Undershirts, 2023 Edition

The moment I switched back to primarily cotton button down shirts, I needed to sort out a way to try and get more than a single wear from each shirt — mostly for my sanity of easy laundering. The best path for this: undershirts.

I also live, and walk, in Houston — which is far from a ‘cool’ climate. So finding a good undershirt was paramount — I’ve been down this road before, but was surprised to see how poor the offerings still are in general.

What to Look For

Perhaps it’s best to start with what I was looking for with my undershirt:

  • A deep enough v-neck, such that it cannot be seen on my neckline when I am wearing my button down over the shirt.
  • A long enough torso that the shirt stays tucked in.
  • Moisture wicking, dries fast.
  • Doesn’t feel like it’s a layer which adds warmth.
  • Machine wash and dry.
  • Doesn’t start to stink by the end of the day.

Any shirt that hits those criteria, is something I can use day to day.

What I Tried & Tested

It was surprisingly hard to find something that seemed to match the above criteria, as most ‘good’ undershirts seem to be fully cotton or modal — both of which I know won’t hit the benchmarks I am looking for. I ended up trying five options:

  • Wool&Prince 100% Merino Undershirt, $78: I found the neck to be very deep and the color to be great to hide for my complexion. However, the shirt adds warmth when worn, and generally looks and feels a bit sloppy under a shirt. While the material is soft, the fit and shape retention isn’t there. After only a half dozen wash/dry cycles, the neck and sleeves were slightly misshapen. I’ve heard from others they had similar issues, and for a $78 shirt, that’s not good.
  • Bluffworks Threshold V-Neck, $52: I am a big fan of the Threshold crew neck, so I went for the v-neck. The v-neck isn’t quite deep enough to always be hidden under my shirts, and thus needs to be properly placed. I found the body a touch short as well, which means you need to take more time keeping it tucked in. However, the wash/dry is quick and easy, it holds it’s shape as well. It doesn’t add warmth, and doesn’t build odor in just 12hrs of wear. Overall, aside from the neck, this is a pretty nice undershirt for what I am trying to do. You can also hand wash these and have them hang dry overnight — a big plus for travel.
  • Uniqlo AIRism Anti Odor Mesh V Neck, $15: I also wanted to see if I could find something good, which is much more affordable. This AIRism is a completely different fabric and is seamless as well. It’s wild feeling and looks completely silly to wear. But it wash/dries well, hides completely under a shirt, stays tucked in, and doesn’t add any warmth. However, it builds odor ridiculously fast, often within 8hrs of wear, and seems to transfer some of that to your shirt you are trying to protect, mostly defeating the purpose of the undershirt.
  • Uniqlo AIRism V-Neck Short-Sleeve, $15: The more classic offering isn’t much better. It does look slightly less ridiculous without a shirt over it, but only slightly. It feels more substantial, but adds no warmth. It does a slightly better job wicking moisture, and a much worse job managing odor — though this shirt doesn’t seem to transfer odor on to the shirt you wear over it, which is nice. All in all, it’s likely not worth wearing if this were your only option.
  • Mack Weldon AIRKNITx V-Neck Undershirt, $38: I was very skeptical of this shirt, so I wasn’t sure what to make of it. But it performs well: drying from sweat quickly, not building odors, not transferring odors, and wearing about as cool as you would without the undershirt on at all. The v is rather deep, keeping the shirt hidden and it stays tucked well. After many wash cycles, it has yet to look worse for wear. While it protects the shirt from odor, it does transfer moisture out to the shirt when your armpits are sweating a lot — this makes sense, but some people are looking for a barrier, and this is not that. Oh, and it doesn’t look that great when wearing without a shirt fully covering it — if that’s a concern for you.

After testing those, I couldn’t find anything else I felt was worth testing, write in if there’s something I missed.

My Pick

I really wanted the Bluffworks Threshold V-Necks to work out for me, as they work well as a general t-shirt too, thus offering some potential wardrobe consolidation. But they are only above average. My favorite is the Mack Weldon AIRKNITx line, it’s very comfortable to wear and offers a clear benefit with low-downside when wearing under my work shirts.

They aren’t inexpensive, nor are they space saving when you pack. But they do allow me to get 3-4 wears out of all my cotton button down shirts, which was my primary goal. They are comfortable, even when walking in humid 90°F weather, and dry very quickly. I’ve laundered them with reckless abandon, and have had no issues.

Recommended.

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

Undershirts, 2023 Edition

RRL (Double RL) Officer Chinos

I had been told that these pants were hard to explain, but decidedly the best chinos you could buy on the market. Not that they are stand out feature by feature better — but that they are nearly perfect and there’s some intangible attribute to them which is hard to describe. At $245 a pair, for full cotton pants with no stretch — they better be the best. They are, after all, just cotton chinos.

I bought my first pair in khaki, then another in olive, then a sale caused another purchase for a second olive pair, and then I snagged a pair in navy. Because, quite honestly, these are the best pants I own.

