We are all adjusting to the new normal, and isolation has been rampant over the past 18 months. So, I thought it would be nice to spread our wings and fly into something new: the best men’s Merino wool shirts for travel.
I’ll first go over why Merino wool is such a fantastic fabric for travel clothing and then dive into our top 10 favorite Merino wool travel shirts. Hopefully, there’s a piece of gear that piques your interest and reignites your eternal travel flame.
Because no matter how far you travel, Merino wool gear lets you experience the comfort of home.
- Best Overall: Unbound Merino Crew
- Runner-Up: Olivers Convoy Long Sleeve
- Most Versatile: Ridge Merino Solstice Hoodie
- Best Button-Down: Western Rise Limitless Merino
- Best Travel Polo: Woolx Summit Polo
- Best For Hot Climates: Icebreaker Merino Sphere
- Best For Cold Climates: Smartwool 250 Base Layer
- Most Stylish: Wool & Prince 130 Button-Down
- Best For Adventure Travel: Ibex 24 Hour LS Crew
- Best Value: Merino.tech tee
Disclosure & Transparency: Merino Wool Gear DOES NOT sponsor products to maintain genuineness and authenticity. Yet as an affiliate member, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
Why Is Merino Wool The Best Travel Fabric?
My first ever experience with Merino wool was a lightweight wool buff I used for an eight-country Eurotrip over ten years ago. So for the last decade, traveling and Merino wool have gone hand-in-hand for me.
The level of comfort, odor resistance, versatility, and performance of Merino wool gear makes it the top choice for weekend warriors and digital nomads worldwide!
So, let’s closely examine some of Merino’s top-notch travel properties. And hopefully – in combination with some of the Merino travel gear suggestions – you’ll be able to find a shirt that fits all your adventure needs.
No more layover stink. You know what I’m talking about. When you get to a new city, the first thing you should be doing is exploring, not showering. With Merino wool, your clothes will stay fresh all day long.
But why? Well, it has to do with Merino’s moisture properties. Basically, nasty odors from your skin get trapped in the moisture within the fabric, not the material itself. So when you’re on the road, you can go a solid week (or more) without smelling like the inside of a gym bag.
Still, just because your clothing doesn’t stink doesn’t mean you don’t too. Pack some travel wipes for crying out loud!
In my not-so-humble opinion, Merino wool is the softest everyday fabric on the market, hands down. The ultrasoft next-to-skin feel is due to the fine, low-micron fibers. Plus, wool’s natural crimp provides both stretchiness and support, so your clothing moves when you do.
And, people often ask: isn’t wool itchy? No, not Merino wool, at least. The fibers are so tiny that your skin doesn’t view them as irritants (unlike rough, traditional wool). And since wool fibers are composed of keratin – just like human hair – it’s improbable that you are allergic to it.
All in all, the comfort of Merino travel clothing truly makes it a cut above the rest. In other words, it feels like you’re wrapped in a cloud while you’re flying through the clouds.
You may not think of Merino wool as the most fashionable of travel fabrics, but there are many styles to choose from. I usually like to travel with a couple of basic Merino tees and a fantastic wool sun hoodie (as you will learn soon). But there are polos, button-downs, base layers, and so many other types of Merino wool clothing that you can pack on your adventures.
The overarching moral is that Merino wool comes in all shapes, styles, sizes, colors, and patterns. It’s versatile enough to wear as a layering item or a standalone piece. Even some Merino wool travel shirts I’ll cover could be considered formalwear!
So, whichever your travel style, there’s a functional, versatile piece of Merino wool gear for you!
Editor’s Note: Although many Merino wool travel shirts claim to be wrinkle-resistant, that’s never 100% the case. Everything wrinkles, and with Merino, many lighter-weight shirts tend to wrinkle more. The best way to avoid this is to look for a heavier shirt or just use the military roll (or what I like to call the Chipotle Roll because burritos are delicious) while packing. Check out the steps above. Image adapted from Unbound Merino.
Finally, you truly can’t beat the performance of Merino wool clothing in the travel-sphere. Wool does an excellent job at regulating your body temperature. Therefore, you need less clothing to achieve the same level of protection.
