I’ve been wanting a pair of Blundstones for ages, and so when I started ramping back up to the office I was looking for what boot I might buy to have a good pair of black shoes. Somehow I didn’t have any.
There’s really only a few components to this: waterproof full grain leather for the uppers with elastic to help secure, and a TPU sole with cushioning. The magic is in the “SPS Max Comfort” system which is essentially a method for reducing impact to your heel when you step/move/whatever.
For now I’ll focus on the primary material: the leather. The majority of my shoes are leather and the majority show the same things: scuffs on the toes and scuffs on the inner heel of the shoes. These are high wear areas on any shoes or boots and leather tends to show these. The Blundstone leather here is slightly matte, maybe eggshell in sheen. And in the black color I have it takes the right angle of light to see any scuffs in them.
Even when you do get the lighting correct, you’ll find almost no scuffs which is unusual for my shoes. In fact I was taking out the garbage in these boots and the giant plastic wheel accidentally nailed the side of my boot at an angle — the type of thing that would put a serious mark in most shoes. It was hard to see on these, and then almost completely went away with a wipe of a damp cloth. A few days later I don’t see it at all.
This is seriously durable leather, and while I can’t speak to the waterproofing, I suspect there’s not a lot to worry about with these. The sole is likely to wear out before the leather.
Fit & Style
As with any boot, getting the sizing right is important. I wear 11.5 in Nike’s and many shoes, and 11 in others. I ordered an 11 after measuring my foot per Blundstones guide and hit the mark out of the box. Note that the half size increments don’t change the length, but change the width.
The style of these boots takes the classic Blundstone Chelsea design and applies a smoother/less aggressive outsole to it. The end result is a dressier looking Chelsea boot which only suffers from performance by having a less aggressive sole.
I love the way these look and fit. Overall they look great in the office and with a pair of jeans around the yard.
With boots there’s a wide array of performance attributes, but I’ll focus on three for these boots: comfort to your foot; breathability; and durability.
When you talk about Blundstone what you generally hear is how comfortable they are. I own a lot of boots, and in fact they are my most worn shoe type because if I am wearing pants I am wearing boots. The Blundstones are a top performer when it comes to comfort. They are soft but supportive under your foot. The entire footbed is really nice, but not so nice that they out perform other boots (GORUCK’s MACV-1s for example wear more comfortably over a longer day). They are certainly comfortable, and for the price you rarely see comfort like this, where you aren’t just buying a sneaker made to look like a boot.
However, the breathability does suffer in these as they are thick leather with no vents. The only breathable areas is the elastic on the sides to secure your foot into the boot. A thicker wool sock is recommended for these to help your feet regulate moisture better, once that is done I have had no issues wearing them in Houston during the summer — I would say they are on par with all other leather boots.
The last thing is durability. The leather here impresses me a lot, as it is very durable and will lead to a boot that looks good well past it being useable. Meaning that they are low-maintenance boots and not something which scuff the instant they see your foot slipping into them. That said, the lower profile sole doesn’t have as deep cut tread so it’s likely to wear out sooner, and these boots cannot be resoled. In the two and a half months I have had my pair, I don’t notice any concerning wear on the sole thus far.
With all boots we need to talk about break in periods and how that goes. I found that with these the break in is very short, but is needed. I only had a mild hot spot develop on one foot from my driving position, that went away after just two wears.
What took much longer to break in was the top edge of the boots. Getting the top to relax and mold to how you sit and stand took about 5-6 wears of the boots. And the first couple had the spots around the top edge of the boots feeling carpet burned. Switching to heavier socks resolved this after the first wear, and since then they have relaxed nicely to where it’s not an issue.
So the break in for these boots is at the top edge, and will take 3-6 days of wearing them to get feeling good.
I love these boots, and they are among my most worn. While you can get them from Blundstone directly, I found mine on sale at Amazon for a very good price. Knowing what they are now, I would be happy to pay full price, and would love to get another pair in brown as well — even if I have nothing but brown boots already.
They are comfortable, easy to slip on without worry. And they fit in a lot of situations. My wardrobe trends more Smart Casual in style and this dress variant fits that styling very nicely. If you are more casual then the standard Blundstones are likely the best bet for you.
Great boots, good comfort, and really durable leather on them making them the lowest fuss boots I own.
NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.
Personally, if my shirt is tucked in, then I need to be wearing a belt. Anything else feels off, and even when I am not tucking in my shirt, I often will reach for a belt as well. Belts are a tricky area, as they are partly about looks and finishing an outfit, and partly about the function of helping to keep your pants held up (they are never about holding items unless you are working or in a war).
The problem with belts is that there are effectively three types: heritage leather style belts, the classics if you will; hiking performance belts; and tactical belts for holding all the guns. It is extremely hard to figure out what a good belt is for normal life — or as normal as life might be right now. Something that looks good, is comfortable, and has good adjustment.
I’ve already looked at a few on this site, the Grip6 and we’ve talked about the Slidebelt in some guides, but today I want to walk you through the spectrum and how I am approaching belts these days. But first, a baseline: all my belts need to work well on a pair of Futureworks in the office, in the car on the way to the office, and they need to be able to be used on 5-pocket style pants as well. That’s the range I am going for: casual to smart casual.
