The Men’s Travel Clothes I Pack No Matter Where I’m Headed
The good, the bad, and the (not so) stinky.
It’s taken a few years, but I think I finally have this packing and travel thing down to a science. I used to pack my clothing based on the exact trip I was taking. But, I realized that, with the right brands and the right materials, I could pack the same — well, almost the same — travel clothes no matter where I was headed.
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To be sure, this list has never failed me on trips to countless countries on all seven continents. This isn’t intended to be comprehensive, of course. No single list can simultaneously prepare you for Antarctica and South Africa, for example. The clothing you might wear on a polar kayaking expedition would hardly work on safari. But, I’m confident that packing and knowing how to properly layer these men’s travel clothes will prepare you to travel just about anywhere comfortably.
If you’re not interested in specific recommendations, these are the best men’s travel clothing brands I trust and recommend:
Maybe it’s the fact that my butt stopped growing at twelve years old, but I’ve always had a helluva time finding pants that fit well. I stopped buying jeans online because I returned every single pair I ordered. Aviator makes a big promise with their self-described Best Travel Jeans in the World. That’s literally what they’re called.
When they offered to send me a pair, I was skeptical. But, after just a few weeks, I can safely say they’re hands-down the most comfortable pants I own. They’re soft and made to stretch, which is why they’re now my go-to pants for long-haul flights. Three zippered pockets (one in the front, two around back) provide plenty of secure storage for a wallet, passport, phone, and maybe a switchblade to keep the muggers at bay. Plus, how rad is that rear leather patch?
They’re available in a variety of traditional denim washes, but I opted for the Khaki version. It’s a versatile design that’s dressy enough to wear to a decent restaurant, but lightweight and casual enough for day hikes and city exploration. Every pair is sold with a 34-inch inseam, but the company will tailor the length for a nominal fee.
Best Men’s Travel Shorts: Icebreaker Connection Commuter Shorts
Straight up, merino wool is the best material for active travelers. If I could pick just one material for every piece of travel clothing — shorts, socks, hats, underwear, lederhosen — that I own it would be merino. Icebreaker is one of the biggest and best merino brands in the world. Every article of theirs that I own still looks as new as the day I bought it.
That includes my pair of Connection Commuter Shorts. The materials are a mix of nylon/spandex on the exterior (for durability, water repellency, and stretch) and merino next to the skin so they’re ultra-comfortable and almost never smell. The Monsoon Gray color is casual enough for hiking and city exploring, but can also be dressed up for evenings out.
Best Men’s Travel Shirts
I like to travel with a mix of casual and active shirts. Both kinds are well-suited for specific purposes.
Casual Men’s Travel Shirts: Bombas
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve no doubt seen the avalanche of online ads for Bombas. You probably already have a drawer full of their socks.
What you may not know is that the company also makes awesome T-shirts. Crew neck, V-neck, pocket crew, pick your poison. They’re all made of high-quality Peruvian Pima Cotton that’s soft and has a cool (temperature-wise) feel to it. It’s also ridiculously, buttery soft compared to both merino wool and even traditional cotton. It’s the perfect material for long plane rides, casual city exploring, and the like.
On the downside, it is cotton. That means it wrinkles easily and dries slowly. So it’s not ideal for super active days which is why I always pack merino wool as well …
Active Men’s Travel Shirts: Unbound Merino
If you’ve been online in the last year, you’ve also no doubt seen plenty of ads for Unbound Merino. Their marketing is filled with a lot of tall promises. Phrases like: “the perfect travel shirt for men,” “the last travel shirt you’ll ever buy,” and “you NEVER need to wash it!” I’m paraphrasing, of course, but you get the gist.
Honestly, believe the hype. Their travel clothing for men is amazing. I own two Unbound Merino shirts — one short-sleeve crew neck in black, another long-sleeve navy — and both are fantastic. They’re soft, lightweight, wrinkle-resistant, and dry quickly and easily. I pack one or both shirts for every single trip I take. Because merino wool naturally resists odors and germs, it’s possible to wear these shirts for days (even a full week) without washing them. The company doesn’t recommend that, but I’m telling you it’s totally possible.
The one minor note is that merino wool is not quite as comfortable as Pima cotton. That’s more an issue with the fabric itself than Unbound Merino. Don’t get me wrong, the shirts are very comfortable. They’re just not as comfortable as my Bombas shirts.
Best Men’s Travel Shoes: Astral Hemp Loyak
Of the brands on this list, Astral is the newest to me. I recently fell in love with their Hemp Loyak men’s shoes for travel. They’re lightweight, low profile, and surprisingly rugged. They can practically fold up in my luggage if I need them to. The rubber sole is flexible and thin, but in a good way — in a way that feels natural to wear as though you’re actually feeling the ground beneath you rather than being completely insulated from it.
Hemp is a great all-around natural material for clothing. It’s soft, comfortable, and breaks in a little more with each use. Plus, Astral blends the hemp upper with 23% recycled polyester, so every pair is ethically and sustainably made. They do run a bit narrow, although that hasn’t been a problem for me.
Best Men’s Travel Sandals: OluKai
I was a fan of Reef sandals for years. My last two pairs were possibly the most comfortable footwear I’ve ever owned. Both pairs, however, blew out in less than two years. If they weren’t nearly $100 per pair, I’d be fine with that. But, at that price, I expect more.
So, I recently made the switch to OluKai. The style, feel, and comfort of my new Alania sandals is similar to my old Reef’s, but the quality seems a tad better. These travel with me on every single trip. No matter where I’m traveling, I always have a use for them. From late-night bathroom runs at the campground to lounging around the ship on my Antarctic cruise to chasing raccoons off the porch of our Airbnb in Chattanooga, these have proven to be one of the most versatile pieces of travel clothing that I own.
Which brands do you think make the best men’s travel clothes? What articles of travel clothing do you always pack no matter where you’re headed?