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Thread: Quick dry black t-shirt recommendations?

  1. #1
    Registered User Yoda Sloth's Avatar
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    Quick dry black t-shirt recommendations?

    I am looking to lighten my load for 7-10 day trips and the forum is inspiring me to consider items that can be quickly washed and dried.

    Since my entire wardrobe consists of black t-shirts, this seems like the first item to tackle.

    Black t-shirt + jeans (+ jacket as needed) - work, hiking, about town
    Black t-shirt + black pants + sweater - business casual, theater, nice dinners
    Black t-shirt + black pants + blazer - business attire
    Black t-shirt + black skirt + sweater or scarf - symphony, holiday parties

    So, I am not looking for a going-to-the-gym style of black t-shirt, but something with a smooth weave and styling to support being worn in a variety of occasions.

    I can't wear wool no matter how amazing it is

    I would love to get something in bamboo (so very soft!), and I have read it is quick dry and wicking, but have no experience with it.

    So, any recommendations?

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    Metalicus - an Australian brand, is a staple for travel clothing. Mostly one size fits "all" very stretchy and light, drys quickly. They do ship internationally. Or perhaps you can search for polyamide clothing in the US.

  3. #3
    Registered User Yoda Sloth's Avatar
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    Thanks, beautiful clothes on their site, I may try some!

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    I was going to recommend Smartwool until I read that you can't wear wool. The Smartwool t-shirts are great - I have 5 and I wear them year round. They can go in the wash or be washed in hand, and can dry on a clothesline.

  5. #5
    Registered User Yoda Sloth's Avatar
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    Maverick -thanks - I may try one because I keep hearing how great they are. I have never worn wool that didn't itch like crazy, but everyone says smart wool is different so I may give it a try. They are not hot in the summer?

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    Registered User Ms. Ferret's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yoda Sloth View Post
    Maverick -thanks - I may try one because I keep hearing how great they are. I have never worn wool that didn't itch like crazy, but everyone says smart wool is different so I may give it a try. They are not hot in the summer?
    I wear Icebreaker merino tank tops and an ultralight merino cardigan when I go to Hawaii. They are not any hotter than cotton in my opinion, and don't need to be washed as often.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ms. Ferret View Post
    I wear Icebreaker merino tank tops and an ultralight merino cardigan when I go to Hawaii. They are not any hotter than cotton in my opinion, and don't need to be washed as often.
    Ms. Ferret is right - wool breathes very well, so you don't get hot even in the warmer months. If I don't get sweaty, I can wear a Smartwool t-shirt two days without washing. So far, no one has complained.

    If you happen to wear a size Large and want to try one out, PM me, and I'll be happy to pass on one of mine (washed, of course ).

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    eWalker likes this.
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  9. #9
    Registered User Yoda Sloth's Avatar
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    @ Maverick - thanks for the offer! I will go over to REI and see/feel the fabric and if that doesn't resolve the issue, I will PM you.

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    Pls reconsider MERINO wool, Paty Cap 2 is rock solid in syn

    Quote Originally Posted by Yoda Sloth View Post
    ... items that can be quickly washed and dried.

    .... I am not looking for a going-to-the-gym style of black t-shirt, but something with a smooth weave and styling to support being worn in a variety of occasions.

    I can't wear wool no matter how amazing it is

    I would love to get something in bamboo (so very soft!), and I have read it is quick dry and wicking, but have no experience with it.

    So, any recommendations?
    1. Bamboo: I don't have a tee or polo in bamboo, but I tried socks, and bamboo was the slowest drying ever. Well, excluding cotton. But most synthetics, wool, or wool blend will work if you roll them in a spare towel then walk on the rolled up towel. (Twisting the towel works, but is harder on the garment.) Mine are slightly damp in the morning, ok for wearing in looser or well-ventilated shoes, if I am wearing snug leather dress shoes, I would rather dry the socks by wearing them to bed.

