Western Rise Diversion Pant

Note: Western Rise provided these pants at no cost for review.

Western Rise is one of the performance clothing brands which excites us the most, as they seem to be taking a rather unrestrained approach to making better performing clothing. The Diversion Pant is the latest offering from them, and is designed to be a person’s go to everyday pant, which makes it right up our alley. Further, Western Rise wants this pant to be: “tougher than workwear, more comfortable than sweatpants, and more stylish than jeans.” That’s a tall order, and I’ve had a chance now to wear these pants enough to know how they stack up.

Material

Western Rise markets that these pants took 3 years of research and development. Which all leads to what they call the ‘Diversion Double Weave Canvas’, and which I call: really stretchy and soft material. Soft is the key word when describing this, because most performance materials are either rough, or slick/smooth. Soft, outside of high cotton or polyester is pretty rare.

Specifically this fabric is: 94% nylon, 6% spandex and comes in at a hefty 286 gsm. All of that is coated with a DWR coating, and of course the pockets are non-standard, in this case Nylon 6,6. The stretch is 4-way, and the pants have a UPF rating of 50+. But none of that really shows what you get with this material, because it is quite good.

The face of the material looks and feels like a cotton canvas. It is matte, with not a hint of sheen — something very rare in very high performing pants. It is also soft to the touch, with a very broken in, favorite t-shirt, feel to it. The facing is fantastic.

Next, the inside of the pants is a dobby weave, which Western Rise hopes mimics the feel of sweatpants. On this I can comment, because sweatpants are my go to evening pants, and while they came close, it is a slight miss on the sweatpant mimicry. However, they do feel amazing against your skin with a softness to them that you rarely feel in an everyday pant. Almost like a nice pair of terry cotton sweat pants.

The stretch on these pants is extreme, so much so that I was actually quite surprised that they are only 6% spandex and not more. Kudos there, as the stretch makes them quite comfortable.

Simply put: yes, more of this fabric please.

Fit & Style

They are listed as a ‘slim/tailored’ fit, which I think is slightly off from reality. These are easily the most slim pants I have reviewed for this site, and the most slim I have ever worn. They border on being too slim for my taste, and I hope that they make a slightly more relaxed cut in the future. However, the wife says I look good in them and they have yet to be uncomfortable, so perhaps they found a nice balance there.

I was told the pants would stretch a half, to one full, size during wear, which is very common in this type of pant. After about a half day of wear I would say they stretched somewhere in that range, and have stayed there. The fit overall is a bit snug for me to call perfect, but none of that makes them any less comfortable to wear.

On the style front, Western Rise makes the claim that not only should these pants be better than jeans, but that they can easily be dressed up for the office. I call shenanigans on this thought. They most certainly can, and probably should, replace jeans for most people. They are more comfortable, and look better than jeans. I received the blue-grey color and find it very versatile and easy to wear. There is, however, no escaping the fact that they are a five-pocket pant style, which is not going to fly in many business settings.

There’s no way I can get away with wearing these at work, where I wear chinos and up styling. You could easily get away with these in a more casual to smart-casual environment. Basically if ‘nice jeans’ is all you ever need, these will be more than ample. But if ‘at least chinos’ is where you live, then these won’t dress up enough for your needs. This is all subjective though, and the black could likely dress up more.

That notwithstanding, the biggest style miss on these is the cuff on the pant leg opening. Western Rise stuffed some extra fabric in it so that you can easily adjust the pants from the standard 32” inseam they ship with to roughly a 33” inseam. This is great for product inventory, but if you leave the inseam at 32” the cuff looks a bit too thick and detracts from the style overall. I have it on my list to take these to the tailor and have that cuff redone.

Performance

I can sum this section up with one word: fantastic. These are one of the best performing pants I have. I wear them any time I am not going into my office, and I have yet to regret it. I wore them for an entire day of cleaning both of the kids rooms, and their playroom. That involved a lot of movement, crawling on my knees and everything else. These pants were fantastic for that.

