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

Outlier Strong Tee

One of the common complaints I have about t-shirts is that it is hard to find a t-shirt that is white and performs well. There are lots in the undershirt realm, but few in the wear everyday, performs better than cotton, realm. It seems Outlier wanted to do their take with a 100% nylon shirt, called the Strong Tee (currently noted as discontinued, but available on the secondary markets).

Material

This shirt is 160 gsm nylon, which sounds very boring. In fact, it’s quite interesting, as Outlier notes:

A jersey knit made from fibers that are chopped and spun like cotton to create a soft and comfortable yet remarkably durable fabric. It breaks in like an old cotton jersey except its strong enough to feel a bit like it will stay that way forever.

It feels like cotton in a very uncanny way. It’s not quite right, and you can sense that with the handfeel, but I cannot describe how it doesn’t feel like cotton. The closest I can come to explaining this is it feels like it has less friction than cotton, but don’t take that to mean it is smooth.

Texturally this is a fantastic fabric and I do hope they make more garments out of this.

Comfort & Performance

I am lumping these two sections together because this doesn’t fall into the normal performance category we talk about. It has no inkling of odor resistance — it needs a wash after every wear. It does dry quickly, but that’s about it.

From a comfort perspective, it’s fantastic. I’ve been wearing and washing it a lot to break down the fabric as Outlier notes it will do. It gets softer each time, without ever feeling like the material itself is breaking down. This is not a shirt I pack when I travel, but it is shirt I wear often solely because of how comfortable it is. When I need something with more performance, I opt for merino.

Issues

There are two issues with this shirt: pilling and the cut itself. Almost after the first wash you will see that the fabric has begun pilling on the surface. From 4-5 feet you can’t see it. Get closer and you can see it. It’s not like a sweater where you are pulling off fuzz balls, but the texture goes from smooth to worn. Many have noted that this is a deal breaker (and perhaps why it is discontinued?), but I personally don’t take issue with this at all. Looking at some of my softest cotton t-shirts, this pilling is exactly on par with them.

This is nylon mimicking cotton.

The big issue for me is the cut. The shirt is extremely long, even on my overly long torso. Because of that my wife often notes that it looks like an undershirt on me, which is exactly what I don’t want. I have considered getting it hemmed, but I’ve yet to do that.

Instead I tend to wear it around the house, and I suppose if tucking in a t-shirt is your thing this would be great. For me, it’s just too long.

Overall

I’m surprised this shirt was discontinued, and I wonder if a revised shirt based on this might come out some time in the future. The biggest complaint about merino is durability. The biggest complaint about nylon is looks and softness. This shirt is durable, soft, and looks like cotton. For me, I love it. I don’t need every shirt I own to be worn for days in a row, but I do like my shirts to be comfortable and to last.

This checks both those boxes.

Outlier Strong Tee

OLIVERS Porter Hoodie

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

The Porter Hoodie is an athletic take on a 100% merino wool hoodie. I’ve been testing this hoodie for almost two years now, and it still looks brand new. With that in mind, let’s take a look at it.

Material

This is a 100% merino hoodie, but the fabric itself is what OLIVERS calls “merino luxe terry”. If you’ve worn terry cloth before, I think that name accurately describes this hoodie. As the outer face is smooth and looks clean, while the inner face has a distinct waffle pattern. Unlike cotton hoodies, there is no soft or plush interior. OLIVERS doesn’t specify a weight for the fabric, but I would peg it somewhere around 220 gsm. It’s light for a hoodie but heavier than some of my other merino garments.

Overall this is not a soft merino, but it feels closer to a merino nylon blend. This gives it the durable feeling that you want in a garment of this type.

Warmth and Comfort

I like to think of this as a mid-layer. It’s perfect for a cool evening, a quick warm up layer, or a hoodie to wear around the house. It’s a layer, not something you likely will throw on to stay warm in the deep of winter.

This makes it much more versatile than the other (heavier) hoodies I have. With a heavier hoodie, I often start to overheat indoors and find it harder to layer when it is very cold out. I think the best application is for this to be an indoor hoodie, or an active layer when the weather is colder outside. Overall, I find it to be a great weight and very comfortable to wear.

