Western Rise StrongCore Merino Tee

This shirt was provided by Western Rise for review purposes.

Western Rise is one of the many new-ish entries to the technical clothing market, introducing many of their products through Kickstarter. We have reviewed their The Evolution Pant (our review), and they recently sent us their StrongCore Merino Tee. It should be noted that this is the second version of this shirt (the first version had a pocket), made in their new LA factory.

We had inquired about the DryWeight Merino Tee, as we were looking for more tees for hot weather (to compare with the Outlier Dreamweight and Ramielust). However, they informed us that they were discontinuing that shirt.

Fabric

The fabric of this shirt is 89% 17.5 micron merino/11% nylon. The finer merino used here makes the fabric very soft and never scratchy, however, it is not the softest on the market (that title goes to the Outlier tees).

Coming in at 170 gsm, the weight of the fabric gives it a nice drape. The only indication that if isn’t brand new after numerous wears and a few washes is that light “fuzzing” most merino exhibits. This is a good sign for the long term durability of the shirt.

Fit

I was on the borderline between L and XL in the Western Rise size chart. I chose an XL and am glad I did. The shirt shrunk a little when I washed it the first time (cold, air dry) and it fits me well, but would probably have been a little tighter than I like after a wash if I had picked L.

Overall, the fit seems on-par with other merino tees I own, and I would probably compare it most closely to the Outlier XL cut.

Comfort and Performance

I’ve been wearing this shirt for a few weeks now and it performs as expected for a core spun merino blend shirt. It has all the odor resistance of a 100% merino shirt with the extra durability of nylon.

The weight of the fabric makes it a good all-around tee, but it is probably not the best pick for the warmest weather, as midweight merino tends to soak up sweat and get heavy (this is where ultralight merino or synthetics shine).

The v-cuts at the bottom on both sides of the hem are supposed add some performance by breaking the “fabric tube”, but I didn’t find any benefit other than adding a little different look to the shirt. Maybe if you wear your tees more snugly across the waist/hips, this would make a difference.

Overall

Overall, the Western Rise StrongCore Merino Tee is a worthy contender, but with the sheer number of good merino tees out there now, I don’t think it rises to the top.

At a lower price point, this tee might rank better, but for $96, it wouldn’t be my top pick. To me, the Outdoor Voices Merino T-Shirt (our review), which can be had for $55, and is a merino blend with a great balance of price and performance. I’d also throw the Wool & Prince Crew Neck ($68) and the Outlier Runweight ($88) in this price range as competition.

The merino t-shirt market certainly is putting out some tough competition right now. If the v-cuts on this tee make a difference for you, this is definitely a shirt to check out.

Western Rise StrongCore Merino Tee

What We’re Wearing: May 2019

Ben and I have been talking about our packing lists, and realize they’ve become quite repetitive. In order to remedy that, we’ve come up with a new idea to replace both our packing lists and guides. We plan to publish this “What We’re Wearing” series about every quarter, to give you an idea of what we are wearing and what we are excited to be trying out for the next couple of months.

Steve

With the crazy weather swings we’ve been having so far this spring, I’ve been moving back and forth between my winter and spring gear. I’m looking forward to getting outside more and here’s what I’ve been wearing.

Business Casual

The Outlier Futureworks (our review) are still my favorite pants for business casual dress, however, the recent price increase to $148 moves them up market some. I’ve recently been finding the Western Rise The Evolution Pant (our review) to suit some of my business casual needs where a 5-pocket style is appropriate. This is especially true as the weather warms as they are the lightest pants I own.

For an even more classic chino look, I’ve just started testing the Wool & Prince Slim Chino (provided for review by Wool & Prince) and no one would ever know they were made from a wool/nylon blend. I’m quite impressed so far, and am interested to see how they perform as the weather continues to warm since the fabric is fairly heavy.

The Mack Weldon SILVERKNIT Polo (our review) is the polo I was searching for last year. The cotton content keeps it looking jut like a traditional polo, and the silver anti-odor treatment gives me multiple wears. For long sleeves, I still go to my Wool & Prince Button-Downs (our review) for their odor-resistance. If I want something less fussy (but only one wear) I go for my Bluffworks Meridian 2.0 Dress Shirt (our review).

