Outlier has been making their core shorts, the New Way Shorts (and New Way Longs) for a while now. They are made out of the same fabric as the Futureworks (our review), my favorite business casual pants. Outlier didn’t simply make short Futureworks, however, the New Ways are a different cut with other various features to allow them to be used as swim trunk as well.
Outlier uses their F. Cloth, a 97% nylon, 3% elastane blend canvas. They claim a 35% two-way stretch, but like we’ve found the Strongtwill as well, the stretch isn’t noticeable. Since the fabric is made with air texturized nylon (Cordura grade), it has significantly less sheen than you might expect from a mostly nylon fabric. While it doesn’t look completely “normal”, it certainly doesn’t scream “technical”.
The 200 gsm weight of the fabric makes it heavier than many performance shorts, but doesn’t detract from the performance at all. The F. Cloth fabric breathes well in any heat and dries quickly.
Comfort and Performance
While the heavier fabric with non-obvious stretch may seem like it would make for a less comfortable short, the New Way Longs are my favorite short (the only difference between the New Ways and the Longs are the inseam — 8” vs. 11”). The combination between the slightly looser cut and the fabric helps them to move with your body. While they certainly could go for a hike, I prefer something with a more pronounced four-way stretch (and a shorter length) to make sure they really stay out of the way when I’m out on the trail.
The F. Cloth and DWR treatment help these shorts stay dry, and when they do get wet, they dry quickly.
The inclusion of a paracord drawstring (with excellent knots on the end) eliminates the need for a belt. This has become one of my favorite feature on any short, and are a must-have for me now.
All the pockets have a flow through mesh at the bottom, greatly improving the shorts if you decide to get in the water (no more pockets full of water). The mesh seems just as sturdy as the pocketing material, so no need to worry about a key catching and making a hole. The front pockets are extra deep, so they do a great job keeping whatever you are carrying in place with no threat of sliding out.
The only thing I find missing is at least one back pocket with a closure. Since the shorts target active wear, it would be nice to know that your wallet had a safe home.
Since these shorts are tailored to fit like a dress pant, and have a proper button waistband and a working zipper fly, they fit any situation where shorts are appropriate. They could go from the beach to dinner. The nice custom made slot button attached with webbing adds a nice finish and Outlier touch.
The Outlier New Way Shorts and New Way Longs are the best looking and most versatile shorts I’ve seen. With the two inseam options, everyone should be able to find the right fit. They look as close to “normal” as you will find and are cut like a chino short to fit into any situation. If you are looking for one pair of shorts to wear all summer, these are it.
I’ve owned two pairs of these now (had to size down after losing weight) and they are amazing. I’ve swam with them in all sort of pools with no ill effects. They don’t dry as fast as proper swim trunks, but they can trim down your packing if swim trunks would be a maybe.
I have the non-long version and I work out in them, hike in them, and they are generally my go to short whenever the weather permits. I agree with everything Steve says here, and for about 8 months they were actually the only shorts I owned. These are great.
The Slim Dungarees are likely the most popular pants Outlier makes, as well as the pants that Outlier themselves consider their core pant. The description of these pants is: “A 21st century jean if you will.” Essentially it’s a ‘what would you make if you were to make jeans from scratch today’. There’s a ton of hype around these pants, with them winning awards every few months hailing them as the one pants to travel the world in.
They are also among the most contentious pants Outlier makes, so let’s dive into them, as I’ve been testing them for well over a year.
These are made from Outlier’s Workcloth Doubleweave Canvas which breaks down to: 82% Nylon, 16% Polyester, 2% Elastane. That’s only a portion of the story though, because these are not like any other technical material I’ve seen. At 275 gsm these are heavy pants, to me they feel on par with the weight of a standard pair of jeans. Outlier’s details about this fabric border on the absurd marketing level, but I have to say: they are pretty spot on.
