Triple Aught Design Catalyst Field Shirt

I’ve been wanting a better casual insulation layer, but also one that is built to the standards I’ve come to love through the testing we do for this site. Coupled with that, I have been wanting a shirt-jacket, ‘shacket’, as this type of layer. Top on my list was this Catalyst Field Shirt from Triple Aught Design.

I’ve now been testing it for a few weeks and have really put it through its paces. Overall, this has been a great warming layer, but has some strong caveats.

Materials

This jacket is packed with performance materials. The shell of the jacket is 100% nylon at 100 gsm with UPF 50. Triple Aught Design notes this is the same fabric used on their Latitude Field Shirt. Next, the shirt has “Amphibious Cloth” on top of the nylon in high abrasion areas, which here means the tops of the shoulders, and the elbows and forearms. This is the black cloth you see, and is meant to stand up to more abuse.

The insulation itself is Polartec Alpha, which I am going to dive into more in a bit, but for this jacket is fairly light at 50 gsm in weight. Lastly, the jacket is lined with 100% nylon at 95 gsm. Having said all that the jacket feels kind of heavy with a very synthetic drape to it, the insulation is much thinner than you will expect. The outer shell material is soft to the hand and the inner is smooth like silk.

All in all, some of the best performing and durable materials go into making this jacket.

Polartec Alpha versus Polartec Alpha Direct

I’ve previously written about Polartec Alpha Direct here with the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoodie, and this is a slightly older variant, kind of. The difference is that Alpha is made to work between two layers of another material, whereas Alpha Direct is made to work with a shell layer, and go against your skin on the inside.

Alpha itself has a ton of hype around it. You’ll see lots of “designed for special forces”, which seems to be true and it’s true that the military does use this material a lot. It’s an active insulation layer, which means it still warms while wet, and is highly breathable. Alpha also gets mixed reactions from people who put it through its paces. For me, and for casual wear purposes, I’d put it as more breathable than a standard fleece jacket, but not as warm, and not nearly as bulky.

Don’t get an Alpha insulator thinking it will be magic, because it will not live up to that standard. It is, almost always, a better layer to have than a fleece jacket for casual wear.

Fit and Style

As with all Triple Aught Design goods, they take a very distinct style towards tactical, or tacti-cool if you prefer. It certainly has color and design inspiration which has a nod towards military, a nod towards outdoor, with casual looks thrown on top. I like the style of this shirt, and think it wears well, but it will not be for everyone.

The first shirt I was sent was a size medium by mistake, which actually fit, and I replaced with a size L. The M fit really well, with the exception of the sleeves being a touch too short, and there being restriction in arm movements at more extreme angles. The L doesn’t look as good, but is far more comfortable to wear. This shirt is designed to be a relaxed fit, as you expect from a jacket, not like a shirt. Overall I need a size in between the two, but it’s not terrible. So be aware of potentially wanting to go down a size for a more tailored look, especially if your arms are not as freakishly long as mine.

Performance and Use

This is both an outer layer for cool days, and a mid-layer for cold days. It’s not at all water resistant, and in my wear in rain, it tends to soak up the water, but dry quickly. Ideally this is something that breathes well enough and insulates strongly enough, that you can move between indoors and outdoors without having to shed the layer. Something which most people struggle with during the cooler weather months.

Armpit vent.
Armpit vent.

The armpits have two vents under each which are round and mesh in nature to help with breathing in warm areas. I’ve tested this at the beach, in my house, and around town. Wearing it instead of any other layers, as well as something to warm up with in the house. At times I’ve found it to be on the verge of too warm indoors, or in the car. If the sun is hitting you, you warm up fast. At the beach I’ve found that if I stopped moving I could get slightly chilled in it, start moving and everything is good. The wind resistance is decent but nothing to write home about.

What really sets this jacket apart is how comfortable it is to wear, as long as you don’t worry about keeping it buttoned. The front buttons closed with snap buttons, and I’ve found that the minute I start feeling warm, I can slide my hand down the shirt and open the front. This keeps my temp perfect in most situations and buttoning it back up tends to warm me up quickly enough.

The jacket performs very well in every situation I used it in. Something like this will always need layers, but you can push it for short periods of time. This is a far better implementation of Polartec Alpha than the Ascendant jacket for everyday wear.

Nitpicks

Collar is a bit floppy.
Collar is a bit floppy.

