Vollebak Equator Shirt

Let me first start this review by telling you that this shirt is my near perfect shirt. On paper it doesn’t seem to even come close to the performance of all the other shirts I own or wear. The price is, well, it’s not cheap. And yet, if I could only wear one shirt, this would be it.

I have two of them, they are amazing. They are also expensive.

Vollebak’s Equator Shirt is essential.

Material

As I alluded to at the top, the material itself doesn’t seem extraordinary in any sense as it is: 72% cotton, 24% polyamide, 4% elastane. This doesn’t really tell the whole story, but first I will note that the mesh used is 75% polyester, 25% elastane (this is the armpit area mesh) and there are Corozo nut buttons which are sublime.

This shirt is cotton, but like no cotton I have ever felt before. Here’s what Vollebak says about the cotton they use:

One of the lightest, softest fabrics on the planet, Karnak Menoufi is a silk-like cotton that’s only found in the Nile Delta, and only grows in the years when the rain, soil and wind conditions are perfect.

The entire shirt weighs in at 200 grams. So when you talk about this being light and silk like — yeah that’s what they mean. The weave is incredible smooth and the shirt feels very soft. It feels impossibly thin, but not crinkly like Paper Cotton. This feels better than the best t-shirt, both to the touch and on your body.

The sum of this is a very soft, very thin, very fast drying material which still rates at UPF 50+. Pretty insane if you ask me.

Fit & Style

I don’t know what to make of the style on this shirt. Like all goods from Vollebak they are a mix of classic with an edge towards — I don’t know, being edgy? I can’t really say. The Equator Shirt at first glance can seem oddball, but reminiscent of classic designs. This is further helped by a very good cut, which runs trim, and looks great untucked, or tucked.

The fit for me is perfection. The style is tame enough that I never got a side eye, while not ever looking overly dressy, or underdressed. It’s an outdoors casual shirt, which can be tucked into your pants and made to look like some sort of stylish dress shirt where you are embarrassed to ask if that is the new trend or not. This is the best I can explain it.

Performance

This shirt has insanely good performance — it might be one the best performing shirts I have. And I know those who have been reading this site for a while might be in disbelief on this, believe me when I say that I keep expecting this shirt to not perform well and keep being wrong. This shirt performs better than most of my active wear performance t-shirts and certainly better than merino wool.

Let’s tackle the item most people assume is where this will fail: multiple wears and odor resistance. I get 2-3 wears out the shirts when I need it, with no smell at all. I’ve yet to have these shirts smell. I tested this by wearing them all day in the early summer heat of Disney World with a backpack on my back and the sun beating down. I soaked them thoroughly with sweat, hung them to dry, and smelled. Nothing. So I did it again, still nothing. I also don’t know how that is, but it is.

And, I suspect a part of this is how fast the shirts dry. Whether just out of the washer, after pouring rain, or letting sweat evaporate — these are my second fastest drying shirt. With the only one faster being a Western Rise shirt which is lighter than air here on a humid summer day in Houston.

But wait, there’s more. The shirt is really stretchy, so even though it has a nice tailored cut, it rarely restricts any arm motion. The UPF 50+ rating has to be real, I never burned through this shirt and I have worn it in a ton of situations where sunscreen was required on my face.

There are two things about this shirt which are even crazier than the rest: venting and the sleeves. First let’s talk about the venting on this shirt, because it’s hidden all over. Specifically there are 18 hidden vents. The armpits are mesh. The ‘seam’ across the top back of the shirt is a row of vents. Ditto the forward facing seam at the top of the shoulders. The chest pockets unzip to reveal laser cut holes which act as a chest vent. And none of these vents look odd, none get in the way, and they actually work. I opened the chest vents several times, only to close them when entering A/C areas. Stellar.

And then there’s the sleeve, Vollebak says it best:

If you’re moving hard and fast and want your sleeves to stay rolled, you’ll find a 20cm long reinforced strap on the inside of each sleeve that you can pull out, up and over the rolled sleeve and fasten to a small slip button on the outside of the upper arm. The fastening is secured on its own reinforced patch of military tape. And each 20cm fabric strap has two buttonhole settings so you can choose how high you want them. If you’re wearing the sleeves down, the cuffs fasten with two corozo buttons.

Yes, basically correct. This shirt looks and feels great sleeves up or down, and they stay put no matter which you choose. I love it, and this type of system doesn’t always work this well.

