Posted in: Clothings

Why Merino Wool Is The Ideal Travel Fabric

It seems the more frequently you travel the more trends you notice among your fellow explorers. Merino wool clothing has gotten incredibly popular over the last decade.

However merino t-shirts aren’t just a fashion statement, there’s a reason why more and more travelers are including them in their luggage and have been for decades.

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Here are some of the reasons why Merino wool is an ideal fabric for travel:

Antibacterial. The most unique factor about using merino wool in clothing textiles is that it just won’t smell!

This is why it’s a very popular choice for hikers, backpackers and travelers. Merino wool in particular has a very high resistance to bacteria and it simply cannot grow in this environment—which means no smell! You could literally wear a merino wool shirt for weeks at a time without washing it and it wouldn’t retain (almost) any smell!

Wicking properties. Merino also has a natural “wicking” property which prevents any moisture being retained on the fibers next to you skin. In fact, merino wool works by swelling and absorbing the water within the fiber, instead of repelling it as synthetic fibers do. If you’re interested you can read a bunch more here about merino wool.

So, whether you’re caught in a downpour or sweating profusely after a long hike, any moisture will be kept away from your body, allowing the t-shirt to stay dry and therefore keeping you comfortable and warm. Wool fibers contain certain fatty acids that also help to create the wicking property.

Durability. I’ve also found that merino wool t-shirt’s are incredibly durable and can last years of abuse. I’ve taken my Icebreaker merino t-shirts on several global trips and one countless outdoor adventures in harsh environments and they are still holding up exceptionally well.

Natural & biodegradable. Also to mention that Merino wool is also 100% biodegradable unlike many of the man-made fabrics produced in factories. In other words it comes from nature and goes straight back to nature!

How Merino Wool Works & Why It’s Better

While the majority of other synthetic fabrics increases your body odor by allowing bacteria to grow, merino wool contains natural anti-bacterial properties. Cotton, nylon and polyester don’t have the many natural properties that merino wool has as mentioned above.

Generally they’re made cheaply in factories, often with chemical coatings and weaving techniques that try to emulate the properties of merino wool but perform poorly in comparison.

It’s hard to beat nature and you want to work with it rather than against it. If you’re active you also certainly want to be able to breath and stay dry in your clothing, it just adds that much higher level of comfort when traveling.

Of course if you’re on a budget and aren’t that worried about traveling in comfort then you may be better off purchasing a more affordable synthetic fabric. Many synthetic fabrics still keep moisture away from the body but not anywhere near to the level that merino wool does. Cotton in particular is still a popular choice for its affordability and durability and you don’t need to worry about taking care of a cotton t-shirt as you do with merino t-shirts.

Because of the natural water-resistant properties, merino wool is the lightest available fabric out of both natural or man-made products. When you think of wearing wool products you probably think of itching like crazy with the material however, the fibers of merino wool are so fine that it won’t itch or cause any discomfort—in fact quite the opposite. Merino can be one of the most comfortable of materials to wear against the skin.

Merino wool also works to protect you from solar radiation and contains natural sun protection qualities. This again makes it a great choice for travelers who will be out in the sun day-in-and-day-out during their journeys.

I’ll also throw out there that I recently learned that some of the most ancient cultures in desert environments throughout the world have chosen to wear wool for their tedious expeditions across scorching hot climates.

Merino Wool Is Expensive, Is It Worth It?

This all depends on how often you travel and the type of traveling you are doing—and also how much you value a anti-odor, fast drying, and moisture wicking t-shirt. It’s the kind of experience you have to try to really understand.

If you value these qualities in your travel clothing and you’re always looking to explore and experience outdoor adventures on a regular basis then it’s well and truly worth investing in a quality merino t-shirt.

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I’ve purchased 20+ merino wool t-shirts over the last several years and still on a daily basis I always choose these shirts over my cotton or synthetic ones.

I’ll also add that the staggering number of rave reviews available on the internet speak for themselves, merino t-shirts are unbeatable for avid travelers and explorers.

You do however need to care for merino wool garments a bit more carefully than your every day laundry.

How To Care For Merino Wool

The good thing is that merino wool t-shirts are completely machine washable. I wash mine on a weekly basis and they hold up great. I’ve even accidentally thrown my in the dryer a few times without any damage.

However, you should avoid using hot water wash cycles as it may shrink your t-shirt—it’s best to wash on a cold or warm cycle.

As far as drying goes, it’s not recommended to tumble dry but rather line dry (being merino it will dry exceedingly faster than other fabrics).

You’ll also want to avoid using fabric softeners as this actually alters the natural softness of the wool and in turn creates an undesirable result.

Always check the specific label on the t-shirt for more detailed care instructions. I’ve found merino to be extremely durable and some of my Icebreaker t-shirts are still holding up great after 5-7 years and multiple global trips.

One specific thing to watch out for is moths… their larvae can put holes in your clothes if they are stored in the wrong place for too long.

Merino Wool T-Shirt Reviews

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Icebreaker has a great reputation as one of the best outdoor merino apparel companies on the market. As the name suggests, the Tech Lite by Icebreaker is one of the lightest merino shirts available, therefore is great for packing for warmer climates. This is one t-shirt that comes at an affordable price yet comes out on top in terms of quality and reputation.

