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Western Rise Review: I Tried Their Most Popular Styles

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William Barton
Expertise:

Style, Grooming, Fitness, Boots, Workwear

William has been covering men's style, grooming, and fitness topics for The Adult Man since 2018 as both a writer and photographer. Based in North Carolina, he's also the face of premier men's boots website BootSpy.com and the popular BootSpy YouTube channel. If William could only wear one outfit for the rest of his life, it'd be slim blue jeans, a green fitted oxford shirt, Chelsea boots, and a nice watch. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Apr 4, 2024
18 min read
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With so many brands on the market, it’s easy to get suckered into some sub-par clothes. So how does Western Rise stack up?

In this review, I test a few of the brands’ most popular items to find out firsthand.

A modern take on fabric
The Adult Man Image/Icon Image Source: Western Rise
Western Rise

Bottom line: The team behind Western Rise are experts with technical fabrics, and they’ve reimagined wardrobe staples with the modern world in mind. Though they have somewhat limited sizing, you can take these light, packable, and fashionable clothes anywhere. Plus, every item from Western Rise matches, so you never have to hunt for something that fits your outfit.

Ratings: The Adult Man Image/Icon  Design The Adult Man Image/Icon  Quality of Materials The Adult Man Image/Icon  Value for Money The Adult Man Image/Icon  Craftsmanship The Adult Man Image/Icon  Customer Service
Pros:
  • The materials do a great job of blocking the weather
  • The reimagined designs for classics like a chino or a 5-pocket jean make for some really interesting and useful pants
  • Comfortable with virtually zero movement restriction
  • AirLoft jackets and vest are super light and surprisingly warm
  • Everything is wrinkle and odor resistant---perfect for packing
  • Their pieces are versatile—they’re a true one-bag travel brand
Cons:
  • The sizing is on the smaller side, and I wish there were inseams besides 34” for the pants---guys under 5’8” may need to get their pants hemmed
  • A small amount of “pant-swoosh” caused by technical fabrics

Winter is coming.

It’s not just a GoT quote. It’s a fact of life.

If the constant rain is any clue, this winter is going to be a wet one here on the east coast.

I moved from California, where rain was something I only heard about in stories. My parents would tell fables about “precipitation” when tucking me into bed.

But this year, I’m ready. At least I think I am. This whole “water from the sky” thing is still new to me.

I needed a few items to keep me dry on those few stormy days, so I reached out to Western Rise, a clothing brand focused on updating classic fashion with modern fabrics.

They sent me some of their favorite pieces to try.

So could they keep me dry during the first big storm of the season?

Keep reading to find out how Western Rise stacked up (and make sure you check out the killer martial arts moves in the slideshow at the end).

What Is Western Rise?

two models smiling against railing

To tell the story of Western Rise, I first need to tell the story of how a lot of other brands launch their first products.

A guy or gal sees a need in the market. They decide they want to build a brand to fix the need. They head off to China for a few months, design something, pick a fabric, and voila—their brand is born.

But Will Watters’ story is so different.

Growing up in Georgia, Watters started his career at his grandpa’s yarn mill. The yarn mill produced technical fabrics for a wide range of uses during the ‘60s and ‘70s.

From there, Watters went to work as the Head of Product Development for another technical fabric manufacturer. This next company, run by his dad, focused on creating durable, water-resistant fabrics for the marine and RV industries.

Watters spent years in Research and Development, testing the strength, durability, and resistance of thousands of different fabrics.

Driven by the desire to own less but do more, Will Watters and his wife Kelly set out to reimagine modern wardrobe staples, designed with modern fabrics as the original designers would have done.

Western Rise was born.

Take the Western Rise AT Pant for example. They imagined what Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss would have done had they the same fabrics at their disposal. With Watters’ experience, he knew the perfect fabric to enhance the function of the jean.

model wearing western rise coat and at slim pants with sperry topsider duck boots
The AT Pant and duck boots are my kind of combo

Same look. More lightweight, durable, water-resistant. Less stinky, uncomfortable, and prone to losing shape. Sounds pretty great, right?

Through Western Rise, Watters has gone on to reimagine several wardrobe staples in the same way—fashionable clothes, but with the best fabrics available.

I tried out nine of Western Rise’s best-selling items and here’s what I thought (Plus, figure out why these pants made our model feel like a martial arts master).