There’s but one single downside on the performance: wrinkles. Lots of wrinkles. This fabric comes out messy looking. It’s odd though, because if you are wearing it casually the wrinkles drop out enough that you don’t need to worry too much. A quick steam pass really releases them to where I like to wear it. But if you do press the shirt with an iron, it looks very sharp and passes in situations which trend a little less casual.

Overall

Man, what a shirt. I have the Sky Blue and the Temple of Doom Edition (this looks like a light-khaki, but to my eye it’s more mint-khaki) and I prefer the Sky Blue color slightly.

I don’t know if this shirt is worth $345. I got the first one as a gift from my wife, and I quickly bought the second one as a gift from me to me, because I liked it so much. I wish I could have this in a standard button down style for the office too, but as it is, I love this shirt. It’s worth it to me, but it is far from an easy price to swallow.

If you do make the purchase, you’ll have my favorite shirt as well.

$345

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

Vollebak Equator Shirt

Flint and Tinder 365 Shorts Review

This item was provided for review.

Flint and Tinder is Huckberry’s house brand that has continued to impress us. They have a similar vibe to Taylor Stitch, but I think they’ve been doing an outstanding job of keeping to high quality basics that provide a lot of versatility. When the Huckberry team reached out to see if I wanted to try the 365 Shorts, I was excited to get them in my hands.

Material

The fabric is an 8 oz, 98% cotton/2% spandex blend that is garment dyed and preshrunk. It has a soft hand feel, while still seeming durable. Weight wise, Flint and Tinder says it’s “the ideal weight for year-round wear”, and I’d agree. I wore these for a long drive and in the heat setting up a tent, and I was comfortable in both the AC and outside. They also claim it “stretches like a performance short”, while it does stretch some (and mostly in the horizontal direction), I wouldn’t say it’s super stretchy.

Fit & Style

The fit here is great — not overly slim or too baggy. And with options of both a 7” and 9” inseam, most should be able to get a length they prefer. For me, 9” is the perfect length for shorts, and often longer than 7” (without being super long) is tough to find these days.

Between these hitting just above the knee and the chino styling, these can go from casual to looking good with a button-up or polo with ease.

Performance

The performance is surprising for a stretch cotton fabric. I find them to be just as comfortable as my OUTLIER New Way Longs, with the New Ways maybe beating them out in really hot and humid weather, or if you plan to get them wet. In fact, I feel like the stretch is slightly more noticeable in the 365 Shorts. When setting up camp in the warm sun, I didn’t ever feel the shorts getting in the way and didn’t get too hot.

They also have a hit with the pockets, as they aren’t so deep that they are uncomfortable, but they aren’t shallow where you are worried about stuff sliding out. The YKK zipper and metal rivet button also add to the feel of durability.

Overall

The 365 Shorts were a surprise hit. At $64 (or 2 for $108), these represent a great value. For those who don’t need the ability to do everything in one pair of shorts, or spend a lot of time in a hot and humid climate. There aren’t many trade-offs from the much more expensive New Ways. To note, there is also a Cotton Linen version.

Highly recommended. Check out the whole 365 lineup.

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

Flint and Tinder 365 Shorts Review

Minus33 ALGONQUIN MEN’S S/S CREW

This item was provided for review.

A while back, I grabbed a Woolverino T-Shirt from Minus33 and I was impressed — so I was excited to give their Algonquin t-shirt in Olive drab a try as well when they offered it. I’ve been testing it for a while now, it’s another instant favorite of mine.

Materials

This is a 100% merino wool t-shirt, which is 17.5 micron with a 170gsm weight in jersey knit. Minus33 rates it at 25 UPF, which is pretty standard fare for merino unfortunately.

To the hand, this is a soft and ’normal’ t-shirt weight — so if you have found something like the Woolverino too thin, and the Outlier Ultrafine too thick, this is the weight you likely wanted. I really like the hand feel on the Minus33 wool across all their gear I have tried — it’s done very well and it feels softer than the micron rating might suggest. This is simply a merino t-shirt so not much to say beyond that.

Fit & Style

One thing Minus33 does very well is to note how to expect the shirt to fit, based on your ‘normal’ sizing. This is listed as: “Regular – Standard fit with a little bit of room to breathe, but not too baggy”. I can translate that further to: normal t-shirt fit.