Let’s break down the claims made about these pants one by one:

  • “unprecedented freedom and comfort”: yes, this is a very accurate statement. Typically the slimmer fitting the pants, the less mobility. I wore these on an all day road trip, cleaning the house, lounging, and more. They never once restricted me, nor did I find them uncomfortable. The key thing to know is that the waistband has a solid nylon lining on the inside face of it, which means the waist does not stretch like the rest of the pants. It will slightly loosen with wear, but not a lot. This is great if the pants fit you well, but will be uncomfortable if you are sitting in an uncomfortable position, or the pants fit too snug. The other upside of this waistband design is that your pants tend to actually stay up much better.
  • “ultra-soft, breathable inner lining”: yes, double checks here. The pants are soft, just not fuzzy soft. The pants are also very breathable, while it is winter, here in Houston we have touched 80°F a couple of times and have had some very humid weather. The pants performed admirable under those conditions.
  • “abrasion resistant”: this was my biggest worry with the facing material on the pants as it feels too soft to be durable. Yet, I crawled around on my knees across the carpet cleaning the play room with the kids for an entire day and even upon very close inspection I can see no signs of wear at the knees. I honestly find it hard to believe that pants this soft can be this durable. Time will tell, but so far I am impressed.
  • “helps the pant retain its shape”: one of the biggest problems with stretchy pants is that they do what many call “bag out” especially at the knees. Essentially over time they stretch out in areas with lots of articulation, and stay stretched out making them look oddly shaped. Typically this is easily fixed with a quick wash. However, thus far, nothing of the sort with these pants. I hope that holds true, because that can be the only reason I need to wash pants like this, and if they continue not to loose shape, then they will likely be the pants I can wear the longest between washes.

As I said, from a performance stand point, these pants are amazing. The 286 gsm weight seems heavy on paper, but on your body it does not feel that heavy at all. They feel like the perfect all around weight. Warm enough for cool to cold weather, and light enough for warm to very warm weather. They won’t replace shorts, but they can likely handle a large portion of the temperature range people face.

Overall

These are now going to be my go to casual pants. They are just too comfortable and look too good not to be. I do wish they were cut a little more relaxed, but none of that takes away from the pant itself. Not only will they be my casual pants, they will likely find themselves my airplane travel pants too.

I highly recommend these.

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

Western Rise Diversion Pant

Bluffworks Horizon Quilted Vest

Note: this product was provided at no cost for this review.

Vests are big right now, especially in finance and tech. A vest has in ways become a uniform. But, vests are also pretty practical, and convenient items. There’s a ton of variety, but one of the more popular is something with a quilted bit of insulation, like the Horizon Quilted Vest from Bluffworks. Made to be an everyday wear, and travel item, in typical Bluffworks fashion they tried to make a high quality item, with good style, and tons of performance.

I think they succeeded with this on all fronts, and then when you take the price into consideration you can’t help but own one.

Material

The entire vest seems to be made of polyester, and I am not sure there’s anything bad about that. It is not the type of item to pick up body odors, nor is it an item you really need stretch in. I think the choice is right here, and strikes a good balance with machine washability and looks. The insulation used is 100g PrimaLoft® synthetic insulation and made from 60% post-consumer recycled material. Again this is not a layer you would use for serious outdoor pursuits, so the insulation choice is very good.

There is also a water repellant finish applied to the vest, which helps to shed light rain. Overall the most surprising thing is how thin the vest is, as I tend to find insulated vests to be generally too bulky.

Fit and Style

This is on trend. It looks like a perfectly normal vest, because it is made out of the same material which most vests are made out of. From a style perspective, perhaps the biggest complement I can give is that my wife wishes they made a version for women.

From a fit stand point I ordered my standard Large from Bluffworks and I find that it fits well. They only offer a regular cut, and I would like it if there offered a slightly more tailored cut as the vest wears a little wide around the mid section. It is not bad by any means, but it is boxy enough that I can wear my Proof Nova jacket underneath the vest, but not the vest under the jacket.

To my eyes, I can see the same boxy look on the models that Bluffworks shows on their site. So if they offered a Tailored Cut, I would spend my own money to get one right away. That said, this is far from a deal breaker.

The only other complaint I have is that the collar is a bit tall in the back, and I find it uncomfortable when driving or sitting. I tend to fold the collar down when I drive or sit so that the back of my neck and head are more comfortable. When standing everything is fine.

Performance

There’s three aspects to the performance: comfort/mobility, warmth, and washability. Let’s tackle each individually.

Comfort: this vest is exceedingly comfortable, but vests generally are. I can’t say this is anymore comfortable than my other vest, but the arm holes are cut well, and there is no restriction to my movement. From a comfort perspective, the collar issue notwithstanding, well done.

