We are not outdoorsy people, and when we travel, we don’t plan real adventurous activities. That’s why we never considered buying merino wool travel clothes. I always imagined long johns, base layers, and hiking socks. We’ve never packed anything in this family.
Over the last few years, though, we’ve started to rely on wool clothing for travel, even for our city breaks. In this post, I share our tips on how to find the best merino wool travel clothing for men and women. I also explain why this amazing fabric is great for travel clothes.
Included in this post are photos of us wearing various wool travel clothing. To learn more about individual pieces, just click the image. The images include recommendations for some of our favorite merino wool clothing brands – brands that make clothing for travel and home.
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Our Favorite Companies For Merino Wool For Travel
- Hands down Wool&Prince and Wool&, for everything from t-shirts to cardigans to wool travel dresses and even underwear!
- allbirds: I am in love with my wool dress shoes from allbirds. They also carry lightweight and sustainable wool sneakers and shoes for both men and women.
- Isobaa carries more active clothing than everyday merino wool, but a lot of options for t-shirts, hoodies, and casual merino wool.
- Smartwool is one of the OG when it comes to wool clothing. Also a bit more outdoor and active but a good selection.
Above: Wearing a short-sleeved henley and light-weight cardigan during a spring trip to Italy all from Wool&.
What Is Merino Wool Clothing?
Merino wool fabric is a natural fabric. Most of the sheep used for merino wool comes from Australia and New Zealand. It’s the type of wool that comes from this particular breed of sheep that makes merino different from regular wool.
Here’s the science part. The reason why we need to wash our clothes frequently is because odor-causing bacteria are transferred from our skin to our clothes (yuck). Antimicrobial clothes, though, prevent this from happening.
This means that you don’t have to wash the clothes as often as other fabrics. Some travel clothing is treated with chemicals to give it these properties. Wool, though, has natural antimicrobial properties. Easy care travel clothes mean less washing to do during a trip.
Quick Dry Clothing
It also means that wool is a material that is quick-drying and it wicks away moisture. Here’s a little more science. The outer layer and the inner layer of the merino fiber work together. The outer layer repels water, and the inner layer absorbs water. That’s why it’s wicking and absorbing.
This is also why it’s a great fabric for both hot and cold weather. This is one of the reasons why I always associated merino travel clothing with outdoor and adventure clothing more than typical travel clothing.
What’s So Great About Merino Wool Travel Clothing?
Some of the reasons why merino wool is great for adventure clothing are also the reasons why it is a good fabric for travel in general. Here are just a few. Even though merino wool can keep you warm, it’s less bulky than traditional wool, so it takes up less space in a suitcase.
The same goes for merino wool accessories. Because of its odor-resistant qualities, you can pack two or three merino wool t-shirts instead of five or six cotton ones. You can wear them several times in one trip.
This is a trend I’ve liked seeing – wool clothing is not just for adventure travelers. It can also be used for stylish travel clothes. It also means you don’t need to always wash clothing when traveling, even when traveling for a week or two.
We spent 12 days traveling in Morocco. Eric brought four merino wool shirts and never washed them. He smelled just as good on day 12 as on day 1. It’s a great way to save space when packing carry-on only too.
Above: Eric is wearing his wool travel t-shirt in Morocco from Wool&Prince.
Where To Buy Merino Wool
Some of the best travel clothing brands will carry a good amount of merino wool as well. But, there are a handful of merino wool clothing brands that specialize in outdoors, adventure, and travel clothing.
We’ve been wearing a lot of Wool&Prince, which is one of the best wool clothing brands in our opinion. I like them because their clothing is great for travel but doesn’t look like travel clothing. They also have an extensive line of women’s wool clothing through the Wool& line.
Wool Travel Clothing Brands
That’s been my biggest problem with travel clothing brands over the years. I always at least attempt to look like a local, or at least like someone who might be living in the city I am visiting.
