Starting from Scratch – Base Wardrobe, Steve

When Ben mentioned to me that he though we should do posts where we outline what we would buy if we had no clothes at all, all while keeping it minimal, I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult. Once I sat down to actually write it, I realized the challenge, as we didn’t limit it to what we currently own, but what we thought would be the best pieces. This list is intended to be a good base wardrobe, one that could take me though a year of typical wear, excluding one-off stuff (like camping gear, dress shoes that only get worn once or twice per year, etc.).

Living in a cold climate, layers are important for me, so you will see warmer clothes make up a good portion of my list. I tried to balance the list so laundry didn’t have to be an everyday thing, but realistically, I prefer to do my laundry once a week.

Undergarments and Base Layers

  • UNIQLO AIRism Boxer Briefs, 14 pairs. I’ve recently moved over to favoring the AIRism boxer briefs as they are lighter than the ExOfficio ones I used to favor. While I still have both, I’d just go with the AIRism. They pack down really small and dry very fast from being so light. And an added bonus, they are less than $10 and can often be found on sale.
  • Icebreaker Anatomica Short Sleeve V-Neck, 1. I wear this shirt in the “Snow” (off white) color as an undershirt. I can get a couple days out of it and it dries reasonably quickly if it needs to be hand washed.
  • UNIQLO AIRism Short Sleeve V-Neck, 1. I wear this in the “Light Grey” color as an undershirt (the grey does a better job hiding under a light colored shirt than white). Again, packs down very small and dries quickly. Definitely only one wear, but the price can’t be beat (less than $10 and often on sale).
  • Darn Tough Solid Crew Light (#1617), 3 pairs, Charcoal & Navy. These are my dress socks for work and dressing up. I can reliably get two days out of a pair (merino blend), so they are great for travel. While they are durable, these seem to wear out the fastest of my socks, hence the need for a backup pair.
  • Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion (#1466), 3 pairs. These are my casual cool(er) weather socks. Again, I can reliably get two days out of a pair (merino blend) — I only took three pairs on a two week camping trip.
  • Darn Tough Tactical No Show Light (#T4037), 3 pairs. These are my summer and workout socks. The Vertex style used to come in all-black, but doesn’t anymore, so I’d go with these in the future. I’m able to get two days or 3+ workouts out of these socks (merino blend). They are the most durable light socks I’ve had, but they do wear out so I like to have a backup pair.
  • Patagonia Capilene Midweight Bottoms & Zip-Neck, 1 each. This is my favorite baselayer. Yes, it is synthetic, but I think it provides an excellent value.

Shoes

  • Merrell Trail Glove 4. These are my go-to sneakers, from everyday to workout. I had the Trail Glove 3 and wore them for a few years and replaced them with these when they wore out.
  • Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill Boot, Brown. I’ve had these boots for a year now and they are very comfortable. The Danite sole makes them safe on wet floors. They straddle casual and business casual for me. Not sure these are the exact replacement I’d pick (especially not at full price), but I like that they are at home in many situations.

Bottoms

  • Outlier Slim Dungarees, 1 pair, Darkindigo. These are my favorite casual pants. They are as comfortable as sweat pants, but look as good or better than jeans. I currently have them in “Gray Shadow” (which is a blue-green color to me), but I think “Darkindigo” is the most versatile color. I find that the main reason I wash these is because they start to bag out. I would, however, have to consider the Strong Dungarees as well, as I’ve heard great things (and briefly owned a pair myself). Although, I wouldn’t need both as they fill the same need.
  • Outlier Futureworks, 1 pair, Phantom Grey or Charcoal Grey. As we’ve said many times, you can’t beat these for business casual pants, especially at the price point of $140.
  • Bluffworks Gramercy Pants, 1 pair, Blue Hour. When I want to look dressier, these are the pants I go to. They still perform well and are very comfortable, but they look closer to wool slacks.
  • Outlier New Way Shorts, 1 pair, Navy. These shorts are great, they perform well but also look good at a restaurant. I currently have the Longs, but think I’d go for the regular length the next time.
  • Myles Momentum Short 2.0, 1 pair, grey. While I love my Patagonia Baggies Long, these shorts keep the functionality as a workout short, but can double as a short for everyday wear. They can easily go from a workout to a coffee shop.
  • Patagonia Quandary Pant, 1 pair. I currently wear the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pant for outdoor activities, but would pick these to replace them. I haven’t found the Ferrosi fabric to be as durable as I like (I have a few snags). I’ve tried the GORUCK offerings, but found the pockets to be lacking.
  • Synthetic Sweat Pants, 1 pair. Have to have something comfortable and warm to lounge in during the winter. Not super picky on these, but do appreciate my Myles Apparel Momentum Pant, although I’m not sure they are worth the price for lounging.

