Triple Aught Design Agent XC Shorts

I’ve been fascinated by Triple Aught Design’s Agent chino offerings, but have always waited too long to get a pair, and found my sizes out of stock. But when these shorts came out right on the heels of me needing some new shorts, I snagged them right away in the Raven color (which is like charcoal with green undertones?). The XC fabric is their more technical, lighter weight offering — since getting these shorts I have been wearing them a ton.

I really like them, but maybe not for reasons you might think.

Materials

The material on these is a heavy NYCO blend, which feels very smooth to the touch and a bit crisp. In a lot of ways it reminds me of Filson’s Tin Cloth before the waxing — which is a complement. At 194gsm it’s not the lightest weight material, despite Triple Aught Design saying it is their lighter weight material.

The actual make up is listed as: 40% Cotton / 28% Nylon / 27% Cordura Nylon / 5% Elastane. I am sure there is some branding reason the Nylons are put apart like that, but really this is a 55% Nylon, 40% Cotton, 5% stretch garment, which is a pretty classic mix and one that performs well. You get the cotton feel, a slight bit of stretch, and an exceedingly durable garment.

If you are at all familiar with Filson Tin Cloth, I would say this is the modern take on that fabric. Triple Aught Design then does a thorough DWR treatment on it, and the material is durable and water resistant. Good stuff.

Fit & Style

These are listed as “standard fit” with an 8.25” inseam. It’s actually harder to find shorts around this inseam length, and I’m very happy with the inseam. It’s the right balance of being shorts, but also not too short for the style (while not being silly long as so many shorts like this can be).

I ordered a size 34, which is the size I am wearing in almost everything right now, and found that out of the box they fit about a half size too large. I don’t think I could downsize so I washed and dried them and that shrunk them only about a quarter size. It’s enough that they don’t fall down without a belt, and they fit comfortable.

The style isn’t too outwardly aggressive if you wear shirts untucked, as that will hide the massive belt loops and extra pockets. If you tuck in, then be prepared for people to notice the more outdoors vibe to these shorts — I certainly don’t think they scream tactical, but they clearly are not normal. With your shirt untucked they can essentially pass for any run of the mill shorts.

The Raven color is fantastic. It’s closest to charcoal with browns and greens in it too — it shifts ever so slightly and is really pleasant looking in person. I am a big fan of it.

Performance

The Agent XC shorts add performance in an unusual way. Yes, they do have some stretch, but I don’t notice it. The gusseted crotch itself is a far bigger performance gain than whatever the 5% elastane is doing in these. But that gusset means that they don’t need to be overly wide at the thigh while still allowing a lot of range of motion.

They resist water and heavy dirt well, but I do find that powdery type stuff and dust can collect on them. A good pat-swipe motion will clean them right up. But if you work somewhere dusty they are going to snag that dust. I wore them digging a hole, and they looked clean afterwards, however wearing them to clear out some dusty stuff in the attic caused them to look pretty dusty until I could clean them up.

I also need to say that these are not that breathable. They are not warm, they do block wind, but they are not something that is going to actively cool you. They might be more breathable than other shorts out there, but certainly not anywhere close to most of the performance shorts we test here.

Which is why the real performance gain is the pockets on these. There’s a bunch of them. There’s two hand pockets in the front, two rear welt pockets, two “hidden” rear pockets, and then an entirely hidden pocket as well.

The two rear hidden pockets are just up from the welt pockets, and they are narrow and deep. They are easy to access and can hold a ton. I needed to do some work on the fence from a ladder, and they held wire cutters and other long tools really well. They are not secured, which makes them far more useful. And beyond that, they don’t detract too much from the looks.

The big feature on these is the two front pockets. They are slant openings, with a flat/straight edges right at the bottom, which makes securing something like a pocket knife an excellent experience. And then inside the front pockets are internal dividers on the side of the pocket against your leg. These don’t get in the way if you don’t use them, but each pocket has three slots in those (with bottoms) two wider and one smaller. These are great for holding your knife or flashlight inside the pocket. Keeping a key from floating around — my iPhone 12 Mini even fits in one.

At first I felt these were a neat gimmick. Now some time on, I wonder why all pants don’t have these. They are wonderful — but I also carry a lot of ‘gear’ with me. These dividers caused me to wear these shorts far more than I otherwise would have, and are a huge win.