There’s a few small issues with this shirt:

  1. The shell material does look to be starting to have very small pilling happening around the cuffs and the neck line. Granted I’ve worn this a lot, but I do worry how it might look after a year.
  2. The jacket has no odor resistance, and thus the arm pits can and do smell after long stretches of wear. It will dissipate overnight but often not enough. I haven’t washed this jacket yet, but instead I spray the arm pits with Lysol and that rids the smell completely and instantly. No ill effects yet to the jacket.
  3. The collar is quite large and floppy. It also cannot be flipped up and buttoned up in place so that it can act as a neck warmer. I would have preferred a smaller and stuffer collar, or this collar with a button enclosure to add warmth in cool climates by making it a neck warmer.

Light pilling around the collar.
Light pilling around the collar.

Heavier pilling on the under side of the forearm near the cuff.
Heavier pilling on the under side of the forearm near the cuff.

These are small nitpicks but I can see them driving some people crazy. I give the shirt a pass on the forearm pilling because I’ve been working on a new stand at my desk which is unfinished wood and is quite rough, that’s exaggerating the pilling in this area of the shirt.

Overall

At $225 this is an expensive shirt, but not overly so for what it is. Most Polartec Alpha costs good money right now, as do most good shirt jackets. I think the biggest caveat is the styling of the jacket, followed by the lack of odor control in the arm pits. That said, I have no regrets getting this, and is likely to be my most worn layer this winter. I’ve been wearing it over just the Huntsman Henley I reviewed and find that to be a great combination.

You can get one here (the color shown here is Tarmac).

Some Other Options

Here are a few of the competing products I considered if you want a shirt jacket like this, but in a different style:

Triple Aught Design Catalyst Field Shirt

Myles Elements Jacket

The item in this review was provided by Myles Apparel at a discount for review.

When I saw the Myles Elements Jacket was made from Polartec NeoShell, I knew I had to give it a try. While I wasn’t looking for a new jacket, I couldn’t pass this one up and ended up very impressed.

Material

The Polartec NeoShell membrane makes this jacket one of the most breathable (and the stretchiest) waterproof jackets I have ever worn. The magic of NeoShell is that it allows air exchange while still blocking 99.9% of the wind. This helps moisture and heat move from your body to the surrounding environment without having to built up as much of a gradient (difference in temperature and humidity between the two sides of the membrane).

The face fabric of the jacket has a subtle texture, giving it a less-technical matte appearance. While not noted as having a DWR coating, the fabric beads water well and resists wetting out. The texture carries through to the lining fabric, helping the jacket to never feel cold or clammy inside.

The jacket has 100% taped seams, ensuring no water sneaks its way in.

Performance

The NeoShell breathability and stretch makes this jacket extremely comfortable for many activities. While wearing the jacket, I never once felt sweaty, even when walking fast with a loaded backpack while traveling. The stretch adds to the comfort, enough so that you sometimes forget you are wearing a hard shell.

The zippers are YYK but are not waterproof, but for a jacket without a hood, this is probably not necessary. I found them to be easy to operate, except for getting used to the dual zipper sliders on the main zipper — it takes a little thought to get them lined up and the zipper all the way down through so it can be zipped.

The chest pocket and back slash pocket were well sized for me and hold a phone or wallet comfortably. Each has a port on the inside to allow for headphones to pass through. While it is advertised that the jacket can be packed into the chest pocket, I wasn’t able to easily fit it in. It does, however, roll nicely to about the size of a burrito. As far as the back pocket goes, it’s a nice touch if you are a cyclist. In any other case, I wouldn’t keep anything valuable back there (other than maybe an emergency $20).

Style and Fit

Not only does the Elements Jacket perform extremely well, but it can be at home both during a workout or at work. The texture of the face fabric, configuration of the pockets, lack of a hood, and unique cuffs help upgrade the looks.

As far as the lack of a hood, I wasn’t immediately sold as I am used to my rainwear always having a hood. After some rainy fall weather, I found that wearing a baseball cap kept the rain out of my eyes, and I didn’t have any other issues (like water running down my neck). Now if I were to be out in the rain all day, or out in heavy rain, I’d still want my jacket with a hood, but this is a tradeoff I’m willing to make for a jacket that is so breathable and looks sharp.

