Outlier Grid Linen Towel

Note: this item was provided by Outlier for this review.

I’ve actually been using Grid Linen Towels for almost a full two years, both for travel as well as everyday. Outlier’s pitch for this towel is that it dries faster, weighs less, and packs down more. Ostensibly they have designed it to be the best beach towel you can buy, however, I’ve found mine are at home in my travel bag and hanging in my bathroom.

Material

This is a 200 gsm towel made of 100% woven linen. This towel isn’t a standard linen towel though, as the ‘grid’ part of the name is important. Here’s how Outlier explains it: “We chose a box weave linen, its three dimensional structure maximizes the surface area of the linen fibers.”

The fabric itself is very rumpled and light. When you hold the towel dry, it’s decently hard to believe it’s capable of drying your entire body. It’s also rough feeling, especially when new, but over time (my almost two year old one is decently soft) the fabric breaks down and gets softer.

Why

The story is that Outlier set out to make a better beach towel — one that dries you off well, without collecting half the beach on it. This towel does do that — though I have only used it at the beach one time. A bigger story with this towel is that it is very lightweight and packs down pretty small, especially when you consider the utility of it. All of this leads to a towel that is very versatile.

A lot of travelers like to take towels with them, this is better than any travel towel I have tried. Many beach goers need extra bags just to carry a beach towel, you won’t with these. And honestly, it’s a better bath towel as well.

So the reason you want this is because you want to use a better towel, and you don’t accept that plush and fluffy is necessarily better.

Use

I’ll break this into two sections: at home, and travel. Let’s start with travel first.

I initially traveled with the size large towel (56” x 36”, or about bath towel size) and found that while compact, there’s not a lot of utility for the type of travel I do with this large of a towel. I quickly switched to a size small for travel (15” x 15”, like a handkerchief) and then bought an extra one after just the first trip.

The small towel shines in travel because you always have a wash cloth with you, but one that dries fast enough that you don’t need to worry about carrying a sopping wet rag in your bag. One of the biggest uses I get with mine is a quick wash of my face with water after a long flight. I’ve also cleaned up many near disaster spills on planes from turbulence and carelessness. The towel absorbs water quickly and dries very fast. I mean it when I say: I do not travel without one of these towels, and I use it about every time.

At home, I use one of the size large towels after every shower and I have done so for almost two years now. I actually have 3, including the one Outlier sent me for testing. After just the first use, I knew it was going to stick around as the towel for me. It takes a little getting used to though.

For one, the linen is thin, and though it can absorb mountains of water, you need to move the towel around — not use just one area — when you dry your body off. Otherwise it stops absorbing water in those spots. This isn’t a big deal, but it will amaze you how long it takes to adjust to this.

It’s also scratchy feeling, especially when it is new. That’s quite nice when you are drying your back — who doesn’t like a back scratch — but can be completely off putting for some people (like my wife, who thinks I am nuts). Overtime it softens, however, it never feels plush and fuzzy like those luxury hotel bath towels. Though, if those hotels knew anything, they’d be using these towels.

Lastly, this towel dries really fast and that has a lot of benefits. The first is that it dries fast enough that gross smells do not tend to build up very fast on it. I did a test a while ago, and found that a standard cotton bath towel could last me about 3 showers at most before it started to build up a smell. This towel can last past 7, and honestly, I stopped testing because I started to feel a little weird about it.

Another benefit is that if you take multiple showers in one day, you might have noticed that your standard bath towel may not have had time to dry. This towel tends to be dry after using it in a few hours time — which is awesome.

Caveat

There are just two caveats with this towel:

  1. It’s scratchy feeling. I don’t mind it at all, but there are going to be many who can’t fathom why you would want anything that is slightly scratchy. You likely know who you are already.
  2. Outlier notes that you should avoid washing this in top-loading washing machines. I honestly didn’t know that until Steve pointed it out when we got these towels from Outlier. I’ve been washing several of these in top loading washers for 22 months — not a single issue at all, other than the tag starting to come off one. Your mileage may vary, but I’ve seen no ill effects.

Lastly, drying these is interesting. I’ve tried drying them by hanging them (Outlier provides a nice loop for doing so) and putting them in the dryer. If you use the dryer, the towels come out really soft and nice. If you hang them they have a scratchier texture to them until you use them a bit.

Drying with the loop stretches the material a bit.
Drying with the loop stretches the material a bit.

Hanging from the loop works great, but will tend to slightly stretch the towel in weird ways — though not in any way that seems to be a deal breaker. However, hanging from that loop dries the towel very quickly, especially if there’s any type of air movement around the towel.

Overall

I love this towel, and I have for a long time now. The small ones are fantastic for travel, and the bigger ones are the only towels I like to use for the bathroom. I’ve taken mine to pools as well, so that I know I can get myself and the kids dried off — because honestly there’s not a lot of bulk added with taking these. They work great at theme parks with kids too.

I’ve tried clear blue, medium gray, natural, and gray rock. I like the look of the clear blue the best, the medium gray did get some discoloration as did the gray rock. The natural is also great and would be my second choice of colors.

