but still soft (in the case of nylon core spun fibers, like the Wool & Prince T-shirt) and then to heavy and rougher (like Filson’s Crew Neck Guide Sweater). Merino garments, though, also tend to be some of the most expensive you can add to your closet.

It’s natural then to look at the abundance of merino based clothing and wonder when it’s too much. When do you hit a law of diminishing returns with merino wool? And, if you’re looking to cut some cost in your clothing lineup, where can you move away from merino to less costly materials?

We’ve been debating just this for a while now, especially for layering pieces that don’t directly contact your skin. But also for pants where the durability of merino, as well as the performance make us question the utility of such garments. In these instances, you can often even get multiple wears out of a traditional cotton garment (most people don’t wash their blue jeans very often, or in some cases, ever).

While a merino garment certainly will go longer than anything else without starting to smell, we’ve come to find that this isn’t always necessary. Take a pullover for example — you probably wear it over another shirt and when it’s cool out, so it doesn’t see your skin and you are probably sweating less. This type of wear isn’t a recipe for odors, and thus probably not a scenario where the performance of merino wool is going to add a ton to your life. There is a logical argument to be made that with a pullover (or something similar), merino is overkill. It’s not going to make the garment worse — you will still get the benefits — but at the same time you are paying a premium for something where the net realized benefits will be marginal at best. Or, put another way: whether lambswool, cashmere, or merino (or even a good synthetic blend), the sweater would perform within a close enough range on all fronts that you should buy the one which price works best for you.

On the thermoregulation aspect, you certainly won’t find any (comfortable or normal looking) fabric that will keep you warmer than merino. The natural ability of the fibers to trap air helps keep you warm. Therefore, in cases where you value packability or weight, it can be worth it to go with merino. But not always, as some merino wool will not pack as compactly as down, or even some newer synthetic garments. That said, merino adds another benefit in being easier to wash when traveling.

Another area we’ve started seeing merino show up is in jacket insulation. Icebreaker has their MerinoLOFT technology, which is an insulation made from merino wool. They tout it as an evolution of down and an alternative to synthetic down. While we haven’t tried anything like this, it seems like another area where merino probably doesn’t offer much over its synthetic counterparts. And you pay a high price for something you are likely not to notice, and perhaps which has other drawbacks from more traditional insulation pieces.

With pants, Ben has thoroughly destroyed a pair of Icebreaker wool pants over the course of just a year — while noticing little benefit from the merino wool itself. Often the wool needed washing more than basic blue jeans did — and didn’t perform as well as synthetic pants options like Outlier’s offerings. So even in the case where these pants are coming into direct contact with your skin, there’s little reason to select these over more durable options. Since Ben’s experience, many others have released merino blend pants (like CIVIC’s Frank Chino). I tried purchasing a pair to try, but the fit seemed really off so I didn’t keep them to give them a thorough test.

With the hoodie Ben recently reviewed, he found that while comfortable and performant, a hoodie may not be a good garment to use 100% merino wool as the material. Outlier has long made a HARD/CO Merino ZIP Hoodie which has cotton facing on the outside for better durability and merino on the inside for the performance — yet you pay a significant price ($395) for that benefit. Whereas most people rarely have performance and durability issues with a standard cotton hoodie.

Ultimately, the choice between merino or other performance fabrics comes from your use case for the garment. We’ve found pieces that don’t spend much time directly on skin as good places to look elsewhere where the expense isn’t justified. That said, you can often find very inexpensive merino sweaters from big box stores like J. Crew and Banana Republic (among others). While you don’t necessarily need merino in these garments, it is an added bonus if the price is right.

For most layering, outerwear, and pants, we have found that merino wool is often overkill and comes at an added financial cost as well as, possibly, durability issues.

Is Merino Necessary for Everything?

