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: Western Rise has sent me the next size down in these pants and I will post an update once I give them a good test. First thoughts; I definitely had the wrong size and I think my overall impression of the pants will become more positive.

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, however, the light “technical swoosh” while walking can give away the fact that these are technical pants. Also, there appear to be irregularities in the pattern that almost look like pilling. That is how the fabric came to me, and it was noticeable enough in a sunny environment that my wife asked if the pants were pilling already.

Fit & Style

These pants are described as having a “flattering and slimming yet comfortable fit”, which I think is a good description. Like many of our favorite brands, Western Rise provides garment measurements to help find the right size. When I first received the pants, they seemed like they fit well, however, as I’ve worn them, it seems like they’ve stretched out in the seat/front and waist. I don’t love how they look now that they’ve stretched out (as seen in the photos), and wonder if I maybe would have been better off with a size smaller.

As far as the color, I 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. Looking at the photos on the website, it looks like the charcoal came out almost black and the navy came out a nice mid-blue. I’d probably pick the navy as my favorite color by far.

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 (assuming you can get the fit right). 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.

From my personal experience, I’m not sure they will remain an everyday wear for me due to fit and the noise. Maybe I could get a better fit with a different size, but I didn’t love how they looked compared to my current favorite pants.

For those in hot climates, however, I think these pants could be top contenders. I haven’t come across pants that are this light while still looking good.

Western Rise The Evolution Pant

Underwear Roundup

Underwear is an important part of an everyday wardrobe and can make or break the comfort of any activity. I’ve tried out quite a few new pairs of underwear over the past year or so, and I’ve made a change to what my go-to pairs are. While this is nowhere near an exhaustive list, this roundup includes all the technical boxer briefs I’ve tried.

A few commonalities

Across all the boxer briefs I tried, there are a few commonalities across the two main pain points — rolling of the waistband and riding up of the leg.

It seems to me that rolling of the waistband is a thing of the past (at least across all the brands I discuss here). This is something that can be very annoying, and something I haven’t had to deal with since I switched away from my cheap Hanes underwear.

On the other hand, having the leg ride up is not something that has been solved (except for maybe the new Wool & Prince Boxer Briefs 2.0, I haven’t given them a try though). I find that all of my pairs of underwear can ride up under the right conditions. Two features that help mitigate riding up include a proper fit (tightness and length) of the leg.

Lastly, I’ve yet to find any underwear that I can wear more than once (even with an antimicrobial treatment or merino content). That’s fine with me as I don’t find it appealing to wear underwear more than once. This makes drying time important for travel.

The Competition

ExOfficio

The Give-N-Go Boxer Brief was my first foray into the performance underwear market. A few years back, they were the ones everyone talked about, but since seem to have declined in quality.

The fabric is 94% nylon and 6% Lycra with an antimicrobial treatment and a diamond knit. This makes the fabric have a rough handfeel and more likely to get caught on your pants.

These do not have a structured front panel and have a somewhat baggy fit.

The fit and fabric kill the appeal here.

Duluth Trading

The Buck Naked Performance Boxer Briefs were next. They are still popular and are the most heavy/durable of those I’ve tried.

The fabric is 93% nylon and 7% spandex with an odor resistant treatment and a diamond knit. The knit here, while not smooth, doesn’t seem to get caught on my pants.

These also do not have a structured front panel and a similar fit to the ExOfficio pair.

Again, the fit and fabric make these uninteresting, unless you’re going for durability.

UNIQLO

Once I got tired of the heavier fabric of the previous two brands, the AIRism Boxer Briefs seemed the natural way to go. Also very popular in the travel/performance community, these are hands down the lightest pair I own (in both fabric weight and packability).

The fabric is 89% polyester, 11% Spandex with an extremely smooth finish that feels like silk. No matter what fabric you wear on top, these never get caught.

The structured front panel adds to the comfort, and the tighter fit (and shorter leg) makes you forget you are wearing them. These are a good example of how the right fit helps keep the leg from riding up.

These are my favorite overall.

Y Athletics

Along the way here on Everyday Wear, I got the opportunity from Y Athletics to try both their SilverAir Merino (full review) and SilverAir Ultralight Boxer Briefs.

The Merino pair is 90% 17.5 micron merino wool, 5% metallic, and 5% spandex. The fabric is luxuriously soft and is quite thick. There is a custom leg grip system on each leg band that definitely helps keep these from riding up even when the legs aren’t quite as snug.

The Ultralight pair is 50% nylon, 35% Modal, 10% Spandex, and 5% metallic with an open-knit. Just like the name says, the fabric is very lightweight and has an excellent silky feel. While there are no leg grippers here, the legs fit a bit tighter so I didn’t feel like I was missing out.

I find the structured front panel in both of these pairs to be the most comfortable of all on this list.