Let’s go from classic to high-performance.
Filson 1-1/4″ Bridle Leather Belt
First up is an offering from Filson coming in at $80 the 1-1/4” Bridle Leather Belt is one of many offerings in their full leather lineup of belts. It’s width makes it perfect for smart casual to casual wear and the leather itself is among the best you can get. Filson’s bridle leather is next level if you have never handled it before. This is among the most classic designs: single strap of leather with a brass buckle to secure it.
This is easily one of my favorite belts I’ve ever owed and something which feels like it will last a lifetime. There’s plenty of reviews talking about how people used them daily for 10 years and only got a new one because their pants size changed. The sizing is a little odd, but read the measurements and measure your waist — if you buy based on that you should get a belt where the buckle lands in the center of the holes. In the time I have had this belt is shows no stretch and no wear marks at all.
It’s a little bulky at the front, but otherwise is as simple and classic as you can get. For a long time I avoided belts like this because I thought they would not be worth the money, but this one is. The issue: it’s about as low tech as you can get. If that’s your speed, stop here, if not, keep reading.
British Belt Company / Generic Box Store Belts
I have had a few offerings from British Belt Company, and I mean no disrespect when I saw this, but they mostly feel no different than any “genuine leather” belt you grab from a big box store, though likely with better pricing. They look nice! Even the belts you buy from Macy’s or Nordstrom look nice, but they feel nothing like the Filson Bridle Leather. They are $35 belts and paying any more is wasting money.
These are simply about looks, and they last a couple years at most. The leather is cheap and stiff. Oddly turning them into belts that show wear quickly and stretch even more quickly. There’s nothing bad about owning some of these, especially for things like “suit belt” but there is also nothing good about them either.
SlideBelts was one of the first ‘performance’ belts I got. Taking a classic leather belt look, and applying a unique ratcheting style buckle/clasp to the belt. What you end up with is a couple really cool things: easy to adjust discretely, micro adjustments, and a cut-to-fit ordering system so you are never getting the wrong size.
I have two of these, one in the vegan leather option, and one in the top grain leather option. The vegan leather is not good. It’s plasticky and very stiff, so much so that any advantage from the micro adjustments is lost in the uncomfortable nature of the belt band itself not forming well to your body — and I put over a year of wear on mine. The top grain leather is fantastic, it shows wear, but it molds very nicely to your body, forming a very comfortable belt.
Top grain leather.
There’s a wide variety of colors and styles, so there will always be something for you and the buckles are interchangeable as well (though you need a tool to pry them free I find). The part that finally got me to move away from these though: bulk and weight.
The buckle is a serious chunk of metal and it weighs a lot, and more than that it sits out from your pants a fair amount. It feels and looks bulky. With some styles, this is fine, but for me it was too much. (For travelers do note that these buckles often don’t make it through metal detectors.)
Good belts, comfortable, but for the price they weigh a lot and are bulky.
Filson Togiak Belt / Hiking Strap Belts
Now we are moving straight into the hiking performance belts. I have a few in this category, I’ll talk mostly about the Togiak belt from Filson as I like it the best. But generally these are some sort of nylon webbing / elastic webbing / canvas strap type of belt with a pull-to-adjust system of some sort and a basic to fancy clasp. The Togiak is canvas with a g-hook style clasp. Bison Belts are popular, as is the Arc’Teryx belt.
These are all very comfortable while looking not great. Depending on the nylon webbing choice they range from stiff to soft on the canvas side. I prefer the smoother webbing options or canvas as they form well to your waist and offer supreme comfort. They are true micro-adjustment belts too, as they offer near infinite adjustment options.
The downside is completely on the looks end. While you can get the precise strap you want and a wide variety of color options — none of these will look “nice”. They don’t all look bad, but they are going to stand out if you try to rock them in the office with a pair of chinos and a button down. Firmly casual, but among the most comfortable out there since they are the easiest to find exactly what you need/want for your use.
I wear the Togiak all weekend long. Great stuff.
Arcade Adventure Belt
Arcade made a good marketing splash when they launched the Adventure belt. I picked one up and fell in love. This is a belt for people who don’t like wearing belts, but want their pants to fit a little more snug. These are a decently thick bit of elastic webbing with a very thin plastic buckle.
They sit very low profile, and move very nicely with your body. They come in a wide array of color options as well. The color I picked isn’t conducive to the office and I think you might be able to get away with one with chinos, but it would be pushing the limits. So while the looks aren’t a huge downside, I don’t find them to look overly dressy as they are quite wide. Some newer options from Arcade attempt to solve for this, but the logos and buckles will always skew these casual.
There’s only two downsides to these belts: they flex a lot so they won’t work well for you wanting to hang anything from the belt (which don’t); and they are difficult to adjust when wearing them as they are very tight to move through the adjuster on the buckle.
If you like elastic waist pants, but sometimes have to wear non-elastic waist pants, these are a great solution for you.
Grip6 Belt Narrow
I’ve already written about this here, and my opinion on it hasn’t changed. Grip6 belts are fantastic low-tech, high-impact belts. They sit very flat, offer a webbing that is strong enough to have some structure, but eventually will form to your waist shape. They are comfortable, secure, and look ok. They won’t work for business casual, but I wear mine often into the office.