Durability

It’s not often that we can comment on the long term durability of the items we review here, but since I’ve been testing this since November of 2016 I can in this case. After almost 2 years of wear and washing, the hoodie looks brand new. I can’t find anything to indicate this amount of wear.

It’s not the most worn garment I own, but it certainly has been used quite a lot and I would have expected more evidence of wear. It is a very durable garment.

Fit

OLIVERS describes the fit of this hoodie as athletic and it is spot on. The sleeves are narrow and the body is wider through the chest with a definite taper leading down to the waist. You can combat this by sizing up, or enjoy a trim hoodie as designed.

One thing to note about the fit, is that the athletic fit means you might find it more difficult to wear over certain looser fitting t-shirts. I have never had an issue where I couldn’t layer it, but I do often have to adjust the sleeves of a t-shirt to not appear lumpy. The fit works well for me, but its not the normal boxy look of a hoodie.

Overall

Other elements of this hoodie, like the lack of a front pocket, the hidden side pocket, and the collar inside the hood itself lead to a really smart look. It’s a bit of an enigma for me, as it fits right in as an athletic/workout hoodie but can be made to look nicerwith the right pairing of pants.

I liked this hoodie when I first got it, and I still like it to this day. It finds itself being worn a lot when the weather cools off and packed as a just in case layer when I head out in the summer months. If you are ok with the fit, then it’s a great merino hoodie with all of the merino wool properties we love.

OLIVERS Porter Hoodie

Outlier Ultrafine Merino T-Shirt

A staple item among Outlier fans is their Ultrafine Merino T-shirt, which is a 100% merino shirt made for daily wear. I own two, and have been wearing them for quite some time. These are my favorite t-shirt without any caveats.

Material

As mentioned, this is a 100% merino shirt made from 17.5 micron wool. It comes in at a heavier 195 gsm. However, these specs sell the fabric short — there’s a reason why Outlier dedicates a full four paragraphs to talking about this merino. It’s simply not like other merino.

The key to understanding the difference is in this line from Outlier:

This means a standard 17.5 micron fabric will actually include much larger fibers in the mix. The Mackenzie blend is tight spectrum and low variance to create a more consistent and precise yarn. More importantly the Mackenzie 17.5 is top capped at 17.5 microns, there are no larger fibers making it a softer and smoother fabric, and in fact the yarns and fabric actually average a number lower than 17.5 micron.

In other words, it may be 17.5 micron merino, but it feels a lot finer to your hand. The best I can do at describing it is: luxuriously soft. It’s like a cotton t-shirt that is so soft it feels like it is falling apart, all while feeling substantial.

Cut

Most of Outlier’s clothing is cut rather tailored, but not this t-shirt. I find the cut to be on the boxy side, though not overly so. It’s on par with most every t-shirt I have.

This is both good and bad. A more tapered cut would be nice, but would also make the shirt stand out more. As it is, it looks like a normal t-shirt, nothing to see here.

Comfort

These are the most comfortable t-shirts I own, without a doubt. I’ve worn them in 80 °F heat, playing capture the flag with kids, and remained comfortable. Did I sweat? Yes, however it dried fast and I didn’t feel like I had to get the shirt off my body.

The fabric has all the classic properties of merino wool, with the added benefit of the softest hand-feel for merino that I have ever encountered. I would wear this shirt everyday all day if I could. As it is, I wear mine quite a lot.

Overall

I’ll say it again, these are my favorite shirts. Soft, odor-resistant, thermoregulating, fast drying, and all of the above. They are also very soft and look quite nice. Accounting for all shirts I’ve worn, and not just performance minded ones, these are the most luxurious feeling shirts I’ve ever owned.

At $110 they can be a tough pill to swallow, but I could easily get away with just the two I own. I’ve had them for over a year and they are just as good as they were when I got them.

Outlier Ultrafine Merino T-Shirt

Outlier Breezy Linen Short Sleeve

It’s summer, and it’s hot out — when the weather gets like this you don’t want to be weighed down with clothes that don’t breathe. You want to feel cool. Merino wool does a pretty good jobh, but there’s a limit to how hot you can go. When you find that limit, you’ll want to look at linen.