Bottom line: if you aren’t turned off by the thought of a towel that isn’t pure plush fuzziness, then you can’t get a better towel for yourself.

Outlier Grid Linen Towel

Underwear Roundup

Underwear is an important part of an everyday wardrobe and can make or break the comfort of any activity. I’ve tried out quite a few new pairs of underwear over the past year or so, and I’ve made a change to what my go-to pairs are. While this is nowhere near an exhaustive list, this roundup includes all the technical boxer briefs I’ve tried.

A few commonalities

Across all the boxer briefs I tried, there are a few commonalities across the two main pain points — rolling of the waistband and riding up of the leg.

It seems to me that rolling of the waistband is a thing of the past (at least across all the brands I discuss here). This is something that can be very annoying, and something I haven’t had to deal with since I switched away from my cheap Hanes underwear.

On the other hand, having the leg ride up is not something that has been solved (except for maybe the new Wool & Prince Boxer Briefs 2.0, I haven’t given them a try though). I find that all of my pairs of underwear can ride up under the right conditions. Two features that help mitigate riding up include a proper fit (tightness and length) of the leg.

Lastly, I’ve yet to find any underwear that I can wear more than once (even with an antimicrobial treatment or merino content). That’s fine with me as I don’t find it appealing to wear underwear more than once. This makes drying time important for travel.

The Competition

ExOfficio

The Give-N-Go Boxer Brief was my first foray into the performance underwear market. A few years back, they were the ones everyone talked about, but since seem to have declined in quality.

The fabric is 94% nylon and 6% Lycra with an antimicrobial treatment and a diamond knit. This makes the fabric have a rough handfeel and more likely to get caught on your pants.

These do not have a structured front panel and have a somewhat baggy fit.

The fit and fabric kill the appeal here.

Duluth Trading

The Buck Naked Performance Boxer Briefs were next. They are still popular and are the most heavy/durable of those I’ve tried.

The fabric is 93% nylon and 7% spandex with an odor resistant treatment and a diamond knit. The knit here, while not smooth, doesn’t seem to get caught on my pants.

These also do not have a structured front panel and a similar fit to the ExOfficio pair.

Again, the fit and fabric make these uninteresting, unless you’re going for durability.

UNIQLO

Once I got tired of the heavier fabric of the previous two brands, the AIRism Boxer Briefs seemed the natural way to go. Also very popular in the travel/performance community, these are hands down the lightest pair I own (in both fabric weight and packability).

The fabric is 89% polyester, 11% Spandex with an extremely smooth finish that feels like silk. No matter what fabric you wear on top, these never get caught.

The structured front panel adds to the comfort, and the tighter fit (and shorter leg) makes you forget you are wearing them. These are a good example of how the right fit helps keep the leg from riding up.

These are my favorite overall.

Y Athletics

Along the way here on Everyday Wear, I got the opportunity from Y Athletics to try both their SilverAir Merino (full review) and SilverAir Ultralight Boxer Briefs.

The Merino pair is 90% 17.5 micron merino wool, 5% metallic, and 5% spandex. The fabric is luxuriously soft and is quite thick. There is a custom leg grip system on each leg band that definitely helps keep these from riding up even when the legs aren’t quite as snug.

The Ultralight pair is 50% nylon, 35% Modal, 10% Spandex, and 5% metallic with an open-knit. Just like the name says, the fabric is very lightweight and has an excellent silky feel. While there are no leg grippers here, the legs fit a bit tighter so I didn’t feel like I was missing out.

I find the structured front panel in both of these pairs to be the most comfortable of all on this list.

Overall, can’t beat the luxury of the Merinos and the Ultralights are right up there with the UNIQLOs. The fit is spot on here.

Pistol Lake

Finally, I also recently had the chance from Pistol Lake to check out their Minimalist Boxer Briefs (full review).

The fabric is Pistol Lake’s custom Lightweight Eudae fabric, which is 76% polyester, 19% Tencel, and 5% Lycra. The fabric looks and feels similar to a cotton t-shirt.

While a snug fit, these do not have a structured front panel.

Overall, these are great if you’re looking for cotton-like comfort and are willing to sacrifice performance.

Comparison

Performance

All of the boxer briefs perform well in all conditions with two exceptions.

The SilverAir Merino feels a little heavy with a lot of sweat, just like any merino piece, but dries quickly as the moisture evaporates from the core of the fibers.

The Minimalist Boxer Briefs feel heavy and moist with a lot of sweat. This was a surprise after trying their shirt made from the same fabric, but these are the only pair that I don’t really enjoy wearing for exercise.

Travel

Hands-down I prefer the AIRism Boxer Briefs for travel. Their extremely light and silky fabric and shorter length makes them pack down to nothing and dry quickly after a sink wash. Also, if they do ride up, they are the least noticeable.

Comfort

The most comfortable of the lot are of course the SilverAir Merino, nothing beats the luxurious soft feel of high quality merino. When combined with a great structured front panel, these will be hard to beat in the comfort department.