Western Rise

The team behind Western Rise are experts with technical fabrics, and they’ve reimagined wardrobe staples with the modern world in mind. Though they have somewhat limited sizing, you can take these light, packable, and fashionable clothes anywhere.

Shop Western Rise

My Hands-On Review

AT Pant

model wearing x cotton tee

Like I mentioned earlier, the Western Rise AT Pant is designed like a five-pocket pant. The big difference is in the fabric.

Made with 97% Air-textured Nylon and 3% Spandex, these pants have the look of jeans, but the feel of something lighter and stronger.

Nylon pants, you say? Did we time-travel back to the ‘80s?

This is where Watters’ long history of researching and developing new fabrics comes into play. The nylon used for the AT Slim is air-texturized to create a much softer feel and more natural look.

The Spandex addition gives these pants great horizontal stretch. Western Rise doesn’t advertise the vertical stretch on the AT Slim because there isn’t much—but it’s still there.

The pockets are all riveted for extra durability.

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A post shared by Western Rise (@western_rise) on

I have to say that these pants really do feel like they can go through pretty much anything. They’d be great pants for hiking as they’re comfortable, water-resistant, and have that odd ability to be cool when you want cool and warm when you want warm.

While doing some research for this piece, I came across a group I’d never heard of before. There’s a whole community dedicated to minimalist packing—they’re called “one-baggers.”

They practice the art of extended travel while only carrying one bag. Pretty simple.

Naturally, if you’re going to travel for a month and you can only bring a few items, those things need to be light, sturdy, and they can’t pick up stains or smells.

Going through the onebag Subreddit, I saw the AT Slim pop up time and time again. In fact, the only pair of pants that showed up more often was the Western Rise Evolution Pant.

What I like most about the AT Pant is that, while they’re definitely my go-to outdoorsy pants, they fit well and look good enough to wear out on the street.

For a lot of backpackers, their style is a reflection of their hobby. They wear their climbing gear everywhere. I have nothing against the style because I believe fashion should be an extension of who you are. But I don’t dress that way.

The AT Pant has the same function and durability of hiking and climbing clothes but is styled in a way that I’m happy to wear with a fashion-forward outfit. As we head into cooler and wetter months, I’ll definitely be getting good use of these pants.

Evolution Chino

Western Rise grey henley

The Evolution Chinos are a lighter and more breathable iteration of the AT Pant, crafted for travel enthusiasts like myself. 

They’re super resistant to stains, water, and odors, which is a boon when you’re constantly on the move. 

The fabric blend allows for a four-way stretch that adapts to whatever you’re doing, whether it’s a casual city stroll or a more adventurous outdoor excursion.

These are great for both warm and cold—they’re solid with temperature regulation, keeping you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. 

Western Rise grey heavy jacket 1

They look great casually, but I think you could also pull them off in a more rugged look. And then of course, you have that sneaky zipper pocket that makes carrying your passport not feel so stressful when you’re travelling. 

On the downside, the standard 34″ inseam might not be ideal for shorter guys, but you can flip the hem up and it feels more like a 32” inseam. However, guys under 5’8” might want alterations done here. Also, the technical fabric, while offering many benefits, is prone to snagging which can slightly diminish its aesthetic appeal over time.

Personally, I appreciate the balance between a slim straight and slim taper fit, which caters well to my athletic build. The snugness around the thighs might not suit everyone’s taste, but for me, it’s a comfortable fit that I’ve come to prefer. Overall, the Evolution Chinos have become a bit of a staple for me for their versatility and comfort.

X Cotton Short Sleeve Henley

Western Rise tshirt fit

The X Cotton Short Sleeve Henley is a standout in my henley collection, offering a blend of comfort and durability that surpassed my expectations. 

The fabric blend is 54% cotton, 39% polyester, and 7% spandex, which to me is the perfect example of functional fashion. 

Its heavier fabric feels substantial and premium, avoiding the common pitfall of being too flimsy, which is often the case with other t-shirts.

I love the fit. I think it’s exceptional, especially for a larger frame. It hugs around the chest and arms but isn’t so tight on the stomach. 

Plus, the heavy fabric maintains shape and structure, even after multiple washes. Plus, you get the benefit of durability and wrinkle resistance from the added polyester, so it’s a great shirt to toss in your weekender bag and head out for a 3-day weekend. 

On the downside, it’s not as breathable because it’s a heavier tee and the polyester, so it might not be great for summer. However, I’m willing to sweat a bit for style, so that doesn’t bother me. 

