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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Patagonia has been pushing the boundaries with recycling clothing fibers into new clothes for a long time, and the Long-Sleeved Recycled Wool Shirt takes recycled wool, polyester, and nylon and makes it into a great, all around casual, heavy shirt. You also can’t beat having Patagonia stand behind a shirt like this, as I could see it used in many conditions, from a casual day around town to camping in the woods.
The fabric is a 6.9 oz blend of 60% recycled wool, 30% recycled polyester, and 10% recycled nylon. The Forge Grey color shows good variation in the color and has a nice texture to give it some visual interest. I’ve seen some complaints of the shirt being scratchy, but it doesn’t bother me due to the lining in the cuffs and neck/collar. However, if you generally think wool is scratchy, this is definitely not the shirt for you.
For those interested in sustainability, the 100% recycled nature of the fabric is also a plus. The wool actually comes from old sweaters, which is a very old process that is now aided by modern technology. Patagonia has been recycling polyester for a long time, starting with making water bottles into fleece, and now they can take other sources such as old clothing. Most interestingly, Patagonia wasn’t able to find a quality recycled nylon fiber until about five years ago and now they are using textile waste as well as experimenting with used fishing nets.
Fit, Performance, and Styling
This shirt fits me well. Sizing is right as expected for Patagonia, so I found the large to fit well (and have long enough sleeves). The cut works well as it’s close enough that you can wear it with just an undershirt, or it can be worn as an overshirt. Patagonia calls this their “Regular Fit”, and for me it only works untucked (which is perfect for this shirt).
The cut plays right into the weight of the fabric, as I’ve found it comfortable to wear indoors on a chilly day while being warm enough to wear as an overshirt on a colder day. As far as the odor performance, I have worn this shirt many times and have not had to wash it yet. The combination of it not being a close to skin piece and having over 50% wool content seems to make it odor resistant.
The pockets and weight of the fabric definitely land this shirt squarely in the casual category, however, it does still pair nicely with a nicer pair of pants (like the Outlier Slim Dungarees or Futureworks) and a pair of boots.
Since the cooler months have arrived, the Patagonia Recycled Wool Shirt has been my go-to shirt for looking put together and casual. When compared to other similar offerings on the market, the $129 price is an excellent value. The weight and good looks of the fabric, combined with the cut, make it a piece that I’m sure will be in my wardrobe for a long time.
The item in this review was provide for Myles Apparel for review purposes.
Myles Apparel recently released their Tour Pant to compete in the technical, 5-pocket pant market. It’s marketed as a “classic 5-pocket pant design upgraded with modern features”. I had a chance to give these a good try over the holidays.
The fabric is described as a “breathable stretch woven twill” and is 100% polyester with DWR. While there is no elastane, the fabric is quite stretchy, although not as stretchy as my Outlier Slim Dungarees. The weight seems to be similar to the Workcloth in the Slim Dungarees, but this fabric doesn’t have as strong of a texture and has a noticeable technical sheen. I found the weight to be decent for cold weather, and could see the pants transition to the warmer months.
One interesting material touch is a tight mesh fabric used for the pockets. I’m guessing this is to help with the breathability, although I typically feel this is a gimmick that can hurt the durability of the pockets.
These pants are a slim/athletic cut with a slight leg taper. The odd thing, however, is the sizing. They are only offered in S-XXL rather than waist sizes. In talking to Myles, I was told that the sizing is consistent with their other pants, so I got an XL (this choice also made sense with their sizing chart). The XL turned out to be unusual baggy in the seat, so I exchanged for a L.
In a L, the waist was slightly tight — made OK because of the stretch, however there is some pulling at the top of the fly flap. Since the pulling is right below the button, it’s hidden by an untucked shirt, but makes these pants unwearable for me with a tucked in shirt. The seat did fit much better though. I also tend to have concerns with tightness around the thighs in athletic/slim pants, but the fit on these, while a little tighter than I usually go, was comfortable.
Also, rather than providing an inseam measurement, they list a max height for each size (6’5” on the L). I am 6’2”, and I found the inseam to be perfect, they do offer free hemming by mail though, if needed.
The rise of the pants seem to be a bit lower than what I’m used to. I found squatting down to cause the pants to pull down in the back a bit. The lower rise also makes the back pockets fall lower than I’m used to — this is something I didn’t notice right away, but became apparent when sitting with a wallet in my back pocket.
The stretch of the fabric is surprising given the lack of any stretch component to the blend. I never found the pants to constrict my movement and found them to move with my body, although not as easily as a pant with some elastane blended in. The gusseted crotch also helps with freedom of movement, although I found the back of the pants to pull down a bit when squatting or moving around on the floor when playing with my niece. I’m guessing this is a function of the rise.
