Libertad Apparel Creates Travel Clothes with No Stinky Wrinkles

Travel apparel has always been about the best combinations of practicality and functionality while on the road. The options have always given travelers a certain touristy look, whether they’re actually in far off places or just around their home country. I’ve had quite a few of these traditional travel clothes, as I’ve listed in my first and second packing list posts

You want to pack light, have plenty of pockets and features to handle the myriad situations you’ll find yourself in while traveling through what you hope will be a grand adventure. Most of the time, those quick-drying polyester pants with the zip-off pant-legs merely make you a target for various touts, scammers, and locals who know you’re not likely to know local pricing. To anyone who has spent a good deal of time in heavily tourist-ed areas, you are “that guy.”

Digital Nomads and the various forms of location independent professionals can’t be taken seriously in the business and professional world when they’re dressed like Steve Irwin in the outback. You need to be taken seriously by clients and other businesses you need to network with if you want to grow your business in any significant sense.

Sure, if you’re off backpacking on your gap year, and have no need to impress a client or make a sale, all those pockets and straps can come in handy while you’re off trekking. They dry quickly, pack small and light, and can cover a variety of scenarios. Who cares if the locals are sniggering at you wherever you go?Libertad Apparel Conference

But those scenarios are rare for the modern traveler. You may still need to pack light and need functional clothes while you’re off building your business in a remote location, but you’ll find as you go that most of the things you think you need to fill all those pockets with are easily discarded or tossed in a messenger bag or day pack anyway.

You’ll want to go out and experience the nightlife without looking like Indiana Jones. You may not need to carry a suit everywhere you go, but the difference between minimalist packing and looking professional has so often become a choice between your “nice” t-shirt, a collared shirt with epaulets and 34 chest pockets, or the plaid travel shirts that everyone loved back in the eras when people wore flannel lumberjack shirts, but for some reason are popular options for travel apparel now.


After many prototypes and trials with other people as sweaty and travelly as me, Libertad Apparel is finally ready for production.

The Libertad Apparel Kickstarter Campaign is kick starting now August 25, 2015. I’m joining Kyle at a small gathering to kick it off after all his hard work getting to market. He’s found some of the best tailors and sourced his very specific material needs in just about every country in Asia.

I’ve already received my first Libertad Apparel shirt (which I’ve worn for 5 days straight now), and will order one or two more now that it’s gone live.

Libertad Apparel Product Testing

I met Kyle last year here in Chiang Mai, Thailand at a local networking event for digital nomads. He mentioned in a conversation I was eavesdropping on that he was trying to make travel apparel that doesn’t suck (paraphrasing here). He was wearing what looked like a nice dress shirt, and other than his stubbly and worn face, I didn’t realize he even was a long-term traveler, or that his nice dress shirt was actually a prototype he had developed.

One of the features he mentioned was the fabric, and how it doesn’t stink like all the plastic travel shirts I had at the time. It seemed once you skanked up one of these ploy-synthetic blended shirts I had worn so many of for years, they start to smell like body odor when they get wet. No matter how many times you wash them. If you’ve ever stayed in a hostel in Asia, you know what I mean.

So I mentioned to him that I had been sweating since about 2007 when I moved to Florida and then to Thailand, and boasted that I could stink up his fancy shirt in no time. He said he’d take me up on the offer.

He later contacted me to test one of his shirts when he was ready with the next round of prototypes. It was August in Thailand, so I was certain I could ruin his shirt with no effort at all.

He asked me to wear the shirt for 5 days. No washing, no ironing, and do whatever short of playing rugby in the shirt.

So I wore it for 7 days straight.

Libertad Apparel TestDuring that week, I sat all day at the TedX Chiang Mai event, so I wore it about 14 hours that day. The only time it was wet from anything other than my profuse sweating was when I rode home in the rain.Libertad Apparel Test

Since I was trying to break the shirt, I balled it up wet and left it to dry after that ride. When I picked it up off the floor the next morning, it had some slight wrinkles that essentially brushed out once I put it back on.Libertad Apparel Test

On the 7th day, just before meeting back up with Kyle, I had all the ladies in my Thai language class smell me and tell me honestly if I smelled bad, without telling them why. They all said I smelled fine, though a few mentioned I was ugly (unrelated to the shirt). When I then told them I’d been wearing the unwashed shirt for a full week, they wanted to smell me again, and still couldn’t tell.Libertad Apparel Test

I gave Kyle his prototype back on the 7th day and have hounded him for a year to get to market so I could replace my wardrobe with 2 or 3 of his shirts.

Here’s a short video he made with three of us product testers.