From a personal standpoint, as someone who’s 6’1″ and 200lbs, finding the perfect fit is a challenge, but the large size in the X Cotton Henley fits like it was tailored for me. It has become a go-to in my rotation, especially for its ease of pairing with different outfits.

Evolution Pant

evolution pant opening a door

Note: The below review is about the original Evolution Pant. We just published a standalone review of the latest Western Rise Evolution Pant 2.0check it out here.

The Western Rise Evolution pant is a lightweight update to the AT Slim. With virtually the same design, WR wanted to make something tailored for warmer months.

They put up an offer on Kickstarter and reached their goal of $20k in ridiculous time. Before the 30-day window closed, Western Rise raised almost $600k.

I was on the phone with Watters and he mentioned that he was concerned at first—the AT Slim was their best seller, but would anyone want a lighter version? He laughed when he recalled those initial fears. The Evolution Pant now outsells the AT Slim, and by a good margin, too.

Part of this is due to its popularity in the hiking, travel, and one-bag community. The other part is the love from the tech community.

It seems like everyone can get behind quick-drying pants that are comfortable, don’t stain, and rarely need washing.

I’ve enjoyed wearing the Evolution pants for the past few weeks.

The gusseted crotch gives extra room downstairs for extra stretch and comfort. I can see it being perfect when spanning between boulders during a hike.

The fifth pocket (on the right, stacked inside the main pocket) actually has a use, too. It’s large enough to fit my phone. It was interesting to see Western Rise’s design principles come in here: classics reworked for the modern man.

Western Rise evolution pant with phone coming out of pocket

The last detail worth noting is the “secret” sixth YKK zippered-pocket on the back right. This little benefit is actually a make-or-break point for a lot of travelers as some common tourist areas are pick-pocket magnets.

unzipping evolution pant

I haven’t had the chance to take these on an adventure yet, but when the time comes, I’ll be calling on the Evolution Pant.

AirLoft Vest

Western Rise blue vest

I’ve never been much of a vest guy, but the AirLoft Vest might make me a believer. 

Might. 

Made entirely of polyester, it’s surprisingly warm for its light weight, offering a great degree of flexibility and water resistance. It’s an ideal mid-layer in winter and works just as well on its own during milder fall mornings.

It’s super easy to pack and carry around. This thing weighs basically nothing. 

And it’s also great for active use because it’s so stretchy. I even went on a run wearing it on one particularly cold winter morning.

Western Rise airloft vest on model

I think it’s stylish enough to be worn in a variety of settings, from city-wear to even hiking. 

A potential downside is in the simplicity of the design. If you’re into more design-focused elements, like maybe diamond-quilting, this ain’t gonna cut it. 

Also, the limited insulation makes it less suitable to extremely cold climates like Minnesota or Michigan. For really cold places, it still makes sense to get a vest with more insulation. 

As someone who values both function and form, the AirLoft Vest’s ability to pair well with different layers and its non-restrictive design have made it a favorite. Its simple navy color has seamlessly integrated into my wardrobe.

AirLoft Hooded Jacket

Western Rise hooded jacket fit

Made from 100% polyester with Toray 3DeFX+® Active Insulation, the AirLoft Hooded Jacket has been a game-changer in terms of lightweight, yet effective insulation. 

Its slim fit is just right, giving it a modern, tailored look without being too tight. 

I’ve tested its breathability and water resistance in various conditions, and it’s never let me down. The addition of a hood is a big plus. It’s not just for looks; it actually comes in handy during those unexpected rain showers. 

Western Rise hodded jacket demonstration

However, if you’re into layering with thicker sweaters or hoodies, this might feel a bit snug. Also, the color options are a bit limited. 

I went with grey, which is versatile, but more choices would be nice. This jacket has been a fantastic companion on my urban adventures and outdoor excursions. Its ability to pack down small is perfect for my minimalist approach to travel.

AirLoft Shirt Jacket

Western Rise shirt jacket

The AirLoft Shirt Jacket is definitely more jacket than shirt. 

It embodies the minimalist, functional design that Western Rise is known for. 

The weight, or lack thereof, is phenomenal. It’s like wearing air, but it still can keep me warm. Its clean, no-frills design means I can wear it pretty much anywhere. I consider it the chameleon of my wardrobe. 

I love how it pairs with other Western Rise items. Obviously, they designed these pieces to be the perfect team. However, if you’re expecting the typical shirt-like texture, this might not be for you. It’s a jacket through and through. In really cold weather, it’s more of a layering piece than a standalone hero. 

