Minus33 Wool Raglan T-Shirt, Woolverino

I recently lost some weight and because of that my preferred and standard merino t-shirts started to wear larger than I wanted. Which means I needed to get some new shirts, but instead of simply changing out what I have with a new size, I went looking for something entirely different and found the The Wool Raglan T-Shirt from Minus33.

I’ve been wearing it for a while now and am a big fan. Let me tell you what makes this great.

Material

Minus33 labels this material as ‘micro weight’ in their ‘Woolverino’ collection. The weight references the fact that this is a 145gsm jersey knit fabric, and it is thin stuff — not the thinnest out there but it’s lighter than your standard cotton t-shirt.

The Woolverino fabric is made up of 84% Merino Wool, 12% Nylon, 4% Spandex. This is a great blend, giving enough nylon for structure, spandex for stretch, and everything else merino wool for performance. Add to that, the merino chosen is 17.5 micron — it’s soft stuff.

I’ve found this to be a surprisingly stretchy shirt that has an excellent hand feel and softness to it.

Fit & Style

This is a raglan sleeve, so it’s going to look more athletic than it does ‘normal’ out of the box, and on top of that, this is a rather slim/athletic cut. I don’t find that it overly clings to my body (like the images on the website show) but it certainly is a more tailored form fitting cut.

This cut works well for me, and I find it extremely comfortable and something which is easily worn under a layer, or as a stand alone t-shirt. It’s a nice shirt that sits on the edge of workout, to casual. Good stuff.

The material is thin, and in the grey color I got, you can see some skin tone through it in areas where the material is being pulled a little tighter. For most there should be no issues with transparency, but there is a potential for it — I would suspect the darker colors to reduce this issue.

Performance

Minus33 lists the performance attributes as follows:

  • Durable: I have no good way to test this in such a short time frame, but I’ve seen no pilling or other issues at all with it.
  • Temperature regulating: par for the course with merino, and is not held back at all with the nylon and spandex added to the knit.
  • UV Protection: this is listed, but it’s rated at UPF 20 which is better than nothing, but hardly earth shattering. Not entirely sure why they wanted to tout this one.

The performance on this shirt is on part with any 80%+ merino shirt, which is great to begin with — the added stretch is a nice bonus allowing the shirt to wear comfortably more trim.

Overall

I really like this shirt, it feels very nice, very soft, and is very comfortable. For those who want something looser fitting, you’ll want to look elsewhere. But if you want something really soft and comfortable, and a little more trim than most offerings — this is my favorite to date.

You get all of this for $65, and generally at that price you are not going to get something cut this well, or with this fine a micron wool. This is a stellar value on an already good shirt.

Recommended.

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

Minus33 Wool Raglan T-Shirt, Woolverino

Best of 2021

Shoes

Steve: Parkhurst Brand The Allen boots (British Tan Chromexcel + Wedge Sole) have quickly become my go-to boot for anytime I want to look put together. It’s hard to beat Chromexcel leather for looks and durability, and the wedge sole is pure comfort. These boots, dress down easily with jeans and a tee, but also can look good with Futureworks and a button-up. Another positive is Parkhurst does not use metal shanks, so any of their boots and shoes will be OK to keep on for TSA PreCheck.

Ben: Red Wing Iron Rangers, mine are in Copper Rough and Tough leather, but it’s probably hard to pick a bad color in these. They are not the most luxurious feeling as boot, but they feel indestructible on my foot, and are the only boots I really don’t care about doing whatever in. I know they can handle it, and even though they are very overbuilt, they seem to work well even in less rough settings. You can adjust how casual they are with different leathers, with my Copper Rough and Tough being very casual — yet I still take them into the office. If I can, I will wear these. They are nicely molded to my foot now, and feel like home.

Pants

Steve: Western Rise Spectrum Joggers (our review, currently 20% off) are the first pants I always go for in my closet when working from home. They are really comfortable, while looking sharp enough to wear around town. For me, the ankle elastic often ruins joggers, and these don’t have any — they are just tapered.

Ben: Outlier’s Futureworks, now Futureslimworks (our review), remain the best pants out there. I could easily have these be my only pants and only feel restricted by them in the most uncommon of situations. They are that good. They are all I wear about 5 days a week now that I am back in the office, and even with all the other ’performance chinos’ I have tried, nothing sticks like these. I have three pairs, and that’s probably overkill by one pair. So very good. Start with Dark Navy or Charcoal, you won’t regret these.

Shorts

Steve: Outlier New Ways (our most recent review) remained my favorite short. Comfortable, great in the heat, above average pockets, and sharp looking. Can’t ask for much more.

Ben: Triple Aught Design’s Agent XC Shorts (our review) are my tops for the year. From a style standpoint they are not as good as the Outlier New Ways I love, but from a wearing standpoint they are outstanding. They have all the utility of cargo shorts, with none of the cargo short vibe. The internal pocket organizers, the durability and the extra rear pockets are like a handyman’s dream. I wear these a lot, I can’t wait for them to come back in stock so I can get another pair.

T-shirts

Steve: I found my workouts shifting to the evening, so I often would just throw on a workout t-shirt in the morning, with a button-up over top if needed for warmth or a video call. On the summer weekends, I’d often throw on a merino t-shirt like the CIVIC Merino Tee or the Outdoor Voices Merino Tee.

Ben: My t-shirt wearing this year was in a bit of a death spiral. I barely wore what I had, and my most worn was for sure Outlier’s Ramielust (currently only available in a different cut, our review). Which is a supremely comfortable shirt to wear in the hot and humid weather I live in. It dries insanely fast — but I think Outlier’s t-shirt cuts aren’t working as well for me as they used too. I feel like I am swimming in it. So if forced to pick, that’s my pick, but I am a little underwhelmed by everything in this category lately.