The unique cuffs are about 1/3 elastic that sits at the back of your wrist while the rest has a nice curve — a nice style choice and something different than a straight cuff with elastic or velcro.

The fit is a nice athletic cut, while allowing room for an insulation layer underneath. I also found the length to be great — it is a bit longer than my Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket, allowing me to wear my tall down jacket underneath without the bottom hem hanging out.

Overall

The Myles Elements Jacket has replaced my soft shell spring/fall jacket, and in many cases is the first jacket I go for. The excellent breathability, waterproofness, stretch, and style are what keep me coming back. I think Myles has a winner here, and I’m surprised Polartec NeoShell isn’t used in more jackets (the Filson Reliance is the only other one I’ve found and it’s $395 — double the Elements Jacket). If you are looking for a light layer/rain shell/wind breaker, this jacket deserves your consideration.

Myles Elements Jacket

Triple Aught Design Hunstman Henley

I recently picked up the Huntsman Henley as a warmer alternative to the t-shirts I normally wear as a base layer. I’ve been wanting to get a merino Henley for some time now, and I’ve been wearing this one for a few weeks.

Material

This shirt is 93% merino wool, and 7% elastane. It comes in at 200 gsm, so heavier than most t-shirts you would wear. The wool itself is among the rougher of the wools I have felt, something along the lines of what Smartwool has. If I had to guess I would put the micron count somewhere around 19 microns.

This means that it will feel a bit scratchy, and those sensitive to that will likely hate this shirt. In my wear I always notice the roughness of the fabric when I first put on the shirt, but never after that. It’s not been an issue for me at all, but this is not luxuriously soft like other merino shirts we talk about here. As for the elastane, I didn’t realize it had any until writing this section, however it should have been rather obvious because in feeling the shirt now, there is a ton of stretch to it.

Style and Fit

Triple Aught Design labels this as a “next-to-skin” layer, a casual base layer. I snagged one in size L, which is what I typically wear in their clothing and found the fit to be perfect. It fits looser than expected, but still rather athletic in cut.

There’s two interesting style choices which set this Henley aside from others. The first is the mock neck collar. Instead of the collar sitting flat against your collar bone, as a t-shirt does, the collar on the Huntsman stands up a touch to give a much different look. How much it stands up is going to depend on how large your neck is, but for me I found that it does stand up.

The second design choice is using Triple Aught Design’s signature slotted buttons which are attached with a nylon strap. I quite like the look and function of these buttons, but combined with the collar changes, this shouldn’t be seen as a straight Henley, as you would likely be disappointed by the over all looks if you want something classic. This is a more modern/tacticool look which was based on a classic Henley. It’s subtle, but it is there.

Wear

I’ve been very impressed with this shirt while wearing it. It is comfortable, moves well, and the buttons never unintentionally come undone. I can get my normal 4-5 days of wear out of the shirt before the odors start to pile up. When washing it dries quickly and comes out looking like new every time.

I’ve also noticed that the rougher merino seems to resist pilling and signs of wear which I would come to expect after several washes and wearing the shirt with GORUCK backpacks. So far, it’s been holding up really well, but I’ve only had a few weeks time with it.

I also don’t find it to be too warm. Most times it’s only slightly warmer than a t-shirt when on its own, while adding a nice bit of extra warmth when used as a base layer under other garments.

Overall

I really like this Henley, and it’s become my most worn garment over these past few weeks, so much so I’ve not really worn many of my t-shirts. Yes, the fabric could be a bit softer, but I have been surprised that the fabric doesn’t actually bother me. I like the style decisions on the collar and the buttons, and I think it helps to make the shirt look slightly less casual than most slouchy Henleys look.

It’s a great shirt and I recommend it. Your only consideration should be whether you like the looks of the buttons, because if you do, you’ll like this Henley too.

Triple Aught Design Hunstman Henley

Olivers Passage Pant

The item in this review was provided for review purposes by OLIVERS.

The Passage Pant is a highly technical pant which is marketed as: “your favorite jeans, updated for everyday performance.” They are cut from a very light fabric which moves well and breathes even better. I’ve only been testing these pants for a week now, but I’m confident I have a very good sense of what these pants are.

Material

The material is a little hard to sort out, as OLIVERS lists it as “Passage Stretch Weave”, and CORDURA with 4-way stretch. The tag in the pants tells me it is 91% nylon, and 9% spandex. That’s a lot of stretch.