So yeah, I’ll try to explain why…

Materials

Simply listed as “heavy cotton twill” these are 100% cotton pants which will fade in color over time. The idea is that these are quite literally the type of pants an officer in WWII would have been issued to wear. This, keep in mind, is essentially where the chino pant started and was popularized — so it’s both classic Americana and military inspired. Double RL is leaning into that here.

The pockets are almost like a canvas, and they are properly sized. There’s simply not a lot to say about the material itself. Instead, I’ll comment that the material feels soft to the touch from day one. It feels like your favorite pair of chinos, which you worked hard to break in for years — comfortable.

Fit & Style

This is the part where these chinos separate themselves from all other chinos. The fit is spot on with a medium rise, a straight but tailored leg silhouette — these pants get every single detail correct. That means that they are flattering to wear.

That also means that they fit in most places you want chinos to work. Toss a t-shirt on with them, and head out for a casual look. Tuck a button down in, and head out for a smarter look. The only thing they don’t strictly do is look dressy. That’s not to say they can’t dress up, but rather the worn/washed in nature pulls them back to a more casual look.

The part which people struggle with on these pants, which is hard to explain, is the intangible quality of them simply looking very nice to the eye. That’s hard to explain because it is not attributable to any single aspect of the pants, but is rather the culmination of all the decisions taken in the design of these pants.

The slight wear and fading on the belt loops. The stitching detail and slight angle at the pocket opening. The button flaps on the back pockets. The visually soft and worn nature of the cotton twill. The straight, but not baggy, cut of the legs and seat. Add that all up and you get a pair of pants which simply look premium — which look well considered. Quite truthfully, the only time you tend to get a combination like that, is when you spend more money — it’s what a lot of the ‘technical’ chinos we’ve talked about here are missing in spades.

Performance

Yeah, so these are 100% cotton, no gusset, no stretch. Just cotton. They wear like cotton. From a performance aspect — there’s essentially nothing here (at least along the lines of what we talk about). Let me note on some wearability things with these before touching on something which I think is stand out on these pants and should fall under performance.

  • Range of Movement: the first thing I noticed about these pants, is the restriction of movement at the extreme ends. Trying to put on my shoes, will lead to the pants being tight around my leg bending at the hip. Doing a large step up to get into my SUV, same. Generally I can still do these things, but I notice the pants when I do them. What I can’t do is those same things with my iPhone 14 Pro Max in my pocket, there’s just no where for the phone to go, and it completely will shorten the range of motion on that leg. It’s not ideal.
  • Breathability: the thing we often forget about cotton is that it does breath well. I’ve worn these from 40°F to 85°F so far, and they’ve been comfortable. I don’t think they will be the most comfortable at the ends of the spectrum, but I’ve not felt as though I regret the choice. They are certainly most comfortable in the 50 – 75°F range of temps.
  • Drying: I have to hang these to dry, and they take a full 24-32hrs to fully dry. That’s not good, and it’s mildly annoying, however;
  • Washing: the care instructions essentially say to wash these sparingly. What that means in practice is that you wash them when/if they look or smell dirty. Otherwise, try not to. I’ve washed three of the four pairs since getting them, and that’s it — they still look and smell clean.

So drying isn’t that large of an issue because you don’t wash them often. But there’s no DWR, or anything to protect the pants, thus these aren’t so much lacking in performance for your day to day wear, but do present potential pitfalls when/if you travel with them. One spill, and you might be waiting a couple days to get them dry to wear again — especially so in the pocket areas.

One hidden performance attribute here is the fly. This is a button fly, but the button holes have the covering flap stitched down at the top and bottom of the hole. Thus when you sit down, there’s no risk of the top flap flipping over and showing the buttons — instead the fly lays rather flat and smooth at all times. It seemed like such a small thing when I got the pants, but it’s yet another small detail which is well thought through.

Overall

These are my favorite pants to wear, not just to the office or out on date nights — but generally. I love wearing these. I took a pair on a beach vacation, and foolishly didn’t pack some sweats for lounging in the condo — but it wasn’t an issue because I lounged in these. That’s crazy, these are chinos. But that’s the magic here: the look sharp, are durable, and for very comfortable to relax in. And you can basically wear them for anything.

I’ve never liked a pair of pants this much, so while the price is steep — they are worth every penny.

Buy here.

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

RRL (Double RL) Officer Chinos

Giving Up Nylon (Mostly) aka Buying Classic Clothing

My wardrobe was set — each day I when went to work I would slip on a pair of Futureslimworks (aka Futureworks) in Dark Navy or Space Grey (sometimes Sandstorm). I would pair these pants with Wool&Prince’s Merino Wool Button Down shirts. I washed the pants whenever they looked dirty or started to fit loose. I washed the wool shirts about once a month, or when they smelled.

It was all pretty simple, except one thing…

I would get home from work, and I couldn’t wait to change into some lounge wear — cotton sweats, a merino t-shirt. It’s not that I was ever uncomfortable throughout the day, or even at home. But I certainly wasn’t relaxed in my clothes.