Button-up

Steve: J.Crew Lightweight Chamois Workshirt. Not going into the office, I maybe wore my Wool&Prince button-ups once or twice this year, so thisbecame my go-to to throw on top of a t-shirt when my office was a bit chilly. I loved it so much, I picked it up (on sale) in a second color.

Ben: Vollebak Equator Shirt, I just got this, but it’s going to be my top pick for 2021. Squeaking in just before the end of the year, this shirt blows my mind. It’s so light and stretchy, with a billion little vents everywhere — the comfort is unreal. But the cut is also outstanding. My wife got me this, and typically she labels the look of very technical shirts as “fine” if they are good enough to wear in public, this one she said “wow that looks great”. When I asked if I should get another, she replied “maybe, but that’s the only color they had in stock when I bought you that” — so yeah. This is a supremely good shirt, and the only shirt that comes close is the Planet Earth from Vollebak which wears a little warmer. (My most worn though is by far Wool&Prince buttons downs, because I do work in an office most days.)

Jackets

Steve: The Ventrix Jacket from The North Face (our review) has remained the first jacket I grab out of my closet. It breathes well and works for a wide variety of temperatures and situations. I’ve also recently started layering the Western Rise AirLoft Vest (our review) underneath when I need some extra warmth.

Ben: I am very torn between my Alex Mill ’Mill Blazer’ (our review) and my Rogue Territory Ridgeline Supply Jacket (our review), but I think I’ll go Rogue Territory here. Mostly because if there is no other style consideration needing to be given, then I would pick the Rogue jacket every single time. It’s an amazing jacket, wears warmer than its thin nature would have you think, and looks darn cool. It still looks brand new to me, and I think I like it more now than the day I got it. It’s expensive, but I really do love it.

Socks

Steve: Still wearing my Darn Tough merino socks in various styles and colors. I keep hearing I need to try out Farm to Feet, but haven’t needed any new socks recently.

Ben: Farm to Feet Damascus 3/4 Crew — holy cow I love these. These are great socks — super comfortable and have proven very durable. I like that they are a lighter weight in most spots, but then you get extra cushioning in targeted areas. Especially at the top of your foot, which is a great area to have nice padding when you wear boots. They are very expensive and I don’t own but a few pairs, but I will slowly be replacing all my socks with these. They strike a perfect balance of working well in boots, while also being thin enough not to overheat my feet.

Underwear

Steve: Mack Weldon 18-Hour Jersey Boxer Brief were a surprise when I gave them a try. While I still have some Duluth Trading and ExOfficio pairs for when I need the most performant underwear, I wear these most days. They are super comfortable, and work well enough for a normal workout.

Ben: Wool&Prince Boxer Briefs are the kind for me. I switched completely to these this year and while they are pricey they are exactly what I want. I find them very comfortable and performant — great at wicking moisture. I found some that came close to dethroning these (SAXX Quest 2.0), but ultimately I found these to be far more comfortable day to day.

Workout Clothes

Steve: My workout clothes are quite a mashup of various shorts and tees I’ve picked-up over the years. I don’t have any winning shorts, but I do really love my Patagonia R1 Pullover as a layer for any outdoors exercise (it often finds wear around the house as well). I also recently purchased the Beyond Clothing Todra Crew, and it is looking promising.

Ben: Under Armour’s Tactical UA Tech™ Long Sleeve T-Shirt, I wear these a ton, they cost very little and perform as well as most of my other shirts. They don’t have much sign of wear on them, no obnoxious logos all over them — all around great performers. Even in really warm weather, they do a great job moving moisture and keeping stink down to a reasonably level. They aren’t merino, but they are $30 and really good.

Travel Bags

Steve: While I didn’t get much of an opportunity to travel this year, the GORUCK Kit Bag became an instant favorite. While looking unassuming, the size and shape works really well to pack a lot, while keeping it a manageable size as a shoulder bag. The inside zippered pockets are also a really useful touch. My GR1 also came out for my only flight of the year.

Ben: Filson 48hr Duffle Bag, is my all time favorite travel bag. It hits all the sweet spots for travel. It’s compact, but holds more than it looks like it should. It’s very durable, while not looking durable. I take mine with me every chance I get, and I have never not felt it was a good choice. Though, 2021 didn’t see a robust amount of travel for me.

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

Best of 2021

Western Rise AirLoft Vest

Note: this vest was provided by Western Rise for review.

I had been looking for a breathable, insulated vest to add to my outerwear selection, so when I noticed that Western Rise launched their AirLoft Vest, I had to give it a try. The vest uses the same Toray 3DeFX+ insulation as the AirLoft Quilted Jacket I previously reviewed, as well as the rest of their current AirLoft line.

Material

The star of the show here is the Toray 40g 3DeFX+™ Polyester hollow-core, 4-way stretch insulation. This is a continuous fiber insulation, meaning it is long fibers tangled together into the batt, rather than many small fibers bound together or stuffed into a shell. This gives the insulation warmth and breathability, while allowing it to be quite thin and durable.

The shell material is 102gsm, 100% polyester, “self-cleaning, 4-way stretch, Primeflex® exterior fabric with a C6 DWR for dirt, stain, and weather resistance optimized for cool-weather activity”. This material looks great and doesn’t have a sheen that some technical vests do.