The material is very technical looks and rather smooth to the touch on the outside, but to my legs to feels a touch rougher like terry cloth. Not bad, just worth noting the difference between what your hand feels and your legs. The drape on these is a standard technical drape, but this pant pulls it off (more on this later). There is no DWR coating on the pant, that I can tell or find mention of. Oh, and there’s only a slight amount of sound as you walk, nothing noticeable (I only noticed this as I was writing his section up).

Fit and Style

The fit runs large. I typically wear a 35, and ordered a 36 in the pants only for them to be far too large to wear. Exchanging them for a 34 worked well, but the waist is loose enough that I feel far more comfortable with a belt on, than not. Some of this is the cut, Some is the stretch which is noticeable in the waist as well. In other words, they tend to stretch out in the waist with wear, and snap back to form after a wash.

The styling is a classic 5-Pocket look, with the coin pocket being oversized enough to hold my iPhone XS just snuggly. I don’t recommend placing your iPhone there, as the look isn’t great and it tends to work up and out of the pocket when you sit down.

The big note about the style and fit is that these pants are very tapered. This gets rid of the technical drape look that plagues many pants of this material type, and provides a rather flattering and on trend look to the pant. I have plenty of room in the thighs, certainly more than other slim pants. The calves are where things really taper, as the pants can be a touch snug around my calves if the pant leg rides up at all. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a thing about these pants. I do wish more of my pants had a stronger taper like this, as I find the style quite nice.

Wearing Them

The review sample I was provided is the Olive color, which is almost a military looking green, and I love it. It’s a great color, and something my wife immediately gave a thumbs up to (note: she hated the last dark olive colored pants I owned). The big thing about these pants is that the gusseted crotch, as well as the 9% stretch mean that these feel like pure comfort in pant form.

They easily move with your body and are never tight and uncomfortable. I failed to change to joggers many nights, because I found these pants to be just as comfortable. However, even more so than the comfort is the weight of the pants. They are thick enough not to feel like paper, and yet, they really breathe exceptionally well.

iPhone XS in the 5th pocket.
iPhone XS in the 5th pocket.

It’s around 40 degrees these days in the Pacific Northwest, so it’s hard to say for sure, but I’d guess these are the best warm weather paths I own, and I’ve tried. For the colder weather my knees can feel cool at time, and wind seems to cut through the pants with ease. Stay about 50 degrees and I’ve found the pants very comfortable to wear. I’m excited to see how they perform in warmer climates, as I suspect they are going to be fantastic.

Overall

It’s hard to review these pants stand alone, without comparing them to other pants I own, or have owned. The best I can do is to say they are like Slim Dungarees if those wear made out of OG cloth. Though, they are probably better, because the only cost $158. The Outlier OG Climbers I had (they got too big) were the most comfortable pants I owned, which I also never wanted to be seen in outside the house. The Passage Pants are more comfortable than that, and I’ve happily worn them out to date nights with my wife. They also cost less than many other technical pants.

These are a winner, all around, and likely a staple in my closet moving forward.

One last note: OLIVERS recently expanded the size offering in these pants, they run from 30 to 38 now and as many others reviews point out, run about a size larger than stated.

Olivers Passage Pant

Outdoor Voices Merino T-shirt (Older model)

A few months ago Outdoor Voices was clearing out their older stock of merino t-shirts, so I grabbed one in navy. Then, a couple weeks ago, they released a new version of the shirt, which we are told is the same fit. This review focuses on the previous version, as we are not entirely sure what has changed with the shirt for the new variant.

Material and Performance

This is a blended merino t-shirt with 89% merino wool and 11% nylon. It’s very light weight, coming in a touch lighter than my Wool & Prince blended shirts and significantly lighter than my Outlier shirts. It is, thankfully, thicker than Icebreaker’s Anatomica line of shirts.

Since this is a high merino content it performs almost identically to a 100% merino shirt. I am able to get a solid 3-4 days of wear, whereas a 100% merino shirt would get me 4-5 days. The nylon content adds more structure and durability, which is why it’s become popular to blend merino shirts like this (it also reduces the price). Though I have not had issues with durability in any other merino shirts, it’s a nice addition with a very low hit to performance. Nylon also makes the shirt a better outdoor shirt as it will better handle bags and snags.

