I picked up one of Triple Aught Design’s merino blend shirts, the Traverse Tech T, while it was on sale. Like all other blends, these shirts perform well, with varying compromises in each. Let’s dive into the particulars of this one.
The shirt is a 150 gsm material of 86% merino and 14% nylon. There’s no listed micron for the merino, but if I had to guess I would put it at the rougher end of the spectrum, likely somewhere around 18 micron. Overall the shirt is very thin feeling and smooth with no sheen at all. On my body the material feels a little rougher, and those bothered by wool in general will likely want to pass on this as the merino is not so fine as to remove all the wool scratch.
However, I have yet to have any issues with the wool on this shirt, and it is thinner than most offerings I have tried (with the Dreamweight being the only one thinner), while still looking like a standard tee shirt.
This shirt is cut with a more athletic style, which puts it closer to your body and not in the boxy shirt realm. I found the size Large to fit me incredibly well, exactly how I prefer t-shirts to fit.
Of all the merino wool shirts I have tested, this one fits me the best. I have no complaints at all. I will note that since the fit is less relaxed, you might want to adjust your sizing accordingly.
Where It Sits
This shirt performs as well as any merino wool shirt, and thus I’ll skip right over talking about that. At $70 new (I paid $35 for it on sale) it has a lot of competition. Notably the Outdoor Voices Merino T-Shirt, and the Wool&Prince T-Shirt. The Traverse can not compete with Outdoor Voices based solely on the price, at $55 your money is better spent on Outdoor Voices. Both have great athletic fits, and are thin and casual.
Wool&Prince is a different situation entirely, as I find this to be slightly less casual looking as it is heavier and adds a slight sheen to the material. Again, at $68, it is essentially the same price as the Traverse, but the fit isn’t as good.
There is nothing stand out unique about the Traverse, other than the thinness of the shirt. I do not know the weight of the Outdoor Voices shirt, but it is not lighter than the Traverse. The Traverse seems like a great shirt for those who want a thinner merino t-shirt with the added durability of a nylon blend.
This is not the best or softest shirt, but it is one of the thinner and better fitting shirts I have tried. There’s nothing wrong with it, but the fit is the only thing that stands out. Wait for another sale, or save some money and get the Outdoor Voices shirt. If you truly want a thin shirt, get the exceptional Dreamweight t-shirt I reviewed earlier. It is thinner and softer.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way — this fabric is so soft and stunning you’ll never want to take the shirt off. It is 100% 15.5 micron single origin merino from Gostwyck, Australia. This Gostwyck merino is limited in supply, but has been produced for over two centuries. The single origin nature also allows Outlier trace the fabric back to its source and ensure everything from the land the sheep graze on to the conditions the fabric was made follow all the best standards.
The premium nature of this merino, along with the extremely fine 15.5 micron yarn size and 205 gsm weight, gives the fabric a dense and soft handfeel. If you didn’t know it was merino, you might not suspect so at first. It’s almost hard to describe, but the closest I can come is that it’s like that well-loved heavy cotton t-shirt you’ve had since you were in high school and can’t bear to get rid of. But you really just need to check it out for yourself.
Like most Outlier shirts, this is a rather boxy cut. I don’t find this to be a negative though, because when paired with the excellent drape, I think it makes it more classic and dressy. I find it pairs well with anything from casual (paired with New Way Shorts or Slim Dungarees) to a more dressy look with Futureworks.
When choosing a size, make sure to note that Black is pre-washed, but Phantom (what I have) and Maritime Blue are not. The latter are cut a bit longer to account for the half size shrinkage when first washed. After washing mine, it definitely shrunk not only on the length, but also the width direction. So make sure you keep this in mind when choosing a size and color.
Comfort & Performance
This shirt instantly became my favorite T-shirt due to it’s smooth, luxurious handfeel and excellent drape. The smoothness makes it glide easily over your body as you move, so you never find it clinging. The weight of the fabric makes it feel sturdy and also gives it an almost cozy feel (while not adding too much to the warmth). It seems like it will hold up better than the average 100% merino t-shirt.
The performance is on par with what you’d expect from a 100% merino shirt, it dries fast for its weight and resists odor extremely well.
As much as I love this shirt, there are two drawbacks.
