Bluffworks Threshold T-Shirt Review
Some big claims come standard with this shirt. How does it pan out in real life? A travel product review from Always Wander.
Introduction To The Bluffworks Threshold Travel T-Shirt
Today we're lucky enough to be checking out another pretty well known brand in the travel community: Bluffworks. It's another brand that specializes in travel clothing, and uses all of the popular buzzwords that other brands use (moisture wicking, wrinkle resistant, odor resistant, etc.). And, it certainly seems like the brand is making their clothing with all that in mind, which is a good start. But what makes them unique? What's their value prop that's going to get me (or you) to part with your money on this one?
Well, their thing is that not only does their clothing come with all these features that you want in your travel clothing, but they come with design chops, too. So, you can create a travel wardrobe with less clothes, but not look like a traveling hobo while doing it (no offense meant to traveling hobos, I sometimes envy your freedom in life, carry on). It's geared to a more refined traveler, I feel. From what I can see about their entire product line, I'd say they accomplish this for the most part in terms of web pictures and the looks of their clothing. Seems to me like they're the Gap of the travel clothing world. And I mean that in a good way. Their stuff is casual enough so you don't look over dressed, but you can also step it up to that business casual look as well if you want. And on top of that, they DO actually make some business wear.
This is the first time I'm checking them out, and I decided to start with the most basic travel accessory - the humble t-shirt. It's one of their hottest ticket items, and a good, low barrier-for-entry to their product line. Let's face it - everyone needs a few t-shirts when they travel. And if you can accomplish the same thing while bringing less, excellent. We'll dig into what this shirt has to offer, the fits (as I was lucky enough to get to try three fits, story at 11), and effectiveness while in the field.
This is my review of the Bluffworks Threshold T-shirt for travel. Full disclosure here, I reached out to Bluffworks about this idea and they were kind enough to send me a t-shirt to review on my fall trips that I took. This is not sponsored, the opinions are my own, and no one has seen this review before posting to the site.
This page does include affiliate links. When used to make a purchase, we make a small commission which helps keep this site running, but in no way affect the results of our reviews.
Bluffworks Threshold Product Overview
This shirt promises to do a lot for you, and considering it's their mission to help you slim down your suitcase while still looking great, I think they have their work cut out for themselves (as does any company in this very competitive segment). They tout the Threshold as a "performance" t-shirt, so let's get into what that entails. This Bluffworks t-shirt is priced at $45.00 regular price.
The material is mostly polyester and lyocell, with some elastane thrown in for a little bounce back. It's extremely soft. I'll say that up front - the t-shirt is extremely comfortable next to skin. Very nice to wear from a feel-standpoint. It wicks moisture, resists wrinkles while in your bag, you can even wash it in the machine like usual. On top of that, the shirt offers UPF 50 protection, so don't be afraid of wearing it outside (though lather up those arms, kids, it's a t-shirt after all).
Fit note - there are two fits. Regular and slim. I had the regular at first. For reference, I'm 5'6" and about 150lbs. I'm athletically built, but not thin/climber slim through my torso as I've mentioned in other reviews. I wear a Gap XS in my normal day to day button downs. I originally ordered the Medium, Regular based on the measurements guide. It was damaged in shipping however so I could not keep it, but I could in fact try it on. I was swimming in it! So I sent it back (Important: their support team was fantastic. Shout out to them, they were quick, efficient, and really pleasant). I exchanged for a Slim.
When the Medium Slim Fit arrived, it was much better proportionally. I will say, it was still extremely long. Though, I tend to find mediums nowadays are built for tall, slim people. And now smalls are built for slim, short people. I'm not sure I'm expressing myself properly there. But there's a bit of a gap for shorter, more athletic builds that need the wider arms and shoulders, but don't want a past-the-butt t-shirt. Mediums tend to fit me well in a lot of brands, except for the length. They are like mini-skirts sometimes. Now, having a partner that is a designer, she has access to seamstresses who can easily shorten the T. Which they did in this case. But enough about my Iliad and Odyssey version of t-shirt struggles.
Now, after coming back from this second trip testing the Bluffworks Threshold t-shirt, I decided to take advantage of the holiday sale and purchase a Slim Fit, Small in order to try my luck there. The update on this one is as follows: the Small, Slim fit is surprisingly too slim. Bit of an odd journey here, but I'm thinking the Small Regular fit will work. Update Jan 2020 - Just received my Small in Regular cut. For me, based on what I described, this is the right one. I might still consider it a little long, but for all intents and purposes, this is the version for me.