Fit & Style

The fit is described as a “modern cut and tailored silhouette ensure freedom of movement and a flattering fit”. I’d say it’s tailored with the idea that you will likely wear a heavier shirt underneath. What does this mean? It looks a little bulky over just a t-shirt. Looking at the product photos, this was intended, and makes sense for an insulated vest.

Length-wise, this fits more like a jacket, which is nice because I sometimes find vests to be a bit too short. The collar also looks good up or down.

Style-wise, this is as good looking as you’ll find in an insulated vest. The matte finish and lack of logos on the face fabric make it blend in well. Certainly looks better than your typical shiny-faced, logo-ed insulated vest.

Performance

The combination of warmth and breathability here makes this vest very versatile. It’s warm enough to be your outer layer on a cool-ish day, and when it gets cold, it can transition to a layer under a jacket, or something to toss on when you get a little chilly indoors. The performance here is perfect, unless you want a fleece vest for a different look, I can’t imagine a better vest.

While the hand doesn’t feel much stretch (even though the face fabric and insulation are both 4-way stretch), the vest remains comfortable and doesn’t bind around the armholes. Some vests take care of this by giving you oversized armholes, but not here. The vest stays comfortable and moves with you without being oversized.

A few other nice features include drawstrings at the bottom, an interior chest pocket (phone sized), and a side-entry outer pocket on the lower back that reaches across the whole back (not sure what to use this one for…).

Overall

The AirLoft Vest is just what I was looking for. Warm and breathable enough to see some versatile wear, while looking better than your average vest. The $189 price point is perfect when looking at what else is out there in the same league. Through Christmas, you will get a $50 gift card with your purchase ($50 for every $100 spent). Highly recommended.

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

Western Rise AirLoft Vest

Blundstone Dress Chelsea

I’ve been wanting a pair of Blundstones for ages, and so when I started ramping back up to the office I was looking for what boot I might buy to have a good pair of black shoes. Somehow I didn’t have any.

I found these on sale and jumped at the chance to try them out. These Dress Chelseas are fantastic.

Materials

There’s really only a few components to this: waterproof full grain leather for the uppers with elastic to help secure, and a TPU sole with cushioning. The magic is in the “SPS Max Comfort” system which is essentially a method for reducing impact to your heel when you step/move/whatever.

For now I’ll focus on the primary material: the leather. The majority of my shoes are leather and the majority show the same things: scuffs on the toes and scuffs on the inner heel of the shoes. These are high wear areas on any shoes or boots and leather tends to show these. The Blundstone leather here is slightly matte, maybe eggshell in sheen. And in the black color I have it takes the right angle of light to see any scuffs in them.

Even when you do get the lighting correct, you’ll find almost no scuffs which is unusual for my shoes. In fact I was taking out the garbage in these boots and the giant plastic wheel accidentally nailed the side of my boot at an angle — the type of thing that would put a serious mark in most shoes. It was hard to see on these, and then almost completely went away with a wipe of a damp cloth. A few days later I don’t see it at all.

This is seriously durable leather, and while I can’t speak to the waterproofing, I suspect there’s not a lot to worry about with these. The sole is likely to wear out before the leather.

Fit & Style

As with any boot, getting the sizing right is important. I wear 11.5 in Nike’s and many shoes, and 11 in others. I ordered an 11 after measuring my foot per Blundstones guide and hit the mark out of the box. Note that the half size increments don’t change the length, but change the width.

The style of these boots takes the classic Blundstone Chelsea design and applies a smoother/less aggressive outsole to it. The end result is a dressier looking Chelsea boot which only suffers from performance by having a less aggressive sole.

I love the way these look and fit. Overall they look great in the office and with a pair of jeans around the yard.

Performance

With boots there’s a wide array of performance attributes, but I’ll focus on three for these boots: comfort to your foot; breathability; and durability.

When you talk about Blundstone what you generally hear is how comfortable they are. I own a lot of boots, and in fact they are my most worn shoe type because if I am wearing pants I am wearing boots. The Blundstones are a top performer when it comes to comfort. They are soft but supportive under your foot. The entire footbed is really nice, but not so nice that they out perform other boots (GORUCK’s MACV-1s for example wear more comfortably over a longer day). They are certainly comfortable, and for the price you rarely see comfort like this, where you aren’t just buying a sneaker made to look like a boot.

However, the breathability does suffer in these as they are thick leather with no vents. The only breathable areas is the elastic on the sides to secure your foot into the boot. A thicker wool sock is recommended for these to help your feet regulate moisture better, once that is done I have had no issues wearing them in Houston during the summer — I would say they are on par with all other leather boots.

The last thing is durability. The leather here impresses me a lot, as it is very durable and will lead to a boot that looks good well past it being useable. Meaning that they are low-maintenance boots and not something which scuff the instant they see your foot slipping into them. That said, the lower profile sole doesn’t have as deep cut tread so it’s likely to wear out sooner, and these boots cannot be resoled. In the two and a half months I have had my pair, I don’t notice any concerning wear on the sole thus far.

Break In

With all boots we need to talk about break in periods and how that goes. I found that with these the break in is very short, but is needed. I only had a mild hot spot develop on one foot from my driving position, that went away after just two wears.

What took much longer to break in was the top edge of the boots. Getting the top to relax and mold to how you sit and stand took about 5-6 wears of the boots. And the first couple had the spots around the top edge of the boots feeling carpet burned. Switching to heavier socks resolved this after the first wear, and since then they have relaxed nicely to where it’s not an issue.

So the break in for these boots is at the top edge, and will take 3-6 days of wearing them to get feeling good.