The first is ‘bacon neck’, as Ben found with the Dreamweight, the front of the collar exhibits some ripples. I’ve found that even laying flat to dry (per the care instructions) doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. While not a dealbreaker, it certainly gives you pause in a shirt at this price point.
The second is the weight, while also a positive, the heavy weight of the fabric makes it dry slower than other merino shirts and has me wondering how it will perform in the dead of the summer (especially in the humidity). Time will tell, but I don’t see it staying my favorite t-shirt in the summer.
I love this shirt. The fabric takes it to a whole other level from any other merino shirt I own. The smooth handfeel makes it downright luxurious and easy to dress up.
If it weren’t for the ’bacon neck’, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this shirt at $125. Hopefully it is an anomaly in the shirt I received, and with Outlier’s great return policy, it’s at least worth giving this shirt and amazing fabric a hands-on test.
Note: this item was provided by Outlier for the purposes of review.
The Outlier Dreamweight T takes all the luxury in the Ultrafine T-Shirt and stops it down to a t-shirt which feels too thin and too soft to exist. It’s extremely light, which is where the name comes from.
This is a merino and nylon blend shirt, which is 75% 16.5 micron merino, 25% nylon for a 110 gsm weight. First, notice how fine the micron is on the merino — it’s insanely soft in hand feel. But the bigger deal here is the “intimate” process Outlier talks about with the nylon blending.
Lots of differences but the biggest is the intimate blend we use versus two different nylon filament techniques. This stuff is intimately blended which means chopped up nylon staples are mixed with wool staples before the mixture is spun into a yarn.
The most common way to combine wool and nylon is core spun, where there is a nylon filament in the middle and the wool is wrapped around. There are also some “beta spun” ones that invert that technique, the wool is in the middle and thin nylon filament are wrapped around the outside to protect the wool yarn. Both these techniques are good for making durable stuff but tend to lose some of merino’s softness. The intimate blend adds nylon strength but if anything it actually makes for an even softer fabric than pure merino.
Typically I can tell when a shirt has nylon in it, versus when it is pure merino. Had I not known beforehand that this shirt had nylon in it — I would have had no clue. It’s softer and thinner than any other merino shirt I have — blend or not. The material is amazing
I think the fit is the most interesting aspect of this. As I mentioned it is really light, so that lends the shirt to two primary use cases: a shirt for warm weather, or a shirt to wear as a base layer. The material works great for both, but you likely need to adjust the size you order based on how you want to use it. I ordered my standard Outlier size of XL and washed it and dried in on low per the label. The standard thought is it should shrink a bit.
It still fits looser than my Ultrafine T-Shirts of the same size, but not so much so that I would necessarily want to size down. However, if I wanted it as an undershirt, I would size down for sure. At my normal size, the shirt is a great fit for warmer weather where you don’t want your clothing clinging to your body.
Compared to my Ultrafine T-Shirts (I have two, different colors from different time periods) it is larger is most respects by a touch. It’s longer, and wider, with larger arm openings.
This shirt performs amazingly well — better than any other t-shirt I own currently. It’s cool and breathes very well. It dries very fast, and resists odor on par with any 100% merino shirt.
From a performance aspect it’s an extremely light weight version of the Ultrafine T-Shirt with no drawbacks for how much thinner it is. It’s the shirt you want for hot weather if you want to stick with merino wool.
There’s one other aspect, and that’s the hand feel. This shirt is amazing feeling. It’s not fragile feeling at all, and I do not think I own a softer feeling shirt than this one. It’s the kind of shirt that makes you wish you could wear nothing but this shirt all the time.
There are two drawbacks to this shirt. The first is the sizing issue I mentioned in the fit section — you’ll want to wear it under stuff but will have a hard time doing that unless you size down. Luckily, this is as easy as ordering two shirts in different sizes.
The second issue is the collar of the shirt. I find it to be a larger opening, which from a style standpoint is fine. It’s great for under other shirts, or in warm weather. The issue is that this is a more casual look, which means it should look crisp and here is where the shirt fails. The neck is very prone to ‘bacon neck’ where the collar has ripples in it like bacon out of the fry pan.