While not severely tapered, I did find the taper to cause the pants to sometimes get caught on my calves when standing up.
The fifth pocket is sized to hold your phone, and it does indeed just hold an iPhone XS. My phone seems secure there, although the pocket is situated high enough that I didn’t find it to be a comfortable place to carry my phone. The other pockets are all nice and deep and things seem to stay put. The right back pocket also has a zipper portion designed to securely hold a wallet or passport, a nice touch and well implemented. I’ve found some zipper pockets like this to get in the way, but the zipper seems to be well designed here as to stay hidden and out of the way.
Finally, the technical sheen — this one is a deal breaker for me when wearing the pants. I hoped it would become less noticeable with some wear and washing, but that did not come true. Maybe it’s most noticeable in the Charcoal color I have, but for pants that are targeted for wear from outdoors all the way to work, I expect less sheen.
A Few Complaints
These pants aren’t perfect. While I think a lot of what I don’t like is a factor of the fit, there are definitely some improvements that could be made.
Sizing: Only having S-XXL sizing in these pants makes it less likely that you will find a great fit, and seems unusual for a pant billed as looking good enough for work wear. I’d consider making these in the usual waist sizings.
Rise: The rise on these pants turned out to be a little too low for me, causing the back to pull down in some situations. I didn’t notice if it was different in the XL pair I had first, but in order to get a fit that was reasonable, I had to size down.
Sheen: The sheen of the fabric is too noticeable for a technical pant that is supposed to be able to be worn in many situations. While it may have been OK in the past, there are too many good, non-shiny offerings these days.
The Myles Apparel Tour Pant is not the pant for me. While some of my issues are probably due to not being able to find a great fit, the fabric could use some work. If you can find a fit that works for you, the $118 price is compelling when compared to my gold standard of the Slim Dungarees ($198), and it might be worth giving them a try.
One of the most common things I hear from people when I tell them to buy merino wool t-shirts is that wool is too scratchy for them, or the person they want to get a shirt for. While I don’t find merino wool scratchy, and many people agree on that, there are still some who do. The issue is that the majority of non-merino shirts out there don’t perform nearly as well as wool. Which brings us to the Proof Passage Tee.
I used to tell people to go buy Pistol Lake’s Minimalist Tee (our review). Both of us were surprised by the performance of the Eudae fabric, but the shirt is very lightweight and more geared towards an athletic look. Proof makes technical clothing with the traveler in mind, and they do it out of a range of fabrics. The brand (formerly Proof NYC) is now owned wholly by Huckberry and sold through them.
I picked up their Passage Tee on a whim and have been impressed by it since. I bought another too. Let’s dive in.
This shirt is a cotton blend of: 48% cotton / 47% polyester / 5% spandex. This isn’t specifically listed, but I am confident it is treated with some anti-odor chemical as well, but we cannot determine which.
The fabric itself feels like some of the softest cotton out there. It’s very soft, almost feeling slightly fuzzy at times. The shirt stretches well, and is thick enough that you will have no worries about any see through aspects, and yet light enough that it packs well.
The moment you put this shirt on, it is comfortable. Nothing beats soft cotton against your skin. The shirt is made even more comfortable with the addition of stretch and moisture wicking. It’s not as moisture controlling as a wool shirt, but it is far better than straight cotton. It’s almost as good as wool for general wear when it comes to moisture.
The stretch seemed like an odd choice to me in a t-shirt, but it works out quite well. Allowing the arm openings to be cut closer to the body, without restricting the movement of your body. The stretch isn’t a ton, but it’s more than enough for this shirt to make it a really nice touch.
At the end of a long day, I am generally happier with a merino t-shirt, but for shorter wears this Passage Tee is really hard to beat for comfort. Because, while it doesn’t quite have the performance of merino which aides in comfort throughout the day, it feels very relaxing to wear.
My benchmark for performance is that I generally can get 4-5 days of wear with merino, and 3-4 with something like Pistol Lake’s shirt. I find the Passage Tee to be about a 2-3 wears shirt. If I air it out for longer between wears, I might be able to get an extra day. Cotton kills this for a ton of wears in a row.
However, that’s not to say this shirt doesn’t perform well, because it is quite impressive for a shirt with such high cotton content. I first tested the shirt by wearing it for 24 hours straight, airing it out for 8 hours, and then wearing it for another 12 hours. It didn’t stink so bad after all of that, but it smelled enough that I would prefer not to wear it again without washing it.