Overall

These are heavier shorts, but I wouldn’t hesitate doing labor intensive work in them. They won’t cool you down but they also don’t trap enough heat to worry about. I’ve worked in them a bunch and found them great because of all the extra hidden pockets.

Even then, day in and day out, the pockets have made my life easier because they keep gear organized, flatter, and the heavy material keeps that gear from becoming oddly shaped bumps showing through your shorts.

I am waiting for these to come back in stock, as I want another pair, and I will also snag the chinos as soon as I can.

Recommended, with those caveats. Buy here.

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

Triple Aught Design Agent XC Shorts

Unbound Merino Polo

Note: this shirt was provided by Unbound for review purposes.

There are quite a few merino polos out there, but many suffer from collars that are too soft. Unbound Merino reached out to see if I wanted to try their Merino Polo and remembering Ben’s review of their Classic Button-Down, I was excited to give it a try. I was quickly impressed, and this polo has become my favorite.

Material

The material is a 165 gsm, 53% superfine (17.5 micron) merino wool, 47% polyester. The weight sits right at that perfect balance of being very light, while still having enough structure. The merino is Woolmark and RWS certified, and being 17.5 micron, has no scratchiness.

The fabric looks great, with no sheen, and there is a really unique, almost 3D texture to the outer face. While different, I think the dressiness of the fabric sits in the same place as a traditional pique knit. A surprising amount of stretch is also present.

Fit & Style

The fit of this polo is spot on for me. The cut is slim, but not overly slim. I picked an XL based on the measurements on their size guide, and I think it is a flattering fit that would work for many. The stretch of the fabric gives some flexibility to size up or down for those who might prefer a tighter or looser fit.

The style here works well for business casual, or with nice shorts. The collar performs well. While it doesn’t have much structure, it doesn’t seem to fold weird in the wash. It does fall open, however, as do most collars that are not button-down.

Performance

The performance is awesome for hot weather. It breaths well, and when sweaty (or out of the wash) it dries very quickly. It seems like the texture of the fabric helps it to stand away from your skin, making it feel less damp if moist with sweat. After washing, there also is none of that fuzzy texture, speaking to the durability of the blend/texture of the fabric.

The stretch is a great addition. I never felt the polo restricting my motion — it’s actually more comfortable than some of my merino blend tees.

Wrinkles just don’t form in this fabric — I wouldn’t hesitate to squash this into a bag for travel, and it looks perfect after air drying.

As expected, that odor resistance isn’t quite up to the claims made — “Won’t smell after weeks of wear, unlike cotton and synthetics”. That would be true if it was 100% merino, but not at an almost 50-50 blend. I am able to get 3-4 days of wear, which is still great. With the quick drying nature of the fabric, sink washes would be very feasible to keep this polo going indefinitely.

Overall

This is my new favorite polo, especially for warm weather wear. The texture is unique, while keeping the style business casual. It breathes well, doesn’t wrinkle, and gives 3-4 days of wear.

At $110 retail, the price seems a touch high for a merino blend. I still do recommend the polo though, because I haven’t seen anything like the texture of this fabric.

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

Unbound Merino Polo

FRAHM Lightweight Worker’s Jacket

FRAHM is a British company that makes some classic jackets with classic fabrics. They offer pre-orders for their items (at a 20% discount), and this Lightweight Worker’s Jacket sold out before they started making it for 2021, so they’ve already launched their 2022 pre-order (for delivery May 2022).

What got me excited about FRAHM was their attention to detail and use of fabrics like Ventile (waterproof 100% cotton) and British Millerain (machine washable waxed cotton). Of course, this makes their jackets very pricey. So I went with the Lightweight Worker’s Jacket (in French Blue), which is made from an Italian ripstop, to not blow my whole budget. As I dug in further, I also thought their ethical policy was interesting and love the fact that they sew in a small factory in Bulgaria they have a close relationship with.

Material

The material is listed as “brushed Italian fabric is a tough ripstop”, and the content label lists it as 64% cotton/39% nylon. No weight is listed, but it is fairly light while still having structure. The handfeel is smooth, with the outside having a bit of sheen.

This results in a fabric that looks normal except for the slight sheen giving it away as not just cotton and has a great structure, while being really comfortable to wear.

