I have a confession to make. Something I’ve been wanting to tell you about for a real long time… Okay, here goes…
I am in love with Merino wool.
Phew! Glad that’s off my chest. And right now, you may be thinking, “Merino wool? That’s a funny thing to be in love with.” Yes, I suppose it is. But hear me out. I’m in love with this wool, which comes from a rare breed of sheep, because it is the perfect fabric to travel with!
See, I’m a bit anal about how I pack for my trips, as I don’t travel with much space. You may remember that I’ve embraced the whole ultralight backpacking phenomenon that allows me to travel with a mere 32-liter backpack, which poses some packing challenges. Every item I take must be chosen wisely.
Does an article of clothing dry in a few hours? Does it hold a smell? Is it sturdy enough to deal with the rigors of travel? And will it wick moisture away from my sweaty body?
People! There is a fabric out there that happily adheres to all these categories and its name is Merino! And let’s face it. You’re going to want high performance fabric for those long trips.
Case in point, previously I traveled with these athletic shirts designed for running. They were fantastic at wicking moisture away but I sweat so much that they would reek at the end of the day. While my strategy relies heavily on washing clothing frequently, there are times when that’s just not possible, and in that case, having a garment you can potentially wear more than once is very important.
Heck those running shirts would at times still stink, even after washing, and I just can’t have that!
Now there is a downside to buying Merino products; they are quite expensive. This Icebreaker T-Shirt, while absolutely fantastic, will set you back about US$75. You’re probably thinking, “That’s insanity!” Perhaps, but think about all the benefits! Think about how the fabric, unlike cotton, breathes while you move around. Think about how, despite its thin form, this SmartWool Long-Sleeve Shirt is warm when it needs to be. Think about how you’re investing in a wool product that won’t itch you either!
There is something else you should be aware of. Merino products, while fantastic, have to be washed with care. Generally its best not to stick them in the dryer. But, if you follow my washing ideology, then that shouldn’t be a problem. Think of it as a way of protecting your fantastic travel investment!
So far, my travel inventory has evolved to include the shirts listed above (I’ve found that I prefer Icebreaker products over SmartWool), as well as several pairs of Merino socks (again, they don’t smell and I’m talking about socks here…) as well as a pair of Merino long underwear. All are thin, cool when they need to be, yet warm when they need to be, quick drying and generally smell-free! What could be better than that?
What About You?
What’s your chosen form of travel fabric?