Ben’s Packing List: February 1st 2017

Trip Details: 3 days, 2 nights, traveling across the country for business. This trip required the packing of a suit and flights with a tight connection on each way of the trip.

Packing List

I tried to pack lighter than normal for this trip as I wanted to fit it all in a GR1, and it turns out packing a suit in a GR1 takes up most of the space in the GR1.

I wore:

Notes & Considerations

This loadout, while relatively few in items, took up the entire bag and then some. I wanted to travel with nothing larger because of how tight the connections were (and since one leg was a regional carrier, I knew space would be limited). Ultimately it worked, but I took too many extraneous things.

My normal toiletries kit is in a GR1 Field Pocket, so using the Echo reduced the size by about 50%. What’s interesting is that I still had things in the bag which I didn’t need. This clearly means I need to rethink my entire toiletries setup, and it’s likely I will use the Echo Field Pocket going forward.

I simply had way too many items in the Context Organizer and will have to completely re-think that kit. For the first time I was stopped by TSA for the brass flashlight I had — they simply wanted to see what it was and let me be on my way. Still, I might rethink that as it is heavy and if it will get me stopped, it’s not worth it. I should note that I’ve taken it on seven other trips without issue.

Lastly, packing a suit is a real pain. I used the Brooks Brothers method for folding it and used the large packing cube to better protect it. When I got there the jacket was nearly perfect and after a day of hanging had no issues. The pants needed some light touch up with an iron in the hotel, as they had some odd rumpled bits.

My final note, traveling with the Ascedant Hoodie was amazing. I knew I needed it for the colder weather I was headed to, and it performed well there. But I also wore it while in the plane and stayed incredibly comfortable while keeping the air blowing on me. I might consider bringing it on more trips — however it didn’t pack down very small when I wanted it in the bag. Perhaps a light weight, compressible down jacket is in order next.

Overall, I nailed the amount of clothes needed, but packed much too heavy on the electronics gear.

Ben’s Packing List: February 1st 2017

Aerogel Insulation

We’ve recently noticed a new type of insulation showing up in outerwear. Many sites promote it as “NASA-inspired”, and they are not wrong. What we’re talking about here is aerogel, a very high tech and unique insulating material that found its original applications from NASA.

How does insulation work?

Outwear keeps you warm in three ways: conduction, radiation, and convection. Conduction occurs when objects are in contact (heat always moves from warm to cool), radiation is the transfer of heat as electromagnetic radiation (the body radiates mainly in the infrared region), and convection is the transfer of heat through fluid motion (air is a fluid, so wind causes convective heat loss).
Insulation helps slow conduction by trapping air, which has a low thermal conductivity.

Two common measurements of insulation value in outerwear include the insulation weight (in grams) and fill power. Weight is just what you’d expect — the weight of one square meter of insulation. Typically, warmer insulation is heavier. Fill power is the volume one ounce of insulation fills (higher fill is warmer because it traps more air).

What is aerogel?

Imagine a gel (gels are mostly liquid with a 3D solid network to hold them together) where the liquid is replaced with air — that’s aerogel (>98% air). Due to the size of the pores that contain the air, the thermal conductivity of an aerogel is far lower than insulation filled with air. Due to this extremely low thermal conductivity, aerogel insulation can retain its insulation ability even when compressed. This is due to the fact that while you can compress the air out of fibers embedded with aerogel (or in the case of an aerogel sheet, there isn’t much air to compress out), the aerogel itself is not compressed and still provides significant insulation.

The biggest issue with aerogel when it was first developed was that it is rigid and easily breaks into a powder. Since then various advances have given it some flexibility.

OROS

While it appears that other companies have made jackets from aerogel, OROS Apparel seems to have the oldest jacket still on the market. They developed what they call SolarCore, which is an aerogel in a polymer sheet. SolarCore is breathable and water-resistant, retains its insulation under compression (something many insulations can’t do), and is very thin and light. Their warmest jacket, the Orion Parka, claims to have been tested in stormy and below zero conditions — I’d say that’s a warm jacket!

