Clothing advantageous to travelers and where to find it

This item appears on page 40 of the April 2014 issue.

(Part one in a series)

Someone who travels a lot develops a preference for clothing that has certain properties, so we asked you to tell us about the apparel you pack and where you bought it. We wanted to know brand names, so shoppers can inquire about them in the mall or look them up online. And we asked you to give us the name of the store or company from which you purchased each item, including, if possible, its contact information (location, phone number or website). 

Our request inspired a lot of travelers to write in. A number of their recommendations appear below, and there are more to come. If you have a find to share, write to Clothing Advantageous to Travelers and Where to Find It, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818, or e-mail (include the address at which you receive ITN). Photographs are welcome; include captions.


Among the items of clothing I wear when traveling, my three favorites are a suede jacket, black jeans and a windproof raincoat.

I’ll start with the JACKET. This jeans-type jacket is beige, with two small breast pockets, and it’s made by Utex (800/361-1443).

I saw it on sale in a small shop for women several years ago. It was the first time I had heard of washable suede, and so I bought it hoping it really was washable. It is. A real money saver!

I’ve washed it numerous times, following the instructions. I wash it only in cold water (I use Woolite liquid soap) and dry it on very low heat, AND I take it out of the dryer before it stops!

It works as casual or dressy, depending on what you wear with it.

Black JEANS are practical for traveling because they don’t show wrinkles, so you can pack them wherever you have room in your suitcase. I like the Gloria Vanderbilt slim-leg style. They’re available at Herberger’s (800/945-4438) and possibly at Macy’s (800/289-6229). I usually get them when they’re on sale (about $30).

I also like Bandolino JEANS, which I find at Herberger’s. I’m sure there are other stores that also carry these brands.

Both brands of jeans come in other colors, including “blue jeans.” They’re comfortable, even when you’re sitting on a plane for eight or more hours. Just wash and dry, using medium heat. The front pockets in the Bandolino brand are rather shallow.

My RAINCOAT is what I use the most, both at home and away. A “Belted Trench,” it’s lightweight, waterproof, breathable and packable. I sent for it from TravelSmith (800/770-3387). Their main location is 5568 West Chester Road, West Chester, Ohio 45069, but they have an outlet store at 8939 Union Centre Boulevard in West Chester (800/950-1600).

The raincoat is washable and takes up very little room in my luggage. It’s double-breasted, with a belt, and would be acceptable to wear most any place. Its length is above the knee.

This coat is very comfortable and has deep pockets in front. Mine is red, but it comes in four other colors. It’s also wrinkle-resistant; hang it up and the wrinkles are gone, even after being packed for several hours.

Bea Emanuel
Minneapolis, MN


My choice for the last 10 international trips has been pima-cotton women’s T-SHIRTS from L.L.Bean (800/441-5713). They come in several styles and many colors. 

They wash beautifully by hand. I hang them in the shower at night, where they can drip. In drier climates, they’re dry in the morning and wrinkle-free. In humid climates, 24 hours will usually suffice.

They pack beautifully, taking up little space. The T-shirt is casual looking but, coupled with a nice scarf, can look quite dressy. I usually get the short-sleeved style. The short-sleeved V-neck costs $20, but there are several styles.

I also like their button-down CARDIGANS of the same fabric. Each gives you a little more warmth without being too warm or bulky, and it layers well over the T-shirt.

If you get the L.L.Bean Visa credit card, shipping is free, with free shipping on returns.

Carol Saathoff
Post Falls, ID


Why is it so darn incredibly hard, here in the US, to find travel pants that have an elastic waist and also pockets? I am a petite, but the ones at REI (800/426-4840) just don’t fit right. And it’s so easy to get them in the UK!

TravelSmith has now started to carry Craghoppers (phone 0844 811 1022) PANTS as well as their own brand of lightweight hiking pants. I bought a pair of each and they fit okay.

I was in Scotland for five weeks in June-July 2013 and bought PANTS and two pairs of BOOTS at Cotswold (phone 01666 575 500), the branch at 72 Rose Street (phone 0131 464 9991) in Edinburgh. They even gave me a 15% military discount (I was raised military), in addition to the complicated VAT form with which to get money back when I left the country.

I also bought a Craghoppers SHIRT, a pair of Columbia (800/622-6953) PANTS and a pair of Peter Storm (phone 0844 257 2079) PANTS — all lightweight — at two different Blacks (phone 0844 257 2078) stores, one in Inverness, Scotland, and one in York, England.

I had an amazing find when I flew into Kirkwall, on Pomona Island in Scotland’s Orkney Islands, for some hikes with a tour company. On the main (only) street in Kirkwall, at the sporting goods store KT Sports (53-55 Albert St.; phone +44 1856 876 213), an Intersport store, I found a pair of Regatta (phone 0843 309 0199) brand PANTS — the only ones in my long history of purchasing pants that didn’t have to be shortened! 

