The Struggle is Real: Men’s Travel Clothing

So Vicki and I have frequented MEC, Europe Bound, Sail, Atmosphere as well as online stores like backcountry.com or jet-setter. We’ve seen styles from Prana, Ex-Officio, Nau, Ten Trees, etc. Basically anything you could think of for travel gear, we’ve visited. One thing we’ve really noticed out of all those places is that the words “travel clothing” is synonymous to “back country” meaning, travellers areoften hiking or climbing and in need of lightweight technical clothing with high visibility colours. Which really isn’t always the case for us and I’m assuming everyone else.

 

For the type of travelling we are doing, yes, we want something lightweight, breathable, quick-drying durable and versatile while still being stylish.. Is that so much to ask for? We’ll be travelling in cities for the most part and not so much as climbing or hiking for days. It would nice to blend in rather than stick out by wearing a neon green paclite gore-tex jacket with 50 shades of khaki from top to bottom. Travelling to hot destinations where t-shirts and technical pants just don’t seem to cut it. The convenience of zip-off pants will come in handy but again, your city-swag points will plummet (especially if you’re out in the main square, unzipping in front of everyone… no, not that kind.) The type of clothes suitable for the weather are less cotton tees and more dry-fit type materials. When you go out to look for that kind of clothing, you’ll really find a lot of sporty, I’m-gonna-play-basketball-hard clothing. Reflective tape: check. Baggy fit: check. Super shiny finish: check.

 

What I’ve also found for is that there’s an endless supply of plaid “going-out” shirts that come in a variety of colours and size-of-plaid. They market it as providing the ease of transition from hiking to city-life but really, after a long day of hiking, I’d love to get out of my sweaty plaid clothing and onto something fresh and simple.

Plaid on Plaid on Plaid on Plaid

The Ultimate Struggle
Finding clothes that fit our needs while staying stylish without breaking the bank. Seems simple enough, right?

 

I’ve never learned so much about different types of materials offering a few of the above until recently: merino wool, tencel, polyester, hemp, etc. It seems that once you’re in the realm of these types of materials, the style suffers. Oddly enough, I’ve noticed that most womens clothing have more technical blends than men’s, offering a variety of styles that are still lightweight (Vicki had just picked up some clothing from Nau which is a 65% blend of merino wool and 35% tencel – SCORE!) I perused through the guys section and only found organic cotton.. Mostly. 100% merino wool is totally out of the picture since I can’t / won’t buy a $90 plain black t-shirt. Patagonia offered some nice alternative shorts which had a linen texture but made with 55% organic cotton and 45% hemp. Looked promising.

 

Options & Alternatives

Well, my good friend Jimmy was kind enough to pick some stuff up for us in Uniqlo during his trip to NYC. They had a ton of goodies that fit our criterias. Durability will be in question but so far, so good. I’ve tested their packable down jacket and its great. They also have this line of clothing called “Airism” made from Polyester and spandex. On paper, it sounds great – breathable, lightweight, anti-bacterial and quick drying. I have a few t-shirts of this material, a bit shiny but still good. What I’m most excited about are their boxers actually. Same qualities as the ex-officio give-and-go boxers without the price (and the fact that it doesn’t ride up my bum while moving) I can pack 6 boxers and 3 t-shirts in small 4″x6″x3″ packing cube.

 
The search is not over yet!

Any suggestions for clothing that fit the bill?

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Michael Gozum

I'm a food photographer that wants to eat my way around the world.