Fit & Style

The fit on this jacket is excellent. It’s not slim, but also not baggy. FRAHM targets their cuts to fit most men, while leaving room to move and for layers. If you take a look at their size guide, you can see photos of various builds wearing their jackets and what size they are in. I find this to work really well for me. It looks sharp, while still letting me move and fit a layer underneath if necessary. I ended up with an XL after using their fit tool and chatting with their customer service (note that the jackets ship from the UK, so returns aren’t straightforward, although their customer service is very helpful and responsive).

The pockets on this jacket are done perfectly as well, plenty of storage without getting in the way. They also didn’t forget the most important feature, side entry hand pockets behind the lower pockets. This is a detail that when missing on jackets like this drives me crazy.

For those that need it, there are also two holes for the cuff button for adjustment. The collar can be flipped up for a little extra wind protection.

The style makes this a versatile jacket. It dresses up your t-shirt while staying on par or dressing down button-up a bit. It fits in in a casual situation and works well going to the office. The slight sheen the fabric has out of the box actually makes it a bit dressier, so I’ll be interested to see if that changes with more wear.

Performance

The performance here surprised me. FRAHM describes the fabric as “crease resistant, showerproof and cool against the skin”. Let’s hit those points:

  • Crease resistant: Yep, I folded the jacket and packed it away in a small backpack for my first post-vaccine road trip. I expected some creases or wrinkles to form due to the feel of the fabric, but it came out with no creases or wrinkles.
  • Showerproof: While this jacket isn’t going to keep you dry in a downpour, the fabric beads water like it has a DWR coating (but I don’t think it does). Definitely my choice for a drizzly day rather than a rain jacket or windbreaker.
  • Cool against the skin: FRAHM lists the temperature range as 50-75°F (with a t-shirt), and I think that’s about right. I haven’t gotten to test it in cold weather yet, but I could see it going cooler with a heavy button-up, sweater, or flannel. And the reason it’s comfortable into the 70s is that the fabric really does feel cool against your skin. I’m guessing it’s a combination of the smooth feel of the fabric, as well as the excellent breathability.

Even though this is a majority cotton jacket, I haven’t had to wash it. When I got some dirt on it, it was easily brushed off with a damp cloth.

And for durability, FRAHM talks about how they make all their jackets to last and stand up to actually wearing them, and I think the fabric will stand up to whatever I can throw at it. The quality is tops here, and even goes as far as adding to the style. The buttons are real horn, with smaller holding buttons behind the fabric and some fancy strong stitching. The stitching is heavy duty twin needle for durability and the seams are bound with a nice contrasting red.

Overall

Overall, I love this jacket. The only downside is now I want more pieces from FRAHM. The fit, finish, and performance on this jacket is better than anything else I’ve owned, so this is very easy for me to recommend. With a pre-order price of £176 ($244 USD), it’s not a quick decision to purchase, but the price is justified.

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

FRAHM Lightweight Worker’s Jacket

Rogue Territory Supply Jacket – Black Ridgeline

I call this my James Bond jacket as it is selected to be worn in the upcoming-but-seemingly-never-to-be-released Daniel Craig James Bond film. He wore tan, here I am talking about the Supply Jacket in Ridgeline Black. This is a really cool jacket, and I picked one up this past winter and immediately fell in love with it.

It’s hard to find useful jackets when you live in weather that is touching 110°F Heat Index as I write this post here in mid-June. But in the ‘winter’ months I often need something to cut the chill that my humidity-oven-baked body is far from acclimated to — this is that jacket. It’s amazing.

Material

The simplest explanation of this jacket is that it is waxed canvas. A little more panache: it’s the best waxed canvas I’ve felt. But the technical side is that this is 8.25oz shelter tent American waxed canvas. It’s not super thick, feeling thinner than most pairs of jeans. But it’s not light either as the weave has incredible density to it. And the wax finish is smooth across the surface, but noticeable to your hands when you touch it.

The end result is a fabric that feels smooth and stiff, which slowly breaks in over time, forming to the wearer of the garment.

Fit and Style

The supply jacket style is classic and on trend right now — but because of the classic nature of the cut, it will be appropriate for the life of the jacket, which might be your lifetime as well. It’s cut slim, and thus tailored well against your body — unlike most supply jackets which wear boxier or looser to accommodate more work and clothing layers. You can wear this anywhere you might were a trucker jacket, work jacket, or light layer.

It dresses up your t-shirt with the smart styling, but dresses down your button-up/down shirts. For that reason it’s date not appropriate for most people in the United States, but a stretch for a stuffier office. This is workwear made by someone who didn’t want to be swimming in a garment.

