Western Rise Limitless Shirt Review​

A new contender not only in the "best travel shirt" category - but the "best merino shirt" category as well. Does the 45 minute-funded Kickstarter shirt from the (now) veterans at Western Rise hold up? Read on for my review.

Introduction To The Western Rise Limitless Merino Shirt

This shirt was funded on Kickstarter in 45 minutes. That wasn't hyperbole. That's your first clue to the kind of following Western Rise has gathered over the years since the introduction of some of their classics like the AT Slim Pant, the Airlight button down shirt, and then the Evolution pants. It's a tech company at heart, and a travel fashion brand on output. They make great stuff, and are seen as the leaders (along with Outlier) in the rabid fan based space of technical travel clothing.

A lot of travelers swear by their clothing, and with good reason. They develop and use some cutting edge fabrics, and their goal is to make them not really look like tech gear. It's harder than you think. (Imagine, the not-so-cool looking traveler in badly fitting outdoor/safari gear: it's functional, but you're not going to fit into a variety of settings in that). The Limitless Merino button down is the continuation of their journey. A lot of work went into designing this from the ground up, and the output is pretty exciting. I've not had the chance to review anything from Western Rise yet, so I was very excited to be able to get the chance to.

Funny story about this one. And by "funny", I mean I'm an idiot. Western Rise was kind enough to send me the polo version of this shirt for review. But, I also personally bought a pair of their new Diversion pants (which I'll also review). I first got the wrong size and needed to ship them back. Well the polo was accidentally, after worn and washed, sent back to the factory with it because it was laying near the pants before packing them up. SMH. So, this long-sleeved version, was purchased on my own to replace the polo they sent me. Following? To summarize, again, I'm an idiot.

This is my review of the Western Rise Limitless Merino button down shirt - for travel. As just mentioned, they did provide me a review piece, but that was mailed back by accident and I subsequently purchased this piece on my own. The thoughts are all mine and there was no input other than product descriptions from Western Rise.

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Limitless Merino Shirt Product Overview

We already talked about how this shirt was funded in 45 minutes. Yeah safe to say people were excited. But why exactly? Well, in this shirt we've got the promise of high grade merino (a magic fabric for traveling), with the comfort of a t-shirt. An oxford style (my favorite, that means a button down collar) that promises to be good for casual scenarios and a dinner/night out. We'll report on all of this.

It's 53% Australian Merino wool from the Woolmark Company (a top provider I believe) and 47% a kind of polyester (that's the basic fabric name, they've obviously done some sprucing up in a proprietary way). This combination allows it to be (get ready, it's got all the buzz words): moisture wicking, wrinkle resistant, 4 way stretch for comfort, and my favorite, odor resistant. This last bit is EXTREMELY important when using for travel. It's my top quality that I look for, actually. What good is a multi-day wear if it doesn't stay smelling OK?

It comes in Smoke, Light Blue, and Navy. It retails for $125.00. More on that in my final thought - but keep in mind, this is meant to replace 2-3 shirts in your kit. So even mathematically, no matter what my review results are, that makes sense price point wise. Weight is 175gsm - which is a great utilitarian weight for many types of weather. Not too light, not too heavy. I ordered a Men's Small in Light Blue.

Limitless Merino Shirt Front

Limitless Merino Shirt Fit 

I'm going to come right out and say it - I've not been too impressed with the fit of Merino clothing in my trials so far. This has nothing to do with the functionality or the build quality. Like I said, it's magic fabric. But for some reason, a lot of the companies, and maybe it's learning curves and growing pains, maybe it's the nature of the wool itself, just can't get the fit right. The shirts are always wicked baggy, can't match the cut and fit of other materials, and the drape has been horrible. I'd say Western Rise nailed it on this. The feel of the material is hard to explain - it's soft and has a great drape to it. But it's certainly not a standard button down shirt material feel. 

It's got a nice modern cut to it, but not TOO slim. As you can see in the pictures, I'm no 6'2" clothing model with a rock climber's slim build. I'm 5'6" with broader shoulders and I've never had a six pack. But, I'm in decent shape. This shirt is a good balance that I think will be great for the the slim builds and the regular builds (like me). It's a fit that's good for casual wear (like any oxford, it pairs well with sneakers) or the more up-leveled urban look (also as with any oxford, it pairs well with a nice pair of brogues for a night out). Great job here, guys. 