The Minimalist Boxer Briefs also up there in comfort because they have a cottony feel and the long length helps keep the legs in place.

Conclusion

After wearing most of these boxer briefs for at least six months, if not longer, the UNIQLO AIRisms have become my top pick. Not only are they lightweight and comfortable, they are a great value at just $10 (and often can be had on sale for $5). At that price, there is no reason not to stock up. If the cost wasn’t involved, I would say the Y Athletics SilverAir Ultralights would be my top pick, as they are a bit more comfortable than the AIRisms. Finally, for comfort above all else (while still maintaining excellent performance), I haven’t found anything more comfortable than the Y Athletics SilverAir Merinos.

Underwear Roundup

Massdrop Peak Merino Hoodie

A while back Massdrop held a pre-order for a new merino wool hoodie they were producing. That hoodie, the Massdrop Peak Merino Hoodie, arrived a little over a month ago and I have been testing it. Not just this hoodie itself, but the idea of whether you even need a hoodie made out of merino wool. Let’s dive in.

Fabric

This is a 100% merino wool (19.5 micron) hoodie, but it’s different than any other I have tried. That’s because the inside is brushed fleece wool and the entire garment is 340gsm in weight. The entire garment is way softer than I expected, both inside and out. The outer face is very nice and soft, softer than cotton hoodies.

The inside is pure luxury though. The brushed fleece nature of the merino is unreal and feels amazing in the inside. That said, it certainly is prone to leaving you with black lint all over what you are wearing (especially before you wash it).

The oddest part of the hoodie is the weight. At 340gsm you would rightly think it is thick, because it is, but is it warm? Not nearly as warm as you would think. The knit of the garment is very open, so wind (even light breezes) seem to pass right through it. However, it is warm when you are lounging about. Perhaps it’s best to look at this as a warming layer, not a warm outer garment.

A Note on Cleaning

Massdrop labels this hoodie as dry clean only — which is something I find pretty absurd for:

  1. A Hoodie
  2. A Merino Garment

So I went ahead and machine washed this and hung it to dry. It’s still in one piece, but I now know why it is labeled as dry clean only. For starters the hoodie came out of the wash looking dirtier than it went in — it was covered in lint. Nothing I washed with it should have given off lint, and none of those clothes had lint on them — very odd.

The real change was to the inner fuzzy fabric of the garment. Like with any fuzzy garment this changed with a wash. Instead of matting down, it got fuzzier and a bit longer. And now it gets an extreme amount of lint on a white shirt. So while you can wash it in the washer, I strongly discourage it.

Fit and Style

This is geared to be more of an athletic looking hoodie with a form fitting hood. Something you wear while being active. The body and sleeves are longer than most anything you will be used to. I am wearing a size large (my normal size) and the sleeves are great for me — but typically if I am ordering a button down I order a sleeve length of 36”, where a standard large is usually 35” at the most.

The fit is also slim, but not that slim. It’s long and narrow for the most part — not boxy and short like most other hoodies you might be wearing. From a style perspective this gives it a bit of a weird look overall and not a standard hoodie look. So if you want something to replace a cotton hoodie, look elsewhere. This doesn’t wow me on the style side.

Performance

This is a bit tricky to write about, as we have been having an ongoing debate about whether a garment like this even needs to be made out of merino wool. For the most part, we think it’s overkill. But for the purposes of this review, allow me to compare it to the hoodie I normally wear, a Flint and Tinder 10-Year Hoodie.

Typically I wear hoodies at the beach and when I am vacationing on the Washington coast. I can wear that cotton hoodie for about 4 days before it smells enough that I want to wash it. With the Peak, I wore it for over a month and only washed it for this review. It still never smelled or looked dirty. You might be able to make a case that this doesn’t really need cleaning as long as you wear a layer between the hoodie and your skin.

Is that enough to justify wearing a merino wool garment? I don’t think it is by itself.

So instead let’s skip packability and other traits we normally look at — this isn’t packable, nor a travel item. Instead I want to talk about wearing it and how it performs for that. This feels like a traditional fleece jacket in that it is fuzzy and bulky, but the wind cuts right through it. In a house, you are perfectly comfortable. Using it as a layer, perfect. Wearing it alone and expecting to be warm in any wind, not a good idea.

That said, I found the actual static weight of the garment, the 340gsm fabric, to be a really ideal weight. It’s comfortable in a warm house, and warm enough when layered outside. I wish all my hoodies were like this, as most run too cool or too warm. This is really in the sweet spot.

The worst performance aspect is that this hoodie is a lint and pet hair magnet. If you have any around, it will find it. While it does come off easily with a lint brush, my cotton hoodie never suffers this problem.

And then there is the delicacy of the fabric itself. It feels very delicate, like it could easily and readily be snagged by anything, which is weird given the athletic nature of the design. However, I did wear it with a GORUCK bag and saw no cause for concern..