It’s not a complete deal breaker, but it certainly is a setback for what would otherwise be a near perfect shirt. I have noticed that drying the shirt flat and being careful when you dry it will minimize this issue, but using a dryer on low exacerbates the issue.
I love this shirt, and if it were not for the bacon neck, I would likely only buy these going forward. However, the fit is a bit odd, and I would like to try one size smaller before I fully commit. That said, in hot weather I can’t see wearing the Ultrafine instead of this shirt.
It is fantastic and the hand-feel of the shirt certainly lives up to its name. The neck issue is not an issue for the most part if you dry the shirt carefully, and because of that, I would highly recommend this shirt to anyone looking for a nice undershirt, or a fantastic light weight t-shirt.
Huckberry is currently offering their Proof Field Jacket & Storm Shield Parka for 50% off. While not the jacket we reviewed, we think Proof makes some great stuff and the price makes these a steal if you are looking to grab a new jacket.
The item in this review was provided by Outlier for review purposes.
Outlier has awhile made longsleeve t-shirts from their great 100% merino fabrics, but with the GD Cottonweight Merino Longsleeve, they took a risk with a new fabric. This shirt was designed to take the place of that heavy cotton longsleeve you love in the winter, and I think they did a great job.
This shirt is made from Outlier’s Cottonweight Merino, a double knit jersey with an 18.5 micron merino inner face and a cotton outer face (49% merino, 46% cotton, 5% nylon). The fabric weighs in at a hefty 220 gsm, making it fit right in between a longsleeve t-shirt and a sweatshirt. The shirt is very soft to the touch on both faces, surprisingly so on the cotton face, even though it is there to add to the durability and also helps give the shirt a natural drape.
The garment dying process gives the shirt a unique look and gives the fabric some character. Of course, there always is the chance of dye transfer, fading, etc. with garment dyed items, but I haven’t seen any issues — just a fabric with great depth. In the black color that I have, that means the shirt isn’t jet black, it’s a deep dark black-grey to my eyes. It’s certainly something to see.
The fit of this shirt is what I’d call a standard “straight” fit — no tapering anywhere, but not too boxy either. The sleeves are cut long enough so that I get a little bunching at the wrists (but not too much), something nice for those who always find longsleeves to be too short.
Comfort & Performance
I find this shirt to be my most comfortable heavy longsleeve t-shirt. The softness makes it pure luxury to wear and the merino inner face imparts some of the great merino qualities we love. I’ve been able to get numerous wears out of the shirt, however, the cotton face can negate this benefit in some cases (heavy sweating, smelly environments). I think a heavy longsleeve is a great place for it to be used though because of how it’s typically worn.
Speaking of the weight, I’ve found the heft to be great for colder weather. It works well under a jacket instead of a sweater and isn’t too warm for cooler indoor temperatures. However, if you are someone who runs warm or tends to be in warm buildings, this very well might be too warm for you.
The Outlier GD Cottonweight Merino Longsleeve has become my top pick for a warmer shirt. When I think about wearing it, it is more of a light sweatshirt in my mind. Given the warmth, it isn’t necessarily the most versatile piece, so I’m not sure I’d pay the $160 retail price. However, if you’re looking for a heavy shirt that performs (merino) and looks great (heavy cotton with natural drape), this definitely deserves a look.
Note: Western Rise has sent me the next size down in these pants and I will post an update once I give them a good test. First thoughts; I definitely had the wrong size and I think my overall impression of the pants will become more positive.
Western Rise has been in the technical clothing game for a while. They recently launched The Evolution Pant through Kickstarter and just this week launched them on their website. Built from a custom stretch nylon fabric, they claim the ability to dress up while still being rugged enough for outdoor activities. Given these claims and the opportunity to check out a new fabric, I picked up a pair through Kickstarter and have been wearing them for over a month now.
The fabric is a custom high-denier, air-texturized Supplex nylon twill with 4% elastane for stretch and a DWR treatment. Interestingly, the stretch feels similar in the hand to the Outlier Futureworks (our review), but doesn’t feel as free while wearing.
At 173 gsm the fabric is very lightweight (the lightest I have other than my Ferrosi Pants). While I can wear Futureworks even in the cold weather, I found these to be too light without a baselayer.