    2. Dressy: That makes recommendations a lot tougher. Most of the tees that I swear by have "flat-lock" stitching - to be worn under climbing harnesses etc. or at least that's what the ad copy talks about. Flat lock stitching makes tees look like underwear; the more traditional stitching is the kind that bunches the seams up slightly to hide the stitching underneath, instead of revealing it on the surface.

    3. Wool: I'm not "sensitive" to wool per se - but I don't like the slight itchiness from a traditional wool like the old Woolrich button shirts. Modern thin filament Merino wool, on the other hand, I can wear all day without any itching at all. Patagonia's current take on Merino wool tees is to blend them for more durability - unlike SmartWool and Ibex. All three make a very fine looking tee. It's probably worth hunting them down - REI usually carries all three brands - and looking at the weights that are available online. I like the thinnest SmartWool, but the thinnest Patagonia (Merino 1?) is a little thinner than I like. It's also worth trying all 3 on to see how the neck fits. Some have saggy (slightly oversized?) necks. My drill with my SmartWool black crewneck tees, short sleeve, is to wash the prior day's tee in the morning, squeeze (don't twist) as much water out as possible, and hang it from the tails end to drip dry - I know you really shouldn't hang wet wool garments up, they can stretch, but the way I do it, if there is any stretching it is only lengthening of the body, which is actually a good thing. By the evening, the tails-up end is dry, the chest and neck are damp, but by the next morning it is completely dry - a 24 hour cycle. If I am traveling the next morning, I will wash in the evening, roll in a towel, stamp out as much moisture, hang it upside down, and put it on slightly damp in the morning. This is why I hang it so water will drain towards the collar, not the tails, so I don't have to tuck damp tails inside my trousers. Also, if you are not doing the towel-stamp thing, after letting it hang for 5 or 10 minutes, you can squeeze - once again, not wring - water that has pooled at the bottom.

    The principle advantages of wool for travel are these: 1. It does dry reasonably fast, certainly a lot faster than cotton; not any faster than poly or nylon. 2. It is naturally microbial, which helps on long flights - it's not a bullet-proof shield against heavy sweating in a humid climate, but in temperate-zone, light activities situations it will go the extra mile. 3. Although it won't dry faster than poly or nylon, it is a lot more comfortable to put on before completely dry than poly or nylon. 4. Wool is safer in a "flash fire" than any synthetic - synthetics, especially those with Spandex to compress and give a "muscle" look, weld into the skin in flash fires - mostly the kind encountered by fire fighters and soldiers (roadside bombs) - and are banned for those users. 5. Wool is warmer in cold weather, but - unless thick winter wool - not any hotter than cotton in sweltering weather - it wicks and evaporates much better than cotton.

    Patagonia's merino tees are all blends, for durability.

    4. Patagonia Cap 1 and Cap 2 black tees. These are a staple in my wardrobe, my daily wear when I am not traveling, and my daily wear - except for flights - at my destinations. The main advantages over wool are cost and durability. Patagonia is on its second generation (at least) anti-microbe treatment, and the current treatment takes into account the importance of not wiping out skin bacteria (since many are symbiotic and an important part of healthy skin) while keeping underarm funk at bay. The current gen Paty tees all have hang loops in the collars now; they were introduced last year. The Cap 1 series is a half size smaller than before, Cap 2 as well, Cap 3 half size LARGER so try them on for fit. I don't believe Cap 3 is available in tees, only zipnecks and long sleeve crews. The main disadvantage is a chilly feeling when donning damp garments.

    5. Cotton looks best, but takes 3 days to dry, by which time it has picked up a musty mold odor. There is a work-around for this, however - go to REI and purchase Nikwax waterproofing solution (they used to make a line specifically for cotton, but I never see it anymore, any of them work but I usually buy the Polaproof version). This helps the cotton shed water. I also used to buy some tees from LLBean, for a while they treated all tees with a water repellent treatment to make them stain resistant. Cotton being as hydrophilic - water loving - as it is, even with a treatment water won't just bead up on it and run off, at least not for long, but the treated cotton tees DO dry out a lot faster. I don't like the "proofing" alternative because let's face it, you have to wash a tee every day (because upper body sweat is heavier and underarm funk is a problem) BUT "proofing" is great for jeans if you are going to a rainy climate - the jeans load up with a lot less water. Washing isn't an issue if you are like most guys (ladies stop listening) and only wash your jeans once a week.