In other words, traveling with Merino wool allows you to pack less to adventure more. What more could you want?
Travel Pro Tip: Merino wool is not as quick-drying as synthetic clothing, so always allow a couple hours for your laundry to dry on the road. I prefer flat-drying on a towel, but I’ve also been known to hang a travel clothesline on my hostel bunk from time to time.
Best Overall Men’s Merino Wool Travel Shirt
100% Merino | Lightweight (190 gsm) | 17.5 microns | Slim-to-Regular fit | Multiple Colors | $$$
Pros: Literally designed for travel | Minimalist style | Ultrasoft fabric
Cons: Some user-reported shoulder seam issues | Sizing may run small
Made for travelers – by travelers – Unbound Merino flies in first-class on Travel Gear airlines. Okay, that was a lame attempt at humor, but you get the point: if you want Merino wool travel gear, you can’t go wrong with Unbound Merino.
And their crew-neck Merino tee is a must-have in any traveler’s kit.
The ultrasoft Merino is comfortable and odor-resistant! And while early versions of this tee had some seam irritation, I think Unbound has finally designed out that issue. It’s pretty cool to see the development of these travel tees over such a short amount of time. True innovation.
Yet, the thing we love most about the Unbound Merino crew neck is the simple, no-frills design. It’s a t-shirt. A d*mn comfortable t-shirt that you can wear anywhere, anytime. What you see is what you get. And you’ll get is one of the best Merino wool travel shirts on the market.
Runner-Up: Men’s Merino Travel Tee
100% Merino | Lightweight (165 gsm) | 18.5 microns | Regular fit | Black or Gray | $$$
Pros: Ultrasoft Merino fabric | Functional & stylish shoulder cut | Excellent breathability
Cons: Fabric tends to wrinkle under chest | Length a bit long
There’s something just so sleek and stylish about the Oliver’s Convoy LS Tee. The drape and cut are some of the best I’ve seen. Plus, the regular fit makes it a perfect standalone shirt or an integral part of any layering system.
And, how can I forget the ultrasoft, uber-comfortable, 100% Merino wool fabric? I mean, the material must be sourced from the best suppliers. I’d even venture to say it’s one of the softest tees on this list. But again, I’ve found that metric hard to define, so take it with a subjective grain of salt.
Although, suppose you’re deterred from the long-sleeves because you are more of a tropical traveler. In that case, you should know that the lightweight fabric works to regulate your body temperature. And in my experience, wearing Merino wool sleeves in hotter climates can help cool you down. Still, that’s a topic of debate for another time.
Instead, test out the long-sleeve convoy tee and let us know!
Most Versatile Merino Travel Shirt
87% Merino, 13% Nylon | Ultralight (145 gsm) | 17.5 microns | Relaxed fit | Seasonal colors | $$$
Pros: Cloud-like drape & feel | Oversized hood is versatile | Ultralight yet surprisingly durable
Cons: Arm length is long due to thumb holes | Slight wrinkles after several uses
If you’ve read our reviews before, you may know how much we love gear from Ridge Merino. They always have some of the best-fitting, high-quality wool apparel, all at a solid price. So, it’s only ‘fitting’ to include their Solstice Hoodie as our “Most Versatile” Merino wool travel shirt.
I know it sounds strange, but the Ridge Merino Solstice Hoodie is the swiss-army knife of travel shirts. Honestly, it’s the ‘key ‘to my travel capsule wardrobe. The oversize hood is an excellent eye cover for an airplane snooze. The ultralight fabric weighs next to nothing if it’s in your carry-on or worn as a base layer in chilly climates.
Plus, I can acceptably wear it anywhere. It’s got a bit of that high-end outdoor style that does not look out of place in an urban setting. Oh yeah, and it’s relatively affordable – unlike anything at the airport.
Anyways, I’m not going to dive into too many tech specs with this one. You only need to know that I never travel without my Solstice Hoodie. Period.
