I was traveling with the typical backpack or messenger bag and a roller suitcase. As I started to travel more for work, I realized this setup was making my life more difficult while traveling. It seemed like 2015 was the year when one bag travel was becoming popular, so I was able to get some advice and give it a try.
I started traveling with a set of cotton clothing for each day, a pair of sneakers, and too many electronics. All together, this made for a stuffed and heavy backpack or a full sized roller bag. Whether I packed all this into my eBags backpack or a roller bag, it ended up getting gate checked (or checked to my final destination) on any small plane and many full flights. It only took a few trips before I got very tired of all this and got motivated to slim down on my packing.
To start packing lighter, I started to move to synthetic underwear and polos. While this didn’t allow me to pack less clothes, it helped my clothes pack smaller and better fit into my bag. After packing like this for a while, I decided it was time for a better bag.
The Osprey backpack, while not much smaller, was easier to fit under the seat while flying. Once I experienced flying without fighting for overhead bin space, I was sold.
The next phase of my journey consisted of beginning to explore better technical clothing that I could wear for multiple days. That search brought me to Wool & Prince Button-Downs (our review) and OUTLIER Futureworks pants. These two items are still part of my wardrobe and come along on almost every trip. The Wool & Prince shirts are almost magical in how many times they can be worn without needing a wash. The next key acquisition was Darn Tough socks and a merino undershirt, further reducing my clothing load.
At this point I had shirt and pants, socks, and an undershirt that gave multiple wears. I tried to find underwear that could last for multiple days, so I just wash my underwear in the sink. Finally, I decided to leave the pair of sneakers at home and just do bodyweight exercise in my hotel or walking for exercise. If I had one tip for one bagging, it would be to leave the extra shoes at home — you’ll be amazed at how much space you save.
It is a journey to become a one bagger, and even a longer one to get to the point where you can pack in a fairly small backpack. If you are new to one bagging and are intimidated by packing lists you see, you can rest assured that it wasn’t a quick journey for that person to gain the wardrobe and confidence to pack lightly. We are also here to help with our reviews, guides, and packing lists.
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 two to be able to alternate. I did notice a hole in the armpit of my UnderFit shirt (and I have only washed cold and hung to dry), so a bit disappointed at that. The Wool & Prince Blazer was folded and put in my backpack for travel and came out crease and wrinkle free.
Ministry of Supply is one of the older techwear brands and they’ve been developing their own custom fabrics and other apparel technologies for a while now. I’ve had their Apollo 3 Polo for a year and while I still wear it, it doesn’t check all the boxes.
The Apollo 3 Polo is made with Ministry’s custom polyester with phase change material (PCM, used by NASA to help regulate astronauts’ body temperatures). The composition is 57% polyester, 43% PCM-infused polyester. Ministry also claims a “hyperbreathable” and stretch knit.
The fabric has a nice look and feel and has held up well in the wash (machine washed cold and air dried). It is also fairly thick, especially in the yoke, placket, and collar. This makes it tough to hand wash the shirt and have it dry overnight.
Fit and Sizing
The fit of this polo is described as modern (between their slim and standard cuts). I found it to be quite slim, but due to the thickness of the fabric it doesn’t cling to the body. The sizing chart is accurate, so make sure you check that out before choosing a size.
The structured collar always stays upright and sharp, but it doesn’t always look quite right (as in it can make the shirt look less normal and more technical).
Comfort and Performance
The polo is very comfortable. With a close fit, this is not necessarily a given as there is just the right amount of stretch to keep the fabric from binding as you move.
As far as the breathability, I’ve found the shirt to manage moisture better than some other polyester polos I have. It seems to wick sweat away without feeling (or looking) wet.
While Ministry touts the PCM as something special, I have not been able to feel any difference in the temperature regulation of this polo. Maybe it helps keep the thick fabric from being too hot, but that’s about it.
The wrinkle resistance of this shirt is great, it’s always ready to go right out of my bag.