Tops

  • Woo&Prince Crew Neck, 2. My current favorite (nice) merino t-shirt is the Outdoor Voices Merino T-Shirt. I think I’d give the Wool&Prince shirt a shot next as I like that it is nylon core-spun merino, which gives more durability.
  • Y Athletics SilverAir Merino Crew Neck, 2. Still my favorite workout shirt that can easily double as a casual t. The nylon face makes it more durable (I still managed to get pilling with a GORUCK bag while hiking though) while keeping the comfort of merino against your skin.
  • Wool&Prince Button-Down, 2. My current favorite is the Burgundy Oxford. The thicker fabric is beautiful and does a better job at resisting wrinkles as compared to the lighter fabric. I’d probably pick up that and one in light blue or grey.
  • Bluffworks Meridian Dress Shirt, 1, Peak Blue Tattersall. I think this is my favorite dress shirt. It looks normal and is comfortable, all while remaining wrinkle resistant and durable. While it is only good for one wear, it dries quickly.
  • Patagonia R1 Pullover, 1. This pulls double duty as a top and an insulating layer for me. It looks nice enough to be a casual sweater when it’s cold and it also is surprisingly warm for its thickness. It has become a key part of my cool weather wardrobe.

Outerwear

  • Arc’teryx Proton LT. This would replace my current down insulation layer. While down is great for packability and warmth to weight ratio, it falls short in wet conditions. And by wet conditions, I don’t just mean precipitation, but at times when you are putting out a lot of heat. The Proton LT is very breathable and has continuous synthetic insulation (which is supposed to be the most durable). I also find the cut of Arc’teryx jackets to be fairly stylish (at least for a technical forward jacket).
  • Patagonia Torrentshell. While I love the hood on my Outdoor Research Helium II, the lack of pockets drives me crazy sometimes. This jacket remains well priced and packable, while adding pockets and pit zips. This also can double as a windbreaker.
  • Wool&Prince Blazer. While the fabric has changed, I have been so impressed with the one I have, I know this would be the one to get. It is still half-lined, so it continues to have a great unstructured look and breaths much better than a fully lined blazer.
Starting from Scratch – Base Wardrobe, Steve

OxiClean and Merino Wool

The other day I grabbed my Outlier S140 shirt, and noticed that the armpits were discolored. The shirt itself is light blue and the armpits had visible sweat stains, and looked yellowed, even over the blue. I also remembered that a blue Outlier Ultrafine T I own has dark discoloration on the arm pits, with almost a stiff texture to that area.

It was enough of a discoloration and general gross out for me that I decided I needed to do whatever it took to clean them, or just donate the shirts and get new ones. I wasn’t going to be wearing them looking like this. So here’s what I tried, and they all failed:

  • Spot treated with Kookaburra, then washed. No change.
  • Spot treated with white vinegar, then washed. No change.
  • Spot treated with dish soap, then washed. No change.
  • Spot treated with baking soda paste, then washed. Slightly better by about 4%.

At this point I was pretty frustrated, and annoyed at all the loads of wash I was doing. There was one last thing that the internet seems to universally claim would work on cotton: Oxiclean. Of course we all know this wonder TV product, but I was worried it would destroy the wool. I bit the bullet on these shirts as I knew I wasn’t going to wear the shirts like this anyways.

The Problem

One shirt with slight discoloration, one with discoloration and a stiffened texture, and in addition to those two Outlier shirts, another with next level discoloration. I only took pictures of the latter, but looking at these stains I knew it wouldn’t matter if they were ruined, because they already were.