Overall

I love these boots, and they are among my most worn. While you can get them from Blundstone directly, I found mine on sale at Amazon for a very good price. Knowing what they are now, I would be happy to pay full price, and would love to get another pair in brown as well — even if I have nothing but brown boots already.

They are comfortable, easy to slip on without worry. And they fit in a lot of situations. My wardrobe trends more Smart Casual in style and this dress variant fits that styling very nicely. If you are more casual then the standard Blundstones are likely the best bet for you.

Great boots, good comfort, and really durable leather on them making them the lowest fuss boots I own.

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

Blundstone Dress Chelsea

Western Rise StrongCore Merino Long Sleeve Tee

This shirt was provided for review by Western Rise for.

I’ve previously reviewed the short sleeve version of this tee, so I decided to take up the offer to check out the long sleeve version. In short, it’s the same tee, but with sleeves, but let’s look in some more detail.

Material

The StrongCore Merino Jersey is made using a core-spun nylon Merino fiber (89% Australian Merino Wool/11% Nylon). The nylon is added in the core for strength, with merino on the outside for performance. At 170 gsm, the fabric is light, but not too light. It appears that they moved from 17.5 to 18.5 merino since I tried the tee, but I actually think the fabric feels softer in this new version. The slightly thicker fiber should also contribute to the durability.

They claim a 4-way stretch knit, which sometimes doesn’t play out in practice, but the fabric here feels more stretchy than most tees.

Fit & Style

The fit is classic, without being baggy. An XL fits me well (just note the half-size shrinkage if you machine dry), and I think the proportions would work well for most. The sleeves are right, and the neck hole isn’t too tight or loose and saggy.

The only complaint I have on the sizing is with the “v-cut” at the hem, it makes the front shorter than the back. If I’m reaching way overhead, it comes up just a bit too far. Other than that, the v-cut adds something a little different to the shirt. It likely is going to be a deciding factor on whether you love or hate this shirt.

The style is what you expect, a simple, performant long sleeve tee.

Performance

As expected, this performs as well as a 100% merino tee. Core-spun fabrics often don’t hurt the odor resistance, so I was able to wear this shirt until I felt like it needed a wash, rather than when it smelled.

I’ve been wearing the shirt during some cooler weather, and found it to be comfortable and breathable up to about 75°F.

The surprising performance factor here is the 4-way stretch knit combined with the v-cut. I sometimes find long sleeve tees to be a little constricting of movement, but never feel that way here. It stretches to move well around the shoulders, and the v-cut relieves any of the binding around the bottom hem.

Overall

I like this shirt. The v-cut could be a polarizing feature, but overall it provides some performance advantages. Great to wear around the house, durable enough to wear outdoors, and looks good for wear out to a coffee shop on the weekend.

Price wise, the StrongCore Merino Long Sleeve Tee comes in at $108. That at first struck me as a little pricy, but it stacks up well compared to the competition from Ibex ($98) and Icebreaker ($110).

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

Western Rise StrongCore Merino Long Sleeve Tee

A Well Performing Belt

Personally, if my shirt is tucked in, then I need to be wearing a belt. Anything else feels off, and even when I am not tucking in my shirt, I often will reach for a belt as well. Belts are a tricky area, as they are partly about looks and finishing an outfit, and partly about the function of helping to keep your pants held up (they are never about holding items unless you are working or in a war).

The problem with belts is that there are effectively three types: heritage leather style belts, the classics if you will; hiking performance belts; and tactical belts for holding all the guns. It is extremely hard to figure out what a good belt is for normal life — or as normal as life might be right now. Something that looks good, is comfortable, and has good adjustment.

I’ve already looked at a few on this site, the Grip6 and we’ve talked about the Slidebelt in some guides, but today I want to walk you through the spectrum and how I am approaching belts these days. But first, a baseline: all my belts need to work well on a pair of Futureworks in the office, in the car on the way to the office, and they need to be able to be used on 5-pocket style pants as well. That’s the range I am going for: casual to smart casual.

Let’s go from classic to high-performance.

Filson 1-1/4″ Bridle Leather Belt

First up is an offering from Filson coming in at $80 the 1-1/4” Bridle Leather Belt is one of many offerings in their full leather lineup of belts. It’s width makes it perfect for smart casual to casual wear and the leather itself is among the best you can get. Filson’s bridle leather is next level if you have never handled it before. This is among the most classic designs: single strap of leather with a brass buckle to secure it.

This is easily one of my favorite belts I’ve ever owed and something which feels like it will last a lifetime. There’s plenty of reviews talking about how people used them daily for 10 years and only got a new one because their pants size changed. The sizing is a little odd, but read the measurements and measure your waist — if you buy based on that you should get a belt where the buckle lands in the center of the holes. In the time I have had this belt is shows no stretch and no wear marks at all.

It’s a little bulky at the front, but otherwise is as simple and classic as you can get. For a long time I avoided belts like this because I thought they would not be worth the money, but this one is. The issue: it’s about as low tech as you can get. If that’s your speed, stop here, if not, keep reading.

British Belt Company / Generic Box Store Belts

I have had a few offerings from British Belt Company, and I mean no disrespect when I saw this, but they mostly feel no different than any “genuine leather” belt you grab from a big box store, though likely with better pricing. They look nice! Even the belts you buy from Macy’s or Nordstrom look nice, but they feel nothing like the Filson Bridle Leather. They are $35 belts and paying any more is wasting money.

These are simply about looks, and they last a couple years at most. The leather is cheap and stiff. Oddly turning them into belts that show wear quickly and stretch even more quickly. There’s nothing bad about owning some of these, especially for things like “suit belt” but there is also nothing good about them either.