Shoe wise, my Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill boots are holding up well and still are my go to, always with Darn Tough socks.

Casual

For casual wear, I’ve been testing a bunch of new T-shirts so I haven’t been wearing just one or two recently. My Pistol Lake One-Bag Henley (our review) is still going strong and works well for spring wear.

I’ve found the Western Rise pants to also work well for my casual wear, and wear those or my Outlier Slim Dungarees (our review). For shorts, my Outlier New Way Longs (our review) are always my favorite (although they haven’t gotten much wear yet this year).

I am still looking for a nicer pair of casual sneakers/shoes that look good with shorts, but I’ve been wearing my Merrell Trail Gloves (our review) and Bedrock Cairn 3D Adventure sandals.

Exercise

I’m still wearing and loving my Y Athletics SilverAir Merino T-shirt (our review) and Long Sleeve for all my exercise needs. They have been holding up well (with minimal abrasion from my GORUCK bags) and give me more wears than I care to take between washes.

My go to shorts are the Myles Apparel Momentum Short 2.0 (our review) and sweats the Momentum Pant (our review). For hiking I’ve been wearing the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pant.

Shoe wise, I’m also wearing my Trail Gloves (gym) or Altra Lone Peak 4 (rucking/hiking).

Outerwear

Going into the spring, I picked up a The North Face Ventrix Jacket as a light and breathable insulated soft shell. I had been eying the Arc’teryx Proton LT all winter, but it never went on sale. I figured the sale price of the Ventrix jacket made it much easier on the wallet than the Proton LT and it seems to be reviewed favorably. I plan to be writing a review once I give it a good try.

As far as rain wear, I find myself going for my Outdoor Research Helium II (our review) when I want a hood or packability and my Myles Apparel Elements Jacket (our review) when I want something nicer looking or just need something to break the wind. I’m debating if I should also try and pick up a light and thin windbreaker for when I don’t need something waterproof.

Travel

I’ve been wearing and packing the above when traveling. Of course, still carrying my trusty GORUCK GR1 26L backpack. The Trail Gloves pack down nicely if I want to bring a pair of exercise shoes.

Formal

I recently was in a wedding and bought a Indochino suit for it. Since I don’t live near a store, I did my initial measurements at a store when I was traveling, but had to do the remake measurements myself at home (the first jacket and pants fit horribly). The suit turned out better than off the rack, but if I were to buy another suit from them, I’d definitely take the one I have into the store to have my measurements further dialed in before ordering. Overall, the process went pretty well and I’m happy with the quality of the suit.

Ben

While the weather has been steadily warming here, I have also been flying back and forth to Houston on a very regular basis. So I have been wearing cool weather clothes, and hot and humid clothes off and on. As it keeps warming everywhere and I prepare to move to Houston, here’s what I have going on:

Business Casual

All of my wardrobe for business casual is happening in Houston where it is substantially warmer than where I live. I have been wearing both Futureworks and Proof Nomad pants to the office — both are pretty great but I still lean towards the Futureworks as I think they look better. As I mentioned I pair them with the Thursday Boots I recently wrote about and a pair of Darn Tough socks as always. I have been using my Slidebelt, but I am starting to think I need to switch to something else as that belt can’t make it through the metal detector at the airport every time.

On the shirt side of things I have been torn between wearing the Bluffworks Meridian, and the Ministry of Supply Aero shirts. I usually wear both, but they both have replaced the Wool & Prince shirts when I am in the office. I prefer wearing them to the wool dress shirts. No one was more surprised by this than me, but the non-wool shirts wear cooler and have more flattering cuts for me.

Casual

At home, whether I am working or hanging out — or for family vacations — I have been testing all sorts of new stuff. My bottoms have remained pretty much the same, with Slim Dungarees most days, Strong Dungarees on cold days and mixing in New Ways if it is hot, or the Bluffworks Departure Jeans when I want to go relax on the Washington coast. All of them are killer and I will mix in the Olivers Passage Pants when the weather warms up more. If I had to pick one pair of these pants, it would be the Strong Dungarees, they are killer.