Speaking of washing, the shirt dries well when hanging. It’s not as fast as a merino shirt, but it is pretty quick drying overall.
As I mentioned at the start of this review, I bought a second of this shirt. The Passage Tee is the pure comfort of a well worn cotton t-shirt with much better performance. It’s not something I’ll be traveling with, but if I know I am going somewhere to relax and lounge, it is the shirt I would want to have.
At standard retail of $42, it is a decent buy. Right now it is on sale for $28, and at that price it is a steal.
When I mentioned to Steve we should do a post where we outline what we would buy if we had no clothes at all — keeping it minimal and performant for our day to day lives — I had no idea it would be so difficult to write. The challenge here for me is balancing a wardrobe of items that actually fit what I do on a regular basis. Items which fill the need first and foremost, are versatile, and which generally make sense.
There are a lot of things which I actually own, and love, which didn’t make the list simply because upon further reflection they lack versatility. For me, this list isn’t just about starting from scratch, but perhaps is the ideal wardrobe for me to own, but sadly one that I both do not own, and suspect I would find nearly impossible to slim down to.
Undergarments and Base Layers
This section is pretty easy to go through, as the below are all items I own, and basically all I wear for undergarments.
ExOfficio Give-N-Go Boxers, 4 pairs. These are the only underwear I own and wear (aside from any I may be reviewing). I love how they fit, feel, and perform. These were actually the item which got me started on all of the rest of this clothing, because if underwear could be this good, imagine what possibilities lie for the rest of the clothing. These are expensive and I own about 10 pairs right now, but I know I could easily get away with 4 if I were more diligent about doing laundry.
Outlier Megafine Socks, 2 pairs. I was really torn about which socks to pick as my day to day socks, but the Megafine socks are too good not to pick. The style and colors are very basic, but they are a good weight, and comfortable. I think they also last the longest of any merino socks I have purchased. The amount was the big one for me, but 2 pairs should be able to last me 3-4 wears each, and that’s plenty.
Darn Tough Solid Crew Light (#1617), 1 pair. This is actually the type of sock I wear the most, and is a very nice if light weight sock. They wear out fast for me, so I am limiting it to just a single pair, which I would wear when I need something that looks more dressy.
Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion (#1466), 1 pair. I recently got a pair of these to wear when I am rucking, and they are really nice. I can certainly see why hikers love these, so one pair is necessary for my workouts and if the temperature drops and I want a heavier sock.
NVSBL Undershirt in nude, 1 shirt. The fabric on this undershirt is very different from anything we typically talk about here, however its also very good. It’s a one and done type of wear, as it does nothing to resist odors. This is my go to when I need to wear an undershirt, but do not want to look like I am wearing one. I own two now, but wear them so infrequently that I know a single shirt would be more than enough.
Icebreaker Anatomica Short Sleeve V-Neck, 1 shirt. I think I have had my Anatomica for 4 years now, and its still holding up. This is a great layer for putting under another button down, or general undershirt wear. It is passable as your only shirt in darker colors, but I would choose a lighter color to blend better as an undershirt. This would be what I travel with if I plan on wearing button downs on the trip.
I’ve been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride with my shoes, where I have gone from very minimal to quite a few right now. I need to slim down, and I actually only have worn one pair of these shoes so some alternatives will be listed.
GORUCK MACV-1, coyote. I currently have the black version and find them pretty ugly looking. The coyote in pictures looks better. These would be dedicated rucking boots for me, as that is my workout I do 4-5 times per week. They would also double for hiking, yard work, and any other wear that is hard use. There’s other options you could go with here, but I think these are a pretty well rounded pair of boots if you are not too worried about looks.
Red Wing Iron Rangers. I’ve wanted a pair of these for a while now, but I cannot seem to get my Clark’s Desert Boots to die, so I have yet to have reason to buy these. I would get them with the Vibram mini-lug sole, so that I can wear them year round. I think they are classic and would last a long while. As an alternative, the Clarks Desert Boots with the beeswax finish I have been wearing for four years now are beyond solid and versatile. Cheaper too.
Nike Flyknits. These would be if I need to pack a backup pair of shoes, travel with a workout shoe, or generally for shorts and leisure wear in the summer. I hated the Allbirds when I tried them, and love Nikes. The bonus here is that I rarely hear anyone complain about this shoe, and they weigh nothing.
This is one area I feel like I am doing pretty well in. The choice in pants here reflects my lifestyle, as well as the climate I live in (temperate, but often wet, Seattle area). I am also going to provide some options for slightly different climates.