Overall

Overall, I like it, but I don’t love it. I think the performance benefits from the merino are great, but likely not worth the premium in the price — especially when you consider the extra care and maintenance this garment asks for (removing lint, and dry clean only). That said, if you want everything you own to be merino, or if you often wear a hoodie without a shirt underneath, then this is a pretty darn good option as it will perform really well.

For me, I’d rather stick with a cotton hoodie, or some other more durable variant of a performance hoodie.

Massdrop Peak Merino Hoodie

Pistol Lake Minimalist Boxer Briefs

The item in this review was provided by Pistol Lake for review purposes.

Pistol Lake recently gave me the opportunity to try out their Minimalist Boxer Brief, which is made out of the same Lightweight Eudae fabric as their Minimalist Tee (our review). I’ve been testing these for a few months now, and they have some compelling attributes, including great resistance to riding up.

Fabric

The custom Lightweight Eudae fabric is 76% recycled polyester, 19% Tencel, and 5% spandex. You might think that with the high polyester content it will feel just like all the other synthetic underwear out there, however it doesn’t. The Tencel (Eucalyptus pulp derived fiber) gives the fabric a luxurious soft feel, you might even believe it’s a stretchy cotton. When sewn up as boxer briefs, this makes for an extremely comfortable pair of underwear.

Fit

I found myself right on the borderline of L and XL according to the size chart, so I gave both a try. If you are in the same situation and are looking for a tight, more supportive fit size down, otherwise size up.

With a longer leg length and great stretch, these boxer briefs do a great job resisting riding up, especially if you wear them on the tighter side. They are my only underwear, other than some with special leg grippers, that I’ve never had issues riding up while working out. Another area some other underwear can have issues is the waistband. On these, It is nice and wide and is thick enough that it stays flat and never digs in.

If there was anywhere I’d recommend some improvement in the fit, it would be to add some shape to the pouch — something that can take a great pair of boxer briefs and make them excellent.

Performance

The Eudae fabric does a great job of wicking moisture. While it does hold more than a full polyester or nylon fabric, it dries almost as fast. During really sweaty workouts, these can start to feel a little like wearing cotton. They don’t hold as much sweat as cotton, but I did notice that they felt more sweaty than my other performance underwear. In this situation, the quick drying nature only helps once you are done heavily sweating.

As far as odor resistance, I have never found underwear to be something I want to/can wear more than once (even merino), so I can’t comment. However, the Eudae fabric in its t-shirt form, performs almost as well as merino (and better than full synthetic, see our comparison).

Of course, the topic of packability and drying speed is also a factor for travel. In comparison to other options, they are about middle of the road as far as packability and while fast drying, not as fast as some of the thin, pure synthetic blends.

Overall

The Pistol Lake Minimalist Boxer Briefs are compelling mainly in the comfort area. They also solve the problem of riding up with their length and the stretch of the fabric, which isn’t something that most $29 pairs of underwear can do. However, my experience with them during very sweaty workouts makes them less than ideal for me. They are worth a look, however, if you want cotton-like comfort with great stretch, don’t sweat a ton when working out, or are traveling (where sweat and heat aren’t a concern) and want the comfort and drying performance these offer.

Pistol Lake Minimalist Boxer Briefs

Bluffworks Departure Jeans

Note: these were provided by Bluffworks for this review.

The best I can recall, it’s been 2 years since I owned a pair of jeans, and perhaps a little longer since I wore them at that. So the Bluffworks Departure Jeans are my first jeans in quite some time, and I will fully admit that it was weird for me (and for my wife) for me to be wearing jeans again. At the same time, these are super comfortable jeans.

The idea with these jeans is that there are some people who refuse to give up denim, and thus they should be offered a better pair for travel. Bluffworks did this with a custom material, as well as adding a few slick features.

Material

First thing you need to understand is that these are not like many of the “modern” 5-pocket type of pants we talk about. They are not made from a completely technical, non-cotton material. They are trying to improve upon jeans, while still keeping them jeans. To that end, Bluffworks came up with a blend of: 68% Cotton, 22% COOLMAX Polyester, 9% Rayon, and 1% Spandex. There’s a lot going on there, but suffice to say they basically feel like a stretchy pair of standard jeans, even the weight/warmth feels like jeans.

These feel closest to a pair of jeans I had which were made by Mavi, meaning they are very soft to the touch. They look and act mostly like traditional denim with the stretch barely noticeable. Happily, the jeans will easily cuff and remain cuffed — something which more technical materials still find mostly elusive.

The COOLMAX is the biggest addition, which is a fiber designed for moisture wicking and breathability. Given that we are in the dead of winter, I have yet to be able to test anything about this aspect of the pants. I will note that they don’t seem to dry any faster than standard jeans when they get wet.

Travel Pockets

I’ll first start by saying that I really hate it when clothing manufacturers add zippered pockets to clothing. These types of pockets almost always look silly and get in the way. The Departure Jeans have two of these zippered pockets on the back, which are hidden in the seam above the standard back pockets.

What’s really amazing here is that you cannot tell these pockets exist in any way. The inner part of the actual pocket is a thin and almost nonexistent material. On the outside of the pants the zipper is perfectly hidden and perhaps the most discrete zippered pockets out there.

