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

GORUCK Performance Clothes

Rucking Tee – Long Sleeve

This is one of the oldest GORUCK apparel items I purchased, and thus I have the most experience with it. This shirt uses Polartec’s PowerStretch Pro fabric which is 74% nylon, 16% polyester, 10% Spandex. The mix is a very heavy, shiny, and smooth fabric. It has a ton of stretch, weighs a good bit, and yet still dries pretty fast.

To understand this shirt you have to understand what it was built for: crawling through the mud while wearing a heavy GORUCK backpack. Over time, most shirts will start to pill from the abrasion of a rugged backpack, however, this fabric was picked because it wouldn’t pill, it wouldn’t break down, it would dry fast, and move well.

After months and months of wearing the shirt for my rucking workouts, I can attest that the shirt checks all those boxes. It’s extremely comfortable and has started to be a go to for me when I am relaxing at home. The stretch is very good and the weight is like a heavy t-shirt. It won’t block wind or insulate you too much, and it will breathe pretty well when working out, but it will never be a very cool shirt, nor will it be warm.

Unlike many of the other workout shirts we have reviewed, the biggest flaw in this shirt is that it has no odor resistance. This is a wash after every wear shirt. That said, I’ve washed and hung dry this shirt dozens and dozens of times and it looks brand new. I’ve come to really like this shirt, but make no mistake, it looks like a workout shirt in every way.

Rucking Sweatshirt – Full Zip

The sweatshirt is the same fabric, PowerStretch Pro, as the rucking shirt. And I don’t mean just the same blend, I mean the same weight and everything. Cut like a full zip hoodie but with a light weight and durable fabric. I originally picked this up because I was looking for something to replace my all cotton hoodie I usually slip on when I get chilly working at home or need to run out really quick.

Since this is more or less the same as the t-shirt above, I’ll add that the cut is great and it makes for a great mid-layer as it easily will slip over any shirt you are wearing. Unlike a fuzzier hoodie, it won’t leave lint all over your shirt nor will it bind on the sleeves if you pull it on quickly.

There are only two downsides to the hoodie:

  1. Because of the material, the hood will absolutely flop all over when you bend down to tie your shoes. Not a deal breaker, but it won’t have the same rigidity as a normal fleece hoodie.
  2. Like every other hoodie, it won’t pack down well for travel. It’s always going to be fairly bulky and heavy.

Having said that, I like this hoodie a lot more than the shirt, and I wear that shirt all the time around the house and working out. The hoodie has yet to go on a workout with me, but that’s because of the weather more than anything.

PowerStretch Pro Overall

I have one wish for this fabric, that is that some anti-microbial tech, but it is otherwise really great. I know that GORUCK has had issues sourcing enough of this fabric, and that makes sense because it is quite good. It is dead silent, and it seems to shrug off anything you can throw at it.

Imagine something with the durability of Carhartt jackets, but with the softness of cotton and the movability of yoga pants — that’s basically what you have here. This fabric is ideal for casual and workout clothing, or for any scenario where you are going to abuse the shirt and want it to come out looking brand new.

The material works better on the hoodie as it looks more like some of the newer Nike hoodies that are sold branded for sports teams, thus making it blend in better. Two thumbs up on this, and if they ever start selling the half zip again, I’ll buy at least one.

Simple Pants

GORUCK makes their Simple Pants/Challenge Pants/Shorts (Simple, Challenge) out of the same ToughDry® fabric which I previously talked about in my review of the Simple Windbreaker. This fabric is 94% nylon, 6% spandex and is made with the same goals as the shirts above: get wet, get muddy, get punished, and come out of all of that looking new. And it does, remarkably well.

Like with the windbreaker, the pants themselves always look a bit crinkled and they make a bit of sound when you wear them. Certainly not as much as other hiking style nylon pants, but these pants aren’t trying to hide that. The overall cut of the pants, and design, is a mimic of Levi’s 501s which is to say it’s rather classic.

I’ve found these pants to be a bit of a mixed bag. For me they are replacing my Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants as well as my Outlier OG Climbers (both which I sold as they were too big for me). They are better than the Ferrosi Pants for how I work out. They have less stretch, but the durability of the pant, the cut, and style are greatly improved. They are slightly less breathable, but they are also more water repellant and dry faster than the Ferrosi Pants by a large margin. Ditto with the OG Climbers.

The biggest downside to these pants is the front pockets, they are just a touch too shallow for my liking. That said, the cut of the pocket opening means that next to nothing is going to easily come out of these pants — something GORUCK specifically designed the pocket opening for.

Overall, I like these pants, but I disagree with everyone who says they can pass for casual pants. They are certainly among the best pure hiking type of pants out there, but they still look like nylon.