In other words, this is designed to be worn like any other standard t-shirt, and to that end, the cut is perfect. The product photos make it look like it might have an odd cut, but in person it looks just like a t-shirt should, and like all Minus33 goods it runs a little more trim trough the body — which I like, but is worth noting.

It fits me great, and I am a big fan, enough said.

Performance

I noticed another blurb from Minus33 on this shirt which I’ll quote in full: “Temperature Recommendations: 30°F to 60°F and up while active, 60°F and up while inactive”. That’s spot on. It’s not super thin, so there will be no worries about it being transparent, but it’s also not super thick. If you think of this as a normal t-shirt, you’ll simply find that it works as designed.

For testing: I wore it all day, slept in it, and then repeated that a day later. I couldn’t get it to stink up after repeating that three times, so it’s on par with all 100% merino shirts for me.

The reason I slept in it: the only shirts more comfortable are my Outlier ones, which cost much more, and are heavier. For me, this is the ideal merino t-shirt weight. It performs like merino, which means it dries well enough, insulates from heat and cold, and does a really good job managing odors. Sleeping in a merino t-shirt feels like luxury to me, and there you go.

Overall

The big thing here is the price, at $69 it’s a bargain. Most merino shirts cost more to be this nice feeling with this good of a cut. It’s hard to find something better, let alone at this price.

You can find it here, for $69.

Minus33 is going to be my first stop from here on out for merino goods.

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

Minus33 ALGONQUIN MEN’S S/S CREW

Minus33 Kearsarge Polo

Note: Minus33 provided this item for review.

Minus33 sent me the Kearsarge Polo in Azure Blue to try out. This is a merino wool pool which comes in a few different colors at a really solid price. I’ve recently become a pretty big fan of the value proposition/quality that Minus33 offers, and this polo is a perfect example of that.

I’m a big fan.

Materials

This is a 100% merino wool garment made from 17.5 micron merino at a weight of 170gsm. This makes it a decently lightweight shirt, and thus the UPF rating is at 25 per Minus33. The material itself is less pique polo style, and more jersey polo style — which is to say it’s more like a t-shirt fabric made with a collar and such.

That’s not a slight, it’s a nice material. I find the 17.5 micron merino a really nice balance of comfort and price and I don’t think many will notice a practical difference between it and something more fine like 16 micron. All in all, the material is thick enough to not be see through, but lightweight enough to breath well.

Fit & Style

This is made to be an untucked polo look, and it pulls that off well. The Azure Blue color is quite bright, but there are other color options as well — I do like the brightness of this. The collar is also really nice, as it stays put and in decent shape overall.

I found the fit to be tailored, as best I can put it, with the sleeves being slightly more relaxed. All in all this is a solid polo shirt cut, leaning slightly more casual because of the styling on the collar. It’s good stuff, nothing overly remarkable (which is basically what I want out of a polo). Minus33 does put a discrete tag on the side hem, I’ve not tried removing it, but I do wish it wasn’t there.

Performance

We’ve written about merino wool here a bunch, and this being 100% merino wool there’s nothing different. It has remarkable odor resistance, very good wrinkle resistance, and dries quickly given both the material and the weight of the material.

I’ve worn it quite a few days in a row without it smelling or looking any worse for wear. I’ve also never found a need to steam it, I wash it, hang it to dry, and toss it back on. Even in the humid heat I get in Houston, this has wicked moisture away quick enough as to never be a concern.

The one performance factor this is lacking on is the UPF rating, especially for a shirt you would find yourself wearing for a day out in the sun. This is more a merino wool fault, than anything else, but worth noting.

Overall

I absolutely love this shirt, and at $75 it offers a very competitively priced item, with some really nice materials and solid finishing. I’ve been looking to add more polos to my closet, and this one quickly found a spot as one of my most worn items. It’s the perfect weight, in my favorite shirting material.

Find here, $75.

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

Minus33 Kearsarge Polo

Triple Aught Design Gemini Shirt Short-Sleeve

I’ve been more and more inclined to not wear t-shirts of late, which means I have been looking to expand my clothing into short-sleeved button-ups and polos. I have a few from Outlier, but was looking for something a little easier/worry-free to care about, and snagged the Triple Aught Design Gemini Shirt Short Sleeve in Gunmetal.