Warmth: this vest is warm, but not hot. I have warm vests, but I wouldn’t want this to be any warmer. You could wear it sitting around at room temperature to stay cozy, and probably use it as your only warmth layer down to 45°F or so. Any cooler and you might want to layer under the vest. I did layer it with the Proof Nova jacket to spend a night walking around in 30°F weather. I think the warmth factor here is near perfect, if not perfect.

Washability: the vest is machine washable and putting that to the test I found that the only change from out-of-the-box was that the quilted sections now had a bit more depth to them. I think the vest actually looks better after washing. It dries pretty quickly as well.

Lastly, Bluffworks crammed a ton of pockets into the vest, but they did so very well. You can’t see or notice most of them, but there are there if you need them. I think they did a very nice job with that aspect.

Overall

I have one more complaint before we wrap up, and that is about the snaps for the zipper cover: they are a little jingly when you walk. It is not too bad an issue, but it is probably the biggest issue with the vest.

Having said all that, I think this vest is fantastic and I highly recommend it. I wasn’t sure what to expect of this vest, but I have been very happy with it. It has become my go to layer anytime the temps drop here, and for the price, I think it is a great value.

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

Bluffworks Horizon Quilted Vest

Bluffworks Zenith Dress Shirt

Note: this shirt was provided at no cost for review.

I am a huge fan of the Bluffworks Meridian Dress Shirt (our review) and think it is easily the best business casual shirt you could travel with. They are also some of my favorite shirts to wear to work even when not traveling — so when the Zenith shirt came out I couldn’t wait to try it.

Surprisingly, this is a very different shirt, so let me dive into it.

Material

The Zenith shirt is a light weight shirt made out of 94% Polyester and 6% Spandex. Bluffworks states: “The fabric in this mens travel shirt is made from a high-performing polyester with wrinkle resistant properties and just the right amount of stretch. Plus, moisture-wicking and odor control keep you feeling fresh throughout the day. And, of course, it’s machine washable and easy to care for.”

I can vouch for the stretch, as it is surprising, given how the shirt drapes, that it has that much stretch. The handfeel is slightly rough with a crispness to the fabric itself. This makes is a complete opposite to the Meridian which has a softer drape and a very soft hand feel. There is no sheen to the material at all.

Fit and Style

Bluffworks offers a range of cuts and sizes, so you should be able to get a shirt that fits you well. The Large Slim Fit is a good fit, but slightly boxier than I would like through the waist.

What really makes this shirt stand apart is the drape and the collar. I think Bluffworks nailed this in their description of the shirt:

“So it’s versatile, styling well with a blazer for more formal occasions, layered under a vest for cooler weather, or worn over a t-shirt for a casual look. This blue dress shirt is our answer to the demand for a solid business shirt — this blue micro check reads as a solid color, perfect for dressing up or down.”

I think that’s an apt description and really nails it. This collar is fantastic, it is like a rotomolded collar that sits exactly where you want. That sounds bad, but truly my only complaint might be that it is too crisp. Which, on a scale of what annoys me more, is at the least annoying side of things.

Performance

There are three aspects to evaluate this shirt on: wrinkle resistance, odor resistance, and breathability. I already mention the shirt has great stretch, so there’s no need to dive into that more: it will move with you and be comfortable.

Breathability: here in hot and humid Houston, I can get a really fast sense for how well a shirt breathes. The Zenith shirt is the best breathing shirt I have as far as synthetic shirts go. Only light merino breathes better in my dress shirts. In fact, when the AC is blowing strongly this shirt can wear a bit cool at times.

Wrinkle Resistance: the Meridian is impressive with wrinkle resistance, you can pull it out of the wash and wear it as soon as it dries, or wad it up in your bag and pull it out and put it on. Sadly that’s not the case with the Zenith. You need to steam the wrinkles out after washing, and you can do so with the dryer. It doesn’t take a lot of work, but wrinkles do happen and take a slight bit of humidity to fall out. Seatbelts will also cause wrinkles. It’s on par with a wrinkle resistant cotton shirt. Not great, but not linen.

Odor resistance: again, this is not an area the Zenith excels at. It is not an odor magnate, you could certainly do an 18 hour day in it without finding odor to be a main issue, but not a fabric you can wear multiple times either.

From a performance stand point I think this makes for a very good business casual shirt, but is beaten out by other offerings for a travel shirt.