My tops are where they has been a lot of shuffling recently. I still wear a lot of my merino tees, and the Wool & Prince polo, but I have also been testing the Outlier Ramilust T-Shirt, the Northern Ramie Pivot, a few linen shirts, and a hemp shirt as well. All of them provide all sorts of unique benefits, so there will be a lot to write about there.

Work Out

Nothing much has changed here, where I wear GORUCK Simple Pants, MACV-1s, TAC Hat, and either a Tough T, or my Y Athletics SilverAir Merino shirts. I love them all, and they have been holding up great.

Travel

I have found one area that holds very true, because if you see me in an airport I am most likely wearing Proof Nomad pants and a Wool & Prince button down (you cant beat never stinking with this shirt, no matter the travel delays). For travel, I greatly prefer this setup. The Nomad pants are extremely stretchy, and look sharp while resisting anything which could make them dirty. And the merino wool button down makes sure that I don’t stink, even when the AC stops working on a 4 hour flight as it recently did.

Outerwear

Surprisingly I have only been wearing a few layers:

  • GORUCK Simple Windbreaker: this is great for travel and for shrugging off a light breeze or some light rain. I could make a case for this being the only jacket I need.
  • One other surprise for me is how much I wear the GORUCK Full Zip Hoodie in the light fabric they sell. It is a near perfect weight for cool, but not cold, weather.
  • Triple Aught Design Rogue RS: this is too heavy to travel with, but it is my go to for this warming spring weather, and will be for cool nights as well.

Looking to Get and Test

I am looking to get a couple more polo shirts, as soon as Steve decides which one is the best to get. And I am also eyeing the new Ministry of Supply Labs Dot Air Blazer which is made for warm weather — it looks killer.

What We’re Wearing: May 2019

Mack Weldon SILVERKNIT Polo

If you’ve heard of Mack Weldon, it’s probably for their underwear. However, they offer a wide range of Men’s basics, including the SILVERKNIT Polo. I’ve continued my polo search for the spring as I didn’t find the perfect one last year. This polo is the first one I’ve tested this year and I think it’s a great.

Fabric

The fabric on this polo is 42% combed cotton, 42% Modal, 10% XT2 polyester, and 6% spandex. The key here is the Silver XT2 — it gives the polo it’s odor resistant properties. Just looking at the fabric, you’d think it was your standard cotton pique polo as there is absolutely no technical sheen. The high Modal content helps with the moisture management, and the cotton gives it that standard cotton look, drape, and feel. The spandex adds just a bit of stretch for extra comfort.

Fit

I would say the fit of the polo is classic, but not the boxy classic you see from brands like L.L. Bean and Lands’ End. I fall into the middle of the size range for the XL, and found the fit to be perfect. The length works well for either tucked or untucked wear. After washing cold and air drying, I didn’t notice any shrinkage.

Another key aspect of any performance polo is the collar, and this one passed the test. It stays sharp and doesn’t look unnatural or floppy.

Comfort and Performance

The is among the most comfortable polos I own. The fabric feels like a really soft cotton with some added stretch, but doesn’t ever feel moist like cotton can. It is lightweight enough that I can see it being very comfortable in the heat of the summer, as when it gets a bit sweaty, it dries fast.

I was skeptical of the anti-odor claims, but was proven wrong. Even wearing it during two long travel days, I was able to get 3 wears before washing (and could probably get more). In comparison, I also wore my Ministry of Supply Apollo 3 Polo (our review) on this trip and it smelled after just one wear (worse than this polo after 3 wears).

Overall

This polo has moved to the top of my list. It looks like your standard pique cotton polo while maintaining odor resistance, good moisture management, stretch, and has a good collar. If you are looking for a casual or business polo for the upcoming warmer months, the SILVERKNIT Polo is definitely worth a try and will be my go-to. It represents a good value at the $78 list price, but becomes an even better value at the 20% off that you can easily get with a coupon or a $200 order (once you spend $200, you also get 20% off all future orders as well).