Outlier Slim Dungarees, Dark Indigo. I’ve owned pairs of these in Grey Space, Charcoal, and Dark Indigo — I think Dark Indigo is the most versatile of the lot, followed closely by Charcoal. I could easily see these being my only pants for everything, I think I could get by like that. If I could, I would have a closet full of these in every color they make, they’re the best. If you do find yourself in a warmer climate, the Oliver’s Passage pant is likely a better choice as it will wear cooler. A colder climate, and I would go with Strong Dungarees from Outlier, they too are fantastic, but heavier to wear.
Outlier Futureworks, Charcoal. These are a great stand in for a charcoal chino, which may be the most versatile pant out there. The Futureworks are great, handle heat well, and I actually wore a pair of Futureworks for nearly everyday for about a year. They are fantastic, and priced well too. This would be my business casual wear, as well as something to dress up the look a bit.
Bluffworks Gramercy Pants, Blue Hour. I really like the Grammercy pants as they offer a dressier look, while performing really well. Having these in blue give you a complete setup, and the variation of the coloring on these make them look less technical than the other options. These would be a great option for when I need to dress it up a bit, or for a second look as they work in almost any scenario where the Futureworks go.
Outlier New Ways. Everyone needs shorts, and New Ways are the best I have found for all around wear. These would also double as swim trunks — and I speak from experience there having worn mine swimming on many occasions. If you do swim a lot, you would want proper swim trunks, but for the occasional dip these work well. I’d stick with a dark color on these.
GORUCK Simple Pants. These come in two weights, but for this guide I think the original “light” weight is the best. They look passable, perform well, and pack down to nothing. If you packed a pair of Slim Dungarees and these, you could go and do anything you wanted. These pack so small and weigh nothing, so there’s no penalty for packing them. They typically travel with me anywhere I go as a backup. I’d buy the coyote color in these, as it looks the best. They would also be my workout pants, and yard work/ hiking pants. If you get the Olivers Passage Pants, you could likely forgo these, as they perform almost as well in warmer weather and workout situations.
Nike DriFit Joggers. Everyone needs a good pair of pants to lounge around the house in. This would be my choice.
This is a real struggle for me. As a society we are accustomed to seeing people wear the same, or similar pants day in and day out. Rarely do you every hear the comment “are those the same jeans you have been wearing all week”. But with shirts, people tend to notice. Thus this is probably the biggest section with the most variety for that very reason.
Wool & Prince Merino Blend T-shirt, 2. I wanted to pick Outlier Ultrafine here as I think they are killer. And I thought about the Outdoor Voices, but I think Wool and Prince offers the best color selection, price, comfort, and durability of any brand. I would go with the blend so the shirt lasts longer, and the performance hit is negligible. Pick on in a dark basic color, and another with a pop of color.
Wool & Prince Button-Down, 1. You could get away with just this button down, I see people who do. However, variety is the name of the game, so I would select one in a solid color like light gray. It’s a versatile shirt with classic looks and fantastic performance. I’d have more than one on this list if the next shirt didn’t exist.
Bluffworks Meridian Dress Shirt, 2. I love these shirts, and I think they look fantastic while performing really well. I don’t rely on them for odor resistance, but they dry fast enough that you could travel indefinitely with two, washing them between wears in a sink. They also hold up much better than a wool shirt, and with the GORUCK backpacks I tend to use, that’s important. The fit on them is stellar too — I do wish they would make some solid colors. Either way, everyone should own one of these shirts.
Wool & Prince Merino Polo, 1. I bought one for the summer and wore it a ton. I would get the next in the blend fabric, and it would cover me in any warm weather I encounter. I’d stick with something light in color.
Banana Republic Merino Wool V-neck Sweater, 1. Funny enough, my first encounter with merino wool was from Banana Republic’s sweaters, I have a closet full of them. They are great, and Banana Republic still sells them for about $90 each, which is a great deal. This is not only an insulating layer, but it will help to dress up your look if you pull it over a button down/up shirt. Classic, get one in dark gray or brown.
GORUCK Rucking Hoodie Full Zip (Heavy), 1. Everyone needs a good hoodie for lounging in, this would be my choice. It’s not the warmest, but it would double for actually rucking I do, and is and overall great layer and durable piece.
I have had closets full of jackets in the past, so this section is the hardest for me. And the one I am the most unsure of, this winter I have been working to revamp my closet on this end, so here’s where I think I would go on this, but there’s going to many alternates here.