I ordered mine in XL, which is larger than I would normally order, but in measuring according to Rogue Territory’s guidelines that’s where I came out to, and thus what I ordered. It fits really well, exactly how I wanted it to.

The only other style note on this jacket is that white button hole, which doesn’t actually have a button for it — as far as I can tell, that’s a style choice and nothing else. I won’t pretend to understand it, but it’s less pronounced when you are wearing the jacket.

Performance

Alright, this is old-school performance here, but it still holds up well. Part of what we look at in clothing is the ability for us to blend in. Yes something nylon or Gore-Tex is going to do some/all/most of this better, but the cost of that is style. It is not blending in, it’s not showing off your personality. You should not only be comfortable because of your clothing, but be comfortable wearing your clothing. That’s how I look at the performance on something like this.

To that end, this unlined, seemingly simple jacket is quite impressive. I was able to wear it on cool (high—40s) to warmer (low-60s) nights with a slight breeze with only an Outlier Merino T under it. I stayed plenty warm because this jacket is a fantastic wind breaker. This is both in part because of the dense weave of the fabric, but mostly the waxed finish.

Because of this the jacket doesn’t breathe as well, it has yet to build moisture for me, but it’s going to wear warm and should be treated accordingly. I can’t see it getting wear above 70°F for me.

The wax will also repel rain, though how much rain I am unsure of as the rain we get in this part of the country is binary: it’s either not raining, or the heavens have opened up and no one ventures outside. In theory, it should be fine, and my experience with past items like this confirms that.

And then we get to durability, and this is one of those items which should only get better with age. Most of the patina will happen to the wax layer, and can be renovated as needed bringing back the original (or close to it) look. Because this is a black jacket, that should hold more true than the tan version. The tight weave also means it won’t be prone to snagging from outdoor brush should you find yourselves needing to wear it through such a thing — likewise it should survive your backpack and a trip to Starbucks just fine, certainly your Instagram posts.

The caveat to all this, and there always is one: it’s not washable. Like at all, here’s the warning on the product page: Spot clean only. DO NOT put this jacket in water. DO NOT dry clean.

This is par for the course with waxed goods, a damp rag should clean anything up. From there you just need to worry about odors, which can be mitigated if you can stick it in the freezer for a day.

Overall

I love this jacket, and the only real downside for me (other than the climate I live in) is that it’s hard to pack this jacket. It’s dense, and it doesn’t pack down at all. So if you want to take it with you somewhere, it’s best to plan on wearing it there and back. It’s not at all easy to pack. The fit and finish on the entire jacket is outstanding. This is very easy for me to recommend.

Find it here.

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

Rogue Territory Supply Jacket – Black Ridgeline

Taylor Stitch Easy Pant

Note: the pants were provided at no cost for review.

With work from home, there have been more and more pants being produced that have this relaxed comfort aspect with a sharper look to them. Taylor Stitch’s entry is the Easy Pant which looks like a linen-ish pair of trousers that has a semi-elastic waist cinched down by a drawstring.

These pants are awesome.

Materials

I was sent the Espresso Linen pair which is: 6-oz. 52% linen, 24% spun silk, 24% organic cotton. To my hand they are smooth and soft, with a heavy drape that feels like it won’t easily wrinkle. The linen is nicely offset by the silk and cotton to give you the look without the frump. They are heavy though, heavier than I think they will be anytime I put them on.

The biggest downside is that they are labeled: dry clean/hand wash only, which is a huge bummer for an easy wearing pair of pants. The biggest upside is the texture and color variation — they look even better in person than any of the pictures I’ve seen of them.

Fit and Style

The fit on these has a slight taper for a tailored looks but nothing slim or too baggy. I generally wear a size 34, and that’s what I got in these — they fit perfectly, but I couldn’t go even a touch smaller with them. They a cut long, and made to be hemmed or rolled if you like, for me I might need them hemmed — I certainly roll them when wearing without shoes.

I love the way these look — they feel like sweat pants and look like a nice pair of chino-ish trousers. They feel like the pants you put on when you want to dress up, but you are on a beach in Mexico. Yeah, that’s what they are, that’s the style. I love it.

Performance

Linen pants are supposed to be airy, they should feel like they won’t hold back even the slightest breeze — this is not what these pants feel like. They are comfortable, almost feeling warm at times when in AC without feeling stifling when out in the heat.