And when I looked in the mirror in the morning — no matter how I paired my wardrobe, I always felt as though things were slightly off. The pants were too smooth, or the shirt didn’t quite lay down right. I don’t know, maybe it was the combination with the shoes.

And then the straw that broke the camels back — my Wool&Prince shirts started to look like trash. The sleeves kept shrinking to levels where they wore too short — even though I would wash on cold, and hang to dry — the sleeves just kept climbing. The material itself looked tattered — not on the cuffs where you might expect it, but where the sleeve meets the cuff, where the shoulders meet the sleeve. The material looked like it had seen a lot of wear, of use, and decay. Somehow rumpled, worn, and pulled all at once in these spots.

And even though I kept buying the shirts, they kept wearing out — and then one I bought only three months prior suffered the same fate. I was done, no more. It doesn’t matter how good your clothing’s performance is, if it is ill fitting or doesn’t last, it’s not worth it. It has to fit, it has to last.

So I went to Proper Cloth again — it’s been a long time since I bought from them. And I grabbed a merino wool shirt, for what I frankly felt was too much money, but it was coming made-to-measure in the exact setup I wanted. That was back in August and that shirt still looks perfect. And so I got another, then a non-merino, and then some Oxford Cloth Button Downs (OCBD).

I love these shirts. They feel amazing, and they fit great. I have to wash them after only a couple wears (OCBD) or about the same for the merino, but they fit and the materials are fantastic. But they threw the look of my outfits off — the OCBD looked not right with the smooth texture of the Futureslimworks, so I needed new pants.

And so, I did, I got full cotton pants. I’ll be writing about all this stuff, but there’s more to this than the items. I finally feel relaxed in the clothing, while not really finding any performance pitfalls — mostly because it all fits well and I have the ability to care for it easily.

Let’s talk about that relaxing feeling, here’s how I see the difference:

  • Futureslimworks: I am always comfortable in these, and never restricted by them. They perform very well, and they resist stains like no other. But when I try to lay back in a pair, they always feel cool against my skin, they always remind me a bit that they are there.
  • Cotton Chinos: I can feel a little restricted in these at the extremes of motion, and they certainly offer no stain resistance. But when I sit down wearing these, kick back on the couch, I don’t have a nagging thought that some other pants would be more comfortable. The fabric is always comfortable against my skin, never too cold, and while they are not magic performance enhancing materials, I’ve yet to find a general discomfort wearing these day to day.

Comfort is an aspect of clothing we’ve focused a lot on here, and rightfully so. Far too many clothing items are of low quality, poor materials, poor cuts, and bad designs — they feel uncomfortable. We should all feel comfortable — I am simply no longer convinced that to feel comfortable you must target scientific advances in clothing fabrics. Sometimes cotton pants provide vastly more comfort than the most advanced nylon-elastic fusion on the market.

There’s also the drape and texture that has driven me towards more classic clothing. The biggest complaint I see (visually, but also in reviews) around performance fabrics is that they don’t drape on your body correctly. We all know, and have seen this — it is no mystery. Too stiff, too crinkly, too smooth, or lacking all structure. It can lead to a weird look, and it was another trigger for me with my wardrobe.

As I said above, I got tired of my Wool&Prince shirts wearing out, so I switched to a made-to-measure Pima cotton Oxford cloth. It looks fantastic, but when you pair that with the incredibly smooth texture of Outlier’s Futureslimworks, the entire look is slightly off. It’s not that you need a shirt with nylon or merino, but you do need something not heavy Oxford cloth in texture. But that’s the shirt I wanted, so I needed my pants to work better with the shirt.

There are very few pants that offer that texture in a performance fabric, which also drapes well. Because, yeah, sometimes cotton does it better. Just the same as how it is hard to replace leather for boots and loafers with nylon.

None of that is to say that you can’t pair synthetics and natural fibers — but rather that to build the cohesive look that I was after, it was increasingly more difficult to do with synthetic fibers. Whereas it is rather effortless with natural fibers.

In other words, leather work boots, and a nice waxed jacket can look good with Outlier pants, but it almost always looks good with pair of jeans or cotton chinos. Part of the reason I moved to synthetics was to make my life easier, and a big reason I am now moving away is to make my life easier.

Easier in different ways.

On the one hand synthetics tend to look brand new almost always, and require little washing and worry when out and about. But they are harder to get ideal fits and cuts, and require more focused thought to create cohesive wardrobes. A lot of thought, actually.

Natural fiber garments fade and wear overtime, but make easy work of putting together classic styles and staying current and timeless in your looks at the same time. But they do require more laundering, and more replacement over time (theoretically, not always) — though they generally don’t suffer from too many durability issues if you spend the same money on them as you would the synthetics.

In other words: I’ve traded less washing and harder to style, for more washing and easier styling. Moving the amount of thought I need to put into what I shall wear today to the easy category, and making the weekends a little more laundry heavy than before.

An easy tradeoff to accept.

More to come on the items I’ve moved to soon…

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

Giving Up Nylon (Mostly) aka Buying Classic Clothing

Foehn Harper Adventure Shorts

Note: this item was provided by Foehn at no cost.