Aether Dakota Jacket. Where I live you need a good, warm, and stylish layer. I originally thought Patagonia Nanopuff, but everyone has one. Perhaps a Filson Tin Cloth Down Cruiser, but that’s a PNW style only. Instead I think Aether makes some of the best outerwear on the market, so I would go with the Dakota Jacket. It ticks all the boxes with a great cut, a waxed outer fabric to give a great look, and heavy down filling to take you to the coldest temps.
Bluffworks Vest. Although I have not tested this, it would make for a fantastic layering piece and I think it looks great and sits at a really good price point. I still might pick one of these up this winter, as I love the looks of it.
Arc’teryx Zeta SL. I’m in Seattle and rain is a thing here. Also, you need a good layer to block wind. The hard part for me was deciding between something technical looking like this, or something with a little more style. End of the day, I think I would rather stay dry and have a jacket I know could perform out in the woods. This jacket is well made, light, packs down, and would work in almost every situation I would need it in. I actually have a precursor to this jacket which I have been wearing for about 8 years now, a great jacket.
Bluffworks Grammercy Blazer, Blue Hour. This is a nice sport coat/blazer for dressing up a look, performing well, or traveling with. Pair it with the Grammercy pants and you have a make shift suit, which won’t pass for a nice suit, but would get you buy in most situations if you need it.
PROOF Nova Jacket: I just got this jacket so no review yet, but it has a lot of promise for travel and as a mid-layer.
With this setup I could still do my worksouts, travel to almost anywhere, and have the clothing I need for work and life. It’s expensive, more so than I expected, but a robust setup for sure.
When Ben mentioned to me that he though we should do posts where we outline what we would buy if we had no clothes at all, all while keeping it minimal, I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult. Once I sat down to actually write it, I realized the challenge, as we didn’t limit it to what we currently own, but what we thought would be the best pieces. This list is intended to be a good base wardrobe, one that could take me though a year of typical wear, excluding one-off stuff (like camping gear, dress shoes that only get worn once or twice per year, etc.).
Living in a cold climate, layers are important for me, so you will see warmer clothes make up a good portion of my list. I tried to balance the list so laundry didn’t have to be an everyday thing, but realistically, I prefer to do my laundry once a week.
Undergarments and Base Layers
UNIQLO AIRism Boxer Briefs, 14 pairs. I’ve recently moved over to favoring the AIRism boxer briefs as they are lighter than the ExOfficio ones I used to favor. While I still have both, I’d just go with the AIRism. They pack down really small and dry very fast from being so light. And an added bonus, they are less than $10 and can often be found on sale.
Icebreaker Anatomica Short Sleeve V-Neck, 1. I wear this shirt in the “Snow” (off white) color as an undershirt. I can get a couple days out of it and it dries reasonably quickly if it needs to be hand washed.
UNIQLO AIRism Short Sleeve V-Neck, 1. I wear this in the “Light Grey” color as an undershirt (the grey does a better job hiding under a light colored shirt than white). Again, packs down very small and dries quickly. Definitely only one wear, but the price can’t be beat (less than $10 and often on sale).
Darn Tough Solid Crew Light (#1617), 3 pairs, Charcoal & Navy. These are my dress socks for work and dressing up. I can reliably get two days out of a pair (merino blend), so they are great for travel. While they are durable, these seem to wear out the fastest of my socks, hence the need for a backup pair.
Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion (#1466), 3 pairs. These are my casual cool(er) weather socks. Again, I can reliably get two days out of a pair (merino blend) — I only took three pairs on a two week camping trip.
Darn Tough Tactical No Show Light (#T4037), 3 pairs. These are my summer and workout socks. The Vertex style used to come in all-black, but doesn’t anymore, so I’d go with these in the future. I’m able to get two days or 3+ workouts out of these socks (merino blend). They are the most durable light socks I’ve had, but they do wear out so I like to have a backup pair.
Patagonia Capilene Midweight Bottoms & Zip-Neck, 1 each. This is my favorite baselayer. Yes, it is synthetic, but I think it provides an excellent value.
Merrell Trail Glove 4. These are my go-to sneakers, from everyday to workout. I had the Trail Glove 3 and wore them for a few years and replaced them with these when they wore out.
Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill Boot, Brown. I’ve had these boots for a year now and they are very comfortable. The Danite sole makes them safe on wet floors. They straddle casual and business casual for me. Not sure these are the exact replacement I’d pick (especially not at full price), but I like that they are at home in many situations.
Outlier Slim Dungarees, 1 pair, Darkindigo. These are my favorite casual pants. They are as comfortable as sweat pants, but look as good or better than jeans. I currently have them in “Gray Shadow” (which is a blue-green color to me), but I think “Darkindigo” is the most versatile color. I find that the main reason I wash these is because they start to bag out. I would, however, have to consider the Strong Dungarees as well, as I’ve heard great things (and briefly owned a pair myself). Although, I wouldn’t need both as they fill the same need.
