Coalatree Trailhead Shorts

Coalatree designs eco-friendly clothing that is designed to wear from the mountains to the city. I remember seeing their Trailhead Pants on Kickstarter, but didn’t love the loose ties at the bottom of the legs. When I saw their Trailhead Shorts for a great price on Huckberry, I decided to give them a try.

Material

These shorts are made from a ripstop nylon 4-way stretch blend with a DWR coating (88% bluesign nylon/12% spandex). The outer face of the fabric shows a prominent grid pattern (characteristic of the ripstop nylon) while the inner face has a soft weave and is borderline fuzzy.

This gives the shorts quite a bit of weight and makes the fabric quite thick. While I don’t feel like the weight hurts the warm weather wearability, I think it would put the pants into a cooler weather category for me. As far as the stretch is concerned, these are by far the stretchiest shorts I own.

Fit & Style

At an 8.5” length, I think Coalatree nailed the length, at least for me. I find them short enough that they don’t get in the way during active pursuits, but long enough that they are my style for wearing in other situations. Additionally, the weight of the fabric gives them a better than average drape for performance shorts.

Unfortunately, the grid pattern gives these shorts away as performance apparel, and for me makes them solidly in the casual wear category. They look better than my Patagonia Baggies Longs (our review), but other than those, these are my most casual shorts.

That brings me to what I see as some confusion over what the shorts want to be — they have elastic, an external draw string, belt loops, and a false-fly. The false-fly helps step up the looks a little bit when wearing with an untucked shirt. For me the wide elastic band does a great job keeping the shorts up (and is very comfortable), making the belt loops and external draw string unnecessary. If I were to redesign the shorts, I’d put the draw string inside the waist band and get rid of the belt loops.

Performance

These shorts perform excellently for active and everyday wear. The high level of 4-way stretch combined with the gusseted crotch keeps these moving with your body in any way you manage to stretch them. The DWR does a great job keeping them dry in a drizzle, which is needed since the thicker fabric doesn’t dry instantly.

As far as pockets go on this type of shorts, Coalatree did a nice job. The front pockets are designed appropriately so your phone doesn’t try to fall over on its’ side (a problem I have with the Baggies pockets). The two rear pockets are a nice touch as well, with the right rear pocket having velcro on the closure. There is also a small pocket inside the front of the shorts sized for a key.

These are also packable into the right front pocket. I don’t find this necessary, as they pack better folded or rolled. This doesn’t detract from the shorts, however, as there are no extra closures or anything needed to add this feature.

Lastly, Coalatree claims these shorts are anti-microbial, but doesn’t indicate any special treatment. In my testing, I found them to perform the same as my other nylon shorts odor-wise.

Overall

Overall, these are nice casual shorts. They have taken over my Baggies as my favorite casual shorts, and I like that they go easily from casual to active activities.

If you are looking for an active short that looks decent enough to wear into town, these are worth a look and I’d certainly recommend them over Baggies.

You can pick them up from Huckberry or directly from Coalatree (Men’s, Women’s).

Coalatree Trailhead Shorts

Proper Cloth Performance Shirt

The market for men’s button down shirts seems split on what ‘performance’ means. To some companies it means stuff it in a suitcase and wear it anywhere. To others it means building a shirt that is quietly more comfortable to wear. Proper Cloth seems to be in the latter camp. Their big claim to fame, if you will, is making fully custom sizing for their shirts.

I decided to take one of their more ‘standard’ sized shirts for a spin, and it’s quite interesting.

Material

First, Proper Cloth has many shirt materials ranging from standard to ‘performance’. And then when you get to performance there are many varieties which makes this review tricky. The shirt I ordered is the ‘White Performance Twill’ which is listed as 95% nylon, 5% Spandex. You can find it directly here.

This material is not like any other I have encountered. It has no sheen or noise to it. It is incredibly thin, to the point where it is opaque at times. It is very smooth and crisp looking. It looks like a really nice cotton dress shirt, but feels like not cotton. The stretch is solid, but not earth shattering — it’s enough to be comfortable but not enough to be the type of shirt you feel you could do anything in.

Fit and Style

Ok, so style with these shirts is basically whatever you want it to be — to your hearts content. There’s a ton of options for the collar, cuffs, front yoke, and on and on. So style is always going to be exactly what you want.

Fit is where Proper Cloth looks to own the market, and I am impressed. I decided to take a lazy approach, and what I mean is that instead of sending in all my measurements I went with a ‘standard size’ which is nothing like most standard sizing. The reason I did this is because this is likely how most of you will buy these shirts, and my measurements were also close to their standard sizing.

