Updated Backpacks

Put This On is on record as against backpacks with suits (a position I stand by—it usually looks silly and can ruin a suit’s shoulders), but I don’t wear a tailored jacket most days, so I do carry a backpack. I’d love to go to work with nothing but a wallet, keys, and a smile but most of the time I’m lugging more: lunch, a camera, a laptop or tablet, and gym clothes. A backpack is the easiest and most comfortable way to move that stuff. A recent Wall Street Journal piece pointed out that packs have become the luggage of choice for runway designers, although these design-first bags are often short on usability. Modern technical packs from outdoor stores/brands have pockets to spare and good technical performance, but I find the best balance of utility and design in between the technical and design worlds. I’ve handled a lot of the packs on the market and can recommend a few in different price ranges.

Under $100

Herschel Supply: Herschel Supply cracks the list because they make a basic update of the 1980s/90s day packs that became schoolbook staples and because they’re inexpensive. Herschel Supply gets important, basic things like water resistance and internal laptop sleeves right, and offers a variety of relatively subdued styles plus some wilder fabric patterns. Despite a healthy dose of heritage-y branding, Herschel is a young brand and the bags are imported and frankly a little flimsy compared to other options.

Vintage: Buying a pack vintage is risky—you don’t know what leaked on that pack’s last hike. But there are some sturdy, good looking packs on the vintage market. Yucca packs are basic canvas packs often used by Boy Scouts in the pre-Jansport era (and stamped accordingly with BSA insignia). They’re large, floppy canvas bags, and sell pretty cheap. In my opinion, fine for a trip to the farmer’s market, but I wouldn’t trust one with my laptop. Swiss packs in “salt and pepper” fabric are quite roomy and look great with some patina on the leather straps, but some are frankly past the point of realistic usability, and the market has become more competitive in recent years, driving some prices north of $100.

$100-$200

Archival Clothing’s daypack is your basic modern heritage backpack—one big compartment that zips closed, smaller open side pockets, and unpadded webbing straps. AC’s cotton duck fabric is not waterproof, but it’s lighter (and less costly) than the waxed fabric AC uses in some of its other bags. AC’s build quality is universally top notch and I really like their unfussy designs, which reference older styles without requiring a full hikerdelic wardrobe.

The Kelty Mockingbird is the long-standing gear company’s modern interpretation of one of its 1960s mountaineering models. Made of Cordura nylon, it has a cinch-top main compartment, padded straps, and removable lash-on side compartments. (Cordura is the brand name for the woven nylon fabric used in much, if not most, modern soft luggage. Most bags, including the Mockingbird, are 500 denier—a measurement of density—but some use 1000 denier, which is more durable but stiffer and heavier.) Kelty made vintage-style bags for the Japanese market for several years before bringing the designs stateside. I’ve carried this pack most days for over two years with few complaints. One potential drawback of this era of design is the number of straps, pulls, and lash tabs—not the place to look for a minimal appearance.

$200 and up

In the heritage-styled arena, I like California’s Altadena Works, which makes a daypack-styled bag that checks every box on my personal pack list. Cordura fabric, Horween leather-reinforcement on the bottom, seatbelt nylon webbing straps with wool felt padding, and thoughtfully laid out pockets, all made in California. Like a better, more worldly version of the Jansport I carried in high school.

Cote et Ciel provides an alternative for those not as interested as I am in looking like a 1970s Patagonia catalog. The Isar rucksack has two significant compartments: a zipped, padded laptop/tech compartment that  sits against your back, and a larger gear compartment that zips vertically down the center then folds over to give the bag its asymmetrical appearance. Padded straps attach in the middle of the pack rather than at the edge toward the body (it’s complicated; Carryology has a good review that explains with photos) and hug the tech compartment to you. Cote et Ciel uses a number of cotton blend fabrics, all of which claim to be water resistant.