Foehn has been making a name for itself with performance focused (primarily) outdoors clothing. The Harper Adventure Shorts ($90) are my first go with the brand, and they are a very solid offering with a slightly different take than a lot of other ‘training’ style shorts. Whether they work for you is mostly going to come down to how you normally dress, and whether they fit your body.

Materials

These are what you expect: nylon and spandex. They are specifically: 86% recycled nylon, 14% spandex fabric shell; 87% nylon, 13% spandex liner. They are not paper thin like many other offerings as they clock in at 219 grams listed as the ‘garment weight’ but they are certainly all around a thicker material (shell and lining) than most of the other training shorts I own.

Overall the material avoids any annoying sounds, wears well, and feels pretty substantial to the hand while retaining robust stretch.

Fit & Style

These are not designed to be pure athletic/workout/training shorts where you might only be wearing them in a gym or workout setting. They are stated to be: “…the only pair of shorts you’ll need the entire summer.” The style lends very outdoorsy/gym to me, but I will say that they look substantially better than any other workout shorts I have when worn. The heavier material gives a much better drape, so if you are wearing an untucked shirt over the elastic waistband, I could see you potentially getting away with these for other outings, but it’s not a shoe-in.

The inseam is 7” on these, and I think it sits just right for a workout short, they feel great at this length. So as far as workout shorts go I think they look sharp, but when compared to most shorts they look very casual/workout. You could get away with them as long as you can get away with a t-shirt and shorts.

From a fit perspective I found that the waistband was loose for me with a size Large, but I would worry the Medium would be too snug. The drawstring helps tremendously. The string itself is an elastic webbing cord, and so even when tightened the shorts move really well in the waist — you can sit comfortably without them feeling tight. If you are someone who wants a very secure feeling waist, you might look elsewhere.

Performance

Foehn lists these as moving well, breathable, and moisture wicking. I will tackle each:

  • Movement: they stretch like crazy. No complaints, they never bind or bunch — even when the drawstring is tied up. They excel here.
  • Breathability: They are breathable, but they don’t stack up as well as many others I have tried. The lining is simply too thick of a material to fair well against many of the other lined shorts I have tested. For the shell, they are shorts, so the shell isn’t getting in the way of the lining at all.
  • Moisture Wicking: This is perhaps my biggest complaint. They get wet and stay wet. The lining doesn’t wick moisture as well as I would expect. If you leave them on after a sweaty workout, you’ll be feeling wet for quite some time afterwards — easily twice as long as any of my other lined shorts. They really don’t fair well here for me.

On some of the other traits:

  • The pockets are solid, nothing amazing but they don’t drop stuff out of them readily.
  • The lining is comfortable, and I didn’t find that the fit was poor in anyway.
  • The drawstring has silicon logos on it, these aid in keeping them tied securely which is a really nice touch.
  • They can and do look wrinkly at times. This is a part of the reason why they don’t strictly look like gym shorts.

Overall I found the performance to be comfortable for less strenuous workouts, the sweatier the workout the less performant the shorts felt.

Overall

For $90, these don’t make the cut for me as a pure workout short. You can get more performant offerings for less money, but none of those offerings look like anything but workout shorts. These fall in a niche area for me: a pair of shorts which you mostly use for active things, but you want to be able to fill in a very casual role on a whim if needed.

I look at these as a good pair of workout shorts for when you are traveling and only want to pack one extra pair of shorts. For that purpose these would fill a few roles quite nicely with just one item.

For me, these don’t fill a need I have.

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

Foehn Harper Adventure Shorts

Filson x Birdwell Beach Britches® Surfstretch Tac Shorts

Note: Filson provided this item for review.

When I first saw these, I thought they looked interesting, but was about to move on when I noticed the fabric. Then as I started reading about it more, and looked into Birdwell, I knew I had to check these shorts out. Luckily I was able to get a review pair, and while not perfect, these are a pretty amazing pair of technical shorts.

Material

These are made form two primary materials “SurfStretch” and “SurfNyl” which are both Birdwell creations. The SurfStretch makes up the body of the shorts, while the SurfNyl is used to reinforce the seat of the shorts. Filson lists the composition of this as “90% spandex/10% nylon + nylon”, I didn’t typo that, I promise. It’s 90% spandex.

But they are not tight fitting — this is what caught my attention. The material (as you might guess) is very stretchy, very smooth, and have a decently matte appearance to them. The hand feel is great, they feel like most heavier nylon shorts for the most part, with a somewhat heavy drape to the material. Not at all what I was expecting in a good way. It’s and unique material for sure, and well executed here.

Fit & Style

These are really a hybrid short, enough style that you can wear them casually, but enough performance you can be very active in them — including surfing. Having said that, I don’t think they really give off a strong “board short” vibe, and shorts are not overly dressy to begin with. From a style standpoint, even with the cargo pocket, they look solid and clean.

The fit is what I would call tailored, not at all baggy, but not tight. With an 8.25” inseam they will feel shorter for those who like a longer 9-10” inseam, but the short inseam gives them a less casual/hiking/boardshort vibe. Those who prefer a shorter-short are likely to find the single cargo pocket a non-starter to begin with.