Outlier’s Breezy Linen Short Sleeve is designed for just such occasions. It is a classic short sleeve button down made to handle very hot, and dry climates. I’ve had mine for a year now, and it’s my go-to for hot days.

Material

This is 100% Italian linen, coming in at 113 gsm. There are two things additional to note about this particular shirt and how it was constructed. The first is the Pivot sleeve design, which is something unique to Outlier shirts, and allows for a fantastic range of motion. The second is the open weave design of this linen — allowing for it to wear very light, which is where the name comes from. Comparing this to other linen shirts I own, my older linen button downs are not even in the same league. By comparison they are heavy and bulky, whereas the Breezy Linen shirt almost feels invisible.

Fit

The body of the shirt is short, the sleeves as well. It’s made to keep you cool, and thus has a very flow-y nature to the cut. It’s too short for me to tuck in, nor would you want to. The collar itself is shorter and more low profile than on other Outlier shirts, making the shirt blend nicely in all casual situations. I’ve very happy with the fit, and it fits exactly as I expected from reading the size guide.

Performance

Here’s what Outlier claims about the shirt: “Linen absorbs moisture while staying dry to the touch and has an open weave to let air flow through. And it breaks down beautifully, softening with wear like no other fabric.” I think that’s a spot on description, but there’s also more to it.

The linen itself feels slightly rough to the touch, even after a year, but it never feels uncomfortable. It feels stiff, while also being full of wrinkles. Linen itself is a style, and if you are looking for a shirt with no wrinkles, move along. Linen wrinkles each time you look at it, but the wrinkles also fall out easily. So it’s always wrinkled, but almost never wrinkled more than is acceptable.

Wearing it though is very unique. It’s by far cooler to wear than not wearing a shirt at all. The air almost passes right through it. It draws the moisture right off your body, and the linen itself dries very fast — this certainly has a cooling effect when you wear it. There are times when I’ve been far too cold indoors to wear this shirt.

And because the sweat dries so fast, the shirt rarely stinks. This isn’t merino with anti-odor properties, but I can often wear this shirt for 3-5 days without it smelling at all (with hanging it to air out at night). It’s impressive, and truly makes this shirt better than it otherwise would be.

Outlier notes that this shirt is best for drier heat, whereas their Ramie shirts are better for humid, but I’ve worn this in both desert heat and in humid climates. I’ve found it to be excellent in both. On a performance metric, this shirt is awesome.

Overall

For $125 (last time they were available) this shirt is hard to beat. It’s a fantastic summer shirt and my go to anytime the mercury goes about 80°F. I am pleasantly surprised by how well it resists odors and how fast it dries.

While I won’t be buying another, that’s only because I’ll be getting the long sleeve version of this shirt next. I highly recommend The Breezy Linen Short Sleeve as a summer shirt, with the only downside being that sometimes you can’t stay warm enough when you wear it.

Outlier Breezy Linen Short Sleeve

Outlier Strong Dungarees

A while back Outlier started making Strong Dungarees. They are a blend of a heavier version of Slim Dungarees and a work pant. Essentially: these are a pair of pants that are insanely durable but still have a lot of benefits over standard work pants. I’ve now owned two pairs of these pants, I can say that these are quite a good pair of pants, especially given that the fit is very different than that of the Slim Dunagrees (our review).

Material

Outlier makes these out of “Strongtwill” which is 96% Nylon, 4% Elastane coming in at 320 gsm. The texture itself is very much a twill texture, and is quite nice in person and for hand feel. Like the Slim Dungarees, there is no discernible stretch in these pants. I am sure it is there, but it’s not something you are going to notice.

The material itself is very heavy, and very rugged feeling. Outlier says over time that these pants will break in and become softer and softer, while still being tough. I can see that, as I’ve seen that with other nylon products, but in the months I’ve had these pants they feel the same as the day they arrived.

The nature of these pants lends them to cooler weather only. They don’t breathe quite as well as other Outlier pants, though they still dry fast, and they also help keep you warmer. Overall I would say you don’t want to go much above 75 °F in these pants.