They hold really well after you sort out the correct way to secure them. They come in a wide array of colors and widths, and the buckle is the lowest profile of all the belts on this list. The only downside with these that I have found is that they are a little tricky on the width. There are three widths: 1.1”, 1.5”, and 1.75”. Anything in the 1.5” and up realm will often look far too casual for office wear with chinos/button down. But 1.1” is slightly too narrow to site well in the loops of my Futureworks. I really like the 1.25” width for universal belt use, and that isn’t available in Grip6.
For me, I wear these belts a ton, but they do have some downsides the width being one, but the second being that they need to be worn snug in order for the clasping mechanism to secure properly. So this isn’t a belt you can wear loosely at all.
Good stuff, great price, versatile — tricky widths.
Outlier Polyamour Precision Belt
The last belt is the most technical of them all, the Outlier Polyamour Precision Belt. This is a crazy belt, as it is 100% polyester webbing that has all sorts of tech into it making it feel like cotton canvas, but perform like “not cotton”. And then there’s touches of suede to aid the looks. Lastly the belt secures with a hidden Fidlock clasp.
The belt only comes in black and in a 1.5” width which normally I don’t love for smart casual, but the looks of this belt pull it off well. I’ll go ahead and say this right now: I wish there was charcoal, because I would only wear this belt if given the option. There’s no other belt on this list as good as this belt. It’s comfortable, the webbing forms well, and the clasp is fantastic. Both fast to secure, easy to undo, and secure throughout the day. With a nice balance of sitting low on your waist, while not looking out of place.
There’s two main downsides to this belt:
The clasping mechanism has limited range of adjustment about 1.5” total. And while it does step nicely through them so you can find a good fit, that does mean that if your waist size fluctuates this won’t be a great option for you.
It only comes in black.
The upside is that the sizing is easy on this one, as Outlier tells you to buy your pants size which is contrary to all other belt sizing, but 100% how belt sizing should work. I wear a 34 in Outlier pants and bought a 34 belt — perfect fit.
Again, if this came in charcoal (brown likely wouldn’t look great) I would only wear this belt and forgo all others — it’s that good. This is what all the other belts want to be and so much of that is because of the webbing magic.
What I Mostly Wear
All of those belts above are ones I bought, own, and wear with some regularity. The Outlier belt is newest to me, but easily my favorite. That said I find that I wear the Filson Bridle Leather belt the most, it’s essentially everything I want in a belt, and I never have to think about whether it works for that situation.
Belts are funny, they are the one area where the tried and true classics work almost as well as the highest of high-performance models, so much so that there’s very little upside to getting anything other than the classic options.
Then again, Outlier, make me a charcoal variant of that Polyamour Precision belt and I am all in. Until then, the Filson Bridle Leather is fantastic.
NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.
One of the newer offerings from Beyond Clothing is this Avid Ultralight K4 pant which is a hiking pant made into a jogger design. These grabbed my attention as I like to wear lightweight pants around the house on the weekends, and often find that cotton doesn’t quite meet my needs.
I’ve been testing them for a while now, so let’s dive in.
These are marketed as “soft shell” but I think that’s a bit of a misnomer here. They are more like if you just had the facing of a soft shell garment, as there is no pile or anything of that nature — to that end they are effectively a stretchy nylon pant that is pretty thin. Beyond lists the make up as: 86% nylon, 14% spandex with that being a 4-way stretch on the spandex. The shell is further treated with DWR and what Beyond lists as “Clear coating on the outer shell increases the soft hand feel”.
I am not sure what the latter is exactly, but I will say the material feels very nice, and only has a small amount of the dreaded nylon “swoosh” sound. I’m a fan of this material, though it could stand to be a touch lighter in weight.
These are what I call performance first pants, as anything that you get for looks or feel is a bonus. These are designed first and foremost for performing well in any activity and they bridge a nice gap: something you could wear outdoors without issue, but also something that lends well to around town. If you could wear joggers to do it normally, these are like joggers on steroids — some of the best performing ones I have tried.
There’s six traits that Beyond lists, here’s my thoughts on each:
Ultralightweight: in weight of the garment this holds very true. But the fabric is not as thin as something like GORUCK’s Simple Pants. But as something to toss into a bag as a travel pair of joggers, this checks that box nicely.
Wind resistant: I was not expecting this at all when I got these pants — I didn’t read the description closely and thought they would be breathable. Weirdly, they trap heat from your body, and block wind extremely well. For cool weather workouts they are great. For keeping off a chill in strong AC, great. For heavy activity even in moderate temps, they get warm. Very warm. But, had I read, I would have been very impressed with the wind resistance on these, especially given how light they are.
Water resistant: this is all about the DWR, which is effective. But for how long, I don’t know. Light rain that is passing, no worries. Anything more and I wouldn’t expect to stay dry.
4-way stretch: wow. These things stretch all over, but it’s not a soft stretch, so they stay decently crisp looking while never binding up on you. Good stuff.
Highly compressible: kind of. About the same as any thin pant, I don’t see anything special here.
Fast drying: yes, nylon and elastane are drying champs. These dry on par with most light nylon garments, which is to say really well. If you do find yourself hiking in a cool but not cold temp and they get wet, they should dry without much hassle. Similarly they dry quickly after washing.