I am not a cargo shorts fan, but these don’t give me that vibe at all, even though it looks very apparent in the product photos, in person it is not a billowing cargo pocket. It’s more there ‘just in case’ and for ‘style’ than anything else.

Let’s talk about the hand pockets though, I am rather particular about those. On these shorts they are a rather large spacer mesh, with a relatively short depth to them. I was very worried at the start that these would be the type of pockets to dump out everything you place in them the moment you sit down. That’s simply not the case. They are not my favorite, but they never lost a single thing I placed in them.

The only other attributes of this are the button fly, which either concerns you are doesn’t — it is not a normal choice but it works fine in practice here. On the side of the shorts are cinch straps, whereas most swimming shorts will offer a string cinch waistband, these have two nylon webbing straps on each side. They run through a ladder lock and you pull to tighten. When loose, which is all that I generally need the metal ladder locks tend to protrude a bit too much for my liking. Once snugged down that problem goes away.

Performance

Ok, let’s talk about the performance claims:

  • Quick-Dry: yes, as you might expect these dry pretty quick. I would not say fast, but quick is the right word for it. Some shorts dry much faster, but these do not take so long to dry that there is any issue with them.
  • Lightweight: I don’t see it here. The are decently heavy weight material. That’s not really a bad thing either, but if we are talking about overall weight, they are also not the lightest shorts I have.
  • Roomy for Beach/Hiking: yes, the cut is fantastic to give you the room you need.
  • Unparalleled Freedom of Motion: yes again, 90% spandex will do that for you. There’s very little restriction of movement, in fact I can’t think of a time I really felt as though there was.
  • Durable: so far, yes. The material seems to be holding up well to washing, and generally wearing about.

I started a day by putting on these shorts, and I went for a workout (rucking) in the 85°F humid weather — the shorts performed great for that activity. Then I went straight into the yard in the now 90°F humid weather and started working about in the bushes to prune them and pull weeds — again they worked great without issue. Then I jumped straight into our pool to cool off, with the shorts on, and swam around. I got out, wiped down some of the chairs by the pool and let the shorts dry — all good.

I have other shorts which say that can do that, but none that work this well. They breath decently well, but are roomy enough that other ventilation occurs. They shed water and keep it from building in the pockets really well when swimming. And the cinch straps work amazingly well when you want to go jump into water, as you can quickly pull them tight and they hold the shorts really well.

At the end of that, despite me getting them dirty, they looked ready to wear back out to the next task.

Overall

I’m a big fan of these shorts. They are a little quirky and might not fit every fashion need out there. But if a single short which can do most things you need from shorts, these are right up there with the best. At $140, they are not cheap, but they certainly offer a very unique value proposition.

Find them here, $140.

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

Filson x Birdwell Beach Britches® Surfstretch Tac Shorts

Vollebak Equator Shirt

Let me first start this review by telling you that this shirt is my near perfect shirt. On paper it doesn’t seem to even come close to the performance of all the other shirts I own or wear. The price is, well, it’s not cheap. And yet, if I could only wear one shirt, this would be it.

I have two of them, they are amazing. They are also expensive.

Vollebak’s Equator Shirt is essential.

Material

As I alluded to at the top, the material itself doesn’t seem extraordinary in any sense as it is: 72% cotton, 24% polyamide, 4% elastane. This doesn’t really tell the whole story, but first I will note that the mesh used is 75% polyester, 25% elastane (this is the armpit area mesh) and there are Corozo nut buttons which are sublime.

This shirt is cotton, but like no cotton I have ever felt before. Here’s what Vollebak says about the cotton they use:

One of the lightest, softest fabrics on the planet, Karnak Menoufi is a silk-like cotton that’s only found in the Nile Delta, and only grows in the years when the rain, soil and wind conditions are perfect.

The entire shirt weighs in at 200 grams. So when you talk about this being light and silk like — yeah that’s what they mean. The weave is incredible smooth and the shirt feels very soft. It feels impossibly thin, but not crinkly like Paper Cotton. This feels better than the best t-shirt, both to the touch and on your body.

The sum of this is a very soft, very thin, very fast drying material which still rates at UPF 50+. Pretty insane if you ask me.

Fit & Style

I don’t know what to make of the style on this shirt. Like all goods from Vollebak they are a mix of classic with an edge towards — I don’t know, being edgy? I can’t really say. The Equator Shirt at first glance can seem oddball, but reminiscent of classic designs. This is further helped by a very good cut, which runs trim, and looks great untucked, or tucked.

The fit for me is perfection. The style is tame enough that I never got a side eye, while not ever looking overly dressy, or underdressed. It’s an outdoors casual shirt, which can be tucked into your pants and made to look like some sort of stylish dress shirt where you are embarrassed to ask if that is the new trend or not. This is the best I can explain it.