-Pete

Getting a Good Grey Sweatshirt
Every fall season, I can’t seem to stop myself from buying more sweaters, but the one I keep coming back to, year after year, is my reliable grey sweatshirt. For casual use with chinos and jeans, I can’t think of anything better. It’s low-maintenance, sporty, and if the fit is right, can look pretty great.
My favorite sweatshirts are made by Japanese companies such as Buzz Rickson, The Real McCoys, and Strike Gold. These brands specialize in mid-century reproductions, and often use older production techniques (these techniques don’t lend any special advantage, they’re just neat if you care about such things). They’re also thicker and denser than most other sweatshirts on the market. You can find them at them at Self Edge, Blue in Green, Superdenim, and Bench & Loom.
Other really great companies include Archival Clothing, WTAPs, Levis Vintage Clothing, Sunspel, Reigning Champ, Battenwear, Loopwheeler, RRL, and Velva Sheen. Many of these will have their own unique selling points. Archival Clothing, for example, has theirs made in Portland, Oregon by the old-school American manufacturer Columbiaknit, while Levis Vintage Clothing often draws from Levis’ extensive in-house archive. These models tend to be quite expensive, however, so if you want something more affordable, check out Champion, American Giant, Land’s End, Uniqlo, and J. Crew. The last three hold sales pretty often, so you can knock the price down further if you exercise some patience.
Naturally, many people may be wondering what’s the difference between a ~$150 sweatshirt and something that you can find for ~$50. Some of this will be in the detailing, such as some having loopwheeled constructions (which again, are just old ways of making these garments). Some of this will be in the quality of the materials. My Buzz Rickson sweatshirt, for example, is nice and dense, and doesn’t stretch out as easily as the one I bought from J. Crew. It also has a “vintage” fit that I like, which is slightly boxy and short. I think it goes well with the kind of boots, jeans, and jackets I like to wear. 
In the end, however, you just need to find something that fits you well, and works for your budget. Not all sweatshirts have to be dumpy, and not all nice ones have to cost an arm and a leg. If you find that your sweatshirt stretches out easily, just throw it in the wash and put it in the dryer after each wear. It should shrink back to shape. The color might dull from being in the dryer so much, but … it’s a sweatshirt. These look better beat up. 

Getting a Good Grey Sweatshirt

Every fall season, I can’t seem to stop myself from buying more sweaters, but the one I keep coming back to, year after year, is my reliable grey sweatshirt. For casual use with chinos and jeans, I can’t think of anything better. It’s low-maintenance, sporty, and if the fit is right, can look pretty great.

My favorite sweatshirts are made by Japanese companies such as Buzz Rickson, The Real McCoys, and Strike Gold. These brands specialize in mid-century reproductions, and often use older production techniques (these techniques don’t lend any special advantage, they’re just neat if you care about such things). They’re also thicker and denser than most other sweatshirts on the market. You can find them at them at Self Edge, Blue in Green, Superdenim, and Bench & Loom.

Other really great companies include Archival Clothing, WTAPs, Levis Vintage Clothing, Sunspel, Reigning Champ, Battenwear, Loopwheeler, RRL, and Velva Sheen. Many of these will have their own unique selling points. Archival Clothing, for example, has theirs made in Portland, Oregon by the old-school American manufacturer Columbiaknit, while Levis Vintage Clothing often draws from Levis’ extensive in-house archive. These models tend to be quite expensive, however, so if you want something more affordable, check out Champion, American Giant, Land’s EndUniqlo, and J. Crew. The last three hold sales pretty often, so you can knock the price down further if you exercise some patience.

Naturally, many people may be wondering what’s the difference between a ~$150 sweatshirt and something that you can find for ~$50. Some of this will be in the detailing, such as some having loopwheeled constructions (which again, are just old ways of making these garments). Some of this will be in the quality of the materials. My Buzz Rickson sweatshirt, for example, is nice and dense, and doesn’t stretch out as easily as the one I bought from J. Crew. It also has a “vintage” fit that I like, which is slightly boxy and short. I think it goes well with the kind of boots, jeans, and jackets I like to wear. 

In the end, however, you just need to find something that fits you well, and works for your budget. Not all sweatshirts have to be dumpy, and not all nice ones have to cost an arm and a leg. If you find that your sweatshirt stretches out easily, just throw it in the wash and put it in the dryer after each wear. It should shrink back to shape. The color might dull from being in the dryer so much, but … it’s a sweatshirt. These look better beat up. 

The Occasional Henley

So lately, I’ve been wearing this outfit pretty often on weekends – a white t-shirt, brown leather jacket, pair of raw jeans, and either sneakers or brown leather boots. It’s an incredibly simple thing to put together and requires very little maintenance. No ironing, no dry cleaning, and no worrying if I’ll stain my t-shirts (as they’re quite cheap to replace).

Wearing the same thing often can be a bit boring though, so sometimes I’ve been swapping out the white t-shirt for a henley. Henleys are pullover shirts with rounded collars and short, buttoned plackets at the front. In the mid-century, they were sometimes know as Wallace Beery because of their association with the 20th-century actor, who was sometimes seen wearing the style on-screen. Some men understandably feel that henleys look too much like long underwear, while others who are old enough to remember the 1990s might think they’re a bit too “Eddie Bauer.” However, if worn with the right kind of clothes, I think they can look pretty good. I wear mine with jeans and leather jackets, but in the photos above, you can see Fok from StyleForum wearing his alone, and Brett from Viberg Boots wearing one underneath a cardigan.