Best Merino Wool Button-Down
53% Merino, 47% Polyester | Lightweight (175 gsm) | Slim fit | Gray (light & dark) | $$$$
Pros: Classic yet casual style | Fantastic all-around performance | Packs down small
Cons: Wish there was more Merino wool | Limited color options
Western Rise knows that you may need more than a simple wool tee while traveling. They created this functional Limitless Merino wool button-down to cater to all your travel needs. The design is professional yet fashionable. And, you just can’t beat the comfort of Merino wool!
“Looks like an Oxford, is more comfortable than a t-shirt, and outperforms your activewear.”
Yet, if you want a 100% wool shirt, you’re out of luck with this one. The overall material construction is about 50-50 Merino-polyester. While this does help with the long-term durability, we tend to find it not as comfy as a pure wool button-down.
Still, the Western Rise Limitless Merino button-down gets the job done when you’re on the road. You won’t stink, you won’t wrinkle (as much), and your body temperature will stay regulated. Now, that’s all you can ask for in a travel shirt, right?
Best Merino Wool Polo For Travel
85% Merino, 12% Nylon, 3% Spandex | Lightweight (150 gsm) | Slim fit | Black, Blue, & Tan | $$$
Pros: Comfy raglan sleeve construction | Simple, classic style | Mix of performance & fashion
Cons: Attracts lint, pet hair, etc. | Sizing inconsistencies
Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of the casual business aesthetic. Perhaps it’s because I was forced to dress in bland-colored khakis and a navy polo for nearly a dozen years. Still, there are some situations where a t-shirt is just too informal, so that’s when I reach for my Woolx summit polo.
This slim-fit polo is crafted from ultralight 150-gsm fabric, so you don’t sweat when running to your gate. It’s like a performance tee with a collar, which is an underrated combination. Plus, since it comes in three distinct colors, there’s a style that’ll match any pair of work slacks. That way, I can look – and feel – good if I’m traveling for work.
Woolx has found the proper combination of long-term performance and style, especially for those always on the go. And when it comes to the fabric itself, I really like the overall durability. The 85% Merino blend is comfortable and stretchy, but the corespun synthetics add extra strength.
Best Merino Wool Shirt For Hot Climates
52% Merino, 35% TENCEL, 13% Nylon | Featherweight (130 gsm) | Regular Fit | 4 colors | $$
Pros: Breathable, ‘featherlight’ fabric | Offset shoulder seam = less chafing | Drop-tail hem
Cons: Material may be see-through | Fabric may wrinkle over time
Update: As of August 2022, this item is currently unavailable. We are working with Icebreaker to determine if this is an inventory issue or perhaps an item that is no longer being manufactured.
If you’ve read our best Men’s Merino t-shirt review, you’ll know that the Icebreaker Tech-Lite tee topped our list. However, we think Icebreaker has a better t-shirt option for tropical travel: the Cool-Lite Merino Sphere crew.
Many ultralight Merino shirts have a thickness of at least 150 gsm. Yet the Icebreaker Cool-Lite tee is even more ultralight, coming in only 130 gsm. And sure, you may have long-term durability concerns (since we do too). Still, Icebreaker has an excellent warranty policy, and the fabric is corespun with TENCEL for extra strength (and sustainability). So, in reality, there’s not too much to worry about.
I find it a bit ironic that a brand named Icebreaker has one of the ‘coolest’ Merino wool tees out there. But that’s the thing about irony: it’s true! And if you like wearing sleeves in hot climates (like me), Icebreaker has a long-sleeve version, too.
Best Merino Wool Shirt For Cold Climates
100% Merino | Midweight (250 gsm) | Slim Fit | Multiple colors and patterns available | $$$$
Pros: Industry-leading performance | Engineered fit & updated features | Versatile design
Cons: Slightly more expensive than alternatives | Not suitable in warmer weather
In these review lists, I always return to the Smartwool 250 Merino base layer. It’s perfect for any cold-weather traveler as a layering piece and even a standalone shirt. I understand it sounds biased toward Smartwool, but after being in the Merino game for several years, I can say their products are legit.
The functional midweight baselayer is tight enough that a mid-layer won’t bunch but relaxed enough to be worn as an everyday shirt – especially in chillier climates. For example, if you throw on this shirt with a packable down jacket, you’ll be cozy in below-freezing temperatures.
