GORUCK and Bluffworks Black Friday Sales

GORUCK’s Black Friday Week Deals are live (until Sunday). You can get our favorite travel backpack, the GR1, for $285 (28% off, any color except black) and apparel for up to 45% off. Many other backpacks (rucks) are also on sale (22-34% off). Also notable, the Wire Dopp is available for $35 (22% off).

Bluffworks also is having a sale. Our favorites include the Meridian Dress Shirt 2.0 which is on sale for $85 (13% off, our review), and the entire Gramercy Collection is 25-30% off (our review of the suit).

GORUCK and Bluffworks Black Friday Sales

Steve’s Packing List: November 2018

Trip Details: Two night, three day trip by air for business meetings.

Packing List

GORUCK GR1 26L w/ Simple Side Pocket

I wore:

Notes and Considerations

For business travel, I feel like I have my packing list down. With this kit, I could travel indefinitely. For a long trip, I would consider another Wool & Prince shirt over the Mizzen+Main so I wouldn’t have to do as much laundry.

I was able to fit both my blazer and down jacket into my backpack for flights with no wrinkling issues on the blazer.

The Simple Side Pocket worked well as an extra interior pocket in my GR1. I don’t like the look on the outside but it is a good size for a little extra organization inside. The pocket is unstructured enough that it folds flat and out of the way when it’s not in use.

You might also notice that I switched up my underwear this trip, look for a review coming, but the packability and lightweight fabric of the UNIQLO Airism Boxer Briefs has won me over for travel.

Steve’s Packing List: November 2018

Myles Apparel Momentum Pant

The item in this review was provided by Myles Apparel at a discount for review.

When it was time to look for new sweats for the cooler months ahead, I decided to check out the Myles Apparel Momentum Pant. After having a great experience with their Momentum Short 2.0 all summer, I figured it would be a good bet.

Fabric

The fabric is a 83% polyester, 17% spandex blend. The high spandex content gives the pants true four-way stretch. I would classify this as a mid weight fabric — heavy enough that it is suitable for the cooler months, but not so heavy that it is too warm to exercise in.

The knit of the fabric gives the pants a matte finish, more so than you would expect for a synthetic pair of sweats. While it won’t pass for cotton, it has a nice look that can blend into your wardrobe fairly well. The knit also makes for a soft hand feel, not the slick hand feel that many polyester synthetics have.

Fit and Finish

The pants have an athletic fit and the sizing seems consistent with their shorts. I sometimes find thighs of pants too tight, but had no issues here. The pant legs are also tapered at the ankles — not so close that they get caught on your socks, but close enough to help keep drafts out.

The waistband is wide and lays flat with some nice elastic stretch and a long drawstring. The elastic holds well enough that I have yet to need to tie the drawstring.

The front hand pockets are very deep so there is no worry about anything slipping out. While the depth is nice, they are wide enough at the bottom that my iPhone XS can start to fall sideways while walking. While not as bad as some pockets, it can still get annoying. This is where the hidden back zip media pocket comes in handy. In these pants (as compared to the shorts) it is large enough to fit my phone. If I’m out for a walk, it’s easy to slip it back there for a secure and comfortable carry.

The pants have a few other nice touches including a gusseted crotch for even more mobility and a color matching reflective stripe on each calf for visibility.

Performance

The pants perform well for my needs. Running pretty warm, I rarely exercise in pants, leaving these as my warmup, walk, and lounge pants for the cooler months. I’ve already had some pretty cool mornings (around 40 F) to test these out while walking the dog, and they kept my legs warm (even in a light drizzle). However, the fabric breaths well enough that I can wear them around the house and not get too warm.

While I haven’t given them a test during a whole workout, I’ve noticed the excellent stretch during warmups and can’t envision any mobility issues no matter the situation.

Overall

The Myles Apparel Momentum Pant has become my goto pant for cooler weather walking and lounging. The fabric has a great stretch while looking pretty “normal”. While I can’t pinpoint any one feature that makes these outstanding, I don’t feel a need to look further. The combination of fit, fabric, and comfort make these a great contender for your sweatpant needs.

For my use case (around the house sweatpants), I don’t think the value quite lives up to the $98 price. However, if you wear sweatpants for running, I think the hidden media pocket adds value. Also, if you like to wear athleisure around town, I think the cut of these pants is spot on.