Performance

This shirt has insanely good performance — it might be one the best performing shirts I have. And I know those who have been reading this site for a while might be in disbelief on this, believe me when I say that I keep expecting this shirt to not perform well and keep being wrong. This shirt performs better than most of my active wear performance t-shirts and certainly better than merino wool.

Let’s tackle the item most people assume is where this will fail: multiple wears and odor resistance. I get 2-3 wears out the shirts when I need it, with no smell at all. I’ve yet to have these shirts smell. I tested this by wearing them all day in the early summer heat of Disney World with a backpack on my back and the sun beating down. I soaked them thoroughly with sweat, hung them to dry, and smelled. Nothing. So I did it again, still nothing. I also don’t know how that is, but it is.

And, I suspect a part of this is how fast the shirts dry. Whether just out of the washer, after pouring rain, or letting sweat evaporate — these are my second fastest drying shirt. With the only one faster being a Western Rise shirt which is lighter than air here on a humid summer day in Houston.

But wait, there’s more. The shirt is really stretchy, so even though it has a nice tailored cut, it rarely restricts any arm motion. The UPF 50+ rating has to be real, I never burned through this shirt and I have worn it in a ton of situations where sunscreen was required on my face.

There are two things about this shirt which are even crazier than the rest: venting and the sleeves. First let’s talk about the venting on this shirt, because it’s hidden all over. Specifically there are 18 hidden vents. The armpits are mesh. The ‘seam’ across the top back of the shirt is a row of vents. Ditto the forward facing seam at the top of the shoulders. The chest pockets unzip to reveal laser cut holes which act as a chest vent. And none of these vents look odd, none get in the way, and they actually work. I opened the chest vents several times, only to close them when entering A/C areas. Stellar.

And then there’s the sleeve, Vollebak says it best:

If you’re moving hard and fast and want your sleeves to stay rolled, you’ll find a 20cm long reinforced strap on the inside of each sleeve that you can pull out, up and over the rolled sleeve and fasten to a small slip button on the outside of the upper arm. The fastening is secured on its own reinforced patch of military tape. And each 20cm fabric strap has two buttonhole settings so you can choose how high you want them. If you’re wearing the sleeves down, the cuffs fasten with two corozo buttons.

Yes, basically correct. This shirt looks and feels great sleeves up or down, and they stay put no matter which you choose. I love it, and this type of system doesn’t always work this well.

There’s but one single downside on the performance: wrinkles. Lots of wrinkles. This fabric comes out messy looking. It’s odd though, because if you are wearing it casually the wrinkles drop out enough that you don’t need to worry too much. A quick steam pass really releases them to where I like to wear it. But if you do press the shirt with an iron, it looks very sharp and passes in situations which trend a little less casual.

Overall

Man, what a shirt. I have the Sky Blue and the Temple of Doom Edition (this looks like a light-khaki, but to my eye it’s more mint-khaki) and I prefer the Sky Blue color slightly.

I don’t know if this shirt is worth $345. I got the first one as a gift from my wife, and I quickly bought the second one as a gift from me to me, because I liked it so much. I wish I could have this in a standard button down style for the office too, but as it is, I love this shirt. It’s worth it to me, but it is far from an easy price to swallow.

If you do make the purchase, you’ll have my favorite shirt as well.

$345

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

Vollebak Equator Shirt

Minus33 ALGONQUIN MEN’S S/S CREW

This item was provided for review.

A while back, I grabbed a Woolverino T-Shirt from Minus33 and I was impressed — so I was excited to give their Algonquin t-shirt in Olive drab a try as well when they offered it. I’ve been testing it for a while now, it’s another instant favorite of mine.

Materials

This is a 100% merino wool t-shirt, which is 17.5 micron with a 170gsm weight in jersey knit. Minus33 rates it at 25 UPF, which is pretty standard fare for merino unfortunately.

To the hand, this is a soft and ’normal’ t-shirt weight — so if you have found something like the Woolverino too thin, and the Outlier Ultrafine too thick, this is the weight you likely wanted. I really like the hand feel on the Minus33 wool across all their gear I have tried — it’s done very well and it feels softer than the micron rating might suggest. This is simply a merino t-shirt so not much to say beyond that.

Fit & Style

One thing Minus33 does very well is to note how to expect the shirt to fit, based on your ‘normal’ sizing. This is listed as: “Regular – Standard fit with a little bit of room to breathe, but not too baggy”. I can translate that further to: normal t-shirt fit.

In other words, this is designed to be worn like any other standard t-shirt, and to that end, the cut is perfect. The product photos make it look like it might have an odd cut, but in person it looks just like a t-shirt should, and like all Minus33 goods it runs a little more trim trough the body — which I like, but is worth noting.

It fits me great, and I am a big fan, enough said.

Performance

I noticed another blurb from Minus33 on this shirt which I’ll quote in full: “Temperature Recommendations: 30°F to 60°F and up while active, 60°F and up while inactive”. That’s spot on. It’s not super thin, so there will be no worries about it being transparent, but it’s also not super thick. If you think of this as a normal t-shirt, you’ll simply find that it works as designed.