They could be more breathable, more airy, but they are not. They don’t feel hot to wear them around, but they aren’t something I would choose if I wanted to stay cool during the day. These are evening pants, they are indoor lounge pants with a nod to warm weather.

Perhaps the greatest performance feat these pants pull off are in the waistband. It’s partially elastic with a drawstring. And yet when they are on, you don’t notice it visually while noticing the comfort on your waist. If all pants could have a waistband like this, count me in.

Overall

This is a short review because there’s not a lot of performance here. They wear better and more comfortably than any other pant that looks this good. They are light enough to wear in heat, without all the downsides of near constant disheveled looks you get with high linen contents in pants.

That said, I want another pair of these, I love wearing them.

You can find them here in Espresso Linen or here in Navy Linen Herringbone.

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

Taylor Stitch Easy Pant

Tact & Stone Sustainable Performance Tee

Note: this shirt was provided at no cost for review.

Tact & Stone was launched by an industry outsider to make classic men’s pieces with the sustainability focus of Patagonia and Outerknown. They only source organic, regenerative, or upcycled fibers and work with ethical factories. When one of their garments reaches its end of life they will take it back for upcycling and give you a discount on your next purchase.

I was excited to give their Sustainable Performance Tee a try, and I am very impressed.

Material

The 4.5 oz jersey fabric is made of the Orbital Hybrid Yarn (66% organic cotton/34% recycled polyester). This is a filament yarn, so you get a lot less microfiber shedding. The care instructions are wash cold, hang dry (or air dry low), so it’s easy to care for.

To the hand, this feels like a smooth, soft cotton and the drape looks like a standard t-shirt. Having the shirt in white, even though it is lightweight, I had no issues with the fabric being see-thru (it does look a little translucent to darker colors though, see the fit pic).

Fit & Style

The shirt fit is described as “Slim fit but doesn’t hug you.” I think this is perfect, as the trends seem to be going to less form-fitting to tees with some room. The perfect balance is struck here and the shirt looks upscale and put together. It doesn’t look out of place with a pair of shorts, but also looks great under a light jacket with a pair of nice jeans or chinos. Love it.

Performance

The performance of this shirt was surprising to me. Digging into the yarn manufactures website, they present data showing it dries 97-98% in 30 minutes with Nike Dri-FIT (which is 85% polyester/15% cotton) the benchmark to beat at 99%. And this stands true in this shirt.

Let’s rundown the other performance claims made here.
– Moisture wicking: 100% true, wearing this shirt in my warm home office, I never felt damp.
– Fast dry: Already addressed, but can’t help to be amazed by this. It really does dry as fast as a Dri-FIT shirt even though its 66% cotton and looks and feels like a cotton shirt.
– Zero pilling: Haven’t had it long enough to say for sure, but I haven’t seen any fuzziness or indications that it’s going to pill. I even got a stain on the shirt, and used a stain remover and wash warm, and the shirt still looks brand new (and the stain came out with no problems). This is an area where I’ve found other performance tees that look like cotton to fall down.
– Abrasion resistance: Also can’t really speak to this, but I can see it being on-par with 100% cotton, rather than tending to get snags like some polyester fabrics.

I also love how cool this shirt wears. It must be a combination of the moisture wicking/fast dry and light weight of the fabric. This is the coolest cotton/poly shirt I own by far.

The odor resistance here is about on par with your standard cotton tee. No claims are made, so not a surprise. But it’s nice to be able to get a second wear if you don’t get sweaty or at least not have to worry about that polyester stink.

Overall

This shirt exceeded my expectations. I love how cool it wears, the cut works great for me, and it feels just like cotton. Also a bonus, it wasn’t hard to get a small stain out.

At $45 I think it represents a great value, and is a nice middle ground between your standard cotton t-shirt and an expensive merino tee. They currently offer it in black and white, but if they come out with a color that fills a hole in my t-shirt drawer, I’ll be first in line to buy another.

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

Tact & Stone Sustainable Performance Tee

RAB Charge Rain Jacket

RAB is making some really interesting outdoors clothing of late and has been winning praise from more traditional outdoor gear reviewers. Specifically their Charge Rain Jacket and Phantom. The Phantom being a pull over which is regarded as one of the lightest waterproof jackets on the market, which still maintains extreme breathability.

I received the Charge Rain Jacket from my parents as a Christmas gift and I have been blown away by it. The Charge is a heavier version of the Phantom, full zip, and made to work both from trail running as well as hiking with heavier packs on.