Here’s what the worst shirt looked like before I started:

Pretty bad, as this had mostly been worn as an undershirt. This is an Icebreaker Anatomica crew neck, in what I believe they call “bone” for the color.

First Go

My first pass at this shirt was to get a mixing bowl and dump some Oxiclean powder into it, fill with water, and mix in the Oxiclean to dissolve it


Then I submerged the entire shirt to soak for 12 hours. After soaking I wrung out the shirt, and washed it with our standard laundry detergent. I did an extra rinse cycle on it as well.

Note on the Outlier shirts: while the pictured shirt is basically a natural color, both Outlier shirts are blue. When I let those shirts soak overnight, they turned the water blue. I was pretty concerned they would be super faded after washing, but to my eye they look no different. I have no doubt this process took some of the color out of them, but I cannot see it.

After all of that, here’s what the shirt looked like:

There’s still light staining you can see, but it’s mostly gone and the shirt is wearable again. Both Outlier shirts came out looking absolutely perfect


And as you can see, the color looks fine on them as well. I stopped there with the Outlier shirts as I was quite happy with the results.

Second Go

Since the Icebreaker shirt was older, and had way more staining, I wanted to see if I could knock out the stain even further. Instead of doing another full soak on the shirt, I made a paste out of Oxiclean and applied it with a toothbrush to the stained areas with a bit of scrubbing. Then I let that sit for about an hour before washing the shirt again.

After which:

It is extremely hard to see in these pictures but the stain is still slightly there. The paste only removed it a little but more. I think if I soaked the shirt again, it would be gone, but its gone enough that this is fine for the undershirt nature of this shirt.

Overall

I am very impressed with the work Oxiclean did on these shirts. Especially with the Outlier shirts which now look brand new again. I was very worried this would make the wool feel nasty, but oddly enough they feel like normal. I guess time will tell on that front, but this process didn’t outright destroy the shirts. I think after washing with Kookaburra again, they will be completely back to normal.

I will not hesitate to use this method in the future on any wool. It really worked well. I think the paste method is a complete waste of time, as it really was not nearly as effective. Do a long soak over night, and I think you will see the best results.

Note: Oxiclean says not to use the product on wool, so while I didn’t see any issues, use at your own risk.

OxiClean and Merino Wool

Everyday Wear Yard Sale

We went through our closets to find some great clothing and bags for you, and are listing them here at some great prices.

All price include shipping to the lower 48 via USPS, they also include all PayPal fees. All purchases need to be made via PayPal goods and services. If you are buying more than one item from the same person (Ben or Steve) we will adjust the prices to account for the shipping savings.

If you see something you like, send us an email to confirm availability.

Clothing

Clothing Arts Cubed Travel Jacket, XL, Grey, Excellent, $200

Selling because it has gotten too big. If you are looking for a waterproof jacket that performs well and looks good, this is it, as long as you are willing to put up with the bulk.

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Jacket, XL, Black, Excellent, $60 SOLD

Great jacket, selling because I have replaced it with my Myles Elements Jacket.

Mountain Khaki’s Swagger Vest, Large, green $45

Great vest, but is a bit too large for me. Love the materials, and it is warm enough. In great condition. MK no longer makes it in this style.

Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody, Large, pewter & sagegrass, $100

Like new condition, selling as I have another jacket that serves the same purpose. Hard to choose between which to keep. This is a fantastic jacket.

Taylor Stitch Telegraph Jacket, 42, $60 SOLD

I simply do not wear this enough to keep it, really nice jacket though. Always get compliments on it. No issues I can see anywhere.

GORUCK MACV-1s, 11.5, black, $140

My mistake is your gain. These are a half size too large for my feet, but I didn’t realize that until I rucked in them. Aesthetically they look perfect. There’s some light debris in the treads that I cannot scrub out. I rucked 3.2 miles in them, and then cleaned them. I don’t feel right trying to return them. My short review: if you do a lot of walking and want comfort, these are great boots. I bought another pair in 11 that I am still testing, but 20+ miles in, I do like them.

Mizzen+Main Short Sleeve Seersucker, XL Trim Fit, Hartley Light Blue Stripe, Like New, $25

Selling because it’s not my style. Like new, just note that there are some loose threads around the button holes (how it came from M+M).