What this all means is that if, like me, you wish pockets like this didn’t exist then these won’t bother you at all. However, if you do like having secure pockets like these, then they are here for you and are the best I have seen.

Comfort and Wear

I have been wearing these jeans non-stop since I got them, with only one day (while they were being washed) switching back to the pants I normally wear. I’ve found them to be extremely comfortable. There’s no doubt about it, for non-travel and casual lounging wear, cotton still is king. These pants prove that out.

Moreover, they move very freely, more so than any other jeans I have owned. I have had no issues working in the yard, folding piles of laundry on the floor, watching TV, chasing the kids, or any other activity I’ve done while wearing these. If nothing else, these move extremely well.

The fit on these is classic, not slim or baggy. They also look identical to standard jeans. There’s nothing to tell people that they are anything but ordinary jeans one way or the other. The wash is accurate at a medium, but I might prefer a slightly darker wash. All in all, I have no complaints whatsoever in the comfort department.

Travel Friendly?

I think the elephant in the room for me is whether or not these work for travel. This is largely going to depend on how you travel. If you are among the many people who simply refuse to travel anywhere without jeans, then these are certainly a better option that what you normally pack. Bluffworks says that these are 11oz per yard, whereas most jeans are 14oz — that’s hard to conceptualize, so think of it that these jeans are going to weigh less than standard jeans.

However, if you are someone who wears more technical pants (like me) then you’d be hard pressed to want to travel with these. They will not dry very fast if you sink wash them. They won’t repel dirt or grime any better than standard denim. And they will take up more space than your technical pants.

Where these really fit in for me is in the classic style domain. If I am not flying to my destination, I wouldn’t have a good reason not to pack these. So while they may not be the best option for a jet setter, they are a very good option for a weekend away. How much better than a standard jean — for that you’re going to have to ask someone who regularly wears jeans.

Overall

One thing I tested with these is a wash and dryer cycle. Though, not recommended, I found that tossing them into the dryer only barely shrunk the waist, while nipping a bit more off the length of the jeans. I mostly did this to break them in a bit more, and because I find myself in between sizes with my pair being slightly too big in the waist. I wouldn’t recommend you do this, but the pants didn’t fall apart when I did.

My only nitpick about these jeans is the fifth pocket, which seems unnecessarily large. Other than that, these are very comfortable and classic looking jeans. The price is right in line with what I always paid for jeans, and is certainly less expensive than most other pants I buy.

These are jeans, and if evaluated solely against other jeans, they rank very high for me. Evaluated against more technical five pocket pants, they only win on aesthetics. That said, there are very few Americans who don’t own, or like wearing, jeans and these are a particularly comfortable pair of them.

Bluffworks Departure Jeans

Pistol Lake Minimalist Pullover Hoodie

The item in this review was provided by Pistol Lake for review purposes.

If you’ve been reading Everyday Wear, you know we are fans of Pistol Lake apparel. They recently sent me their Minimalist Pullover Hoodie to check out and I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I typically am not a hoodie person, but this hit the perfect balance of being shirt-like with the benefit of a hood and kangaroo pocket.

Fabric

The fabric is another one of Pistol Lake’s custom fabric blends, Eclon (46% nylon, 42% polyester, 12% spandex). It does not have a technical sheen and has that Pistol Lake softness we’ve come to expect. Is somewhat heavier than the Midweight Eudae used in their One-Bag Henley (our review). For me it’s the perfect weight for a hoodie. It strikes a balance of warmth, where it is suitable throughout all the cooler months inside while still keeping you warm outside in the shoulder season. This also lends to being able to easily wear a jacket over the hoodie when needed.

Fit and Performance

While not as close fitting as the One-Bag Henley or Minimalist Tee (our review), the cut is still athletic and fits close enough that it makes for a comfortable layer without looking bulky. The generously curved hem at the bottom makes it a little longer, which is great for a hoodie.

It has become my go-to layer for around the house since the weather has gotten cold, as well as being nice enough to wear around town on the weekend. The combination of the softness and stretch of the fabric makes it the most comfortable layer I own. As far as odor resistance, I haven’t really noticed any smell before I’ve had to wash it for other reasons. When washed, the fabric dries surprisingly fast for its weight.

There is one unique feature — a hidden cell phone zip pocket inside the kangaroo pocket. While I always find it awkward to carry anything in a hoodie pocket, my iPhone XS does fit. While I haven’t used the pocket for my phone, I could see using it to hold a key and/or ID when I don’t want to carry a wallet or phone.

Overall

The Pistol Lake Minimalist Performance Hoodie surprised me and has become a staple in my cooler weather wardrobe. The soft and stretchy fabric makes it comfortable in any situation, while the cut and styling makes it nice enough to wear around town. If you are looking for a midweight, comfortable, and good looking hoodie, this one should definitely be on your list.

