One of the reasons this site came to be, is because both Steve and I found ourselves traveling a lot for both work and leisure. And when you start traveling a lot, you start to look at how you can pack fewer items — this seems almost universal, as humans are generally uncomfortable out of their normal habitats and thus you really want to know you have the right clothing. Which means you inevitably google something like “best travel clothes for X”. And you get back a big mix of some really weird clothing.
The truth is, most travel clothing is some Frankenstein mix of stereotypical retiree clothing and hiking clothing. This type of clothing is marked by:
- Zip-off anything
- A lot of pockets, with some very dedicated pockets
- Zippers, like a lot of zippers
- Polyester or nylon
Some, but not all, of the above describes even some of the clothing we talk about here on this site, but if you look closely the clothing we really like is that which most people can’t even tell is anything out of the ordinary. But what’s really odd is that anyone who has spent time traveling knows exactly the clothing I am talking about.
There’s always a bunch of people wearing zip-off pants, button down shirts treated with bug repellant and with mesh venting. Pockets galore and more. People really seem to buy into these travel clothing traps, and I cannot understand why.
These clothes look terrible. And they also generally perform terribly too. In most cases you would be better off with blue jeans and a pair of swim trunks than you would with any zip off pants. There’s a few reasons why:
- You have to wash most of those travel pants more than blue jeans.
- You can’t swim in zip-off pants.
- You’ll never use all the pockets.
- Cotton will hold bug spray just as well as that bug treatment on your clothes.
- You look like a target because you are specifically wearing travel clothing when you are traveling. So it’s not hard to target you.
But more than anything else, if these clothes are so good and so versatile: then why don’t people wear them everyday? Why only relegate them to travel?
It’s because you don’t want people you know to see you wearing this stuff unless you have a specific reason to wear them. Because they look terrible.
That’s why you read both Steve and I praising Outlier’s Futureworks (our review). These are nylon pants with a gusset crotch, stretch, and are highly breathable while also resisting some light rain. And yet you can’t tell it’s a technical pant. They drape well, make no noise and only have a zipper on the fly. They are stealth and superior to all other business casual/chino like pants I have tried to date.
They also aren’t marketed for travel, and that makes them hard for a lot of people to find.
My goal when I started down the rabbit hole of finding better clothing was to merge the two aspects of my life. What I wear everyday should be what I wear when I travel. It should perform to really high standards, because that’s just convenient for me and comfortable as well.
I don’t wear this clothing because I travel a lot any more. I don’t wear it because I write here at this site. I wear it because it’s more comfortable than any other option, while looking just as good.
So don’t fall into the travel clothing trap, and avoid anything with zip-off extremities.