The way the fabric is woven gives the pants a nice texture and a cottony look, however, the light “technical swoosh” while walking can give away the fact that these are technical pants. Also, there appear to be irregularities in the pattern that almost look like pilling. That is how the fabric came to me, and it was noticeable enough in a sunny environment that my wife asked if the pants were pilling already.
Fit & Style
These pants are described as having a “flattering and slimming yet comfortable fit”, which I think is a good description. Like many of our favorite brands, Western Rise provides garment measurements to help find the right size. When I first received the pants, they seemed like they fit well, however, as I’ve worn them, it seems like they’ve stretched out in the seat/front and waist. I don’t love how they look now that they’ve stretched out (as seen in the photos), and wonder if I maybe would have been better off with a size smaller.
As far as the color, I picked the khaki for something different. The color looked darker on the Kickstarter page than it ended up coming out in production, and I don’t love how light it came out. Looking at the photos on the website, it looks like the charcoal came out almost black and the navy came out a nice mid-blue. I’d probably pick the navy as my favorite color by far.
Finally, the claims of these pants being able to be dressed up for a meeting are spot on. I think they did a great job designing the fabric to keep it durable while looking sharp (assuming you can get the fit right). In the realm of pants I own, I’d place them right between my Futureworks (most dressy) and Outlier Slim Dungarees (our review) as far as “dress-up-ability”.
I think these pants will be excellent for hot weather. At an even lighter weight than my Futureworks and with much better looks than my Ferrosis, I can see these as a contender for someone in a hot climate. In a humid environment, I could see the cottony feel of the fabric keeping it from getting clammy against your skin. The breathability also seems excellent, as they were cut right through by cold wind.
As I mentioned above, the stretch, while there, doesn’t feel as free as I’d like. There is a gusset, but it doesn’t come down to the knee like the Futureworks, so that could be an additional explanation of the experiences I’ve had while wearing.
As far as travel features, these look like your standard five-pocket pant, but add a few niceties. The “coin” pocket on the right front is sized to fit your phone, for easy stowage and separation from what you might have in the main pocket. I find it to hold my iPhone XS securely and comfortably. There is also a hidden zippered passport compartment in the right rear pocket. This is the best one I’ve seen, as the zipper manages to be unnoticeable when otherwise using the pocket and when sitting.
The Western Rise The Evolution Pant is a new entry in a quite crowded market of five-pocket pants. I think they did a nice job of making the pants look normal while retaining good performance.
From my personal experience, I’m not sure they will remain an everyday wear for me due to fit and the noise. Maybe I could get a better fit with a different size, but I didn’t love how they looked compared to my current favorite pants.
For those in hot climates, however, I think these pants could be top contenders. I haven’t come across pants that are this light while still looking good.
Note: this item was provided by Outlier for this review.
I’ve actually been using Grid Linen Towels for almost a full two years, both for travel as well as everyday. Outlier’s pitch for this towel is that it dries faster, weighs less, and packs down more. Ostensibly they have designed it to be the best beach towel you can buy, however, I’ve found mine are at home in my travel bag and hanging in my bathroom.
This is a 200 gsm towel made of 100% woven linen. This towel isn’t a standard linen towel though, as the ‘grid’ part of the name is important. Here’s how Outlier explains it: “We chose a box weave linen, its three dimensional structure maximizes the surface area of the linen fibers.”
The fabric itself is very rumpled and light. When you hold the towel dry, it’s decently hard to believe it’s capable of drying your entire body. It’s also rough feeling, especially when new, but over time (my almost two year old one is decently soft) the fabric breaks down and gets softer.
The story is that Outlier set out to make a better beach towel — one that dries you off well, without collecting half the beach on it. This towel does do that — though I have only used it at the beach one time. A bigger story with this towel is that it is very lightweight and packs down pretty small, especially when you consider the utility of it. All of this leads to a towel that is very versatile.
A lot of travelers like to take towels with them, this is better than any travel towel I have tried. Many beach goers need extra bags just to carry a beach towel, you won’t with these. And honestly, it’s a better bath towel as well.
So the reason you want this is because you want to use a better towel, and you don’t accept that plush and fluffy is necessarily better.
I’ll break this into two sections: at home, and travel. Let’s start with travel first.