I will say that in general, their fit can't be described as athletic, really. It's pretty loose. My guess is that it's because it's designed to be comfortable when traveling in. But because of this, I don't think it's going to be replacing a button down any time soon, nor be a sneaky under-blazer t-shirt. I think, you'll have to size way down, and get the Slim fit for that. The medium in regular was pretty shocking in fit. You might be OK trouncing around south east Asia staying cool, but it's not a good fit for the European scene. Again, size down and get slim if you're any kind of thin build.
I liked this shirt, there are some solid things to write about here. For one thing as I mentioned, the next-to-skin feel is fantastic. They tout the comfy qualities of the shirt, and it delivers. It also seems to not create much heat. Wearing it for long periods of time (INT flights for instance) was not a problem from a body temp standpoint. It's thin, but the quality of the stitching is good too.
I also like the price point. I think, for something with this much consideration in terms of quality materials and features, it's priced right. On top of that, they have sales during the holidays. For instance right now you can get it for $36.00 as of December 2019, and I think that poses a really good value for this product. But so does the standard pricing.
Spoiler alert, I liked the performance, too. Check that out in its own section below.
I don't have any issues with the quality or the features of the product, so that's good. But, I do have to ding it on the fit. Here's the thing, I'll be fair and honest about it. Fit is a pretty subjective thing. A brand can't design for every body type under the sun. I get that. But hey, this is like, my opinion, maaaan. Benefit of having your own review site!
In all seriousness, I would struggle to find a taller, normal-medium wearing guy that would fit the regular medium Threshold t-shirt, I really believe that. It's SO wide and flow-y. The pictures show this to a degree, and that's the Slim. Again, 5'6" and more broad in the shoulders. ~150lbs, so I'm not really carrying extra weight, but I'm not that climber/runner-slim type either. The dark charcoal is the Medium and Slim fit. The light gray is the Small and Slim fit.
So, I'm not crazy about the fit (Jan 2020 I've updated above), and the sense was that it was kind of complete guess work figuring out the proper size, even using measurements on site. I think it can be annoying to do this, but you might want to buy 2 in different sizes, and see. We all have our preferences in fit type, and we all have different body types. That adds a layer of difficulty to it, but I did not find their fits to be "standard" vs. other t-shirts out there (Patagonia, Cotopaxi, Marmot, Bauer, Gilden brands to name a few). I wouldn't reaaaally call it flattering. Your mileage, again, may very.
I don't consider this a deal breaker by any means, I just think you should consider this fact in the process of evaluating.
Let's get right into the dirty part. For those with sensitive travel stomachs, look away now. But as with other travel clothing items, one of the reason they help is their ability to manage odor. And different brands tackle this in different ways. Often times it's the material itself that addresses this (like say, Merino wool). Or, it could be additional techniques used to help add a layer of odor management to the fabric. In the case of the Bluffworks Threshold t-shirt, it's the latter. They add silver and gold nanoparticles to the fabric itself, which actually hinders the growth of bacteria. That's what causes the odor, by they way. Bacteria in your sweat. Not the sweat itself, really.
So does it work? Mostly, I'd say yes! I was very happy with the shirts. I kind of made sure to break my normal wearing pattern with t-shirts to ensure that I tested it properly. Meaning, I pushed the number of wears more than I usually would, to see what the break point was. In the two test cases, both with slightly different usages but similar factors too, I found that for me personally the limit was 3 days with fairly normal wear patterns. By that, I mean that I wore it throughout the day or activity, took it off at night sometime early evening and laid it out or hung it to air out a little, and put it back on in the morning. After the third solid day of wearing it, it was ready to be washed and exchanged.
The two wear patterns looked as follows:
Trip 1: Day 1, put on early morning before heading to airport and took a 1 hour flight. Rented a car at destination and drove three to four hours. Took a 3 mile, light duty hike in the afternoon. Took the shirt off back at camp (probably 11hrs). Wore the shirt for a few hours on day 2, regular usage, no physical activities really. Day 3, wore the shirt under a flannel for the drive back to the airport and flight home for a full day of wear. Once home around 8pm, it was ready for a wash.