I’ve had it for a while now, and thought I would share my thoughts on a shirt which has become a staple for me.


Straight out of the washing machine, no attempts to remove wrinkles.

Material

This is a 65% Polyester, 35% Cotton shirt which comes in an a rather light 122gsm material with a DWR finish to it. The handfeel of the material is absurdly soft, and Triple Aught Design notes that the fabric has a ‘sanded finish’. I’ve not seen that before, but it feels as soft as you could get something before it starts to look fuzzy — if that makes sense.

This means it not only feels soft, but it has a softer/no-glare finish to it, while not been a full matte finish. It’s a really nice and subtle effect that keeps the material from having that synthetic sheen/vibe to it.

The materials are nice, and feel even nicer in hand.

Fit and Style

The trick on short sleeve shirts is for the styling and fit to work well for you. I’ve found this shirt to fit a little boxier, and is cut very long in the torso. I have a long torso already, and this size Large shirt (my normal size) had me immediately remark “wow, that’s long”. Certainly not too long to wear untucked, but any longer and I wouldn’t be a fan.

That said the cut overall is pretty nice. I do have broad shoulders and find that while the size fits me perfectly across the shoulders, the shirt can be a little restrictive on my arm movements in extreme circumstances — a little stretch in the material would go a long way here.

The drape of this shirt is a little stiff looking. It doesn’t quite flow, but it doesn’t look stiff either. It’s so light that the entire shirt tends to sway, instead of falling easily with gravity — hard to describe, but the drape gives away the shirt a bit.

The collar though, the collar is extremely good and stays nicely. This is really well done.

The one caveat is the chest pockets. These are an intentional design decision and they are what gives this shirt a unique look. I’ve never had anyone comment on them one way or the other, but if you don’t like the look of the chest pockets in these pictures, you won’t like them in person either. They don’t bother me, but they are different and worth basing your decision on.

Performance

As always, here’s the stated claims and what I have seen in use:

  • Moisture Wicking: this is a mixed bag for me. The shirt does dry very quickly, there’s no doubt about it. It would be easy to sink wash, and dry over a short night before wearing again. However, when I start to build up sweat, I do notice the shirt can feel a little clammy between my skin and the shirt, like the sweat isn’t being pulled into the shirt and wicked away. That said, suddenly the moisture will disappear, and I don’t know what to make of that.
  • Wrinkle Resistance: yeah, pretty much as claimed. You wash it, pull it out, hang dry or dryer, there’s not enough wrinkles to ever keep you from wearing this. I’ve not packed it for travel, but it’s my most wrinkle resistant short sleeved shirt.
  • Resists stains: yep, the DWR coating is solid, but will wear off eventually.
  • Lightweight and Packable: yep.
  • Easy to care for: 100%, yes.

I wore this for a cool morning while the kids took tennis lessons and it blocked the light breeze to keep me comfortable, then I went straight into the yard pulling weeds in 80°F heat and it stayed clean and I didn’t overheat. I really like this shirt, as it’s very comfortable to wear.

For me the biggest performance advantage of this shirt is how easy to care for it is. Wash and dry however, it seems to not bother the shirt. No wrinkles, and strong DWR to keep it looking clean. When I travel this summer, I’ll always be taking this shirt with me.

Overall

It’s not my favorite looking shirt, and I wish the color selection was better, but I do really like how easy this shirt is. There’s better performing shirts out there for hot weather (Outlier’s Ramie SS gear is legend for this), but this is the most performant while being easy to care for shirt I have found. I’d buy another if they had some less ‘tactical’ looking colorways available. As it is, if you like the pockets and the color, this is a great add.

Find here, $95.

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

Triple Aught Design Gemini Shirt Short-Sleeve

Beyond Clothing Dawa Sherpa Full-Zip L3 Fleece

The Dawa Sherpa Fleece is something I snagged for myself this past winter — I wanted something soft and cozy hoodie to lounge around the house in which would also work as a full outer layer if I needed to stay warmer when out and about.

The Dawa looked nice to me, and the price seemed too good to be true at $80 — but it’s an insane value.

Materials

Beyond only specifies that this is “Polyester double-sided brushed-knit fleece”. They further state “Certified STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® | confirmed free from harmful levels of more than 100 substances” and “bluesign®-certified textiles have been verified for ecological safety at every step of manufacturing”. Which is all good.