Mizzen+Main Leeward Collection Dress Shirt, XL Trim Fit, Bowie Navy & White Windowpane, Like New, $70

Selling because I have two. Only washed (cold and hang dry) once or twice.

OLIVERS Convoy Tee, XL (see note below), Blue, Excellent, $50

Selling because it is too small. Otherwise, a great shirt. It is a size XL, but apparently there was a batch of shirts that were cut small, so this probably fits more like a L.

Patagonia Duckbill Trucker Hat, OS, Black, Like New, $25

Selling because this doesn’t fit my head. Brand new, just tried on, but I removed the tags before I decided it doesn’t fit.

Outdoor Research Sequence L/S Zip Top, XL, Green, Good, $25

Selling because I don’t wear it anymore. Pilling on bottom of front, sides, and sleeves.

Outdoor Research Sequence L/S Zip Top, XL, Blue, Good+, $35

Selling because I don’t wear it anymore. Minimal, if any pilling.

Cabella’s Gore-Tex Rain Jacket, XL Tall, Dark Green/Brown, Excellent, $50

Fully taped Gore-Tex rain jacket. Selling because it is too big and I’ve replaced it with my Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket. Front pockets have mesh liners to help with ventilation if needed. Included stuff sack (non-integral).

Columbia Titanium Omni-Heat Waterproof Shell, XL, Bright Blue, Excellent, $50

I purchased this shell at the Columbia outlet and only wore it a few times. Now it’s too big. Based on the style number (1384921), I’m guessing it’s a 2013 model. It is made with Omni-Tech waterproof, breathable fabric and is lined with metallic Omni-Heat. It supports the Columbia interchange system and has a built in stuff-sack. On the front, two zippers open mesh vents in the Omni-Heat liner to help with ventilation. The hood rolls up into the collar.

Bags

Nock Lanier, Black, $50 SOLD

Looks like new, I really don’t use it. Great bag, and comes with the A5 pouch thing which is even better than the bag itself.

Timbuk2 Alchemist Messenger Bag, Good, $40

Selling because I don’t use it anymore. Fits 15” laptop. Some wear on the rubberized coating on the bottom corners.

Timbuk2 Messenger Bag, Good+, $60

Selling because I don’t use it anymore. Size L.

Timbuk2 Laptop Messenger Bag, Good, $40

Selling because I don’t use it anymore. Size S (fits a 13” MacBook Air). White stripe has indigo staining on the back.

eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible, Good+, Black, $40

Selling because I don’t use it anymore. In great shape, just some marks on the outside from traveling. Can’t find the shoulder strap.

Lands End Square Rigger Canvas Duffel, Good, $25 SOLD

Selling because I don’t use it anymore. 18”x9”x9”

Standard Luggage Co. Daily Backpack, Good+ (see notes), $40

Selling because I don’t use it anymore. Did have coffee spilled on it, but I got it clean. Can’t find the shoulder strap, but the rain cover is included.

Brenthaven Laptop Messenger Bag, Good+, $40

Selling because I don’t use it anymore (it was for my original Intel 15” MacBook Pro).

Tom Bihn Horizontal Brain Cell 4X, Excellent, $40 SOLD

Selling because I don’t use it anymore (it was for my original Intel 15” MacBook Pro).

Everyday Wear Yard Sale

Triple Aught Design Catalyst Field Shirt

I’ve been wanting a better casual insulation layer, but also one that is built to the standards I’ve come to love through the testing we do for this site. Coupled with that, I have been wanting a shirt-jacket, ‘shacket’, as this type of layer. Top on my list was this Catalyst Field Shirt from Triple Aught Design.

I’ve now been testing it for a few weeks and have really put it through its paces. Overall, this has been a great warming layer, but has some strong caveats.

Materials

This jacket is packed with performance materials. The shell of the jacket is 100% nylon at 100 gsm with UPF 50. Triple Aught Design notes this is the same fabric used on their Latitude Field Shirt. Next, the shirt has “Amphibious Cloth” on top of the nylon in high abrasion areas, which here means the tops of the shoulders, and the elbows and forearms. This is the black cloth you see, and is meant to stand up to more abuse.