Pistol Lake Minimalist Pullover Hoodie

Proof Nova Series Insulated Jacket

I have been testing the Proof Nova Series Insulated Jacket for about a month now, and found it to be quite impressive. The jacket is billed as an insulated jacket for travel and adventure, which is in line with the other clothing Proof produces.

Material

This jacket is made of two materials, with the insulation being PrimaLoft Gold at 60 g, and the shell being a “Japanese four-way stretch nylon fabric, with a durable water repellent finish”. I know what to expect with PrimaLoft Gold, but I have no clue what this outer fabric is.

Nylon with stretch? When I got it I found that the nylon itself is very thing feeling, and the stretch is, well, very stretchy. I expected the jacket to have just a touch of stretch, but instead the jacket has a good amount of 4-way stretch. So much so that the jacket fits me rather snug (good for a mid layer, or something you don’t want a lot of bulk under) and if it were not for the stretch, I would need to go up a size. However, the stretch allows the jacket to fit me a little closer, while not restricting my movement in anyway. This is rather impressive.

The nylon, while being thin, feels durable and overall offers me no worries about wearing this as a primary outer layer. The thickness is in line with other jackets of this nature, like Patagonia’s popular Nano Puff Jacket. I will note that the nylon used by Proof is a matte finish and thus offers a unique look.

Warmth

This jacket is warm. PrimaLoft Gold is great synthetic insulation, and proven to work well. This jacket is no exception, and the biggest issue I have had with this jacket is that it is often too warm to wear in a lot of situations. I am only able to drive while wearing this jacket if I am only wearing a t-shirt under it.

I recently reviewed the Triple Aught Design Catalyst Field shirt, and while that weighs more, it is about half as warm as this Nova jacket. After buying this jacket, I am confident I will not need to get a heavier down jacket at all. This is all the warmth I need.

The unfortunate part is that the jacket doesn’t breath well. So when you move into say a store, you will have been warm outside, and now will start to overheat being inside. You’ll need to remove the jacket. Even unzipped I have at times found the jacket too warm. The best way I have found to mitigate this is to wear the jacket with only a t-shirt under it.

In temps below 44 degrees F, this jacket excels, but it has been unseasonably warm in the Pacific Northwest so far this winter.

Comfort

This jacket is very comfortable and cozy to wear. The materials used form well to my body and move fairly easily. The stretch is a little odd, as it offers more resistance than you might expect, but once you start stretching it moves decently well.

Overall it’s a warm jacket with stretch, so it’s perfectly comfortable.

Packing

The compressibility of this jacket is less than what you get with down jackets, but the jacket does come with a stuff sack which is attached to the inside of the breast pocket. As with most synthetic insulated jackets, this doesn’t pack down to any impressive size. The stuff sack does help get the jacket out of the way, but it is made out of a stretch material, so the compression offered by the stuff sack is limited. It is also sized a bit too large for the jacket, thus affording extra room.

All in all, I don’t think it is fair to call this jacket packable. Yes, it is very svelte in the overall weight, but I’ve had lighter and warmer down jackets which pack down to a much smaller size. This is always going to be the trade off.

Style

This jacket is as basic as it comes. It is designed to cut more athletic in looks, and yet be simple enough that it can reasonably blend in anywhere. I think the big thing to note about the style of the jacket, is that it doesn’t look tacticool, nor does it look like a jacket for hiking.


It’s simple and fairly innocuous in design. The biggest miss for me with the style is the collar, as it leans into your neck instead of standing up on its own. I think this looks a bit odd, and am unsure if this is something unique to my body or not.

A Few Complaints

This jacket isn’t perfect and thus there are a few areas I think need improvement:

Stuff sack: It’s too big and too stretchy. It needs to be smaller and not stretchy. I also don’t understand why it is connected. I am removing it so I can ditch it from the jacket.

Wrinkling: The material of this jacket is prone to wrinkling, which sucks when you stuff it into a stuff sack for travel. It can get quite wrinkly and the wrinkles don’t fall out that quickly. Typically it takes about 3-4 hours wearing the jacket before the wrinkles release.

Pocket zippers: The zippers for the exterior pockets are very small, and the zipper pulls are even smaller. They are hard to operate. The stretch on the material means that you often need two hands to open the pockets, and it can be quite difficult to open and close them without the jacket itself zipped up. It’s nice they are zipped, but they are hard to use.

Cuffs: The jacket sues a narrow elastic band for the cuffs, which is pretty typical of this style/type of jackets. However, they are almost rolled under, so that you do not see the actual cuff when you wear the jacket. It’s really odd and makes the cuff catch on my watch when I put the jacket on. It also looks a little odd and takes some getting used to.

Overall

Despite the small little issues I have with the jacket, I really do like it. I had been considering many of the more common mid-layer insulated jackets, and am glad I went with this one over those. It strikes the right balance with style and performance. I am glad it is as warm as it is, and prefer jackets to trend in that direction over being not warm enough.

What I like the most is that this jacket moves really well, fits great, and doesn’t look like something I just came from a hiking trail wearing. I could see taking this jacket anytime I need a warm layer when I travel, and will likely wear it a ton this winter.