Myles Apparel Momentum Pant

Ministry of Supply Composite Slim Fit Polo

The item in this review was provided at a discount for review by Ministry of Supply.

When I saw the launch of the Ministry of Supply Composite Slim Fit Polo, I was intrigued by the performance claims made with such a low merino content (15%). Since I was having trouble finding the perfect polo, I took a chance and gave it a try.

Material

The fabric is a jersey-knit 85% polyester/15% merino wool blend with four-way stretch. It is machine washable on cold and can be dried on low (although I would still recommend hanging dry).

The first thing that struck me about this fabric was how “natural” it looks. It doesn’t have the sheen of polyester and it drapes like a light cotton polo. It is the first mostly synthetic polo that I’ve seen that doesn’t have that technical look. Ministry of Supply claims they achieve this through “wool micro-fibrils”. While this helps the look and makes the fabric extremely soft to the touch, it does give the polo a bit of a fuzzy look when viewed at the right angle and the right light.

Fit

The fit of this polo is more slim than the Apollo 3 Polo. However, I did find the same size worked for me for both, especially since this one is more casual. If you ever plan to tumble dry, I would size up, as Ministry of Supply does note that the fabric can shrink (I didn’t see it with cold machine washing and hanging to dry). The length was also a bit shorter — perfect for wearing untucked (I found it a little short to keep tucked in, possibly another reason to size up).

The open collar also lends to the casual nature of the shirt. With only one button at the collar, it is intended that you leave the collar un-buttoned. The placket is shorter than a typical 3-button polo though, so I never felt like the collar was too open. The sewn-in collar stays also help to keep the collar looking sharp. Overall, the collar performs well and doesn’t look floppy or out of place like many other performance polo collars.

Performance

I was pleasantly surprised with the performance of this polo. The 15% merino content definitely performed above what was expected in the odor department. I can trust that I will get at least two wears, more if I’m not sweating a lot. Even when I wore the polo with a backpack and jacket and took a brisk (sweaty) walk from my train to hotel, I was able to get a second wear. Even better, since the fabric is light and drys quickly (with no wrinkles), it would be easy to give the polo a wash in a hotel sink and count on it being dry the next day. While it will never beat a 100% merino polo, it certainly performs admirably.

Even in pretty sweaty situations, I found the moisture wicking and drying properties to be excellent. I never felt very sweaty and the fabric never felt heavy with moisture.

Overall

This polo is worth consideration for a more casual look. The combination of the jersey-knit fabric, open collar, and slim fit keep it casual while still looking sharp. The odor resistant properties are there, even though the merino content is low. At $85, I think this will be a hard polo to beat.

Ministry of Supply Composite Slim Fit Polo

Steve’s Packing List: October 2018

Trip Details: Three night, four day trip by air for business meetings.

Packing List

GORUCK GR1 26L:

I wore:

Notes and Considerations

I packed the perfect amount of clothes for this trip. While I could have worn one Wool & Prince shirt the whole time, I wanted to have some variety. This all fit in my GR1 with plenty of room to spare

The Ministry of Supply Composite Polo performed above my expectations in regards to odor resistance. I got pretty sweaty on a walk from the train to my hotel the first day I wore it, and I was still able to get a second wear. This makes me think in a less sweaty situation, I could possibly get more than two wears, which is surprising given it is only 15% merino wool (with the balance being polyester). Look for a review soon.

Steve’s Packing List: October 2018

MIzzen+Main Leeward Collection Dress Shirt

The item in this review was provided for review purposes by Mizzen+Main.

Mizzen+Main has three dress shirt lines, Spinnaker, Leeward, and Blue Label. The Spinnaker is their original line, focused on comfort with their highest stretch fabric. Leeward and Blue Label are made from a dressier (but still stretch) fabric, with the Blue Label adding a placket, a pointier collar, and convertible cuffs for the most dressy look.

I was able to give the Bowie Navy & White Windopane shirt from the Leeward line a try.

Material

When looking for a performance dress shirt, the look of the fabric is key. The polyester/spandex blend (85%/15%) Mizzen+Main has designed does just that, it looks normal. It drapes nicely and doesn’t have that synthetic sound. Close up, it does have a slight texture but the feel and appearance are smooth. The spandex gives it a noticeable four way stretch and the lightweight nature makes it comfortable in warm weather. However, it is thin enough that I would not wear the white grounded prints without an undershirt.

