Sure, I’ve got so many t-shirts that I could wear one a day for months and not repeat, but only a few of them let me dry off quickly when I’m working up a sweat and keep smelling good enough to wear again the next day. This Marmot tee made with Polartec fabric is one of them. And my new favorite.
Wicking t-shirts have come a long way from when they were straight synthetic fabric that was one step up from your aunt’s blouse or a leisure suit shirt from Saturday Night Fever. If you buy a cheap one, that’s usually what you’ll still get. This one lists for $40, which is certainly a step up, but a couple of shirts like this can be a secret weapon in the war against airline baggage fees.
You see this Marmot Lightweight Tee is indeed light, as in 4.8 ounces (136 grams) in your luggage weight tally. Most of your toiletries probably weigh more individually than that. The real key though is the Cocona yarn from Polartec that’s spun into the recycled polyester. It’s made from the “activated carbon of coconut shells,” which would seem to be a handy resource. Think about all that VitaCoco water that leads to enough discarded shells to fill a container ship. Here’s the whole Cocona explanation, but the surface of it aids the wicking process and naturally fights odor. Kind of like merino wool does, but in a stronger fabric that’s cooler.
As usual, I was surprised at how well it worked. I’d take this shirt out biking, wear it to the gym, then take a walk in the hot sun to run some errands. After a few days of this, I’d expect it to reek badly, but it was still more than bearable. That’s a huge plus when you’re traveling, especially if you’re in hot countries and are lugging a backpack or suitcase up stairs and onto trains and buses. A few items like this and you don’t have to be doing sink laundry every few days.
As for performance, I loved the feel and fit of this stretchy Marmot shirt. I look better in this than most others I’ve tried and it’s not so thin that you can see every chest hair. (No, real men don’t wax.) It has thin mesh panels on the sides and under the arms though to allow better ventilation.
The flat seams make it comfy with a backpack or messenger bag and the tagless collar is a welcome touch. I packed this on one trip where I intentionally stuffed it into my bag at the last minute and did the same coming home. It looked fine, wrinkle-free both times.
There’s also a women’s version and if you want one for a base layer for cold climates, you can get long sleeves for just $5 more.
See more travel clothing reviews on Practical Travel Gear.