For this reason, I never want to wear travel pants that zip off at the knee or other typical travel clothing. I want more stylish travel clothes. That’s why we like Wool&Prince. When it comes to wool clothing brands, I like brands that I can wear while traveling and while at home.
Some of the best travel clothes for men are produced by merino wool brands. I will say, though, that a good number of merino wool brands tend to carry a wider variety of men’s clothing than women’s clothing. That’s why a lot of our recommended products are men’s rather than women’s. But, we have a few for women too. Wool&, in particular, have increased their product line a lot since I started wearing their merino travel dresses about four years ago.
Some other popular wool travel clothing brands include Icebreaker, which tends to be known more for its adventure and outdoor clothing. Although they’ve started to produce some regular everyday merino clothing that can be perfect for travel. Smartwool is also great, particularly for wool socks and base layers.
Above: Wearing my Isobaa sleeveless wool tank while running in Ireland
One of the newer merino wool travel brands is Isobaa. Their clothing is less adventurous than a typical travel clothing brand but is built for performance. I own one of their merino wool roll neck sweaters, which I love for winter in Ireland.
I also travel with their sleeveless top that is made for exercising. This is the true test. I can normally sweat in this shirt while running or kickboxing at least 4 or 5 times and it still smells good. Okay, well, maybe not good, but passable. It’s also easy to wash in a sink and dries quickly.
The “baa” in the name is a reference to the sheep used to make the wool, and an adorable sheep logo features on most of their clothing items, including merino wool socks.
Best Merino Wool Dresses
Merino Wool Travel Dresses
It’s taken me a while to add dresses to my list of travel clothes for women. For a long time, I just thought they were impractical – like heels! But, now I find that dresses, if you choose the right one, can be great options for travel wear for women.
I currently own several wool travel dresses from Wool&, including merino travel dresses for both warm and cold weather. The company started with a handful of options and now offers more than a dozen different types, from sleeveless to long sleeve, from casual to more dressy, and many with pockets. I must have pockets in my travel dresses to carry my phone.
Wool& also updates their collection regularly, so several of the dresses I have are no longer available, but have been replaced with even better options. To be fair, the first dress I had of theirs I thought was a little too itchy, a typical concern for people wearing wool when traveling. Now, though, their clothing has gotten so much better. Dresses are super soft. So much so that I wear them during the week for work because they are so soft!
Benefits Of Merino Dresses
When compared to other types of dresses, my merino dresses are easy to pack. They don’t take up a ton of space in my carry-on luggage. They don’t wrinkle. In fact, when putting together my Italy packing list, I know I would need to hang my merino wool dress. It looked great every day. I also wore my long sleeve dress with leggings for four nights in a row when it was colder than I anticipated in Modena, and I never needed to wash it!
My Favorite Merino Wool Travel Dresses:
- Margo shift dress: long sleeve, with pockets and a tailored fit so that it doesn’t feel baggy. The pockets are deep enough to carry my mobile phone. I pair this dress with wool travel leggings in colder weather.
- Rowena swing dress: Long sleeve, with pickets, a more loose and flowing. I wore this working from home for days on end as well as traveling with a denim jacket. I prefer the long version. Originally, I had the regular and found it a little too short above the knee.
- Camellia tank dress: A perfect option for summer and warm-weather destinations. Also, with pockets!
Best Merino Wool Shirts For Travel For Men
Merino Wool Travel Shirts
The best merino wool shirts for travel are ones that are both practical and presentable. We don’t like looking like bums when traveling. Eric always travels with two or three merino wool dress shirts depending on our destination and how long the trip is.
The merino wool dress shirts are perfect for layering in cooler weather, like in Ireland and Scotland. He also wears them for nicer dinners and Michelin Star meals. Some of the options from Wool&Prince include more linen, which makes them perfect for warmer destinations as well.
Merino Wool T-Shirts
Eric is officially a convert. He’s always traveled with a handful of regular t-shirts and polo shirts when traveling. They were always cotton or a cotton blend. Now, he travels with a selection of short-sleeve t-shirts and short-sleeved henleys, all made from merino wool. I was shocked at how well his merino wool t-shirts held up during a 2 week trip to Italy when we didn’t have access to a washing machine.
