Steve’s Packing List: Beginning of April 2018

Trip Details: Eight night trip by air; business meetings and vacation (both tent camping and city). Three nights business, two camping, and three city/outdoors non-camping vacation.

Packing List

GORUCK GR1 26L:

I wore:

Notes and Considerations

Since I was tent camping, I checked a large duffle with my camping gear. I decided to throw my dress shoes in there to wear more comfortable shoes on the flight. I also packed my hiking boots, base layer, sunscreen, and hat in there. Other than that, the GR1 easily held the rest of what I needed. If this was a business-only trip (or non-tent camping vacation), I could have packed everything in my GR1 (and would have just worn my hiking boots).

Overall I packed almost the perfect amount of clothes. I didn’t end up needing the second pair of Futureworks. The only washing I did during the whole trip was my polo, a pair of socks, and my underwear. The polo and socks took a while to try, but the ExOfficio underwear dried overnight after rolling in a towel. The magic of merino allowed me to get plenty of wear out of both my undershirt and button-up.

Steve’s Packing List: Beginning of April 2018

Standard Luggage Co. Daily Backpack

Note: This backpack was provided to us for review by Standard Luggage Co.

Standard Luggage Co. is one of many new Luggage companies that have roots in Kickstarter. Standard is based in Canada and launched in 2015. The Daily Backpack is an 18L convertible bag that is advertised for work and travel. It can be used as a briefcase (side handle), backpack, or messenger bag (with the included strap).

Layout

The bag is divided into two compartments. The main compartment opens from a zipper on the back, and there is a much smaller compartment on the front. Additionally, there is a collapsible water bottle pocket, a small zippered slash pocket on the front, and a zippered RFID-blocking pocket on the top. The RFID-blocking pocket is neat, but my passport wallet wouldn’t fit. Keep that in mind if you typically carry more than a passport on its own or a small wallet. The bottom of the back also has a small zippered compartment.

The main compartment has two sleeves on the inside of the back lid (the outside contains a pocket for the backpack straps). These comfortably fit a 15” laptop and an iPad or Kindle. The inside of the main compartment has two pockets at the bottom, about 1/3 the height of the bag, and a mesh zipper pocket. The small pockets are padded and designed for camera lenses; I did not find them useful.

The front compartment has one full width pocket with two half width pockets and two pen loops on the front. The lid has two zippered mesh pockets. You will also find a USB cable in here to connect a battery to the external USB port on the side of the bag. While this is a neat idea and works, I wonder how practical and durable it is. I can see myself snapping a cable off in the external USB port.

Build

The fabric used on the outside of this bag looks nice and seems durable. However, the zippers could use some work. I found them to be stiff and they didn’t seem beefy enough for the bag (especially on the main compartment).

The backpack straps were comfortable enough for the amount you can load into this bag. I did find the combination of the padding on the straps and the padding on the back of the bag to make for a bit of a lumpy back.

Overall, the bag is very padded, giving the bag a rigid structure. Even if it’s not full, it will still have the same exterior dimensions. I imagine this helps with the transition from backpack to messenger bag to a briefcase, but it is not something I typically like in a bag. If you end up loading this with electronics, especially camera gear, this would be a positive feature.

Use Cases

I did not find this bag useful as a general purpose travel briefcase, but I could imagine a few scenarios where this might be an attractive bag.

For a photographer, this bag might do a nice job to carry gear for a small shoot. The overall padded nature of the bag would probably protect camera equipment reasonably well. You would need an insert for the main compartment to hold your camera body, but the two lens pockets and the other pockets of the bag would do a good job holding a large portion of your gear and accessories. The included rain fly is also a nice bonus if the weather is going to be poor.

This bag could also serve you well as a briefcase or work bag if you typically carry a full bag. The structure of the bag makes it more suited to carrying full. When packed only partially full, the bag can feel unbalanced. The structure keeps heavier items from compressing the bag which can throw off the balance.

Overall Impression

While this bag looks nice, it is not my favorite bag to carry. The structure makes it hold less than it appears, and I found the back access panel for the main compartment to be awkward to open and use. The backpack straps are nice enough, but I mainly carried it as a messenger bag/briefcase. Due to the shape and structure, I think it is best suited as a briefcase. For the price, I think it could make a pretty good camera/tech bag, but I think there are better options out there for a simple briefcase or everyday work backpack.

Standard Luggage Co. Daily Backpack

Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket

I had been considering a rain jacket in the Outdoor Research Helium family for a while and finally picked up the Helium II during the last Outdoor Research sale. We’ve had some rainy weather recently so I’ve had many occasions to give it a try.

Fabric

This jacket is made with a 2.5 layer Pertex Shield+. The 2.5 layer means the polyurethane membrane is bonded to the face fabric (30D ripstop nylon) and has a texture printed on the inside to help keep your body oils from clogging the membrane.