Massdrop Peak Merino Hoodie

A while back Massdrop held a pre-order for a new merino wool hoodie they were producing. That hoodie, the Massdrop Peak Merino Hoodie, arrived a little over a month ago and I have been testing it. Not just this hoodie itself, but the idea of whether you even need a hoodie made out of merino wool. Let’s dive in.

Fabric

This is a 100% merino wool (19.5 micron) hoodie, but it’s different than any other I have tried. That’s because the inside is brushed fleece wool and the entire garment is 340gsm in weight. The entire garment is way softer than I expected, both inside and out. The outer face is very nice and soft, softer than cotton hoodies.

The inside is pure luxury though. The brushed fleece nature of the merino is unreal and feels amazing in the inside. That said, it certainly is prone to leaving you with black lint all over what you are wearing (especially before you wash it).

The oddest part of the hoodie is the weight. At 340gsm you would rightly think it is thick, because it is, but is it warm? Not nearly as warm as you would think. The knit of the garment is very open, so wind (even light breezes) seem to pass right through it. However, it is warm when you are lounging about. Perhaps it’s best to look at this as a warming layer, not a warm outer garment.

A Note on Cleaning

Massdrop labels this hoodie as dry clean only — which is something I find pretty absurd for:

  1. A Hoodie
  2. A Merino Garment

So I went ahead and machine washed this and hung it to dry. It’s still in one piece, but I now know why it is labeled as dry clean only. For starters the hoodie came out of the wash looking dirtier than it went in — it was covered in lint. Nothing I washed with it should have given off lint, and none of those clothes had lint on them — very odd.

The real change was to the inner fuzzy fabric of the garment. Like with any fuzzy garment this changed with a wash. Instead of matting down, it got fuzzier and a bit longer. And now it gets an extreme amount of lint on a white shirt. So while you can wash it in the washer, I strongly discourage it.

Fit and Style

This is geared to be more of an athletic looking hoodie with a form fitting hood. Something you wear while being active. The body and sleeves are longer than most anything you will be used to. I am wearing a size large (my normal size) and the sleeves are great for me — but typically if I am ordering a button down I order a sleeve length of 36”, where a standard large is usually 35” at the most.

The fit is also slim, but not that slim. It’s long and narrow for the most part — not boxy and short like most other hoodies you might be wearing. From a style perspective this gives it a bit of a weird look overall and not a standard hoodie look. So if you want something to replace a cotton hoodie, look elsewhere. This doesn’t wow me on the style side.

Performance

This is a bit tricky to write about, as we have been having an ongoing debate about whether a garment like this even needs to be made out of merino wool. For the most part, we think it’s overkill. But for the purposes of this review, allow me to compare it to the hoodie I normally wear, a Flint and Tinder 10-Year Hoodie.

Typically I wear hoodies at the beach and when I am vacationing on the Washington coast. I can wear that cotton hoodie for about 4 days before it smells enough that I want to wash it. With the Peak, I wore it for over a month and only washed it for this review. It still never smelled or looked dirty. You might be able to make a case that this doesn’t really need cleaning as long as you wear a layer between the hoodie and your skin.

Is that enough to justify wearing a merino wool garment? I don’t think it is by itself.

So instead let’s skip packability and other traits we normally look at — this isn’t packable, nor a travel item. Instead I want to talk about wearing it and how it performs for that. This feels like a traditional fleece jacket in that it is fuzzy and bulky, but the wind cuts right through it. In a house, you are perfectly comfortable. Using it as a layer, perfect. Wearing it alone and expecting to be warm in any wind, not a good idea.

That said, I found the actual static weight of the garment, the 340gsm fabric, to be a really ideal weight. It’s comfortable in a warm house, and warm enough when layered outside. I wish all my hoodies were like this, as most run too cool or too warm. This is really in the sweet spot.

The worst performance aspect is that this hoodie is a lint and pet hair magnet. If you have any around, it will find it. While it does come off easily with a lint brush, my cotton hoodie never suffers this problem.