The main area this polo is lacking performance wise for me is in odor resistance. Being polyester with no odor treatment, I can only get one to two wears before the shirt starts to have an odor.
While this polo isn’t excellent, it is a solid polyester shirt. The unique collar will either make you love or hate the shirt, and the lack of odor resistance is the biggest drawback. I continue to wear this polo, but I am still on the hunt for my perfect polo. Ideally, I am looking for something with a lighter fabric that resists odor (so merino or a synthetic with a good treatment). Look for more polo reviews throughout the summer.
I’ve resisted Allbirds Wool Runners for a long time, because unlike most other items we talk about on this site, shoes are not really lacking for innovation. It is true that you can still buy heritage leather shoes made in much the same way as they were years ago. It’s true that the materials likely have not changed much on those. But it’s also true that the vast majority of athletic shoes from Nike, Adidas, and New Balance utilize some very complex and technical methods of production and materials. So unlike shirting, shoes are fairly easy to find “something better” in.
However, shoes are also problematic as they represent so much more: they need to support your foot, be comfortable, protect your foot, and offer some mix of a fashion statement. You can just as easily wears a pair of Red Wings as you can a pair of Flyknits with your blue jeans.
However, a year ago I wore out my Nikes (yes I keep only one pair of casual shoes) and needed something new. Since I love merino wool, I felt I owed it to myself to try out the famous Allbirds.
The first thing you will notice about Allbirds is that they come only in whole sizes. Allbirds offers a sizing chart to help you select which size you should order. Typically I wear a size 11.5 in something like Nike, and on my first go with the sizer it said to get size 11. This was much too tight and I had to exchange them for size 12. Since then their size chart has changed and now correctly states I should order a size 12, so it seems to sort out the lack of half sizes.
Steve, however, was unable to find a fit that worked for him and ultimately returned his pair (due to either the narrowness of the mid-foot or the arch height/placement). I would say the Allbirds I have are about a half size too large, but not so large that I cannot comfortably wear them. So going into it, you should know that you might not find a size which works for you. Your best bet is to try their online size tool and know that the return policy is solid and fast.
The thing about these shoes is that they look like slippers. You can see where your toes are. They have an overly wide tongue opening. The laces are very thick and chunky. These are perhaps the most casual shoe I have ever owned, to the point where they feel too casual if you are wearing anything nicer than a t-shirt.
Most of the time we steer clear of commenting on style here, but Allbirds Wool Runners warrant such commentary. They don’t look great. They are too casual. Shoes make statements and the statement these shoes make are: I care more about comfort. Like wearing basketball shorts or sweat pants out and about.
This is the pitch with these shoes: “Just the world’s most comfortable shoes, made naturally and designed practically.” It’s important to note how they come about this comfort.
By using thick merino wool, the shoe has all the normal merino properties. It breathes well, dries fast, resists odors (killer feature for a shoe), and in begins to form to your foot. Allbirds combines this with a very cushy and soft sole to make something which really does feel more comfortable than a house slipper.
All of this means that you can wash these in a machine and wear them without socks. I’ve worn and walked in mine for quite a while now (a year) and the one thing I can say is the the comfort hype is real.
The only time I have found these shoes uncomfortable is when driving my manual transmission car, as the heel doesn’t quite have the stiffness needed for certain theatrics of the foot. Lastly, the shoe wears a tad warm, which means your feet will sweat a bit more. However,sweat dissipates quickly because of the merino, so they are very comparable to the Nike Internationalists I used to wear, with the benefit that my feet cool off and dry faster. Simply put: these are absurdly comfortable for most of life.
As a Shoe
At the start of this review I mentioned that shoes play a role in style as much as comfort. I also mentioned that they should support and protect your foot. That’s the area where Allbirds fail.
The soles are simply too slick on wet ground to do much good. While the wool dries fast, you cannot add any water repellency beyond what is naturally there, which makes them doubly bad for wet weather (slippery and wet feet. No thanks). On top of that, they offer less protection for your toes as there is only a bit of wool there. There’s also a lack of foot support such that “running” in wool runners is not a thing you will want to do.
