We ran across this article, and the key point in this article strikes home with the mission we have for Everyday Wear:
The average American purchases a staggering 65 new garments a year, contributing to the 150 billion new pieces of clothing manufactured globally every year. Worse, Americans aren’t keeping their coal-made clothes: They’re throwing away 80 pounds of clothing per person per year, a 100% increase from 20 years ago.
We strive to review and recommend clothes that you will want to keep for a long time.
Another way for a more sustainable clothing industry is repair. Some of the best brands offer to repair their clothes (Patagonia and Arc’teryx). Patagonia even provides guides on how to repair their gear yourself and buys-back, cleans, and resells used gear in their Worn Wear program.
The items in this review were provided for review purposes by Bluffworks.
A few months ago I needed to travel for work, and I needed to wear a suit. All the suits I had were too large, so buying something new was needed. I ended up with a house brand suit from Macy’s which worked well, and while it had travel features (stretch, wrinkle resistance) it wasn’t comfortable for a day of cross-country flying. Shortly thereafter Bluffworks reached out and offered to send me the matching pants for my Gramercy Blazer (review here), thus making it into the Bluffworks Travel Suit.
Steve and I had been debating whether or not this combination would look like a suit (Steve had the pants, I already had the jacket). My wife likes my Gramercy Blazer but felt that it wouldn’t look right as a suit. After getting the pants I have quite a few thoughts on this combination.
My Bluffworks suit is in the Blue Hour colorway, which is a dark navy like color, but has a stronger blue to it than a true navy. The pants and jacket match very well, so there’s little concern to be had with that. The biggest thing I noticed right off the bat is the unstructured nature of the blazer makes the entire suit look more casual.
This is very common in techwear oriented suits, so I was not surprised by this at all. What I was surprised by was how much I did like the look of it overall. It’s not the same look as a suit I would wear in court, or to a wedding, it’s a touch more casual looking than that. But to dress up business casual, it nails the look.
I asked my wife what her thoughts were, and she largely agreed that it doesn’t really look like a typical suit, but it looked far better than she would have guessed. I’ve since worn it a few times and she’s never thought twice about it.
This is where I think this suit excels, as a good way to dress up your look but stay comfortable. This will for sure be my new go to look when traveling for work or to Europe so I’m not a stereotypical American.
This is easily the most comfortable suit I’ve worn. While much of that comfort comes from taking away some aspects of the suit which would make the suit look more like a suit, Bluffworks seems to have made the smart trade offs in comfort versus looks. On a recent business trip (one night, two days) I flew a total of 11 hours and only packed this suit (and a change of shirt) and was comfortable the entire time, whether moving through the airport or on the plane.
Another nicety is that the suit jacket can stay on as you move through TSA Pre-Check, thus reducing the amount of shuffling you have to do at security. Top marks for comfort.
I fell in love with my Gramercy Blazer shortly after getting it, and yet I was highly skeptical of this combination. I knew the pants were good, but the last thing I wanted was to look like I was wearing some sort of denim suit — that’s far from the case. I’m sure many are skeptical as I was about this travel suit combination, but after wearing it many times to various places, I’m sold.
It’s a great combination and I only wish I had grabbed it sooner.
Since I was tent camping, I checked a large duffle with my camping gear. I decided to throw my dress shoes in there to wear more comfortable shoes on the flight. I also packed my hiking boots, base layer, sunscreen, and hat in there. Other than that, the GR1 easily held the rest of what I needed. If this was a business-only trip (or non-tent camping vacation), I could have packed everything in my GR1 (and would have just worn my hiking boots).
Overall I packed almost the perfect amount of clothes. I didn’t end up needing the second pair of Futureworks. The only washing I did during the whole trip was my polo, a pair of socks, and my underwear. The polo and socks took a while to try, but the ExOfficio underwear dried overnight after rolling in a towel. The magic of merino allowed me to get plenty of wear out of both my undershirt and button-up.
This is a look at Polartec’s Power Wool material and less a look at this particular garment from Beyond, however, I will touch a bit on both. I’ve been testing this fabric now for 4 months, using it as a base layer on dozens of cold weather workouts and during other outings.
Polartec’s Power Wool is a merino wool and synthetic fiber blend — like all blends the goal is to gain the odor resistance and moisture wicking from the merino while adding durability and other attributes from the synthetic fibers it is woven with. (CODURA sells a similar variant called ‘Combat Wool’, both find their heritage with the military. This is an 80% nylon, 20% merino blend.) The Power Wool in this garment is 72% Polyester and 28% wool. I’ve had a hard time finding details on what the makeup of Power Wool is, but these LL Bean pants are: 45% nylon, 40% merino, 15% spandex. Stio has a similar base layer and notes it is 70% polyester, 30% merino.