Overall

If this shirt had a touch better wrinkle resistance, I would by buying up all the colors of it. As it is, at $98, I think it represents a heck of a value. The closest competitor is the Ministry of Supply Aero Dress Shirt (our review) and I think the performance is slightly better than those shirts, while also being less expensive.

For shirts you wear to the office, and wash every day, the Zenith is certainly among the top ranks. For a travel shirt, I would pick the Meridian over the Zenith for any situation because the wrinkle resistance is far better on the Meridian.

That said, I will be looking to grab another Zenith, because come summer, I am going to be thankful for the light nature of this fabric.

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

Bluffworks Zenith Dress Shirt

Ministry of Supply Kinetic Suit

When I bought the Kinetic pants and blazer (our reviews: pants, blazer) from Ministry of Supply, I did so with the intention of seeing how they work together. My hope was, that like the Bluffworks Gramercy (our review) setup, they would look good enough together. I didn’t anticipate that this would be a thing I would avoid writing, but I have — frankly I can’t make heads or tails of this.

Travel Suit

There’s a huge argument as to whether you need a performance travel suit, over a nice say merino wool actual (née Traditional) suit. Everyone seems split on this, with some (like me) preferring performance materials for ease of care and durability. And others citing that the reason you wear a suit is to wear a suit, so wear a suit.

If you are looking for a performance suit to travel with, this is a good option, but I don’t think the best option. The heads up comparison would be with the Velocity pairings also from Ministry and the Bluffworks Gramercy line.

Either, likely, would be better — to a degree. Here’s how I would break them down — do keep in mind I have not put my hands on the Velocity suit jacket, so I am basing this off my assumptions from the pants alone (our review).

  • Velocity: this is going to be the best looking of the bunch. The styling and overall material is fantastic. It has great stretch and is very breathable. The downside is going to be durability. I don’t see it being more durable than a nice wool suit. Certainly easier to clean though.
  • Kinetic: this will be the most comfortable, by a wide margin. Also very durable and easy to clean. The downside is that the style is not very formal, and the material doesn’t look very suit like and the patch pockets on the blazer trend casual. It doesn’t have sheen, but it almost needs sheen to look right. More than that, it wrinkles easily.
  • Gramercy: this looks better, more suit like, than the Kinetic, and is very durable. I can’t wrinkle any of this material easily, and it cleans up nicely. The big downside is that it isn’t much more comfortable than a good wool suit, and not much more breathable — so you’re really only adding ease of care and durability.

This is the issue with everything, each option has substantial trade offs, so it’s no wonder people advocate a classic wool suit. Where I come from is that the pants on each of these options is better than standard wool suit pants, and thus you could get away with only then needing to pack a jacket. And regardless of which you pack, these jackets are easier to pack than a wool suit jacket. So if you travel light, that’s when these suits make sense.

Style

Back to the Kinetic then, the style itself is lending towards casual. Let’s leave the material out completely, and assume that you accept this will look different. Instead the blazer itself is the key here.

Because this is a blazer, and not a suit jacket, certain detailing is missing — and it is that missing detailing that makes this blazer wear more casual. First, the blazer has no buttons on the cuffs, which I didn’t notice, until I did notice it and then it’s all you see. It’s an odd omission and one that I think is a subtle clue that this is a different beast altogether.

The second, as mentioned above, are the patch pockets. A standard suit jacket has openings for pockets with a flap that goes over the opening — that flap can be tucked into the pocket or not. That’s a suit jacket. This is a blazer and thus it has patch pockets — which is just a piece of material sewn on to the face of the jacket to create a pocket. This is what makes the jacket look less formal.

Here’s the thing though, when it comes to style, you are talking about fashion. And I am going to make the argument that for most people in 2019 you simply do not need anything more formal than this. I wore it to our company management conference and blended in fine. Most of the world now considers business casual dressing up, and this certainly will work just fine there.

If I were a wedding guest, not family, I would wear this without another thought. I care more about being comfortable. If I need a suit for work, I’ll wear this. The only time I would steer away is if I needed to be in court, at a board meeting, or something where a suit-suit is called for. And then I am opting for wool.

Overall

In short: this is the most comfortable suit looking attire I have ever worn, and likely as formal as anyone needs in 2019. I dig it.

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

Ministry of Supply Kinetic Suit

Ministry of Supply Kinetic Blazer

Finding a high performing, well made, and good looking blazer can be a struggle — especially when you then try pairing such a synthetic material with other pants. The Ministry of Supply Kinetic Blazer though proves to be a really interesting option.