These are wool walkers, and mostly for dry city sidewalks. I would not want to wear them on a nature trail, and I don’t wear them when it rains.
I’ve struggled with how to summarize these shoes. Because for $95 the value is there, as most Nikes or something else will cost you the same or more. They are just as comfortable as advertised. They don’t look good though, and they are not very versatile from a foot support perspective. There also seems to be backlash against them, here’s Om Malik writing about them:
Talking about San Francisco — man, this city is a cliche wrapped in a punchline and nothing represents it more than the stupid Avocado Toasts and Allbirds shoes.
He goes on to have some harsh words about how Allbirds look, and I cannot disagree with that. I really do not like the way your foot itself telegraphs through the material. The complete lack of rigidity makes for something very comfortable but ugly.
They are light weight, and pack well for travel. But they are not stylish. I know why people love these shoes, because that comfort is hard to ignore especially at this price. They also seem well built and like they will last, as mine still look new.
However, when they wear out I will not be buying another pair. I’ll get some Nikes instead. That said, their Wool Loungers might be my next house slippers.
Wool & Prince offers three size options beyond the standard S-XL fit of their shirts: slim, regular, and tall. Note that slim and tall cannot be combined, it would be amazing if they could. Typically I bought regular XL from Wool & Prince, but after losing weight I needed to size down. In sizing down the shirt sleeves became too short for my arms. (The sleeves in the regular XL were just barely long enough.)
After getting my L-Tall shirt from Wool & Prince and washing it a few times, I wanted to share my thoughts on how that fit is overall. I need a minimum of a 35” sleeve length (measured from center back to end of cuff) and am ideally at about 35.75”, which means I tend to buy 36” sleeves if I have my option of doing so. For Wool & Prince I needed a narrower body but long sleeves, and going by the site I was either looking to get 34-35” sleeve in a Large which typically doesn’t work, or 36.5” in a Large Tall (the XL+Slim combo wasn’t slim enough, and the sleeve measures out to 36.5” on my L-Tall).
The tall fit gives you the same as the regular fit with longer sleeves and a much longer body (by 2”) so after trying it on, I was a little concerned that the sleeves were too long. Essentially when an XL fit me well from Wool & Prince, I had a shirt that I could wear untucked and it looked fine with sleeves that were near spot on. With the Large Tall I now have a shirt with sleeves that are a touch too long but a body length which is only suitably worn tucked in, as it is too long to leave untucked.
Overall, this is the best compromise for my current measurements, but I do wish Wool & Prince made a Tall in the slim fit sizes. Additionally, it would be nice if the tall variant wasn’t as extreme, but I am sure that would be horrible for some set of the customers they have. So when you buy a tall shirt from Wool & Prince, they really do mean tall.
This is one of the oldest GORUCK apparel items I purchased, and thus I have the most experience with it. This shirt uses Polartec’s PowerStretch Pro fabric which is 74% nylon, 16% polyester, 10% Spandex. The mix is a very heavy, shiny, and smooth fabric. It has a ton of stretch, weighs a good bit, and yet still dries pretty fast.
To understand this shirt you have to understand what it was built for: crawling through the mud while wearing a heavy GORUCK backpack. Over time, most shirts will start to pill from the abrasion of a rugged backpack, however, this fabric was picked because it wouldn’t pill, it wouldn’t break down, it would dry fast, and move well.
After months and months of wearing the shirt for my rucking workouts, I can attest that the shirt checks all those boxes. It’s extremely comfortable and has started to be a go to for me when I am relaxing at home. The stretch is very good and the weight is like a heavy t-shirt. It won’t block wind or insulate you too much, and it will breathe pretty well when working out, but it will never be a very cool shirt, nor will it be warm.