ToughDry Overall

This is my second go around with ToughDry and it’s quickly becoming a favorite. It dries very fast, it is perhaps among the most durable fabrics I’ve owned, and yet it weighs next to nothing. Both the windbreaker and these pants pack down to nothing. If you needed backup pants, or wanted a backup layer, both the pants and windbreaker are my go to. They can be mashed into the bottom of my bag and no matter how hard you try you will not notice the weight of them.

They are not the stretchiest of materials, nor are they stealth in hiding that they are nylon, but they also aren’t for lifestyle wear (no matter what GORUCK’s website tries to claim). Yes, you can get by wearing them in a pinch, but they are always going to look like workout or hiking clothes. In many areas, for many activities, that will be just fine.

I give ToughDry two thumbs up for sure. If it had odor resistance in it, it would be near the top of my list. That said, I think it dries faster than any other material I’ve tested.

Notes on GORUCK Sizing

Do yourself a favor and never look at GORUCK’s sizing charts because they are non-sensical. GORUCK for some of their products measures the actual garment size. Whereas most companies with shirts measure chest size as the size of your chest, GORUCK just measures the size of their shirts. It makes some sense, but I find it infuriating.

Instead buy the clothing based on the size you normally wear. I wear a large in GORUCK tops, which I also wear in most other brands. I did find that the pants fit slightly larger than listed in waist but shorter in length than you would assume.

While GORUCK has a solid return policy, do note that it is a return the item and wait weeks and weeks for a refund, and order your replacement. You’ll get the refund, but don’t expect it any sooner than 4 weeks. It’s a bit absurd.

GORUCK Performance Clothes

Patagonia Baggies Longs

After the fuzzy pullover fleece, the most ionic Patagonia item is probably their Baggies shorts. This will be my second summer with my pair of Baggies Longs, and they have become my go-to shorts for lounging round the house, taking the dog for a walk, and hanging around outside.

Fabric

My shorts are from before this season when they switched to recycled nylon, but other than that, they are identical to the current model of the shorts. The fabric is 100% SUPPLEX nylon (SUPPLEX is a brand of nylon made with smaller fibers to make the fabric softer and more water resistant). There is also a DWR finish applied to the fabric to help even further with the water resistance.

I find the fabric to be very soft and comfortable. It also has noticeably less “nylon” sound when walking. This may be that they are shorts, but I have worn some other nylon shorts that make more noise. The water resistance/DWR make these great for outdoor activities as they resist splashes/rain and when they do get wet they dry quickly.

Fit and Sizing

Since these shorts have an elastic waistband with an internal drawstring, they come in S-XXL sizing. I found the size chart from Patagonia to be accurate. For me, the 7” inseam of the Longs is perfect, but the regular version of the shorts has a 5” inseam. The bagginess of the shorts is a perfect balance of comfort while not looking too casual (I think they look better than a pair of traditional athletic shorts).

Comfort and Performance

The bagginess of the shorts helps make sure they never get in the way and restrict your movement. This makes them ideal for activities like weight lifting, hiking, walking, etc., but I would not want to wear them for activities like running, rowing, etc. as the extra fabric could get in the way. The mesh liner also makes these shorts appropriate for swimming and other water sports — no need to pack a separate pair of swim trunks.

The front pockets are fully attached to the legs of the shorts preventing them from flopping around when they are full. They are mostly made with the same material as the shorts with a mesh panel at the bottom for water drainage. While nice and deep, I find the vertical construction of the pocket slightly problematic. On some occasions when sitting with my phone in my pocket I found it trying to slide back out. There is also one good sized back pocket with a snap closure.

The elastic in the waistband is comfortable, never cutting or pinching, and the drawstring is flat and holds a knot well.

Overall

These shorts are one of my favorite pairs. I still grab my Myles Apparel Momentum Short 2.0 for exercise, but the Baggies Long are my go-to for all other casual summer wear. With the exception of the pocket angle, these are perfect shorts to serve your (very) casual summer needs.

Patagonia Baggies Longs

OLIVERS Capital Shorts

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

There’s fierce competition in the one short to rule them all arena. Many brands are claiming their shorts are as good in the gym, and in water, as they are out to dinner. OLIVERS adds the Capital Shorts to this growing list, and they are billed for just the type of person who doesn’t want, or need, tons of shorts. A solid pair or two is all you want.

Fabric

The fabric on these is OLIVERS “All Over Stretch Weave”, and at first blush they reminded me a lot of OUTLIER’s OG Cloth (though they are not the same material). They are very technical feeling with a smooth face like a soft shell fleece (less shiny though) and a lot of stretch. These are 88% Nylon and 12% spandex, and I believe they have some sort of DWR coating on them to make water bead right off. These are stretchy and yet durable shorts.