And then there is the delicacy of the fabric itself. It feels very delicate, like it could easily and readily be snagged by anything, which is weird given the athletic nature of the design. However, I did wear it with a GORUCK bag and saw no cause for concern..

Overall

Overall, I like it, but I don’t love it. I think the performance benefits from the merino are great, but likely not worth the premium in the price — especially when you consider the extra care and maintenance this garment asks for (removing lint, and dry clean only). That said, if you want everything you own to be merino, or if you often wear a hoodie without a shirt underneath, then this is a pretty darn good option as it will perform really well.

For me, I’d rather stick with a cotton hoodie, or some other more durable variant of a performance hoodie.

Massdrop Peak Merino Hoodie

Pistol Lake Minimalist Boxer Briefs

The item in this review was provided by Pistol Lake for review purposes.

Pistol Lake recently gave me the opportunity to try out their Minimalist Boxer Brief, which is made out of the same Lightweight Eudae fabric as their Minimalist Tee (our review). I’ve been testing these for a few months now, and they have some compelling attributes, including great resistance to riding up.

Fabric

The custom Lightweight Eudae fabric is 76% recycled polyester, 19% Tencel, and 5% spandex. You might think that with the high polyester content it will feel just like all the other synthetic underwear out there, however it doesn’t. The Tencel (Eucalyptus pulp derived fiber) gives the fabric a luxurious soft feel, you might even believe it’s a stretchy cotton. When sewn up as boxer briefs, this makes for an extremely comfortable pair of underwear.

Fit

I found myself right on the borderline of L and XL according to the size chart, so I gave both a try. If you are in the same situation and are looking for a tight, more supportive fit size down, otherwise size up.

With a longer leg length and great stretch, these boxer briefs do a great job resisting riding up, especially if you wear them on the tighter side. They are my only underwear, other than some with special leg grippers, that I’ve never had issues riding up while working out. Another area some other underwear can have issues is the waistband. On these, It is nice and wide and is thick enough that it stays flat and never digs in.

If there was anywhere I’d recommend some improvement in the fit, it would be to add some shape to the pouch — something that can take a great pair of boxer briefs and make them excellent.

Performance

The Eudae fabric does a great job of wicking moisture. While it does hold more than a full polyester or nylon fabric, it dries almost as fast. During really sweaty workouts, these can start to feel a little like wearing cotton. They don’t hold as much sweat as cotton, but I did notice that they felt more sweaty than my other performance underwear. In this situation, the quick drying nature only helps once you are done heavily sweating.

As far as odor resistance, I have never found underwear to be something I want to/can wear more than once (even merino), so I can’t comment. However, the Eudae fabric in its t-shirt form, performs almost as well as merino (and better than full synthetic, see our comparison).

Of course, the topic of packability and drying speed is also a factor for travel. In comparison to other options, they are about middle of the road as far as packability and while fast drying, not as fast as some of the thin, pure synthetic blends.

Overall

The Pistol Lake Minimalist Boxer Briefs are compelling mainly in the comfort area. They also solve the problem of riding up with their length and the stretch of the fabric, which isn’t something that most $29 pairs of underwear can do. However, my experience with them during very sweaty workouts makes them less than ideal for me. They are worth a look, however, if you want cotton-like comfort with great stretch, don’t sweat a ton when working out, or are traveling (where sweat and heat aren’t a concern) and want the comfort and drying performance these offer.

Pistol Lake Minimalist Boxer Briefs

Bluffworks Departure Jeans

Note: these were provided by Bluffworks for this review.

The best I can recall, it’s been 2 years since I owned a pair of jeans, and perhaps a little longer since I wore them at that. So the Bluffworks Departure Jeans are my first jeans in quite some time, and I will fully admit that it was weird for me (and for my wife) for me to be wearing jeans again. At the same time, these are super comfortable jeans.

