Over Quarantine, my wife and I did a strange sort of experiment with Instagram ads. A typical experience would go like this:
A targeted ad would appear on our feeds with an uncanny accuracy towards current conversation and/or needs. For me, these ads routinely feel like something YETI would produce – highly polished photography that touted a lifestyle more than any one product.
For shits and giggles, I started ordering some of these products for review. Almost without fail, something from China would show up in the mail (weeks later) that was a sort of cheap shadow of the product featured in the ad. A great example of this is the “Official Toolroll.” The website make this tool roll appear as though it’s ready for anything you can throw at it, right?
In reality, it’s cheap canvas with sloppy stitching and some of the worst zippers I’ve EVER seen. Further, the product sent isn’t even close to the product featured on the website – missing details, dimension, and reinforcements all around.
This experience has repeated itself a number of times across a number of different product categories.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and I was greeted by a similar ad from a company called Poncho. Like Yeti, the company is based in Austin and even their logo feels a bit like the outdoor flagship. Again, lifestyle over product. Rather than waste my money, I decided to challenge them to a review. They accepted and two shirts arrived days later.
I got the Nighthawk and the Brazos, but for the purposes of this review I will focus on the former. The Nighthawk is made of a relatively thin material that feels a bit like flannel that has had a clean shave. Unlike traditional flannel, however, this material has good bit of stretch to it and a ton of memory. Not bad.
Moving on to detail work, the stitching is good. I’m no seamstress, but there were no loose ends anywhere to be found and from a craftsmanship standpoint, everything seemed to be on point and well made. Again, no complaints.
At this point, it feels as though I’ve got a decently built shirt made in Vietnam (one of the better countries of origin for soft goods) and appropriately priced at around $85. How does it wear though?
I’m 6’2″ and 190-pounds. I was sent a size large in a regular fit (slim fit is also available). The cut is perfectly tailored to my size and the shirt wears really well. I immediately liked the drape and felt comfortable with how I looked.
However, it wasn’t until I wore the shirt day-to-day that I realized how good this thing really is. This seems odd to say about a button-down flannel, but it’s innovative. There’s built-in storage for your sunglasses, a built-in lense cleaning cloth, magnetic pocket flaps and my absolute favorite – a hidden and zippered chest pocket.
To test wearability, I wore this thing for three days straight and then threw it into the laundry. While in the laundry, I must have dropped my phone three times trying to stash it in the hidden chest pocket that isn’t featured on my edc t-shirt. It’s just one of those features that you get used to and wonder how you ever lived without.
And once out of the laundry, the shirt felt just as it did before the wash. Additionally, this thing doesn’t seem to wrinkle… at all? I’ve yet to pack it for any trips obviously, but I don’t think it will be a problem.
Faults? None really. The magnets used on the pocket flaps initially seemed too weak to me, but they’ve proven to work just fine. And materials combed with spandex for the stretch properties often leave you with weird structure issues after a period of time. I don’t think that will be an issue here as it’s made of only 1% spandex and thus far, the memory properties have been great.
All and all, Poncho completely blew my Instagram advertising conspiracy theory out of the water. I’m a full on converted fan of a company that makes “fishing shirts” for the outdoorsman… and I don’t even fish.
More details on their offerings here.
(Editor’s Note: I was given these shirts for Free. However, I reviewed them without consequence and later this morning, I will be buying my own. In short, these things are dope… For real.)