Materials

First things first, I am not an expert on waterproof fabrics, so I will say that RAB lists this as: 40D Pertex Shield 2.5L fabric with stretch. Compared to my Arc’teryx Goretex Paclite jacket, this RAB Charge fabric feels impossibly thin. In fact RAB says the reason for this “thicker” material is to make it more durable. But it really messes with my head.

It feels like a normal rain jacket, but a fraction of the weight. It is really something.

Fit and Style

This is a decently trim rain jacket, which RAB notes will easily move with your body. The sleeves are long, the body elongated as well and the collar/neck rides up high to easily cover my chin. I generally wear a size large in everything, and I have this jacket in a Large as well — there’s a part of me that wonders if I could drop down a size, but as it is I have room for a layer or two and the jacket looks far from bulky. It fits great.

Except the hood. As you might see in other reviews of this jacket, the hood is not great. There’s no drawstrings anywhere on this jacket. Instead the cuff has a thin bit of elastic, as does the waist — that works well in both spots. The hood has elastic nearly all the way around your head (just not the bottom chin area) and a really silly useless bill at the top.

Because of that, the hood fits poorly. In use rucking, I found that the hood constantly drooped over my eyes and was never exactly where I wanted it. And because of how it is integrated into the jacket, you have to leave the jacket decently unzipped at the top in order for the hood and chin area to lay out of your way. It does close up well, and if you have more hair, a beanie, or a baseball cap on you should be golden. But otherwise, it’s not something I would want to wear over long periods of time. It works, but it is in the way—a lot.

Performance

The perfect rain jacket doesn’t exist, but there are niche rain jackets which work really well in certain uses. This one seems ideal for hiking in climates (like where I live) which get rain when it is warm out. My PNW self would have loathed wearing this as the light weight nature of it wouldn’t be as ideal for the cold drizzle. But here in the Houston area where it is often raining above 70°F, the light but durable nature works well for this jacket.

There are four key selling points for this jacket:

  1. Lightweight: and that it is. The Phantom is even lighter, but I cannot even imagine how that can be. This is easily the lightest rain jacket I have ever owned, and on top of that, it is almost the same weight as my windbreaker from GORUCK. Really impressive.
  2. Moves with you: both the cut and the limited stretch never cause this jacket to bind up. Even with a 45lbs backpack on my back, this jacket never restricted my arm or body movements. I think this is more the cut than the stretch, but stretch never hurts.
  3. Waterproof: no rain jacket is fully waterproof forever — at least none that you want to wear while being active in any temperate or warmer weather. So at some point most of these jackets are going to ‘wet out’. Even in very warm temps with constant downpours, and sweat building from my body — I’ve yet to see the jacket wet out. I don’t know how long it would last for, but I have had it on for over an hour and seen zero issues. The storms here are intermittent enough that testing beyond that was problematic for me.
  4. Breathable: all rain jackets could be more breathable. But this one is the best I’ve used to date.

From a performance perspective the only downside, is again, the hood. Otherwise I was surprised by the jacket in every other way.

Overall

I wouldn’t want this jacket for cold wet-weather hiking. I think a thicker more substantial jacket would be better if I knew I was wearing it all day. But here in a warm climate where it generally rains when it is warm — such that I really could go without a jacket and not feel cold — this jacket is what I need. The Phantom is likely really good, but it being a pullover means it takes more effort to put on and take off. The Charge is impressively light and thin.

I can pack it away in my office bag, or my rucking backpack and not eat all the space, while having a durable and comfortable rain jacket when called for. I recommend it, especially given the price at around $170-200USD it offers a great value.

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

RAB Charge Rain Jacket

Arc’teryx Phelix Pant

I picked these pants up wanting to see what Arc’teryx had on offer in their everyday lineup of clothing. These Phelix pants are billed as being stylish, performant, and cotton like in feel. I’ve been wearing them now off and on for a few weeks and thought I should weigh in on how these stack up.

Overall they are a solid offering, if slightly problematic at times — not at the top of the list, but far from the bottom of it.

Material

The ‘cotton like feel’ is a silly claim because the material is mostly cotton as it is a: 6.3 oz.(215 g/m²) stretch twill which is 80% cotton, 18% polyester, 2% elastane. You’ll have to trust them on the elastane makeup, as it’s not noticeable at all.