Fit and Sizing

Shorts are a particular thing for men, as each person has their own idea of how long a pair of shorts should be. The Capital Shorts are on the shorter end of my comfort with a 8.75” inseam. Additionally, I had to size down from what I normally wear as I found the 36s to be much too large and the 34s to be correct (for comparison I wear 35 in most brands), as the 36s wouldn’t even stay on me.

My tip is to size down one size. The fit is otherwise very solid and well done.

Performance and Comfort

This is where these shorts really excel. Combining the stretch of the fabric (and there is a lot of stretch) with a gusset in the crotch — there’s never any restriction on your leg motion when you wear these. They wear cool, as you want from shorts.

They look sharp, and not ‘for technical shorts’. OUTLIER’s New Way shorts look more like typical cotton shorts, than the Capital Shorts, as you can see it more readily in the sheen on the material and the way they drape. The tell tale sign that these are not your average shorts is when you get them wet as the water rolls right off. This bodes well for getting a lot of wears out of the shorts between washes as dirt will find itself hard pressed to find a spot to stay on these. Not only do I think they perform well, but even lounging in the evenings while wearing these is exceedingly comfortable.

Drying time on these shorts is moderately better than OUTLIER’s short offerings, but slower than dedicated swim trunks. Because they are shorts, and the pocket material is very thin, you could put them on damp and they would dry quick. Likewise it wouldn’t be a stretch to expect them to dry while you sleep. Lastly, the pockets are a tough one on these shorts. The material is great, and I still cannot figure out if it is a really hidden mesh, or just a very thin material. Either way they breathe well and I have little durability concerns. That said, the pocket angle is less than ideal, I found many times my iPhone sliding back out of the pocket.

A look at the pocket material.
A look at the pocket material.

Overall

I really am impressed with these shorts, and I would add them to your list of summer buys. The only thing I wish was better is the angle of the pocket opening, as your phone tends to slide right out when you are lounging on a couch.

The Capital Shorts aren’t likely to solve your swimming needs, but I can’t imagine any other scenario where I these shorts wouldn’t perform well. OLIVERS has hit the nail on the head.

OLIVERS Capital Shorts

Y Athletics Boxer Briefs and Socks

Note: The items in this review were provided to us by Y Athletics.

You may recognize the Y Athletics brand from our previous review of their SilverAir Crew Neck t-shirt which is still our favorite workout tee. Y Athletics prides themselves on developing custom fabrics for performance athletic clothing. We recently gave their Boxer Briefs and Socks (the 2.0 version) a try.

Boxer Brief

The SilverAir Merino Wool Boxer-Brief is made from a 200 gsm merino wool blend (90% 17.5 micron New Zealand Merino Wool, 5% metallic, and 5% spandex). The bottoms of the legs also contain Y Athletics’ SmartGrip. This is a soft silicone (like what you’d find in the legs of cycling shorts) that helps keep the boxers from riding up.

I found these boxers to be very soft and never had any issues with bunching, chafing, or riding up. They provide great support for athletic activities and do an excellent job wicking moisture (they never feel wet like synthetics). While advertised as having the best anti-odor technology in the market, I never felt like I could get a second wear. On a day when I did not work out or sweat a lot maybe I could get a second wear, but I did not want to push it. The odor resistance definitely was not at the level of the SilverAir shirt.

Overall, these are the best fitting and most comfortable boxer briefs I’ve worn.

Socks

The Sock 2.0 comes in both an ankle and a crew version. They are both made out of a midnight merino blend with slightly different compositions (ankle: 49% merino, 25% nylon, 13% acrylic, 11% metallic, 2% spandex; crew: 46% merino, 25% nylon, 13% acrylic, 13% metallic, 3% spandex). The ankle socks also have a soft silicone grip on the backs to keep them from sliding down. While wearing these socks I had my Darn Tough exercise and dress socks in mind for comparison.

As midweight socks, these were certainly thicker than my normal ankle and crew socks. However, thanks to the ventilation panels they did not feel that much warmer. The extra padding can also add a little comfort if you are going to be on your feet all day, but the thicker material makes these socks less appealing if you are going to be getting wet or wanting to hand wash the socks.

As far as odor-resistance, I found these socks to be equivalent to my Darn Tough merino socks. Letting them air out overnight lets me get a few wears out of a pair.