I became a convert in believing that these are the best merino wool travel shirts – particularly because they still looked fresh without washing after several days.
For him, now, he thinks the best travel shirts are his merino wool t-shirts. I can’t complain because they take up less space and he can wear them more. And I like him in v-neck t-shirts, so he still looks pretty stylish. Currently, he is traveling with three Wool&Prince merino travel t-shirts.
Merino Wool Henley Shirts
I first discovered henleys when I worked in retail decades ago. For Eric, though, they are a new discovery. He’s been really enjoying both his long-sleeved and his short-sleeved merino wool henley shirts from Wool&Prince. They are a great way to have the comfort of a t-shirt with a little more style. They also make great layering pieces when traveling in the spring or fall.
Check out the henley shirts Eric has from Wool&Prince here. They are both merino wool and nylon blend. He’s also in love with his waffle henley from Wool&Prince, which he regularly wears during winter in Ireland. These are probably some of the most multi-functional merino travel shirts he owns.
Eric’s Favorite Merino Wool Shirts For Travel:
- V-neck t-shirts: Wool&Prince offers a variety of t-shirt options. Eric travels with a couple of the v-neck merino wool t-shirts. They are comfortable, soft, and don’t need to be washed as much as cotton t-shirts. They also don’t tend to wrinkle as much so they come out of the suitcase looking nice.
- Henleys: Merino wool henleys form the basis of Eric’s travel wardrobe now. He travels with a short-sleeve, a long-sleeve, and a waffle henley when traveling to cooler destinations. I like the henleys because they look a little more formal than the t-shirts making them more versatile when traveling.
- Merino wool dress shirts: Eric has a few merino wool dress shirts, including a wool-linen blend for warmer destinations.
Best Merino Wool Shirts For Travel – For Women
Above: Wearing a long-sleeved wool t-shirt and cardigan, along with allbirds ballet flats in Italy.
Women’s Merino Shirts
When we first started wearing wool travel clothing, I was jealous. There were so many more options for men than women. That’s starting to change, though. Wool& used to specialize in merino wool dresses, but now they carry a full range of wool shirts, and I’ve tested out many of their options.
Similar to the options for men, I now travel with a merino wool t-shirt, a short-sleeved henley, a lightweight cardigan, and a dress shirt. I now have the same options as Eric, although he is a little disappointed that he no longer has the monopoly on henleys.
I am often surprised just how many of these travel shirts I can get into my carry-on luggage. They don’t take up a lot of space and come straight out of the luggage wrinkle-free. Again, they don’t need to be washed as much either, which is great when we are on the road for a week or more without access to a washing machine. The wool cardigan, in particular, is one of my favorite pieces! It’s my go-to for long-haul flights because it can keep me warm without feeling bulky. It also takes up no space in the luggage!
My Favorite Merino Wool Shirts For Travel:
- Long-sleeved t-shirt: This is a great layering piece, particularly for colder destinations, but it takes up no space in the luggage, so a great addition.
- Short-sleeved t-shirt: I only have one black merino wool t-shirt, but I am going to replace all of my cotton t-shirts with wool ones soon. The wool t-shirts are super soft, don’t wrinkle, and are lightweight, even in hot climates.
- Short-sleeved henley: I just love the way the henley looks. It’s more dressy than a t-shirt, and flattering.
- Reversible tank top: Another great layering piece, which works as both a crew neck and a v-neck.
- Wool cardigan: I will never travel again without this cardigan! Flattering, light-weight, and doesn’t wrinkle, even when I jam it in my carry-on backpack at the airport.
- Twill dress shirt: Good for layering in the sun, but also to dress up at night when I don’t want to wear one of my dresses.