You can find henleys at any number of places. Wings + Horns, RRL, Archival Clothing, Schiesser Revival, and Reigning Champ make them almost every season. Certain stores, such as Blue in Green, Unionmade, and Cultizm also have wide selections, and now that J Crew carries Homespun Knitwear, there should be a decent version in almost every American mall. Additionally, folks looking for a deal might want to visit Bench & Loom. They have a ton of great stuff on clearance right now (though not everything is listed in their sale section, so you’ll want to click around). Included are some henleys starting at $56

Mine are designed by Nigel Cabourn and made by Merz b. Schwanen. They have some vintage-reproduction detailing that I really like, but this particular model is hard to find nowadays (it’s from an old season). Retail is expensive, but like with everything, if you wait for the right sale or scour eBay, you can pick one up for a fraction of the price (I paid about $100-125 for mine). Merz b. Schwanen also makes a wide range of henleys that they’ve designed (here’s one on sale).

I admit, I don’t wear my henleys often, but it’s nice to have a little variety in the dresser drawer when I want to (slightly) deviate from my weekend uniform. 

The Personal Uniform
I try and abide by Archival Clothing’s resolutions, in particular “Come up with a signature uniform. Wear it once a week.” I put one together each season, which, I admit, may not be in the exact spirit of the Archival idea. Having a coherent, reliable set of clothes means one less decision I have to make on days I wear it, ensures I get good value out of the items in the outfit, and if I’m done my planning well, has me looking decent at least once a week. Reasonable people might find this level of planning precious or juvenile, like laying tomorrow’s outfit on the bed, but I find the “uniform” provides a center that anchors my wardrobe between laundry days.
See also this story on the reliable Mr. Irby.
-Pete

The Personal Uniform

I try and abide by Archival Clothing’s resolutions, in particular “Come up with a signature uniform. Wear it once a week.” I put one together each season, which, I admit, may not be in the exact spirit of the Archival idea. Having a coherent, reliable set of clothes means one less decision I have to make on days I wear it, ensures I get good value out of the items in the outfit, and if I’m done my planning well, has me looking decent at least once a week. Reasonable people might find this level of planning precious or juvenile, like laying tomorrow’s outfit on the bed, but I find the “uniform” provides a center that anchors my wardrobe between laundry days.

See also this story on the reliable Mr. Irby.

-Pete

I love pretty much everything Archival Clothing makes, and this is no exception. It’s just a waxed cotton baseball cap. Well-executed, high standards, simple, wearable, reasonably priced. Another home run.

I love pretty much everything Archival Clothing makes, and this is no exception. It’s just a waxed cotton baseball cap. Well-executed, high standards, simple, wearable, reasonably priced. Another home run.

How epically gorgeous is this new duffel from Archival Clothing? Double waxed twill bottom? Give me a break.

How epically gorgeous is this new duffel from Archival Clothing? Double waxed twill bottom? Give me a break.

When I was in San Francisco the other day, I was riding the BART train to my mom’s house. Somewhere around the 16th & Mission statement, this couple started looking at me.
"Why are these people mad dogging me?" I thought. I was tempted to get up in their face, but instead, I tried to avoid eye contact. 18 years as a City kid taught me to avoid those kinds of confrontations unless absolutely necessary.
We got to my mom’s stop, 24th Street, and it turned out to be their stop, too.
I was behind them, and I noticed the woman was carrying an Archival Clothing musette.
"Oh." I thought, a little embarassed. "They were probably just wondering if I was the Put This On guy." The demographic to whom I am a public figure is narrow, but it definitely includes people carrying Archival Clothing bags. Felt kinda bad about that.
ANYWAY…
Our pals at Archival Clothing make beautiful, high-quality bags and clothes in simple, utilitarian designs. They’re a little expensive, but only because they’re made right, not because they’re taking a crazy designer mark-up. They’re having an odds-and-ends sale to ease their move into a new space, so if you’re in Oregon, you should definitely stop by May 18th. It’s at 445 Lincoln Street in Eugene, and will run from noon to seven. You might score a great deal. Or accidentally pick a fight.

When I was in San Francisco the other day, I was riding the BART train to my mom’s house. Somewhere around the 16th & Mission statement, this couple started looking at me.

"Why are these people mad dogging me?" I thought. I was tempted to get up in their face, but instead, I tried to avoid eye contact. 18 years as a City kid taught me to avoid those kinds of confrontations unless absolutely necessary.

We got to my mom’s stop, 24th Street, and it turned out to be their stop, too.

I was behind them, and I noticed the woman was carrying an Archival Clothing musette.