Fit

With the three fits offered in this shirt, it should be fairly easy for everyone to find a good fit off the rack. I find it is one of my best fitting shirts. The back darts help to keep from having extra fabric around the waist, and it is long enough to stay tucked in.

The spread collar feels just at home with the top button open or with a tie, and removable collar stays keep the collar straight.

The only issue I have is how stiff the cuffs are. While nice on the collar, the stiffening material seems a little too much to me for the cuffs. They just hold too much of a crease to look completely normal.

Performance

When wearing this shirt, you almost forget you are wearing a dress shirt due to the four way stretch. While some shirts are so stretchy the drape looks off, the sweet spot has been found here.

Another key attribute of a good performance dress shirt is its wrinkle resistance — this shirt does a great job. There were some wrinkles out of the package, but a quick steam took care of them. Other than that, I haven’t had any wrinkling issues. After a cold wash, hanging the shirt to dry takes care of all the wrinkles — so much so that it looks as sharp as a pressed shirt. This is something that I do not get with my merino dress shirts.

I’ve worn this shirt in the heat and found it to remain comfortable. The lightweight fabric does a good job of keeping you cool while wicking moisture without feeling heavy (since it dries very quickly).

The final question — how is the odor resistance? I can get just one or two days from this shirt. Since it is 100% synthetic and has no odor resistant treatment, that should be expected. However, since the fabric dries so quickly and doesn’t seem to pick up wrinkles from washing, you can get multiple wears by hand washing and hanging to dry overnight.

Overall

I liked this shirt more than I expected. It looks nice, performs well, and is very comfortable. I see this shirt fitting in anywhere you’d normally wear a dress shirt. If you need to dress it up further, I’d take a look at the Blue Label line. While it can’t beat a merino dress shirt in odor resistance, it excels in all other categories — all while looking more formal.


Ben’s Thoughts

I last had a Mizzen+Main shirt from this collection about 18 months ago, but my recollections echo what Steve said above. It surprisingly looks normal and the stretch was stellar. The odor resistance is not there. The collars and cuffs on mine were thicker like Steve notes and I remember that being the most odd part of the shirt. Overall it’s a very good shirt and looks very ‘normal’.

MIzzen+Main Leeward Collection Dress Shirt

Layering for Warmth

Now that fall is upon us, it’s a good time to start thinking about your layering strategy for the cold weather. I recently took a camping road trip through the Atlantic states and provinces, and encountered cold weather along the way. On this trip, I was able to test out my layering strategy early and was pretty happy with how it worked out.

Why Layers?

Layers are a great way to keep warm while adjusting to changing conditions throughout the day. Typically, layers also allow you to keep warm with less bulk — you can choose pieces that are best at one thing rather than having one piece that does it all pretty well.

Sweat is the biggest enemy to warmth. Without the ability to shed layers as you warm up, you will sweat, and as sweat evaporates it cools. A sweaty shirt or jacket on a cold day is a quick way to get uncomfortably chilled, or even worse, hypothermia.

How to Layer

My layering system consists of a thermal baselayer, a shirt and/or insulating midlayer, and a shell for wind, rain, or snow.

Baselayer

The most important aspect of a good baselayer is how well it wicks sweat and how quickly it dries. This is to protect from our number one enemy in the cold, moisture. While a baselayer also will help keep you a bit warmer when you are static by trapping some body heat, its real purpose is to help manage sweat when you are active.

Since a baselayer needs to be able to efficiently wick sweat, it is important to get the fit right. You want the fabric to sit snugly against the skin so there is no opportunity for sweat to pool against the skin or for cold air to evaporate sweat directly from the skin.

I typically wear a Patagonia Capilene Midweight Zip-neck and Pants (Polartec Power Grid) as my baselayer. All the Capilene baselayers are treated with Polygiene odor control which I find to work pretty well — I can get a few days out of a top and more out of the bottoms, depending on how much I’m sweating. There also are lightweight and thermal weight options if you need less or more warmth.

For 2018, Patagonia released a new merino blend Capilene, the Capilene Air (51% merino, 49% recycled polyester). The fabric has an interesting 3D knit structure and claims to have the greatest warmth range along with the ability to insulate while wet, dry quickly, and resist odor. While double the price of the equivalent Capilene Midweight, this seems like it could be a great fabric and worth the premium for some.