Comfort

They start stiff, but Outlier notes they soften over time. I find them oddly comfortable. It’s hard to describe, but the stiffness doesn’t bother me at all, and the extra legroom affords plenty of movement.

They aren’t comfortable in the same way as Climbers or Slim Dungarees, those are comfortable in the same way sweatpants or warm up pants are. Strong Dungarees are comfortable like your favorite pair of blue jeans.

Durability

They feel truly indestructible, and honestly for most of life they might be. I hear they don’t handle wiping out from a skateboard on concrete, but fare better than jeans. That’s the only complaint about durability I’ve heard. Having spent time in the construction field wearing Carharrt pants, my gut tells me Strong Dungarees will last better than those.

They look brand new, no matter what I seem to do to them. They only slightly soften when washing, so even the top load washer I have can’t beat them into submission.

One Issue to Note

I’ve seen more than a few Redditors note that the fabric itself can grab leg hairs and pull them. This is understandably uncomfortable and a deal breaker for those who experience it. I’ve not noticed it at all, but the Outlier return policy is your friend in that situation.

As you can see, the Black tends to pick up dust easily. That’s not wear on the pants.
As you can see, the Black tends to pick up dust easily. That’s not wear on the pants.

Overall

Perhaps the most amazing part of these pants is how they truly don’t look like a non-cotton material. They look downright normal and I don’t get to say that often. That alone should make them a no-brainer for anyone living away from the equator.

They are neck and neck with the Slim Dungarees for my favorite Outlier pants.


Steve’s Thoughts

I’ve had the Strong Dungarees since they were released. The Strongtwill fabric has a unique texture that lends to a nice feel and helps give the pants their stiffness. I think the look of the fabric, and the stacking it enables, allows these to pass as 100% non-technical pants. To me, they feel like a slightly less heavy pair of nice denim jeans — they feel soft but act strong. There’s no reason why these can’t replace your favorite pair of jeans.

Outlier Strong Dungarees

Outlier Slim Dungarees

The Slim Dungarees are likely the most popular pants Outlier makes, as well as the pants that Outlier themselves consider their core pant. The description of these pants is: “A 21st century jean if you will.” Essentially it’s a ‘what would you make if you were to make jeans from scratch today’. There’s a ton of hype around these pants, with them winning awards every few months hailing them as the one pants to travel the world in.

They are also among the most contentious pants Outlier makes, so let’s dive into them, as I’ve been testing them for well over a year.

Material

These are made from Outlier’s Workcloth Doubleweave Canvas which breaks down to: 82% Nylon, 16% Polyester, 2% Elastane. That’s only a portion of the story though, because these are not like any other technical material I’ve seen. At 275 gsm these are heavy pants, to me they feel on par with the weight of a standard pair of jeans. Outlier’s details about this fabric border on the absurd marketing level, but I have to say: they are pretty spot on.

When you first feel the pants you’ll notice:

  • The exterior really does feel more like a broken in canvas. It has a great texture to it, which also helps to hide the fact that these are nylon pant. The texture makes them look more “jean like” than most other pants trying to replicate jeans.
  • The interior almost feels fuzzy to the touch, without actually being fuzzy. Think of it like a glasses cleaning cloth — a stark difference from the outside of the material.
  • There’s basically no stretch, despite there being an advertised “slight stretch”. I assume there is some, but practically speaking assume there is not.

The material, more than anything, is what makes these pants — it’s a fantastic material and among my favorites that Outlier makes.

Cut

The cut of the pants is really the contentious issue. They are named “slim” so most people (myself included) initially read that as “skinny”, or “skin tight”. When you get these pants you realize either one of two things:

  1. Whew these are actually not very skin tight.
  2. What the heck, these are not very skin tight.

Take your pick, but these are only slightly slimmer fitting that regular jeans — perhaps “tailored” would be better nomenclature for these. Do not let the name of these pants throw you off, they are not going to be super slim pants, but they also are not made to be baggy. Look at the pictures on the site, they represent the fit very well.

Side note: Some might find that the thighs do not afford enough room. But the 45 day return policy should put you at ease with ordering these pants to try out the fit.