The insulation itself is Polartec Alpha, which I am going to dive into more in a bit, but for this jacket is fairly light at 50 gsm in weight. Lastly, the jacket is lined with 100% nylon at 95 gsm. Having said all that the jacket feels kind of heavy with a very synthetic drape to it, the insulation is much thinner than you will expect. The outer shell material is soft to the hand and the inner is smooth like silk.

All in all, some of the best performing and durable materials go into making this jacket.

Polartec Alpha versus Polartec Alpha Direct

I’ve previously written about Polartec Alpha Direct here with the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoodie, and this is a slightly older variant, kind of. The difference is that Alpha is made to work between two layers of another material, whereas Alpha Direct is made to work with a shell layer, and go against your skin on the inside.

Alpha itself has a ton of hype around it. You’ll see lots of “designed for special forces”, which seems to be true and it’s true that the military does use this material a lot. It’s an active insulation layer, which means it still warms while wet, and is highly breathable. Alpha also gets mixed reactions from people who put it through its paces. For me, and for casual wear purposes, I’d put it as more breathable than a standard fleece jacket, but not as warm, and not nearly as bulky.

Don’t get an Alpha insulator thinking it will be magic, because it will not live up to that standard. It is, almost always, a better layer to have than a fleece jacket for casual wear.

Fit and Style

As with all Triple Aught Design goods, they take a very distinct style towards tactical, or tacti-cool if you prefer. It certainly has color and design inspiration which has a nod towards military, a nod towards outdoor, with casual looks thrown on top. I like the style of this shirt, and think it wears well, but it will not be for everyone.

The first shirt I was sent was a size medium by mistake, which actually fit, and I replaced with a size L. The M fit really well, with the exception of the sleeves being a touch too short, and there being restriction in arm movements at more extreme angles. The L doesn’t look as good, but is far more comfortable to wear. This shirt is designed to be a relaxed fit, as you expect from a jacket, not like a shirt. Overall I need a size in between the two, but it’s not terrible. So be aware of potentially wanting to go down a size for a more tailored look, especially if your arms are not as freakishly long as mine.

Performance and Use

This is both an outer layer for cool days, and a mid-layer for cold days. It’s not at all water resistant, and in my wear in rain, it tends to soak up the water, but dry quickly. Ideally this is something that breathes well enough and insulates strongly enough, that you can move between indoors and outdoors without having to shed the layer. Something which most people struggle with during the cooler weather months.

Armpit vent.
Armpit vent.

The armpits have two vents under each which are round and mesh in nature to help with breathing in warm areas. I’ve tested this at the beach, in my house, and around town. Wearing it instead of any other layers, as well as something to warm up with in the house. At times I’ve found it to be on the verge of too warm indoors, or in the car. If the sun is hitting you, you warm up fast. At the beach I’ve found that if I stopped moving I could get slightly chilled in it, start moving and everything is good. The wind resistance is decent but nothing to write home about.

What really sets this jacket apart is how comfortable it is to wear, as long as you don’t worry about keeping it buttoned. The front buttons closed with snap buttons, and I’ve found that the minute I start feeling warm, I can slide my hand down the shirt and open the front. This keeps my temp perfect in most situations and buttoning it back up tends to warm me up quickly enough.

The jacket performs very well in every situation I used it in. Something like this will always need layers, but you can push it for short periods of time. This is a far better implementation of Polartec Alpha than the Ascendant jacket for everyday wear.

Nitpicks

Collar is a bit floppy.
Collar is a bit floppy.

There’s a few small issues with this shirt:

  1. The shell material does look to be starting to have very small pilling happening around the cuffs and the neck line. Granted I’ve worn this a lot, but I do worry how it might look after a year.
  2. The jacket has no odor resistance, and thus the arm pits can and do smell after long stretches of wear. It will dissipate overnight but often not enough. I haven’t washed this jacket yet, but instead I spray the arm pits with Lysol and that rids the smell completely and instantly. No ill effects yet to the jacket.
  3. The collar is quite large and floppy. It also cannot be flipped up and buttoned up in place so that it can act as a neck warmer. I would have preferred a smaller and stuffer collar, or this collar with a button enclosure to add warmth in cool climates by making it a neck warmer.

Light pilling around the collar.
Light pilling around the collar.