About the Shirt

The secret ingredient to the odor and wrinkle-free Libertad Apparel shirts is Merino wool. It is becoming popular in the travel apparel world, but until now has mostly been used for t-shirts, underwear, and the aforementioned plaid shirts. None of these are great for business-class travel, meetings, and professional appearances at conferences or events.

Wool does not retain odors, as I tried so desperately to do. Once you sweat in it, your pit stink doesn’t cling to it like synthetic fabrics.

The material thickness Libertad has chosen is very thin and breathable, even in the tropical climate here in Thailand, and it wicks sweat away to keep you cool.

The shirts are not as quickly-drying as some of those plastic shirts, but with the thin material he chose it doesn’t take long to dry once it’s wet.

“Kyle said to wear it for 5 days without washing, so I wore it for 7 days straight… and I still had a girlfriend afterward.”

I also noticed that even with a dark color, I had no salty sweat rings once the shirt dries, like I get with my dark cotton t-shirts. There is probably someone more able to explain the reason for that, but I only barely science.

Kyle has a bunch of good info up on his Libertad Apparel website, as well as many other videos of people trying to ruin his fine travel shirts. Between people balling them up and storing it under the seat of a scooter for a day or two, to ripping open the FedEx package and putting the shirt on straight out of the wadded-up package wrinkle-free.

Go check out his site and Kickstarter campaign page to see more.

Libertad Apparel is running early bird specials on the first day. If you jump on their mailing list, you can get a good deal on this fantastic shirt and stop being a stinky sucker on safari when you travel.


Heavy Discounts at Thai Tribal Crafts Fair Trade Outlet Location

Thai Tribal Crafts Fair Trade Outlet Store

Thai Tribal Crafts Fair Trade Outlet Store

There is a constant river of visitors flowing through the ancient city of Chiang Mai, Thailand looking for traditional Northern Thai Tribal clothing and accessories. I’ve written before about Thai Tribal Crafts Fair Trade after visiting their showroom for an event, but have since been several times, and referred several tourists and locals alike there for authentic Fair Trade items.

Whether it’s the never-ending stream of tourists exploring the city for the first time, the huge amount of expats living here long-term sprucing up their homes, or visiting friends looking for souvenirs to bring their friends and family back home when their trip of a lifetime is over, Thai Tribal Crafts Fair Trade is still the place I send them, and they are never disappointed.

Thai Tribal Crafts Fair Trade Outlet

During a recent visit from an old friend from the U.S. looking for locally made gifts for family not found anywhere else, I finally went to the outlet store located near Thapae Gate on the eastern wall of the old city. I discovered that this location just inside the moat is a traditional outlet discount store, with savings of about 20-30% off their regular retail prices.

Thai Tribal Crafts Outlet Store

Being right in the heart of the most heavily traveled tourist area of the city, most tourists will happen upon it already. But I wanted to give a heads up to the big local community here in Chiang Mai, as well. Locals spend a good amount of money on local items, so I wanted you to be aware that this outlet has this heavily discounted stock.

The staff at Thai Tribal Crafts Fair Trade Outlet tells me that the stock gets rotated pretty regularly, as they have a constant supply of newly designed items by designers around the world, who have their products made by these local village artisans in their traditional styles.

Thai Tribal Crafts Outlet Store

The quality and variety of the clothing and accessories are better than anything you will find at any of the local tourist markets, with everything made in the homes of local hill tribe villagers. Much of the stuff found in every other stall at a tourist market is only at a factory-made, low-quality trinket level standard.

With their decades-long work in helping the tribes of the numerous small villages in the Northern hills of Thailand to survive and thrive, they are allowing many families to stay and live in their traditional homes. So many have had to move to cities and go to work in factories instead of keeping their traditional Thai crafts alive.

So whether you are just passing through and looking for gifts for you and your family back home, or you’re now a local here in Chiang Mai looking to upgrade your wardrobe and decorate your Thai home in a traditional style, the Thai Tribal Crafts Fair Trade Outlet store near Thapae Gate is a place to go!

Artisans craft the best hammocks for Thai Tribal Crafts Fair Trade Outlet Store

Artisans craft the best hammocks for Thai Tribal Crafts Fair Trade Outlet Store

Why Buy Fair Trade

Fair Trade supports local artisans and not for profit commercial businesses for the global import market, especially with fair trade importers. These artisans would otherwise be marginalized by larger factory interests.

Colorful hill tribe crafts hand made by local artisans

Colorful hill tribe crafts hand made by local artisans

All of these export quality purchases go back to the communities to directly create jobs and extra income for the producer’s families that support their children’s education, healthcare, and other benefits.