Midlayer

The main job of a midlayer is insulation. The temperature and whether you are going to be active or static can help you choose the most appropriate piece. Active insulation is designed to be very breathable (air and moisture permeable) so the sweat that is absorbed by your baselayer and evaporated by your body heat is able to efficiently migrate into the environment. Static insulation is designed to keep you warm while you are still, so it is less breathable to help conserve the captured body heat. One thing to keep in mind if you are looking at down — while synthetic insulation still works when wet, down looses much of its insulation capability in wet conditions.

Fit is important here as well, but remember to size for the range of layers you may be wearing underneath. Drawstrings, Velcro, and elastic can help with getting the fit adjusted perfectly.

I typically wear one or two midlayers, depending on weather conditions and what layers I plan to shed if I get warm (or end up inside). For me they can be a long or short sleeve shirt, light fleece (Patagonia R1 Pullover), and/or down jacket. Typically I wear a shirt over my baselayer if I think I might get very warm or end up inside. My insulation layer then goes over either the shirt or directly over my baselayer. An alternative to the down jacket could be a synthetic insulated jacket like the Arc’teryx Atom LT or synthetic active insulation layer like the Arc’teryx Proton LT.

Shell

A shell is an important layering piece when it is windy or wet. Just like sweat is the enemy, getting wet is just as bad. Being wet in the wind is even worse because the wind accelerates evaporation (and therefore cooling). A good shell will protect you from both elements. However, you should not wear a shell unless it is needed because it will typically be your least breathable layer and will hinder the evaporation or sweat. As the sweat builds up and makes your insulation layers damp, it can hinder the ability for them to continue to perform as expected.

For a shell, the fit needs to be more flexible since you will probably wear it on its own as well as over various layers. This makes drawstrings, Velcro, and elastic important so the fit is adjustable.

I prefer a lightweight shell like the Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket because it packs down small for easy stowage when the weather improves (or to carry just in case). The Helium is an ultralight shell, so unlike a hardshell the waterproof membrane is visible on the inside of the jacket. This makes it lighter but less durable and can more easily loose breathability from having clogged pores from body oils and dirt (hardshells typically sandwich the membrane between two layers of fabric). No matter what type of shell you have, if the DWR fails and the face fabric wets out, you loose all breathability.

Utilizing a shell for wind and water resistance allows you to select a very breathable midlayer which becomes especially important if you are active while out in the cold. If you are going to be out in rain all day (or days) or need more durability you might want a true hardshell, but I’ve never had any issues with the Helium Jacket.

Conclusions

If you want to stay warm outside in cool and cold weather layering is the way to go. You can stay comfortable throughout the day, even with changing conditions, and you don’t have to deal with that bulky winter coat for most weather. A simple system of a thermal baselayer, an insulating midlayer, and a shell can get you through most weather. If it’s really cold, you can swap out your midlayer, wear a warmer baselayer, and/or replace the midlayer and shell with a parka.

Layering for Warmth

Performance Fabric Blends

Fabric blends are often found in performance apparel with the hopes of capturing the positive properties of different materials while removing as many of the negative as possible. While it’s impossible to be comprehensive with all the blends, brands, and technologies that are out there now, this overview captures the major categories.

Natural/Synthetic

There are many great natural/synthetic blends out there. These blends are often made to improve the strength/durability (merino blends), or moisture wicking ability (cotton) of a natural fiber.

Merino Blends

Merino blends can vary greatly in their performance (especially odor resistance) depending on their merino content. Blends can range anywhere from over 75% merino to less than 10%. Of course, the more merino the more merino properties can be expected, but the other fibers present (and any treatments) can also make a difference.

The common co-fibers in merino blends are polyester and nylon (and sometimes Tencel — see the Icebreaker Cool-Lite line). Often, these blends are designed to give the relatively fragile merino some extra strength. In addition to just mixing the fibers into the yarn, merino can be “corespun” with a nylon core or woven in a “double weave” where the fabric has one side that is 100% merino and the other side some other fiber. Corespun fabrics give the look and feel of 100% merino while adding strength to the yarn with the nylon core (see Smartwool Merino 150 line). Double woven fabrics also allow allow for the feel of 100% merino, but can add a more durable/different looking material for the face of the fabric (see Y Athletics SilverAir Merino).

Wool can also be made into a batting and used as insulation. Wool insulation is a good machine washable natural alternative to down. It typically offers a similar weight to insulation ratio and is often a similar price point as down (see Smartwool Smartloft and Icebreaker Merino LOFT).

