Wool & Prince 100% Merino Wool Polo

Steve recounted all of the polos he’s tried, in an effort to find one which can be worn in place of a standard cotton polo. Before switching to better clothing, a cotton polo was a summertime staple of mine, and something I had been greatly missing. Not so much that I wanted to wear cotton shirts again, but enough that I knew I needed to find something this summer.

Unlike Steve, I got lucky with my first try, the Wool & Prince 100% Merino Polo.

Fabric

This polo is made from 100% 17.5 micron merino wool, and comes in at 205 gsm. In hand it feels sublime. It’s very soft, like a well worn and loved cotton t-shirt. This does lend to a bit of a fuzziness with the fabric after washing it, but once the shirt dries you tend not to notice it. The only slight against this shirt is that some might find the shirt a little casual even though the styling is like a traditional polo. The drape of the shirt is on par with a t-shirt, which is right where I want it to be on this type of a polo.

Collar and Buttons

With any polo shirt, the collar and front buttons will make or break the look. Buttons that are too big, too flashy, or non-standard will ruin the shirt. Likewise, too many buttons, or buttons too spread a part, will hinder the wearability of the shirt. And the collar, oh the collar.
There are two types of collars: messy collars and crisp collars.

This Wool & Prince shirt checks both the boxes here. The buttons are subtle, limited to just two, and can be worn more casually with all of them unbuttoned, or made a little crisper with just the bottom of the two buttons secured. They are gray, and blend seamlessly with the shirting — nothing to see here, just as it should be.

As you may have noted, the biggest issue with most of the polos we have been trying is that the collars tend to not stay put, and much prefer to laugh across your collar bone giving a very unkempt look. Wool & Prince specifically addresses this in their description, that the collar should stand tall and be crisp. Out of the box, before washing and over the first five wears, this could not have been more impressive. The collar stayed put, and looked sharp.

After washing the first time and hang drying with the shirt buttoned up, the collar was notably less stiff. However, it still stays in place and I had no further issues, even across many wears. After the third wash, I was in a rush and did not button the collar, this lead to the left side of the collar having a bit of a rolled effect, but still never laid flat.

After the fourth and fifth washes, the shirt still maintains poise with the collar as long as you pay attention to how the collar dries. It is comparable to almost all the cotton polo shirts I am used to: get the collar how you want it when it is drying and that’s how it will be until you wash it again. I have no complaints at all about the collar, as it should be.

Weight

The biggest issue I have with this shirt is the weight of the fabric itself. At 205 gsm, it is very heavy. It is heavier than the OUTLIER Ultrafine T-Shirt, which is already among the heavier wool shirts I’ve worn. If you move to the nylon blend polo from Wool & Prince it drops the weight down to 160 gsm, which is a much better warm weather weight.

Weight of the fabric aside, wearing this shirt in warm weather was a bit of a mixed bag. Going through the drier heat in San Jose with mid-70s weather, I had no issues. Here at home in the Pacific Northwest, in the 80°F range, I’ve found the shirt to be warm, but not uncomfortably so. Much above 80°F in low humidity and it gets warm.

In Boston, with humid air, and warm upper 70s weather, it was warm. Even though the shirt dries fast, I found that most of the time the arm pits were rather wet on the shirt, though not noticeably so when looking at me. At this weight, it’s not likely you will be able to tolerate the shirt much above 80°F in any type of climate.

Overall

I really love this shirt. It’s just as comfortable as wearing a t-shirt, but with a less casual look. I average five wears of the shirt, even in warm climates — which means it was the only short sleeved shirt I really needed to pack for the two trips I took it on. However, because of the weight, instead of buying another 100% merino polo, I’ll be looking to get the blended polo to reduce the weight of the shirt, at the expense of odor resistance.

Wool & Prince 100% Merino Wool Polo

The Search for Polos

With all the performance clothing we’ve reviewed here, one would think that there would be at least a few good polos (or short sleeve button-ups) available. With today being the first day of summer, we’ve been searching for the best performance polos that can be taken from casual to business casual and have not had as much luck as we expected.

I’ve already reviewed the Ministry of Supply Apollo 3 Polo, but we have still been on the hunt for the perfect summer collared shirt. I’ve recently ordered (and returned) the Arcteryx A2B Short Sleeve Polo, Triple Aught Design Caliber Polo, and RYU Tech Polo.

The Arcteryx A2B Polo is made from a very thin Polylain fabric (50/50 merino/polyester). This would be a great fabric for the hottest days of summer, but Arcteryx ruined the shirt with a weird, semi-shiny and nylon-y, button placket and collar. While the shape and structure of the collar were decent, the material made it stand out from the rest of the shirt. Combined with the lines of sewing to imitate buttons and the same fabric of the placket, this shirt doesn’t blend into your everyday wardrobe. If you decide the style is what you are looking for, the sizing is very large, and you probably want to size down from the chart.