Outlier Futureworks, 1 pair, Phantom Grey or Charcoal Grey. As we’ve said many times, you can’t beat these for business casual pants, especially at the price point of $140.
Bluffworks Gramercy Pants, 1 pair, Blue Hour. When I want to look dressier, these are the pants I go to. They still perform well and are very comfortable, but they look closer to wool slacks.
Outlier New Way Shorts, 1 pair, Navy. These shorts are great, they perform well but also look good at a restaurant. I currently have the Longs, but think I’d go for the regular length the next time.
Myles Momentum Short 2.0, 1 pair, grey. While I love my Patagonia Baggies Long, these shorts keep the functionality as a workout short, but can double as a short for everyday wear. They can easily go from a workout to a coffee shop.
Patagonia Quandary Pant, 1 pair. I currently wear the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pant for outdoor activities, but would pick these to replace them. I haven’t found the Ferrosi fabric to be as durable as I like (I have a few snags). I’ve tried the GORUCK offerings, but found the pockets to be lacking.
Synthetic Sweat Pants, 1 pair. Have to have something comfortable and warm to lounge in during the winter. Not super picky on these, but do appreciate my Myles Apparel Momentum Pant, although I’m not sure they are worth the price for lounging.
Y Athletics SilverAir Merino Crew Neck, 2. Still my favorite workout shirt that can easily double as a casual t. The nylon face makes it more durable (I still managed to get pilling with a GORUCK bag while hiking though) while keeping the comfort of merino against your skin.
Wool&Prince Button-Down, 2. My current favorite is the Burgundy Oxford. The thicker fabric is beautiful and does a better job at resisting wrinkles as compared to the lighter fabric. I’d probably pick up that and one in light blue or grey.
Bluffworks Meridian Dress Shirt, 1, Peak Blue Tattersall. I think this is my favorite dress shirt. It looks normal and is comfortable, all while remaining wrinkle resistant and durable. While it is only good for one wear, it dries quickly.
Patagonia R1 Pullover, 1. This pulls double duty as a top and an insulating layer for me. It looks nice enough to be a casual sweater when it’s cold and it also is surprisingly warm for its thickness. It has become a key part of my cool weather wardrobe.
Arc’teryx Proton LT. This would replace my current down insulation layer. While down is great for packability and warmth to weight ratio, it falls short in wet conditions. And by wet conditions, I don’t just mean precipitation, but at times when you are putting out a lot of heat. The Proton LT is very breathable and has continuous synthetic insulation (which is supposed to be the most durable). I also find the cut of Arc’teryx jackets to be fairly stylish (at least for a technical forward jacket).
Patagonia Torrentshell. While I love the hood on my Outdoor Research Helium II, the lack of pockets drives me crazy sometimes. This jacket remains well priced and packable, while adding pockets and pit zips. This also can double as a windbreaker.
Wool&Prince Blazer. While the fabric has changed, I have been so impressed with the one I have, I know this would be the one to get. It is still half-lined, so it continues to have a great unstructured look and breaths much better than a fully lined blazer.
The other day I grabbed my Outlier S140 shirt, and noticed that the armpits were discolored. The shirt itself is light blue and the armpits had visible sweat stains, and looked yellowed, even over the blue. I also remembered that a blue Outlier Ultrafine T I own has dark discoloration on the arm pits, with almost a stiff texture to that area.
It was enough of a discoloration and general gross out for me that I decided I needed to do whatever it took to clean them, or just donate the shirts and get new ones. I wasn’t going to be wearing them looking like this. So here’s what I tried, and they all failed:
Spot treated with Kookaburra, then washed. No change.
Spot treated with white vinegar, then washed. No change.
Spot treated with dish soap, then washed. No change.
Spot treated with baking soda paste, then washed. Slightly better by about 4%.
At this point I was pretty frustrated, and annoyed at all the loads of wash I was doing. There was one last thing that the internet seems to universally claim would work on cotton: Oxiclean. Of course we all know this wonder TV product, but I was worried it would destroy the wool. I bit the bullet on these shirts as I knew I wasn’t going to wear the shirts like this anyways.
One shirt with slight discoloration, one with discoloration and a stiffened texture, and in addition to those two Outlier shirts, another with next level discoloration. I only took pictures of the latter, but looking at these stains I knew it wouldn’t matter if they were ruined, because they already were.
Here’s what the worst shirt looked like before I started:
Pretty bad, as this had mostly been worn as an undershirt. This is an Icebreaker Anatomica crew neck, in what I believe they call “bone” for the color.