Overall, this is a low merino percentage, as it doesn’t feel like most merino and instead feels quite durable. It seems there’s a lot of variability in the Power Wool line of fabrics.
The garment itself is made to be a base layer and fits close to the skin, so unless you are rather fit or confident, you’ll likely not want to wear it as your only layer out and about. Typically, I layered this under a windbreaker for workouts. There are a few nice design things about this shirt worth noting:
The seams are all flat, so even with my GORUCK on, I never felt the seams bothering me.
The collar comes up rather high and does an excellent job keeping your neck warm. The zipper also has a nice chin guard to keep you comfortable.
The shirt is cut longer in the back which was nice when wearing a backpack. It’s cut short in the front so it doesn’t come down much over your pants.
Overall a very comfortable fit, especially for something that is very fitted.
The primary purpose of this garment is to keep you warm (it’s a thing Beyond is known for), and I bought this for specifically wearing during my workouts in the cold Pacific Northwest winters. I wore only this shirt under a windbreaker in 36° F and rainy weather many times and never felt cold. At the same time, the shirt and fabric do a fantastic job wicking away moisture to regulate my temperature.
When comparing it to something like Outdoor Research’s Sequence shirt that Steve and I like, it’s much warmer. Part of this is the weight of the fabric, which is heavier, and the other part is that it sits against your skin. Both lead to a garment that is very warm. The waffle pattern also helps to trap air and warm your body while pulling away moisture when you start to sweat.
It’s a perfect cold weather warm layer for me.
The big thing on this site, and with Power Wool, was to find out if adding merino really gives any benefit to the garment at all. Materials like polyester or nylon (which ever is used here) are like sponges for odor — and often they end up getting stinky much faster than cotton alone. The goal is that by adding merino, you add in enough odor resistance to make a big difference.
I’m not sure Polartec has succeeded with that here. Comparing this shirt to other merino blends I have, I can expect to get 2-3 wears out of those items before odor is an issue. Even when not wearing this shirt for workouts I can only get 1-2 wears on average before the smell is noticeable enough that I won’t wear it again.
The merino content is too low to do anything but help with temperature regulation. I often found that even after hanging the shirt for two days the odor was still too strong to wear again — which is disappointing. However, when wearing the shirt, it stinks up far slower than a normal all synthetic shirt.
I’m not an overall fan of Power Wool as something I would be looking for in a travel or daily wear garment. It’s a specialized blend that seems geared towards making synthetic garments less stinky and better at wicking. To that end, when compared directly to other synthetic base layers I have, this is far and away better. However, when compared with other merino base layers, it lags far behind.
As a durable base layer, for hiking or hunting, I’d choose this any time — it’s warm and performs well in scenarios where odor is less of a concern. For everyday wear, I would search for something with a higher merino content.
Note: This backpack was provided to us for review by Standard Luggage Co.
Standard Luggage Co. is one of many new Luggage companies that have roots in Kickstarter. Standard is based in Canada and launched in 2015. The Daily Backpack is an 18L convertible bag that is advertised for work and travel. It can be used as a briefcase (side handle), backpack, or messenger bag (with the included strap).
The bag is divided into two compartments. The main compartment opens from a zipper on the back, and there is a much smaller compartment on the front. Additionally, there is a collapsible water bottle pocket, a small zippered slash pocket on the front, and a zippered RFID-blocking pocket on the top. The RFID-blocking pocket is neat, but my passport wallet wouldn’t fit. Keep that in mind if you typically carry more than a passport on its own or a small wallet. The bottom of the back also has a small zippered compartment.
The main compartment has two sleeves on the inside of the back lid (the outside contains a pocket for the backpack straps). These comfortably fit a 15” laptop and an iPad or Kindle. The inside of the main compartment has two pockets at the bottom, about 1/3 the height of the bag, and a mesh zipper pocket. The small pockets are padded and designed for camera lenses; I did not find them useful.
The front compartment has one full width pocket with two half width pockets and two pen loops on the front. The lid has two zippered mesh pockets. You will also find a USB cable in here to connect a battery to the external USB port on the side of the bag. While this is a neat idea and works, I wonder how practical and durable it is. I can see myself snapping a cable off in the external USB port.