Other options for merino wool t-shirts for women include the Smartwool Merino Wool T-Shirt, Icebreaker Merino Women’s Everyday T-shirt, and Woolly Clothing Women’s Merino Wool V-Neck Tee Shirt. All of these are available on Amazon.
Other Merino Wool Travel Accessories
There are a few other merino wool garments and accessories that could come in handy when traveling. Merino wool socks are great for travel, particularly when visiting extreme temperatures. Like the other clothing, they wick away moisture and don’t get as smell as a quick as regular socks. Look for socks that are a blend of wool and lycra or spandex so that the socks conform to your feet.
Merino Wool Socks
We’ve been testing out Isobaa’s merino wool travel socks and love them. I was concerned about the wool being itchy, but the socks are super soft and not itchy at all. Plus, they have the characteristic orange sheep logo on them, so they are adorable too. And, yes, now we are kind of wearing matching socks!
The wool socks are a merino wool blend, which is why they are warm and soft. They are not thick, so that they fit well in my sneakers and winter boots. The wool socks are breathable, quick dry, and don’t need to be washed as frequently, making them great for travel.
Merino Wool Travel Underwear
You will forgive us for not having a photo here, but Eric often travels with a couple of pairs of merino travel underwear. Now, I don’t ask him exactly how many wears he gets from his underwear without having to wash them, but let’s say they last longer than his cotton pairs.
He was concerned when he started wearing them that the merino wool underwear would be itchy or too warm, particularly when traveling to places like Spain or Italy in the summer. But, thus far, they’ve been comfortable, so he’s a convert. Check out the merino wool travel underwear Eric’s been wearing here.
I never leave home without at least one scarf for each trip. It’s one of the main things I pack for a two week trip, a city break, or longer term travel. When trying to pack light, a merino wool buff or a merino wool scarf can be a great alternative to a bulky wool or knit scarf, which takes up so much space.
Some travelers also swear by merino wool undergarments. This includes merino wool underwear and women’s layering tanks. We haven’t tested these out yet but plan to soon.
Icebreaker makes some great merino wool underwear for both men and women. Icebreaker also makes some women’s camis for layering.
Merino Wool Washing Tips
Always check with the merino wool brand you buy. I can offer recommendations on how to care for merino wool based on our experience and research. Each clothing brand, though, might have its own recommendations.
For example, some brands suggest you only need to wash your shirts every 10 or 20 wears. Even underwear can last 5-10 wears.
Eric normally wears his t-shirts and henleys around 4 or 5 times. That has a lot to do with how long our trips are and that he does laundry when we are home, before the next trip. Generally, the less frequent the washing, the longer the clothing will last.
Merino wool can absorb about 30% of its weight in water. This means when you take it out of the washing machine it feels almost dry to the touch. It feels a little strange and for the first few washes even smells a little different because there is natural lanolin. The lanolin acts like a wax like coating. This is what helps it wick water away. This can take a little getting used to.
How To Hand Wash Merino Wool Clothing When Traveling
If we have access to a washing machine when traveling, we will use it to wash our wool clothing only if we can control the temperature. We only wash our wool travel clothes with cold water.
I would not recommend just sending them out to any normal laundromat because you can’t control how they wash the clothes. While in Morocco, for example, we sent other clothes out but waited to wash Eric’s wool clothes until he was home.
You can hand wash merino wool in the sink when traveling. Turn the clothing inside out. Use warm but not hot water. Try to use a neutral soap. Definitely avoid fabric softeners that can reduce the effectiveness of the moisture-wicking properties of the wool.
Let the wool clothes soak for 10-15 minutes. Give it a quick rinse and you are done. It’s recommended to lay clothing flat so it retains its shape. We have hung all our merino wool travel clothes because we don’t have the space to dry flat. It’s been fine.
Merino Wool Washing Pro Tip
If looking to wash your merino travel clothing on the go, check out these mild travel soap packets. At home, feel free to use a special soap for merino wool to help extend its life, but it might be a little more difficult to travel with a special wool detergent.