Features:

  • Material: 150gm jersey / 87% merino / 13% nylon core spun
  • Weight: 6.1 ounces
  • Get it here: [  Men’s  | Women’s  ]

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The ideal option if you frequently find yourself in the outdoors no matter the location. Available in a wide range of earthy colors, Ibex hasn’t skimped out on style. This is a great looking t-shirt designed to go the extra mile.

Ibex combines good looks with performance and you get a hint that the designers at Ibex have a true passion for the outdoors. For those looking for locally made and owned companies, Ibex has no need to go offshore to produce its apparel and is 100% made in the USA!

Features:

  • Material: 100% Merino Wool
  • Weight: 4.0 oz
  • Get it here: [  Men’s  | Women’s  ]

Another great option if you’re heading to warmer climates and want to stay odor free and dry. With flat-lock stitching, this merino tee is hardy and durable against wear and tear and also prevents chaffing from excessive movement -which is often the case when traveling!

Minus33 also tends to be a great price point. However, I have yet to use their products for an extended period of time and so cannot attest to the overall durability.

Features:

  • Material: 100% Merino Wool
  • Weight: 6.6 oz
  • Get it here: [  Men’s  | Women’s  ]

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With 190gsm fabric throughout, Woolly Clothing Co has designed this stylish v-neck to be worn in both hot and cold climates. It’s also a great all rounder whether working out, hiking or backpacking across epic landscapes.

This v-neck is aimed at those adventurers on an average budget who might be looking at buying a few different t-shirts rather than relying on one expensive t-shirt to last the mile. If you are not keen on v-neck shirts you can also get the same shirt with a standard collar.

Features:

  • Material: 100% Merino Wool
  • Get it here: [  Men’s  ]

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Hardvark The Hudson T-Shirt

The devil is in the details with Hardvark’s merino shirts. They pride themselves with producing some of the highest quality merino clothing on the market. It all starts with high-performance merino directly sourced from Australia and New Zealand. From here the garments are fabricated with precision and care in Europe, which also means they have a European tailored fit. That said the Hudson T-Shirt tends to fit slimmer and shorter than other varieties out there.

These T’s are made from 145 g merino, which is a great fabric weight for everyday use and especially traveling in hotter and humid conditions. Let’s just say this t-shirt is down right comfy!

Another shirt I love from Hardvark is their Voyager Shirt, which blends classic button up style with everyday functionality. Plus its machine washable, which means you don’t have to worry about washing it while on the road.

Features:

  • Material: 100% Merino Wool
  • Get it here: [  Men’s  ]

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One of the most affordable t-shirts on the market, The WoolX is made from 100% Australian merino wool and available in a variety of colors. Ideal for the infrequent traveler, hiker or gym junkie due to its low cost. Flat-lock seams increase its life-span and prevent chaffing.

Although it’s not the softest merino wool t-shirt, 17.5 micron fibers do keep this tee pretty comfy. WoolX designed this to be a high quality, affordable merino t-shirt. This shirt is nothing but success.

If you have never worn Merino wool before, this shirt is a great way to welcome yourself to the family. With 100% merino construction and low cost, there’s no better way to dip your toes in the water, so to speak.

Features:

  • Material: 100% Merino Wool
  • Weight: 6.4 oz
  • Get it here: [  Men’s  | Women’s  ]

Ultra breathable, mega durable, machine washable, the Seventeen.5 T is the full package. It’s made responsibly in North America, so you don’t have to be worried about the impact of your purchases. Nor do you have to be worried about the impact of your body odor.

Made from 100% Merino wool, this all terrain t-shirt will go through thick and thin with you and still be ready for date night when you get home.

Features:

  • Material: 100% Merino Wool
  • Weight: 5.6 oz
  • Get it here: [  Men’s  |  Women’s  ]

The Sentinel short sleeve crew shirt from Minus33 is a mid-weight wonder of the modern world and it’s ready for just about anything you can throw at it.

18.5 micron fibers and a tight, interlock knit pattern are two of the reasons that this Merino wool shirt is one of the most comfortable and protective on the market. Ideal for the colder times of year, this shirt is a little thicker and heavier than some of it’s counterparts.

Perfect for an underlayer on cold trips to the alpine this fall and winter.

Features:

  • Material: 100% Merino wool
  • Weight: 10.4 oz
  • Get it here: [  Men’s  |  Women’s  ]

Not all Merino wool was created equal. And Merino 365 has a lot to say about the superior quality of New Zealand 140gsm Merino. It was hard for me to believe such big talk about a T-shirt, even one made of Merino.

However, this super soft Merino shirt didn’t disappoint. Just like all of the products produced by Merino 365, this shirt is top quality. The fit, fabric, and feel of this shirt are unlike any other shirt I have ever worn. I’ll keep you posted on how it holds up to a beating.

Perfect for snuggling, and anything else involving overwhelming softness, whether you’re at home or in the back country.

Features:

  • Material: 100% 140 g/sm New Zealand Merino
  • Weight: 8.2 oz
  • Get it here: [  Men’s  |  Women’s  ]

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