Thai Tribal Crafts has worked with local hill tribes since 1973 (more than 40 years now), and you can read more about their history here.

The outlet store is open Mon – Sat, 10.00 am – 7.00 pm, and is located at 25/9 Moonmuang Rd., Chiang Mai 50000. You can also call them at +66-53-273 858

Fair Trade Shop Website
Join them on Facebook


Laugh off Carpal Tunnel When Working Remotely

Take your ergonomically-sound office with you to the Cafe

TextBlade Keyboard by WayToolsDigital Nomad Ergonomics is an often overlooked subject that gets little press in between photos of laptops on beaches and hammocks strung betwixt a couple of palms for the blog images and book covers.

But spend all day working on your location irrelevant business, and your body can easily take a beating.

The great compromise of travel usually becomes one of how little you can get away with carrying and still do your work effectively. Not all work can even be done remotely due to the equipment needed or physical spaces required.

But even obvious remote jobs like coders and writers that seem simple enough to do from any laptop or tablet today is a struggle when you don’t have the ideal ergonomic space to physically be for many hours at a stretch.

I’ve gone over the digital nomad software tools I use in an earlier post, as well as equipment considerations and requirements for many styles of work in cafes and remote offices.

Now let’s cover some things to consider carefully as you plan to embark on your life from a backpack with regards to equipment and comfort considerations.

Size Really Does Matter

The biggest challenge you’ll face is the compromise between comfort and having the very best equipment, versus the ability to move around wherever you like and still work.

I’d love to have a giant iMac and a 2nd monitor, but those 27” screens ain’t gonna fit in my GR-2 anytime soon.

I’d love a sweet, race car-comfortable office chair and an electric-powered adjustable standing desk. But too big to carry on a plane, let alone a taxi.

If I go back to having all those comfy things, I won’t be able to move around as easily as I do.

Everything I own is pack-able, and I can set up my office wherever I want to work from each day. That requires some compromise on what I am willing to own.

All those nice things mentioned above aren’t just nice to have or look at, they actually help you work while they also help with your physical health.

Laptops are the Best of Things and the Worst of Things

Laptops are nice and portable, packing a ton of power into a tiny machine you can run a business or twelve from. But they are not designed for healthy long-term use. Most certainly not while on your lap.

Checking your email real quick? Not a big deal. 12 hour days building a website or busting out chapters of your book? Some part of your body will hate you.

The problem with laptops is that the screen is so close to the keyboard. It’s what makes them nice and small, of course. But if you are using the keyboard and need to see the screen at the same time for long periods, you have to compromise.

Either your head is bowed or hunched down, which is horrible for your neck, or your hands and wrists are up high at funky angles, which will lead to carpal tunnel syndrome if you power through the odd positioning long enough to bang out those last 200 blog posts.

The obvious solution becomes to separate the two somehow.

External Keyboards

Most of the long-time digital nomads I know end up with at least an external keyboard as a start. This way, your wrists are at an ideal ergonomic angle and place, and you then use something to raise or prop your laptop screen higher for at least closer to eye-level viewing.

There are a bunch of keyboards on the market now that are very capable for remote working, and still small enough to pack and carry in a laptop bag without much extra size and weight to worry about. Gone are the bulky, USB-cabled IBM-sized keyboards of days past.

Most any laptop can pair with a keyboard using it’s built-in Bluetooth (not the ear-thing that douchey guy from the 2000s in line with you at the store is yelling into). If your laptop isn’t Bluetooth capable, at worst you’ll have to use an empty USB port for a keyboard with a dongle.

Apple Wireless Keyboard

Apple Wireless KeyboardThe Apple Wireless Keyboard is what I most often see in coffee shops, resorts, and co-working spaces. These are ideal as they are Bluetooth, about as thin as a well-built keyboard can practically get (it’s aluminum), and thus takes no extra room in a bag. You won’t go slipping it into your jacket pocket (pipe down, Scott-E-Vest owners. I’m talking about everyone else in the world), but it’s not a chore to add this to your kit.

An added benefit to this one is that they are almost silent while typing away in places where you don’t want to be that guy with the loudest keyboard in the room while everyone else is trying to focus.

Apple Wireless KeyboardIt works with a bluetooth-enabled PC, but the layout has some challenges like no Start key.

If you really need one, you can get one of their Magic Trackpads or a Mouse, but it seems most of the ones I see just use the touchpad on the laptop, or a Wacom tablet if they are designers or artists.

Microsoft Folding Keyboard

A new contender to this category is a well-thought out folding keyboard from the Microsoft. I have yet to get to try one of these in the wild, but just from what I saw on the press about it and the video on their own blog about it, the keyboard looks to solve a bunch of issues digital nomads face.