Heavier pilling on the under side of the forearm near the cuff.
Heavier pilling on the under side of the forearm near the cuff.

These are small nitpicks but I can see them driving some people crazy. I give the shirt a pass on the forearm pilling because I’ve been working on a new stand at my desk which is unfinished wood and is quite rough, that’s exaggerating the pilling in this area of the shirt.

Overall

At $225 this is an expensive shirt, but not overly so for what it is. Most Polartec Alpha costs good money right now, as do most good shirt jackets. I think the biggest caveat is the styling of the jacket, followed by the lack of odor control in the arm pits. That said, I have no regrets getting this, and is likely to be my most worn layer this winter. I’ve been wearing it over just the Huntsman Henley I reviewed and find that to be a great combination.

You can get one here (the color shown here is Tarmac).

Some Other Options

Here are a few of the competing products I considered if you want a shirt jacket like this, but in a different style:

Triple Aught Design Catalyst Field Shirt

Myles Elements Jacket

The item in this review was provided by Myles Apparel at a discount for review.

When I saw the Myles Elements Jacket was made from Polartec NeoShell, I knew I had to give it a try. While I wasn’t looking for a new jacket, I couldn’t pass this one up and ended up very impressed.

Material

The Polartec NeoShell membrane makes this jacket one of the most breathable (and the stretchiest) waterproof jackets I have ever worn. The magic of NeoShell is that it allows air exchange while still blocking 99.9% of the wind. This helps moisture and heat move from your body to the surrounding environment without having to built up as much of a gradient (difference in temperature and humidity between the two sides of the membrane).

The face fabric of the jacket has a subtle texture, giving it a less-technical matte appearance. While not noted as having a DWR coating, the fabric beads water well and resists wetting out. The texture carries through to the lining fabric, helping the jacket to never feel cold or clammy inside.

The jacket has 100% taped seams, ensuring no water sneaks its way in.

Performance

The NeoShell breathability and stretch makes this jacket extremely comfortable for many activities. While wearing the jacket, I never once felt sweaty, even when walking fast with a loaded backpack while traveling. The stretch adds to the comfort, enough so that you sometimes forget you are wearing a hard shell.

The zippers are YYK but are not waterproof, but for a jacket without a hood, this is probably not necessary. I found them to be easy to operate, except for getting used to the dual zipper sliders on the main zipper — it takes a little thought to get them lined up and the zipper all the way down through so it can be zipped.

The chest pocket and back slash pocket were well sized for me and hold a phone or wallet comfortably. Each has a port on the inside to allow for headphones to pass through. While it is advertised that the jacket can be packed into the chest pocket, I wasn’t able to easily fit it in. It does, however, roll nicely to about the size of a burrito. As far as the back pocket goes, it’s a nice touch if you are a cyclist. In any other case, I wouldn’t keep anything valuable back there (other than maybe an emergency $20).

Style and Fit

Not only does the Elements Jacket perform extremely well, but it can be at home both during a workout or at work. The texture of the face fabric, configuration of the pockets, lack of a hood, and unique cuffs help upgrade the looks.

As far as the lack of a hood, I wasn’t immediately sold as I am used to my rainwear always having a hood. After some rainy fall weather, I found that wearing a baseball cap kept the rain out of my eyes, and I didn’t have any other issues (like water running down my neck). Now if I were to be out in the rain all day, or out in heavy rain, I’d still want my jacket with a hood, but this is a tradeoff I’m willing to make for a jacket that is so breathable and looks sharp.

The unique cuffs are about 1/3 elastic that sits at the back of your wrist while the rest has a nice curve — a nice style choice and something different than a straight cuff with elastic or velcro.

The fit is a nice athletic cut, while allowing room for an insulation layer underneath. I also found the length to be great — it is a bit longer than my Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket, allowing me to wear my tall down jacket underneath without the bottom hem hanging out.

Overall

The Myles Elements Jacket has replaced my soft shell spring/fall jacket, and in many cases is the first jacket I go for. The excellent breathability, waterproofness, stretch, and style are what keep me coming back. I think Myles has a winner here, and I’m surprised Polartec NeoShell isn’t used in more jackets (the Filson Reliance is the only other one I’ve found and it’s $395 — double the Elements Jacket). If you are looking for a light layer/rain shell/wind breaker, this jacket deserves your consideration.