When you first feel the pants you’ll notice:
The exterior really does feel more like a broken in canvas. It has a great texture to it, which also helps to hide the fact that these are nylon pant. The texture makes them look more “jean like” than most other pants trying to replicate jeans.
The interior almost feels fuzzy to the touch, without actually being fuzzy. Think of it like a glasses cleaning cloth — a stark difference from the outside of the material.
There’s basically no stretch, despite there being an advertised “slight stretch”. I assume there is some, but practically speaking assume there is not.
The material, more than anything, is what makes these pants — it’s a fantastic material and among my favorites that Outlier makes.
The cut of the pants is really the contentious issue. They are named “slim” so most people (myself included) initially read that as “skinny”, or “skin tight”. When you get these pants you realize either one of two things:
Whew these are actually not very skin tight.
What the heck, these are not very skin tight.
Take your pick, but these are only slightly slimmer fitting that regular jeans — perhaps “tailored” would be better nomenclature for these. Do not let the name of these pants throw you off, they are not going to be super slim pants, but they also are not made to be baggy. Look at the pictures on the site, they represent the fit very well.
Side note: Some might find that the thighs do not afford enough room. But the 45 day return policy should put you at ease with ordering these pants to try out the fit.
You don’t read this site to find out about the cuts of garments, what you really want to know is how these pants perform. So to start, let me say that these are my preferred travel pants. If given the option to wear any pants on an airplane — no matter the flight length — these are the pants I pick. That’s the strongest endorsement I can give pants.
There are a few factors in play here, so best to go through them one at a time. The mobility while wearing these is excellent, even though they lack stretch. The large gusset provides you with a pair of pants where you’ll never find yourself pulling up the legs slightly at the knee before you attempt a high step. They move exceedingly well, even though the materials alone wouldn’t seem like they would.
On the warmth and breathability side I would peg these as: just as slightly cooler than jeans in cold weather, and much cooler than jeans in warm weather. In other words they breath really well. I’ve worn them in the snow without issue, and I’ve worn them in 80 °F weather as well. They were a bit chilly and a bit warm in both those situations, but jeans likely would be as well. They do breathe and they do dry very quickly despite their heavier weight. For a normal range of temperatures, these will likely be very good pants for you.
Outlier also makes a lot of mention about the liquid staining resistance of these pants, and for good reason. The treatments on these pants is one of the key reasons to travel in them: you will be hard pressed to get them dirty. Water beads up and rolls off, same with coffee and soda. If something does manage to stick, a wet rag tends to get rid of it quickly and the spot dries in minutes. You can’t get ketchup on them and walk away unscathed, but for most of the little mishaps which happen in life, they come out clean.
Overall, these perform at the top of the overall technical pants market, and is a leading factor in why people love them so much.
There is one caveat to these pants which is often left out when talking about them. Outlier notes on their fit page: “When first tried on they should feel just a touch too snug. Over the first few hours or day they’ll loosen up, and when you put them on for day two they should fit perfect.” What that means practically is that they will feel tight when you first put them on, and then they stretch out to your body and fit very comfortably. I find that for me, this only takes a day when they are new, and a couple hours after they are washed.
However, there’s a downside to this. If you spend a lot of time with the pants being stretched at the knees (e.g. kneeling, squat like positions, cramped into a tight space, crossing legs, etc), then the knees of the Slim Dungarees tend to bag out as well. This can create a very bad silhouette and is the one downside of these pants.
When you wash and hang dry these pants, they go right back to form, so this isn’t something which is always going to be there. However, I can say that the typical reason I wash these pants is because the knees bag out, and not because the pants themselves are actually dirty. Then again, I know of many people who only wash these pants once or twice a year. Really depends on your body type and what activities you use these pants for. I tend to get 2-3 weeks of wear out of the pants before I start to think about washing them to get the knees back into shape, but that’s only with daily wear.
At $198, many people will balk at thei price. You shouldn’t, these are hands down the best technical pants I’ve tried, and if I only could have one pair of pants, it would be these. For the temperate weather of the Pacific Northwest they are the perfect weight, and the water repellency means no more wet thighs when you walk in from the rain. I highly recommend these pants.