SlideBelts

SlideBelts was one of the first ‘performance’ belts I got. Taking a classic leather belt look, and applying a unique ratcheting style buckle/clasp to the belt. What you end up with is a couple really cool things: easy to adjust discretely, micro adjustments, and a cut-to-fit ordering system so you are never getting the wrong size.


Vegan leather.

I have two of these, one in the vegan leather option, and one in the top grain leather option. The vegan leather is not good. It’s plasticky and very stiff, so much so that any advantage from the micro adjustments is lost in the uncomfortable nature of the belt band itself not forming well to your body — and I put over a year of wear on mine. The top grain leather is fantastic, it shows wear, but it molds very nicely to your body, forming a very comfortable belt.


Top grain leather.

There’s a wide variety of colors and styles, so there will always be something for you and the buckles are interchangeable as well (though you need a tool to pry them free I find). The part that finally got me to move away from these though: bulk and weight.

The buckle is a serious chunk of metal and it weighs a lot, and more than that it sits out from your pants a fair amount. It feels and looks bulky. With some styles, this is fine, but for me it was too much. (For travelers do note that these buckles often don’t make it through metal detectors.)

Good belts, comfortable, but for the price they weigh a lot and are bulky.

Filson Togiak Belt / Hiking Strap Belts

Now we are moving straight into the hiking performance belts. I have a few in this category, I’ll talk mostly about the Togiak belt from Filson as I like it the best. But generally these are some sort of nylon webbing / elastic webbing / canvas strap type of belt with a pull-to-adjust system of some sort and a basic to fancy clasp. The Togiak is canvas with a g-hook style clasp. Bison Belts are popular, as is the Arc’Teryx belt.

These are all very comfortable while looking not great. Depending on the nylon webbing choice they range from stiff to soft on the canvas side. I prefer the smoother webbing options or canvas as they form well to your waist and offer supreme comfort. They are true micro-adjustment belts too, as they offer near infinite adjustment options.

The downside is completely on the looks end. While you can get the precise strap you want and a wide variety of color options — none of these will look “nice”. They don’t all look bad, but they are going to stand out if you try to rock them in the office with a pair of chinos and a button down. Firmly casual, but among the most comfortable out there since they are the easiest to find exactly what you need/want for your use.

I wear the Togiak all weekend long. Great stuff.

Arcade Adventure Belt

Arcade made a good marketing splash when they launched the Adventure belt. I picked one up and fell in love. This is a belt for people who don’t like wearing belts, but want their pants to fit a little more snug. These are a decently thick bit of elastic webbing with a very thin plastic buckle.

They sit very low profile, and move very nicely with your body. They come in a wide array of color options as well. The color I picked isn’t conducive to the office and I think you might be able to get away with one with chinos, but it would be pushing the limits. So while the looks aren’t a huge downside, I don’t find them to look overly dressy as they are quite wide. Some newer options from Arcade attempt to solve for this, but the logos and buckles will always skew these casual.

There’s only two downsides to these belts: they flex a lot so they won’t work well for you wanting to hang anything from the belt (which don’t); and they are difficult to adjust when wearing them as they are very tight to move through the adjuster on the buckle.

If you like elastic waist pants, but sometimes have to wear non-elastic waist pants, these are a great solution for you.

Grip6 Belt Narrow

I’ve already written about this here, and my opinion on it hasn’t changed. Grip6 belts are fantastic low-tech, high-impact belts. They sit very flat, offer a webbing that is strong enough to have some structure, but eventually will form to your waist shape. They are comfortable, secure, and look ok. They won’t work for business casual, but I wear mine often into the office.

They hold really well after you sort out the correct way to secure them. They come in a wide array of colors and widths, and the buckle is the lowest profile of all the belts on this list. The only downside with these that I have found is that they are a little tricky on the width. There are three widths: 1.1”, 1.5”, and 1.75”. Anything in the 1.5” and up realm will often look far too casual for office wear with chinos/button down. But 1.1” is slightly too narrow to site well in the loops of my Futureworks. I really like the 1.25” width for universal belt use, and that isn’t available in Grip6.

For me, I wear these belts a ton, but they do have some downsides the width being one, but the second being that they need to be worn snug in order for the clasping mechanism to secure properly. So this isn’t a belt you can wear loosely at all.

Good stuff, great price, versatile — tricky widths.

Outlier Polyamour Precision Belt

The last belt is the most technical of them all, the Outlier Polyamour Precision Belt. This is a crazy belt, as it is 100% polyester webbing that has all sorts of tech into it making it feel like cotton canvas, but perform like “not cotton”. And then there’s touches of suede to aid the looks. Lastly the belt secures with a hidden Fidlock clasp.

The belt only comes in black and in a 1.5” width which normally I don’t love for smart casual, but the looks of this belt pull it off well. I’ll go ahead and say this right now: I wish there was charcoal, because I would only wear this belt if given the option. There’s no other belt on this list as good as this belt. It’s comfortable, the webbing forms well, and the clasp is fantastic. Both fast to secure, easy to undo, and secure throughout the day. With a nice balance of sitting low on your waist, while not looking out of place.

There’s two main downsides to this belt:

  1. The clasping mechanism has limited range of adjustment about 1.5” total. And while it does step nicely through them so you can find a good fit, that does mean that if your waist size fluctuates this won’t be a great option for you.
  2. It only comes in black.

The upside is that the sizing is easy on this one, as Outlier tells you to buy your pants size which is contrary to all other belt sizing, but 100% how belt sizing should work. I wear a 34 in Outlier pants and bought a 34 belt — perfect fit.