The shirt fabric is very smooth and comfortable, certainly on par with the Wool & Prince shirts. However, the micron size of the Wool is not noted by Outdoor Voices.

All in all, no complaints on the performance, and a pleasant surprise with the feel of the shirt.

Fit and Comfort

I love the fit of this shirt, and have found it to be an ideal everyday weight. It fits better than any other merino t-shirt I have, so I am very happy that the fit was not adjusted on the new model.

The comfort comes from the weight of this shirt as it is light, but heavy enough that you can wear it alone without a second thought. Additionally, you can throw a shirt over it for some added warmth using it as a base layer. Two thumbs up on fit and comfort, it’s easily the best cut t-shirt I’ve bought so far.

Overall

I thought I got a steal on this shirt when I bought it on sale, and I did, but at $55 for the current variant, this shirt punches far above its weight. That’s among the lowest price I have seen for a very high quality merino t-shirt. It’s not the softest you will find, but most under the $90 price will be far less refined than this. I cannot recommend it enough.

If you’ve yet to buy your first merino t-shirt, then this is the shirt I would recommend starting with.

You can find the latest version here.


Steve’s Thoughts

I agree with everything Ben said about this shirt. Is is also my best fitting merino t-shirt, and I agree the nylon content adds to the look and durability without sacrificing performance. This is now the merino shirt I would recommend first as well.

Outdoor Voices Merino T-shirt (Older model)

Myles Apparel Momentum Pant

The item in this review was provided by Myles Apparel at a discount for review.

When it was time to look for new sweats for the cooler months ahead, I decided to check out the Myles Apparel Momentum Pant. After having a great experience with their Momentum Short 2.0 all summer, I figured it would be a good bet.

Fabric

The fabric is a 83% polyester, 17% spandex blend. The high spandex content gives the pants true four-way stretch. I would classify this as a mid weight fabric — heavy enough that it is suitable for the cooler months, but not so heavy that it is too warm to exercise in.

The knit of the fabric gives the pants a matte finish, more so than you would expect for a synthetic pair of sweats. While it won’t pass for cotton, it has a nice look that can blend into your wardrobe fairly well. The knit also makes for a soft hand feel, not the slick hand feel that many polyester synthetics have.

Fit and Finish

The pants have an athletic fit and the sizing seems consistent with their shorts. I sometimes find thighs of pants too tight, but had no issues here. The pant legs are also tapered at the ankles — not so close that they get caught on your socks, but close enough to help keep drafts out.

The waistband is wide and lays flat with some nice elastic stretch and a long drawstring. The elastic holds well enough that I have yet to need to tie the drawstring.

The front hand pockets are very deep so there is no worry about anything slipping out. While the depth is nice, they are wide enough at the bottom that my iPhone XS can start to fall sideways while walking. While not as bad as some pockets, it can still get annoying. This is where the hidden back zip media pocket comes in handy. In these pants (as compared to the shorts) it is large enough to fit my phone. If I’m out for a walk, it’s easy to slip it back there for a secure and comfortable carry.

The pants have a few other nice touches including a gusseted crotch for even more mobility and a color matching reflective stripe on each calf for visibility.

Performance

The pants perform well for my needs. Running pretty warm, I rarely exercise in pants, leaving these as my warmup, walk, and lounge pants for the cooler months. I’ve already had some pretty cool mornings (around 40 F) to test these out while walking the dog, and they kept my legs warm (even in a light drizzle). However, the fabric breaths well enough that I can wear them around the house and not get too warm.

While I haven’t given them a test during a whole workout, I’ve noticed the excellent stretch during warmups and can’t envision any mobility issues no matter the situation.

Overall

The Myles Apparel Momentum Pant has become my goto pant for cooler weather walking and lounging. The fabric has a great stretch while looking pretty “normal”. While I can’t pinpoint any one feature that makes these outstanding, I don’t feel a need to look further. The combination of fit, fabric, and comfort make these a great contender for your sweatpant needs.

For my use case (around the house sweatpants), I don’t think the value quite lives up to the $98 price. However, if you wear sweatpants for running, I think the hidden media pocket adds value. Also, if you like to wear athleisure around town, I think the cut of these pants is spot on.

Myles Apparel Momentum Pant

Ministry of Supply Composite Slim Fit Polo

The item in this review was provided at a discount for review by Ministry of Supply.