There’s a couple other points about these worth mentioning:
The hand pockets are fantastic. They have a nice cut to the pocket and stuff stays in them. Further they have a bit of elastic at the bottom edge which makes them more comfortable for your hand, or gives you an ideal spot for anything with a pocket clip on it.
The left front pocket has a loop to attach keys to, which is out of the way and actually useful. Well done.
The right front pocket has another zipper pocket at the opening. This pocket is unobtrusive and is a nice addition for pants made for the outdoors.
The rear pockets are zippered and I could take them or leave them. They aren’t bad and don’t get in the way, but I’ve not found them functional on this type of pant.
The waistband though, the waistband is awesome. It’s smooth, thick, durable and holds in place. I am slightly in between sizes with these and so I sized down, so they fit me more snug than I might like, that is until I load up the pockets and start doing stuff in the pants — at that point I love the waistband. Really well executed.
As a performance pant: these are some of the best hiking pants turned joggers and the only downside is that I live in an extremely hot climate.
Fit & Style
First the fit, as these are sold in Small – XXL waist sizes with three lengths for each. I wear a 34×32 in most pants and find that to be spot on, after some back and forth with Steve over the sizing, I opted for the M Regular in these. I find them to be a perfect length for me, while being about as snug as I might want them.
Style wise, these are joggers and outdoors ones at that. I would say they are firmly casual/outdoors. No big bonus points here, but they don’t get any weird looks anywhere I wear them.
I like these pants. They are an acquired taste, and for me they are great pants for the weekend. Great to wear around the yard, doing chores, or just lounging about. They make solid pants for travel as they can fill many roles well, and of course they are great outdoors.
You aren’t likely to win any style points for them, but you’ll be more comfortable.
I’ve been fascinated by Triple Aught Design’s Agent chino offerings, but have always waited too long to get a pair, and found my sizes out of stock. But when these shorts came out right on the heels of me needing some new shorts, I snagged them right away in the Raven color (which is like charcoal with green undertones?). The XC fabric is their more technical, lighter weight offering — since getting these shorts I have been wearing them a ton.
I really like them, but maybe not for reasons you might think.
The material on these is a heavy NYCO blend, which feels very smooth to the touch and a bit crisp. In a lot of ways it reminds me of Filson’s Tin Cloth before the waxing — which is a complement. At 194gsm it’s not the lightest weight material, despite Triple Aught Design saying it is their lighter weight material.
The actual make up is listed as: 40% Cotton / 28% Nylon / 27% Cordura Nylon / 5% Elastane. I am sure there is some branding reason the Nylons are put apart like that, but really this is a 55% Nylon, 40% Cotton, 5% stretch garment, which is a pretty classic mix and one that performs well. You get the cotton feel, a slight bit of stretch, and an exceedingly durable garment.
If you are at all familiar with Filson Tin Cloth, I would say this is the modern take on that fabric. Triple Aught Design then does a thorough DWR treatment on it, and the material is durable and water resistant. Good stuff.
Fit & Style
These are listed as “standard fit” with an 8.25” inseam. It’s actually harder to find shorts around this inseam length, and I’m very happy with the inseam. It’s the right balance of being shorts, but also not too short for the style (while not being silly long as so many shorts like this can be).
I ordered a size 34, which is the size I am wearing in almost everything right now, and found that out of the box they fit about a half size too large. I don’t think I could downsize so I washed and dried them and that shrunk them only about a quarter size. It’s enough that they don’t fall down without a belt, and they fit comfortable.
The style isn’t too outwardly aggressive if you wear shirts untucked, as that will hide the massive belt loops and extra pockets. If you tuck in, then be prepared for people to notice the more outdoors vibe to these shorts — I certainly don’t think they scream tactical, but they clearly are not normal. With your shirt untucked they can essentially pass for any run of the mill shorts.
The Raven color is fantastic. It’s closest to charcoal with browns and greens in it too — it shifts ever so slightly and is really pleasant looking in person. I am a big fan of it.
The Agent XC shorts add performance in an unusual way. Yes, they do have some stretch, but I don’t notice it. The gusseted crotch itself is a far bigger performance gain than whatever the 5% elastane is doing in these. But that gusset means that they don’t need to be overly wide at the thigh while still allowing a lot of range of motion.
They resist water and heavy dirt well, but I do find that powdery type stuff and dust can collect on them. A good pat-swipe motion will clean them right up. But if you work somewhere dusty they are going to snag that dust. I wore them digging a hole, and they looked clean afterwards, however wearing them to clear out some dusty stuff in the attic caused them to look pretty dusty until I could clean them up.
I also need to say that these are not that breathable. They are not warm, they do block wind, but they are not something that is going to actively cool you. They might be more breathable than other shorts out there, but certainly not anywhere close to most of the performance shorts we test here.
Which is why the real performance gain is the pockets on these. There’s a bunch of them. There’s two hand pockets in the front, two rear welt pockets, two “hidden” rear pockets, and then an entirely hidden pocket as well.
The two rear hidden pockets are just up from the welt pockets, and they are narrow and deep. They are easy to access and can hold a ton. I needed to do some work on the fence from a ladder, and they held wire cutters and other long tools really well. They are not secured, which makes them far more useful. And beyond that, they don’t detract too much from the looks.