Material

Like with the Kinetic Pant (our review), this is a 100% Primeflex® Warp-knit Japanese Polyester garment, which feels substantial in weight, but wears much lighter. As with the pants, it is incredible stretchy and comfortable. The knit look to the fabric has nice dimension to it and very low sheen.

Overall, excellent material.

Performance

Blazers like this can be hard to pull off in a synthetic material. Often they get so heavy that they perform worse than a wool counterpart. In this case though, this is easily the most comfortable blazer I have worn.

The stretch is phenomenal. The breathability is excellent as well. This jacket performs well for two reasons: the material is substantial but wears light and is stretchy, and it is rather minimal in construction.

Like the pants, it is prone to gathering lint and hair on it, but I have found it to be less of an issue on the blazer. It dries extremely fast. The biggest downside for this is the wrinkle resistance. I found that the wrinkles did not fall out as easy as they did with the pants, and I think part of this is that a blazer is much hard to pack smoothly than pants. I needed to quickly steam the jacket with an iron when I traveled to get the wrinkles to drop out of it. From there I had no issues.

Fit & Style

I found the blazer to fit me really well. Ministry notes that they include extra fabric in the sleeves so that you can lengthen them if needed — which is a nice touch. For me the jacket fit really well out of the box.

The style lends itself more casual with patch pockets and no button detailing on the cuffs. At a glance it will pass as a nice blazer, upon closer inspection it will look more casual. I think this lends itself well to being highly versatile. You won’t look like you are coming from court, nor will you look like a professor in this.

My take here, is this looks like a modern blazer made to blend well in the office and business world of today. Things are more casual now, and this jacket fits in that world quite nicely.

Overall

The closest jacket I have to compare this to is the Bluffworks Gramercy Blazer (our review and it is hard to compare. The Kinetic is more versatile and infinitely more comfortable. The fabric has a better and has a lower sheen, and looks more traditional. However the cut and style of the Gramercy leads that jacket to being able to be dressed up better, and the fabric on it is far more wrinkle and lint resistant.

That said, I would easily pick the Kinetic between the two. It’s very comfortable and I think in most settings where you would want to wear it, it will blend in better. I also think it is easier to pair with more pants than the Gramercy is.

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

Ministry of Supply Kinetic Blazer

Ministry of Supply Kinetic Pant

This review has been a long time coming, with the Kinetic Pant being something I have had my eye on for quite a while, but never got around to testing. They always seemed too technical, or too expensive, when I compared them to every other offering out there. I recently picked up a pair and have been testing them for a little over a month — I shouldn’t have waited so long to get them.

Material

The material on these is pretty straightforward at ‘100% Primeflex® Warp-knit Japanese Polyester’. That’s entirely useless, because these pants are so much more than that. First there’s an immense amount of four way stretch in the pants, so much so that I would say you will likely not experience restricted movement because of these pants.

Next, the material is not a smooth fabric like you might expect from polyester. Instead the material as a slight knit look to it, which gives the fabric nice visual texture.


The hand feel is soft, but not smooth. And there is a very slight sheen to the entire pant, not enough to be concerned with, but it does exist. Thankfully, the pants move silently.

Performance

One word: extraordinary. These are easily the most comfortable pants I own, and not even with the caveat of them being office friendly. Just hands down the most comfortable. They have a ton of stretch which keeps them moving comfortable, but also means they sit comfortably on your waist no matter what position you find your self stuck sitting in.

In addition to that they are highly breathable, and I found them comfortable in very warm weather. From a performance standpoint there is nothing I would change about them. Add to that the clever rubber dots on the inside of the waistband, which hold a tucked in shirt in place, well thought out.

There are two performance downsides with these pants:

  1. Wrinkles do exist. They are advertised as not wrinkle resistant, but rather that wrinkles fall out quickly with your own body heat. I think that’s accurate. I found that packing them will cause creases, but that those creases are super easy to get rid of. In daily wear I did not encounter the pants getting wrinkled, even when sitting in cramped quarters with them on.
  2. Lint and hair is an issue with these. The fabric will seek out and suck in any hair and lint around you. Not so bad that they look terrible, but bad enough that it drives me nuts. And while on many of my other pants the hair will just brush off with my hand, here it sticks to the particular knit in these pants. You’ll want to have lint rollers on hand with these. This is the worst attribute of these pants.