The idea with these jeans is that there are some people who refuse to give up denim, and thus they should be offered a better pair for travel. Bluffworks did this with a custom material, as well as adding a few slick features.

Material

First thing you need to understand is that these are not like many of the “modern” 5-pocket type of pants we talk about. They are not made from a completely technical, non-cotton material. They are trying to improve upon jeans, while still keeping them jeans. To that end, Bluffworks came up with a blend of: 68% Cotton, 22% COOLMAX Polyester, 9% Rayon, and 1% Spandex. There’s a lot going on there, but suffice to say they basically feel like a stretchy pair of standard jeans, even the weight/warmth feels like jeans.

These feel closest to a pair of jeans I had which were made by Mavi, meaning they are very soft to the touch. They look and act mostly like traditional denim with the stretch barely noticeable. Happily, the jeans will easily cuff and remain cuffed — something which more technical materials still find mostly elusive.

The COOLMAX is the biggest addition, which is a fiber designed for moisture wicking and breathability. Given that we are in the dead of winter, I have yet to be able to test anything about this aspect of the pants. I will note that they don’t seem to dry any faster than standard jeans when they get wet.

Travel Pockets

I’ll first start by saying that I really hate it when clothing manufacturers add zippered pockets to clothing. These types of pockets almost always look silly and get in the way. The Departure Jeans have two of these zippered pockets on the back, which are hidden in the seam above the standard back pockets.

What’s really amazing here is that you cannot tell these pockets exist in any way. The inner part of the actual pocket is a thin and almost nonexistent material. On the outside of the pants the zipper is perfectly hidden and perhaps the most discrete zippered pockets out there.

What this all means is that if, like me, you wish pockets like this didn’t exist then these won’t bother you at all. However, if you do like having secure pockets like these, then they are here for you and are the best I have seen.

Comfort and Wear

I have been wearing these jeans non-stop since I got them, with only one day (while they were being washed) switching back to the pants I normally wear. I’ve found them to be extremely comfortable. There’s no doubt about it, for non-travel and casual lounging wear, cotton still is king. These pants prove that out.

Moreover, they move very freely, more so than any other jeans I have owned. I have had no issues working in the yard, folding piles of laundry on the floor, watching TV, chasing the kids, or any other activity I’ve done while wearing these. If nothing else, these move extremely well.

The fit on these is classic, not slim or baggy. They also look identical to standard jeans. There’s nothing to tell people that they are anything but ordinary jeans one way or the other. The wash is accurate at a medium, but I might prefer a slightly darker wash. All in all, I have no complaints whatsoever in the comfort department.

Travel Friendly?

I think the elephant in the room for me is whether or not these work for travel. This is largely going to depend on how you travel. If you are among the many people who simply refuse to travel anywhere without jeans, then these are certainly a better option that what you normally pack. Bluffworks says that these are 11oz per yard, whereas most jeans are 14oz — that’s hard to conceptualize, so think of it that these jeans are going to weigh less than standard jeans.

However, if you are someone who wears more technical pants (like me) then you’d be hard pressed to want to travel with these. They will not dry very fast if you sink wash them. They won’t repel dirt or grime any better than standard denim. And they will take up more space than your technical pants.

Where these really fit in for me is in the classic style domain. If I am not flying to my destination, I wouldn’t have a good reason not to pack these. So while they may not be the best option for a jet setter, they are a very good option for a weekend away. How much better than a standard jean — for that you’re going to have to ask someone who regularly wears jeans.

Overall

One thing I tested with these is a wash and dryer cycle. Though, not recommended, I found that tossing them into the dryer only barely shrunk the waist, while nipping a bit more off the length of the jeans. I mostly did this to break them in a bit more, and because I find myself in between sizes with my pair being slightly too big in the waist. I wouldn’t recommend you do this, but the pants didn’t fall apart when I did.