The big feature on these is the two front pockets. They are slant openings, with a flat/straight edges right at the bottom, which makes securing something like a pocket knife an excellent experience. And then inside the front pockets are internal dividers on the side of the pocket against your leg. These don’t get in the way if you don’t use them, but each pocket has three slots in those (with bottoms) two wider and one smaller. These are great for holding your knife or flashlight inside the pocket. Keeping a key from floating around — my iPhone 12 Mini even fits in one.
At first I felt these were a neat gimmick. Now some time on, I wonder why all pants don’t have these. They are wonderful — but I also carry a lot of ‘gear’ with me. These dividers caused me to wear these shorts far more than I otherwise would have, and are a huge win.
These are heavier shorts, but I wouldn’t hesitate doing labor intensive work in them. They won’t cool you down but they also don’t trap enough heat to worry about. I’ve worked in them a bunch and found them great because of all the extra hidden pockets.
Even then, day in and day out, the pockets have made my life easier because they keep gear organized, flatter, and the heavy material keeps that gear from becoming oddly shaped bumps showing through your shorts.
I am waiting for these to come back in stock, as I want another pair, and I will also snag the chinos as soon as I can.
I call this my James Bond jacket as it isselected to be worn in the upcoming-but-seemingly-never-to-be-released Daniel Craig James Bond film. He wore tan, here I am talking about the Supply Jacket in Ridgeline Black. This is a really cool jacket, and I picked one up this past winter and immediately fell in love with it.
It’s hard to find useful jackets when you live in weather that is touching 110°F Heat Index as I write this post here in mid-June. But in the ‘winter’ months I often need something to cut the chill that my humidity-oven-baked body is far from acclimated to — this is that jacket. It’s amazing.
The simplest explanation of this jacket is that it is waxed canvas. A little more panache: it’s the best waxed canvas I’ve felt. But the technical side is that this is 8.25oz shelter tent American waxed canvas. It’s not super thick, feeling thinner than most pairs of jeans. But it’s not light either as the weave has incredible density to it. And the wax finish is smooth across the surface, but noticeable to your hands when you touch it.
The end result is a fabric that feels smooth and stiff, which slowly breaks in over time, forming to the wearer of the garment.
Fit and Style
The supply jacket style is classic and on trend right now — but because of the classic nature of the cut, it will be appropriate for the life of the jacket, which might be your lifetime as well. It’s cut slim, and thus tailored well against your body — unlike most supply jackets which wear boxier or looser to accommodate more work and clothing layers. You can wear this anywhere you might were a trucker jacket, work jacket, or light layer.
It dresses up your t-shirt with the smart styling, but dresses down your button-up/down shirts. For that reason it’s date not appropriate for most people in the United States, but a stretch for a stuffier office. This is workwear made by someone who didn’t want to be swimming in a garment.
I ordered mine in XL, which is larger than I would normally order, but in measuring according to Rogue Territory’s guidelines that’s where I came out to, and thus what I ordered. It fits really well, exactly how I wanted it to.
The only other style note on this jacket is that white button hole, which doesn’t actually have a button for it — as far as I can tell, that’s a style choice and nothing else. I won’t pretend to understand it, but it’s less pronounced when you are wearing the jacket.
Alright, this is old-school performance here, but it still holds up well. Part of what we look at in clothing is the ability for us to blend in. Yes something nylon or Gore-Tex is going to do some/all/most of this better, but the cost of that is style. It is not blending in, it’s not showing off your personality. You should not only be comfortable because of your clothing, but be comfortable wearing your clothing. That’s how I look at the performance on something like this.
To that end, this unlined, seemingly simple jacket is quite impressive. I was able to wear it on cool (high—40s) to warmer (low-60s) nights with a slight breeze with only an Outlier Merino T under it. I stayed plenty warm because this jacket is a fantastic wind breaker. This is both in part because of the dense weave of the fabric, but mostly the waxed finish.
Because of this the jacket doesn’t breathe as well, it has yet to build moisture for me, but it’s going to wear warm and should be treated accordingly. I can’t see it getting wear above 70°F for me.
The wax will also repel rain, though how much rain I am unsure of as the rain we get in this part of the country is binary: it’s either not raining, or the heavens have opened up and no one ventures outside. In theory, it should be fine, and my experience with past items like this confirms that.
And then we get to durability, and this is one of those items which should only get better with age. Most of the patina will happen to the wax layer, and can be renovated as needed bringing back the original (or close to it) look. Because this is a black jacket, that should hold more true than the tan version. The tight weave also means it won’t be prone to snagging from outdoor brush should you find yourselves needing to wear it through such a thing — likewise it should survive your backpack and a trip to Starbucks just fine, certainly your Instagram posts.
The caveat to all this, and there always is one: it’s not washable. Like at all, here’s the warning on the product page: Spot clean only. DO NOT put this jacket in water. DO NOT dry clean.
This is par for the course with waxed goods, a damp rag should clean anything up. From there you just need to worry about odors, which can be mitigated if you can stick it in the freezer for a day.
