TRAVEL IN STYLE:
The Travel Shirt Review
It’s important when traveling the globe, whether that be by air, boat, car, truck or motorcycle, to have a quality shirt on your back. A versatile shirt, which works as well hiking the jungles of Costa Rica as it does hitting up night clubs in Dubai, is key, as no matter your mode of travel, you have limited capacity to carry clothes. I’m very picky about what clothing travels with me on my 4 wheeled overland adventures, and even more so when I travel by air or motorcycle.
The following 4 travel shirts are all quality pieces, from quality companies, that I’ve personally tested in a variety of environments. All photos are from a single shoot in the Northern Arizona desert with my good friends at Adventure Driven. The shirts were removed from my clothes storage in the EEXP overland adventuremobile and put on my back. The shirts were not prepped in any way, meaning they were clean, but had not been ironed or made to look any better than they would when I pull them out on a regular day. I believe life is WAY too short to iron your clothes each day, especially while traveling!
ExOfficio Geotrek’r Shirt
AS TESTED: Size Medium, DK Pebble
MATERIAL: 100% Nylon
MADE IN: Malaysia
FEATURES: security zip on left chest with floating pocket loop, drop-in chest pocket on right chest, hidden button-down collar, mesh-lined back yoke ventilation, roll-up sleeve tabs
WHAT THE COMPANY HAS TO SAY: “Always ready for an around-the-world trip, the GeoTrek’r has a casual look and performance built in. Perfect for hiking or urban adventures, the durable ripstop nylon fabric is breathable, wicking, and protects you from the sun with UPF 30+ rating. The clean, classic styling of this shirt is great for any activity on your travels.” The ExOfficio Geotrek’r is extremely lightweight, breathable and well styled. It dries incredibly fast, wicks perspiration away from the skin quickly and vents heat extremely well, through the large mesh back vent. The main gripe about the Geotrek’r is the build quality, as you’re sure to find plenty of loose threads. The shirt also tends to get wrinkly, and not let go of those wrinkles easily. The hidden button behind the collar is a nice touch, as it keeps the collar nice, crisp and looking sharp. The white inlayed lettering in the buttons is also a very stylish look. The cut of the shirt is not all that fitted, which looks a bit baggy on my athletic frame, especially when worn un-tucked. Bottom line; light, breathable and stylish, but not stitched all that well, wrinkles easily and is best tucked in.
Triple Aught Design Tradcraft Shirt
AS TESTED: Size Medium, Gunmetal
MATERIAL: 65% Polyester, 35% Cotton
MADE IN: “Sewn in the USA”
FEATURES: DWR finish, 2 welt chest pockets, hidden small pocket inside front placket, buttons secured along bar-tacked webbing, spare slotted button that rotates onto webbing for quick field repair WHAT THE COMPANY HAS TO SAY: “Capable of blending in from the souq to the situation room, our low vis Tradecraft Shirt delivers high performance under pressure. Combining fine tailoring techniques with technical materials, the Tradecraft was engineered to minimize printing and resist wrinkles and stains, while still looking slick.” The TAD Tradecraft Shirt is the shirt in this test that I thought wouldn’t make the cut. Instead, it rose to the top as one of the most stylish, less wrinkly and most quality made. It is made in America, has quality stitching and offers up extremely durable features, like the buttons that are secured along a bar-tacked webbing strand. Generally I’m not a cotton guy, as cotton is usually heavy, bulky and less performance oriented than many of the new tech fabrics, but this shirt is the exception to the rule in a few ways. It is extremely comfortable to wear, seems to repel wrinkles and is stylish enough to be worn in a wide range of places. Because of the cotton construction, the Tradecraft is however the heaviest weight shirt in this test, dries extremely slowly and is relatively hot in warm climates, as it doesn’t have any vents or breath all that well. The small hidden handcuff key pocket gives it a little “tackticool” edge, which I’m not usually into, but again this shirt seems to be the exception to the rule, as I can actually see the handcuff key pocket being a good idea when traveling in many countries. Bottom line; repels wrinkles, durable and stylish, but is warm and heavy.