I went with — Standard Size: 16.5 Collar, 35.5 Sleeve, Slim Fit. That nets out to:

  • Collar Circumference 16.50
  • Sleeve Length 35.50
  • Chest Width 24.50
  • Midsection Width 22.00
  • Shoulder Width 18.00
  • Shirt Length 32.00
  • Sleeve Width 9.25
  • Cuff Circumference 9.00
  • Bottom Width 23.50
  • Watch Allowance None
  • Shoulder Slope Normal
  • Forearm One Pleat
  • Shoulder/Armpit Full
  • Rear Pleats None
  • Back Darts None
  • Posture Normal (default)
  • Top Button Standard
  • Buttons on Front 8

So yeah, they have some detail on these shirts. When you get the shirt, it has very good info on how to send it back if the fit is not perfect. For me, the fit was surprisingly exactly how I wanted it to fit. It’s by far my best fitting shirt — if I had to change one thing I would add watch allowance to the cuff, but I didn’t realize that was an option until long after I had the shirt. Not a big deal.

Performance

This shirt is an odd duck for performance. It doesn’t do anything for odor resistance (wear once and wash it), but resists stink better than Ministry’s Aero shirts I normally wear. But this shirt is also wrinkle prone — more so than a cotton no-iron style shirt. You need to iron this shirt before wearing it, and then it stays smooth relatively well. Out of the wash, or after folding it, the shirt is a mess for wrinkles,which is odd for a performance shirt. That said, there’s more to this shirt.

For starters it is really comfortable. It dries very fast. The collar is excellent. But more than that the entire shirt moves and breathes very well. In the heat of Houston’s summer, it is easily the most comfortable dress shirt I own for that heat.

Where it falls down a bit is on the opacity, because I have to wear an undershirt to keep from my nipples showing through the shirt. I suspect a non-white color would remove that concern. The reason I chose white was simply because it’s not often a choice with the shirts I review, so I wanted to see if I could find something that would be a good shirt to wear with a suit.

Overall

This is easily the best white dress shirt I have found, and the best overall dress shirt if you want to take your wardrobe to the top end of business casual or wear something with a suit. I wear the shirt often, but I would wear it all the time if I had chosen non-white. The good news for me, I guess, is that I will be buying another one in a different color and style.

The thing about Proper Cloth is that they know the key to looking really good: tailoring. But tailoring has historically been a pain to do, and costly for most people. Here, you just need to buy a cloth measuring tape and you can get a perfectly fit shirt. It’s just icing on the cake that they make really nice performance fabrics too.

Recommended.

Proper Cloth Performance Shirt

Ministry of Supply Velocity Dress Pants

I’ve been wanting to try the Ministry of Supply Kinetic Dress Pants for a while now, but when I went to get a pair to try, I saw these new Velocity Dress Pants, and I decided to give them a go instead. They quickly became a go to part of my work wardrobe, so let me explain why.

Material

These are a very soft, stretchy, and thin pair of pants made up of: 61% polyester, 33% viscose, and 6% spandex. I’d swear there was more spandex in them than that just given how they feel — and I do believe it is 4-way stretch, if it isn’t I would be blown away. Additionally, Ministry notes that it has a curved back yoke to add in comfort.

The material itself is soft, with no sheen, and no noise at all. They are smooth, so if you think about a pair of athletic warm up pants, and take away the sheen and add stretch, that’s basically what these feel like. I’ve found that the drape is acceptable, which is was a pleasant surprise.

Fit & Style

I purchased the regular cut in these, and found them to be very slim — about as slim as I would want. The stretch means that you don’t want to order or wear a pair which is too large in any way. I wish these did odd sizing, but as it is the pair I got are comfortable all day long.

Overall, I think the pants look sharp. They don’t quite stealth pass for say wool trousers, but they won’t give the vast majority of people a second thought. The heathered pattern looks nice as well.

Silly double pocket.
Silly double pocket.

The only issue with the style is that the left front pocket has two pockets, neither of which close. The rear of the two pockets is shallow and small, great for keys or a pocket knife. The front pocket is the standard front pocket. This causes an issue with the pockets looking a little weird on the left side, and is super annoying when you try to grab something out of the front pocket. I always stick my hand in the wrong pocket.

Performance

These pants are marketed to really perform well in two aspects: stretch and breathability. They knock both out of the ball park. They are the most comfortable pants I own, and that’s across any category. When I wrote my Outlier OG Climbers review I really wished I could wear those into an office, well the Velocity Pants are just as comfortable and work in an office.

Living in Houston breathable pants are a huge concern of mine, and these pants are plenty cool. Add to that the movement of them, and they are comfortable to wear all day long.

Lastly, I got stuck in an absolute monsoon of a downpour one day, wearing these pants, and I had to walk to the bus. When I got the the bus, they were soaked, but the time I got to my car, 45 minutes later, they were mostly dry. And by the time I got home, they looked like this:

Durability Concerns

If I have one concern with these pants it is the durability — I don’t think they are very durable. I haven’t had them long enough to know for sure, but I don’t think they will last me much more than a year. There’s two issues springing up:

  1. Snags. In more than a few spots I can see some snags on the material. Hopefully that’s a limited thing, but given how new these are, that’s not acceptable.
  2. Fuzziness. Across my lap, where my seatbelt rides, the pants are starting to look a little fuzzy. Now, I don’t notice this when looking at the pants at any other angle than simply looking down at them from the vantage point of me wearing the pants. Again, this really isn’t acceptable given the high price tag.