Fit & Style

Ministry does an overall very good job at offering a wide ranges of sizes. I found the fit and style to be solid, but nothing too trendy. The cut is great, and in the past you had to have the pants hemmed as they all came very long, but now it appears Ministry is shipping them with hemmed lengths as well. This is great, and really makes these pants an easier buy.

I think the only downside on these pants from a style perspective is that the colors are a little off. While this navy color looks nice and plays well with most things, it is a stronger blue than you might want. I would love to see what the gray heather looks like in person.

Overall

So here’s the thing with these, they are really great, but have some off trade offs. For one I don’t think they dress down nearly as well as Futureworks (our review, but I do think they dress up far better than Futureworks. For me, there’s no better office pants than these Kinetic pants. They are more durable than the Velocity (our review) offering from Ministry and more comfortable than Futureworks.

However, for travel, I prefer the Futureworks as dirt and lint brushes off that fabric far better. I will also point out that the Kinetic pants do try a touch faster than Futureworks.

If you owned one pair of Futureworks and one pair of Kinetic pants, you would probably be set for every activity you pursue in life. I can tell you that these Kinetic pants have become my most worn pants to the office.

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

Ministry of Supply Kinetic Pant

Unbound Merino Classic Button-Down

Note: this shirt was provided for review purposes.

The merino button down market is crowded, but diverse. It spans from shirts that easily blend into the office, to shirts that you almost wonder if they are best suited for pajamas. Unbound Merino set out to create an exceptional merino wool button down that can easily be worn untucked for exploration, or tucked in for business. I’ve been testing it now for sometime, and it’s really great.

Material

The shirt is a heavy 56% merino wool, 44% organic cotton blend. I don’t have a fabric weight for it, but I will say it is as heavy as the Outlier NYCO Oxfords that I have — which was the most surprising part. I think that weight helps the looks a lot.

Overall the material looks like cotton, but is soft like nice merino can be. It’s stealth — no one will know this is anything different. Great hand feel.

Performance

The biggest question for me with this shirt was how well it would resist odors, with almost half the material being cotton. What’s surprising is that I was never able to get it to stink — even after wearing it flying twice without washing. The odor resistance is equal to that of any other merino garment which is surprising and impressive.

The next factor with this shirt is the weight, as it is heavier than any other merino button down I have. I wore it both in Houston heat, and the dry climate of Arizona — and in both settings it performed well. It wears a touch warmer than my other wool shirts, but still breathes really well.

What the weight really gains you is structure, and from a performance aspect that plays out to a shirt that wrinkles far less than a standard thin merino shirt. It will wrinkle, but when it does it typically will not look bad — still wearable.

I think the biggest performance hit is that the shirt sits trim and can restrict arm movement a bit more than I am used to at this point for performance shirting.

Fit & Style

I absolutely love the fit and style of this shirt. It’s a classic oxford button down in every way. The drape is exceptional, and the cut is very modern. It looks sharp.

Let’s first talk about the collar — which is top notch. Of all the shirts I have, the collar on this one is easily the best. Ditto the cuffs.

Where this shirt has the most trouble is when you want to go tuck it in. On my body the length of the shirt is about a half inch shorter than I would want it for tucking in. I never had issue with the shirt, I just needed to make sure to check the back of the shirt when I stood up. So you can easily pass it off tucked in if you want, but if that’s your primary use case there are better options.

This shirt is simply more casual in looks and is best worn untucked.

Overall

I’ve really come to love this shirt, and if you are someone who generally wears a button down untucked as your look — you could buy both colors of this shirt and be set for everything. It’s a very versatile and durable feeling shirt. I wish there were more color options, but that’s nitpicking.

As a travel shirt, this is probably among the best out there, and will easily be my flying go to from here forward. Great stuff.

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

Unbound Merino Classic Button-Down

Makers and Riders Trousers

I recently grabbed a pair of Makers & Riders Wool Trousers to try out for business casual garb at the office — specifically, the ‘4 Season AeroDri Wool Trousers F16’. I’ve long wanted to try a pair of Makers & Riders pants as they are well known as a merino wool brand, and well loved by many travelers.

I’ve been testing these pants now for over a month, and overall they are very good (especially given the price) with a few quirks about them.

