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Western Rise is an outdoor clothing company based in Telluride, Colorado. With their first production run taking place in early 2015, they are a relatively new player in the “technical clothing” space. However, Western Rise founder and CEO Will Watters is no novice when it comes to advanced fabrics. He comes from a family of textile manufacturers, and he applies that in-depth knowledge to every article of clothing he creates at Western Rise.
Technical Knowledge of Technical Fabrics
When I stumbled onto the brand, I was immediately impressed by the “journal” section of the Western Rise website. Here, Will analyzes, deconstructs, and completely nerds-out about each material used in the clothing he produces. For example, this post on Tencel… When someone cares this much about the raw materials, the final product must be something special.
I reached out to Will to discuss his clothing brand, his knowledge of technical fabrics, and his perspective on the ideal travel wardrobe. He had just returned from the Outdoor Retailer Convention, where textile manufacturers showcase their latest and greatest products. Clothing brands from all over the world meet here to push the boundaries of what garments can do. Will told me that his goal at Western Rise is durable, versatile, and comfortable clothing for the outdoors. He offered to send a few items for us to test during our round-the-world trip. See my packing list here. See her packing list here.
These pants are a modern take on the classic 5-pocket pant design, made popular by Levi Strauss. The Slim Rivet Pants are cut and styled similar to a slim fit pair of jeans, using Western Rise’s proprietary AT cloth. When you try on a pair, you can immediately feel the two-way stretch from the 97% Nylon / 3% Spandex blend. The Slim Rivets have noticeably more stretch than my pair of Outlier Slim Dungarees, with a slightly more relaxed fit below the knee. They also feature a crotch gusset for added flexibility.
As a traveler, these pants are wonderful! They also offer significant versatility. I picked up a pair in the Shadow colorway, which I would describe as a warm-toned charcoal. The color in the product image is not indicative of the actual color. The Shadow color offers great flexibility, because it pairs well with nearly all shirt colors and black or brown shoes.
When you only pack one pair of pants, it’s essential to keep them clean. To safeguard against accidental spills or stains, Western Rise applies a durable water repellent (DWR) treatment to every pair. The DWR came in handy immediately, because the flight attendant spilled hot tea on my new pants en route to Hawaii. I watched the tea literally bounce off of the fabric, and I wiped the drops away with a napkin! The back pocket also has a hidden zipper to foil potential pickpockets.
Pants may seem like an odd packing choice for summer travel. I like to be able to dress up nicely if we want to visit a high-end restaurant. Shorts just don’t give me that option. The AT Cloth feels substantial, while also being surprisingly breathable in the heat. I wore these pants in the 100+ degree, high humidity weather in Thailand and Istanbul, because many temples and mosques consider shorts to be disrespectful. While I did sweat, the material pulled the moisture away from my legs, leaving me relatively comfortable.
With a name like “Limitless,” these shorts have a lot to live up to! Built from the same AT Cloth as the Slim Rivet Pants, the Limitless Shorts also have two-way stretch and a DWR coating. With an 8-inch inseam, these shorts are the perfect length. The back-right pocket has a magnetic closure flap to deter theft. The flap can also be tucked into the pocket for a clean look.
These shorts are designed to transition seamlessly from stylish casual wear to perfectly suited swim trunks. Tie the drawstring to secure them around your waist and dive into whatever body of water happens to be nearby! The pockets also have a section of mesh at the bottom to allow water to pass through. I wore the Limitless Shorts to snorkel with manta rays in Hawaii, scuba dive in the Maldives, and lounge on the beaches of Thailand. They dry within minutes of leaving the water… no need to pack a change of clothes!
I selected the Cloud colorway, which is a very light gray. I was initially hesitant, but I absolutely love this color. It has a nice, summery feel. Despite the light color, the shorts have not shown any signs of staining or discoloration.