The Triple Aught Design Caliber Polo is made from Polartec Power Dry (100% polyester) with a Polygiene odor control treatment. The fit and collar on this polo were great, the fabric and the webbing attached slot buttons just made it very casual. If that’s what you are looking for, this might be the performance polo for you.

The RYU Tech Polo is made from a four-way stretch fabric called TecLayr (96% polyester, 4% spandex) with a Polygiene odor control treatment. While this material and the fit seemed great, again the collar and button placket were the issue. In this shirt, they are made from a very thin, weirdly stiff (almost like plastic), nylon-y material that gave that technical sheen. The collar also didn’t lay right — it was stiff and floppy at the same time, if that makes any sense.

Hopefully this helps if you are searching for a summer collared shirt. If you have any suggestions or ideas, feel free to reach out. In the meantime, Ben has been trying out the Wool & Prince 100% Merino Polo and will share his thoughts in a full review soon.

The Search for Polos

Ben’s Packing Listing: Wedding in Boston

Trip Details: A 3 day, 2 night trip to Boston for a wedding, which required extra shoes and a suit.

Packing List

Notes

I really wanted to pack this all in one bag, but I ran into serious problems doing this with needing an extra pair of shoes. My dress shoes were not comfortable enough for the activities we had planned, so I couldn’t wear only them. While I could get all of this to fit in my 34L GORUCK GR2, doing so meant that the bag could not fit at my feet. This meant that I would have to do the dreaded overhead space battle with my fellow travelers, and given that my wife was checking a bag already, I opted to do so as well.

However, this created a new problem, as you can see the roller bag was mostly empty. So I packed more than I knew I would need, simply to help fill out the bag more so gear didn’t constantly move around in it. It wasn’t too bad, but I need to think on how better to tackle this in the future. Flying with just a 10L Bullet is magic though, as it will fit on its edge under the seat in front of you, providing tons of legroom. It’s a fantastic travel bag.

Ben’s Packing Listing: Wedding in Boston

Steve’s One Bag Journey

My journey becoming a one bagger started in 2015 with an eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible, moved onto an Osprey Farpoint 40 in 2016, and has brought me to my Mystery Ranch Urban Assault and GORUCK GR1 26L.

Motivation

I was traveling with the typical backpack or messenger bag and a roller suitcase. As I started to travel more for work, I realized this setup was making my life more difficult while traveling. It seemed like 2015 was the year when one bag travel was becoming popular, so I was able to get some advice and give it a try.

The Journey

I started traveling with a set of cotton clothing for each day, a pair of sneakers, and too many electronics. All together, this made for a stuffed and heavy backpack or a full sized roller bag. Whether I packed all this into my eBags backpack or a roller bag, it ended up getting gate checked (or checked to my final destination) on any small plane and many full flights. It only took a few trips before I got very tired of all this and got motivated to slim down on my packing.

To start packing lighter, I started to move to synthetic underwear and polos. While this didn’t allow me to pack less clothes, it helped my clothes pack smaller and better fit into my bag. After packing like this for a while, I decided it was time for a better bag.

The Osprey backpack, while not much smaller, was easier to fit under the seat while flying. Once I experienced flying without fighting for overhead bin space, I was sold.

The next phase of my journey consisted of beginning to explore better technical clothing that I could wear for multiple days. That search brought me to Wool & Prince Button-Downs (our review) and OUTLIER Futureworks pants. These two items are still part of my wardrobe and come along on almost every trip. The Wool & Prince shirts are almost magical in how many times they can be worn without needing a wash. The next key acquisition was Darn Tough socks and a merino undershirt, further reducing my clothing load.

At this point I had shirt and pants, socks, and an undershirt that gave multiple wears. I tried to find underwear that could last for multiple days, so I just wash my underwear in the sink. Finally, I decided to leave the pair of sneakers at home and just do bodyweight exercise in my hotel or walking for exercise. If I had one tip for one bagging, it would be to leave the extra shoes at home — you’ll be amazed at how much space you save.

It was at about this time that Ben and I decided to start Everyday Wear. Through trying out pieces and reviewing them for the site, I’ve found some other great pieces for my travel wardrobe, including the Bluffworks Gramercy Pants (our review) and the Wool & Prince Blazer (our review).

Conclusion

It is a journey to become a one bagger, and even a longer one to get to the point where you can pack in a fairly small backpack. If you are new to one bagging and are intimidated by packing lists you see, you can rest assured that it wasn’t a quick journey for that person to gain the wardrobe and confidence to pack lightly. We are also here to help with our reviews, guides, and packing lists.