When I saw the launch of the Ministry of Supply Composite Slim Fit Polo, I was intrigued by the performance claims made with such a low merino content (15%). Since I was having trouble finding the perfect polo, I took a chance and gave it a try.

Material

The fabric is a jersey-knit 85% polyester/15% merino wool blend with four-way stretch. It is machine washable on cold and can be dried on low (although I would still recommend hanging dry).

The first thing that struck me about this fabric was how “natural” it looks. It doesn’t have the sheen of polyester and it drapes like a light cotton polo. It is the first mostly synthetic polo that I’ve seen that doesn’t have that technical look. Ministry of Supply claims they achieve this through “wool micro-fibrils”. While this helps the look and makes the fabric extremely soft to the touch, it does give the polo a bit of a fuzzy look when viewed at the right angle and the right light.

Fit

The fit of this polo is more slim than the Apollo 3 Polo. However, I did find the same size worked for me for both, especially since this one is more casual. If you ever plan to tumble dry, I would size up, as Ministry of Supply does note that the fabric can shrink (I didn’t see it with cold machine washing and hanging to dry). The length was also a bit shorter — perfect for wearing untucked (I found it a little short to keep tucked in, possibly another reason to size up).

The open collar also lends to the casual nature of the shirt. With only one button at the collar, it is intended that you leave the collar un-buttoned. The placket is shorter than a typical 3-button polo though, so I never felt like the collar was too open. The sewn-in collar stays also help to keep the collar looking sharp. Overall, the collar performs well and doesn’t look floppy or out of place like many other performance polo collars.

Performance

I was pleasantly surprised with the performance of this polo. The 15% merino content definitely performed above what was expected in the odor department. I can trust that I will get at least two wears, more if I’m not sweating a lot. Even when I wore the polo with a backpack and jacket and took a brisk (sweaty) walk from my train to hotel, I was able to get a second wear. Even better, since the fabric is light and drys quickly (with no wrinkles), it would be easy to give the polo a wash in a hotel sink and count on it being dry the next day. While it will never beat a 100% merino polo, it certainly performs admirably.

Even in pretty sweaty situations, I found the moisture wicking and drying properties to be excellent. I never felt very sweaty and the fabric never felt heavy with moisture.

Overall

This polo is worth consideration for a more casual look. The combination of the jersey-knit fabric, open collar, and slim fit keep it casual while still looking sharp. The odor resistant properties are there, even though the merino content is low. At $85, I think this will be a hard polo to beat.

Ministry of Supply Composite Slim Fit Polo

Outlier Megafine Socks

Once you try wearing merino wool for your socks full time, it’s hard to go back to cotton. And once you go down this path, you realize there are quite a few companies which can provide you with socks. Steve and I are big fans of Darn Tough for most of our sock needs, but Outlier makes ‘Megafine’ socks in both traditional crew length and low (no-show style) (no longer sold, replaced with low lows, which I can only assume are lower). I’ve owned two pairs of each for quite some time, so let’s talk about them.

The Crew Socks

These socks fit somewhere between athletic socks and dress socks. They are too nice looking to be your standard white athletic socks, and too thick to be seen as dress socks. So they walk that line, which can make them a bit hard to wear — especially if your socks tend to show.

However, I have found that these are easily the best socks I own, and have ever tried. They are soft, almost luxuriously so, and they utilize compression, nylon, and venting in all the right areas. This means they are more comfortable than any other pair of socks I own, fit better, feel better, and generally perform better.

They are thick, but only slightly so when you wear them. In that regard they are mostly thick in how they look and fit in a shoe, not in the warmth they provide. I own both black and natural tan, and much prefer the natural tan (I’ve never been a black sock fan).

Outlier’s marketing states: “Designed for comfort, durability and style, we think they’re the nicest socks we’ve ever worn.” I completely agree with them, with a big caveat.

As you might have noticed, I don’t travel with these socks, because the color options and overall look don’t lend themselves to blending in well in business settings. Additionally they are $25 per pair, and while not overly expensive for merino wool socks, I tend to be able to find Darn Tough dress socks on sale for much lower prices. If money were no object, I’d wear these socks, but if value is important these are a harder sell.

There is one final thing to note, other than some pilling on the heel of the socks, these basically look brand new — they are holding up and lasting much better than my Darn Tough socks. Time will tell if this trend keeps up, but if it does, that might be enough of a value proposition to switch.