Performance

You don’t read this site to find out about the cuts of garments, what you really want to know is how these pants perform. So to start, let me say that these are my preferred travel pants. If given the option to wear any pants on an airplane — no matter the flight length — these are the pants I pick. That’s the strongest endorsement I can give pants.

There are a few factors in play here, so best to go through them one at a time. The mobility while wearing these is excellent, even though they lack stretch. The large gusset provides you with a pair of pants where you’ll never find yourself pulling up the legs slightly at the knee before you attempt a high step. They move exceedingly well, even though the materials alone wouldn’t seem like they would.

On the warmth and breathability side I would peg these as: just as slightly cooler than jeans in cold weather, and much cooler than jeans in warm weather. In other words they breath really well. I’ve worn them in the snow without issue, and I’ve worn them in 80 °F weather as well. They were a bit chilly and a bit warm in both those situations, but jeans likely would be as well. They do breathe and they do dry very quickly despite their heavier weight. For a normal range of temperatures, these will likely be very good pants for you.

Outlier also makes a lot of mention about the liquid staining resistance of these pants, and for good reason. The treatments on these pants is one of the key reasons to travel in them: you will be hard pressed to get them dirty. Water beads up and rolls off, same with coffee and soda. If something does manage to stick, a wet rag tends to get rid of it quickly and the spot dries in minutes. You can’t get ketchup on them and walk away unscathed, but for most of the little mishaps which happen in life, they come out clean.

Overall, these perform at the top of the overall technical pants market, and is a leading factor in why people love them so much.

Stretching Out

There is one caveat to these pants which is often left out when talking about them. Outlier notes on their fit page: “When first tried on they should feel just a touch too snug. Over the first few hours or day they’ll loosen up, and when you put them on for day two they should fit perfect.” What that means practically is that they will feel tight when you first put them on, and then they stretch out to your body and fit very comfortably. I find that for me, this only takes a day when they are new, and a couple hours after they are washed.

However, there’s a downside to this. If you spend a lot of time with the pants being stretched at the knees (e.g. kneeling, squat like positions, cramped into a tight space, crossing legs, etc), then the knees of the Slim Dungarees tend to bag out as well. This can create a very bad silhouette and is the one downside of these pants.

When you wash and hang dry these pants, they go right back to form, so this isn’t something which is always going to be there. However, I can say that the typical reason I wash these pants is because the knees bag out, and not because the pants themselves are actually dirty. Then again, I know of many people who only wash these pants once or twice a year. Really depends on your body type and what activities you use these pants for. I tend to get 2-3 weeks of wear out of the pants before I start to think about washing them to get the knees back into shape, but that’s only with daily wear.

Overall

At $198, many people will balk at thei price. You shouldn’t, these are hands down the best technical pants I’ve tried, and if I only could have one pair of pants, it would be these. For the temperate weather of the Pacific Northwest they are the perfect weight, and the water repellency means no more wet thighs when you walk in from the rain. I highly recommend these pants.

A Note on Colors

Personally I have owed: Gray Shadow, Charcoal, Dark Indigo, and Concrete colors in Slim Dungarees. I currently own the Gray Shadow. Most people say that if you want to replicate blue jeans, to get Dark Indigo. I personally disagree as they were my least favorite color I owned. Charcoal is a great color, and might be the most versatile, followed by black. I know, black, but if you listen to the people buying Outlier, they say it is the best color.

Gray Shadow is interesting, but I don’t think I would buy it again. It’s a nice color, but Charcoal was more versatile as it has less tint to the gray. Occasionally, Outlier stocks these in Sandstorm, which is a very nice khaki color.


Steve’s Thoughts

I originally resisted getting a pair of Slim Dungarees because I thought they would be too tight in the thigh and I thought I would need the Long length. At some point after I got my Futureworks (our review), Ben convinced me to try the Slim Dungarees. When I tried the same size as my Futureworks, the thighs were a little too slim for me. Between that and the fact that I was going to have to get them tailored, I returned them.

