New Mid-Layers from Triple Aught Design

Can you have too much polar fleece? I’m struggling with the answer to that question as I eye the gear that’s coming out for fall. I’ve got a lot of it, some of it quite old, as it seems to last longer than I expected it too. Even while I’m switching out a lot of my wardrobe for natural fibers, I’m looking at new polar fleece mid-layers with much better design than my old stuff.

I’ve been trying out hoodies from Triple Aught Design; one fleece, one wool. Packing a hoody is essential for this traveler; it’s perfect airplane wear and you need some kind of warm, versatile mid-layer when you travel.

The fleece version is the Valkyrie. It retails for over $200.00, a steep price tag when you’re used to getting your fleece as corporate swag like I am. It’s made from Polartec Wind Pro — that’s their breathable wind stop fabric. You’ll need a rain shell if it’s really wet, but for a little damp weather, it’s just fine.

The Valkyrie is covered in pockets — hand warmer pockets at the waist, biceps pockets on each side for your mp3 player or phone (with pass-throughs for your headset cables), and a key or lift ticket pocket on the left lower arm. There’s a pass through pocket in the back, too, There’s no interior wallet pocket, though — that’s what I’d add.

There’s a fitted hood — the shape is great and there’s some heavier weight stuff around the outside to help it keep that shape. When the zipper is all the way up, the tab tucks into a finished slot so it doesn’t scratch your face; a nice details. The underarms are vented with button holes rather than zips; kind of a nice change to the usual pit zips, plus, because the pockets are mesh lined on the inside, you can open them for venting. There’s a drawstring at the waist to keep the wind out.The truth? It’s a really nice mid-weight moderate weather sweater-type layer. It’s made in the US, and how many companies can you say that about? I’m struggling with the price tag, though, American made apparel or no. I did a little comparison shopping; the prices are comparable with other similar items made out of the same material. My sticker shock might be due to the fact that my older wind-stop fleece jacket is office swag.

I’m less stressed by the 159.00 price tag on the Artemis hoody, a streamlined merino wool version of the classic sweatshirt hoody. This thing looks great and feels great. The cut is super stylish, fitting, with a soft draping hood and thumb loops in the sleeves. You can absolutely wear this as a base layer in the outdoors, but it’s great on its own too. It comes in black or gray, so it’s appropriate as your evening formal hoody though you’ll be perfectly happy wearing it with those flannel jammies while you wander around with a cup of coffee in hand. The sweater bears a “Made in China” tag, that may explain the more mid-range pricing.

Triple Aught Design has a full line of outdoor gear — if the stuff I’ve been trying out is any indication, their clothing is cut quite nicely and they’ve got a keen eye for materials and detail. I kind of like their travel porn inspired Flickr feed, especially this one featuring their packs.

Want your own Triple Aught Design gear? Check their website.

Images courtesy of Triple Aught Design.

Top 5 reasons Icebreaker underwear are my favorite pieces of travel gear

Icebreaker ram underwear underpants boxersGadling has sung the praises of New Zealand-based Icebreaker clothing before. We love it. However, on a recent trip to Indonesia, I learned just how fantastic the merino wool garments actually are when put to the test. While you may think that wool clothing would be far too hot for the humid Balinese climate, you’ll be surprised to learn just how critical a role Icebreaker played in keeping me comfortable. I brought several pairs of Icebreaker Beast 150 boxer briefs with me to Bali and, if I hadn’t, I can honestly say that I would have been miserably uncomfortable. Are a few pairs of underwear really that critical?

I so enjoyed Icebreaker’s boxer briefs that they have become my favorite piece of travel gear. With each passing day of the trip, as temperatures approached 90°F and humidity constantly hovered at around 98%, I was increasingly more thankful that the most intimate parts of my body were enrobed in Icebreaker. Why the glowing praise? Here are the top five reasons:

5. Style

Plenty of performance garments fulfill their promise to keep you comfortable. Many, however, do so in a hideous fashion (literally). While it’s fine to look rugged while you’re out for a hike or exploring some ruins, you still want your gear to allow you to dress up nicely. Considering that my girlfriend was with me in Bali, it was nice that Icebreaker’s underwear showed that I hadn’t given up on romance.

4. Packing

No underwear should take up much space in your luggage, but Icebreaker boxer briefs are so thin – yet durable – that they fold up neatly and compactly. And, since you don’t need to pack too many pairs, they really help lighten your load. Speaking of not having to pack too many pairs…

3. Quick Dry

Rather than pack 14 pairs of underwear for a two week trip, I rotated three pairs of Icebreaker boxer briefs. When they needed a wash, I’d rinse them in the sink with some Dr. Bronner’s and hang them to dry. In just a few hours (overnight was more than enough time), they were bone dry and ready to be worn again. However, I didn’t have to wash them too often because…

2. Odorless

Icebreaker gear doesn’t absorb odor. You can wear their gear for days – and I did – without washing it and the people around you are none the wiser. No matter how much I sweat in Bali (read: a lot), my underwear still seemed fresh at the end of the day. Not having to do laundry daily allowed me to make the most of my time in Indonesia. Which was easy considering…

1. Breathable

Perhaps my underwear stayed so fresh because I never felt that hot in my crotch. Unlike traditional cotton underwear (which I wore for one day and refused to use for the rest of the trip), Icebreaker boxer briefs allowed air to flow. As such, I stayed dry where it was most important. Lest you make a joke about groin discomfort, jock itch (aka tinea cruris) is no laughing matter. Having a rash in your crotch and inner thighs from sweat is uncomfortable and takes days to clear up. Icebreaker boxer briefs made sure that I avoided that travel nightmare.

Icebreaker Beast 150 boxer briefs are available on the company’s website, at their stores in Portland and New York and at various outdoor gear suppliers. They retail for $43 per pair.