I love this jacket, and the only real downside for me (other than the climate I live in) is that it’s hard to pack this jacket. It’s dense, and it doesn’t pack down at all. So if you want to take it with you somewhere, it’s best to plan on wearing it there and back. It’s not at all easy to pack. The fit and finish on the entire jacket is outstanding. This is very easy for me to recommend.
Note: the pants were provided at no cost for review.
With work from home, there have been more and more pants being produced that have this relaxed comfort aspect with a sharper look to them. Taylor Stitch’s entry is the Easy Pant which looks like a linen-ish pair of trousers that has a semi-elastic waist cinched down by a drawstring.
These pants are awesome.
I was sent the Espresso Linen pair which is: 6-oz. 52% linen, 24% spun silk, 24% organic cotton. To my hand they are smooth and soft, with a heavy drape that feels like it won’t easily wrinkle. The linen is nicely offset by the silk and cotton to give you the look without the frump. They are heavy though, heavier than I think they will be anytime I put them on.
The biggest downside is that they are labeled: dry clean/hand wash only, which is a huge bummer for an easy wearing pair of pants. The biggest upside is the texture and color variation — they look even better in person than any of the pictures I’ve seen of them.
Fit and Style
The fit on these has a slight taper for a tailored looks but nothing slim or too baggy. I generally wear a size 34, and that’s what I got in these — they fit perfectly, but I couldn’t go even a touch smaller with them. They a cut long, and made to be hemmed or rolled if you like, for me I might need them hemmed — I certainly roll them when wearing without shoes.
I love the way these look — they feel like sweat pants and look like a nice pair of chino-ish trousers. They feel like the pants you put on when you want to dress up, but you are on a beach in Mexico. Yeah, that’s what they are, that’s the style. I love it.
Linen pants are supposed to be airy, they should feel like they won’t hold back even the slightest breeze — this is not what these pants feel like. They are comfortable, almost feeling warm at times when in AC without feeling stifling when out in the heat.
They could be more breathable, more airy, but they are not. They don’t feel hot to wear them around, but they aren’t something I would choose if I wanted to stay cool during the day. These are evening pants, they are indoor lounge pants with a nod to warm weather.
Perhaps the greatest performance feat these pants pull off are in the waistband. It’s partially elastic with a drawstring. And yet when they are on, you don’t notice it visually while noticing the comfort on your waist. If all pants could have a waistband like this, count me in.
This is a short review because there’s not a lot of performance here. They wear better and more comfortably than any other pant that looks this good. They are light enough to wear in heat, without all the downsides of near constant disheveled looks you get with high linen contents in pants.
That said, I want another pair of these, I love wearing them.
RAB is making some really interesting outdoors clothing of late and has been winning praise from more traditional outdoor gear reviewers. Specifically their Charge Rain Jacket and Phantom. The Phantom being a pull over which is regarded as one of the lightest waterproof jackets on the market, which still maintains extreme breathability.
I received the Charge Rain Jacket from my parents as a Christmas gift and I have been blown away by it. The Charge is a heavier version of the Phantom, full zip, and made to work both from trail running as well as hiking with heavier packs on.
First things first, I am not an expert on waterproof fabrics, so I will say that RAB lists this as: 40D Pertex Shield 2.5L fabric with stretch. Compared to my Arc’teryx Goretex Paclite jacket, this RAB Charge fabric feels impossibly thin. In fact RAB says the reason for this “thicker” material is to make it more durable. But it really messes with my head.
It feels like a normal rain jacket, but a fraction of the weight. It is really something.
Fit and Style
This is a decently trim rain jacket, which RAB notes will easily move with your body. The sleeves are long, the body elongated as well and the collar/neck rides up high to easily cover my chin. I generally wear a size large in everything, and I have this jacket in a Large as well — there’s a part of me that wonders if I could drop down a size, but as it is I have room for a layer or two and the jacket looks far from bulky. It fits great.
Except the hood. As you might see in other reviews of this jacket, the hood is not great. There’s no drawstrings anywhere on this jacket. Instead the cuff has a thin bit of elastic, as does the waist — that works well in both spots. The hood has elastic nearly all the way around your head (just not the bottom chin area) and a really silly useless bill at the top.
Because of that, the hood fits poorly. In use rucking, I found that the hood constantly drooped over my eyes and was never exactly where I wanted it. And because of how it is integrated into the jacket, you have to leave the jacket decently unzipped at the top in order for the hood and chin area to lay out of your way. It does close up well, and if you have more hair, a beanie, or a baseball cap on you should be golden. But otherwise, it’s not something I would want to wear over long periods of time. It works, but it is in the way—a lot.
The perfect rain jacket doesn’t exist, but there are niche rain jackets which work really well in certain uses. This one seems ideal for hiking in climates (like where I live) which get rain when it is warm out. My PNW self would have loathed wearing this as the light weight nature of it wouldn’t be as ideal for the cold drizzle. But here in the Houston area where it is often raining above 70°F, the light but durable nature works well for this jacket.
There are four key selling points for this jacket:
Lightweight: and that it is. The Phantom is even lighter, but I cannot even imagine how that can be. This is easily the lightest rain jacket I have ever owned, and on top of that, it is almost the same weight as my windbreaker from GORUCK. Really impressive.
