The Best Travel T-shirts

Patagonia’s Capilene Cool Daily Shirt is our top pick.

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Best Travel T-shirts

Patagonia / Unbound Merino

Looking to create a versatile mix-and-match wardrobe that’s got you covered no matter the destination? Stocking up on a handful of staple travel T-shirts is a must. Travel tees are different from regular T-shirts in their function. They’re designed to be lightweight, pack down small, unpack crease-free, and, ideally, can be worn several times before they need to be washed. The best ones will also help keep you cool in hot temperatures. They often use materials that resist odor and wrinkles, are fast-drying, and remain soft and comfortable against the skin. (Bonus points if the shirts had built-in UPF sun protection.)

Keep in mind that top-of-the-line performance travel shirts can be pricey. The flipside is that they’re built to last and have superior durability over the old cotton standby. Our favorite travel T-shirt is the Capilene Cool Daily Shirt from Patagonia because — it’s lightweight, stays wrinkle-free, and keeps you feeling breezy on hot days. Plus, it’s made from recycled materials and has Fair Trade Certified sewing. Whether you’re looking for a basic, functional travel tee or something that can take you from day to night with minimal effort, we’ve found the best shirts on the market.

Here are the top travel T-shirts to shop right now.

Best Overall: Patagonia Women's Capilene Cool Daily Shirt

Patagonia Women's Capilene Cool Daily Shirt

Patagonia

Why We Love It: This versatile crew neck travel shirt packs down easily, dries quickly, and (truly) resists odor between washes.

What to Consider: The shoulder seams can be uncomfortable when wearing a backpack for long periods of time, and we’d like to see a wider range of sizes.

Patagonia’s Capilene Cool Daily Shirt (also available for men) features a crew neck and straight fit with a good drape that isn’t boxy. It’s designed to perform in hot weather by wicking away sweat and humidity to keep you cool, but it can be used as an insulation base layer in cooler temps, too. Wrinkle-free material means you can stuff it in your suitcase or overnight bag without worry, and the odor-resistance lets you wear it multiple times without needing to toss it in the wash.

This T-shirt is built to stand the test of time and comes with a lifetime warranty to prove it. It’s also constructed with Fair Trade Certified sewing, and bluesign-approved eco-friendly recycled polyester jersey. Overall, this shirt has minimal stitching and a good stretch for extra mobility and comfort. There’s not a lot to gripe about aside from the center shoulder seam which may cause chafing when paired with a backpack, and that we wish the sizing was more inclusive.

Available sizes: XXS-XXL | Material: Recycled polyester jersey

Best V-neck: Unbound Merino Wool V-neck T-shirt

Unbound Merino Wool V-neck T-shirt

Unbound

Why We Love It: It’s a classic v-neck style updated with all the travel-friendly features we crave, including softness, odor-resistance, and lightweight, moisture-wicking material.

What to Consider: It’s machine washable but will shrink if put in the dryer.

This v-neck offers up a long-hemmed travel tee option that’s great for wearing with leggings or tucking in. It’s lightweight, breathable, and odor-resistant (so you’ll get more mileage before it needs to hit the hamper), and it’s designed for hot and humid weather. The 100 percent merino wool material also has a smooth, silky finish that helps take this tee from day to night and keeps it wrinkle-free, making it an ideal addition to a travel wardrobe. There’s also a men’s version, though the hem is shorter and the fit is slimmer (and it goes for $85). Just a word of caution: Opt for air drying only and don’t tumble dry unless you’re looking to shrink its shape.

Available sizes: XS-XL | Material: 100 percent merino wool

Best Short-sleeved: Athleta Getaway Tee

Athleta Getaway Tee

Athleta

Why We Love It: It packs a little extra style punch with its boatneck collar and ruched sleeves, plus it’s machine washable and offers UPF 25 sun protection.

What to Consider: There are limited colors available.

The Athleta Getaway Tee is a short-sleeved travel T-shirt basic enough to wear casually with cutoffs but can also be dressed up thanks to its ruched cap sleeves with pinched detailing and the boatneck collar. The curved hem looks good worn multiple ways and provides just enough coverage to wear with leggings. A lightweight fabric blend keeps the shirt breathable, while also helping to wick moisture from the skin to keep you cool. As added bonuses, this short sleeve provides UPF 25 sun protection and it can be machine washed and dried (a rarity), though the odor-blocking technology means you can take longer between washes. We wish it was available in more than four colors, but we are thankful for the multitude of sizes that make it possible for many shoppers to find their fit.