Overall, can’t beat the luxury of the Merinos and the Ultralights are right up there with the UNIQLOs. The fit is spot on here.

Pistol Lake

Finally, I also recently had the chance from Pistol Lake to check out their Minimalist Boxer Briefs (full review).

The fabric is Pistol Lake’s custom Lightweight Eudae fabric, which is 76% polyester, 19% Tencel, and 5% Lycra. The fabric looks and feels similar to a cotton t-shirt.

While a snug fit, these do not have a structured front panel.

Overall, these are great if you’re looking for cotton-like comfort and are willing to sacrifice performance.

Comparison

Performance

All of the boxer briefs perform well in all conditions with two exceptions.

The SilverAir Merino feels a little heavy with a lot of sweat, just like any merino piece, but dries quickly as the moisture evaporates from the core of the fibers.

The Minimalist Boxer Briefs feel heavy and moist with a lot of sweat. This was a surprise after trying their shirt made from the same fabric, but these are the only pair that I don’t really enjoy wearing for exercise.

Travel

Hands-down I prefer the AIRism Boxer Briefs for travel. Their extremely light and silky fabric and shorter length makes them pack down to nothing and dry quickly after a sink wash. Also, if they do ride up, they are the least noticeable.

Comfort

The most comfortable of the lot are of course the SilverAir Merino, nothing beats the luxurious soft feel of high quality merino. When combined with a great structured front panel, these will be hard to beat in the comfort department.

The Minimalist Boxer Briefs also up there in comfort because they have a cottony feel and the long length helps keep the legs in place.

Conclusion

After wearing most of these boxer briefs for at least six months, if not longer, the UNIQLO AIRisms have become my top pick. Not only are they lightweight and comfortable, they are a great value at just $10 (and often can be had on sale for $5). At that price, there is no reason not to stock up. If the cost wasn’t involved, I would say the Y Athletics SilverAir Ultralights would be my top pick, as they are a bit more comfortable than the AIRisms. Finally, for comfort above all else (while still maintaining excellent performance), I haven’t found anything more comfortable than the Y Athletics SilverAir Merinos.

Underwear Roundup

Steve’s Packing List: February 2019

Trip Details: Two night, three day trip by air for a convention.

Packing List

GORUCK GR1 26L w/ Simple Side Pocket:

I wore:

Notes and Considerations

This was my first business trip in a while, so I overpacked a little (I didn’t end up needing my extra undershirt). I could have done with just the Wool & Prince shirt, but I wanted to have some variety. I also brought my gym shoes and clothes as I knew I would have some downtime to hit the gym.

Steve’s Packing List: February 2019

Is Merino Necessary for Everything?

Among performance (or travel) clothing favorites, you will often see the seemingly magical properties of merino touted. Properties like odor resistance and thermal regulation are king as these allow the garments to wear more comfortably and to go longer before they develop odors. Merino can be made into fabrics anywhere from luxuriously soft (Outlier’s Ultrafine Merino T-shirt being a great example), to durable but still soft (in the case of nylon core spun fibers, like the Wool & Prince T-shirt) and then to heavy and rougher (like Filson’s Crew Neck Guide Sweater). Merino garments, though, also tend to be some of the most expensive you can add to your closet.

It’s natural then to look at the abundance of merino based clothing and wonder when it’s too much. When do you hit a law of diminishing returns with merino wool? And, if you’re looking to cut some cost in your clothing lineup, where can you move away from merino to less costly materials?

We’ve been debating just this for a while now, especially for layering pieces that don’t directly contact your skin. But also for pants where the durability of merino, as well as the performance make us question the utility of such garments. In these instances, you can often even get multiple wears out of a traditional cotton garment (most people don’t wash their blue jeans very often, or in some cases, ever).

While a merino garment certainly will go longer than anything else without starting to smell, we’ve come to find that this isn’t always necessary. Take a pullover for example — you probably wear it over another shirt and when it’s cool out, so it doesn’t see your skin and you are probably sweating less. This type of wear isn’t a recipe for odors, and thus probably not a scenario where the performance of merino wool is going to add a ton to your life. There is a logical argument to be made that with a pullover (or something similar), merino is overkill. It’s not going to make the garment worse — you will still get the benefits — but at the same time you are paying a premium for something where the net realized benefits will be marginal at best. Or, put another way: whether lambswool, cashmere, or merino (or even a good synthetic blend), the sweater would perform within a close enough range on all fronts that you should buy the one which price works best for you.

On the thermoregulation aspect, you certainly won’t find any (comfortable or normal looking) fabric that will keep you warmer than merino. The natural ability of the fibers to trap air helps keep you warm. Therefore, in cases where you value packability or weight, it can be worth it to go with merino. But not always, as some merino wool will not pack as compactly as down, or even some newer synthetic garments. That said, merino adds another benefit in being easier to wash when traveling.