In practice it’s a Sherpa fleece, which means it is fuzzy on both sides. It’s a Midweight fleece, so it’s not overly thin, nor super thick. In practice all the materials are really nice, but given the price there’s no branded ‘Polartec’ or anything like that here — but there’s nothing concerning either. I’ll also note that this has held up well through multiple washing machine runs, while hanging it to dry.

Fit & Style

The cut and fit is spot on for me. It is long enough in the body that it doesn’t feel breezy when you are in chilly weather, but no so long that when you sit down you are sitting on the back of it, pulling it tight. The hood is very nice, and the sleeves are also long on it. All of that makes it really effective for staying warm when outside, and comfortable when laying on the couch.

It’s a fuzzy fleece hoodie, it’s spot on for that style. The color you see here is coyote.

Performance

The best way I can describe this is: cozy. It’s exactly what I wanted from an item like this. Something which replaced a standard hoodie for me. From a pure performance aspect you really are looking at warmth, breathability, and drying times.

  • Warmth: warm but not too warm. As a layer it’s perfect. On it’s own it will be susceptible to wind.
  • Breathability: it is decently breathable, but you can heat up in more static movement.
  • Drying times: excellent. It comes out of my front load washer feeling decently dry after the spin cycle and has always dried in single digit hours.
  • Odor Control: I’ll also add that I’ve worn this a ton, and never washed it because it smelled bad. Something which happens on other outer layers. Here, I’ve simply spilled something on it each time I have needed to wash it.

The performance of this is on par with your standard fleece jacket. Nothing more, but nothing less either.

I do want to point out the pockets. The front hand pockets are very large and are great for hands, or storing gear in. I found the zippers to be well placed, which makes the pockets very easy to use. Oddly, there’s a pocket on the top left collarbone area. It remains a mystery to me why this exists.

Overall

There’s some branding on this garment, but it’s not over the top or very loud. The entire package is well executed and this is an item I really love. It’s not often cold enough to need this here in Houston, but I grab it at any chance I get.

Big fan.

Find it here, $80.

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

Beyond Clothing Dawa Sherpa Full-Zip L3 Fleece

Outlier F.Cloth Yes Pants

When Outlier released the F.Cloth Yes Pants we thought “do we really need $148 lounge pants made from our favorite Outlier fabric”? The initial answer was no, but when the price dropped to $88, they were hard to resist. After wearing these around our home offices for a while now, the answer is “Yes”!

Material

These are made from Outlier’s F.Cloth, which is the fabric used for the Futureslimworks as well. It’s a 200gsm 97% Nylon, 3% Elastane canvas with 35% two-way stretch. What makes this fabric special is texture the air texturized nylon-6,6 yarns give the fabric. It’s all topped off with a fluorocarbon-free F0 DWR.

It wears light while not being breezy. It’s not warm and cozy or overly cool. The structure and finish is enough to pass as standard cotton to most people.

Fit & Style

These pants are pure comfort. We weren’t quite sure what to expect from lounge pants cut from our favorite chino fabric, but it works. If you don’t want baggy, look elsewhere, but Outlier hit these spot on as work from/lounge around home pants. The style seems to be going that way anyways, and the F.Cloth adds some interest to the look — something different from the standard polyester or nylon lounge pants.

They are baggy with and elastic waist solid comfort. If your shirt is worn untucked (and it should be in these) then they are going to look fine whether you stand up on a video call, collect your UberEats, or dash to the mailbox. I do find that I have to cuff them when I’m wearing some shoes.

Performance

While there is stretch here, you don’t need it in these pants. They just flow around whatever you’re doing. The elastic waistband with (interior) 3Bar cinch is great as well, it’s as secure as a normal pair of pants with a belt. When it comes to cold weather, the performance is the same as Futureslimworks. They are more cut out for three season wear in the colder climates.

The pockets are borrowed from the New Ways, a thin mesh with a little bounce. They hold items well, while never getting in the way. And these pants do the same: never get in the way and offer ease of care, comfort and sharper looks than joggers.

Overall

These have quickly become the only pants I want to wear when around the house. While the full price of $148 seems a bit steep at first, now that we’ve seen what these pants actually are it seems reasonable. When stacked up against some of the more expensive joggers and lounge pants made from more standard materials, these pull way ahead in function.