As you may expect by now, a ton of thought went into the creation of this tee shirt. We have featured shirts on Loophole Travel before that are made from wool/synthetic blends or from 100% merino wool, but this is the first to feature core-spun nylon merino! The benefits of merino wool garments include temperature regulation, odor resistance, breathability, and moisture resistance. These benefits are awesome, but merino’s biggest drawback is a lack of durability. Shirts made from 100% merino wool tend to break down more quickly under significant wear.
To add durability to this t-shirt, Will utilizes 17.5-micron merino wool spun around a nylon core filament. The nylon greatly increases the durability of the fabric, making this a lightweight, long-lasting t-shirt. Unlike the blended t-shirts we have tested in the past, the Strongcore Tee is completely odor resistant. I asked Will how he managed to keep the fabric odor resistant while using the synthetic material. He told me that they tested various ratios of natural/synthetic fibers and found that 89% merino/11% nylon was the sweet spot.
This t-shirt fits true to size and has a slightly relaxed fit, which is perfect for comfort on a plane ride. At 170gsm, I consider this to be a mid-lightweight shirt, and it breathes very well. I was initially not sold on the front pocket, but it turned out to be a great spot to stow a boarding pass or my earbuds before a flight.
This is definitely the shirt that I wore the most on our trip around the world! Due to the hot, humid weather at most of our destinations, I found myself reaching for this ultralight shirt. At only 110gsm, this was easily the lightest, most breathable item in my bag. The blend of 73% polyester and 27% air-texturized nylon offers a subtle stretch, and it kept me feeling dry in the summer heat.
The styling on this shirt is reminiscent of the old west, with a modern flair. Pearl snap buttons and the two-front pocket look give it a bit of style. The collar keeps it classy for those nice nights out, when paired with the Slim Rivet Pants…or go open-button, with the Limitless Shorts for a chill beach look.
The Airlight Shop shirt also has some cool hidden features. One front pocket has a sealing mechanism, in addition to the button to ensure the contents do not fall out. I used this pocket to hold loose dollar/baht/lira bills securely. Additionally, a reflective strip hidden under the collar can provide extra visibility at night. Finally, the fabric is treated with a DWR coating to repel stains and spills. I managed to spill red wine on this shirt in Santorini – no marks at all!
We experienced a lot of HOT days on this trip. This 50% merino wool, 50% Tencel, racerback tank was the perfect solution for days of intolerable heat. At 150gsm, this is a lightweight, breathable tank. The drop tail and contrast panel in the back add a nice, feminine touch. She chose to go with this shirt in Moss, but it comes in Clay and Coal as well. This was the perfect shirt to beat the heat in the Egyptian desert.
This has officially become her new favorite t-shirt! It is 89% merino wool thread, spun around 11% nylon core for durability and odor resistance. At 170gsm, this is a midweight t-shirt for all climates. She has the Slate color, and it comes in Midnight as well. She wore it on the beach in Hawaii and during some super-sweaty days in Thailand. Not only does the construction of the shirt allow for breathability, but the color hides sweat very well. Since returning from our trip, she has dressed it up with scarves or colorful jewelry to wear to work.
The technical aspects of the women’s slim rivet pants are virtually the same as the men’s version described above. These are a stretchy, all-weather, skinny, ankle pant. She wore these pants during transit travel to stay warm on flights. She also found them very useful on our tour days of various mosques and temples, which required women to wear long pants or skirts. She went with the same shadow color that I chose. As she has mentioned before, “These are the only women’s technical travel/outdoor pants that I have found that actually look nice!” The water resistance definitely came in handy on a couple of the rainy days we experienced.
As you can likely tell, I have been extremely impressed with these clothes from Western Rise! The pants, shorts, and shirts perfectly into my round-the-world packing list and provided the perfect blend of style, comfort, durability, and technical features. I definitely recommend picking up a few items from Western Rise for your travels. When someone cares as much about every detail as Will does, the clothes can’t help but turn out awesome! Use the discount code LOOPHOLETRAVEL at checkout to receive 10% off your order!
Stay tuned for my bonus review of the Dryweight Merino Henley… coming soon!