I wish these pants were more durable, but I fear that to do so they would be far less comfortable.

Snags like this all over.
Snags like this all over.

Fuzzy from seatbelts.
Fuzzy from seatbelts.

Overall

If you can’t tell, I love wearing these pants. They are very comfortable no matter what I am doing. The downside is the high price tag and the lack of durability I am seeing with this pair. But there’s one more downside: they never look as crisp and sharp as my Outlier Futureworks.

For now, I’ll keep wearing them because I have them already, but I wouldn’t spend my money on them again until they fix the durability. The Futureworks are almost as comfortable, far more durable, and less expensive at $148 vs $185.

Ministry of Supply Velocity Dress Pants

Faherty Brand Malibu Short

In searching for some summer pieces which differ from what we normally cover, I came across Faherty Brand. They use a lot more traditional fibers than we usually see, but their Malibu Short, is something different and interesting to try for the summer.

Material

These shorts are made from a 55% linen/45% cotton blend that is specially washed for softness and over-dyed.

When they claim a “soft, lived-in feel”, they are not kidding. These were extremely soft right out of the package. Not only are they soft, but they have a great linen texture and airiness.

I ended up going with the Light Blue for something different, and the over-dye gives the shorts a really nice, casual, summer look.

Fit & Style

The fit was great for me. With a 9” inseam, they are neither too short or long and fall just above the knee.

Without stretch, I was a bit concerned how comfortably the shorts would move, but the cut takes care of it. They fit loose enough to move with you and stay airy, but still look presentable for dinner.

Performance

Being used to my Outlier New Way Longs (our review), I wasn’t sure how I was going to like these shorts performance wise. After my first day of wearing them in the heat, I was sold. The seem to have enough linen content to keep the weave of the fabric nice, light and airy. I wore them for an outside dinner on one of the hottest nights of the summer and I remained very comfortable.

In comparison to my New Ways (100% synthetic), these were more breathable, but the cotton content made them feel a little moist. For me, the tradeoff here is worth it for the hottest weather in a situation where I am not active and sweating a lot.

When it comes to wrinkles, despite the high linen content, they only wrinkled slightly more than a standard cotton chino short. The wrinkles that were there were natural wrinkles from sitting in the shorts, rather than the inevitable linen wrinkle.

Overall

Overall, these shorts are good looking casual shorts that can easily transition to dinner. They are very breathable and airy due to the linen content, but the cotton blend keeps them from wrinkling just from looking at them.

If I could only have one short, I would still pick the New Ways, but these are an excellent contender if you are looking for something a little less expensive, made from natural fibers, and/or something you don’t need as much durability from. However, these will certainly remain in my summer wardrobe.

You can pick them up from Faherty Brand or Huckberry.

Faherty Brand Malibu Short

Livsn Flex Canvas Pants v2

Livsn Designs gave me a chance to take a look at the first version of their Flex Canvas Pants as a preview for the v2 they are launching on Kickstarter. These pants are marketed as slim outdoor pants with a style to make them wearable everyday.

My favorite part about these pants is the Eco-Flex fabric (58% organic cotton, 40% recycled polyester, 2% spandex, C6 DWR). It has a great natural canvas weave that is fairly open, allowing it to breath better than I’d expect for the weight (248 gsm). Combined with the mesh pockets/lining fabric, wearing these pants in hot weather was fairly comfortable. The spandex content gives the fabric more stretch than you’d expect (in a horizontal direction only) and when combined with the darting and gusset makes these pants move with your body very well.

Style wise, these are great for outdoor pants. I wouldn’t wear them in a business casual setting, but I think they could pass for any other need. With the durable fabric, I think these will be great weekend work pants that will hold up to some abuse while still looking good for the rest of the day. I also love the color, it’s almost a dark khaki/brown. I usually don’t love pants in that color family, but I think this color is really sharp and looks equally good with a black or white tee (three other colors are also available).

The biggest adjustments to v1 pants I received vs. the v2 are fit adjustments (1/2″ lower front rise, 1/2″ higher rear rise, 1/4″ ease added to upper thighs and hips, and adjustment of the waist so they fit true to size). These fit adjustments are welcome, as I found a size 34 to fit me well except for the thighs being too tight, while the 36 was a little big in the waist and seat (fine with a belt though).

The Kickstarter is open until August 9. Look for a full review once they are launched.

If you missed the Kickstarter, you can still pre-order on the Livsn website.

Livsn Flex Canvas Pants v2