A Note on Colors
Personally I have owed: Gray Shadow, Charcoal, Dark Indigo, and Concrete colors in Slim Dungarees. I currently own the Gray Shadow. Most people say that if you want to replicate blue jeans, to get Dark Indigo. I personally disagree as they were my least favorite color I owned. Charcoal is a great color, and might be the most versatile, followed by black. I know, black, but if you listen to the people buying Outlier, they say it is the best color.
Gray Shadow is interesting, but I don’t think I would buy it again. It’s a nice color, but Charcoal was more versatile as it has less tint to the gray. Occasionally, Outlier stocks these in Sandstorm, which is a very nice khaki color.
I originally resisted getting a pair of Slim Dungarees because I thought they would be too tight in the thigh and I thought I would need the Long length. At some point after I got my Futureworks (our review), Ben convinced me to try the Slim Dungarees. When I tried the same size as my Futureworks, the thighs were a little too slim for me. Between that and the fact that I was going to have to get them tailored, I returned them.
Recently, Outlier had a few colors on sale (in the regular length) so I grabbed one size up in Grey Shadow. Surprisingly, the length worked, even though it’s listed as an inch shorter than the Futureworks. I usually wear these with boots, but the length even looks fine with sneakers. They also fit me in the thigh, even though the listed measurement is still smaller than my Futureworks. My only guess is that the different cut causes the pants to sit differently, making the sizing work.
I’ve been impressed with the pants so far, and find them to feel like they have a lot more stretch than they actually do. These are my most comfortable pants and are almost as comfortable as sweatpants (while looking much better).
These shorts are made from a 96% nylon (62% recycled)/4% spandex blend with 4-way stretch, a DWR finish, and a 50+ UPF sun protection rating.
The 4-way stretch makes sure the fabric never gets in your way (even with their slightly longer length), and the combination of the DWR and nylon content help keep the shorts from getting wet, and when they do get wet, helps them to dry quickly. There is some “nylon” noise with these shorts, so they won’t completely blend in.
Fit and Performance
While they are advertised as 20” (outseam), the inseam is about 9.5”. Being chino-styled, these shorts come in the usual even numbered inch waist sizes. For me, they fit true to size. The internal drawstring is a very nice feature and something that I look for on any short I buy now. It allows you to wear the shorts without a belt, even without an exact fit (or if your pockets are loaded down).
The fit of the shorts is standard, not too baggy or slim. They fit in most anywhere shorts are acceptable. Although I wouldn’t wear them for all occasions (that’s where the OUTLIER New Way Longs come in for me), at about half the price, they are a step up from many other performance shorts. The chino styling helps step up the looks a bit, but the slightly wrinkly and noisy fabric (and the embroidered “Patagonia” on the leg) detract some. Even just the removal of the embroidery would improve the look.
There are two front slash pockets and two back pockets with mesh linings (for easy drainage). The right back pocket has a button closure (with lay-flat webbing, the same as is used on the top button) and an elastic key loop. The key loop is on the center side of the pocket, so it is not comfortable to use for a set of keys. It seems to be designed to loop around a single house style key.
While I think the Patagonia Baggies are more suited as a short/swim trunk hybrid, these will do in a pinch if you weren’t expecting to get in the water (without looking too casual).
The Patagonia Stretch Wavefarer Walk Shorts are a great value if you are looking for a casual, chino-styled short. While they aren’t quite a do-everything short like the OUTLIER New Ways, they are a solid choice.
Over the last weekend of June, I went car camping in western Washington with a two other people and all of our kids. It was a great time, and the second year we did this. This year it rained for most of the trip, even though it was forecast to only have a ‘few’ showers.
I didn’t pack anything for real rain.