Honestly, it’s my go-to utility layer when I’m backpacking, and the same performance qualities transfer to the travel world. And, since Smartwool consistently releases new colors and patterns, you may want to grab one before you get ‘frozen out ‘of a great deal!
Most Stylish Merino Wool Travel Shirt
100% Merino | Ultralight (130 gsm) | 17.5-18.5 Microns | Classic fit | 12+ styles | $$$$
Pros: Classic, professional look | Dozens of patterns | Multiple fabric thicknesses available
Cons: Fabric doesn’t ‘feel’ entirely durable | A bit more expensive than other options
You can still wear Merino wool even if you need to dress to the nines! A perfect example is this stylish button-up from Wool&Prince. You get the high-end luxury vibe plus the enhanced travel properties of Merino wool. I would even go on a limb and crown it the perfect wool button-down!
The one thing about Wool & Prince that makes them elite in the Merino world is their sheer selection of styles and fabric weights. Their classic Merino button-down comes in all shades of blue, gray, checkered, plaid, etc. Plus, you can get a button-down in various fabric thicknesses: 130 gsm, 170 gsm, 210 gsm, or blended with linen!
Think about it like this: there isn’t a professional outfit or classy look that can’t be achieved with one of these Wool & Prince Merino wool shirts.
And while I don’t pack mine on outdoor vacations, I always have one while city-hopping. In all honesty, it’s probably the best-looking piece of Merino wool travel gear that I own. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, check it out for yourself below!
Best Wool Shirt For Adventure Travel
100% Merino | Lightweight (165 gsm) | 19.5 microns | Regular Fit | 5 Colors available | $$$
Pros: Designed for all-around performance | Versatile layering | Fantastic moisture management
Cons: Need something thicker for freezing temps | Micron fibers could be finer
I love adventure travel. The thrill of exploring the outdoors in an unfamiliar country has always appealed to me. But one major issue I’ve always had is packing for the travel and adventure parts of the trip. Usually, that means two separate bags and lots of disorganization. However, I’ve learned that Merino wool serves both the travel and adventure roles during my trips. And one piece of gear that does this exceptionally well is the Ibex 24-hour Long-Sleeve Crew.
The reason is that I can wear the 24-hour crew for 24 hours! So, whether I’m killing time on a layover or jetting off for a foreign backpacking trip, I know I have a versatile, functional piece of gear for wherever the road leads me. It’s sort of like a safety blanket but much more comfortable.
The 24-hour long-sleeve crew is an essential piece for any one-bagger. So, I won’t bore you with the tech specs since I listed them above. Moreover, if you like the design but are looking for a different style, check out other Merino wool gear from Ibex.
Best Value Merino Wool Travel Shirt For Men
100% Merino | Lightweight (165 gsm) | 17.5 microns | Athletic fit | Multiple colors | $
Pros: Excellent price-to-performance ratio | Surprisingly comfy fabric | Multiple colors available
Cons: Pilling experienced in laundry | Long-term durability concerns
Yes, I know some of these Merino wool travel shirts are pricey. Still, there is affordable gear out there without sacrificing quality. One of my favorite brands that fit this description is Merino.tech. And their basic Merino tee comes at a solid price, giving you just enough money to buy the seat with a bit of extra legroom.
Personally, I have not worn this tee since I have found alternative options. However, my wife loves the women’s Merino.tech tee, and I feel the men’s shirt is similar. The fabric is ultrasoft (17.5-micron fibers), and the lightweight 165-gsm material is breathable.
So, if this shirt is so great, why do I have it as a ‘value’ pick? Well, it’s because Merino.tech offers an excellent price point. And sure, I have long-term durability questions. But to travel on a budget, I don’t think you will find a better choice for an affordable Merino wool travel tee.
Final Note: Best Merino Wool Travel Shirts For Men
And that’s that; the top 10 men’s merino wool shirts for travel. From tees to polos, button-downs to sun hoodies, I think I’ve covered nearly every style you could want in a travel wardrobe. All so that you can find that one piece of Merino Wool Gear that genuinely fits your needs.
I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! Honestly, it helped me itch my travel scratch – for at least another few months.
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