Again, if this came in charcoal (brown likely wouldn’t look great) I would only wear this belt and forgo all others — it’s that good. This is what all the other belts want to be and so much of that is because of the webbing magic.


What I Mostly Wear

All of those belts above are ones I bought, own, and wear with some regularity. The Outlier belt is newest to me, but easily my favorite. That said I find that I wear the Filson Bridle Leather belt the most, it’s essentially everything I want in a belt, and I never have to think about whether it works for that situation.

Belts are funny, they are the one area where the tried and true classics work almost as well as the highest of high-performance models, so much so that there’s very little upside to getting anything other than the classic options.

Then again, Outlier, make me a charcoal variant of that Polyamour Precision belt and I am all in. Until then, the Filson Bridle Leather is fantastic.

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A Well Performing Belt

Beyond Clothing Avid Ultralight K4 Pant

One of the newer offerings from Beyond Clothing is this Avid Ultralight K4 pant which is a hiking pant made into a jogger design. These grabbed my attention as I like to wear lightweight pants around the house on the weekends, and often find that cotton doesn’t quite meet my needs.

I’ve been testing them for a while now, so let’s dive in.

Material

These are marketed as “soft shell” but I think that’s a bit of a misnomer here. They are more like if you just had the facing of a soft shell garment, as there is no pile or anything of that nature — to that end they are effectively a stretchy nylon pant that is pretty thin. Beyond lists the make up as: 86% nylon, 14% spandex with that being a 4-way stretch on the spandex. The shell is further treated with DWR and what Beyond lists as “Clear coating on the outer shell increases the soft hand feel”.

I am not sure what the latter is exactly, but I will say the material feels very nice, and only has a small amount of the dreaded nylon “swoosh” sound. I’m a fan of this material, though it could stand to be a touch lighter in weight.

Performance

These are what I call performance first pants, as anything that you get for looks or feel is a bonus. These are designed first and foremost for performing well in any activity and they bridge a nice gap: something you could wear outdoors without issue, but also something that lends well to around town. If you could wear joggers to do it normally, these are like joggers on steroids — some of the best performing ones I have tried.

There’s six traits that Beyond lists, here’s my thoughts on each:

  • Ultralightweight: in weight of the garment this holds very true. But the fabric is not as thin as something like GORUCK’s Simple Pants. But as something to toss into a bag as a travel pair of joggers, this checks that box nicely.
  • Wind resistant: I was not expecting this at all when I got these pants — I didn’t read the description closely and thought they would be breathable. Weirdly, they trap heat from your body, and block wind extremely well. For cool weather workouts they are great. For keeping off a chill in strong AC, great. For heavy activity even in moderate temps, they get warm. Very warm. But, had I read, I would have been very impressed with the wind resistance on these, especially given how light they are.
  • Water resistant: this is all about the DWR, which is effective. But for how long, I don’t know. Light rain that is passing, no worries. Anything more and I wouldn’t expect to stay dry.
  • 4-way stretch: wow. These things stretch all over, but it’s not a soft stretch, so they stay decently crisp looking while never binding up on you. Good stuff.
  • Highly compressible: kind of. About the same as any thin pant, I don’t see anything special here.
  • Fast drying: yes, nylon and elastane are drying champs. These dry on par with most light nylon garments, which is to say really well. If you do find yourself hiking in a cool but not cold temp and they get wet, they should dry without much hassle. Similarly they dry quickly after washing.

There’s a couple other points about these worth mentioning:

  • The hand pockets are fantastic. They have a nice cut to the pocket and stuff stays in them. Further they have a bit of elastic at the bottom edge which makes them more comfortable for your hand, or gives you an ideal spot for anything with a pocket clip on it.
  • The left front pocket has a loop to attach keys to, which is out of the way and actually useful. Well done.
  • The right front pocket has another zipper pocket at the opening. This pocket is unobtrusive and is a nice addition for pants made for the outdoors.
  • The rear pockets are zippered and I could take them or leave them. They aren’t bad and don’t get in the way, but I’ve not found them functional on this type of pant.
  • The waistband though, the waistband is awesome. It’s smooth, thick, durable and holds in place. I am slightly in between sizes with these and so I sized down, so they fit me more snug than I might like, that is until I load up the pockets and start doing stuff in the pants — at that point I love the waistband. Really well executed.

As a performance pant: these are some of the best hiking pants turned joggers and the only downside is that I live in an extremely hot climate.

Fit & Style

First the fit, as these are sold in Small – XXL waist sizes with three lengths for each. I wear a 34×32 in most pants and find that to be spot on, after some back and forth with Steve over the sizing, I opted for the M Regular in these. I find them to be a perfect length for me, while being about as snug as I might want them.

Style wise, these are joggers and outdoors ones at that. I would say they are firmly casual/outdoors. No big bonus points here, but they don’t get any weird looks anywhere I wear them.

Overall

I like these pants. They are an acquired taste, and for me they are great pants for the weekend. Great to wear around the yard, doing chores, or just lounging about. They make solid pants for travel as they can fill many roles well, and of course they are great outdoors.

You aren’t likely to win any style points for them, but you’ll be more comfortable.

Find them here.

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Beyond Clothing Avid Ultralight K4 Pant

Triple Aught Design Agent XC Shorts

I’ve been fascinated by Triple Aught Design’s Agent chino offerings, but have always waited too long to get a pair, and found my sizes out of stock. But when these shorts came out right on the heels of me needing some new shorts, I snagged them right away in the Raven color (which is like charcoal with green undertones?). The XC fabric is their more technical, lighter weight offering — since getting these shorts I have been wearing them a ton.