Certainly the issue of portability is done well with this one. I don’t know how well the split-keys will be received by heavy users. I think I could easily work with it, and look forward to trying one out.

Microsoft Folding Keyboard fits in any digital nomad's laptop bag.

The quick-switch pairing with two devices, so you can quickly switch back and forth between your laptop and your phone is a great feature, as well as the spill-resistance for those of us who must toil in the dangerous world of beverage houses. mmmmmm ( <— ironically, the m key on my keyboard just broke off as I was typing this description of keyboard issues).

Microsoft Folding Keyboard has a separated Keyboard split down the middle.As much as I’ve seen this shared around the community lately, a lot of digital nomads are looking forward to this Microsoft folder.

I have always liked their folding Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse for travel, and the two of these items wouldn’t take up any room in my bag at all.

WayTools TextBlade is the Best Keyboard in the History of Ever

This is the keyboard that made me actually want to put this guide together. My drooling over the Microsoft folder above got back-burnered when I first saw this amazing new keyboard from WayTools.

TextBlade Keyboard by WayToolsThe obvious advantage is the size. The keyboard is smaller than your phone, yet has full-sized key-spacing (actually similar to a Mac keyboard), but there is so much more in this fresh ground-up design.

Stacks in 2 small sections.

Stacks in 2 small sections.

The ergonomics of the angled keys are something I’ve longed for, as touch-typing on the ubiquitous keyboards is not a natural feel. Your wrists have to bend inward to take their home key spots. Microsoft solved this problem many years ago with their famous ergonomic keyboard way back, but it never got widely-accepted in the office.

So this angled layout is simply ideal for ergonomics. I’m sure when I get mine, it will take a little getting used to, for that as well as memorizing all the powerful key combinations, but I’m already re-learning touch-typing on an alternative keyboard layout (Colemak, since it’s the most ergonomic and sensible of all the keyboard layouts).

Type full-speed on any device.

Type full-speed on any device.

It’s getting great reviews from the press who’ve gotten their fingers on it so far, and it seems to really be pushing the tech boundaries with so many newly-invented concepts.

I haven’t been this excited for a product in a long time.

Laptop Stands

It’s one problem to solve with an external keyboard, but you still have to prop your laptop up to eye-level for best case scenario ergonomically. At home you can always find a box or a stack of books to set it on, but if you’re on the road, that becomes less doable.

Simple Stands

There are a variety of laptop stands all over Amazon. I have not used any that I care to test or that stand out in any way to me. Most of them have home or office use in mind, and are of little use to a traveler or mobile worker.

These will work in a pinch to at least give you a slight angle change and raise your laptop up for better cooling airflow, but not so much to get the screen to eye-level.

Stood Laptop Stand

Stood Stand At WorkEven more basic, if you want a decent ergonomic compromise over a flat laptop and don’t want to have to buy an extra keyboard, this beautifully simple stand elevates your screen somewhat, while tilting the keys to a more comfortable angle.

It is simple, beautiful wood, and packs as flat as anything else.The Stood Laptop Stand packed for Transport

Shido Stand

Shido Portable Standing DeskThis is a new concept stand designed by a fellow digital nomad here in Asia. It’s a concept based on using it as a standing desk to bring the laptop to that height while standing at a regular-height sitting desk.

Many co-working spaces and coffee shops only have seated desks, but standing desks are becoming more popular as more and more studies continue to come out about the hazards of sitting for most of our waking lives.

The Shido Stand doubles as a hard laptop caseThis health-conscious digital nomad was looking for a solution for himself, and came up with this nice design that also doubles as a hard laptop case. He’s trying to raise awareness of it over here on Thunderclap.

The Roost

Rear-With-Keyboard-WEB-BlackTheir Kickstarter was popular for good reason. This is a great product for the digital nomad who needs to elevate the screen with a lightweight, small, and sturdy device.

The Roost CollapsedThe Roost is sold out as of this writing, but will reveal a new Kickstarter for Version 2 shortly. They promise some better design changes, as well as compatibility with any laptop. I only know one person who has one of these, and he’s on a different island at the moment, so I can’t test it out. But I have heard nothing bad about them, and intend to grab a couple once they become available again.The Roost Unfolded

What works for You and Your Style of Work

There is something to fit everyone’s needs as tech keeps evolving. My ideal Digital Nomad ergonomics solution looks like it will be a TextBlade and a Roost getting added to my kit soon. But there are plenty of other ways to get your work done in any environment without destroying your neck or wrists in the process.

What type of tools would you like to know more about or suggest for a digital nomad whose desk space may change week to week?

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