Clothing Arts Pick-Pocket Proof Travel Shirt
AS TESTED: Size Medium, Dark Grey
MATERIAL: “Nature-Like” Nylon
MADE IN: India
FEATURES: UPF 30+, 2 hidden zipper-secure chest pockets, 2 button-secure chest pockets, removable collar stays, water resistant
WHAT THE COMPANY HAS TO SAY: “Look Good with Great Versatility: Sleeves rolled up or down, the Men’s Travel Shirt is designed for life on the go. From meeting, to dinner, to outdoor exploration, Clothing Arts’ Men’s Travel Shirts fit perfectly. Cut to serve a tailored and tucked-in or casual, untucked look, internal collar stays keep you looking smart at any time of day, in every situation. Ruggedly designed for ease of movement and durability, this button down looks just as smart in the outdoors as it does on an elegant evening out. Travel security is kept close to the chest here: zippered pockets hide behind traditional buttoned breast pockets. Quick dry for travel hand wash and line dry, the baby-soft Nature-Like™ Nylon (really you should feel this fabric) is wrinkle-resistant, lightweight, and UPF 30+.” The Clothing Arts Pick-Pocket Proof Travel Shirt is really all about keeping valuables, like your passport, cash and credit cards, out of the hands of thieves while on the go. The shirt is a clean classic style that integrates the hidden zippered security pockets well. The “Nature-Like” Nylon has the technical features you expect from a modern travel garment, like water and stain resistance, quick drying and quality sun protection (UPF 30+), while also offering up the look and comfortable feel of natural fibers. The classic cut on this shirt works well tucked in or un-tucked. The shirt seems to be built well and hold up to abuse while on the go. It works in a casual travel environment, but it has very classic lines that lend itself to a more professional look. The only real gripe with this shirt is that it seems to get and hold wrinkles extremely well. Bottom line; well build, great for securing your travel documents and has a clean unassuming versatile style, but is quite wrinkly and not all that unique.
Montane Terra Nomad Shirt
AS TESTED: Size Large, Shadow
MATERIAL: AEROFLYTE Grid (100% Polyester) with POLYGIENE antibacterial finish
MADE IN: China
FEATURES: press stud closures on front of shirt/sleeve roll-ups/cuffs, antibacterial, 2-way stretch, mesh lined upper back vents, under arm perforated ventilation, 2 mesh lined chest pockets, internal elbow reinforcement patch, rear external hanging loop WHAT THE COMPANY HAS TO SAY: “Durable stretch mountain shirt designed for long distance backpacking, providing high UPF protection, antibacterial treatment and a fast drying time.”
The Montane Terra Nomad Shirt excited me from the start. It has a euro athletic fit, is packed full of technical features and is a great combination of outdoor and classic style. The shirt has TONS of ventilation options, both passive and active, while still providing great UV protection. The snap closures are quick, easy and secure, while providing a very clean look, but the internal snap at the elbow, designed to hold up rolled sleeves, is actually quite painful if you lean on your elbows just right. The Terra Nomad repels stains well, and stays relatively wrinkle free, no matter the tiny bag that I smash it into. For all its technical materials, the shirt is surprisingly heavy. It also is a bit of a long cut to be perfect to be worn un-tucked, even on my long torso, but still manages to pull the look off without an issue. I’ve worn this shirt on technical hikes, and out to fancy dinner parties, and it was perfect for both. This shirt could really only be better if I had gotten my hands on the Moroccan Blue version of this shirt, as it has quite a sharp look with its contrasting orange zippers. Bottom line; technical go anywhere piece that looks great, but isn’t very light weight, has a high price tag and internal snaps at the elbow that can be uncomfortable.
I must admit that these are all high quality travel shirts. It’s hard to go wrong with any of them, whether you are just going out on the town for the night or jet setting around the globe. They do however have their pros and cons, and you should choose one based on your intended use and personal style. I’m a tall skinny guy, and the best fit for my frame was the TAD Tradecraft Shirt and Montane Terra Nomad Shirt. I also like to wear my shirts un-tucked, most of the time, the Tradecraft Shirt and Clothing Arts P-Cubed Travel Shirt being the best suited to this. Weight is many times a consideration when traveling, and the Tradecraft and ExOfficio Geotrek’r shirts beat out the competition here. I also really can’t be bothered to iron shirts in my high paced life. The Terra Nomad and Tradecraft shirts were by far the least wrinkly of the bunch, but they are also the two most expensive in the test.
Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise, but the two most expensive shirts in this review rose to the top. If you want a clean classic shirt that will last years, and hold up to whatever abuse your adventures can put them through, the TAD Tradecraft Shirt is for you. The Tradecraft is also stitched here in the USA, which is quite rare in the clothing world these days. If you want a unique highly breathable shirt that will look great in any situation, you really can’t beat the Montane Terra Nomad Shirt. The Terra Nomad has also garnered the most unsolicited positive comments from others on my travels, with the Tradecraft not too far behind.
Do you have a favorite travel shirt, that you just can’t leave home without?
(Disclaimer: All of these shirts were supplied by their respective companies for review consideration. Exploring Elements received no monetary compensation, or has any formal relationship with any of these companies at the time of this review.)