PrimaLoft Cross Core and L.L.Bean

Just recently, L.L.Bean announced an outerwear exclusive with PrimaLoft for their new Cross Core technology. PrimaLoft has developed a way to fuse aerogel particles into their PrimaLoft Gold insulation fibers (here’s the patent if you’re curious) — this is called “PrimaLoft Gold Insulation with Cross Core”. Right now you can find this insulation in the L.L.Bean Packaway Jackets and the new line of Ultralight Sleeping Bags (35 °F semi-rectangular, 20 °F rectangular, 20 °F mummy, 0 °F mummy). The ability to retain insulation when compressed is a big plus for a sleeping bag, and not even the current standard, down, can claim this. Also, they seem to be at least half the weight of a comparable down bag (but they compress to a similar size).

Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research has also announced gloves utilizing a PrimaLoft aerogel technology (called “PrimaLoft Gold Aerogel”) for Fall 2018. We haven’t been able to find much information on these gloves, but they will most likely be unique in their thickness to warmth ratio. Also, from what we can find, it looks like this is a different technology in which the aerogel is encapsulated in a sheet that is not very breathable.

The Future?

We are excited to see how PrimaLoft builds on this technology as well as how our favorite outdoor brands utilize these two different types of aerogel insulation for the apparel industry.

Aerogel Insulation

Outlier Freecotton Button Up

Here at Everyday Wear we are huge fans of Outlier and the clothing they produce — they focus on exactly what we do: better daily clothing. I recently bought a Freecotton Button Up from Outlier (in white). My hope was to have a better white dress shirt from a company I trust.

The shirt is a cotton blend with a DWR treatment and stretch — specifically it is 68% Cotton, 21% Micro-nylon, 11% Elastane.

Comfort

While wearing the shirt it felt significantly more moveable than your standard dress shirt, as the stretch is more than any other shirt I’ve tried. Beyond that, it also doesn’t feel like a synthetic stretch shirt.

While the shirt resists looking dirty (which is a great attribute in a white shirt), it doesn’t breathe nearly as well as a merino button up, nor Bluffworks’ Meridian Dress Shirt (our review. While I moved fine in the shirt, it didn’t feel like a game changer over a standard cotton shirt with regards to breathability. It felt to me like a heavily starched dress shirt, without the itch.

Stink Performance

With this much cotton, there’s almost no winning. I get no longevity out of this shirt over a standard cotton shirt. I’ve only every managed two days of wear out of the shirt before the arm pits started to stink, and I was wearing an undershirt each time.

While my undershirts tend to have a slight smell at the end of the day, that goes away by the next day. With the Freecotton, any smell builds with each wear.

Issues

Here’s the biggest issue this shirt faces: it’s is mostly cotton but doesn’t quite look like it has cotton in it. There’s a distinct rigidity to the shirt, and a complete lack of a smooth pressed look. It’s not a casual looking shirt, so the inability for it to look pressed or even well ironed was a major issue for me.

Close up picture of the shirt after being washed and ironed. Doesn’t quite ever look smooth, and you can tell.

Resulting In…

I returned this shirt after having it for only a short period of time. It’s no doubt better than a standard cotton shirt to wear, but it doesn’t look quite right and that drove me nuts. Add to all of that the price of $165, and I have a hard time justifying, let alone recommending this shirt for anyone.

Outlier Freecotton Button Up

Pistol Lake One-Bag Henley

You may have gathered by now that we are fans of the Pistol Lake Eudae fabric. The two pieces we’ve previously reviewed (the Minimalist Performance Tee and Raglan) are both made with the Lightweight Eudae. The One-Bag Henley is made with Midweight Eudae (76% polyester, 19% Tencel, and 5% spandex).

Fabric


The Midweight Eudae is about twice as thick as the Lightweight. While not a heavy thermal shirt, this shirt is much more substantial than the Minimalist Performance line of shirts. I wouldn’t want to wear this shirt in the summer, but it would certainly be a top pick for any other season. As someone who gets hot during workouts, I could see this being a good shirt for hiking in the colder seasons, but would not want to wear it to the gym. Just like the other Eudae shirts, I can get quite a few wears before it needs to be washed. If I am getting sweaty, I can get about four wears, if it’s just normal wear, I can get about a week. This is better than I get with standard cotton or polyester, but not as good as merino.