Unlike many of the other workout shirts we have reviewed, the biggest flaw in this shirt is that it has no odor resistance. This is a wash after every wear shirt. That said, I’ve washed and hung dry this shirt dozens and dozens of times and it looks brand new. I’ve come to really like this shirt, but make no mistake, it looks like a workout shirt in every way.
Rucking Sweatshirt – Full Zip
The sweatshirt is the same fabric, PowerStretch Pro, as the rucking shirt. And I don’t mean just the same blend, I mean the same weight and everything. Cut like a full zip hoodie but with a light weight and durable fabric. I originally picked this up because I was looking for something to replace my all cotton hoodie I usually slip on when I get chilly working at home or need to run out really quick.
Since this is more or less the same as the t-shirt above, I’ll add that the cut is great and it makes for a great mid-layer as it easily will slip over any shirt you are wearing. Unlike a fuzzier hoodie, it won’t leave lint all over your shirt nor will it bind on the sleeves if you pull it on quickly.
There are only two downsides to the hoodie:
Because of the material, the hood will absolutely flop all over when you bend down to tie your shoes. Not a deal breaker, but it won’t have the same rigidity as a normal fleece hoodie.
Like every other hoodie, it won’t pack down well for travel. It’s always going to be fairly bulky and heavy.
Having said that, I like this hoodie a lot more than the shirt, and I wear that shirt all the time around the house and working out. The hoodie has yet to go on a workout with me, but that’s because of the weather more than anything.
PowerStretch Pro Overall
I have one wish for this fabric, that is that some anti-microbial tech, but it is otherwise really great. I know that GORUCK has had issues sourcing enough of this fabric, and that makes sense because it is quite good. It is dead silent, and it seems to shrug off anything you can throw at it.
Imagine something with the durability of Carhartt jackets, but with the softness of cotton and the movability of yoga pants — that’s basically what you have here. This fabric is ideal for casual and workout clothing, or for any scenario where you are going to abuse the shirt and want it to come out looking brand new.
The material works better on the hoodie as it looks more like some of the newer Nike hoodies that are sold branded for sports teams, thus making it blend in better. Two thumbs up on this, and if they ever start selling the half zip again, I’ll buy at least one.
GORUCK makes their Simple Pants/Challenge Pants/Shorts (Simple, Challenge) out of the same ToughDry® fabric which I previously talked about in my review of the Simple Windbreaker. This fabric is 94% nylon, 6% spandex and is made with the same goals as the shirts above: get wet, get muddy, get punished, and come out of all of that looking new. And it does, remarkably well.
Like with the windbreaker, the pants themselves always look a bit crinkled and they make a bit of sound when you wear them. Certainly not as much as other hiking style nylon pants, but these pants aren’t trying to hide that. The overall cut of the pants, and design, is a mimic of Levi’s 501s which is to say it’s rather classic.
I’ve found these pants to be a bit of a mixed bag. For me they are replacing my Outdoor Research Ferrosi Pants as well as my Outlier OG Climbers (both which I sold as they were too big for me). They are better than the Ferrosi Pants for how I work out. They have less stretch, but the durability of the pant, the cut, and style are greatly improved. They are slightly less breathable, but they are also more water repellant and dry faster than the Ferrosi Pants by a large margin. Ditto with the OG Climbers.
The biggest downside to these pants is the front pockets, they are just a touch too shallow for my liking. That said, the cut of the pocket opening means that next to nothing is going to easily come out of these pants — something GORUCK specifically designed the pocket opening for.
Overall, I like these pants, but I disagree with everyone who says they can pass for casual pants. They are certainly among the best pure hiking type of pants out there, but they still look like nylon.
This is my second go around with ToughDry and it’s quickly becoming a favorite. It dries very fast, it is perhaps among the most durable fabrics I’ve owned, and yet it weighs next to nothing. Both the windbreaker and these pants pack down to nothing. If you needed backup pants, or wanted a backup layer, both the pants and windbreaker are my go to. They can be mashed into the bottom of my bag and no matter how hard you try you will not notice the weight of them.