Mack Weldon SILVERKNIT Polo

Natural vs. Synthetics for Tops and Bottoms

If you’re a regular reader of Everyday Wear, you probably notice some fiber bias in our choices for tops vs. bottoms. We typically find natural fibers to be the best for tops and synthetic for bottoms. Hopefully that bias can be explained in more detail here.

Tops vs. Pants

To start, the nature of skin contact of tops vs. pants is different. Think about any of your traditional cotton clothing — bottoms like jeans can go many wears between washes, but cotton t-shirts typically need to be washed after every wear.

This difference in how much sweat and skin oils accumulate is why tops typically need more odor resistance than pants to have a benefit over the traditional options. Most also tend to be more sensitive to the feel of fabric of a top vs. bottom as well. This helps guide our choice of fabrics.

Natural vs. Synthetic

A few of the big differences between natural and synthetic fibers — odor resistance, durability, feel against the skin, moisture management, and looks — help guide fabric choice based on the application.

Natural fibers like wool and Tencel tend to have more odor resistance than their synthetic counterparts while maintaining good moisture management. They also have the best feel as they tend to look better with a more natural drape and non-shiny finish. Where natural fibers can fall down is durability (especially wool).

The synthetics, like nylon and polyester, tend to have more durability (nylon) and excellent moisture management (polyester). Where they excel in technical performance, they can lack in feel and looks. No one wants a rough nylon shirt against their skin or a clingy and shiny polyester shirt for wear outside of active pursuits.

Blends of natural and synthetic can often combine the best of both worlds, but can also end up with the worst properties of both.

Tops

For all the reasons covered above, tops need to have excellent odor resistance, moisture management, and comfort. This is why many of our favorites are merino like the Outlier Ultrafine Merino T-shirt (our review) and merino blends like the Wool & Prince Crew Neck. The odor resistance and comfort of merino can’t be beat.

We’ve also found some good synthetic and non-merino natural/synthetic blends that perform well for a top; including the cotton/polyester blend of the Proof Passage Tee (our review) and the polyester/Tencel blend of the Pistol Lake Minimalist Tee (our review)

Bottoms

Bottoms, on the other hand, can sacrifice some of the odor resistance and softness needed in a great top for more durability and structure. Our favorite pants include the Outlier Futureworks (our review) and OLIVERS Passage Pant (our review). These are both mostly nylon, which seems to us to give the best balance of comfort, looks, and durability.

Conclusion

Not a surprise, but the selection of the best fabric for a piece stems mainly from its’ performance. We favor natural fibers for tops for the odor resistance and comfort and synthetics for bottoms for the durability and structure.

Of course, this all comes down to personal preference, but we’ve found that we lean this way for our favorite pieces in our wardrobes.

Natural vs. Synthetics for Tops and Bottoms

Outlier Gostwyck Single Origin Merino T-Shirt

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

Merino t-shirts are among Outlier’s staple items, and it’s no secret that we love them. Ben wears the Ultrafine and Dreamweight T-Shirts, but I haven’t checked one out until Outlier sent me the Gostwyck Single Origin Merino T-Shirt to review.

Fabric

Let’s get the obvious out of the way — this fabric is so soft and stunning you’ll never want to take the shirt off. It is 100% 15.5 micron single origin merino from Gostwyck, Australia. This Gostwyck merino is limited in supply, but has been produced for over two centuries. The single origin nature also allows Outlier trace the fabric back to its source and ensure everything from the land the sheep graze on to the conditions the fabric was made follow all the best standards.

The premium nature of this merino, along with the extremely fine 15.5 micron yarn size and 205 gsm weight, gives the fabric a dense and soft handfeel. If you didn’t know it was merino, you might not suspect so at first. It’s almost hard to describe, but the closest I can come is that it’s like that well-loved heavy cotton t-shirt you’ve had since you were in high school and can’t bear to get rid of. But you really just need to check it out for yourself.

Fit

Like most Outlier shirts, this is a rather boxy cut. I don’t find this to be a negative though, because when paired with the excellent drape, I think it makes it more classic and dressy. I find it pairs well with anything from casual (paired with New Way Shorts or Slim Dungarees) to a more dressy look with Futureworks.