Moves with you: both the cut and the limited stretch never cause this jacket to bind up. Even with a 45lbs backpack on my back, this jacket never restricted my arm or body movements. I think this is more the cut than the stretch, but stretch never hurts.
Waterproof: no rain jacket is fully waterproof forever — at least none that you want to wear while being active in any temperate or warmer weather. So at some point most of these jackets are going to ‘wet out’. Even in very warm temps with constant downpours, and sweat building from my body — I’ve yet to see the jacket wet out. I don’t know how long it would last for, but I have had it on for over an hour and seen zero issues. The storms here are intermittent enough that testing beyond that was problematic for me.
Breathable: all rain jackets could be more breathable. But this one is the best I’ve used to date.
From a performance perspective the only downside, is again, the hood. Otherwise I was surprised by the jacket in every other way.
I wouldn’t want this jacket for cold wet-weather hiking. I think a thicker more substantial jacket would be better if I knew I was wearing it all day. But here in a warm climate where it generally rains when it is warm — such that I really could go without a jacket and not feel cold — this jacket is what I need. The Phantom is likely really good, but it being a pullover means it takes more effort to put on and take off. The Charge is impressively light and thin.
I can pack it away in my office bag, or my rucking backpack and not eat all the space, while having a durable and comfortable rain jacket when called for. I recommend it, especially given the price at around $170-200USD it offers a great value.
NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.
I picked these pants up wanting to see what Arc’teryx had on offer in their everyday lineup of clothing. These Phelix pants are billed as being stylish, performant, and cotton like in feel. I’ve been wearing them now off and on for a few weeks and thought I should weigh in on how these stack up.
Overall they are a solid offering, if slightly problematic at times — not at the top of the list, but far from the bottom of it.
The ‘cotton like feel’ is a silly claim because the material is mostly cotton as it is a: 6.3 oz.(215 g/m²) stretch twill which is 80% cotton, 18% polyester, 2% elastane. You’ll have to trust them on the elastane makeup, as it’s not noticeable at all.
The material is decently thin, but runs on the dense side so you get decent wind blockage and a little less breathability. They feel more like cotton canvas than a twill, but that might be splitting hairs. I am completely ambivalent towards this material.
Fit & Style
Alright, so from a fit perspective I think they run slightly smaller than other size 34 pants I have had, but not so much so I could say “size up”. They fit me fine, and I would be swimming in a 36.
The style is 5-pocket, but the colors don’t lend to them being a jean replacement. I think they would look better with a more chino looking pocket pattern to them. The cut itself looks good, and I would say is rather straight leg and tailored. It’s a nice cut that will feel more timeless and is solid. I like the look of them, but they are not jeans, and the design also means they are not chinos.
Odd middle ground.
I do need to pause and point out the biggest issue with the design, and no it is not the zipper pocket on the side. It’s the fly. The fly is abhorrent. It is far too short. Like, I have to completely undo the waist of the pants to use, say, a urinal. Just stupid.
Ok, I am going to bullet point the performance here because these are 80% cotton and so the performance is mostly ‘thin cotton’ performance:
From a moisture wicking standpoint: not really anything to note.
Breathability: that of thin cotton.
They are super light weight pants and pack down small which is really ideal for travel.
For some reason, they never seem to get dirty. Like never.
They feel and act extremely durable, and I suspect would fair well walking through brush. But I would expect them to get fuzzy over time from washing.
Generally they have a cotton-travel-pants level of performance. Better than a standard pair of jeans, or even most performance denim, but not quite on par with fully synthetic pants. They will feel more ‘normal’ because of the high cotton percent.
And then there is the button to close the fly. I need to talk to you about that. Because if the fly itself is bad, then the button at the top is worse. It is a snap button, but it is a particularly weak snap button. When I am standing in these pants they fit snug enough that I do not need a belt, but in no way feel tight. I would say they are a great fit. But if I squat down, or bend over in them, the button snaps open. So much so that I cannot wear the pants without a belt.
Generally: not worth buying. The entire fly setup is extremely poorly executed and ruins the entire pant.
NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.
Belts are one of those necessary things, but also one of those items where it feels like people don’t bother to try and innovate. So I get excited when I see something new. I have SlideBelts and appreciate the ease of buying/adjusting/wearing their belts. But they are bulky to wear and problematic when needing to move through airport security. There’s Arcade Belts where it’s a fancy elastic strap that wears more comfortably than most any other belt, but doesn’t offer the rigid security of a leather belt, and leaves a lot on the looks side.
There’s a myriad of tactical or outdoors belts with variations of g-hooks, cobra buckles, and other intricate systems for latching what is essentially nylon webbing together. But it all ends in something you likely won’t wear to the office, on a date, or generally at all.
And then there is GRIP6 belts, which seem so simple and inexpensive you might quickly dismiss them, but then in doing so you would be missing out on what might be my favorite belt I have worn.
Materials & Concept
There’s two components to this belt: the belt itself which is offered in various colors and widths, but is just a nylon webbing strap; and then the buckle which also has various colors and some variations on materials but at the base is metal and slightly curved, with two slots on either end.
The end result of all this is a very low profile belt, which is easily adjusted, won’t trigger metal detectors, and is very secure overall. There’s even a model which is more rigid for those who need to clip things to their belt. For this I tested the narrow variant which is 1.1” wide with the metal buckle in the gunmetal color way.