Western Rise jacket zipper demonstration

To sum it up, the AirLoft Shirt Jacket has been a pleasant surprise. It’s become my go-to for those days when I need something simple yet effective against the chill. And let’s be honest, in the world of jackets, finding one that feels like you’re barely wearing anything while still keeping you warm is a rare find.

Diversion Pant

western rise diversion pant and quilted jacket on model red background

In February 2020, Western Rise released a line of Merino wool shirts and the new Diversion Pant.

It has the same five pocket construction as the AT Slim and Evolution pant—the difference is in the fabric and the cut.

model facing away from camera wearing western rise spring lineup clothes

The Diversion Pant is the softest and stretchiest of WR’s offerings. It’s also the slimmest fit. While the AT Slim and Evolution fit well, the leg openings were a bit larger than I prefer. The Diversion has more taper below the knee, which I love.

Like their other pants, the brand has coated these with a water repellant that keeps them clean and stain-free.

As for their wrinkle-resistance—check them out for yourself. I pulled these out of my drawer just a few minutes before shooting some photos and didn’t steam them or anything.

model walking down train tracks wearing western rise limitess shirt and diversion pants

The interesting thing about clothing photography is that wrinkles are always obvious. You really have to steam or iron the heck out of anything you’re wearing so you don’t look like a slob. So considering that these were folded up for a full week or more and they look this good without any help is a true indicator of their wrinkle-free nature.

Of the three Western Rise pants I’ve tried, the new Diversion Pants are my favorite. They’re softer and have less “pant swoosh” than the other lines. Plus, I like the extra taper below the knee.

TechWool Flannel

techwool flannel 3

The TechWool Flannel is Western Rise’s newest addition in their journey to remake the classics. Made with a blend of moisture-wicking, odor-resisting polyesters combined with fine wool, the TechWool Flannel is a great choice for the modern traveler.

I like the slim cut on the flannel. I’m usually between sizes, so I opted for the medium. It fits me well in the shoulders, but if I were to order again, I’d size up. If you’re like me and you’re never sure what size you’ll be for a specific brand, go up a size for Western Rise’s shirts.

The TechWool is fairly soft, but it’s no substitute for wool. It still has a little of that “catch” typical in polyester.

evolution pant open door

But I don’t think peak softness is really what Western Rise is after here. This shirt is designed to look good and stay fresh even after five or six wears. It’s meant to go the distance for travelers and look fashionable at the same time.

The TechWool product page boasts that it’s “incredibly soft.” It’s decently soft, but I’ll reserve the “incredibly” for other shirts. Again, this isn’t a deal-breaker because I’m not really looking to Western Rise to give me outrageously soft clothes—I want them to give me something durable, fashionable, and tailored for travel.

Also, a quick shout-out for the hidden button-downs. I really like this touch. It keeps the collar sharp looking, which is my number one issue with flannels.

Limitless Merino Button Down and Polo

model wearing limitless merino wool polo closeup

The Western Rise Limitless Merino Button Down and polo are the newest additions to their line of shirts.

Both feature Superfine Australian Merino wool, which is some of the best performing fabric you can find.

Western Rise blends the wool with polyester for extra stretch, durability, and wrinkle resistance.

model wearing diversion pant and limitless merino wool shirt on red background

The Button Down has the look of an Oxford shirt, which I like. Oxford-style shirts are super versatile, working in both summer and winter, buttoned or unbuttoned, sleeves down or sleeves rolled. Plus, they can float in most offices, and they’re an excellent casual look.

The Polo is another classic cut, with longer shirt sleeves and a nice, sturdy button-down collar.

model wearing western rise limitless merino wool polo standing near train tracks

My first impressions with both of these shirts is that they’re very soft and comfortable. I also love the shape of the collars—they’re structured well enough that they don’t bacon-out, warp, or wrinkle in the wash.

I chose a large size which fits my shoulders well. The sleeves on the polo are a bit long for my taste, but I’ve found that a quick roll is enough to get the look I like.

AirLoft Quilted Jacket

model putting on quilted jacket 2

When I first put on the AirLoft Quilted Jacket, it was clear that this was a performance jacket. By that, I mean, it’s one of those super-technical, cutting-edge fabric jackets.

Like I said above, I have no problem with guys who like to wear their mountain climbing jackets, but it’s not my personal style.

Well, I guess it is now.

