Prometheus Design Werx makes outdoor clothing, tools, soft goods, etc. and often makes their clothing in small runs with various fabrics.
Ben pointed the DRB Woodsman Shirt in Merino Red-Black-Gray Plaid out to me when it was on sale this Fall, because it would be way too warm for Texas. I picked it up, and this is a very warm shirt — the warmest I have.
Let’s dive right in.
The shirt is made from 18% 14 oz. Australian Merino Wool Melton/15% nylon. The cuffs and back of the collar are lined with 100% “Fine Brushed Poly Twill”.
In researching what Melton Wool actually is, I found that is often used in naval garments like CPO shirts and peacoat. It is also referred to as the equivalent of selvedge to denim or shell cordovan to leather. This is because it is a very dense woven and robust wool fabric, imparting both wind and water resistant properties.
In practice, this fabric is surprisingly wind resistant and does a nice job beading up a light snow or rain.
PDW mentions that their Melton is softer than typical Melton. While I’m not sure I’ve handled a Melton peacoat, this fabric is still stiff, but is somewhat softer than what I’d expect from a peacoat.
This fabric does put it firmly into the shirt jacket category. I’m not one to think wool feels rough against my skin, but wearing the shirt with just a t-shirt, it is uncomfortable against my arms.
As far as the weight, this is heavy. I thought my Patagonia wool shirt was heavy at 6.9 oz., the 14 oz. weight here is downright burley.
Fit & Style
PDW describes this shirt perfectly:
This is like your grandfather’s favorite outdoor shirt he wore to the cabin, or what your father threw on after an early morning session at his favorite break, but better. A modern regular fit for comfort and freedom of movement.
I don’t think I can do better than that. It’s fit like a shirt jacket (so plenty of room throughout the body, sleeves, and cuffs for layering shirts, sweaters, or hoodies), yet its designed well enough that it doesn’t look ridiculous over a long-sleeve tee or thermal.
The large chest pockets look a little out of place in the product photos, but I don’t think they look bad in person (they are sized to fit smartphones — my iPhone XS fits, but I’m not sure a bigger phone would). The slotted buttons also add to the rugged look (and the durability of the shirt — no more popped buttons).
This shirt is very interesting. When I first received it in early Fall, I tried it on inside and it made me hot very quickly. Now that it has cooled down, I can wear it unbuttoned inside if I’m feeling chilly, but it’s too warm for all-around inside wear for me. I wore it for socially distanced Halloween night and it kept me warm just sitting around in the high 40s °F with just a long sleeve tee under. In the 30s °F, this shirt still works well as an outer layer, with some warmer base/mid-layers underneath.
The only negative for colder weather performance is the length. Since it is a shirt length, there isn’t too much protection from cold air blowing up from the bottom.
The shirt also features full-length side arm panels (a strip of fabric that runs up the side of the shirt and down the arm) to help improve motion. It seems that this helps a little with the typical lifting of a heavy shirt when you raise your arms.
The double reinforced elbows are also a nice touch. As this is a shirt that is meant to take some abuse, the elbows are often the first place a shirt wears through.
Even though the shirt is listed as dry clean only, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue since its wool and is an outer layer.
The DRB Woodsman shirt is a great example of a classic shirt jacket in a very heavy fabric. While it is currently out of stock, PDW tends to release small batches of their clothing each year, so you might be able to find this shirt or something similar in the future.
If you’re looking for a classic warm wool shirt jacket when this is in stock, its definitely worth consideration, although if you find wool scratchy, it’s not for you.