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?
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.
During 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.
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.
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.
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.