Fit & Style
The fit of these belts is tricky to figure out at first, but order your normal belt size. I’ll spare you my rant on why belts aren’t sized so you order your normal pants size. Anyways, I wear a 34” pant, and got a 36 sized GRIP6 and that seems to be sized correctly for me.
The belt itself is essentially a fancy nylon webbing belt. As such I think it works in casual to smart casual styling, but won’t cross over the line to business casual. My office dress code is all over the place, but I have been wearing it to work with my Futureworks (and other chinos) and a button down without a second look from anyone — I think it looks good for that.
The narrow size is right for chinos, but too narrow for jeans. You’ll need to pick which works best for your clothing, I have two straps in narrow (brown and black) and will likely grab a standard width version in another color for wearing with 5-pockets styled pants.
Because the belt has no set holes or ratchet positions, you can fine tune the fit pretty easily.
Performance / Use
This belt is cumbersome to use for the first day. Because it doesn’t loop back to itself, instead you pass the free end into the buckle from the face, and then slide it along behind the buckle and down the other side. Friction essentially locks it in place, and you will notice the first time you try to take it off that there’s no worry about it coming undone by itself. I recommend watching this to get the hang of it.
Once you get going this belt quickly shows how great it is. It’s very low profile and never adds bulk or weight to your waist. The fit can be fine tuned and really comfortable. In the narrow model I have, I find the belt curves to your body very well — like a nicely molded leather belt. All in all: no complaints, just happiness here.
My only wish is that they looked more business casual because they are my favorite belts. I’ve instead decided to throw fashion to the wind, and wear these belts with everything. They are great, and you should own some.
A year of working from home means that we forget about some types of pants. As jeans, and then joggers, and then whatever-is-clean takes over our non-video half of our wardrobes you would be forgiven for not really thinking much about the humble chino. But, things are changing and it is a good time to start looking at what might give you that jogger comfort while still being office presentable — on both halves of your body.
With that in mind, I picked up a pair of Bonobos’ Tech Chinos in Navy. I wasn’t expecting much, but I’ve been very impressed with these pants. Allow me to share…
These pants are made with Schoeller textiles, enough said? If not, they are 59% Cotton, 36% Polyamide, 5% Elastane. On top of that they have 3XDRY applied to them. All in all the fabric is pretty awesome.
It feels and drapes like cotton. It has grime/oops resistance with a strong DWR coating. And the stretch is fantastic — there’s not been a single time I felt restricted by the pants at all. I don’t know what to make of this fabric, because it is simply great.
Fit and Style
These pants have a lower rise than some of the other chinos I have tested, but not so low that they are hard to keep a shirt tucked into. Whether wearing them around the house, or into the office they look like chinos. A nice pair of chinos at that.
Bonobos offers a wide range of fits so you can dial in the fit to your body type, I went with a 34×32 in the Slim cut and find that it fits me really well with no tailoring needed. The only hint of these not being a standard chino are the back pockets where one is a snap and the other is (annoyingly) a zippered pocket.
I’ll say it again: this are among the most comfortable chinos I have ever worn, that they look like normal cotton chinos is only more impressive. These are so good I’ll just shift to comparing them directly to Outlier’s Futureworks which are my gold standard for performance chinos:
Dirt/Grime Resistance: the DWR treatment is impressive and generally these pants don’t get that dirty. But when compared to the Futureworks there is one downside: the Tech Chinos tend to collect dust and light colored marks very easily. Where on the Futureworks I can brush such marks away with my hand, the Tech Chinos generally require a touch more effort — a damp rag generally cleans them back up. So if your are in a position where you are in a dusty area, or prone to brushing against things the Tech Chinos might become slightly annoying for you. Aside from that the performance for repelling splashes of water bests that of my Futureworks.
Movement Comfort: I find these to be even with Futureworks when it comes to how easy they are to move around in. They offer more stretch than the Futureworks but a lower rise and a trimmer cut negates that extra stretch — whereas the Futureworks have a better gusset on the crotch. Both are easy to move in, so much so I would not worry about wearing either for most things I might find myself doing.
Breathability: the one shortfall of these pants is breathability, the Tech Chinos don’t breathe nearly as well as the Futureworks. For cooler weather, the Tech Chinos will be great, but for summer the Futureworks are greatly preferable. I wish there was a slightly more breathable pair because that really is the biggest knock against these.
Durability: I suspect they both last a long time. In normal wear the Futureworks are likely to outlast. But if you are prone to snagging pants, the Tech Chinos will be a better option as Futureworks do tend to get a snag under certain circumstances — like cats and thorns.
Overall, the Futureworks are better for warmer weather and they dry much faster for travel. Otherwise the Tech Chinos are really neck and neck with the Futureworks.
I would peg these as a sleeper hit. I know a lot of people don’t want to play the waiting games for Outlier’s Futureworks to be in stock, in the color you want, in the size you need. I know that a lot of people want more fit options and wider size ranges. For those of you in that camp the Tech Chinos are the best option I found for performance chinos which are available in the size/colors you want on demand.
That said they come in at the same price as the Futureworks and given that I would still prefer the Futureworks over them, but the margin is much closer than I ever expected.