Proof Nova Series Insulated Jacket

Patagonia Long-Sleeved Recycled Wool Shirt

Patagonia has been pushing the boundaries with recycling clothing fibers into new clothes for a long time, and the Long-Sleeved Recycled Wool Shirt takes recycled wool, polyester, and nylon and makes it into a great, all around casual, heavy shirt. You also can’t beat having Patagonia stand behind a shirt like this, as I could see it used in many conditions, from a casual day around town to camping in the woods.

Fabric

The fabric is a 6.9 oz blend of 60% recycled wool, 30% recycled polyester, and 10% recycled nylon. The Forge Grey color shows good variation in the color and has a nice texture to give it some visual interest. I’ve seen some complaints of the shirt being scratchy, but it doesn’t bother me due to the lining in the cuffs and neck/collar. However, if you generally think wool is scratchy, this is definitely not the shirt for you.

For those interested in sustainability, the 100% recycled nature of the fabric is also a plus. The wool actually comes from old sweaters, which is a very old process that is now aided by modern technology. Patagonia has been recycling polyester for a long time, starting with making water bottles into fleece, and now they can take other sources such as old clothing. Most interestingly, Patagonia wasn’t able to find a quality recycled nylon fiber until about five years ago and now they are using textile waste as well as experimenting with used fishing nets.

Fit, Performance, and Styling

This shirt fits me well. Sizing is right as expected for Patagonia, so I found the large to fit well (and have long enough sleeves). The cut works well as it’s close enough that you can wear it with just an undershirt, or it can be worn as an overshirt. Patagonia calls this their “Regular Fit”, and for me it only works untucked (which is perfect for this shirt).

The cut plays right into the weight of the fabric, as I’ve found it comfortable to wear indoors on a chilly day while being warm enough to wear as an overshirt on a colder day. As far as the odor performance, I have worn this shirt many times and have not had to wash it yet. The combination of it not being a close to skin piece and having over 50% wool content seems to make it odor resistant.

The pockets and weight of the fabric definitely land this shirt squarely in the casual category, however, it does still pair nicely with a nicer pair of pants (like the Outlier Slim Dungarees or Futureworks) and a pair of boots.

Overall

Since the cooler months have arrived, the Patagonia Recycled Wool Shirt has been my go-to shirt for looking put together and casual. When compared to other similar offerings on the market, the $129 price is an excellent value. The weight and good looks of the fabric, combined with the cut, make it a piece that I’m sure will be in my wardrobe for a long time.

Patagonia Long-Sleeved Recycled Wool Shirt

Myles Apparel Tour Pant

The item in this review was provide for Myles Apparel for review purposes.

Myles Apparel recently released their Tour Pant to compete in the technical, 5-pocket pant market. It’s marketed as a “classic 5-pocket pant design upgraded with modern features”. I had a chance to give these a good try over the holidays.

Material

The fabric is described as a “breathable stretch woven twill” and is 100% polyester with DWR. While there is no elastane, the fabric is quite stretchy, although not as stretchy as my Outlier Slim Dungarees. The weight seems to be similar to the Workcloth in the Slim Dungarees, but this fabric doesn’t have as strong of a texture and has a noticeable technical sheen. I found the weight to be decent for cold weather, and could see the pants transition to the warmer months.

One interesting material touch is a tight mesh fabric used for the pockets. I’m guessing this is to help with the breathability, although I typically feel this is a gimmick that can hurt the durability of the pockets.

Fit

These pants are a slim/athletic cut with a slight leg taper. The odd thing, however, is the sizing. They are only offered in S-XXL rather than waist sizes. In talking to Myles, I was told that the sizing is consistent with their other pants, so I got an XL (this choice also made sense with their sizing chart). The XL turned out to be unusual baggy in the seat, so I exchanged for a L.

In a L, the waist was slightly tight — made OK because of the stretch, however there is some pulling at the top of the fly flap. Since the pulling is right below the button, it’s hidden by an untucked shirt, but makes these pants unwearable for me with a tucked in shirt. The seat did fit much better though. I also tend to have concerns with tightness around the thighs in athletic/slim pants, but the fit on these, while a little tighter than I usually go, was comfortable.

Also, rather than providing an inseam measurement, they list a max height for each size (6’5” on the L). I am 6’2”, and I found the inseam to be perfect, they do offer free hemming by mail though, if needed.

The rise of the pants seem to be a bit lower than what I’m used to. I found squatting down to cause the pants to pull down in the back a bit. The lower rise also makes the back pockets fall lower than I’m used to — this is something I didn’t notice right away, but became apparent when sitting with a wallet in my back pocket.

Wearing Them

The stretch of the fabric is surprising given the lack of any stretch component to the blend. I never found the pants to constrict my movement and found them to move with my body, although not as easily as a pant with some elastane blended in. The gusseted crotch also helps with freedom of movement, although I found the back of the pants to pull down a bit when squatting or moving around on the floor when playing with my niece. I’m guessing this is a function of the rise.