I initially traveled with the size large towel (56” x 36”, or about bath towel size) and found that while compact, there’s not a lot of utility for the type of travel I do with this large of a towel. I quickly switched to a size small for travel (15” x 15”, like a handkerchief) and then bought an extra one after just the first trip.
The small towel shines in travel because you always have a wash cloth with you, but one that dries fast enough that you don’t need to worry about carrying a sopping wet rag in your bag. One of the biggest uses I get with mine is a quick wash of my face with water after a long flight. I’ve also cleaned up many near disaster spills on planes from turbulence and carelessness. The towel absorbs water quickly and dries very fast. I mean it when I say: I do not travel without one of these towels, and I use it about every time.
At home, I use one of the size large towels after every shower and I have done so for almost two years now. I actually have 3, including the one Outlier sent me for testing. After just the first use, I knew it was going to stick around as the towel for me. It takes a little getting used to though.
For one, the linen is thin, and though it can absorb mountains of water, you need to move the towel around — not use just one area — when you dry your body off. Otherwise it stops absorbing water in those spots. This isn’t a big deal, but it will amaze you how long it takes to adjust to this.
It’s also scratchy feeling, especially when it is new. That’s quite nice when you are drying your back — who doesn’t like a back scratch — but can be completely off putting for some people (like my wife, who thinks I am nuts). Overtime it softens, however, it never feels plush and fuzzy like those luxury hotel bath towels. Though, if those hotels knew anything, they’d be using these towels.
Lastly, this towel dries really fast and that has a lot of benefits. The first is that it dries fast enough that gross smells do not tend to build up very fast on it. I did a test a while ago, and found that a standard cotton bath towel could last me about 3 showers at most before it started to build up a smell. This towel can last past 7, and honestly, I stopped testing because I started to feel a little weird about it.
Another benefit is that if you take multiple showers in one day, you might have noticed that your standard bath towel may not have had time to dry. This towel tends to be dry after using it in a few hours time — which is awesome.
There are just two caveats with this towel:
It’s scratchy feeling. I don’t mind it at all, but there are going to be many who can’t fathom why you would want anything that is slightly scratchy. You likely know who you are already.
Outlier notes that you should avoid washing this in top-loading washing machines. I honestly didn’t know that until Steve pointed it out when we got these towels from Outlier. I’ve been washing several of these in top loading washers for 22 months — not a single issue at all, other than the tag starting to come off one. Your mileage may vary, but I’ve seen no ill effects.
Lastly, drying these is interesting. I’ve tried drying them by hanging them (Outlier provides a nice loop for doing so) and putting them in the dryer. If you use the dryer, the towels come out really soft and nice. If you hang them they have a scratchier texture to them until you use them a bit.
Hanging from the loop works great, but will tend to slightly stretch the towel in weird ways — though not in any way that seems to be a deal breaker. However, hanging from that loop dries the towel very quickly, especially if there’s any type of air movement around the towel.
I love this towel, and I have for a long time now. The small ones are fantastic for travel, and the bigger ones are the only towels I like to use for the bathroom. I’ve taken mine to pools as well, so that I know I can get myself and the kids dried off — because honestly there’s not a lot of bulk added with taking these. They work great at theme parks with kids too.
I’ve tried clear blue, medium gray, natural, and gray rock. I like the look of the clear blue the best, the medium gray did get some discoloration as did the gray rock. The natural is also great and would be my second choice of colors.
Bottom line: if you aren’t turned off by the thought of a towel that isn’t pure plush fuzziness, then you can’t get a better towel for yourself.
Underwear is an important part of an everyday wardrobe and can make or break the comfort of any activity. I’ve tried out quite a few new pairs of underwear over the past year or so, and I’ve made a change to what my go-to pairs are. While this is nowhere near an exhaustive list, this roundup includes all the technical boxer briefs I’ve tried.
A few commonalities
Across all the boxer briefs I tried, there are a few commonalities across the two main pain points — rolling of the waistband and riding up of the leg.
It seems to me that rolling of the waistband is a thing of the past (at least across all the brands I discuss here). This is something that can be very annoying, and something I haven’t had to deal with since I switched away from my cheap Hanes underwear.