Steve’s One Bag Journey

Steve’s Packing List: Beginning of June 2018

Trip Details: Three night, four day trip by air and car for business meetings.

Packing List

GORUCK GR1 26L:

I wore:

Notes and Considerations

I packed the perfect amount of clothes for this trip. While I could have worn one Wool & Prince shirt the whole time, I wanted to have two to be able to alternate. I did notice a hole in the armpit of my UnderFit shirt (and I have only washed cold and hung to dry), so a bit disappointed at that. The Wool & Prince Blazer was folded and put in my backpack for travel and came out crease and wrinkle free.

Steve’s Packing List: Beginning of June 2018

Ministry of Supply Apollo 3 Polo

Ministry of Supply is one of the older techwear brands and they’ve been developing their own custom fabrics and other apparel technologies for a while now. I’ve had their Apollo 3 Polo for a year and while I still wear it, it doesn’t check all the boxes.

Fabric

The Apollo 3 Polo is made with Ministry’s custom polyester with phase change material (PCM, used by NASA to help regulate astronauts’ body temperatures). The composition is 57% polyester, 43% PCM-infused polyester. Ministry also claims a “hyperbreathable” and stretch knit.

The fabric has a nice look and feel and has held up well in the wash (machine washed cold and air dried). It is also fairly thick, especially in the yoke, placket, and collar. This makes it tough to hand wash the shirt and have it dry overnight.

Fit and Sizing

The fit of this polo is described as modern (between their slim and standard cuts). I found it to be quite slim, but due to the thickness of the fabric it doesn’t cling to the body. The sizing chart is accurate, so make sure you check that out before choosing a size.

The structured collar always stays upright and sharp, but it doesn’t always look quite right (as in it can make the shirt look less normal and more technical).

Comfort and Performance

The polo is very comfortable. With a close fit, this is not necessarily a given as there is just the right amount of stretch to keep the fabric from binding as you move.

As far as the breathability, I’ve found the shirt to manage moisture better than some other polyester polos I have. It seems to wick sweat away without feeling (or looking) wet.

While Ministry touts the PCM as something special, I have not been able to feel any difference in the temperature regulation of this polo. Maybe it helps keep the thick fabric from being too hot, but that’s about it.

The wrinkle resistance of this shirt is great, it’s always ready to go right out of my bag.

The main area this polo is lacking performance wise for me is in odor resistance. Being polyester with no odor treatment, I can only get one to two wears before the shirt starts to have an odor.

Overall

While this polo isn’t excellent, it is a solid polyester shirt. The unique collar will either make you love or hate the shirt, and the lack of odor resistance is the biggest drawback. I continue to wear this polo, but I am still on the hunt for my perfect polo. Ideally, I am looking for something with a lighter fabric that resists odor (so merino or a synthetic with a good treatment). Look for more polo reviews throughout the summer.

Ministry of Supply Apollo 3 Polo

Allbirds Wool Runners

I’ve resisted Allbirds Wool Runners for a long time, because unlike most other items we talk about on this site, shoes are not really lacking for innovation. It is true that you can still buy heritage leather shoes made in much the same way as they were years ago. It’s true that the materials likely have not changed much on those. But it’s also true that the vast majority of athletic shoes from Nike, Adidas, and New Balance utilize some very complex and technical methods of production and materials. So unlike shirting, shoes are fairly easy to find “something better” in.

However, shoes are also problematic as they represent so much more: they need to support your foot, be comfortable, protect your foot, and offer some mix of a fashion statement. You can just as easily wears a pair of Red Wings as you can a pair of Flyknits with your blue jeans.

However, a year ago I wore out my Nikes (yes I keep only one pair of casual shoes) and needed something new. Since I love merino wool, I felt I owed it to myself to try out the famous Allbirds.

Sizing

The first thing you will notice about Allbirds is that they come only in whole sizes. Allbirds offers a sizing chart to help you select which size you should order. Typically I wear a size 11.5 in something like Nike, and on my first go with the sizer it said to get size 11. This was much too tight and I had to exchange them for size 12. Since then their size chart has changed and now correctly states I should order a size 12, so it seems to sort out the lack of half sizes.

Steve, however, was unable to find a fit that worked for him and ultimately returned his pair (due to either the narrowness of the mid-foot or the arch height/placement). I would say the Allbirds I have are about a half size too large, but not so large that I cannot comfortably wear them. So going into it, you should know that you might not find a size which works for you. Your best bet is to try their online size tool and know that the return policy is solid and fast.

Looks

The thing about these shoes is that they look like slippers. You can see where your toes are. They have an overly wide tongue opening. The laces are very thick and chunky. These are perhaps the most casual shoe I have ever owned, to the point where they feel too casual if you are wearing anything nicer than a t-shirt.