Available sizes: XXS-3XL | Material: Recycled polyester, tencel, modal, and spandex blend

Best Long-sleeved: Free Fly Apparel Bamboo Lightweight Long Sleeve

Free Fly Apparel Bamboo Lightweight Long Sleeve

Free Fly

Why We Love It: It’s an ultra-lightweight, full-coverage long sleeve with UPF 40 sun protection and built-in thumbholes to cover your wrists.

What to Consider: Sizes run small and the shirt will shrink after the initial wash, so size up.

Free Fly only specializes in travel-friendly clothing with an eco-friendly lean, and their Bamboo Lightweight Long Sleeve shirt has earned a permanent place in our travel wardrobe. Not only are we smitten with the thumbhole loops that secure the sleeves over our wrists, but we like the built-in UPF 40 sun protection and the soft, second-skin feel of the lightweight bamboo and polyester blend. It packs down nicely, is breathable enough to wear in hot weather (say, on a boat or hiking), and has a loose, breezy fit — though sizes run small and there will be additional shrinkage after the first wash.

Available sizes: XS-XXL | Material: Bamboo and polyester

Best Sleeveless: Wayre Shift & Snap Tank

Wayre Shift & Snap Tank

Wayre

Why We Love It: This eco-friendly, silk-like top is made from recycled plastic bottles and recycled spandex, and features small style details that make it a fancier take on a travel T-shirt.

What to Consider: Side slits may be too high for some people.

This classy, sleeveless travel top makes it easy to look sophisticated and effortless on the road. The wrinkle-resistant fabric is perfect for packing in a suitcase, and is made from smooth, extra lightweight material primarily consisting of recycled PET bottles. It’s spill- and odor-proof, and features a comfortable four-way stretch, plus a UPF 30 sun protection rating. Small design details like pleated shoulders, side slits, and an eyelet snap-closure, made a big impression on us. We also like how the mid-rise crop complements different body types, and that the shirt can be worn loose, tucked in, or tied in a knot. The side slits rise to the ribcage which may be too high for some people or require high-waisted pants.

Available sizes: XXS-3XL | Material: Recycled plastic bottles and recycled spandex

Best Cropped: MakeMeChic Summer Crop Top Twist Front

 MakeMeChic Summer Crop Top Twist Front

Amazon

Why We Love It: It’s a pullover tee with a respectable amount of crop, and it’s available in a good selection of sizes and colors.

What to Consider: There’s a thin seam separating the bottom portion of the shirt which is particularly noticeable on patterned options.

We love this twist-knotted crop top because it’s a simple pullover design that comes in 39 colors and patterns, and looks great styled several different ways on multiple body types (including backwards). This wrinkle-free and machine-washable travel T-shirt is designed to crop right around your belly button, only showing skin when you lift up your arms. It does run on the small size so, keep this in mind depending on your desired fit. If you’re eyeing the patterned options, also check to make sure you’re okay with the visible seam that runs along the bottom portion of the shirt.

Available sizes: XS-XL | Material: Polyester and spandex

Best Day-to-night: Xieerduo Puff Sleeve Casual V Neck T-shirt

Xieerduo Puff Sleeve Casual V Neck T-shirt

Amazon

Why We Love It: This wrinkle-free V-neck can be as casual or dressy as you want and complements a wide range of body types.

What to Consider: Patterned options feature printed designs on the fabric that may appear fuzzy.

This puffy-sleeved T-shirt gets high points in our books because it can be worn with jeans or leggings as a casual, travel-friendly daytime shirt — or be dressed up with slacks, a skirt, or leather pants for a night out on the town. It’s also made from a wrinkle-free fabric blend, and looks good on a wide range of body types, including plus sizes and larger busts. The longer hem of the shirt falls below the hip, giving you coverage to both wear it with leggings, and to tuck or tie in a knot. The puff sleeves are also subtle enough to be worn under a jacket without bulging. Plus, there are more than 35 solid colors and prints to choose from — including a handful of long-sleeved options — though it should be noted that patterned options may have a lower quality appearance as the prints are applied directly on the fabric.

Available sizes: S-XXL  | Material: Polyester, rayon, and spandex

Best for Cold Weather: Icebreaker Women's Merino 260 Tech Long Sleeve Crewe Thermal Top

Icebreaker Women's Merino 260 Tech Long Sleeve Crewe Thermal Top

Icebreaker

Why We Love It: It’s a 100 percent merino long sleeve that can be worn leaf peeping, snowshoeing, or skiing, and has flat and offset seams designed for comfort.

What to Consider: It’s designed as a base layer so it has a close-to-body fit.