Material

As I mentioned these are merino wool pants, and while I question how much one needs merino wool in pants, these are a blend. They come in at 190gsm, composed of 46% Merino Wool / 51% Polyester / 3% Spandex — and I’ll tell you up front that the spandex stretch feels non-existent in practice.

The pants themselves are very thin, with a lot of breathability. I would say these are my coolest wearing pants of everything I own and are very comfortable. The material itself is billed as being “soft touch”, but I find that hard to back up in person. The pants felt slightly scratchy, like wool of old — these are not luxuriously soft like most merino you are used to. They aren’t bad, but they are not sweatpants feeling either.

The material itself seems hardy, and in all the days of wearing them, I never once came into any issues with durability — I would guess they will hold up just fine. Further, the drape on them is exceptional, much better than any synthetic pants I wear.

Performance

Instead of commenting on how many wears you can get, I’ll just say that it is more than cotton. My pants never really develop smells, so multiple wears with pants is more about staining, and I had no issues with that.

When it comes to travel there’s three key metrics: comfort, wrinkle resistance, and how fast they dry. Let’s start with the later: they dry crazy fast. The material is thin, and has a high wool and synthetic content. As for wrinkles they do wrinkle, but those fall out fast. I only experienced wrinkles when packing them, not when wearing them.

Comfort is a whole different beast with these. If it is cold (cold being what feels cold to you) you need to know that a breeze will cut right through these. They will not keep you warm. The stretch isn’t there, and the lack of a gusset in the crotch means they don’t move as well as any other performance pants I own.

But in the heat, when it’s really hot, these are my favorite to wear. They wear cool, they breathe, and the pockets are mesh-like which keeps moisture from building up around the pockets.

In other words they are not my pick when I think I might be stuck on a plane, or in meetings sitting in conference chairs — they would need far more stretch. But if I need to be battling heat, and looking sharp, I’d grab these.

The only other factor in the comfort matrix with these is the scratchiness of the material. It’s not ideal, and I mostly feel it on my thighs when I sit. If you are sensitive to wool scratch, stay away. If you mostly are not bothered, you’ll be fine.

Fit and Style

Most of the pants we review have more modern cuts and tailoring. The pants legs generally are slim, or with a strong taper, and the rise is generally shorter than higher. With these trousers the cut is far more classic. It’s not boxy, it has subtle tailoring to it, but they are strongly classic.

The rise is also very high on them, higher than any other pants I own — this might be the biggest deal breaker for people and something you need to try at home. I actually initially ordered my standard size 34 waist and found I couldn’t button these. I returned them for a size 36 and I find those about a half a size too large for me. So size up, but know that the sizing is a little off for me on these. I wish they had more size options, like a 35.

I mention my sizing issues because I think the 34 fit every part of my body better, with exception to the waist. So if you really wanted a pair of these, tailoring might need to be budgeted.

Otherwise these pants are stealth. No one will think they are anything other than standard wool trousers, because they basically are. There is a hidden zip pocket, but it’s well hidden. Nothing to see here, move along.

Overall

I do also want to say that these pants are well made, and I point that out because they are a bargain at $118. The closest, most comparable pants (looks wise) that I own are the Ministry of Supply Velocity pants (our review). For me, the Velocity pants are better in every way except for durability.

There’s a choice to be made here, between price & durability, or comfort & performance. For me, I’d stick with the Velocity pants, but it is very hard to fault the Makers & Riders trousers. If the cut had a lower rise, I would probably wear them far more, and when the hot and humid weather returns this summer, I will likely wear them a fair bit.

Find them here.

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

Makers and Riders Trousers

Lululemon Down To The Wire Shirt

Lululemon has been making performance clothing for a long time, and are favorites among many people for their ABC Pants. Today though, I want to take a look at a performance button up shirt they offer. I recently picked up their Down To The Wire Shirt, and have been testing it for roughly a month. It’s not what I expected, so let’s dive in.

Material

The only specifics given on the fabric are “Technical Cotton fabric is sweat-wicking and anti-stink” and that it uses Lycra for stretch. Until I wrote this section, I thought it was polyester, so I am surprised to learn it is cotton based.

The stretch is there however, and some clever tailoring lends to great movement throughout the arms. It appears they have gusseted the sleeves to allow more movement. All in all, the shirt isn’t restrictive.