I really like them, but maybe not for reasons you might think.

Materials

The material on these is a heavy NYCO blend, which feels very smooth to the touch and a bit crisp. In a lot of ways it reminds me of Filson’s Tin Cloth before the waxing — which is a complement. At 194gsm it’s not the lightest weight material, despite Triple Aught Design saying it is their lighter weight material.

The actual make up is listed as: 40% Cotton / 28% Nylon / 27% Cordura Nylon / 5% Elastane. I am sure there is some branding reason the Nylons are put apart like that, but really this is a 55% Nylon, 40% Cotton, 5% stretch garment, which is a pretty classic mix and one that performs well. You get the cotton feel, a slight bit of stretch, and an exceedingly durable garment.

If you are at all familiar with Filson Tin Cloth, I would say this is the modern take on that fabric. Triple Aught Design then does a thorough DWR treatment on it, and the material is durable and water resistant. Good stuff.

Fit & Style

These are listed as “standard fit” with an 8.25” inseam. It’s actually harder to find shorts around this inseam length, and I’m very happy with the inseam. It’s the right balance of being shorts, but also not too short for the style (while not being silly long as so many shorts like this can be).

I ordered a size 34, which is the size I am wearing in almost everything right now, and found that out of the box they fit about a half size too large. I don’t think I could downsize so I washed and dried them and that shrunk them only about a quarter size. It’s enough that they don’t fall down without a belt, and they fit comfortable.

The style isn’t too outwardly aggressive if you wear shirts untucked, as that will hide the massive belt loops and extra pockets. If you tuck in, then be prepared for people to notice the more outdoors vibe to these shorts — I certainly don’t think they scream tactical, but they clearly are not normal. With your shirt untucked they can essentially pass for any run of the mill shorts.

The Raven color is fantastic. It’s closest to charcoal with browns and greens in it too — it shifts ever so slightly and is really pleasant looking in person. I am a big fan of it.

Performance

The Agent XC shorts add performance in an unusual way. Yes, they do have some stretch, but I don’t notice it. The gusseted crotch itself is a far bigger performance gain than whatever the 5% elastane is doing in these. But that gusset means that they don’t need to be overly wide at the thigh while still allowing a lot of range of motion.

They resist water and heavy dirt well, but I do find that powdery type stuff and dust can collect on them. A good pat-swipe motion will clean them right up. But if you work somewhere dusty they are going to snag that dust. I wore them digging a hole, and they looked clean afterwards, however wearing them to clear out some dusty stuff in the attic caused them to look pretty dusty until I could clean them up.

I also need to say that these are not that breathable. They are not warm, they do block wind, but they are not something that is going to actively cool you. They might be more breathable than other shorts out there, but certainly not anywhere close to most of the performance shorts we test here.

Which is why the real performance gain is the pockets on these. There’s a bunch of them. There’s two hand pockets in the front, two rear welt pockets, two “hidden” rear pockets, and then an entirely hidden pocket as well.

The two rear hidden pockets are just up from the welt pockets, and they are narrow and deep. They are easy to access and can hold a ton. I needed to do some work on the fence from a ladder, and they held wire cutters and other long tools really well. They are not secured, which makes them far more useful. And beyond that, they don’t detract too much from the looks.

The big feature on these is the two front pockets. They are slant openings, with a flat/straight edges right at the bottom, which makes securing something like a pocket knife an excellent experience. And then inside the front pockets are internal dividers on the side of the pocket against your leg. These don’t get in the way if you don’t use them, but each pocket has three slots in those (with bottoms) two wider and one smaller. These are great for holding your knife or flashlight inside the pocket. Keeping a key from floating around — my iPhone 12 Mini even fits in one.

At first I felt these were a neat gimmick. Now some time on, I wonder why all pants don’t have these. They are wonderful — but I also carry a lot of ‘gear’ with me. These dividers caused me to wear these shorts far more than I otherwise would have, and are a huge win.

Overall

These are heavier shorts, but I wouldn’t hesitate doing labor intensive work in them. They won’t cool you down but they also don’t trap enough heat to worry about. I’ve worked in them a bunch and found them great because of all the extra hidden pockets.

Even then, day in and day out, the pockets have made my life easier because they keep gear organized, flatter, and the heavy material keeps that gear from becoming oddly shaped bumps showing through your shorts.

I am waiting for these to come back in stock, as I want another pair, and I will also snag the chinos as soon as I can.

Recommended, with those caveats. Buy here.

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

Triple Aught Design Agent XC Shorts

Unbound Merino Polo

Note: this shirt was provided by Unbound for review purposes.

There are quite a few merino polos out there, but many suffer from collars that are too soft. Unbound Merino reached out to see if I wanted to try their Merino Polo and remembering Ben’s review of their Classic Button-Down, I was excited to give it a try. I was quickly impressed, and this polo has become my favorite.

Material

The material is a 165 gsm, 53% superfine (17.5 micron) merino wool, 47% polyester. The weight sits right at that perfect balance of being very light, while still having enough structure. The merino is Woolmark and RWS certified, and being 17.5 micron, has no scratchiness.

The fabric looks great, with no sheen, and there is a really unique, almost 3D texture to the outer face. While different, I think the dressiness of the fabric sits in the same place as a traditional pique knit. A surprising amount of stretch is also present.

Fit & Style

The fit of this polo is spot on for me. The cut is slim, but not overly slim. I picked an XL based on the measurements on their size guide, and I think it is a flattering fit that would work for many. The stretch of the fabric gives some flexibility to size up or down for those who might prefer a tighter or looser fit.