For testing: I wore it all day, slept in it, and then repeated that a day later. I couldn’t get it to stink up after repeating that three times, so it’s on par with all 100% merino shirts for me.

The reason I slept in it: the only shirts more comfortable are my Outlier ones, which cost much more, and are heavier. For me, this is the ideal merino t-shirt weight. It performs like merino, which means it dries well enough, insulates from heat and cold, and does a really good job managing odors. Sleeping in a merino t-shirt feels like luxury to me, and there you go.

Overall

The big thing here is the price, at $69 it’s a bargain. Most merino shirts cost more to be this nice feeling with this good of a cut. It’s hard to find something better, let alone at this price.

You can find it here, for $69.

Minus33 is going to be my first stop from here on out for merino goods.

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

Minus33 ALGONQUIN MEN’S S/S CREW

Minus33 Kearsarge Polo

Note: Minus33 provided this item for review.

Minus33 sent me the Kearsarge Polo in Azure Blue to try out. This is a merino wool pool which comes in a few different colors at a really solid price. I’ve recently become a pretty big fan of the value proposition/quality that Minus33 offers, and this polo is a perfect example of that.

I’m a big fan.

Materials

This is a 100% merino wool garment made from 17.5 micron merino at a weight of 170gsm. This makes it a decently lightweight shirt, and thus the UPF rating is at 25 per Minus33. The material itself is less pique polo style, and more jersey polo style — which is to say it’s more like a t-shirt fabric made with a collar and such.

That’s not a slight, it’s a nice material. I find the 17.5 micron merino a really nice balance of comfort and price and I don’t think many will notice a practical difference between it and something more fine like 16 micron. All in all, the material is thick enough to not be see through, but lightweight enough to breath well.

Fit & Style

This is made to be an untucked polo look, and it pulls that off well. The Azure Blue color is quite bright, but there are other color options as well — I do like the brightness of this. The collar is also really nice, as it stays put and in decent shape overall.

I found the fit to be tailored, as best I can put it, with the sleeves being slightly more relaxed. All in all this is a solid polo shirt cut, leaning slightly more casual because of the styling on the collar. It’s good stuff, nothing overly remarkable (which is basically what I want out of a polo). Minus33 does put a discrete tag on the side hem, I’ve not tried removing it, but I do wish it wasn’t there.

Performance

We’ve written about merino wool here a bunch, and this being 100% merino wool there’s nothing different. It has remarkable odor resistance, very good wrinkle resistance, and dries quickly given both the material and the weight of the material.

I’ve worn it quite a few days in a row without it smelling or looking any worse for wear. I’ve also never found a need to steam it, I wash it, hang it to dry, and toss it back on. Even in the humid heat I get in Houston, this has wicked moisture away quick enough as to never be a concern.

The one performance factor this is lacking on is the UPF rating, especially for a shirt you would find yourself wearing for a day out in the sun. This is more a merino wool fault, than anything else, but worth noting.

Overall

I absolutely love this shirt, and at $75 it offers a very competitively priced item, with some really nice materials and solid finishing. I’ve been looking to add more polos to my closet, and this one quickly found a spot as one of my most worn items. It’s the perfect weight, in my favorite shirting material.

Find here, $75.

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

Minus33 Kearsarge Polo

Triple Aught Design Gemini Shirt Short-Sleeve

I’ve been more and more inclined to not wear t-shirts of late, which means I have been looking to expand my clothing into short-sleeved button-ups and polos. I have a few from Outlier, but was looking for something a little easier/worry-free to care about, and snagged the Triple Aught Design Gemini Shirt Short Sleeve in Gunmetal.

I’ve had it for a while now, and thought I would share my thoughts on a shirt which has become a staple for me.


Straight out of the washing machine, no attempts to remove wrinkles.

Material

This is a 65% Polyester, 35% Cotton shirt which comes in an a rather light 122gsm material with a DWR finish to it. The handfeel of the material is absurdly soft, and Triple Aught Design notes that the fabric has a ‘sanded finish’. I’ve not seen that before, but it feels as soft as you could get something before it starts to look fuzzy — if that makes sense.

This means it not only feels soft, but it has a softer/no-glare finish to it, while not been a full matte finish. It’s a really nice and subtle effect that keeps the material from having that synthetic sheen/vibe to it.

The materials are nice, and feel even nicer in hand.

Fit and Style

The trick on short sleeve shirts is for the styling and fit to work well for you. I’ve found this shirt to fit a little boxier, and is cut very long in the torso. I have a long torso already, and this size Large shirt (my normal size) had me immediately remark “wow, that’s long”. Certainly not too long to wear untucked, but any longer and I wouldn’t be a fan.

That said the cut overall is pretty nice. I do have broad shoulders and find that while the size fits me perfectly across the shoulders, the shirt can be a little restrictive on my arm movements in extreme circumstances — a little stretch in the material would go a long way here.

The drape of this shirt is a little stiff looking. It doesn’t quite flow, but it doesn’t look stiff either. It’s so light that the entire shirt tends to sway, instead of falling easily with gravity — hard to describe, but the drape gives away the shirt a bit.