My first pass at this shirt was to get a mixing bowl and dump some Oxiclean powder into it, fill with water, and mix in the Oxiclean to dissolve it
Then I submerged the entire shirt to soak for 12 hours. After soaking I wrung out the shirt, and washed it with our standard laundry detergent. I did an extra rinse cycle on it as well.
Note on the Outlier shirts: while the pictured shirt is basically a natural color, both Outlier shirts are blue. When I let those shirts soak overnight, they turned the water blue. I was pretty concerned they would be super faded after washing, but to my eye they look no different. I have no doubt this process took some of the color out of them, but I cannot see it.
After all of that, here’s what the shirt looked like:
There’s still light staining you can see, but it’s mostly gone and the shirt is wearable again. Both Outlier shirts came out looking absolutely perfect
And as you can see, the color looks fine on them as well. I stopped there with the Outlier shirts as I was quite happy with the results.
Since the Icebreaker shirt was older, and had way more staining, I wanted to see if I could knock out the stain even further. Instead of doing another full soak on the shirt, I made a paste out of Oxiclean and applied it with a toothbrush to the stained areas with a bit of scrubbing. Then I let that sit for about an hour before washing the shirt again.
It is extremely hard to see in these pictures but the stain is still slightly there. The paste only removed it a little but more. I think if I soaked the shirt again, it would be gone, but its gone enough that this is fine for the undershirt nature of this shirt.
I am very impressed with the work Oxiclean did on these shirts. Especially with the Outlier shirts which now look brand new again. I was very worried this would make the wool feel nasty, but oddly enough they feel like normal. I guess time will tell on that front, but this process didn’t outright destroy the shirts. I think after washing with Kookaburra again, they will be completely back to normal.
I will not hesitate to use this method in the future on any wool. It really worked well. I think the paste method is a complete waste of time, as it really was not nearly as effective. Do a long soak over night, and I think you will see the best results.
Note: Oxiclean says not to use the product on wool, so while I didn’t see any issues, use at your own risk.
We went through our closets to find some great clothing and bags for you, and are listing them here at some great prices.
All price include shipping to the lower 48 via USPS, they also include all PayPal fees. All purchases need to be made via PayPal goods and services. If you are buying more than one item from the same person (Ben or Steve) we will adjust the prices to account for the shipping savings.
My mistake is your gain. These are a half size too large for my feet, but I didn’t realize that until I rucked in them. Aesthetically they look perfect. There’s some light debris in the treads that I cannot scrub out. I rucked 3.2 miles in them, and then cleaned them. I don’t feel right trying to return them. My short review: if you do a lot of walking and want comfort, these are great boots. I bought another pair in 11 that I am still testing, but 20+ miles in, I do like them.
Selling because I don’t wear it anymore. Minimal, if any pilling.
Cabella’s Gore-Tex Rain Jacket, XL Tall, Dark Green/Brown, Excellent, $50
Fully taped Gore-Tex rain jacket. Selling because it is too big and I’ve replaced it with my Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket. Front pockets have mesh liners to help with ventilation if needed. Included stuff sack (non-integral).
Columbia Titanium Omni-Heat Waterproof Shell, XL, Bright Blue, Excellent, $50
I purchased this shell at the Columbia outlet and only wore it a few times. Now it’s too big. Based on the style number (1384921), I’m guessing it’s a 2013 model. It is made with Omni-Tech waterproof, breathable fabric and is lined with metallic Omni-Heat. It supports the Columbia interchange system and has a built in stuff-sack. On the front, two zippers open mesh vents in the Omni-Heat liner to help with ventilation. The hood rolls up into the collar.
I’ve been wanting a better casual insulation layer, but also one that is built to the standards I’ve come to love through the testing we do for this site. Coupled with that, I have been wanting a shirt-jacket, ‘shacket’, as this type of layer. Top on my list was this Catalyst Field Shirt from Triple Aught Design.
I’ve now been testing it for a few weeks and have really put it through its paces. Overall, this has been a great warming layer, but has some strong caveats.
This jacket is packed with performance materials. The shell of the jacket is 100% nylon at 100 gsm with UPF 50. Triple Aught Design notes this is the same fabric used on their Latitude Field Shirt. Next, the shirt has “Amphibious Cloth” on top of the nylon in high abrasion areas, which here means the tops of the shoulders, and the elbows and forearms. This is the black cloth you see, and is meant to stand up to more abuse.