The material is decently thin, but runs on the dense side so you get decent wind blockage and a little less breathability. They feel more like cotton canvas than a twill, but that might be splitting hairs. I am completely ambivalent towards this material.

Fit & Style

Alright, so from a fit perspective I think they run slightly smaller than other size 34 pants I have had, but not so much so I could say “size up”. They fit me fine, and I would be swimming in a 36.

The style is 5-pocket, but the colors don’t lend to them being a jean replacement. I think they would look better with a more chino looking pocket pattern to them. The cut itself looks good, and I would say is rather straight leg and tailored. It’s a nice cut that will feel more timeless and is solid. I like the look of them, but they are not jeans, and the design also means they are not chinos.

Odd middle ground.

I do need to pause and point out the biggest issue with the design, and no it is not the zipper pocket on the side. It’s the fly. The fly is abhorrent. It is far too short. Like, I have to completely undo the waist of the pants to use, say, a urinal. Just stupid.

Performance

Ok, I am going to bullet point the performance here because these are 80% cotton and so the performance is mostly ‘thin cotton’ performance:

  • From a moisture wicking standpoint: not really anything to note.
  • Breathability: that of thin cotton.
  • They are super light weight pants and pack down small which is really ideal for travel.
  • For some reason, they never seem to get dirty. Like never.
  • They feel and act extremely durable, and I suspect would fair well walking through brush. But I would expect them to get fuzzy over time from washing.

Generally they have a cotton-travel-pants level of performance. Better than a standard pair of jeans, or even most performance denim, but not quite on par with fully synthetic pants. They will feel more ‘normal’ because of the high cotton percent.

And then there is the button to close the fly. I need to talk to you about that. Because if the fly itself is bad, then the button at the top is worse. It is a snap button, but it is a particularly weak snap button. When I am standing in these pants they fit snug enough that I do not need a belt, but in no way feel tight. I would say they are a great fit. But if I squat down, or bend over in them, the button snaps open. So much so that I cannot wear the pants without a belt.

Overall

Generally: not worth buying. The entire fly setup is extremely poorly executed and ruins the entire pant.

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

Arc’teryx Phelix Pant

GRIP6 Belt

Belts are one of those necessary things, but also one of those items where it feels like people don’t bother to try and innovate. So I get excited when I see something new. I have SlideBelts and appreciate the ease of buying/adjusting/wearing their belts. But they are bulky to wear and problematic when needing to move through airport security. There’s Arcade Belts where it’s a fancy elastic strap that wears more comfortably than most any other belt, but doesn’t offer the rigid security of a leather belt, and leaves a lot on the looks side.

There’s a myriad of tactical or outdoors belts with variations of g-hooks, cobra buckles, and other intricate systems for latching what is essentially nylon webbing together. But it all ends in something you likely won’t wear to the office, on a date, or generally at all.

And then there is GRIP6 belts, which seem so simple and inexpensive you might quickly dismiss them, but then in doing so you would be missing out on what might be my favorite belt I have worn.

Materials & Concept

There’s two components to this belt: the belt itself which is offered in various colors and widths, but is just a nylon webbing strap; and then the buckle which also has various colors and some variations on materials but at the base is metal and slightly curved, with two slots on either end.

The end result of all this is a very low profile belt, which is easily adjusted, won’t trigger metal detectors, and is very secure overall. There’s even a model which is more rigid for those who need to clip things to their belt. For this I tested the narrow variant which is 1.1” wide with the metal buckle in the gunmetal color way.

Fit & Style

The fit of these belts is tricky to figure out at first, but order your normal belt size. I’ll spare you my rant on why belts aren’t sized so you order your normal pants size. Anyways, I wear a 34” pant, and got a 36 sized GRIP6 and that seems to be sized correctly for me.

The belt itself is essentially a fancy nylon webbing belt. As such I think it works in casual to smart casual styling, but won’t cross over the line to business casual. My office dress code is all over the place, but I have been wearing it to work with my Futureworks (and other chinos) and a button down without a second look from anyone — I think it looks good for that.

The narrow size is right for chinos, but too narrow for jeans. You’ll need to pick which works best for your clothing, I have two straps in narrow (brown and black) and will likely grab a standard width version in another color for wearing with 5-pockets styled pants.

Because the belt has no set holes or ratchet positions, you can fine tune the fit pretty easily.