The face fabric also has a DWR treatment to help keep it from wetting out (when wetted out, breathability is greatly reduced). The seams are all fully taped and the zippers coated (this does make the zippers a little hard to pull), so the jacket is 100% waterproof.

Performance

I’ve had no issues with leakage and have found the jacket to be windproof as well. The lightweight nature and breathability make the jacket very comfortable to wear in any conditions. Since it cuts the wind, it can make a lighter mid- or base-layer feel much warmer than it would without a jacket that breaks the wind.

A Few Missing Features

Since this is an ultralight jacket there are some common features that are missing. The jacket does have a chest pocket to keep your phone or some documents dry, but it does not have any hand pockets. The cuffs are only secured with elastic around half the length of the cuff rather than the usual velcro adjustment.

I don’t find either to be a deal breaker since they help keep the jacket packable, but if you do, the Helium HD adds both in addition to pit zips.

Hood

The hood is my favorite part of this jacket. I’ve never liked when hoods block your peripheral vision but never found a jacket that solves that problem while still having the hood work effectively. This jacket finally solves that problem for me. The hood shape allows for an unobstructed field of view. The wide brim contains a semi-rigid plastic piece to keep the rain off your face. While these can get deformed in a packable jacket, I’ve found it easy to stuff the jacket so the brim can curve around the jacket to prevent creases.

Also, a nice touch is the single adjustment toggle on the back of the hood.

I found it to give a great level of fit adjustment without being complicated.

Packability

This jacket easily packs into the compact internal pocket. This comes in handy when packing as it allows you to throw it into your bag without much thought. That’s something you’ll never do with an umbrella, so this jacket makes it easy to always have some rain protection handy.

Overall

I really like this rain jacket. The hood is the killer feature for me and the jacket performs very well in both wind and rain. Especially when purchased on sale, this jacket performs well above its price point.

Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket

Steve’s Packing List: March 2018

Trip Details: Six night international business trip.

Packing List

Osprey Farpoint 40:

Standard Luggage Co. Daily Backpack (provided for review, look for review soon):

I wore:

Notes and Considerations

I overpacked somewhat for this trip as I realized that I would have late nights and might not feel like washing clothes when I got back to my hotel at night. I also didn’t need the UnderFit undershirt (the Icebreaker merino undershirt lasted the whole trip). I mainly rotated my two Wool & Prince shirts, but I was able to get two wears of my polo.

I’m still using a quart zipper bag for my toiletries because it just works (and makes it compliant when you have to separate liquids from your bag when you can’t use PreCheck).

I probably could have squeezed everything into my Osprey bag, however, then I might not have been able to fit it under the seat on my domestic flights. I also figured it would be nice to have a small bag to have at my seat with my entertainment and to use as a briefcase during my trip.

Just a few first impressions of the Standard Luggage Co. bag: 1) it’s very padded and structured so there is some wasted space, 2) the laptop slot is on the back panel as expected, but the main compartment zipper opens at the back panel, making access to its contents awkward, 3) the small front compartment has some nice organization, 4) the padded handles and above average shoulder strap make the bag pleasant to carry.

Steve’s Packing List: March 2018

Myles Apparel Momentum Short 2.0

Myles Apparel is one of the many companies making performance men’s activewear. They stand out from the pack with some great synthetic pieces including the Momentum Short 2.0, also available with liner (we also previously reviewed their Everyday Short).

Fabric

The fabric is 85% nylon, 15% spandex (the heather colors are 53% nylon, 35% polyester, 12% spandex) with (slight) four-way stretch and a DWR treatment. The material is a perfect weight, not so light that it doesn’t look right and not so heavy to be stiff.

The pockets are made of a mesh material (in the signature Myles green) that is lightly perforated with small holes. This probably wouldn’t drain water too quickly, but keeps the pocket material from hindering the breathability of the shorts.

Fit and Finish

These shorts come in two lengths, Short (6”) and Standard (8”). I have the Standard length and find them to be perfect for working out. The size guide is spot on for picking the correct size (it contains actual garment measurements).

I find the elastic to be very comfortable, the waist band is a good width so it never feels like it is cutting into your skin. The overlapped side split helps make up for the lack of stretch, as it lets the leg openings of the shorts get out of they way when you need them to. The gusseted crotch also helps keep things comfortable.

The front pockets are nice and deep (they hold my iPhone X with no risk of it falling out, and would probably do OK with a Plus as well). There is also a small, zippered pocket to the back of the side seam. Myles calls this a “Hidden Media Pocket”. I’m not sure why it’s named that, because it’s far too small for a phone, but it works perfectly for a key (or a few).

