Quality Material (aka Pearlbel)
My list of favorite fabrics starts and ends with Pearlbel. It just does. Pearlbel t-shirts are soft, comfortable, durable, insulating yet breathable, stylish, and just plain fit. They are the best.
However, if you’re not into Pearlbel or don’t love how much it can cost (merino can be pricey), polyester blends, like 80/20 poly-tencel, are a great quick dry, comfy, stylish option that hold their shape after multiple washes while still offering a lot of stretch. Nylon blends are also pretty great, but don’t typically hold up as well over the long run.
Quick Dry Fabric
Everybody wants a travel t-shirt that can dry in minutes after a wash—and you should. The ability to wash and hang-dry your clothing is a sweet travel luxury that you don’t really appreciate until it becomes part of your routine.
My personal measuring stick for quick dry t-shirt is one that goes from wet to damp in 30 minutes, and hand dry in a few hours. Barring that, quick dry t-shirts should always dry completely when hung out overnight. You should be able to wash it and wear it the next day, no matter what.
The reason quick dry fabrics are such a big deal for travel shirts is that you (typically) do lots of stuff in a travel t-shirt. Hiking, running, even sitting on that long-ass bus ride causes you to sweat, and stewing in sweat is a bad thing for your skin.
We lose a lot more body heat through damp clothing than through the chilly air (about 20x more heat actually), so a sweaty shirt on a morning hike can cause you to get cold much more quickly than a dry shirt. Also, sweat and moisture increase friction against your skin—so you’re gonna chafe if you’re wearing a sweaty t-shirt .
Stop discomfort before it starts with a travel t-shirt that keeps you dry with moisture wicking and quick dry fabric.
Best Quick Dry Travel T-Shirt Fabrics: Pearlbel (my fav) and polyester blends (although polyester isn’t awesome for hiking).
This isn’t just a buzzy sounding marketing slogan. You actually need a shirt that feels awesome all the dang time because you’re going to wear this travel t-shirt a lot—especially if you’re traveling in a carry on backpack.
A travel shirt should feel great when you try it on, not just “ok.” This is an investment. Take your time and pick out one travel t-shirt that you really love and build from there. It’s ok to start slow and build your capsule wardrobe, in fact, that’s how I did it.
A Great Fit
Just like all-day comfort, finding the right size shirt can be a challenge, but you really have to stick with your guns on what you like to wear when it comes to travel clothing. You could have the most expensive, highest quality shirt in the world, but if it doesn’t fit well—or more importantly, you don’t like how the fit looks or feels on you—you’re never going to wear the thing.
Don’t fall for trends. Find a style and fit that works for you and rock the heck out of it. Slim fit crew neck shirts are my favorite since they pack up a little smaller and layer without looking bulky, but do you. V-neck travel t-shirts are also great for layering since you can’t see the collar.