Fit and Finish

As I’ve come to expect from Pistol Lake, this shirt fits me perfectly. It looks tailored with an athletic fit but is not too tight. The shirt length is also perfect, just a little longer than the usual. The raglan sleeves (meaning the sleeve extends in one piece to the collar, leaving just one diagonal seam under the arm) make for an extra comfortable shirt. These sleeves, along with the flatlock seams and odor resistance make this shirt live up to its “one-bag” name.

The only finish issue I’ve noticed is the bottom of the button placket was sewn slightly crooked — not something that is easily noticeable, but something I picked up on. I brought this to the attention of Pistol Lake, and as they are currently sewing a new batch, they will make sure to pay attention so no more go out like that. This, of course, is something that would be covered under their return policy.

Overall

The One-Bag Henley has taken a top spot in my wardrobe as a “nice casual” shirt — a step up from a long sleeve tee. It looks just like a nice cotton henley while performing better. While currently out of stock in almost all colors and sizes, this shirt should be back around the beginning of March.

Pistol Lake One-Bag Henley

Bluffworks Gramercy Pants

The Gramercy Pants are Bluffworks’ answer for a performance dress pant. The Gramercy line also includes a blazer, which we have reviewed. Made out of matching fabric, these pants share many of the same travel ready attributes. Being dress pants, these pair better with a jacket for a business event than something like an Outlier pant, which tend to look more casual.

Fabric


The fabric is 100% polyester but doesn’t look it. From afar, it looks like a nice textured wool fabric. It’s only when you get close that you realize something is a little different about the fabric (there is just a slight sheen). There also was no “swishing” sound with these pants, something that gives away many performance pants.

The fabric is not advertised as having any stretch. However, I never felt uncomfortable traveling wearing these, even without them having stretch.

The wrinkle resistance of this fabric seems above average. I did not notice any wrinkles from wear that didn’t drop out overnight. However, when I received the pants, there were a couple wrinkles. Bluffworks customer service provided special washing instructions (wash hot rather than cold for normal care) to remove the wrinkles, and that took care of them.

As far as these pants looking good as a suit with the Blazer, I question that after seeing the pants (I have not seen them together, however).

Comfort

I’ve worn these pants for a day of air travel as well as meetings and they were comfortable. Without much stretch, they weren’t as comfortable as my Outlier pants, but they were more comfortable than my traditional polyester dress pants.

I did have some issues with static on these pants, to the point where they were sticking to my calves and not dropping down after standing up. It is the toughest time of year for static (cold, dry, and windy), but I haven’t experienced this with my Outlier pants. Searching for solutions, I moistened my hands and ran them on the fabric where it was staticky — problem solved until I went back outside.

Extra Pockets

Some extra “travel” features these pants include are pocket zippers, a hidden pocket, and what Bluffworks calls a “security loop”.


Both front pockets have a zipper compartment (hidden about 1” in from the edge of the pocket). These are big enough for a passport, and I could see using them for that purpose. I found these zippers to be slightly annoying (they have a pretty large pull), and I made sure not to run my phone screen across them. If I were to make adjustments to the pants, I would have this zipper in only the left pocket and use a less obtrusive pull.

The right front pocket also has a “security loop”, which I guess you could clip your keys to, but I found it annoying, as my phone kept getting caught when trying to pocket it.


The left back pocket is completely closed by a zipper while the right back pocket is open.

Right below the belt line, slightly to the right of the right back pocket, there is a small unzipped pocket. I think the idea is to stow a phone, but I found it uncomfortable (but my iPhone X did fit).

Overall

The Bluffworks Gramercy Pants are worth checking out if you are looking for performance dress pants that look (mostly) like wool. I purchased these on sale for $125, but I think they are still a good value at $140. While not perfect, I have not been able to find better performance dress pants.

Bluffworks Gramercy Pants