Another area we’ve started seeing merino show up is in jacket insulation. Icebreaker has their MerinoLOFT technology, which is an insulation made from merino wool. They tout it as an evolution of down and an alternative to synthetic down. While we haven’t tried anything like this, it seems like another area where merino probably doesn’t offer much over its synthetic counterparts. And you pay a high price for something you are likely not to notice, and perhaps which has other drawbacks from more traditional insulation pieces.

With pants, Ben has thoroughly destroyed a pair of Icebreaker wool pants over the course of just a year — while noticing little benefit from the merino wool itself. Often the wool needed washing more than basic blue jeans did — and didn’t perform as well as synthetic pants options like Outlier’s offerings. So even in the case where these pants are coming into direct contact with your skin, there’s little reason to select these over more durable options. Since Ben’s experience, many others have released merino blend pants (like CIVIC’s Frank Chino). I tried purchasing a pair to try, but the fit seemed really off so I didn’t keep them to give them a thorough test.

With the hoodie Ben recently reviewed, he found that while comfortable and performant, a hoodie may not be a good garment to use 100% merino wool as the material. Outlier has long made a HARD/CO Merino ZIP Hoodie which has cotton facing on the outside for better durability and merino on the inside for the performance — yet you pay a significant price ($395) for that benefit. Whereas most people rarely have performance and durability issues with a standard cotton hoodie.

Ultimately, the choice between merino or other performance fabrics comes from your use case for the garment. We’ve found pieces that don’t spend much time directly on skin as good places to look elsewhere where the expense isn’t justified. That said, you can often find very inexpensive merino sweaters from big box stores like J. Crew and Banana Republic (among others). While you don’t necessarily need merino in these garments, it is an added bonus if the price is right.

For most layering, outerwear, and pants, we have found that merino wool is often overkill and comes at an added financial cost as well as, possibly, durability issues.

Is Merino Necessary for Everything?

Pistol Lake Minimalist Boxer Briefs

The item in this review was provided by Pistol Lake for review purposes.

Pistol Lake recently gave me the opportunity to try out their Minimalist Boxer Brief, which is made out of the same Lightweight Eudae fabric as their Minimalist Tee (our review). I’ve been testing these for a few months now, and they have some compelling attributes, including great resistance to riding up.

Fabric

The custom Lightweight Eudae fabric is 76% recycled polyester, 19% Tencel, and 5% spandex. You might think that with the high polyester content it will feel just like all the other synthetic underwear out there, however it doesn’t. The Tencel (Eucalyptus pulp derived fiber) gives the fabric a luxurious soft feel, you might even believe it’s a stretchy cotton. When sewn up as boxer briefs, this makes for an extremely comfortable pair of underwear.

Fit

I found myself right on the borderline of L and XL according to the size chart, so I gave both a try. If you are in the same situation and are looking for a tight, more supportive fit size down, otherwise size up.

With a longer leg length and great stretch, these boxer briefs do a great job resisting riding up, especially if you wear them on the tighter side. They are my only underwear, other than some with special leg grippers, that I’ve never had issues riding up while working out. Another area some other underwear can have issues is the waistband. On these, It is nice and wide and is thick enough that it stays flat and never digs in.

If there was anywhere I’d recommend some improvement in the fit, it would be to add some shape to the pouch — something that can take a great pair of boxer briefs and make them excellent.

Performance

The Eudae fabric does a great job of wicking moisture. While it does hold more than a full polyester or nylon fabric, it dries almost as fast. During really sweaty workouts, these can start to feel a little like wearing cotton. They don’t hold as much sweat as cotton, but I did notice that they felt more sweaty than my other performance underwear. In this situation, the quick drying nature only helps once you are done heavily sweating.

As far as odor resistance, I have never found underwear to be something I want to/can wear more than once (even merino), so I can’t comment. However, the Eudae fabric in its t-shirt form, performs almost as well as merino (and better than full synthetic, see our comparison).

Of course, the topic of packability and drying speed is also a factor for travel. In comparison to other options, they are about middle of the road as far as packability and while fast drying, not as fast as some of the thin, pure synthetic blends.

Overall

The Pistol Lake Minimalist Boxer Briefs are compelling mainly in the comfort area. They also solve the problem of riding up with their length and the stretch of the fabric, which isn’t something that most $29 pairs of underwear can do. However, my experience with them during very sweaty workouts makes them less than ideal for me. They are worth a look, however, if you want cotton-like comfort with great stretch, don’t sweat a ton when working out, or are traveling (where sweat and heat aren’t a concern) and want the comfort and drying performance these offer.

Pistol Lake Minimalist Boxer Briefs