Let’s start with what I did pack, as I packed light:
My thinking was that I could use the Simple Windbreaker for the passing rain, as it repels that just fine, and my Rogue jacket whenever it got cool (it’s the perfect jacket for that type of weather). The reality was two and a half days of near constant rain during the day. I spent an entire afternoon on a boat, and part of that was in the rain in Puget Sound.
In other words: I was not prepared for this at all — truthfully only our kids were as we always overpack for them.
However, things were not nearly as bad as they seemed. I basically lived in one of the t-shirts, the Sequence, and the Simple Windbreaker during the day, with the Simple pants as well. My Salomons take quite a bit to soak through, and only did one time, drying fast. Because of the materials used in these clothing items I stayed warm and pretty dry. Even when the windbreaker soaked through, sitting by the fire dried it fast (be careful with synthetics and heat sources), and the merino layers did their work to keep me warm, and dried themselves fast.
One night I had to wear flip flops to deal with the boat, and my feet got a bit muddy. I rinsed them off with water, but not wanting to use a towel to dry them, I put on my merino socks and never once noticed that my feet were anything but comfortable. That was pretty amazing.
The entire trip was a testament to what we mean on Everyday Wear when we talk about “better clothing”. I was entirely unprepared for the weather, and it could have sucked. In my mind I knew that even if it got bad, these clothes should do their job and keep me less miserable, but theory is different than practice. And yet, in practice, I was far more comfortable that I ever thought I would be.
I was cold twice, which isn’t too bad, and even then only for 10 minutes or so until the fire warmed me up. A large part of this is having a good heat source and fast drying clothes. Even when it was raining on me, I could start drying my clothes just by sitting near the fire.
Looking back, I would have liked to have had a true rain jacket with me. That said, this trip gave me a new level of confidence in the clothing we are testing. It’s one thing to talk about how fast merino wool dries when you wash it, and quite another to experience it keeping you warm, comfortable, and drying fast when you are camping in the rain.
I spent a lot of time thinking about this during the trip. I never actually felt wet on my back or shoulders, but I knew I was wet. I just felt slightly cooler in those spots for a moment. I don’t recall my pants ever feeling wet, nor being wet when I went to bed. But I do know I sat in more than a few wet chairs.
This isn’t to say you should be foolish and camp without proper rain gear, that was stupid on my part. But should you be caught out in the rain walking home from work or to work, and you’re buying the type of clothing we talk about here, it’s going to make your life noticeably less bad. It will be the difference between a ruined event, and a minor footnote of the event.
That, in the end, is what we are talking about when we say “performance clothing”.
It’s not a secret that we are big fans of Outlier here at Everyday Wear. The Futureworks are our go-to business casual pants and are a great place to start with Outlier.
The Futureworks are made with Outlier’s F. Cloth, a 200 gsm 97% nylon, 3% elastane canvas with 35% two-way stretch and a DWR coating. The nylon is a Cordura grade nylon 6,6 that is air texturized, this means it is softer, stronger, and most importantly, more matte than what you’d expect from the usual nylon.
Comfort and Performance
While the stretch isn’t as noticeable as you’d expect from the claim of 35% two-way stretch (this means the stretch is only in one direction across the fabric, rather than both as in four-way stretch), I’ve found the Futureworks to be very comfortable due to the addition of a knee-length gusset. These move better than a standard pair of cotton chinos, but I wouldn’t want to wear them where I needed extreme motion constantly (that’s what the Slim Dungarees are for).
The fabric is lightweight enough to remain comfortable in hot and humid weather, but can still be OK in the winter when outside for a quick walk or back and forth to your car (or comfortable in any cold with a baselayer). The DWR does an excellent job of shedding a light rain (or a spilled drink). Also, since the fabric contains no polyester, there are no static issues in the winter.
The fabric dries extremely fast — when they come out of the washer they are almost dry and will be completely dry in a few hours. However, they can look quite wrinkly when they dry. Since you can’t iron synthetics, the wrinkles will work their way out from your body heat when you put the pants on. Or, while I haven’t machine dried mine (which is allowed per the care instructions), I imagine a few minutes on low would also take care of the wrinkles.