In short: if you don’t need a dressy looking sock, then there’s no better option for crew socks than these. Your feet will love them.

The Low Socks

These are your standard no-show socks which are meant to completely hide themselves in your shoe. They are constructed in a very similar manner to the crew socks, just without the part which runs up your leg. They are also decidedly not as good as the crew variant.

I have not tried the new ‘low lows’ Outlier is making, but the issue is that the lows themselves do not stay put. Pull your foot out of a shoe, they come off. Have your heel slip up in the shoe, the socks come off.

These are insanely comfortable, but they also fail at one of the more crucial tasks a sock has: staying on your foot. And because of that, they are a constant battle. In addition, they also have gotten quite fuzzy over the two years of use, but amazingly have held their shape and have no holes in them.

Over the same time span I have tossed 3 pairs of Darn Tough low socks, as they have had holes worn in them. So while they simply do not stay on my feet, they are extremely well made and comfortable as a sock. Overall, I won’t be buying these again, but I do wish they had some mid-low socks or something which would stay on my foot better.

Outlier Socks Overall

I really like the crew variant of the Megafine socks, and if they continue to hold up as well as they are (and as well as the lows) I can see myself moving over to them. The main issue is that they are extremely basic looking, with no patterns and very few color options. What is amazing about these socks to me is that they are not only very comfortable, but also very durable. When you put them on, you won’t think they will hold up, they are too soft feeling. But they do.

Personally, the lows are not good enough for me to want to buy again, but I think that will depend more on your foot than anything else. The crew socks though are most excellent. I think Darn Tough offers better designs, colors, availability, and value — but if you want the best sock out there, then you’ll want a pair of Outlier Megafine socks.

Outlier Megafine Socks

MIzzen+Main Leeward Collection Dress Shirt

The item in this review was provided for review purposes by Mizzen+Main.

Mizzen+Main has three dress shirt lines, Spinnaker, Leeward, and Blue Label. The Spinnaker is their original line, focused on comfort with their highest stretch fabric. Leeward and Blue Label are made from a dressier (but still stretch) fabric, with the Blue Label adding a placket, a pointier collar, and convertible cuffs for the most dressy look.

I was able to give the Bowie Navy & White Windowpane shirt from the Leeward line a try.

Material

When looking for a performance dress shirt, the look of the fabric is key. The polyester/spandex blend (85%/15%) Mizzen+Main has designed does just that, it looks normal. It drapes nicely and doesn’t have that synthetic sound. Close up, it does have a slight texture but the feel and appearance are smooth. The spandex gives it a noticeable four way stretch and the lightweight nature makes it comfortable in warm weather. However, it is thin enough that I would not wear the white grounded prints without an undershirt.

Fit

With the three fits offered in this shirt, it should be fairly easy for everyone to find a good fit off the rack. I find it is one of my best fitting shirts. The back darts help to keep from having extra fabric around the waist, and it is long enough to stay tucked in.

The spread collar feels just at home with the top button open or with a tie, and removable collar stays keep the collar straight.

The only issue I have is how stiff the cuffs are. While nice on the collar, the stiffening material seems a little too much to me for the cuffs. They just hold too much of a crease to look completely normal.

Performance

When wearing this shirt, you almost forget you are wearing a dress shirt due to the four way stretch. While some shirts are so stretchy the drape looks off, the sweet spot has been found here.

Another key attribute of a good performance dress shirt is its wrinkle resistance — this shirt does a great job. There were some wrinkles out of the package, but a quick steam took care of them. Other than that, I haven’t had any wrinkling issues. After a cold wash, hanging the shirt to dry takes care of all the wrinkles — so much so that it looks as sharp as a pressed shirt. This is something that I do not get with my merino dress shirts.

I’ve worn this shirt in the heat and found it to remain comfortable. The lightweight fabric does a good job of keeping you cool while wicking moisture without feeling heavy (since it dries very quickly).

The final question — how is the odor resistance? I can get just one or two days from this shirt. Since it is 100% synthetic and has no odor resistant treatment, that should be expected. However, since the fabric dries so quickly and doesn’t seem to pick up wrinkles from washing, you can get multiple wears by hand washing and hanging to dry overnight.