Tencel Blends

Tencel is seen blended with both synthetic fibers and merino. Tencel is blended with merino as it has higher water vapor absorption and drying speed than merino, it is a stronger fiber, and it improves the hand feel (smoothness) of the fabric (see DryWeight fabric from Western Rise). When blended with a synthetic fiber, it can help improve the odor resistance as the fiber holds moisture in its core, making it less hospitable to bacteria (see Pistol Lake Eudae fabric). Tencel also doesn’t get staticky like polyester, so it can help with static as well.

NYCO

While not a “performance” fabric as we typically talk about here (no odor resistance), NYCO (nylon/cotton) is increasingly seen used in hard wearing pieces like jackets or in button down shirts where the look or feel of cotton is desired. For a full rundown of NYCO, check our our previous article.

All Synthetic Blends

In some cases, 100% synthetic can perform better especially when durability and abrasion resistance are key. A full synthetic blend is also sometimes used as a cost reduction measure. Typically seen in these blends are polyester and nylon. When it’s really hot and humid, this is also typically your best choice since light synthetics hold less moisture and typically dry faster then merino (see the Nike Dri-FIT line).

Brand Name Blends

Outlier

It shouldn’t be a surprise to see Outlier here, as they make many of our favorite pants. They develop a lot of their own fabrics with various blends of nylon, polyester, cotton, merino wool, and elastane. Our favorites are the F.Cloth (200 gsm, 97% nylon, 3% elastane) which can be found in the Futureworks and New Way Shorts, the Workcloth (275 gsm, dual layer synthetic) which is found in the Slim Dungarees, and the Strongtwill (Supplex nylon/elastane blend) which is found in the Strong Dungarees.

Schoeller

Some of our favorite fabrics are made by Schoeller. Some names you might recognize are schoeller-dryskin (double layer, functional fabric on the inside, durable synthetic on the outside), 3XDRY (moisture wicking and fast drying), c_change (wind and waterproof membranes), NanoSphere (self cleaning).

Some of these are fabrics and others technologies/coatings, but any line of Schoeller fabric can vary between manufacturers, as they customize the fabrics to the specific use.

For example, Outlier Workcloth (Slim Dungarees) and 60/30 Cloth (60/30 Chinos) utilize the NanoSphere technology. The Outlier OG Classics and OG Climbers OG Cloth is Schoeller Dryskin Extreme fabric with NanoSphere. The NanoSphere technology acts as a DWR to repel water, but also helps keep dirt and oils on the surface of the fabric so they can be cleaned easily with a quick wipe of a damp cloth.

drirelease

drirelease is a line of blended fabrics. The yarns are made with a mix of hydrophobic synthetic fibers and hydrophilic natural fibers. The combination is advertised to do a good job at both pulling moisture from the skin and getting the moisture to the surface so you feel dry and it easily evaporates. They also claim an odor reducing technology called FreshGuard this is neither antibacterial or antimicrobial. The natural fibers can be cotton, merino wool, machine washable silk, Tencel, linen, rayon, cashmere, among others. The synthetic portion is 85-88% polyester (or nylon in one case) with the balance being the natural fiber. They have a huge number of brand partners, including Outdoor Research who uses drirelease Wool in their Sequence line (including the L/S Zip Top).

The wool is the only one we’ve tried, and it does provide more odor resistance than you’d expect for only being 12% merino wool. It does, however, tend to pill fairly easily. The other blends that could be interesting include Tencel, linen, and cashmere.

New, Cutting Edge Technologies

Of course, there are also some new, cutting edge (and sometimes out there) technologies like ceramic coated t-shirts, graphene coated jackets, and a fabric that is an FDA certified medical device. But those are for another time.

Wrap-up

Even though two fabrics may have the same fiber composition, no two fabrics are the same. When comparing fabrics, always take into account the structure of the fabric in addition to the composition. The structure can be just as important for some attributes such as the look, hand feel, and drape of the fabric.

Performance Fabric Blends

GORUCK Clothing Price Increase

GORUCK recently announced a price increase effective September 1st 4th across all products. Now that the new prices are out, we are surprised how much the clothing will be going up (27-50%). At the new prices, we no longer think the pieces we’ve reviewed present a great value (Simple Windbreaker and Simple Pants). However, if you’ve been thinking about it, you still have until September 1st to grab them at a reasonable price.

GORUCK Clothing Price Increase