The fabric used on the outside of this bag looks nice and seems durable. However, the zippers could use some work. I found them to be stiff and they didn’t seem beefy enough for the bag (especially on the main compartment).
The backpack straps were comfortable enough for the amount you can load into this bag. I did find the combination of the padding on the straps and the padding on the back of the bag to make for a bit of a lumpy back.
Overall, the bag is very padded, giving the bag a rigid structure. Even if it’s not full, it will still have the same exterior dimensions. I imagine this helps with the transition from backpack to messenger bag to a briefcase, but it is not something I typically like in a bag. If you end up loading this with electronics, especially camera gear, this would be a positive feature.
I did not find this bag useful as a general purpose travel briefcase, but I could imagine a few scenarios where this might be an attractive bag.
For a photographer, this bag might do a nice job to carry gear for a small shoot. The overall padded nature of the bag would probably protect camera equipment reasonably well. You would need an insert for the main compartment to hold your camera body, but the two lens pockets and the other pockets of the bag would do a good job holding a large portion of your gear and accessories. The included rain fly is also a nice bonus if the weather is going to be poor.
This bag could also serve you well as a briefcase or work bag if you typically carry a full bag. The structure of the bag makes it more suited to carrying full. When packed only partially full, the bag can feel unbalanced. The structure keeps heavier items from compressing the bag which can throw off the balance.
While this bag looks nice, it is not my favorite bag to carry. The structure makes it hold less than it appears, and I found the back access panel for the main compartment to be awkward to open and use. The backpack straps are nice enough, but I mainly carried it as a messenger bag/briefcase. Due to the shape and structure, I think it is best suited as a briefcase. For the price, I think it could make a pretty good camera/tech bag, but I think there are better options out there for a simple briefcase or everyday work backpack.
I still feel I can slim down some of the gear I take, especially with toiletries. As for the clothing, it was a near perfect load out — had I not been meeting with the same person the day I landed and the next day I would have only packed one shirt. The GORUCK Simple Windbreaker made for a great travel layer when I got back and it was frigid and snowy. I’d prefer to have traveled with different pants, but I didn’t want to go to a business meeting in Khaki pants so my Slim Dungarees were the best option I had (according to my wife). Looks like another pair of pants are in my future.
I had been considering a rain jacket in the Outdoor Research Helium family for a while and finally picked up the Helium II during the last Outdoor Research sale. We’ve had some rainy weather recently so I’ve had many occasions to give it a try.
This jacket is made with a 2.5 layer Pertex Shield+. The 2.5 layer means the polyurethane membrane is bonded to the face fabric (30D ripstop nylon) and has a texture printed on the inside to help keep your body oils from clogging the membrane.
The face fabric also has a DWR treatment to help keep it from wetting out (when wetted out, breathability is greatly reduced). The seams are all fully taped and the zippers coated (this does make the zippers a little hard to pull), so the jacket is 100% waterproof.
I’ve had no issues with leakage and have found the jacket to be windproof as well. The lightweight nature and breathability make the jacket very comfortable to wear in any conditions. Since it cuts the wind, it can make a lighter mid- or base-layer feel much warmer than it would without a jacket that breaks the wind.
A Few Missing Features
Since this is an ultralight jacket there are some common features that are missing. The jacket does have a chest pocket to keep your phone or some documents dry, but it does not have any hand pockets. The cuffs are only secured with elastic around half the length of the cuff rather than the usual velcro adjustment.
I don’t find either to be a deal breaker since they help keep the jacket packable, but if you do, the Helium HD adds both in addition to pit zips.
The hood is my favorite part of this jacket. I’ve never liked when hoods block your peripheral vision but never found a jacket that solves that problem while still having the hood work effectively. This jacket finally solves that problem for me. The hood shape allows for an unobstructed field of view. The wide brim contains a semi-rigid plastic piece to keep the rain off your face. While these can get deformed in a packable jacket, I’ve found it easy to stuff the jacket so the brim can curve around the jacket to prevent creases.
Also, a nice touch is the single adjustment toggle on the back of the hood.
I found it to give a great level of fit adjustment without being complicated.
This jacket easily packs into the compact internal pocket. This comes in handy when packing as it allows you to throw it into your bag without much thought. That’s something you’ll never do with an umbrella, so this jacket makes it easy to always have some rain protection handy.
I really like this rain jacket. The hood is the killer feature for me and the jacket performs very well in both wind and rain. Especially when purchased on sale, this jacket performs well above its price point.