Whether it’s a jacket, shirt or pants, a travel garment should combine four key features to be worthy of a place in your suitcase: versatility, packability, performance/function and looks.
It has to look and perform well, of course, but the ability to pack down reasonably small and be able to wear it on more than one occasion is also a huge advantage for us. There may be instances where a bulky, one-dimensional item is worth carrying, but probably not too much.
With those criteria in place, here are some travel attire recommendations as you shop for gifts this holiday season (in no particular order):
Jack Wolfskin Routeburn Pro insulated jacket
Best for: Traveling in cold weather
A common dilemma for travelers heading to colder climates is trying to figure out how to pack efficiently and light while still feeling prepared for cooler temperatures. Fall and winter clothes tend to take up more space, forcing tough decisions to be made, such as bringing that real winter jacket or ditching it in favor of more packable layers.
The new jacket from Jack Wolfskin makes it easy for you. Weighing just 3/4 pound, it’s an ultra-light option that packs down to the size of a Nalgene (or smaller if you actually hold it). It features a polyester abrasion resistant fabric that provides the durability you need when travelling. It is also windproof and the synthetic insulation keeps you warm even when the jacket gets wet. Priced at $170, it’s a value-driven travel purchase that can double as your everyday winter coat at home.
Mountain Hardwear HiCamp Collection
Best for: Road trips in the mountains
Mountain Hardwear’s HiCamp collection offers a variety of cold-weather solutions for off-the-shoulder or higher-altitude layering, including a fleece hoody, pullover, and vest that can be worn as a mid-layer or top layer.
Stylish and surprisingly warm, they can be worn in a variety of situations, from a hiking trail to a casual dinner, and can even serve as a substitute for a real jacket when you’re going about town. Soft and cosy, you might even want to dream away by the fire in it.
Everything can be stored in your trunk when serving as your primary top layer. But since fleece tends to be a bit heavy, they’re best suited for weekend getaways or road trips, where weight isn’t that important.
Oros feather trousers
Best for: General tours in autumn, winter and spring
If you’re still packing jeans in your suitcase, you need a reality check: not only are they extremely heavy, they don’t perform well when they get wet (e.g. rain/snow), and they lack versatility (in casual situations only).
Travelers with a mixed agenda should consider something like the Oros Veer Pant ($129). We love them because they can be worn in a variety of situations. Both wind and water resistant and made largely of stretchy/flexible nylon, you can trust them as a pair of pants for all-day wandering around town, or, in a pinch, on the hiking trail. What’s more is that you wouldn’t stand out as underdressed if you wore them to dinner. They are also insulated and will keep you warm on evening walks back to your hotel.
SAXX Hydro Aquatic underwear
Best for: Beach destinations
A common problem for men is that many board shorts and bathing suits do not have an inner lining, forcing them to wear underwear underneath their suit. While this provides extra support, it can also be uncomfortable. Cotton underwear does not dry quickly, resulting in chafing and moisture that can last for hours.
The ever-innovating SAXX launched the perfect remedy this year in the form of their Hydro Aquatic Underwear ($36). They’re made from an ultra-lightweight micro-mesh that’s both quick-drying and quick-draining, designed to be worn under bathing suits and dry out quickly, providing support in the water and letting you get on with your day – go to lunch, walk around town – without feeling sick downstairs. A thoughtful gift for anyone who spends a lot of time on the water.
Merino wool travel t-shirts
Best for: General travel
Trips call for a few t-shirts that you can wear anytime, anywhere. Since most guys already have a lot of T-shirts, we often only have a few in the bag and don’t think twice about it. But check the label: If you’re packing cotton T-shirts, you’re lugging extra weight and also using a material known to absorb moisture and odors.
Instead of cotton, try a merino wool shirt. You will feel that they are lighter than cotton and absorb less odor after a few uses and can be worn for a few days at a time. They pack up small, which saves space in your suitcase, and most are solid colors so you can blend in wherever you go.
Farm to Feet socks
Best for: General travel
While we talk about merino wool and its benefits, let’s move on to another part of the body, perhaps the most important when travelling: your feet.
When your feet get wet, cold or tired, everything else follows. We’ve all been there, walking the city streets for a day and returning to our hotel room completely exhausted in the afternoon. When you travel, it is extremely important to take care of your feet.
Footwear choice is important, but so is the choice of socks. Farm to Feet socks are 100% American made and provide elite comfort through compression and cushioning. Made from a blend of merino wool, spandex and nylon, they keep your feet warm and dry in all conditions and come in a variety of colors and designs.
Special socks are one of those things that you have to try to understand, but once you do, there’s no turning back. Grab a pair ($21) for the traveler in your life to keep them comfortable on the go.
Smartwool x Grateful Dead collection
Best for: Outdoor adventures
If you’ve got a traveler on your list who needs a little help staying warm and stylish, you might have some items from Smartwool on your radar. After all, they have a variety of equipment and a reputation as one of the best outdoor clothing brands. Well, good news: they have something brand new this holiday season, a special collaboration with one of the most iconic bands of all time.
The Grateful Dead and Smartwool have teamed up to release a temporary branded clothing line that combines the reliability of Smartwool gear with the classic artistic flair of the Grateful Dead. The release comes as the Grateful Dead (now known as Dead & Co.) prepare for their final year of touring in 2023.
The new designs will be featured on many Smartwool products, including socks, hats, sweatshirts and base layers. They all carry the reliability we’ve come to know and love about Smartwool, with the colorful flair that has made The Dead an eternal legacy.