Overall

I liked this shirt more than I expected. It looks nice, performs well, and is very comfortable. I see this shirt fitting in anywhere you’d normally wear a dress shirt. If you need to dress it up further, I’d take a look at the Blue Label line. While it can’t beat a merino dress shirt in odor resistance, it excels in all other categories — all while looking more formal.


Ben’s Thoughts

I last had a Mizzen+Main shirt from this collection about 18 months ago, but my recollections echo what Steve said above. It surprisingly looks normal and the stretch was stellar. The odor resistance is not there. The collars and cuffs on mine were thicker like Steve notes and I remember that being the most odd part of the shirt. Overall it’s a very good shirt and looks very ‘normal’.

MIzzen+Main Leeward Collection Dress Shirt

Triple Aught Design Rogue RS

A while back I picked up Triple Aught Design’s Rogue RS Jacket which is made from a nylon-cotton blend. It’s a light layer, suited to cooler weather, and is overbuilt as most items from Triple Aught Design are. I was hoping to find a layer which was versatile, but mostly suited to casual wear. After a year of wearing and using the jacket, here are my thoughts.

Fabric

This is a heavy 52/48 Nylon Cotton (NYCO) ripstop which comes in at about 6.5oz and has a DWR coating. Surprisingly, the DWR is quite good, and even though the jacket mostly feels like a heavy canvas, it repels light water well enough that you won’t regret wearing it if a light sprinkle happens. I would not wear it in the rain though.

Because of the high cotton content, the jacket looks standard. The nylon gives the jacket added strength, which has proven effective for car camping outings I have taken the jacket on. Overall the fabric looks heavy it doesn’t feel too heavy, it generally looks good. Performance wise, it dries slow, repels light water, but is very durable. After more than a year, it still looks brand new.

Fit and Looks

The fit was tricky for me when I bought the jacket. I originally bought an XL in Deception but that proved much too big. However, I liked the jacket enough that I exchanged it for a Large in ME Green, as that was the only color available in size Large. The large fits me perfectly, however TAD has since redone the sizing on the jacket, so be sure to read the size guide.

The fit is listed as “standard” but I would say it’s more of an athletic fit, which I find quite nice. The overall style is very military inspired. Note that TAD sells two variants: with and without patches. I chose the version without, and the difference is that on the biceps of each arm, the patch version has an area of Velcro loop for applying morale patches. There is still one small Velcro loop area with a TAD logo on it. This can be removed and replaced by any hook backed patch (the size you want is “eye”).

Still, the jacket trends towards military/tacticool look. I think it looks less tacticool and more military without the patches on the sleeves. Overall, I think Deception (which is like a deep olive, but constantly changes depending on surroundings and lighting) is a better color, but it is harder to pair with other clothing.

If you like the looks of the jacket, it looks as it does on the web, it is nice as a non-rain light jacket for spring and summer.

Comfort and Performance

The jacket itself is unlined, so wearing it means you feel the heavy seams. This is the only uncomfortable part of the jacket, and something that I stopped noticing after a few wears. Overall, I find the weight to be very nice, and comfort wise it is familiar and easy to wear.

On the performance side, it’s fine. The garment design allows for a ton of range of motion in the arms, even though the fabric itself has no stretch. The DWR is more impressive that I would have assumed, however, the material itself picks up odors (like from a campfire) quickly. The performance this jacket gives you is durability.

To that end, I’ve taken it camping and worn it to work in the garage and other projects. The jacket shows no wear, and the reinforced elbows give me a lot of confidence that this jacket will last for a long time.

There are a few other really nice touches with the jacket. Both hand warmer pockets have a smaller inner pocket stitched inside which is angled towards the pocket opening. These are large enough to hold most knives or flashlights and go a long way to keeping your gear accessible. During the fall and spring I often keep all my gear in this jacket, so all I need to leave the house is my jacket and shoes. The back of the collar on the inside has a heavy duty hanging loop which works really well to hang the jacket.

The zippers are robust but are problematic for me. They are not the smoothest zippers I have used and can be frustrating to pull closed at times. Typically they require more than one hand to get going and can be a bit annoying. Since the pockets have space to securely stow gear, you have to work the zipper less frequently but still I wish they were better.

Overall

I really like this jacket. It’s a solid weight for fall and early spring, and is great even on rainy days if you are going to spend most of the day in the car or dodging rain drops walking in and out of buildings. The only negative I have beyond the zippers is that the style isn’t for everyone.

Triple Aught Design Rogue RS