Myles Elements Jacket

Triple Aught Design Hunstman Henley

I recently picked up the Huntsman Henley as a warmer alternative to the t-shirts I normally wear as a base layer. I’ve been wanting to get a merino Henley for some time now, and I’ve been wearing this one for a few weeks.

Material

This shirt is 93% merino wool, and 7% elastane. It comes in at 200 gsm, so heavier than most t-shirts you would wear. The wool itself is among the rougher of the wools I have felt, something along the lines of what Smartwool has. If I had to guess I would put the micron count somewhere around 19 microns.

This means that it will feel a bit scratchy, and those sensitive to that will likely hate this shirt. In my wear I always notice the roughness of the fabric when I first put on the shirt, but never after that. It’s not been an issue for me at all, but this is not luxuriously soft like other merino shirts we talk about here. As for the elastane, I didn’t realize it had any until writing this section, however it should have been rather obvious because in feeling the shirt now, there is a ton of stretch to it.

Style and Fit

Triple Aught Design labels this as a “next-to-skin” layer, a casual base layer. I snagged one in size L, which is what I typically wear in their clothing and found the fit to be perfect. It fits looser than expected, but still rather athletic in cut.

There’s two interesting style choices which set this Henley aside from others. The first is the mock neck collar. Instead of the collar sitting flat against your collar bone, as a t-shirt does, the collar on the Huntsman stands up a touch to give a much different look. How much it stands up is going to depend on how large your neck is, but for me I found that it does stand up.

The second design choice is using Triple Aught Design’s signature slotted buttons which are attached with a nylon strap. I quite like the look and function of these buttons, but combined with the collar changes, this shouldn’t be seen as a straight Henley, as you would likely be disappointed by the over all looks if you want something classic. This is a more modern/tacticool look which was based on a classic Henley. It’s subtle, but it is there.

Wear

I’ve been very impressed with this shirt while wearing it. It is comfortable, moves well, and the buttons never unintentionally come undone. I can get my normal 4-5 days of wear out of the shirt before the odors start to pile up. When washing it dries quickly and comes out looking like new every time.

I’ve also noticed that the rougher merino seems to resist pilling and signs of wear which I would come to expect after several washes and wearing the shirt with GORUCK backpacks. So far, it’s been holding up really well, but I’ve only had a few weeks time with it.

I also don’t find it to be too warm. Most times it’s only slightly warmer than a t-shirt when on its own, while adding a nice bit of extra warmth when used as a base layer under other garments.

Overall

I really like this Henley, and it’s become my most worn garment over these past few weeks, so much so I’ve not really worn many of my t-shirts. Yes, the fabric could be a bit softer, but I have been surprised that the fabric doesn’t actually bother me. I like the style decisions on the collar and the buttons, and I think it helps to make the shirt look slightly less casual than most slouchy Henleys look.

It’s a great shirt and I recommend it. Your only consideration should be whether you like the looks of the buttons, because if you do, you’ll like this Henley too.

Triple Aught Design Hunstman Henley

GORUCK and Bluffworks Black Friday Sales

GORUCK’s Black Friday Week Deals are live (until Sunday). You can get our favorite travel backpack, the GR1, for $285 (28% off, any color except black) and apparel for up to 45% off. Many other backpacks (rucks) are also on sale (22-34% off). Also notable, the Wire Dopp is available for $35 (22% off).

Bluffworks also is having a sale. Our favorites include the Meridian Dress Shirt 2.0 which is on sale for $85 (13% off, our review), and the entire Gramercy Collection is 25-30% off (our review of the suit).

GORUCK and Bluffworks Black Friday Sales

Olivers Passage Pant

The item in this review was provided for review purposes by OLIVERS.

The Passage Pant is a highly technical pant which is marketed as: “your favorite jeans, updated for everyday performance.” They are cut from a very light fabric which moves well and breathes even better. I’ve only been testing these pants for a week now, but I’m confident I have a very good sense of what these pants are.

Material

The material is a little hard to sort out, as OLIVERS lists it as “Passage Stretch Weave”, and CORDURA with 4-way stretch. The tag in the pants tells me it is 91% nylon, and 9% spandex. That’s a lot of stretch.