The AirLoft Quilted Jacket is insulated with Toray’s 3defx+ material. Toray could use some work on the branding side because 3defx+ is a horrible name.

But they’re chemists. And they’re really good at making super-lightweight materials with amazing temperature control.

I’ll be honest. I went for this jacket simply because I liked the way it looked. I thought it’d be a light option for fall, and a solid go-to for something different for the colder winter months.

Quilted jacket on model

After wearing this out a few times, I can tell this will be the only jacket I need for the southern winter.

It’s surprisingly warm—especially for how lightweight it is.

Like I said with the Evolution Pants, I haven’t gone on any cross-border travels since I’ve got my Western Rise haul, but this jacket is definitely coming with me when I do.

It looks great, and it’s comfortable and warm. I especially like the cut of the sleeves. They stay slim through the arms, which keeps it fashion-forward.

Of all Western Rise’s clothes, the AirLoft Jacket does the best job of being a fashionable piece made with highly technical fabrics. Even with both pants, there’s just a hint of “hiking-enthusiast” look to them.

But the jacket is just classic looking. It also happens to be a great choice for backpackers, campers, travelers, and rock climbers.

X Cotton Tee

model putting on quilted jacket

Western Rise also sent along their new X Cotton Tee. They offer a Merino wool t-shirt, but it’s at a fairly steep price point.

The fabric isn’t Merino wool, but they’ve done a lot to elevate this standard tee.

It features a blend of cotton, polyester, and elastane, and is treated with something called Polygeine. The coating gives this shirt anti-microbial properties so you can wear it multiple days in a row without the smell.

x cotton t shirt on model 2

Again, this t-shirt fits really well. I like the thickness of the fabric and collar. If a t-shirt doesn’t scream “quality” from a distance, it’s hard to justify spending anything over $20 or $30. But this tee is solid, sturdy, and doesn’t lose its shape after washing.

StrongCore Merino Socks

Socks Detail 1 1024x1024

The last goodie Western Rise sent was a pair of their StrongCore Merino socks. I wasn’t going to say much about them, but fate intervened.

I needed a break from writing so I jumped in my car to go to the grocery store.

It was raining pretty heavily outside, so I threw on my AirLoft jacket, Evolution pants, and the Merino socks.

Like a fool, I wore my favorite track shoes, which are built with summer in mind. They’re perforated all over and offer no protection against rain at all. I didn’t think about that.

As soon as I stepped outside, my foot went about six inches into a puddle.

Great. Wet socks.

To my surprise, about ten minutes later my feet didn’t feel wet at all. The moisture-wicking socks really worked. Plus the padding on the bottom is really comfortable.

My Thoughts Overall

What I Like

  • Technical fabrics made for rough outdoor weather but styled in a way that city-dwellers can get behind.

  • I like the reimagining of the pockets on all of Western Rise’s pants. A few thoughtful additions really make these pants fit for the modern man.

  • Nothing restricted my movement at all, even with a snug fit.

  • The AirLoft jackets and vest are so light, you wouldn’t expect it to be so warm. Plus, they have a classic, stylish look.

  • Everything is wrinkle and odor resistant, so it’s perfect for extended travel.

What I Don’t Like

  • The pants are a bit snug. I’d say my 34s fit more like 33s. And the inseam is only available in 34”, though you can cuff the hem inward to make them fit more like a 32.

The Verdict

On the surface, Western Rise looks like they’re just another fashion brand.

Once you try on their clothes, you realize they’re much more than that.

Considering the experience the founder has with years of research and development—a more accurate label for Western Rise is that they’re an expert in modern fabrics.

The good news is they’ve taken materials you’d normally only find in the hiking, climbing, and skiing world, and applied them to classic style staples.

My favorite thing about Western Rise is the fact that literally everything you get from them matches. My henley is the same exact grey as my hooded jacket. My chinos are the same color as my vest. 

These things might seem simple, but they’re quite difficult to actually pull off. And Western Rise does this masterfully.

Western Rise

The team behind Western Rise are experts with technical fabrics, and they’ve reimagined wardrobe staples with the modern world in mind. Though they have somewhat limited sizing, you can take these light, packable, and fashionable clothes anywhere.

Shop Western Rise

Bonus Martial Arts Throwdown

Halfway through our photoshoot, we realized just how flexible these Western Rise pants are. This led to an intense martial arts display (with a little Parkour tossed in for good measure).

Brace yourself.