Performance

These shorts perform perfectly for me. I’ve worn them for everything from kettlebells to rowing to yoga and find them extremely comfortable and without any spots that bind. The overlapped side split makes up for the less than expected stretch and the pockets are plenty deep. Most importantly, these shorts never feel wet when working out. Incredibly, they also give me multiple wears (these are my only workout shorts that allow this). Hanging to air out between workouts has allowed me to wear them 3-5 times before they need a wash.

Overall

The Myles Apparel Momentum 2.0 shorts are now what I grab first for a workout. The comfort, combined with excellent wicking and odor resistance, make these shorts hard to beat.

Myles Apparel Momentum Short 2.0

UnderFit V-Neck Undershirt

These shirts were provided for review by UnderFit.

Finding a comfortable undershirt with a deep enough neck that stays tucked in all day can be a challenge. UnderFit has been making undershirts since 2012 and has spent a lot of time refining the fabric, fit, and finish of their shirts.

Fabric

The shirts are made with a custom fabric that is 95% Modal, 5% Lycra. The Modal gives the shirt its softness, temperature regulation, and moisture absorption (odor resistance) properties. The Lycra gives the shirt its slight stretch so it can comfortably fit close to your body. The fabric feels very soft and is actually quite thick. Surprisingly, I was able to get two wears out of a shirt — something that I would have never expected from a non-merino undershirt. This remained true even when I wore the shirt for a long day and got quite sweaty. One perk of the UnderFit fabric over merino is that you can wash and dry the shirts however you want.

Fit and Finish

The “fit calculator” on the UnderFit website makes it easy to pick a size. You put in your height and weight and are given your size. I was sent a few sizes to give a try, and I found the size provided by the calculator gave the best fit.

The shirts fit close to the body with an extra long length so they stay tucked in all day. I’ve sometimes found close fitting undershirts to be too constricting, but the stretch made this shirt extremely comfortable. The v-neck was also cut perfectly, I never felt that it was going to show above my shirt. The seams on the shirt are sewn so they remain flat and don’t feel abrasive, something that can’t be said for all undershirts, especially the points of some v-necks.

In addition to the white v-neck, I was also able to give the skin tone v-neck a try. When wearing a white shirt over a white undershirt, the undershirt often shows through. The skin tone fabric is meant to blend in with your skin and make the undershirt less noticeable. I found that the UnderFit skin tone did a good job solving this problem (I also find a light grey color to work similarly).

Performance

Like I mentioned above, I was able to get two wears out of a single shirt. While quite good for a non-merino shirt, this doesn’t beat my merino undershirt (Icebreaker Anatomica).

Being thick, the fabric is great for cool weather, but I’m not sure how comfortable it would be in the middle of summer. While the fabric does a good job wicking moisture, it might trap too much heat.

Overall

I was quite impressed with the UnderFit V-Neck Undershirts. They are very soft, fit close to the body, stay tucked in, and the stretch makes them very comfortable. The ability to get two wears is impressive, but the thickness could be an issue in the heat of the summer. While they will not displace my merino undershirt, I will certainly keep them in my drawer. If you are looking for a non-merino undershirt, UnderFit should be your top choice.

UnderFit V-Neck Undershirt

Columbia OutDry EX Featherweight Shell

The Columbia OutDry EX Featherweight Shell has recently come to our attention through a detailed comparison with other waterproof breathable (WB) jackets. This jacket is special in two ways: it has a very high moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR) and it has no face fabric. The MVTR is important (and the author compares it to three other jackets), as it is a measure of the rate at which water vapor passes through a material (also referred to as breathability). The lack of face fabric allows the fabric to never “wet out” (this is when the face fabric is saturated with water). This will eventually happen with any of the various treatments used on face fabrics and greatly reduces the MVTR. The reason this decreases MVTR is that when the face fabric is saturated with water, it acts like it is 100% relative humidity (% RH) on the outside. In order for water vapor to pass from the inside of the jacket to the outside, the % RH has to be lower on the outside than inside. This is also the reason why if you are generating a lot of sweat and heat and it is humid out, you will feel like you are getting wet from the inside (the moisture can’t efficiently transfer from the more humid interior of the jacket to the exterior). The author maintains that while no current WB jackets breathe enough to be comfortable under exertion (like when backpacking), this is the best yet.

Link

Steve’s Packing List: February 2018

Trip Details: Overnight trip by car for a business meeting.

Packing List

I wore:

Notes and Considerations

While this might seem like a lot of clothes for an overnight trip, I could travel with this same list for a two or three night trip as well. At three or four nights, I’d probably throw in another pair of underwear, and at five or more, another pair of socks and another undershirt and button-down. This all packed well in my small Mystery Ranch Urban Assault pack, even with my large (size 13) gym shoes.

The only thing I’d change about this packing list would be a better bag for my toiletries.

Steve’s Packing List: February 2018