History Of Merino Wool
People started using merino wool sheep for clothing back in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Although developed in Spain, the breed mostly grows in Australia and New Zealand now. Over time, the quality of wool clothes has improved and the fibers became more fine.
One of the first high-fashion designers to make merino clothing more palatable was actually Coco Chanel decades ago. When it comes to merino wool clothing for travel, this natural fiber is used for more than sweaters. The fabric is used for dress shirts, t-shirts, pants, blazers, and even underwear.
Is Merino Wool Itchy?
This is why I first balked at the idea of wearing merino for travel. To me, it doesn’t seem like the ideal travel fabric, particularly when I like to be comfortable when I travel. I just associated wool with itch.
Remember there is a difference between wool and merino wool. Most wool is breathable and water resistant. Merino wool, though, has a softer texture, is lighter in weight, and has finer fibers. This is why it is more comfortable to wear than a typical, itchy wool sweater.
Merino wool is a much more fine fiber, which means it is not as itchy as traditional wool. It’s even hypoallergenic. For people who react to unnatural or artificially produced fabric, it won’t be a problem.
I will say, though, that some of our merino wool clothes were slightly itchy when we tried them on for the first time. But after one or two washings, they softened up a lot.
Benefits Of Wearing Merino Wool
This is why some of the best travel clothes are made of this wonder fabric. It is a temperature regulating fabric. Wool can keep you cool when traveling to warm weather destinations. It can also help keep you warm when visiting colder weather destinations. This is why for years merino wool has been recommended as a base layer for hikers, climbers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
There’s a natural elasticity to merino that helps the clothing to keep its shape over time. This is why wool clothing really is an investment. Whereas a typical cotton or cotton blend t-shirt maybe lasts a year or two with regular wear, wool will last longer. As much as it is an investment, it can be one great investment to make if you know what to buy.
Wool is also pretty wrinkle-resistant. There’s a bit of spring to the fabric that helps it to stay nice when traveling. I will say when I pull my merino travel dresses out of the suitcase, they look a little wrinkled. But, when I hang them up and when I wear them, they look great.
Merino Wool For The Environment
There are also some environmental benefits to merino wool clothing. Merino has natural sun protection built in. Natural wool can block over 90% of the sun’s harmful rays. This also means that when you wear wool to warm destinations, you can use less sun block. Less sun block means less chemicals.
Another way that wool is pretty cool is because merino wool is a natural and biodegradable fabric. Synthetic fibers can take decades to degrade in a landfill. Wool takes a fraction of that time.
Key Benefits Of Merino Wool:
In summary, these are the benefits of merino clothing that make it so great for travel:
- Natural sun protection
FAQS – MERINO WOOL CLOTHING FOR TRAVEL
Most wool, like typical lambswool, is breathable and water-resistant. Merino wool, though, has a softer texture, is lighter in weight, and has finer fibers. This is why it is more comfortable to wear than a typical, itchy wool sweater.
Merino is more quick-drying and more odor-resistant than cotton. Lighter weight merino will feel more like a coarse cotton shirt than a typical wool sweater. Cotton is more breathable than merino. It does absorb sweat more, though. This means it can get smelly quicker. It requires more washing. And, it takes longer to dry. Try hand washing a cotton t-shirt in a hotel room sink and see how long it takes to dry? Merino is also a lot more durable in the long term.
Synthetic materials take forever to degrade when they are finally thrown out. Merino wool takes less than a few years. Most important, synthetic materials tend to hold odors a lot more, meaning you have to wash them after every wear. But, synthetic fibers can be more quick-drying than merino, depending on how it is made.
Absolutely! I had a little sticker shock when I first saw the price of some of the merino clothing for travel. But, it is an investment. So much goes into producing merino wool. It takes 6 to 12 months for a sheep to grow enough wool for clothing. And, because the fibers are so fine, you need a lot of it to make a shirt, for example. You will buy fewer items and they will last longer. It is one of the more expensive fabrics but it is an investment worth making.