Looks and Fit
These are the most normal looking performance (non-cotton) chinos I have found. While no synthetic pant will ever look like its cotton counterpart, the Futureworks get pretty close. The only giveaways from afar are the slight sheen and slightly stiff drape. I think Outlier has done a great job cutting down on the sheen, but there is always is room for improvement. When you take closer look, the texture is also different from cotton.
The Futureworks have a great “straight” fit. They are looser than the Slim Dungarees, especially in the thigh. This gives the sizing an ability to work for more people. I think the fit works perfectly for a business casual look, however, there are a few adjustments I’d make.
Outlier only offers one inseam (33.5”) which is just long enough for me. So if you are tall, you may be out of luck. For me, the only fit issue I have is a slight gap at the back of the waistband. This could probably be solved with a higher rise.
If you are looking for a performance pant to replace your chinos, look no further than the Outlier Futureworks. I think they provide a great value at $140. As a core Outlier item, they are usually well stocked in many color options (I own the Phantom Grey and Dark Navy) and the return policy makes it easy to give them a try if you are on the fence.
The Futureworks are the first pair of Outlier pants I owned, and since I’ve been losing weight I have had the chance to own three different pairs. They are fantastic, and the Sandstorm color is the best khaki pant option you can get. I love these for flying, as they stay clean and look sharp even after six hours on a plane. These are perhaps the most underrated item Outlier makes and likely the first you should pick up. I’ve owned both the Dark Navy and Sandstorm, and both are excellent.
I’ve never had anyone comment that my pants look odd with these, or ask about them. They are stealth. They make no more noise than a standard cotton pant and perform leaps and bounds better.
Steve recounted all of the polos he’s tried, in an effort to find one which can be worn in place of a standard cotton polo. Before switching to better clothing, a cotton polo was a summertime staple of mine, and something I had been greatly missing. Not so much that I wanted to wear cotton shirts again, but enough that I knew I needed to find something this summer.
This polo is made from 100% 17.5 micron merino wool, and comes in at 205 gsm. In hand it feels sublime. It’s very soft, like a well worn and loved cotton t-shirt. This does lend to a bit of a fuzziness with the fabric after washing it, but once the shirt dries you tend not to notice it. The only slight against this shirt is that some might find the shirt a little casual even though the styling is like a traditional polo. The drape of the shirt is on par with a t-shirt, which is right where I want it to be on this type of a polo.
Collar and Buttons
With any polo shirt, the collar and front buttons will make or break the look. Buttons that are too big, too flashy, or non-standard will ruin the shirt. Likewise, too many buttons, or buttons too spread a part, will hinder the wearability of the shirt. And the collar, oh the collar.
There are two types of collars: messy collars and crisp collars.
This Wool & Prince shirt checks both the boxes here. The buttons are subtle, limited to just two, and can be worn more casually with all of them unbuttoned, or made a little crisper with just the bottom of the two buttons secured. They are gray, and blend seamlessly with the shirting — nothing to see here, just as it should be.
As you may have noted, the biggest issue with most of the polos we have been trying is that the collars tend to not stay put, and much prefer to laugh across your collar bone giving a very unkempt look. Wool & Prince specifically addresses this in their description, that the collar should stand tall and be crisp. Out of the box, before washing and over the first five wears, this could not have been more impressive. The collar stayed put, and looked sharp.
After washing the first time and hang drying with the shirt buttoned up, the collar was notably less stiff. However, it still stays in place and I had no further issues, even across many wears. After the third wash, I was in a rush and did not button the collar, this lead to the left side of the collar having a bit of a rolled effect, but still never laid flat.
After the fourth and fifth washes, the shirt still maintains poise with the collar as long as you pay attention to how the collar dries. It is comparable to almost all the cotton polo shirts I am used to: get the collar how you want it when it is drying and that’s how it will be until you wash it again. I have no complaints at all about the collar, as it should be.