"Oh." I thought, a little embarassed. "They were probably just wondering if I was the Put This On guy." The demographic to whom I am a public figure is narrow, but it definitely includes people carrying Archival Clothing bags. Felt kinda bad about that.

ANYWAY…

Our pals at Archival Clothing make beautiful, high-quality bags and clothes in simple, utilitarian designs. They’re a little expensive, but only because they’re made right, not because they’re taking a crazy designer mark-up. They’re having an odds-and-ends sale to ease their move into a new space, so if you’re in Oregon, you should definitely stop by May 18th. It’s at 445 Lincoln Street in Eugene, and will run from noon to seven. You might score a great deal. Or accidentally pick a fight.

For a few years, I used an old nylon zipper bag for my toiletries. When I say old, I mean that truthfully - this number was from the late 60s, and had crazy psychedelic designs on it. When that bit the dust, I grabbed a simple zip bag from Muji, but I wanted something more than plastic.
After a lot of fruitless searching for something suitable at a reasonable price, I ended up grabbing a Jack Spade waxwear dopp kit from Gilt. It was a bit more expensive than I’d like, and I’d have preferred it didn’t have a big Jack Spade logo patch on it, but it’s very good looking and has served me well. (By the way: if you’re looking for simple, mid-priced, solid-quality accessories, you can do worse than Jack Spade on Gilt. Good selection, usually, and nice products.)
If Archival Clothing had been offering this Archival Dopp Kit back then, I probably would have bought one for myself. The team there always works hard to remove unnecessary BS from their designs and to get every detail right. The result is a beautiful form and exceptional function. Sixty bucks isn’t a pittance, but frankly it’s cheap for something made exactly right. That’s how Archival do it.
(And they just put out a cool-ass duffel bag, too.)

For a few years, I used an old nylon zipper bag for my toiletries. When I say old, I mean that truthfully - this number was from the late 60s, and had crazy psychedelic designs on it. When that bit the dust, I grabbed a simple zip bag from Muji, but I wanted something more than plastic.

After a lot of fruitless searching for something suitable at a reasonable price, I ended up grabbing a Jack Spade waxwear dopp kit from Gilt. It was a bit more expensive than I’d like, and I’d have preferred it didn’t have a big Jack Spade logo patch on it, but it’s very good looking and has served me well. (By the way: if you’re looking for simple, mid-priced, solid-quality accessories, you can do worse than Jack Spade on Gilt. Good selection, usually, and nice products.)

If Archival Clothing had been offering this Archival Dopp Kit back then, I probably would have bought one for myself. The team there always works hard to remove unnecessary BS from their designs and to get every detail right. The result is a beautiful form and exceptional function. Sixty bucks isn’t a pittance, but frankly it’s cheap for something made exactly right. That’s how Archival do it.

(And they just put out a cool-ass duffel bag, too.)

Abandoned Republic: a blog dedicated to pre-GAP Banana Republic.
(via Archival Clothing)
Banana Republic was originally a surplus vendor, then started to make reproduction surplus goods, then original designs. They were purchased by GAP in the early 80s (both were Bay Area-based) and transformed over the course of ten or fifteen years into the metrosexual mecca they are today.
Whether you’re already a fan of early BR or not, the book they put out in 1986 is a great read.

Abandoned Republic: a blog dedicated to pre-GAP Banana Republic.

(via Archival Clothing)

Banana Republic was originally a surplus vendor, then started to make reproduction surplus goods, then original designs. They were purchased by GAP in the early 80s (both were Bay Area-based) and transformed over the course of ten or fifteen years into the metrosexual mecca they are today.

Whether you’re already a fan of early BR or not, the book they put out in 1986 is a great read.

Here’s a lovely new product. Our friends at Rising Sun Denim, who we profiled in our first episode, have placed this beautiful outdoor vest in the store of our pals at Archival Clothing. It’s expensive - $225 - but as you saw in our first episode, it’s made by hand, so there’s a reason for the price. It’s also an interesting fabric - indigo-dyed canvas duck. I’m a big fan of canvas duck, a heavy canvas used for work clothes, and so’s Mike Hodis, the empresario of Rising Sun. A beautiful, (sorta) practical piece.

Here’s a lovely new product. Our friends at Rising Sun Denim, who we profiled in our first episode, have placed this beautiful outdoor vest in the store of our pals at Archival Clothing. It’s expensive - $225 - but as you saw in our first episode, it’s made by hand, so there’s a reason for the price. It’s also an interesting fabric - indigo-dyed canvas duck. I’m a big fan of canvas duck, a heavy canvas used for work clothes, and so’s Mike Hodis, the empresario of Rising Sun. A beautiful, (sorta) practical piece.