Overall

Both the boxer briefs and socks are very comfortable and deserve consideration. While remaining more odor-resistant than my synthetic underwear, I did not find the merino/silver to give me the ability to get extra wears. (I have not tried any other merino underwear, so I can’t compare to pure merino or another merino blend.) In the socks, I found the blend to be about equivalent in odor-resistance to the Darn Tough merino blend. While extremely comfortable, I still will keep some synthetic underwear and socks in rotation for times when I might get wet or want to hand wash while traveling.

Y Athletics Boxer Briefs and Socks

OLIVERS Convoy Short Sleeve Henley

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

The short sleeve henley is a staple in many people’s wardrobes, and there is a shockingly small amount of them available in performance minded fabrics. OLIVERS recently released the Convoy Henley in both long and short sleeves, made out of 100% merino wool. I’ve been wearing and testing the short sleeve variant in black for a few weeks now and I quite like it. But it’s also a bit different from other merino shirts I have.

Fabric

OLIVERS doesn’t list the weight of the merino, but it’s a lighter weight that most of my other shirts, about the weight of an Icebreaker Anatomica shirt. Surprisingly, at least in black, it’s not see through even with the very thin fabric.

The merino also has a horizontal ribbed look to it. There’s no stretch, but rather the construction of the fabric lends to that look, and I think it adds a lot to the overall apperance of the shirt.

A closer look at the thin material that has some patterning to it.

Fit

The cut and fit of this shirt, like most OLIVERS apparel, is athletic in nature. I chose a size large and found that the shirt is cut closer to my body than most other shirts, but is not at all skin tight. So size up if you want something a bit looser.

The sleeves are also narrow, this adds to the athletic cut of the shirt, and might be a downside for people who like more relaxed fits, as it gives a much different look than a standard t-shirt. That said, I found the fit to be comfortable and not at all too clingy on any part of my body.

Few Other Thoughts

  • The buttons on the shirt are rugby inspired, so they are rubberized in feeling. Because of this, they stay buttoned really well, to the point where it can be a tad cumbersome to button or unbutton the shirt. That said, it also means that a button won’t come undone throughout the day.
  • All the seams on the shirt are sewn flat, with a baseball cut sleeve style. This makes for a very comfortable shirt when you are being active wearing it.
  • This is a cooler shirt than most other merino shirts I have, so it’s a great layer on warmer days and exceptional in hot weather on its own. But if you are used to your t-shirt adding some warmth, this likely won’t be warm enough for you. It’s not hot enough here yet to really test in warm weather, but I’ve been very comfortable in just this shirt around the house, as well as in direct sunlight in 70 °F weather.

Overall

I’m a very big fan of this shirt. I like the looks of it, and it’s very comfortable. Like any other 100% merino shirt, it resists odor well anddries fast. The added bonus to this shirt is that it is extremely light weight when you fold it up, and dare I say it adds almost no weight to your bag when you pack it.

Two thumbs up.

OLIVERS Convoy Short Sleeve Henley

Bluffworks Travel Suit

The items in this review were provided for review purposes by Bluffworks.

A few months ago I needed to travel for work, and I needed to wear a suit. All the suits I had were too large, so buying something new was needed. I ended up with a house brand suit from Macy’s which worked well, and while it had travel features (stretch, wrinkle resistance) it wasn’t comfortable for a day of cross-country flying. Shortly thereafter Bluffworks reached out and offered to send me the matching pants for my Gramercy Blazer (review here), thus making it into the Bluffworks Travel Suit.

Steve and I had been debating whether or not this combination would look like a suit (Steve had the pants, I already had the jacket). My wife likes my Gramercy Blazer but felt that it wouldn’t look right as a suit. After getting the pants I have quite a few thoughts on this combination.

Looks

My Bluffworks suit is in the Blue Hour colorway, which is a dark navy like color, but has a stronger blue to it than a true navy. The pants and jacket match very well, so there’s little concern to be had with that. The biggest thing I noticed right off the bat is the unstructured nature of the blazer makes the entire suit look more casual.

This is very common in techwear oriented suits, so I was not surprised by this at all. What I was surprised by was how much I did like the look of it overall. It’s not the same look as a suit I would wear in court, or to a wedding, it’s a touch more casual looking than that. But to dress up business casual, it nails the look.

I asked my wife what her thoughts were, and she largely agreed that it doesn’t really look like a typical suit, but it looked far better than she would have guessed. I’ve since worn it a few times and she’s never thought twice about it.

This is where I think this suit excels, as a good way to dress up your look but stay comfortable. This will for sure be my new go to look when traveling for work or to Europe so I’m not a stereotypical American.