They are not the stretchiest of materials, nor are they stealth in hiding that they are nylon, but they also aren’t for lifestyle wear (no matter what GORUCK’s website tries to claim). Yes, you can get by wearing them in a pinch, but they are always going to look like workout or hiking clothes. In many areas, for many activities, that will be just fine.
I give ToughDry two thumbs up for sure. If it had odor resistance in it, it would be near the top of my list. That said, I think it dries faster than any other material I’ve tested.
Notes on GORUCK Sizing
Do yourself a favor and never look at GORUCK’s sizing charts because they are non-sensical. GORUCK for some of their products measures the actual garment size. Whereas most companies with shirts measure chest size as the size of your chest, GORUCK just measures the size of their shirts. It makes some sense, but I find it infuriating.
Instead buy the clothing based on the size you normally wear. I wear a large in GORUCK tops, which I also wear in most other brands. I did find that the pants fit slightly larger than listed in waist but shorter in length than you would assume.
While GORUCK has a solid return policy, do note that it is a return the item and wait weeks and weeks for a refund, and order your replacement. You’ll get the refund, but don’t expect it any sooner than 4 weeks. It’s a bit absurd.
After the fuzzy pullover fleece, the most ionic Patagonia item is probably their Baggies shorts. This will be my second summer with my pair of Baggies Longs, and they have become my go-to shorts for lounging round the house, taking the dog for a walk, and hanging around outside.
My shorts are from before this season when they switched to recycled nylon, but other than that, they are identical to the current model of the shorts. The fabric is 100% SUPPLEX nylon (SUPPLEX is a brand of nylon made with smaller fibers to make the fabric softer and more water resistant). There is also a DWR finish applied to the fabric to help even further with the water resistance.
I find the fabric to be very soft and comfortable. It also has noticeably less “nylon” sound when walking. This may be that they are shorts, but I have worn some other nylon shorts that make more noise. The water resistance/DWR make these great for outdoor activities as they resist splashes/rain and when they do get wet they dry quickly.
Fit and Sizing
Since these shorts have an elastic waistband with an internal drawstring, they come in S-XXL sizing. I found the size chart from Patagonia to be accurate. For me, the 7” inseam of the Longs is perfect, but the regular version of the shorts has a 5” inseam. The bagginess of the shorts is a perfect balance of comfort while not looking too casual (I think they look better than a pair of traditional athletic shorts).
Comfort and Performance
The bagginess of the shorts helps make sure they never get in the way and restrict your movement. This makes them ideal for activities like weight lifting, hiking, walking, etc., but I would not want to wear them for activities like running, rowing, etc. as the extra fabric could get in the way. The mesh liner also makes these shorts appropriate for swimming and other water sports — no need to pack a separate pair of swim trunks.
The front pockets are fully attached to the legs of the shorts preventing them from flopping around when they are full. They are mostly made with the same material as the shorts with a mesh panel at the bottom for water drainage. While nice and deep, I find the vertical construction of the pocket slightly problematic. On some occasions when sitting with my phone in my pocket I found it trying to slide back out. There is also one good sized back pocket with a snap closure.
The elastic in the waistband is comfortable, never cutting or pinching, and the drawstring is flat and holds a knot well.
These shorts are one of my favorite pairs. I still grab my Myles Apparel Momentum Short 2.0 for exercise, but the Baggies Long are my go-to for all other casual summer wear. With the exception of the pocket angle, these are perfect shorts to serve your (very) casual summer needs.
This was one of the lightest trips I’ve packed for. The travel razor was new, something I bought to try out on this trip as I was tired of my full size razor, and this new one is not good. I easily think I could have gotten by with one pair of pants, but I wasn’t confident the Slim Dungarees would work in the office, and I didn’t want to fly in the Bluffworks as they are a little large for me and cause my shirt to come untucked when sitting for long periods of time.
That said, I could have done it in just the Slim Dungarees as my concerns were unfounded.