The Good

There's a lot to like about this shirt. The material really feels great. Merino, no matter the quality, can feel scratchy sometimes. While the really nice stuff generally eliminates MOST of this, in my experience it's never going to be cashmere. So get that out of your head now. But, the high quality woven merino here, plus I'd imagine the combination with their technical polyester, makes a great feel. Every now and then I've "felt it" a bit, but generally that's improved with wear and with wash. There's a coolness when you put it on (the temp regulating nature) and the stretch feels great. I mentioned this above, but I really like the fit and the drape of this shirt as well. The bottom is more of a jersey cut, seen below, which makes sure it's not strictly a dress shirt. Guys, the days of wearing a straight up striped dress shirt to casual events, but leaving it untucked - are over. It's still just a dress shirt. Not tucking it in doesn't make it a casual shirt. The material and the cut reflect that.

The Limitless merino shirt is not heavy at all, and will pack up small or roll up nicely into a packing cube without adding bulk. Nothing on this planet that I personally have come across is wrinkle PROOF, but this did a good job of resisting wrinkles with wash and during wear. A must for a good travel shirt. I wish I could have tested it while packed on an actual trip, but nothing made me alarmed about this in my use.

I like the price too. Again, if you're replacing 2-3 shirts, that could be upwards of $180.00 if we assume $60.00 per shirt. This is versatile enough to play a role where you'd previously need 2 different shirts for a single day of usage. The price is fair for this kind of technical and functional product.

Performance was great, as well. Check that out in its own section below.

The Bad

I didn't find a lot wrong in my testing on this shirt - which is kind of a first for me in terms of button down style shirts from brands I'm not used to. But, I will ding it on a couple of things for the sake of being completely transparent. As usual, these might not even be issues for you personally.

The sleeves I found a tad long. This one thousand percent could be because of how I'm built, but just highlighting my experience. Since the shirt overall was proportioned fine in length, I tend to think the arms could be shorter. Unless, it's designed mainly for taller, slimmer types that size down. I will get these altered, but something for you to note. You can see it in the cuffs pictured here.

I'm also going to closely monitor the button holes. After a couple of washes, the fabric there seems to be coming undone a bit, but it could just be the merino giving off some threads/fuzz (like a sweater). Something to monitor, but also something that can be easily fixed by any tailor/sewer out there if if becomes an issue.

Lastly, the bottom button seems to come undone really easily - like the hole is too big. A quick pull to the side on the shirt, or sometimes getting up from laying on your back, and it would pop undone. Great if you need your partner ripping your shirt off, otherwise a challenge. Not a deal breaker, but a little annoying. 

Limitless Merino Shirt Back

The Performance of the Limitless Merino Shirt

Now our favorite part about reviewing travel clothing. How much did I smell? This is my main factor in testing performance, and in case this is your first article with me, I'll mention why. Packing light and for utility. There is zero reason why regular people need to bring those massive suitcases or even huge hiking backpacks on trips, outside of either moving, some specialized trip with equipment, or doing real trekking. None. For one, no matter the trip length, I recommend packing for 5 days total (it's worth it to do a wash on longer trips in your sink or hotel or locally). For another, there's no need to pack every piece of just in case clothing you can think of. There just isn't. That's just our pack-rat "what if" nature coming through. Break free of that mentality. That said, the major quality I find in how many times you can wear a shirt or other clothing, is how long it goes before it begins to smell and needs a wash. Ergo (insert hand flourish), this is my major factor in my performance testing.

Another challenge in reviewing the Limitless shirt is the time we currently live in (this was written at the height of COVID-19 in the West). I'm on a no work-travel ruling, and I made a personal choice to not travel for recreation either. That's almost 2 months now, so I did my best to simulate how I'd wear while on a trip. Thin, undershirt underneath (a night out); no t-shirt underneath (standard wear around town), t-shirt under (for layering); out walking 40 minutes to an hour; moving around and cleaning in my apartment during quarantine (it got warm, so was sweating). Etc. I'm also based in NYC, so I was not able to really go out and about to many places. More time to write reviews though, eh?