Comfort

This is easily the most comfortable suit I’ve worn. While much of that comfort comes from taking away some aspects of the suit which would make the suit look more like a suit, Bluffworks seems to have made the smart trade offs in comfort versus looks. On a recent business trip (one night, two days) I flew a total of 11 hours and only packed this suit (and a change of shirt) and was comfortable the entire time, whether moving through the airport or on the plane.

Another nicety is that the suit jacket can stay on as you move through TSA Pre-Check, thus reducing the amount of shuffling you have to do at security. Top marks for comfort.

Overall

I fell in love with my Gramercy Blazer shortly after getting it, and yet I was highly skeptical of this combination. I knew the pants were good, but the last thing I wanted was to look like I was wearing some sort of denim suit — that’s far from the case. I’m sure many are skeptical as I was about this travel suit combination, but after wearing it many times to various places, I’m sold.

It’s a great combination and I only wish I had grabbed it sooner.

Bluffworks Travel Suit

Beyond Clothing A1 Power Wool Base Layer

This is a look at Polartec’s Power Wool material and less a look at this particular garment from Beyond, however, I will touch a bit on both. I’ve been testing this fabric now for 4 months, using it as a base layer on dozens of cold weather workouts and during other outings.

Material

Polartec’s Power Wool is a merino wool and synthetic fiber blend — like all blends the goal is to gain the odor resistance and moisture wicking from the merino while adding durability and other attributes from the synthetic fibers it is woven with. (CODURA sells a similar variant called ‘Combat Wool’, both find their heritage with the military. This is an 80% nylon, 20% merino blend.) The Power Wool in this garment is 72% Polyester and 28% wool. I’ve had a hard time finding details on what the makeup of Power Wool is, but these LL Bean pants are: 45% nylon, 40% merino, 15% spandex. Stio has a similar base layer and notes it is 70% polyester, 30% merino.

Overall, this is a low merino percentage, as it doesn’t feel like most merino and instead feels quite durable. It seems there’s a lot of variability in the Power Wool line of fabrics.

Fit

The garment itself is made to be a base layer and fits close to the skin, so unless you are rather fit or confident, you’ll likely not want to wear it as your only layer out and about. Typically, I layered this under a windbreaker for workouts. There are a few nice design things about this shirt worth noting:

  1. The seams are all flat, so even with my GORUCK on, I never felt the seams bothering me.
  2. The collar comes up rather high and does an excellent job keeping your neck warm. The zipper also has a nice chin guard to keep you comfortable.
  3. The shirt is cut longer in the back which was nice when wearing a backpack. It’s cut short in the front so it doesn’t come down much over your pants.

Overall a very comfortable fit, especially for something that is very fitted.

Warmth

The primary purpose of this garment is to keep you warm (it’s a thing Beyond is known for), and I bought this for specifically wearing during my workouts in the cold Pacific Northwest winters. I wore only this shirt under a windbreaker in 36° F and rainy weather many times and never felt cold. At the same time, the shirt and fabric do a fantastic job wicking away moisture to regulate my temperature.

When comparing it to something like Outdoor Research’s Sequence shirt that Steve and I like, it’s much warmer. Part of this is the weight of the fabric, which is heavier, and the other part is that it sits against your skin. Both lead to a garment that is very warm. The waffle pattern also helps to trap air and warm your body while pulling away moisture when you start to sweat.

It’s a perfect cold weather warm layer for me.

Odor Resistance

The big thing on this site, and with Power Wool, was to find out if adding merino really gives any benefit to the garment at all. Materials like polyester or nylon (which ever is used here) are like sponges for odor — and often they end up getting stinky much faster than cotton alone. The goal is that by adding merino, you add in enough odor resistance to make a big difference.

I’m not sure Polartec has succeeded with that here. Comparing this shirt to other merino blends I have, I can expect to get 2-3 wears out of those items before odor is an issue. Even when not wearing this shirt for workouts I can only get 1-2 wears on average before the smell is noticeable enough that I won’t wear it again.

The merino content is too low to do anything but help with temperature regulation. I often found that even after hanging the shirt for two days the odor was still too strong to wear again — which is disappointing. However, when wearing the shirt, it stinks up far slower than a normal all synthetic shirt.

Overall

I’m not an overall fan of Power Wool as something I would be looking for in a travel or daily wear garment. It’s a specialized blend that seems geared towards making synthetic garments less stinky and better at wicking. To that end, when compared directly to other synthetic base layers I have, this is far and away better. However, when compared with other merino base layers, it lags far behind.

As a durable base layer, for hiking or hunting, I’d choose this any time — it’s warm and performs well in scenarios where odor is less of a concern. For everyday wear, I would search for something with a higher merino content.

Beyond Clothing A1 Power Wool Base Layer