Recently, Outlier had a few colors on sale (in the regular length) so I grabbed one size up in Grey Shadow. Surprisingly, the length worked, even though it’s listed as an inch shorter than the Futureworks. I usually wear these with boots, but the length even looks fine with sneakers. They also fit me in the thigh, even though the listed measurement is still smaller than my Futureworks. My only guess is that the different cut causes the pants to sit differently, making the sizing work.

I’ve been impressed with the pants so far, and find them to feel like they have a lot more stretch than they actually do. These are my most comfortable pants and are almost as comfortable as sweatpants (while looking much better).

Outlier Slim Dungarees

Car Camping in the Rain, a Retrospective

Over the last weekend of June, I went car camping in western Washington with a two other people and all of our kids. It was a great time, and the second year we did this. This year it rained for most of the trip, even though it was forecast to only have a ‘few’ showers.

I didn’t pack anything for real rain.

Let’s start with what I did pack, as I packed light:

My thinking was that I could use the Simple Windbreaker for the passing rain, as it repels that just fine, and my Rogue jacket whenever it got cool (it’s the perfect jacket for that type of weather). The reality was two and a half days of near constant rain during the day. I spent an entire afternoon on a boat, and part of that was in the rain in Puget Sound.

In other words: I was not prepared for this at all — truthfully only our kids were as we always overpack for them.

However, things were not nearly as bad as they seemed. I basically lived in one of the t-shirts, the Sequence, and the Simple Windbreaker during the day, with the Simple pants as well. My Salomons take quite a bit to soak through, and only did one time, drying fast. Because of the materials used in these clothing items I stayed warm and pretty dry. Even when the windbreaker soaked through, sitting by the fire dried it fast (be careful with synthetics and heat sources), and the merino layers did their work to keep me warm, and dried themselves fast.

One night I had to wear flip flops to deal with the boat, and my feet got a bit muddy. I rinsed them off with water, but not wanting to use a towel to dry them, I put on my merino socks and never once noticed that my feet were anything but comfortable. That was pretty amazing.

The entire trip was a testament to what we mean on Everyday Wear when we talk about “better clothing”. I was entirely unprepared for the weather, and it could have sucked. In my mind I knew that even if it got bad, these clothes should do their job and keep me less miserable, but theory is different than practice. And yet, in practice, I was far more comfortable that I ever thought I would be.

I was cold twice, which isn’t too bad, and even then only for 10 minutes or so until the fire warmed me up. A large part of this is having a good heat source and fast drying clothes. Even when it was raining on me, I could start drying my clothes just by sitting near the fire.

Looking back, I would have liked to have had a true rain jacket with me. That said, this trip gave me a new level of confidence in the clothing we are testing. It’s one thing to talk about how fast merino wool dries when you wash it, and quite another to experience it keeping you warm, comfortable, and drying fast when you are camping in the rain.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this during the trip. I never actually felt wet on my back or shoulders, but I knew I was wet. I just felt slightly cooler in those spots for a moment. I don’t recall my pants ever feeling wet, nor being wet when I went to bed. But I do know I sat in more than a few wet chairs.

This isn’t to say you should be foolish and camp without proper rain gear, that was stupid on my part. But should you be caught out in the rain walking home from work or to work, and you’re buying the type of clothing we talk about here, it’s going to make your life noticeably less bad. It will be the difference between a ruined event, and a minor footnote of the event.

That, in the end, is what we are talking about when we say “performance clothing”.

Car Camping in the Rain, a Retrospective

Wool & Prince 100% Merino Wool Polo

Steve recounted all of the polos he’s tried, in an effort to find one which can be worn in place of a standard cotton polo. Before switching to better clothing, a cotton polo was a summertime staple of mine, and something I had been greatly missing. Not so much that I wanted to wear cotton shirts again, but enough that I knew I needed to find something this summer.

Unlike Steve, I got lucky with my first try, the Wool & Prince 100% Merino Polo.

Fabric

This polo is made from 100% 17.5 micron merino wool, and comes in at 205 gsm. In hand it feels sublime. It’s very soft, like a well worn and loved cotton t-shirt. This does lend to a bit of a fuzziness with the fabric after washing it, but once the shirt dries you tend not to notice it. The only slight against this shirt is that some might find the shirt a little casual even though the styling is like a traditional polo. The drape of the shirt is on par with a t-shirt, which is right where I want it to be on this type of a polo.