    LLBean makes fine cotton tees, but they seem to fade (in black) a little faster than I like, Lands End used to make the heaviest, dressiest (but under Sear's ownership I'm not sure how that has fared). I have two tees arriving today or tomorrow from an American company (American made, actually) called American Giant that has gotten good online reviews, you might check out their website.

    My strategy for cotton tees is I don't sink wash them. Period. I take them home and launder them, or if I am staying in one spot long enough, send them out for laundry.

    So my recommendations:

    1. Check out SmartWool and Patagonia merino tees. I like the look of the 100 weight in the SmartWool. YMMV which is why you have to check them out.

    2. Cotton looks the best, there is no way around it (well I like SmartWool but they have those flat-lock, visible seam stitches). You can eliminate some of the negatives of cotton by buying it stain-repellent treated (which also reduces massive water soak) or treating it yourself.

    3. Cotton is not a good candidate for sink washing.

    4. If you have room in your bags, carry a few cotton for nicer outings, but wear Patagonia Cap 2 for your day touring.

    On fading: no fading at all on my wool and syn tees, usually fading over time with ALL the cotton tees. Some fade hard and fast!

  11. #11
    Registered User Peruvian's Avatar
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    I could not wear absolutely anything made out of wool because of the itching problem, until I tried Icebreaker. Also, I tend to easily run 10-15 degrees hotter than the average person. Neither one of my personal "issues" has been a problem for the Icebreaker t-shirts I bought. I highly recommend them, even as expensive as they are. They do pay-off. Good luck!
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkWebb View Post
    Washing isn't an issue if you are like most guys (ladies stop listening) and only wash your jeans once a week.
    Wow, you wash your jeans every week?? Once a month, more or less, works out just fine for me!

    I know everyone's already talked about how amazing merino wool is, but I'll pile on anyway. I have rather sensitive skin and also thought I couldn't handle wool due to itching, but the fine-weave merino wool, like Icebreaker, Ibex, and SmartWool, is really a different beast - obviously, it's best if you can touch and feel in person first. Note that it won't have the buttery soft feel of cotton, but it's far from the itchy wool of yore, and it actually tends to get a bit softer after a wash or two also. On my last trip (five days in a Synapse 25 with room to spare!), I was able to wear one of my Ibex tank tops for five days in a row - one day of rigorous hiking, then the next day was the return trip home of four hours of driving (being in a car always makes me get kind of sweaty), and then three more (admittedly very lounge-y) days after my return because it was still not stinky and ever so comfortable. T-shirts probably won't last you quite as long since there's fabric directly under your armpits (part of why I prefer tank tops myself), but they're still pretty amazing!

    As for bamboo, I've done a lot of research into it myself - it seems like you have to be careful with your source because not all bamboo fabrics are created equal. Essentially, "bamboo" fabrics are really a type of rayon, and the way in which the bamboo is processed has a lot to do with how much of the good (anti-microbial, etc) properties actually stick around. Haven't had a chance to try out any brands yet (on a shopping hiatus currently).

  13. #13
    Registered User monkeylady's Avatar
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    The micro weights of Smart Wool are buttery soft like PIMA cotton. I wore a long-sleeved one for two weeks in the jungle (except for washing time). I was never hot, never stinky. It was amazing.
    The stockpile keeps growing...I'm in serious trouble.

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    If you are female, want something more dressy, business casual, look at eileen fisher silk knit tees. They are very light weight, and dry overnight and great alone or layered, and dont need ironing! There were great on last years trip to european capitals.

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    Icebreaker - hands down!
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