While not severely tapered, I did find the taper to cause the pants to sometimes get caught on my calves when standing up.

The fifth pocket is sized to hold your phone, and it does indeed just hold an iPhone XS. My phone seems secure there, although the pocket is situated high enough that I didn’t find it to be a comfortable place to carry my phone. The other pockets are all nice and deep and things seem to stay put. The right back pocket also has a zipper portion designed to securely hold a wallet or passport, a nice touch and well implemented. I’ve found some zipper pockets like this to get in the way, but the zipper seems to be well designed here as to stay hidden and out of the way.

Finally, the technical sheen — this one is a deal breaker for me when wearing the pants. I hoped it would become less noticeable with some wear and washing, but that did not come true. Maybe it’s most noticeable in the Charcoal color I have, but for pants that are targeted for wear from outdoors all the way to work, I expect less sheen.

A Few Complaints

These pants aren’t perfect. While I think a lot of what I don’t like is a factor of the fit, there are definitely some improvements that could be made.

Sizing: Only having S-XXL sizing in these pants makes it less likely that you will find a great fit, and seems unusual for a pant billed as looking good enough for work wear. I’d consider making these in the usual waist sizings.

Rise: The rise on these pants turned out to be a little too low for me, causing the back to pull down in some situations. I didn’t notice if it was different in the XL pair I had first, but in order to get a fit that was reasonable, I had to size down.

Sheen: The sheen of the fabric is too noticeable for a technical pant that is supposed to be able to be worn in many situations. While it may have been OK in the past, there are too many good, non-shiny offerings these days.

Overall

The Myles Apparel Tour Pant is not the pant for me. While some of my issues are probably due to not being able to find a great fit, the fabric could use some work. If you can find a fit that works for you, the $118 price is compelling when compared to my gold standard of the Slim Dungarees ($198), and it might be worth giving them a try.

Myles Apparel Tour Pant

Proof Passage Tee

One of the most common things I hear from people when I tell them to buy merino wool t-shirts is that wool is too scratchy for them, or the person they want to get a shirt for. While I don’t find merino wool scratchy, and many people agree on that, there are still some who do. The issue is that the majority of non-merino shirts out there don’t perform nearly as well as wool. Which brings us to the Proof Passage Tee.

I used to tell people to go buy Pistol Lake’s Minimalist Tee (our review). Both of us were surprised by the performance of the Eudae fabric, but the shirt is very lightweight and more geared towards an athletic look. Proof makes technical clothing with the traveler in mind, and they do it out of a range of fabrics. The brand (formerly Proof NYC) is now owned wholly by Huckberry and sold through them.

I picked up their Passage Tee on a whim and have been impressed by it since. I bought another too. Let’s dive in.

Fabric

This shirt is a cotton blend of: 48% cotton / 47% polyester / 5% spandex. This isn’t specifically listed, but I am confident it is treated with some anti-odor chemical as well, but we cannot determine which.

The fabric itself feels like some of the softest cotton out there. It’s very soft, almost feeling slightly fuzzy at times. The shirt stretches well, and is thick enough that you will have no worries about any see through aspects, and yet light enough that it packs well.

Comfort

The moment you put this shirt on, it is comfortable. Nothing beats soft cotton against your skin. The shirt is made even more comfortable with the addition of stretch and moisture wicking. It’s not as moisture controlling as a wool shirt, but it is far better than straight cotton. It’s almost as good as wool for general wear when it comes to moisture.

The stretch seemed like an odd choice to me in a t-shirt, but it works out quite well. Allowing the arm openings to be cut closer to the body, without restricting the movement of your body. The stretch isn’t a ton, but it’s more than enough for this shirt to make it a really nice touch.

At the end of a long day, I am generally happier with a merino t-shirt, but for shorter wears this Passage Tee is really hard to beat for comfort. Because, while it doesn’t quite have the performance of merino which aides in comfort throughout the day, it feels very relaxing to wear.

Performance

My benchmark for performance is that I generally can get 4-5 days of wear with merino, and 3-4 with something like Pistol Lake’s shirt. I find the Passage Tee to be about a 2-3 wears shirt. If I air it out for longer between wears, I might be able to get an extra day. Cotton kills this for a ton of wears in a row.

However, that’s not to say this shirt doesn’t perform well, because it is quite impressive for a shirt with such high cotton content. I first tested the shirt by wearing it for 24 hours straight, airing it out for 8 hours, and then wearing it for another 12 hours. It didn’t stink so bad after all of that, but it smelled enough that I would prefer not to wear it again without washing it.

Speaking of washing, the shirt dries well when hanging. It’s not as fast as a merino shirt, but it is pretty quick drying overall.

Overall

As I mentioned at the start of this review, I bought a second of this shirt. The Passage Tee is the pure comfort of a well worn cotton t-shirt with much better performance. It’s not something I’ll be traveling with, but if I know I am going somewhere to relax and lounge, it is the shirt I would want to have.

At standard retail of $42, it is a decent buy. Right now it is on sale for $28, and at that price it is a steal.

Proof Passage Tee