Most of the time we steer clear of commenting on style here, but Allbirds Wool Runners warrant such commentary. They don’t look great. They are too casual. Shoes make statements and the statement these shoes make are: I care more about comfort. Like wearing basketball shorts or sweat pants out and about.

Comfort

This is the pitch with these shoes: “Just the world’s most comfortable shoes, made naturally and designed practically.” It’s important to note how they come about this comfort.

By using thick merino wool, the shoe has all the normal merino properties. It breathes well, dries fast, resists odors (killer feature for a shoe), and in begins to form to your foot. Allbirds combines this with a very cushy and soft sole to make something which really does feel more comfortable than a house slipper.

All of this means that you can wash these in a machine and wear them without socks. I’ve worn and walked in mine for quite a while now (a year) and the one thing I can say is the the comfort hype is real.

The only time I have found these shoes uncomfortable is when driving my manual transmission car, as the heel doesn’t quite have the stiffness needed for certain theatrics of the foot. Lastly, the shoe wears a tad warm, which means your feet will sweat a bit more. However,sweat dissipates quickly because of the merino, so they are very comparable to the Nike Internationalists I used to wear, with the benefit that my feet cool off and dry faster. Simply put: these are absurdly comfortable for most of life.

As a Shoe

At the start of this review I mentioned that shoes play a role in style as much as comfort. I also mentioned that they should support and protect your foot. That’s the area where Allbirds fail.

The soles are simply too slick on wet ground to do much good. While the wool dries fast, you cannot add any water repellency beyond what is naturally there, which makes them doubly bad for wet weather (slippery and wet feet. No thanks). On top of that, they offer less protection for your toes as there is only a bit of wool there. There’s also a lack of foot support such that “running” in wool runners is not a thing you will want to do.

These are wool walkers, and mostly for dry city sidewalks. I would not want to wear them on a nature trail, and I don’t wear them when it rains.

Overall

I’ve struggled with how to summarize these shoes. Because for $95 the value is there, as most Nikes or something else will cost you the same or more. They are just as comfortable as advertised. They don’t look good though, and they are not very versatile from a foot support perspective. There also seems to be backlash against them, here’s Om Malik writing about them:

Talking about San Francisco — man, this city is a cliche wrapped in a punchline and nothing represents it more than the stupid Avocado Toasts and Allbirds shoes.

He goes on to have some harsh words about how Allbirds look, and I cannot disagree with that. I really do not like the way your foot itself telegraphs through the material. The complete lack of rigidity makes for something very comfortable but ugly.

They are light weight, and pack well for travel. But they are not stylish. I know why people love these shoes, because that comfort is hard to ignore especially at this price. They also seem well built and like they will last, as mine still look new.

However, when they wear out I will not be buying another pair. I’ll get some Nikes instead. That said, their Wool Loungers might be my next house slippers.

Allbirds Wool Runners

Wool & Prince Tall Sizes

Wool & Prince offers three size options beyond the standard S-XL fit of their shirts: slim, regular, and tall. Note that slim and tall cannot be combined, it would be amazing if they could. Typically I bought regular XL from Wool & Prince, but after losing weight I needed to size down. In sizing down the shirt sleeves became too short for my arms. (The sleeves in the regular XL were just barely long enough.)

After getting my L-Tall shirt from Wool & Prince and washing it a few times, I wanted to share my thoughts on how that fit is overall. I need a minimum of a 35” sleeve length (measured from center back to end of cuff) and am ideally at about 35.75”, which means I tend to buy 36” sleeves if I have my option of doing so. For Wool & Prince I needed a narrower body but long sleeves, and going by the site I was either looking to get 34-35” sleeve in a Large which typically doesn’t work, or 36.5” in a Large Tall (the XL+Slim combo wasn’t slim enough, and the sleeve measures out to 36.5” on my L-Tall).

The tall fit gives you the same as the regular fit with longer sleeves and a much longer body (by 2”) so after trying it on, I was a little concerned that the sleeves were too long. Essentially when an XL fit me well from Wool & Prince, I had a shirt that I could wear untucked and it looked fine with sleeves that were near spot on. With the Large Tall I now have a shirt with sleeves that are a touch too long but a body length which is only suitably worn tucked in, as it is too long to leave untucked.

Overall, this is the best compromise for my current measurements, but I do wish Wool & Prince made a Tall in the slim fit sizes. Additionally, it would be nice if the tall variant wasn’t as extreme, but I am sure that would be horrible for some set of the customers they have. So when you buy a tall shirt from Wool & Prince, they really do mean tall.

Wool & Prince Tall Sizes