Collar and Buttons

With any polo shirt, the collar and front buttons will make or break the look. Buttons that are too big, too flashy, or non-standard will ruin the shirt. Likewise, too many buttons, or buttons too spread a part, will hinder the wearability of the shirt. And the collar, oh the collar.
There are two types of collars: messy collars and crisp collars.

This Wool & Prince shirt checks both the boxes here. The buttons are subtle, limited to just two, and can be worn more casually with all of them unbuttoned, or made a little crisper with just the bottom of the two buttons secured. They are gray, and blend seamlessly with the shirting — nothing to see here, just as it should be.

As you may have noted, the biggest issue with most of the polos we have been trying is that the collars tend to not stay put, and much prefer to laugh across your collar bone giving a very unkempt look. Wool & Prince specifically addresses this in their description, that the collar should stand tall and be crisp. Out of the box, before washing and over the first five wears, this could not have been more impressive. The collar stayed put, and looked sharp.

After washing the first time and hang drying with the shirt buttoned up, the collar was notably less stiff. However, it still stays in place and I had no further issues, even across many wears. After the third wash, I was in a rush and did not button the collar, this lead to the left side of the collar having a bit of a rolled effect, but still never laid flat.

After the fourth and fifth washes, the shirt still maintains poise with the collar as long as you pay attention to how the collar dries. It is comparable to almost all the cotton polo shirts I am used to: get the collar how you want it when it is drying and that’s how it will be until you wash it again. I have no complaints at all about the collar, as it should be.

Weight

The biggest issue I have with this shirt is the weight of the fabric itself. At 205 gsm, it is very heavy. It is heavier than the OUTLIER Ultrafine T-Shirt, which is already among the heavier wool shirts I’ve worn. If you move to the nylon blend polo from Wool & Prince it drops the weight down to 160 gsm, which is a much better warm weather weight.

Weight of the fabric aside, wearing this shirt in warm weather was a bit of a mixed bag. Going through the drier heat in San Jose with mid-70s weather, I had no issues. Here at home in the Pacific Northwest, in the 80°F range, I’ve found the shirt to be warm, but not uncomfortably so. Much above 80°F in low humidity and it gets warm.

In Boston, with humid air, and warm upper 70s weather, it was warm. Even though the shirt dries fast, I found that most of the time the arm pits were rather wet on the shirt, though not noticeably so when looking at me. At this weight, it’s not likely you will be able to tolerate the shirt much above 80°F in any type of climate.

Overall

I really love this shirt. It’s just as comfortable as wearing a t-shirt, but with a less casual look. I average five wears of the shirt, even in warm climates — which means it was the only short sleeved shirt I really needed to pack for the two trips I took it on. However, because of the weight, instead of buying another 100% merino polo, I’ll be looking to get the blended polo to reduce the weight of the shirt, at the expense of odor resistance.

Wool & Prince 100% Merino Wool Polo

Ben’s Packing Listing: Wedding in Boston

Trip Details: A 3 day, 2 night trip to Boston for a wedding, which required extra shoes and a suit.

Packing List

Notes

I really wanted to pack this all in one bag, but I ran into serious problems doing this with needing an extra pair of shoes. My dress shoes were not comfortable enough for the activities we had planned, so I couldn’t wear only them. While I could get all of this to fit in my 34L GORUCK GR2, doing so meant that the bag could not fit at my feet. This meant that I would have to do the dreaded overhead space battle with my fellow travelers, and given that my wife was checking a bag already, I opted to do so as well.

However, this created a new problem, as you can see the roller bag was mostly empty. So I packed more than I knew I would need, simply to help fill out the bag more so gear didn’t constantly move around in it. It wasn’t too bad, but I need to think on how better to tackle this in the future. Flying with just a 10L Bullet is magic though, as it will fit on its edge under the seat in front of you, providing tons of legroom. It’s a fantastic travel bag.

Ben’s Packing Listing: Wedding in Boston