Trip 2: Day 1, put on mid afternoon for an international flight overnight that was about 8 hours. Arrived in-country and went to hotel, had breakfast, then was out and about walking around the city for a few hours before coming back to the hotel late afternoon. Took it off and aired it out. Day 2, unfortunately got sick and stayed in first half of the day. But, wore the t-shirt for the rest of the afternoon while out at a museum. Total usage probably a good 4 hours. Again, aired it out. Day 3, put it on around 9am and left for breakfast and some touring, all walking. It got pretty warm, and I had a jacket for a good part of the day, so I'd put this in the category of some more activity like a light hike or gym session, strictly in terms of sweating while wearing the shirt. Back at the hotel around 4pm while again, walking this entire time and the final leg of the walk a good 30 min across town. At this point, it had reached the end of the wear cycle.
As such, from my non-scientific but very real world testing, I would put the wear cycle on these t-shirts at 3 days with some light exercising involved. I'd feel comfortable saying you could probably stretch this out to 4 days, without the light exercise and in moderate climates. Your activities will affect the length of time it lasts, as of course the climate your using it in will affect as well due to how much it might make you sweat. And while not getting too personal here, everyone's bodies are different, so this will affect how the shirt handles. Worth noting, that your deodorant, if you use it, will tend to linger on the shirt, like any other shirt. It won't be a body odor however, it will just be the deodorant. This would be different from a standard t-shirt where you would smell both the usage, and the deodorant. Which is a very good thing in my opinion, and can significantly contribute to a lighter wardrobe while traveling. Which of course is the entire point.
The Improvement Requests
I would say just piggy backing on the criticism section - to maybe make the fit a little bit more of what I'd call industry standard. It's one thing to go out on a design limb and create a better fit in your segment (Poncho Outdoors comes to mind) - but I think these were just way too oversized, which is not really the trend today. Especially for urban travel in places like Europe or other more cosmopolitan cities. Comfy is good, but I think it's a bit too far in this case. A Men's medium should not really be as big as it was here.
I will say this is kind of a trend in this start up brands for travel clothing. I find that a lot of the Merino brands also have oddly large fitting clothes. Either too loose or baggy or really long. Not sure why, but like any start up, they are most likely learning as they go and perfecting the formula based on feedback and market research. And good for them if they are. Good for comfy, hippy countries, but not really the look I go for personally. I also think it's actually not on brand for them either, based on how they position themselves style wise. Something to think about Bluffworks! I'd size down on all your sizes after Small.
Final Thoughts On My Bluffworks Threshold T-Shirt Review
At this point, other than the fit adventure, it's a safe bet that I've become a fan of these t-shirts. And, I would have no issues with owning 1 or 2 for travel. Especially, for the actual, you know, travel portion. If you're on a big trip and need to take multiple planes or trains or combinations of transits during the course of your travels, then I think the Bluffworks Threshold t-shirt is a great option to pick as a go-to in-transit t-shirt. You'll be able to wear it for pretty much all your legs of travel, and therefore only need one. Further, if you have access to washing, then you will make it go even further.
Fit is still a concern on all the travel clothing brands I've tried so far, but a little trial and error will help on this one. And if you're normal height to taller, and slim, you can really size down to be able to most likely get the look of the pictures on the website - which is actually a good nice-casual style and fit for around town, casual restaurants and gatherings, etc. A perfect option for travel in that case. I find the reality, slightly in-between that image however. The difference between the sizes did catch me off guard, because the Medium slim was pretty loose for a slim fit, so I was not expecting such a dramatic difference going to the Small slim fit. Hey, online shopping is always an adventure, and it's what we sign up for when we explore. I don't think we can lay that at the feet of the manufacturer all the time. The early days of online shoe shopping was like that too. Once you dial in your fit, you're golden.
I'm comfortable recommending the Bluffworks Threshold shirts. They're very comfortable next to skin, have a good price for value, and honestly they do in fact work well in the department of odor prevention. For that, it means on a 5 day trip you can bring 2 t-shirts instead of 4-5 cotton ones. Beyond that, if you can wash them, you can take 2 t-shirts on an even longer trip. If these are going to be your only t-shirts on a longer than 5 day trip, your sweet spot might be 3 t-shirts over that course of time, especially if you can get a wash in, and you won't be wearing them for runs or intense gym sessions. Doing that would most likely cause you to lose a day in your wear cycle, which might be fine for you and a good trade off. But, you might also want to mix in a graphic T as well to break up the monotones. Up to you and your desire for self expression. Patagonia Capilene Cool shirts are good for that - I'll review those soon.
They sell directly from their website, so hop on over and consider giving these guys your business if you're in the market for some high quality travel t-shirts (just make sure to dial in the fit, and you'll be good to go):
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