Grab these while you have a chance at $88. If you miss out (or prefer an external drawstring), the Futureyes Pants are also available.

Recommended.

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

Outlier F.Cloth Yes Pants

Minus33 Wool Raglan T-Shirt, Woolverino

I recently lost some weight and because of that my preferred and standard merino t-shirts started to wear larger than I wanted. Which means I needed to get some new shirts, but instead of simply changing out what I have with a new size, I went looking for something entirely different and found the The Wool Raglan T-Shirt from Minus33.

I’ve been wearing it for a while now and am a big fan. Let me tell you what makes this great.

Material

Minus33 labels this material as ‘micro weight’ in their ‘Woolverino’ collection. The weight references the fact that this is a 145gsm jersey knit fabric, and it is thin stuff — not the thinnest out there but it’s lighter than your standard cotton t-shirt.

The Woolverino fabric is made up of 84% Merino Wool, 12% Nylon, 4% Spandex. This is a great blend, giving enough nylon for structure, spandex for stretch, and everything else merino wool for performance. Add to that, the merino chosen is 17.5 micron — it’s soft stuff.

I’ve found this to be a surprisingly stretchy shirt that has an excellent hand feel and softness to it.

Fit & Style

This is a raglan sleeve, so it’s going to look more athletic than it does ‘normal’ out of the box, and on top of that, this is a rather slim/athletic cut. I don’t find that it overly clings to my body (like the images on the website show) but it certainly is a more tailored form fitting cut.

This cut works well for me, and I find it extremely comfortable and something which is easily worn under a layer, or as a stand alone t-shirt. It’s a nice shirt that sits on the edge of workout, to casual. Good stuff.

The material is thin, and in the grey color I got, you can see some skin tone through it in areas where the material is being pulled a little tighter. For most there should be no issues with transparency, but there is a potential for it — I would suspect the darker colors to reduce this issue.

Performance

Minus33 lists the performance attributes as follows:

  • Durable: I have no good way to test this in such a short time frame, but I’ve seen no pilling or other issues at all with it.
  • Temperature regulating: par for the course with merino, and is not held back at all with the nylon and spandex added to the knit.
  • UV Protection: this is listed, but it’s rated at UPF 20 which is better than nothing, but hardly earth shattering. Not entirely sure why they wanted to tout this one.

The performance on this shirt is on part with any 80%+ merino shirt, which is great to begin with — the added stretch is a nice bonus allowing the shirt to wear comfortably more trim.

Overall

I really like this shirt, it feels very nice, very soft, and is very comfortable. For those who want something looser fitting, you’ll want to look elsewhere. But if you want something really soft and comfortable, and a little more trim than most offerings — this is my favorite to date.

You get all of this for $65, and generally at that price you are not going to get something cut this well, or with this fine a micron wool. This is a stellar value on an already good shirt.

Recommended.

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

Minus33 Wool Raglan T-Shirt, Woolverino

Best of 2021

Shoes

Steve: Parkhurst Brand The Allen boots (British Tan Chromexcel + Wedge Sole) have quickly become my go-to boot for anytime I want to look put together. It’s hard to beat Chromexcel leather for looks and durability, and the wedge sole is pure comfort. These boots, dress down easily with jeans and a tee, but also can look good with Futureworks and a button-up. Another positive is Parkhurst does not use metal shanks, so any of their boots and shoes will be OK to keep on for TSA PreCheck.

Ben: Red Wing Iron Rangers, mine are in Copper Rough and Tough leather, but it’s probably hard to pick a bad color in these. They are not the most luxurious feeling as boot, but they feel indestructible on my foot, and are the only boots I really don’t care about doing whatever in. I know they can handle it, and even though they are very overbuilt, they seem to work well even in less rough settings. You can adjust how casual they are with different leathers, with my Copper Rough and Tough being very casual — yet I still take them into the office. If I can, I will wear these. They are nicely molded to my foot now, and feel like home.

Pants

Steve: Western Rise Spectrum Joggers (our review, currently 20% off) are the first pants I always go for in my closet when working from home. They are really comfortable, while looking sharp enough to wear around town. For me, the ankle elastic often ruins joggers, and these don’t have any — they are just tapered.

