Something I avoided for far too long was purchasing any clothing marketed for “travel.” I found it quite silly that a shirt or pair of pants could benefit my comfort while traveling and laughed when I looked at the prices of most of them at the local outdoors store.
With every trip I started to realize how uncomfortable I was though, whether it was sitting on a plane for several hours in jeans or stretching out a cotton t-shirt while wearing my backpack.
Not to mention how bad my typical t-shirts started to look and smell after a couple of days of use (and rinsing in the hostel shower).
My jeans were the first pair of clothes to get nixed for travel. I love wearing jeans day in and day out, but let’s face it, they’re not the most forgiving pair of clothing while sitting in a airplane seat for hours on end. They’re also quite heavy in your backpack.
Before my trip to Argentina I purchased a pair of REI Adventure pants for $50. It was definitely more than I typically spend on a pair of pants but their versatility sold me. They’re light and comfortable, breathe well, have concealed zipper pockets for your wallet and passport and most importantly, look good. They’re nice enough to wear with to work with a nice shirt, but casual enough to wear with a t-shirt and pair of sneakers.
Finally I bit the bullet and purchased a couple of pairs of shirts made for travel and adventure. One by REI and two by The North Face. I’m not here to review the specific products though, so let’s look at the big picture.
Most travel clothing is made from nylon or polyester. These materials are generally lighter than cotton and do a better job at moisture-wicking. They also dry very fast so you can wash them in a sink or shower and hang them to dry overnight. That means you can pack much less than you normally would.
Many are treated to be water resistant, block the sun’s evil SPF rays, and some repel insects as well. I’m clumsy, pale, and mosquitoes love to suckle my blood so I’ll take them all – thanks!
Most travel and adventure clothing are made to be more durable than your average article of clothing. Many of the brands that specialize in this type of gear even offer lifetime warranties.
The biggest negative to dedicated travel clothing is the price. There’s a premium placed on most travel clothing but be sure to check out when things go on sale for the best deals.
One way to offset the cost is to find things you can wear for other uses than just traveling. Everything I’ve purchased so far can also be worn to work back home so I can get more use out of it. That being said, some much of the stuff you’ll find at your local outdoor retailer just looks silly. I don’t like to walk around looking like Paul Bunyan.