My only nitpick about these jeans is the fifth pocket, which seems unnecessarily large. Other than that, these are very comfortable and classic looking jeans. The price is right in line with what I always paid for jeans, and is certainly less expensive than most other pants I buy.

These are jeans, and if evaluated solely against other jeans, they rank very high for me. Evaluated against more technical five pocket pants, they only win on aesthetics. That said, there are very few Americans who don’t own, or like wearing, jeans and these are a particularly comfortable pair of them.

Bluffworks Departure Jeans

Pistol Lake Minimalist Pullover Hoodie

The item in this review was provided by Pistol Lake for review purposes.

If you’ve been reading Everyday Wear, you know we are fans of Pistol Lake apparel. They recently sent me their Minimalist Pullover Hoodie to check out and I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I typically am not a hoodie person, but this hit the perfect balance of being shirt-like with the benefit of a hood and kangaroo pocket.

Fabric

The fabric is another one of Pistol Lake’s custom fabric blends, Eclon (46% nylon, 42% polyester, 12% spandex). It does not have a technical sheen and has that Pistol Lake softness we’ve come to expect. Is somewhat heavier than the Midweight Eudae used in their One-Bag Henley (our review). For me it’s the perfect weight for a hoodie. It strikes a balance of warmth, where it is suitable throughout all the cooler months inside while still keeping you warm outside in the shoulder season. This also lends to being able to easily wear a jacket over the hoodie when needed.

Fit and Performance

While not as close fitting as the One-Bag Henley or Minimalist Tee (our review), the cut is still athletic and fits close enough that it makes for a comfortable layer without looking bulky. The generously curved hem at the bottom makes it a little longer, which is great for a hoodie.

It has become my go-to layer for around the house since the weather has gotten cold, as well as being nice enough to wear around town on the weekend. The combination of the softness and stretch of the fabric makes it the most comfortable layer I own. As far as odor resistance, I haven’t really noticed any smell before I’ve had to wash it for other reasons. When washed, the fabric dries surprisingly fast for its weight.

There is one unique feature — a hidden cell phone zip pocket inside the kangaroo pocket. While I always find it awkward to carry anything in a hoodie pocket, my iPhone XS does fit. While I haven’t used the pocket for my phone, I could see using it to hold a key and/or ID when I don’t want to carry a wallet or phone.

Overall

The Pistol Lake Minimalist Performance Hoodie surprised me and has become a staple in my cooler weather wardrobe. The soft and stretchy fabric makes it comfortable in any situation, while the cut and styling makes it nice enough to wear around town. If you are looking for a midweight, comfortable, and good looking hoodie, this one should definitely be on your list.

Pistol Lake Minimalist Pullover Hoodie

Proof Nova Series Insulated Jacket

I have been testing the Proof Nova Series Insulated Jacket for about a month now, and found it to be quite impressive. The jacket is billed as an insulated jacket for travel and adventure, which is in line with the other clothing Proof produces.

Material

This jacket is made of two materials, with the insulation being PrimaLoft Gold at 60 g, and the shell being a “Japanese four-way stretch nylon fabric, with a durable water repellent finish”. I know what to expect with PrimaLoft Gold, but I have no clue what this outer fabric is.

Nylon with stretch? When I got it I found that the nylon itself is very thing feeling, and the stretch is, well, very stretchy. I expected the jacket to have just a touch of stretch, but instead the jacket has a good amount of 4-way stretch. So much so that the jacket fits me rather snug (good for a mid layer, or something you don’t want a lot of bulk under) and if it were not for the stretch, I would need to go up a size. However, the stretch allows the jacket to fit me a little closer, while not restricting my movement in anyway. This is rather impressive.

The nylon, while being thin, feels durable and overall offers me no worries about wearing this as a primary outer layer. The thickness is in line with other jackets of this nature, like Patagonia’s popular Nano Puff Jacket. I will note that the nylon used by Proof is a matte finish and thus offers a unique look.