The style here works well for business casual, or with nice shorts. The collar performs well. While it doesn’t have much structure, it doesn’t seem to fold weird in the wash. It does fall open, however, as do most collars that are not button-down.

Performance

The performance is awesome for hot weather. It breaths well, and when sweaty (or out of the wash) it dries very quickly. It seems like the texture of the fabric helps it to stand away from your skin, making it feel less damp if moist with sweat. After washing, there also is none of that fuzzy texture, speaking to the durability of the blend/texture of the fabric.

The stretch is a great addition. I never felt the polo restricting my motion — it’s actually more comfortable than some of my merino blend tees.

Wrinkles just don’t form in this fabric — I wouldn’t hesitate to squash this into a bag for travel, and it looks perfect after air drying.

As expected, that odor resistance isn’t quite up to the claims made — “Won’t smell after weeks of wear, unlike cotton and synthetics”. That would be true if it was 100% merino, but not at an almost 50-50 blend. I am able to get 3-4 days of wear, which is still great. With the quick drying nature of the fabric, sink washes would be very feasible to keep this polo going indefinitely.

Overall

This is my new favorite polo, especially for warm weather wear. The texture is unique, while keeping the style business casual. It breathes well, doesn’t wrinkle, and gives 3-4 days of wear.

At $110 retail, the price seems a touch high for a merino blend. I still do recommend the polo though, because I haven’t seen anything like the texture of this fabric.

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

Unbound Merino Polo

FRAHM Lightweight Worker’s Jacket

FRAHM is a British company that makes some classic jackets with classic fabrics. They offer pre-orders for their items (at a 20% discount), and this Lightweight Worker’s Jacket sold out before they started making it for 2021, so they’ve already launched their 2022 pre-order (for delivery May 2022).

What got me excited about FRAHM was their attention to detail and use of fabrics like Ventile (waterproof 100% cotton) and British Millerain (machine washable waxed cotton). Of course, this makes their jackets very pricey. So I went with the Lightweight Worker’s Jacket (in French Blue), which is made from an Italian ripstop, to not blow my whole budget. As I dug in further, I also thought their ethical policy was interesting and love the fact that they sew in a small factory in Bulgaria they have a close relationship with.

Material

The material is listed as “brushed Italian fabric is a tough ripstop”, and the content label lists it as 64% cotton/39% nylon. No weight is listed, but it is fairly light while still having structure. The handfeel is smooth, with the outside having a bit of sheen.

This results in a fabric that looks normal except for the slight sheen giving it away as not just cotton and has a great structure, while being really comfortable to wear.

Fit & Style

The fit on this jacket is excellent. It’s not slim, but also not baggy. FRAHM targets their cuts to fit most men, while leaving room to move and for layers. If you take a look at their size guide, you can see photos of various builds wearing their jackets and what size they are in. I find this to work really well for me. It looks sharp, while still letting me move and fit a layer underneath if necessary. I ended up with an XL after using their fit tool and chatting with their customer service (note that the jackets ship from the UK, so returns aren’t straightforward, although their customer service is very helpful and responsive).

The pockets on this jacket are done perfectly as well, plenty of storage without getting in the way. They also didn’t forget the most important feature, side entry hand pockets behind the lower pockets. This is a detail that when missing on jackets like this drives me crazy.

For those that need it, there are also two holes for the cuff button for adjustment. The collar can be flipped up for a little extra wind protection.

The style makes this a versatile jacket. It dresses up your t-shirt while staying on par or dressing down button-up a bit. It fits in in a casual situation and works well going to the office. The slight sheen the fabric has out of the box actually makes it a bit dressier, so I’ll be interested to see if that changes with more wear.

Performance

The performance here surprised me. FRAHM describes the fabric as “crease resistant, showerproof and cool against the skin”. Let’s hit those points:

  • Crease resistant: Yep, I folded the jacket and packed it away in a small backpack for my first post-vaccine road trip. I expected some creases or wrinkles to form due to the feel of the fabric, but it came out with no creases or wrinkles.
  • Showerproof: While this jacket isn’t going to keep you dry in a downpour, the fabric beads water like it has a DWR coating (but I don’t think it does). Definitely my choice for a drizzly day rather than a rain jacket or windbreaker.
  • Cool against the skin: FRAHM lists the temperature range as 50-75°F (with a t-shirt), and I think that’s about right. I haven’t gotten to test it in cold weather yet, but I could see it going cooler with a heavy button-up, sweater, or flannel. And the reason it’s comfortable into the 70s is that the fabric really does feel cool against your skin. I’m guessing it’s a combination of the smooth feel of the fabric, as well as the excellent breathability.

Even though this is a majority cotton jacket, I haven’t had to wash it. When I got some dirt on it, it was easily brushed off with a damp cloth.

And for durability, FRAHM talks about how they make all their jackets to last and stand up to actually wearing them, and I think the fabric will stand up to whatever I can throw at it. The quality is tops here, and even goes as far as adding to the style. The buttons are real horn, with smaller holding buttons behind the fabric and some fancy strong stitching. The stitching is heavy duty twin needle for durability and the seams are bound with a nice contrasting red.

Overall

Overall, I love this jacket. The only downside is now I want more pieces from FRAHM. The fit, finish, and performance on this jacket is better than anything else I’ve owned, so this is very easy for me to recommend. With a pre-order price of £176 ($244 USD), it’s not a quick decision to purchase, but the price is justified.

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

FRAHM Lightweight Worker’s Jacket