The collar though, the collar is extremely good and stays nicely. This is really well done.

The one caveat is the chest pockets. These are an intentional design decision and they are what gives this shirt a unique look. I’ve never had anyone comment on them one way or the other, but if you don’t like the look of the chest pockets in these pictures, you won’t like them in person either. They don’t bother me, but they are different and worth basing your decision on.

Performance

As always, here’s the stated claims and what I have seen in use:

  • Moisture Wicking: this is a mixed bag for me. The shirt does dry very quickly, there’s no doubt about it. It would be easy to sink wash, and dry over a short night before wearing again. However, when I start to build up sweat, I do notice the shirt can feel a little clammy between my skin and the shirt, like the sweat isn’t being pulled into the shirt and wicked away. That said, suddenly the moisture will disappear, and I don’t know what to make of that.
  • Wrinkle Resistance: yeah, pretty much as claimed. You wash it, pull it out, hang dry or dryer, there’s not enough wrinkles to ever keep you from wearing this. I’ve not packed it for travel, but it’s my most wrinkle resistant short sleeved shirt.
  • Resists stains: yep, the DWR coating is solid, but will wear off eventually.
  • Lightweight and Packable: yep.
  • Easy to care for: 100%, yes.

I wore this for a cool morning while the kids took tennis lessons and it blocked the light breeze to keep me comfortable, then I went straight into the yard pulling weeds in 80°F heat and it stayed clean and I didn’t overheat. I really like this shirt, as it’s very comfortable to wear.

For me the biggest performance advantage of this shirt is how easy to care for it is. Wash and dry however, it seems to not bother the shirt. No wrinkles, and strong DWR to keep it looking clean. When I travel this summer, I’ll always be taking this shirt with me.

Overall

It’s not my favorite looking shirt, and I wish the color selection was better, but I do really like how easy this shirt is. There’s better performing shirts out there for hot weather (Outlier’s Ramie SS gear is legend for this), but this is the most performant while being easy to care for shirt I have found. I’d buy another if they had some less ‘tactical’ looking colorways available. As it is, if you like the pockets and the color, this is a great add.

Find here, $95.

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

Triple Aught Design Gemini Shirt Short-Sleeve

Beyond Clothing Dawa Sherpa Full-Zip L3 Fleece

The Dawa Sherpa Fleece is something I snagged for myself this past winter — I wanted something soft and cozy hoodie to lounge around the house in which would also work as a full outer layer if I needed to stay warmer when out and about.

The Dawa looked nice to me, and the price seemed too good to be true at $80 — but it’s an insane value.

Materials

Beyond only specifies that this is “Polyester double-sided brushed-knit fleece”. They further state “Certified STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® | confirmed free from harmful levels of more than 100 substances” and “bluesign®-certified textiles have been verified for ecological safety at every step of manufacturing”. Which is all good.

In practice it’s a Sherpa fleece, which means it is fuzzy on both sides. It’s a Midweight fleece, so it’s not overly thin, nor super thick. In practice all the materials are really nice, but given the price there’s no branded ‘Polartec’ or anything like that here — but there’s nothing concerning either. I’ll also note that this has held up well through multiple washing machine runs, while hanging it to dry.

Fit & Style

The cut and fit is spot on for me. It is long enough in the body that it doesn’t feel breezy when you are in chilly weather, but no so long that when you sit down you are sitting on the back of it, pulling it tight. The hood is very nice, and the sleeves are also long on it. All of that makes it really effective for staying warm when outside, and comfortable when laying on the couch.

It’s a fuzzy fleece hoodie, it’s spot on for that style. The color you see here is coyote.

Performance

The best way I can describe this is: cozy. It’s exactly what I wanted from an item like this. Something which replaced a standard hoodie for me. From a pure performance aspect you really are looking at warmth, breathability, and drying times.

  • Warmth: warm but not too warm. As a layer it’s perfect. On it’s own it will be susceptible to wind.
  • Breathability: it is decently breathable, but you can heat up in more static movement.
  • Drying times: excellent. It comes out of my front load washer feeling decently dry after the spin cycle and has always dried in single digit hours.
  • Odor Control: I’ll also add that I’ve worn this a ton, and never washed it because it smelled bad. Something which happens on other outer layers. Here, I’ve simply spilled something on it each time I have needed to wash it.

The performance of this is on par with your standard fleece jacket. Nothing more, but nothing less either.

I do want to point out the pockets. The front hand pockets are very large and are great for hands, or storing gear in. I found the zippers to be well placed, which makes the pockets very easy to use. Oddly, there’s a pocket on the top left collarbone area. It remains a mystery to me why this exists.

Overall

There’s some branding on this garment, but it’s not over the top or very loud. The entire package is well executed and this is an item I really love. It’s not often cold enough to need this here in Houston, but I grab it at any chance I get.

Big fan.

Find it here, $80.

NOTE: where possible all product links on this site may earn the site money when you buy using those links.

Beyond Clothing Dawa Sherpa Full-Zip L3 Fleece