Warmth

This jacket is warm. PrimaLoft Gold is great synthetic insulation, and proven to work well. This jacket is no exception, and the biggest issue I have had with this jacket is that it is often too warm to wear in a lot of situations. I am only able to drive while wearing this jacket if I am only wearing a t-shirt under it.

I recently reviewed the Triple Aught Design Catalyst Field shirt, and while that weighs more, it is about half as warm as this Nova jacket. After buying this jacket, I am confident I will not need to get a heavier down jacket at all. This is all the warmth I need.

The unfortunate part is that the jacket doesn’t breath well. So when you move into say a store, you will have been warm outside, and now will start to overheat being inside. You’ll need to remove the jacket. Even unzipped I have at times found the jacket too warm. The best way I have found to mitigate this is to wear the jacket with only a t-shirt under it.

In temps below 44 degrees F, this jacket excels, but it has been unseasonably warm in the Pacific Northwest so far this winter.

Comfort

This jacket is very comfortable and cozy to wear. The materials used form well to my body and move fairly easily. The stretch is a little odd, as it offers more resistance than you might expect, but once you start stretching it moves decently well.

Overall it’s a warm jacket with stretch, so it’s perfectly comfortable.

Packing

The compressibility of this jacket is less than what you get with down jackets, but the jacket does come with a stuff sack which is attached to the inside of the breast pocket. As with most synthetic insulated jackets, this doesn’t pack down to any impressive size. The stuff sack does help get the jacket out of the way, but it is made out of a stretch material, so the compression offered by the stuff sack is limited. It is also sized a bit too large for the jacket, thus affording extra room.

All in all, I don’t think it is fair to call this jacket packable. Yes, it is very svelte in the overall weight, but I’ve had lighter and warmer down jackets which pack down to a much smaller size. This is always going to be the trade off.

Style

This jacket is as basic as it comes. It is designed to cut more athletic in looks, and yet be simple enough that it can reasonably blend in anywhere. I think the big thing to note about the style of the jacket, is that it doesn’t look tacticool, nor does it look like a jacket for hiking.


It’s simple and fairly innocuous in design. The biggest miss for me with the style is the collar, as it leans into your neck instead of standing up on its own. I think this looks a bit odd, and am unsure if this is something unique to my body or not.

A Few Complaints

This jacket isn’t perfect and thus there are a few areas I think need improvement:

Stuff sack: It’s too big and too stretchy. It needs to be smaller and not stretchy. I also don’t understand why it is connected. I am removing it so I can ditch it from the jacket.

Wrinkling: The material of this jacket is prone to wrinkling, which sucks when you stuff it into a stuff sack for travel. It can get quite wrinkly and the wrinkles don’t fall out that quickly. Typically it takes about 3-4 hours wearing the jacket before the wrinkles release.

Pocket zippers: The zippers for the exterior pockets are very small, and the zipper pulls are even smaller. They are hard to operate. The stretch on the material means that you often need two hands to open the pockets, and it can be quite difficult to open and close them without the jacket itself zipped up. It’s nice they are zipped, but they are hard to use.

Cuffs: The jacket sues a narrow elastic band for the cuffs, which is pretty typical of this style/type of jackets. However, they are almost rolled under, so that you do not see the actual cuff when you wear the jacket. It’s really odd and makes the cuff catch on my watch when I put the jacket on. It also looks a little odd and takes some getting used to.

Overall

Despite the small little issues I have with the jacket, I really do like it. I had been considering many of the more common mid-layer insulated jackets, and am glad I went with this one over those. It strikes the right balance with style and performance. I am glad it is as warm as it is, and prefer jackets to trend in that direction over being not warm enough.

What I like the most is that this jacket moves really well, fits great, and doesn’t look like something I just came from a hiking trail wearing. I could see taking this jacket anytime I need a warm layer when I travel, and will likely wear it a ton this winter.

Proof Nova Series Insulated Jacket