Ben: Outlier’s Futureworks, now Futureslimworks (our review), remain the best pants out there. I could easily have these be my only pants and only feel restricted by them in the most uncommon of situations. They are that good. They are all I wear about 5 days a week now that I am back in the office, and even with all the other ’performance chinos’ I have tried, nothing sticks like these. I have three pairs, and that’s probably overkill by one pair. So very good. Start with Dark Navy or Charcoal, you won’t regret these.

Shorts

Steve: Outlier New Ways (our most recent review) remained my favorite short. Comfortable, great in the heat, above average pockets, and sharp looking. Can’t ask for much more.

Ben: Triple Aught Design’s Agent XC Shorts (our review) are my tops for the year. From a style standpoint they are not as good as the Outlier New Ways I love, but from a wearing standpoint they are outstanding. They have all the utility of cargo shorts, with none of the cargo short vibe. The internal pocket organizers, the durability and the extra rear pockets are like a handyman’s dream. I wear these a lot, I can’t wait for them to come back in stock so I can get another pair.

T-shirts

Steve: I found my workouts shifting to the evening, so I often would just throw on a workout t-shirt in the morning, with a button-up over top if needed for warmth or a video call. On the summer weekends, I’d often throw on a merino t-shirt like the CIVIC Merino Tee or the Outdoor Voices Merino Tee.

Ben: My t-shirt wearing this year was in a bit of a death spiral. I barely wore what I had, and my most worn was for sure Outlier’s Ramielust (currently only available in a different cut, our review). Which is a supremely comfortable shirt to wear in the hot and humid weather I live in. It dries insanely fast — but I think Outlier’s t-shirt cuts aren’t working as well for me as they used too. I feel like I am swimming in it. So if forced to pick, that’s my pick, but I am a little underwhelmed by everything in this category lately.

Button-up

Steve: J.Crew Lightweight Chamois Workshirt. Not going into the office, I maybe wore my Wool&Prince button-ups once or twice this year, so thisbecame my go-to to throw on top of a t-shirt when my office was a bit chilly. I loved it so much, I picked it up (on sale) in a second color.

Ben: Vollebak Equator Shirt, I just got this, but it’s going to be my top pick for 2021. Squeaking in just before the end of the year, this shirt blows my mind. It’s so light and stretchy, with a billion little vents everywhere — the comfort is unreal. But the cut is also outstanding. My wife got me this, and typically she labels the look of very technical shirts as “fine” if they are good enough to wear in public, this one she said “wow that looks great”. When I asked if I should get another, she replied “maybe, but that’s the only color they had in stock when I bought you that” — so yeah. This is a supremely good shirt, and the only shirt that comes close is the Planet Earth from Vollebak which wears a little warmer. (My most worn though is by far Wool&Prince buttons downs, because I do work in an office most days.)

Jackets

Steve: The Ventrix Jacket from The North Face (our review) has remained the first jacket I grab out of my closet. It breathes well and works for a wide variety of temperatures and situations. I’ve also recently started layering the Western Rise AirLoft Vest (our review) underneath when I need some extra warmth.

Ben: I am very torn between my Alex Mill ’Mill Blazer’ (our review) and my Rogue Territory Ridgeline Supply Jacket (our review), but I think I’ll go Rogue Territory here. Mostly because if there is no other style consideration needing to be given, then I would pick the Rogue jacket every single time. It’s an amazing jacket, wears warmer than its thin nature would have you think, and looks darn cool. It still looks brand new to me, and I think I like it more now than the day I got it. It’s expensive, but I really do love it.

Socks

Steve: Still wearing my Darn Tough merino socks in various styles and colors. I keep hearing I need to try out Farm to Feet, but haven’t needed any new socks recently.

Ben: Farm to Feet Damascus 3/4 Crew — holy cow I love these. These are great socks — super comfortable and have proven very durable. I like that they are a lighter weight in most spots, but then you get extra cushioning in targeted areas. Especially at the top of your foot, which is a great area to have nice padding when you wear boots. They are very expensive and I don’t own but a few pairs, but I will slowly be replacing all my socks with these. They strike a perfect balance of working well in boots, while also being thin enough not to overheat my feet.

Underwear

Steve: Mack Weldon 18-Hour Jersey Boxer Brief were a surprise when I gave them a try. While I still have some Duluth Trading and ExOfficio pairs for when I need the most performant underwear, I wear these most days. They are super comfortable, and work well enough for a normal workout.

