Best of 2021


Steve: Parkhurst Brand The Allen boots (British Tan Chromexcel + Wedge Sole) have quickly become my go-to boot for anytime I want to look put together. It’s hard to beat Chromexcel leather for looks and durability, and the wedge sole is pure comfort. These boots, dress down easily with jeans and a tee, but also can look good with Futureworks and a button-up. Another positive is Parkhurst does not use metal shanks, so any of their boots and shoes will be OK to keep on for TSA PreCheck.

Ben: Red Wing Iron Rangers, mine are in Copper Rough and Tough leather, but it’s probably hard to pick a bad color in these. They are not the most luxurious feeling as boot, but they feel indestructible on my foot, and are the only boots I really don’t care about doing whatever in. I know they can handle it, and even though they are very overbuilt, they seem to work well even in less rough settings. You can adjust how casual they are with different leathers, with my Copper Rough and Tough being very casual — yet I still take them into the office. If I can, I will wear these. They are nicely molded to my foot now, and feel like home.


Steve: Western Rise Spectrum Joggers (our review, currently 20% off) are the first pants I always go for in my closet when working from home. They are really comfortable, while looking sharp enough to wear around town. For me, the ankle elastic often ruins joggers, and these don’t have any — they are just tapered.

Ben: Outlier’s Futureworks, now Futureslimworks (our review), remain the best pants out there. I could easily have these be my only pants and only feel restricted by them in the most uncommon of situations. They are that good. They are all I wear about 5 days a week now that I am back in the office, and even with all the other ’performance chinos’ I have tried, nothing sticks like these. I have three pairs, and that’s probably overkill by one pair. So very good. Start with Dark Navy or Charcoal, you won’t regret these.


Steve: Outlier New Ways (our most recent review) remained my favorite short. Comfortable, great in the heat, above average pockets, and sharp looking. Can’t ask for much more.

Ben: Triple Aught Design’s Agent XC Shorts (our review) are my tops for the year. From a style standpoint they are not as good as the Outlier New Ways I love, but from a wearing standpoint they are outstanding. They have all the utility of cargo shorts, with none of the cargo short vibe. The internal pocket organizers, the durability and the extra rear pockets are like a handyman’s dream. I wear these a lot, I can’t wait for them to come back in stock so I can get another pair.


Steve: I found my workouts shifting to the evening, so I often would just throw on a workout t-shirt in the morning, with a button-up over top if needed for warmth or a video call. On the summer weekends, I’d often throw on a merino t-shirt like the CIVIC Merino Tee or the Outdoor Voices Merino Tee.

Ben: My t-shirt wearing this year was in a bit of a death spiral. I barely wore what I had, and my most worn was for sure Outlier’s Ramielust (currently only available in a different cut, our review). Which is a supremely comfortable shirt to wear in the hot and humid weather I live in. It dries insanely fast — but I think Outlier’s t-shirt cuts aren’t working as well for me as they used too. I feel like I am swimming in it. So if forced to pick, that’s my pick, but I am a little underwhelmed by everything in this category lately.


Steve: J.Crew Lightweight Chamois Workshirt. Not going into the office, I maybe wore my Wool&Prince button-ups once or twice this year, so thisbecame my go-to to throw on top of a t-shirt when my office was a bit chilly. I loved it so much, I picked it up (on sale) in a second color.

Ben: Vollebak Equator Shirt, I just got this, but it’s going to be my top pick for 2021. Squeaking in just before the end of the year, this shirt blows my mind. It’s so light and stretchy, with a billion little vents everywhere — the comfort is unreal. But the cut is also outstanding. My wife got me this, and typically she labels the look of very technical shirts as “fine” if they are good enough to wear in public, this one she said “wow that looks great”. When I asked if I should get another, she replied “maybe, but that’s the only color they had in stock when I bought you that” — so yeah. This is a supremely good shirt, and the only shirt that comes close is the Planet Earth from Vollebak which wears a little warmer. (My most worn though is by far Wool&Prince buttons downs, because I do work in an office most days.)


Steve: The Ventrix Jacket from The North Face (our review) has remained the first jacket I grab out of my closet. It breathes well and works for a wide variety of temperatures and situations. I’ve also recently started layering the Western Rise AirLoft Vest (our review) underneath when I need some extra warmth.

Ben: I am very torn between my Alex Mill ’Mill Blazer’ (our review) and my Rogue Territory Ridgeline Supply Jacket (our review), but I think I’ll go Rogue Territory here. Mostly because if there is no other style consideration needing to be given, then I would pick the Rogue jacket every single time. It’s an amazing jacket, wears warmer than its thin nature would have you think, and looks darn cool. It still looks brand new to me, and I think I like it more now than the day I got it. It’s expensive, but I really do love it.


Steve: Still wearing my Darn Tough merino socks in various styles and colors. I keep hearing I need to try out Farm to Feet, but haven’t needed any new socks recently.

Ben: Farm to Feet Damascus 3/4 Crew — holy cow I love these. These are great socks — super comfortable and have proven very durable. I like that they are a lighter weight in most spots, but then you get extra cushioning in targeted areas. Especially at the top of your foot, which is a great area to have nice padding when you wear boots. They are very expensive and I don’t own but a few pairs, but I will slowly be replacing all my socks with these. They strike a perfect balance of working well in boots, while also being thin enough not to overheat my feet.


Steve: Mack Weldon 18-Hour Jersey Boxer Brief were a surprise when I gave them a try. While I still have some Duluth Trading and ExOfficio pairs for when I need the most performant underwear, I wear these most days. They are super comfortable, and work well enough for a normal workout.

Ben: Wool&Prince Boxer Briefs are the kind for me. I switched completely to these this year and while they are pricey they are exactly what I want. I find them very comfortable and performant — great at wicking moisture. I found some that came close to dethroning these (SAXX Quest 2.0), but ultimately I found these to be far more comfortable day to day.

Workout Clothes

Steve: My workout clothes are quite a mashup of various shorts and tees I’ve picked-up over the years. I don’t have any winning shorts, but I do really love my Patagonia R1 Pullover as a layer for any outdoors exercise (it often finds wear around the house as well). I also recently purchased the Beyond Clothing Todra Crew, and it is looking promising.

Ben: Under Armour’s Tactical UA Tech™ Long Sleeve T-Shirt, I wear these a ton, they cost very little and perform as well as most of my other shirts. They don’t have much sign of wear on them, no obnoxious logos all over them — all around great performers. Even in really warm weather, they do a great job moving moisture and keeping stink down to a reasonably level. They aren’t merino, but they are $30 and really good.

Travel Bags

Steve: While I didn’t get much of an opportunity to travel this year, the GORUCK Kit Bag became an instant favorite. While looking unassuming, the size and shape works really well to pack a lot, while keeping it a manageable size as a shoulder bag. The inside zippered pockets are also a really useful touch. My GR1 also came out for my only flight of the year.

Ben: Filson 48hr Duffle Bag, is my all time favorite travel bag. It hits all the sweet spots for travel. It’s compact, but holds more than it looks like it should. It’s very durable, while not looking durable. I take mine with me every chance I get, and I have never not felt it was a good choice. Though, 2021 didn’t see a robust amount of travel for me.

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Best of 2021