On the other hand, having the leg ride up is not something that has been solved (except for maybe the new Wool & Prince Boxer Briefs 2.0, I haven’t given them a try though). I find that all of my pairs of underwear can ride up under the right conditions. Two features that help mitigate riding up include a proper fit (tightness and length) of the leg.
Lastly, I’ve yet to find any underwear that I can wear more than once (even with an antimicrobial treatment or merino content). That’s fine with me as I don’t find it appealing to wear underwear more than once. This makes drying time important for travel.
The Give-N-Go Boxer Brief was my first foray into the performance underwear market. A few years back, they were the ones everyone talked about, but since seem to have declined in quality.
The fabric is 94% nylon and 6% Lycra with an antimicrobial treatment and a diamond knit. This makes the fabric have a rough handfeel and more likely to get caught on your pants.
These do not have a structured front panel and have a somewhat baggy fit.
The fabric is 93% nylon and 7% spandex with an odor resistant treatment and a diamond knit. The knit here, while not smooth, doesn’t seem to get caught on my pants.
These also do not have a structured front panel and a similar fit to the ExOfficio pair.
Again, the fit and fabric make these uninteresting, unless you’re going for durability.
Once I got tired of the heavier fabric of the previous two brands, the AIRism Boxer Briefs seemed the natural way to go. Also very popular in the travel/performance community, these are hands down the lightest pair I own (in both fabric weight and packability).
The fabric is 89% polyester, 11% Spandex with an extremely smooth finish that feels like silk. No matter what fabric you wear on top, these never get caught.
The structured front panel adds to the comfort, and the tighter fit (and shorter leg) makes you forget you are wearing them. These are a good example of how the right fit helps keep the leg from riding up.
The Merino pair is 90% 17.5 micron merino wool, 5% metallic, and 5% spandex. The fabric is luxuriously soft and is quite thick. There is a custom leg grip system on each leg band that definitely helps keep these from riding up even when the legs aren’t quite as snug.
The Ultralight pair is 50% nylon, 35% Modal, 10% Spandex, and 5% metallic with an open-knit. Just like the name says, the fabric is very lightweight and has an excellent silky feel. While there are no leg grippers here, the legs fit a bit tighter so I didn’t feel like I was missing out.
I find the structured front panel in both of these pairs to be the most comfortable of all on this list.
Overall, can’t beat the luxury of the Merinos and the Ultralights are right up there with the UNIQLOs. The fit is spot on here.
The fabric is Pistol Lake’s custom Lightweight Eudae fabric, which is 76% polyester, 19% Tencel, and 5% Lycra. The fabric looks and feels similar to a cotton t-shirt.
While a snug fit, these do not have a structured front panel.
Overall, these are great if you’re looking for cotton-like comfort and are willing to sacrifice performance.
All of the boxer briefs perform well in all conditions with two exceptions.
The SilverAir Merino feels a little heavy with a lot of sweat, just like any merino piece, but dries quickly as the moisture evaporates from the core of the fibers.
The Minimalist Boxer Briefs feel heavy and moist with a lot of sweat. This was a surprise after trying their shirt made from the same fabric, but these are the only pair that I don’t really enjoy wearing for exercise.
Hands-down I prefer the AIRism Boxer Briefs for travel. Their extremely light and silky fabric and shorter length makes them pack down to nothing and dry quickly after a sink wash. Also, if they do ride up, they are the least noticeable.
The most comfortable of the lot are of course the SilverAir Merino, nothing beats the luxurious soft feel of high quality merino. When combined with a great structured front panel, these will be hard to beat in the comfort department.
The Minimalist Boxer Briefs also up there in comfort because they have a cottony feel and the long length helps keep the legs in place.
After wearing most of these boxer briefs for at least six months, if not longer, the UNIQLO AIRisms have become my top pick. Not only are they lightweight and comfortable, they are a great value at just $10 (and often can be had on sale for $5). At that price, there is no reason not to stock up. If the cost wasn’t involved, I would say the Y Athletics SilverAir Ultralights would be my top pick, as they are a bit more comfortable than the AIRisms. Finally, for comfort above all else (while still maintaining excellent performance), I haven’t found anything more comfortable than the Y Athletics SilverAir Merinos.