When choosing a size, make sure to note that Black is pre-washed, but Phantom (what I have) and Maritime Blue are not. The latter are cut a bit longer to account for the half size shrinkage when first washed. After washing mine, it definitely shrunk not only on the length, but also the width direction. So make sure you keep this in mind when choosing a size and color.

Comfort & Performance

This shirt instantly became my favorite T-shirt due to it’s smooth, luxurious handfeel and excellent drape. The smoothness makes it glide easily over your body as you move, so you never find it clinging. The weight of the fabric makes it feel sturdy and also gives it an almost cozy feel (while not adding too much to the warmth). It seems like it will hold up better than the average 100% merino t-shirt.

The performance is on par with what you’d expect from a 100% merino shirt, it dries fast for its weight and resists odor extremely well.

Drawbacks

As much as I love this shirt, there are two drawbacks.

The first is ‘bacon neck’, as Ben found with the Dreamweight, the front of the collar exhibits some ripples. I’ve found that even laying flat to dry (per the care instructions) doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. While not a dealbreaker, it certainly gives you pause in a shirt at this price point.

Even right after carefully drying flat, the ‘bacon neck’ is evident.
Even right after carefully drying flat, the ‘bacon neck’ is evident.

The second is the weight, while also a positive, the heavy weight of the fabric makes it dry slower than other merino shirts and has me wondering how it will perform in the dead of the summer (especially in the humidity). Time will tell, but I don’t see it staying my favorite t-shirt in the summer.

Overall

I love this shirt. The fabric takes it to a whole other level from any other merino shirt I own. The smooth handfeel makes it downright luxurious and easy to dress up.

If it weren’t for the ’bacon neck’, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this shirt at $125. Hopefully it is an anomaly in the shirt I received, and with Outlier’s great return policy, it’s at least worth giving this shirt and amazing fabric a hands-on test.

Outlier Gostwyck Single Origin Merino T-Shirt

Steve’s Packing List: March 2019

Trip Details: Two night, three day weekend away.

Packing List

Mystery Ranch Urban Assault

I wore:

Notes and Considerations

This was a quick trip by car for a weekend away in a city. Nothing fancy was needed, so I didn’t pack much. The extra pair of pants was just for backup, but weren’t needed. I wore everything else.

Steve’s Packing List: March 2019

Outlier GD Cottonweight Merino Longsleeve

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

Outlier has awhile made longsleeve t-shirts from their great 100% merino fabrics, but with the GD Cottonweight Merino Longsleeve, they took a risk with a new fabric. This shirt was designed to take the place of that heavy cotton longsleeve you love in the winter, and I think they did a great job.

Fabric

This shirt is made from Outlier’s Cottonweight Merino, a double knit jersey with an 18.5 micron merino inner face and a cotton outer face (49% merino, 46% cotton, 5% nylon). The fabric weighs in at a hefty 220 gsm, making it fit right in between a longsleeve t-shirt and a sweatshirt. The shirt is very soft to the touch on both faces, surprisingly so on the cotton face, even though it is there to add to the durability and also helps give the shirt a natural drape.

The garment dying process gives the shirt a unique look and gives the fabric some character. Of course, there always is the chance of dye transfer, fading, etc. with garment dyed items, but I haven’t seen any issues — just a fabric with great depth. In the black color that I have, that means the shirt isn’t jet black, it’s a deep dark black-grey to my eyes. It’s certainly something to see.

Fit

The fit of this shirt is what I’d call a standard “straight” fit — no tapering anywhere, but not too boxy either. The sleeves are cut long enough so that I get a little bunching at the wrists (but not too much), something nice for those who always find longsleeves to be too short.

Comfort & Performance

I find this shirt to be my most comfortable heavy longsleeve t-shirt. The softness makes it pure luxury to wear and the merino inner face imparts some of the great merino qualities we love. I’ve been able to get numerous wears out of the shirt, however, the cotton face can negate this benefit in some cases (heavy sweating, smelly environments). I think a heavy longsleeve is a great place for it to be used though because of how it’s typically worn.