Performance

This shirt is billed as, breathability, stretch, and anti-odor. As I mentioned above, it moves pretty well all in all, especially given the slim fit. However, I don’t think it holds up to the odor test. You won’t stink after a day like with pure polyester, but you won’t likely be getting multiple wears out of this.

I think the biggest issue I found from a performance view is that it is highly wrinkle prone. To show that off, all images are shown after a day of wearing it. It’s on par with any thin cotton shirt — the sleeves and shoulders will get wrinkled. You won’t want to travel with this.

From a breathability aspect, it’s not the best and it’s not the worst. I wouldn’t mark that up as a strong selling point, but there’s nothing detracting either.

Fit and Style

Overall, the fit is quite good for me. The sleeves have ample length which is rare, and the body is cut rather trim. It looks sharp all in all, and the cuffs are fantastic.

There are two issues with fit. The body is a tad short, which lends to the shirt wearing well untucked, but wearing it tucked in can be tricky if you are sitting a lot. It is prone to coming untucked.

The bigger style issue is the sloppy collar. The button placement tends to allow the collar to spread open quite wide, and while it won’t lay flat, it does look unkept. It is sloppy, and overly casual.

Overall

At $108 I wouldn’t recommend it. I bought it for $79 and still I wouldn’t recommend it, standard cotton shirts with stretch will perform just as well and hopefully have better collars. It’s a solid shirt, but lags well behind the other performance dress shirts we have reviewed here.

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

Lululemon Down To The Wire Shirt

Y Athletics House Shorts

Note: these shorts were sent to us for review purposes.

A while back, Y Athletics contacted us wanting to send over some new shorts they had developed. These are a hybrid merino wool short, and called simply ‘House Shorts’. I’ve been wearing them for quite some time now, and they have become a regular part of my wardrobe.

Material

This is a 265 gsm double knit fabric with the inner face being a 70% Merino Wool (19.5 micron), 30% Nylon blend, and the outer being 100% Polyester. In a nutshell they are thick, heavy, and very soft.

On the website Y Athletics notes that this product is a single run and is being sold at a discounted price because “The face fabric of this garment is below our specified tolerance for abrasion. It is prone to pilling with no effect on performance.” Oddly I have not seen any of this pilling on my shorts, what I have seen is a lot snags. Both of the seam stitching and on the general shorts as well.

Lastly, the exterior fabric is very smooth with a slight sheen. I wouldn’t say they are shiny, but they are also not matte.

Performance

I still think shorts/pants made out of merino are a bit overkill. It’s not an area of your body prone to a lot of body odor, nor an area most people smell that often. However, I think the goal with merino use here is in moisture wicking and thermoregulation.

To that end these shorts need to be judged based on comfort. And so I will now say these are the most comfortable shorts I have ever owned. I have worked out in them, but I mostly lounge about in them. They are supremely comfortable, a mix between basketball shorts and sweatpants.

When I did work out in them they felt too warm, but it was also 90°F outside. At home I find them to be the perfect weight, and something I look forward to changing into after a long day at work. They are likely to be something I consider packing when I travel, which I typically wouldn’t worry about packing lounging shorts — but the luxury of them is hard to ignore.

Fit & Style

The fit on these is pretty odd. They are very slim fitting, with almost a little outward flare at the very end. They fit tight enough that I wouldn’t want to really be seen in public in them, nor do I think the style lends themselves well to outside of the house. I suspected at first the the flaring was more a byproduct of stretch from wear, but looking close at the product pictures I can see a similar thing happening.

I suspect that this is an optical illusion, but one that actually becomes a thing after wear. In other words the silhouette of the shorts is so close to the body at the upper portions that is is noticeable how loose they become at the opening of the shorts.

Overall

I love these shorts. The only comment my wife has ever made was: “Those look nice, a little like a wet suit or something, but nicer than basketball shorts”. I am going to mark that down as pretty high praise.

One thing I will also note is that the pockets have zippers, and generally I hate this. However in this case it makes sense and works to keep your phone from constantly falling out of your pocket. Given the discount of these down to $54, they are a no brainer. Good deal, super comfortable, great indulgence.


Steve’s Thoughts

For me, while these are definitely the most comfortable shorts I have for lounging, they run a bit too warm for me for the warmer weather. Hence, I haven’t gotten a ton of wear out of them yet, but I definitely see them becoming something I go for often this fall.

As far as the fit, I also agree with Ben. They are very slim, so definitely are relegated to house shorts.

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

Y Athletics House Shorts