The insulation itself is Polartec Alpha, which I am going to dive into more in a bit, but for this jacket is fairly light at 50 gsm in weight. Lastly, the jacket is lined with 100% nylon at 95 gsm. Having said all that the jacket feels kind of heavy with a very synthetic drape to it, the insulation is much thinner than you will expect. The outer shell material is soft to the hand and the inner is smooth like silk.
All in all, some of the best performing and durable materials go into making this jacket.
Polartec Alpha versus Polartec Alpha Direct
I’ve previously written about Polartec Alpha Direct here with the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoodie, and this is a slightly older variant, kind of. The difference is that Alpha is made to work between two layers of another material, whereas Alpha Direct is made to work with a shell layer, and go against your skin on the inside.
Alpha itself has a ton of hype around it. You’ll see lots of “designed for special forces”, which seems to be true and it’s true that the military does use this material a lot. It’s an active insulation layer, which means it still warms while wet, and is highly breathable. Alpha also gets mixed reactions from people who put it through its paces. For me, and for casual wear purposes, I’d put it as more breathable than a standard fleece jacket, but not as warm, and not nearly as bulky.
Don’t get an Alpha insulator thinking it will be magic, because it will not live up to that standard. It is, almost always, a better layer to have than a fleece jacket for casual wear.
Fit and Style
As with all Triple Aught Design goods, they take a very distinct style towards tactical, or tacti-cool if you prefer. It certainly has color and design inspiration which has a nod towards military, a nod towards outdoor, with casual looks thrown on top. I like the style of this shirt, and think it wears well, but it will not be for everyone.
The first shirt I was sent was a size medium by mistake, which actually fit, and I replaced with a size L. The M fit really well, with the exception of the sleeves being a touch too short, and there being restriction in arm movements at more extreme angles. The L doesn’t look as good, but is far more comfortable to wear. This shirt is designed to be a relaxed fit, as you expect from a jacket, not like a shirt. Overall I need a size in between the two, but it’s not terrible. So be aware of potentially wanting to go down a size for a more tailored look, especially if your arms are not as freakishly long as mine.
Performance and Use
This is both an outer layer for cool days, and a mid-layer for cold days. It’s not at all water resistant, and in my wear in rain, it tends to soak up the water, but dry quickly. Ideally this is something that breathes well enough and insulates strongly enough, that you can move between indoors and outdoors without having to shed the layer. Something which most people struggle with during the cooler weather months.
The armpits have two vents under each which are round and mesh in nature to help with breathing in warm areas. I’ve tested this at the beach, in my house, and around town. Wearing it instead of any other layers, as well as something to warm up with in the house. At times I’ve found it to be on the verge of too warm indoors, or in the car. If the sun is hitting you, you warm up fast. At the beach I’ve found that if I stopped moving I could get slightly chilled in it, start moving and everything is good. The wind resistance is decent but nothing to write home about.
What really sets this jacket apart is how comfortable it is to wear, as long as you don’t worry about keeping it buttoned. The front buttons closed with snap buttons, and I’ve found that the minute I start feeling warm, I can slide my hand down the shirt and open the front. This keeps my temp perfect in most situations and buttoning it back up tends to warm me up quickly enough.
The jacket performs very well in every situation I used it in. Something like this will always need layers, but you can push it for short periods of time. This is a far better implementation of Polartec Alpha than the Ascendant jacket for everyday wear.
There’s a few small issues with this shirt:
The shell material does look to be starting to have very small pilling happening around the cuffs and the neck line. Granted I’ve worn this a lot, but I do worry how it might look after a year.
The jacket has no odor resistance, and thus the arm pits can and do smell after long stretches of wear. It will dissipate overnight but often not enough. I haven’t washed this jacket yet, but instead I spray the arm pits with Lysol and that rids the smell completely and instantly. No ill effects yet to the jacket.
The collar is quite large and floppy. It also cannot be flipped up and buttoned up in place so that it can act as a neck warmer. I would have preferred a smaller and stuffer collar, or this collar with a button enclosure to add warmth in cool climates by making it a neck warmer.
These are small nitpicks but I can see them driving some people crazy. I give the shirt a pass on the forearm pilling because I’ve been working on a new stand at my desk which is unfinished wood and is quite rough, that’s exaggerating the pilling in this area of the shirt.
At $225 this is an expensive shirt, but not overly so for what it is. Most Polartec Alpha costs good money right now, as do most good shirt jackets. I think the biggest caveat is the styling of the jacket, followed by the lack of odor control in the arm pits. That said, I have no regrets getting this, and is likely to be my most worn layer this winter. I’ve been wearing it over just the Huntsman Henley I reviewed and find that to be a great combination.