The versatility of the mid-weight Icebreaker 260 Tech Long Sleeve Crewe Thermal Top hits a sweet spot for us when it comes to functional cold-weather clothing. The 260-gram fabric weight is heavy enough to be worn on its own in cool weather, yet is light and thin enough to work as a base layer when you need to bundle up. Made with 100 percent merino, this all-natural thermoregulating tee uses body heat to create a warming, insulated layer without causing you to break a sweat. Extra room in the underarms allows for extra mobility without pulling, while the extra length in the arms won’t leave your wrists exposed. Offset shoulder seams keep it comfortable when wearing a pack, and flat seams throughout prevent irritation against your skin. This odor-resistant crew neck is designed to last three to five days without a wash. However, the overall fit is snug, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Available sizes: XS-XL | Material: 100 percent merino wool

Best for Hot Weather: Ibex Merino Tencel Pocket Tee

Ibex Merino Tencel Pocket Tee

Ibex

Why We Love It: An all-natural merino-tencel blend keeps you cool in higher temps, while the nylon fabric base translates into extra longevity.

What to Consider: The men’s version does not have a pocket.

Heading somewhere hot and humid? Ibex’s Merino Tencel Pocket Tee was designed to help keep you cool in sticky weather — without causing a stink. Made from merino wool and tencel (a fabric made from eucalyptus) wrapped around a nylon core, this tee wicks away moisture and sweat, resists body odor, and feels soft and lightweight against the skin. This durable tee is clutch for staying cooler in tropical destinations, on hikes, and while pounding the pavement on city tours. We recommend sizing up for a looser fit and to account for minor shrinkage in the wash. We’re big fans of the pocket, which gives this solid crew neck tee a touch of personality, but fair warning: the men’s version doesn’t have a pocket.

Available sizes: XS-XL | Material: Merino, tencel, and nylon

Best Sun Protection: Baleaf Laureate UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Hoodie Shirt

Baleaf Laureate UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Hoodie Shirt

Amazon

Why We Love It: This hooded shirt’s UPF 50+ sun protection reduces the need for all-over sunscreen application (and reapplication), while the curved, split hem gives it style.

What to Consider: It doesn’t have pockets.

This lightweight, breathable hoodie is designed to wear during outdoor activities where you’ll be exposed to the sun for lengthy periods of time. The polyester-spandex blend is soft and moveable — and provides UPF 50+ protection against the sun to block out 98 percent of UV rays. The drawstring hood can cover your neck and ears, areas that are often neglected when it comes to sun-protective clothing. This hoodie is also fast-drying (we’re talking rinse, wring, and dry in 15-20 minutes) making it an excellent choice for boat and fishing excursions, camping trips, or hikes. The curved hem and slightly split sides give this hooded shirt a stylish advantage over other sun protection hoodies on the market. One major downside, however, is the lack of pockets.

Available sizes: XS-3XL | Material: Polyester and spandex

Tips for Buying a Travel T-shirt 

Put comfort first

When it comes to picking out T-shirts for travel, choose shirts that feel good and make you feel good. Part of the pleasure of wearing a T-shirt is that it is comfortable. If you feel uncomfortable in something, you’re less likely to wear it — and then it just becomes a waste of space in your luggage.

Know the pros and cons of different materials

While a 100 percent cotton tee might fly back home, on the road you’ll want to focus on materials that can work as thermoregulators, wick away sweat and moisture from your body, are breathable, and look (and smell) good for a few wears without a wash. Merino wool is the gold standard for travel tee material as it can be both insulating and cooling, and is soft to the touch, wrinkle-resistant, and durable. Runners up include polyester blends, modal, nylon, rayon, and tencel. Fabrics to avoid, when possible, include linen and 100 percent cotton.

Consider wrinkle resistance

Fabrics prone to wrinkles can render a T-shirt unwearable while traveling, unless you have a portable steamer or iron. Wrinkle-resistant fabrics make travel less tedious and are best for packing (and repacking) and wearing (and rewearing) without too much fuss.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do you fold a T-shirt for travel?

    Tightly rolling T-shirts is one of the easiest ways to prevent wrinkles — and save space in your suitcase. Simply fold your tee in half, fold the sleeves over, and then roll from the bottom up, smoothing out any wrinkles as you go.

  • How many T-shirts should I have in my travel wardrobe?

    At minimum, we suggest building out your travel with at least three different types of T-shirts. Include two thermoregulating tees, one designed to keep you cool in hot weather and one designed to keep you warm in cold weather; and a versatile basic shirt that can be styled for daytime or a night out.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure 

Travel + Leisure writers are shopping, fashion, and product experts who use personal experience and customer recommendations to choose the best items for shoppers. For this list, Katherine Alex Beaven raided her own closet and suitcase, and researched tons of tees to find the best travel T-shirts that deserve a spot in your suitcase — and on your next trip.

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