The material is very technical looks and rather smooth to the touch on the outside, but to my legs to feels a touch rougher like terry cloth. Not bad, just worth noting the difference between what your hand feels and your legs. The drape on these is a standard technical drape, but this pant pulls it off (more on this later). There is no DWR coating on the pant, that I can tell or find mention of. Oh, and there’s only a slight amount of sound as you walk, nothing noticeable (I only noticed this as I was writing his section up).

Fit and Style

The fit runs large. I typically wear a 35, and ordered a 36 in the pants only for them to be far too large to wear. Exchanging them for a 34 worked well, but the waist is loose enough that I feel far more comfortable with a belt on, than not. Some of this is the cut, Some is the stretch which is noticeable in the waist as well. In other words, they tend to stretch out in the waist with wear, and snap back to form after a wash.

The styling is a classic 5-Pocket look, with the coin pocket being oversized enough to hold my iPhone XS just snuggly. I don’t recommend placing your iPhone there, as the look isn’t great and it tends to work up and out of the pocket when you sit down.

The big note about the style and fit is that these pants are very tapered. This gets rid of the technical drape look that plagues many pants of this material type, and provides a rather flattering and on trend look to the pant. I have plenty of room in the thighs, certainly more than other slim pants. The calves are where things really taper, as the pants can be a touch snug around my calves if the pant leg rides up at all. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a thing about these pants. I do wish more of my pants had a stronger taper like this, as I find the style quite nice.

Wearing Them

The review sample I was provided is the Olive color, which is almost a military looking green, and I love it. It’s a great color, and something my wife immediately gave a thumbs up to (note: she hated the last dark olive colored pants I owned). The big thing about these pants is that the gusseted crotch, as well as the 9% stretch mean that these feel like pure comfort in pant form.

They easily move with your body and are never tight and uncomfortable. I failed to change to joggers many nights, because I found these pants to be just as comfortable. However, even more so than the comfort is the weight of the pants. They are thick enough not to feel like paper, and yet, they really breathe exceptionally well.

iPhone XS in the 5th pocket.
iPhone XS in the 5th pocket.

It’s around 40 degrees these days in the Pacific Northwest, so it’s hard to say for sure, but I’d guess these are the best warm weather paths I own, and I’ve tried. For the colder weather my knees can feel cool at time, and wind seems to cut through the pants with ease. Stay about 50 degrees and I’ve found the pants very comfortable to wear. I’m excited to see how they perform in warmer climates, as I suspect they are going to be fantastic.

Overall

It’s hard to review these pants stand alone, without comparing them to other pants I own, or have owned. The best I can do is to say they are like Slim Dungarees if those wear made out of OG cloth. Though, they are probably better, because the only cost $158. The Outlier OG Climbers I had (they got too big) were the most comfortable pants I owned, which I also never wanted to be seen in outside the house. The Passage Pants are more comfortable than that, and I’ve happily worn them out to date nights with my wife. They also cost less than many other technical pants.

These are a winner, all around, and likely a staple in my closet moving forward.

One last note: OLIVERS recently expanded the size offering in these pants, they run from 30 to 38 now and as many others reviews point out, run about a size larger than stated.

Olivers Passage Pant

Steve’s Packing List: November 2018

Trip Details: Two night, three day trip by air for business meetings.

Packing List

GORUCK GR1 26L w/ Simple Side Pocket

I wore:

Notes and Considerations

For business travel, I feel like I have my packing list down. With this kit, I could travel indefinitely. For a long trip, I would consider another Wool & Prince shirt over the Mizzen+Main so I wouldn’t have to do as much laundry.

I was able to fit both my blazer and down jacket into my backpack for flights with no wrinkling issues on the blazer.

The Simple Side Pocket worked well as an extra interior pocket in my GR1. I don’t like the look on the outside but it is a good size for a little extra organization inside. The pocket is unstructured enough that it folds flat and out of the way when it’s not in use.

You might also notice that I switched up my underwear this trip, look for a review coming, but the packability and lightweight fabric of the UNIQLO Airism Boxer Briefs has won me over for travel.

Steve’s Packing List: November 2018