Speaking of the weight, I’ve found the heft to be great for colder weather. It works well under a jacket instead of a sweater and isn’t too warm for cooler indoor temperatures. However, if you are someone who runs warm or tends to be in warm buildings, this very well might be too warm for you.

Overall

The Outlier GD Cottonweight Merino Longsleeve has become my top pick for a warmer shirt. When I think about wearing it, it is more of a light sweatshirt in my mind. Given the warmth, it isn’t necessarily the most versatile piece, so I’m not sure I’d pay the $160 retail price. However, if you’re looking for a heavy shirt that performs (merino) and looks great (heavy cotton with natural drape), this definitely deserves a look.

Outlier GD Cottonweight Merino Longsleeve

Western Rise The Evolution Pant

Note: While I purchased the first pair of pants for this review, Western Rise sent me the next size down after seeing the photos and letting me know that I likely chose the wrong size. The review has been edited now that I have tested the correct size.

Western Rise has been in the technical clothing game for a while. They recently launched The Evolution Pant through Kickstarter and just this week launched them on their website. Built from a custom stretch nylon fabric, they claim the ability to dress up while still being rugged enough for outdoor activities. Given these claims and the opportunity to check out a new fabric, I picked up a pair through Kickstarter and have been wearing them for over a month now.

Fabric

The fabric is a custom high-denier, air-texturized Supplex nylon twill with 4% elastane for stretch and a DWR treatment. Interestingly, the stretch feels similar in the hand to the Outlier Futureworks (our review), but doesn’t feel as free while wearing.

At 173 gsm the fabric is very lightweight (the lightest I have other than my Ferrosi Pants). While I can wear Futureworks even in the cold weather, I found these to be too light without a baselayer.

The way the fabric is woven gives the pants a nice texture and a cottony look. I previously noted that the fabric was a little noisy, but with the appropriate size, the noise seems to be gone. As far as the pilling I noted in my original pair, this pair looks fine and has showed no signs of pilling (Western Rise thought it was a defect in the fabric).

The color isn’t this light in person.

These pants are described as having a “flattering and slimming yet comfortable fit”, which I think is a good description. My first pair ended up being too big in the seat and stretched enough in the waist that I needed a belt. Once I received the correct size, they fit me like I expected. So a note here – if you are on the borderline of the size chart provided or are trying to decide between two sizes, size down.

The correctly fitting pair.

As far as the color, I originally picked the khaki for something different. The color looked darker on the Kickstarter page than it ended up coming out in production, and I don’t love how light it came out. With my second pair, they were out of the kakhi, so I was able to give the navy a try. I much prefer the navy.

Finally, the claims of these pants being able to be dressed up for a meeting are spot on. I think they did a great job designing the fabric to keep it durable while looking sharp (the navy plays very well into making the pants more dressy). In the realm of pants I own, I’d place them right between my Futureworks (most dressy) and Outlier Slim Dungarees (our review) as far as “dress-up-ability”.

Performance

I think these pants will be excellent for hot weather. At an even lighter weight than my Futureworks and with much better looks than my Ferrosis, I can see these as a contender for someone in a hot climate. In a humid environment, I could see the cottony feel of the fabric keeping it from getting clammy against your skin. The breathability also seems excellent, as they were cut right through by cold wind.

As I mentioned above, the stretch, while there, doesn’t feel as free as I’d like. There is a gusset, but it doesn’t come down to the knee like the Futureworks, so that could be an additional explanation of the experiences I’ve had while wearing.

As far as travel features, these look like your standard five-pocket pant, but add a few niceties. The “coin” pocket on the right front is sized to fit your phone, for easy stowage and separation from what you might have in the main pocket. I find it to hold my iPhone XS securely and comfortably. There is also a hidden zippered passport compartment in the right rear pocket. This is the best one I’ve seen, as the zipper manages to be unnoticeable when otherwise using the pocket and when sitting.

Overall

The Western Rise The Evolution Pant is a new entry in a quite crowded market of five-pocket pants. I think they did a nice job of making the pants look normal while retaining good performance.

After getting the right size, I think these pants will become a go-to in warm weather over my Slim Dungarees. I haven’t come across pants that are this light while still looking good.

Western Rise The Evolution Pant