Ben: Wool&Prince Boxer Briefs are the kind for me. I switched completely to these this year and while they are pricey they are exactly what I want. I find them very comfortable and performant — great at wicking moisture. I found some that came close to dethroning these (SAXX Quest 2.0), but ultimately I found these to be far more comfortable day to day.

Workout Clothes

Steve: My workout clothes are quite a mashup of various shorts and tees I’ve picked-up over the years. I don’t have any winning shorts, but I do really love my Patagonia R1 Pullover as a layer for any outdoors exercise (it often finds wear around the house as well). I also recently purchased the Beyond Clothing Todra Crew, and it is looking promising.

Ben: Under Armour’s Tactical UA Tech™ Long Sleeve T-Shirt, I wear these a ton, they cost very little and perform as well as most of my other shirts. They don’t have much sign of wear on them, no obnoxious logos all over them — all around great performers. Even in really warm weather, they do a great job moving moisture and keeping stink down to a reasonably level. They aren’t merino, but they are $30 and really good.

Travel Bags

Steve: While I didn’t get much of an opportunity to travel this year, the GORUCK Kit Bag became an instant favorite. While looking unassuming, the size and shape works really well to pack a lot, while keeping it a manageable size as a shoulder bag. The inside zippered pockets are also a really useful touch. My GR1 also came out for my only flight of the year.

Ben: Filson 48hr Duffle Bag, is my all time favorite travel bag. It hits all the sweet spots for travel. It’s compact, but holds more than it looks like it should. It’s very durable, while not looking durable. I take mine with me every chance I get, and I have never not felt it was a good choice. Though, 2021 didn’t see a robust amount of travel for me.

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Best of 2021

Western Rise AirLoft Vest

Note: this vest was provided by Western Rise for review.

I had been looking for a breathable, insulated vest to add to my outerwear selection, so when I noticed that Western Rise launched their AirLoft Vest, I had to give it a try. The vest uses the same Toray 3DeFX+ insulation as the AirLoft Quilted Jacket I previously reviewed, as well as the rest of their current AirLoft line.

Material

The star of the show here is the Toray 40g 3DeFX+™ Polyester hollow-core, 4-way stretch insulation. This is a continuous fiber insulation, meaning it is long fibers tangled together into the batt, rather than many small fibers bound together or stuffed into a shell. This gives the insulation warmth and breathability, while allowing it to be quite thin and durable.

The shell material is 102gsm, 100% polyester, “self-cleaning, 4-way stretch, Primeflex® exterior fabric with a C6 DWR for dirt, stain, and weather resistance optimized for cool-weather activity”. This material looks great and doesn’t have a sheen that some technical vests do.

Fit & Style

The fit is described as a “modern cut and tailored silhouette ensure freedom of movement and a flattering fit”. I’d say it’s tailored with the idea that you will likely wear a heavier shirt underneath. What does this mean? It looks a little bulky over just a t-shirt. Looking at the product photos, this was intended, and makes sense for an insulated vest.

Length-wise, this fits more like a jacket, which is nice because I sometimes find vests to be a bit too short. The collar also looks good up or down.

Style-wise, this is as good looking as you’ll find in an insulated vest. The matte finish and lack of logos on the face fabric make it blend in well. Certainly looks better than your typical shiny-faced, logo-ed insulated vest.

Performance

The combination of warmth and breathability here makes this vest very versatile. It’s warm enough to be your outer layer on a cool-ish day, and when it gets cold, it can transition to a layer under a jacket, or something to toss on when you get a little chilly indoors. The performance here is perfect, unless you want a fleece vest for a different look, I can’t imagine a better vest.

While the hand doesn’t feel much stretch (even though the face fabric and insulation are both 4-way stretch), the vest remains comfortable and doesn’t bind around the armholes. Some vests take care of this by giving you oversized armholes, but not here. The vest stays comfortable and moves with you without being oversized.

A few other nice features include drawstrings at the bottom, an interior chest pocket (phone sized), and a side-entry outer pocket on the lower back that reaches across the whole back (not sure what to use this one for…).

Overall

The AirLoft Vest is just what I was looking for. Warm and breathable enough to see some versatile wear, while looking better than your average vest. The $189 price point is perfect when looking at what else is out there in the same league. Through Christmas, you will get a $50 gift card with your purchase ($50 for every $100 spent). Highly recommended.

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

Western Rise AirLoft Vest