Supposedly 9 out of 10 people on this planet live above the equator, so when we travel we tend to go somewhere hot. That means the kinds of shirts you’re packing for vacation are often ones suited for tropical climates. Then if you’re doing something active on top of that, wicking properties and a quick drying time after washing are especially important.
I’ve been packing three shirts on recent trips that have gone back into the bag for next time because they’ve served me well.
Craghoppers Pablo Solarshield T-shirt
With buttons like a henley but the fit of a t-shirt, this Craghoppers Solarshield for men looks good on a fit body and feels as comfortable as cotton…because it is. This is a technical shirt, but that’s because of what’s on it rather than what it’s made of. It’s treated with zinc oxide, that same stuff that’s in heavy-duty sunblock. As a result this doesn’t just protect your skin: it actually disperses heat and stays cooler than an untreated one.
I’m not usually checking the UV rays rating of the shirts I wear (I can’t ever remember getting sunburned through any shirt I’ve worn, but if you’ve got sensitive skin this will keep you looking good while you’re feeling safe.
There’s a nice hidden pocket for travel and a loop on the front for hanging your shades.
ExOfficio JavaTech Polo
Here’s a new twist on the coffee craze: a shirt that
embeds used coffee grounds in the fabric for superior performance. The fabric company website explains how this works. Supposedly the grounds help pull perspiration away from the skin, something that’s pretty hard to test, but I did have good luck with the claim that they neutralize odor molecules. This was a 2-day shirt no problem and I probably could have gone to three.
There’s a nice hidden stash pocket in the bottom hem, plus like most ExOfficio travel clothing this shirt dries in a jiffy.
You can get this fabric in a T-shirt or 1/4-zip, but I tried the polo shirt and really liked it.
New Balance Impact Shirt
This looks more like a running shirt than a travel shirt, but I’m seeing more and more of this type of shirt on backpackers and tourists alike in hot countries. This one’s better than most because like the Colombia items I reviewed recently, this shirt has a built-in cooling effect activated by your sweat.
The New Balance system is NB Ice with Xilitol and to me this felt noticeably cooler when I wore it on bikes rides and walks. Besides the ventilation to let out the heat, this temperature reduction fabric seems to help—the claim is it can lower your body temperature two degrees. That’s a big help. The reflectivity will keep you seen at night and the nanotech sun protection keeps you from getting burned in the daytime.
This Impact short-sleeve shirt looks good on me and it feels good, so it’s a keeper too on future trips.