Performance / Use

This belt is cumbersome to use for the first day. Because it doesn’t loop back to itself, instead you pass the free end into the buckle from the face, and then slide it along behind the buckle and down the other side. Friction essentially locks it in place, and you will notice the first time you try to take it off that there’s no worry about it coming undone by itself. I recommend watching this to get the hang of it.

Once you get going this belt quickly shows how great it is. It’s very low profile and never adds bulk or weight to your waist. The fit can be fine tuned and really comfortable. In the narrow model I have, I find the belt curves to your body very well — like a nicely molded leather belt. All in all: no complaints, just happiness here.

Overall

My only wish is that they looked more business casual because they are my favorite belts. I’ve instead decided to throw fashion to the wind, and wear these belts with everything. They are great, and you should own some.

Buy them here, for about $35.

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

GRIP6 Belt

Bonobos Tech Chinos

A year of working from home means that we forget about some types of pants. As jeans, and then joggers, and then whatever-is-clean takes over our non-video half of our wardrobes you would be forgiven for not really thinking much about the humble chino. But, things are changing and it is a good time to start looking at what might give you that jogger comfort while still being office presentable — on both halves of your body.

With that in mind, I picked up a pair of Bonobos’ Tech Chinos in Navy. I wasn’t expecting much, but I’ve been very impressed with these pants. Allow me to share…

Materials

These pants are made with Schoeller textiles, enough said? If not, they are 59% Cotton, 36% Polyamide, 5% Elastane. On top of that they have 3XDRY applied to them. All in all the fabric is pretty awesome.

It feels and drapes like cotton. It has grime/oops resistance with a strong DWR coating. And the stretch is fantastic — there’s not been a single time I felt restricted by the pants at all. I don’t know what to make of this fabric, because it is simply great.

Fit and Style

These pants have a lower rise than some of the other chinos I have tested, but not so low that they are hard to keep a shirt tucked into. Whether wearing them around the house, or into the office they look like chinos. A nice pair of chinos at that.

Bonobos offers a wide range of fits so you can dial in the fit to your body type, I went with a 34×32 in the Slim cut and find that it fits me really well with no tailoring needed. The only hint of these not being a standard chino are the back pockets where one is a snap and the other is (annoyingly) a zippered pocket.

Performance

I’ll say it again: this are among the most comfortable chinos I have ever worn, that they look like normal cotton chinos is only more impressive. These are so good I’ll just shift to comparing them directly to Outlier’s Futureworks which are my gold standard for performance chinos:

  • Dirt/Grime Resistance: the DWR treatment is impressive and generally these pants don’t get that dirty. But when compared to the Futureworks there is one downside: the Tech Chinos tend to collect dust and light colored marks very easily. Where on the Futureworks I can brush such marks away with my hand, the Tech Chinos generally require a touch more effort — a damp rag generally cleans them back up. So if your are in a position where you are in a dusty area, or prone to brushing against things the Tech Chinos might become slightly annoying for you. Aside from that the performance for repelling splashes of water bests that of my Futureworks.
  • Movement Comfort: I find these to be even with Futureworks when it comes to how easy they are to move around in. They offer more stretch than the Futureworks but a lower rise and a trimmer cut negates that extra stretch — whereas the Futureworks have a better gusset on the crotch. Both are easy to move in, so much so I would not worry about wearing either for most things I might find myself doing.
  • Breathability: the one shortfall of these pants is breathability, the Tech Chinos don’t breathe nearly as well as the Futureworks. For cooler weather, the Tech Chinos will be great, but for summer the Futureworks are greatly preferable. I wish there was a slightly more breathable pair because that really is the biggest knock against these.
  • Durability: I suspect they both last a long time. In normal wear the Futureworks are likely to outlast. But if you are prone to snagging pants, the Tech Chinos will be a better option as Futureworks do tend to get a snag under certain circumstances — like cats and thorns.

Overall, the Futureworks are better for warmer weather and they dry much faster for travel. Otherwise the Tech Chinos are really neck and neck with the Futureworks.

Overall

I would peg these as a sleeper hit. I know a lot of people don’t want to play the waiting games for Outlier’s Futureworks to be in stock, in the color you want, in the size you need. I know that a lot of people want more fit options and wider size ranges. For those of you in that camp the Tech Chinos are the best option I found for performance chinos which are available in the size/colors you want on demand.

That said they come in at the same price as the Futureworks and given that I would still prefer the Futureworks over them, but the margin is much closer than I ever expected.

You can find them here.

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

Bonobos Tech Chinos