As I’ve said in other reviews of lightweight wicking shirts, I’ve gone from skeptic to champion of these things since the companies started getting better at making them odor resistant. A product that was initially made for competing bicyclists and runners (who were expected to be sweaty and stinky really) is now well-suited for people who are traveling light for long periods.
These two models from New Balance have gone into my bag on a few recent trips, including hiking s in temperate Eastern Europe and sweating my butt off in tropical Nicaragua. Through it all, the
This Icefil one is super-thin, stretchy, and cool to the touch, making it a great one to wear in hot places and when moving around a lot. The “multi step skin cooling technology” has been lab tested to stay cooler in warm, humid conditions. It’s one of the most comfortable synthetic shirts I’ve worn—very soft to the touch. It also wicks and dries in record time, partly because of the fabric design but also because of some mesh vents letting the hot air out even better.
With these properties, sun protection, and reflective properties, this is my new favorite shirt for riding a bike at night in Florida. It’s also going in my bag for three weeks in sweltering Southeast Asia this summer. It packs down to nothing and is wispy light, which always helps when you’re living out of one bag. It also has a flattering fit and looks good. The Icefil short sleeve shirt comes in four color combinations: two white with colored trim, two solid with other colors in the trim. It lists for $40 at NewBalance.com, but you can also follow this link to check prices at Paragon Sports.
This other New Balance t-shirt is more basic, but also lists for $15 less. The Performance Heathered one feels more like a normal t-shirt and doesn’t have such a superhero cut as the Icefil one. It’s also part cotton, which offers soft comfort and absorption.
Think of this one as a t-shirt you can wear for light workouts or take with you in your travels for layering or to wear alone. It’s treated to be odor-resistant and in my tests that worked well enough for me to wear it three days between washes. Beyond that would be pushing it. This 50/50 blend seemed to work well in the tropics since when humidity is close to 100 the moisture has nowhere to go anyway. It’s hard for any shirt to really dry in those conditions, so you might as well be wearing something that feels good against your skin.
The fabric is also somewhat reflective, making it seem a tad shiny in the daytime, but helping you get seen in the headlights in low light. Since this t-shirt is a solid blue or gray, it’s a good travel staple to match with multiple outfits or to wear under something else.