The wears looked as follows:

Following those basic patterns, I found myself wearing the shirt over the course of 4 solid days. Twice, I was wearing for around 6 hours, and then the other were more like 3-4 hours. Again, trying to simulate how I would wear normally while traveling. It's not often, or ever really, that I'd be wearing a button down shirt 24 hours a day, every day. Some people say you can, I'm not sure that's realistic. Your personal body chemistry will play a role, too. This covered walking around, hanging out, going out to dinner, maybe being on a plane and airport, etc. And hey, circumstance might mean you have to. You'll be helped by this shirt.

Each night, I'd take it off and lay it out or hang it up and let it do its thing. Same thing you'd do for any merino clothing because (GASP): it can refresh itself over night. That's the beauty of merino. All naturally done, too. This shirt is no different. I don't believe it will work as well as 100% merino for obvious reasons (like, uh, being 50% less merino), but it was more than sufficient. It would at times still smell like my deodorant, but NEVER have that stale, body odor that comes along with the deodorant smell you'd get on cotton or "active" shirts made with lesser materials. It's more the deodorant's fault than anything though, since it's a sharp, citrus, natural brand. The shirt did a really good job. That is, until the end of my usage when it was time for a wash. Eventually, nature catches up with everything.

What does this mean in practical terms? It means that you could absolutely get away with this being one of 2  button shirts in your kit on a trip. With normal wear patterns, and alternating shirts, you're going to be good to go. Will perform as a night out, or during the day if you need more than a t-shirt. I do think, if you're doing anything really strenuous or sweating a ton, it might shorten the amount of days you can wear it. But, use your brain on that one. Some can be more wears (cold places), some can be less (wicked hot places). And if your trip is short? Like a weekend trip somewhere? Yes, this could be the one button shirt you bring for both nights. Easily. Add one of the days in there, too. Why not? Let's get a little wild. What a time to be alive!

The Improvement Requests

I'd look to maybe ensure the button holes are reinforced. I would also like to see that bottom button hole tightened up a bit so as not to come undone so much. If it happened that much in my apartment, in the real world I'd imagine it happening more. And jokes about my belly aside, it was not because of that!

In terms of the polo version, which in my limited possession I did manage to take on a work trip and airplane - I think the collar could be made slightly smaller in terms of the fabric height. It LOOKS a little big for a polo shirt, but also FELT big. It was pretty high on me and was rubbing against my neck a lot. Luckily, the fabric was soft. Might not be as big a deal on a taller person, but I'd consider it. My girlfriend is a designer, and while she liked the shirt overall, had this same piece of feedback. To be clear, not an issue on the long sleeve, and I also did really like how it's reinforced.

Final Thoughts On My Western Rise Limitless Merino Shirt Review

This shirt was a winner for me in a big way. I'm on a personal quest to be able to travel minimally, but still comfortably and stylishly. There are a thousand and one ways to get your pack down to nothing, and live in a hut in someone's backyard. I'm not there. But what I do want is to be able to go light and functionally, and be able to look pretty good doing it. Sometimes with tech clothing, looking "good" actually just equals getting them to looking "normal".  Flying colors on this shirt. It does everything a standard oxford can do, and a LOT that a standard oxford can't. And stays sylish.

The fit is going to work in pretty much most situations. Basically the same as any oxford shirt. However, this can be worn multiple times, in both casual and more dressed up scenarios, and is going to be more breathable and lighter/more packable than your standard cotton brands. Nothing against those brands (I'm a long time lover of Gap oxfords for the way they fit me) - but those shirts mean multiple shirts, more weight, and less wear time.

For those concerned about the price - think about a few things before you dwell on that too much. Part of it, it's not just price. It's price to VALUE ratio. This shirt is made out of materials that accomplish things lesser and cheaper materials can't. It's replacing 2-3 shirts in your bag (again, those 3 as an example cost more than this), and on top of that it's being produced more sustainably.  That right there is worth a bit more. It's like buying veggies from your local farmer, vs. the the ones trucked in from out of country. Yeah those ones are cheaper, but wouldn't you rather be voting towards a better practice? Anyway, this shirt is worth it on performance alone. A nice dress shirt will cost this much or more. This can do double duty. I did not show it, but it can be tucked in with jeans and a jacket too. Again, just like a standard oxford. Versatility wins. I think the whole "you can hike in it" and "do yoga in it" is a bit much. I mean, yes you could. But a technical t-shirt would serve you better in those scenarios than an oxford I think. At least, to me. But hey: do you, however that may be.


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