The biggest issue I have with this shirt is the weight of the fabric itself. At 205 gsm, it is very heavy. It is heavier than the OUTLIER Ultrafine T-Shirt, which is already among the heavier wool shirts I’ve worn. If you move to the nylon blend polo from Wool & Prince it drops the weight down to 160 gsm, which is a much better warm weather weight.
Weight of the fabric aside, wearing this shirt in warm weather was a bit of a mixed bag. Going through the drier heat in San Jose with mid-70s weather, I had no issues. Here at home in the Pacific Northwest, in the 80°F range, I’ve found the shirt to be warm, but not uncomfortably so. Much above 80°F in low humidity and it gets warm.
In Boston, with humid air, and warm upper 70s weather, it was warm. Even though the shirt dries fast, I found that most of the time the arm pits were rather wet on the shirt, though not noticeably so when looking at me. At this weight, it’s not likely you will be able to tolerate the shirt much above 80°F in any type of climate.
I really love this shirt. It’s just as comfortable as wearing a t-shirt, but with a less casual look. I average five wears of the shirt, even in warm climates — which means it was the only short sleeved shirt I really needed to pack for the two trips I took it on. However, because of the weight, instead of buying another 100% merino polo, I’ll be looking to get the blended polo to reduce the weight of the shirt, at the expense of odor resistance.
With all the performance clothing we’ve reviewed here, one would think that there would be at least a few good polos (or short sleeve button-ups) available. With today being the first day of summer, we’ve been searching for the best performance polos that can be taken from casual to business casual and have not had as much luck as we expected.
The Arcteryx A2B Polo is made from a very thin Polylain fabric (50/50 merino/polyester). This would be a great fabric for the hottest days of summer, but Arcteryx ruined the shirt with a weird, semi-shiny and nylon-y, button placket and collar. While the shape and structure of the collar were decent, the material made it stand out from the rest of the shirt. Combined with the lines of sewing to imitate buttons and the same fabric of the placket, this shirt doesn’t blend into your everyday wardrobe. If you decide the style is what you are looking for, the sizing is very large, and you probably want to size down from the chart.
The Triple Aught Design Caliber Polo is made from Polartec Power Dry (100% polyester) with a Polygiene odor control treatment. The fit and collar on this polo were great, the fabric and the webbing attached slot buttons just made it very casual. If that’s what you are looking for, this might be the performance polo for you.
The RYU Tech Polo is made from a four-way stretch fabric called TecLayr (96% polyester, 4% spandex) with a Polygiene odor control treatment. While this material and the fit seemed great, again the collar and button placket were the issue. In this shirt, they are made from a very thin, weirdly stiff (almost like plastic), nylon-y material that gave that technical sheen. The collar also didn’t lay right — it was stiff and floppy at the same time, if that makes any sense.
Hopefully this helps if you are searching for a summer collared shirt. If you have any suggestions or ideas, feel free to reach out. In the meantime, Ben has been trying out the Wool & Prince 100% Merino Polo and will share his thoughts in a full review soon.
I really wanted to pack this all in one bag, but I ran into serious problems doing this with needing an extra pair of shoes. My dress shoes were not comfortable enough for the activities we had planned, so I couldn’t wear only them. While I could get all of this to fit in my 34L GORUCK GR2, doing so meant that the bag could not fit at my feet. This meant that I would have to do the dreaded overhead space battle with my fellow travelers, and given that my wife was checking a bag already, I opted to do so as well.
However, this created a new problem, as you can see the roller bag was mostly empty. So I packed more than I knew I would need, simply to help fill out the bag more so gear didn’t constantly move around in it. It wasn’t too bad, but I need to think on how better to tackle this in the future. Flying with just a 10L Bullet is magic though, as it will fit on its edge under the seat in front of you, providing tons of legroom. It’s a fantastic travel bag.