Rab (303/926-7228) is a very good brand but expensive. I bought a pair of Rab PANTS for a hike on Offa’s Dyke Path in the UK in July 2012 (May ’13, pg. 27). I got these at the store ProAdventure (36 Castle St.; phone 01978 860605) in Llangollen, Wales.

Several years ago I stayed at the JW Marriott Hotel Lima (Malecón de la Reserva 615, Miraflores, Lima, Peru; phone 51 1 217 7000). There are a lot of interesting stores nearby, on the ocean side by the cliff. I bought two pairs of good-quality hiking PANTS (convertible ones) made by Tattoo, a brand I’ve seen only in Lima.

While staying at Lake Bled in Slovenia, I got some striking red-and-black hiking PANTS, Milo (phone +48 [32] 264 11 34) brand. I recently learned that they’re imported from Poland. All of these pants had multiple pockets and elastic waists!

Regarding footwear, I do not have a Vasque (800/224-4453) or Merrell (800/288-3124) foot. Instead, I got two pairs of BOOTS at Cotswold: one pair Asolo (phone +39 0422 88 66), Italian, and one Meindl (phone 01539 560214), German.

I found a super buy last year on 2-pocket, long-sleeved hiking SHIRTS at an Edinburgh Woollen Mill (phone 0808 202 0242) store. I got four. The price was originally $50, down to $16.50! I believe these stores are only in Scotland.

I have a lot of pants because my weight can vary as much as 30 pounds up or down, so I have them in “small,” “medium” and “large” sizes.

Samantha Sartain
Colorado Springs, CO


In addition to our travel clothing being comfortable and respectable looking, my wife and I have a couple of other considerations when purchasing it.

First, the product must be easy to clean while on a trip. Generally, this means washing it in the sink and drying it overnight or, at least, allowing for a machine wash and tumble dry, no ironing necessary.

Second, we like secure pockets in which to carry money, credit cards, passports, etc. By “secure” we mean zipped and, in some cases, hidden.

Below are listed the garments I have found that satisfy these criteria.

The ExOfficio® (800/644-7303) Men’s Air Strip™ Long Sleeve SHIRT features a button-down collar, Airomesh Plus™ back-cape ventilation and air strip side vents for increased air flow, upper-back mesh lining, roll-up sleeve tabs, and pleated-bellows front pockets with a hidden security zipper in the right pocket. Can machine or hand wash. Quick drying.

The Patagonia® (800/638-6464) Sol Patrol® SHIRT is made of lightweight, quick-drying, ripstop polyester. This long-sleeved shirt features a double-layer collar with hidden snaps at the collar points and cooling mesh (center back) with side air vents. Two button-through chest pockets are lined with mesh, and there’s an inset zippered pocket. Can machine or hand wash. Quick drying. This shirt offers a smart, casual appearance.

From Brooks Brothers (800/274-1815), non-iron casual SHIRTS are machine washable and tumble dry. They come out of the dryer looking as if they have been professionally laundered, and they offer a smart, casual appearance.

Magellan’s (800/962-4943) sells microfiber PANTS — a blend of poly, viscose and Lycra that is wrinkle resistant and machine washable. They have an invisible stretch waistband and come with five pockets, two of which have zippers, one under the rear pocket flap and the other inside the left front pocket.

Any of the many brands of manufactured lightweight nylon/polyester travel pants that are wrinkle resistant and moisture wicking can be hand washed and hung to dry overnight. Typically, each has a partial elastic waistband, a security-zip cargo pocket and zippered rear pocket(s). There are also convertible versions that have zip-off legs, turning them into shorts.

The ExOfficio® 16-pocket travel JACKET with hood is the true gem of all travel jackets. With pockets galore both inside and out, it's both zippered and secured with Velcro-type fasteners. When one is limited to 15 kilograms (33 lbs.) for air travel, this jacket can hold a lot of stuff and junk. Unfortunately, this jacket is manufactured intermittently. As of November 2013, I could not find it in the online catalog.

Any of the many brands of manufactured fleece jackets provide warmth and comfort. These work well as individual outer jackets or as undergarments when layering in cooler weather. I have several but prefer the Patagonia® Men's Better Sweater™ JACKET. It’s a full-zip jacket that has a “sweater-knit face” and a warm fleece interior with two zippered side pockets.

It’s smart looking and provides for a more dressy appearance. I like the zip-up-the-front style, as it can be removed more easily when coming indoors or to allow body heat to escape. 

ExOfficio®, Patagonia® and WinterSilks (800/718-3687) have travel-friendly UNDERGARMENTS that can be washed in the sink and dried overnight, as can WinterSilks silk SOCKS; these socks are lightweight.

In addition to a small travel umbrella in my carry-on backpack, I carry a clear-plastic, calf-length RAINCOAT with hood. This raincoat is completely waterproof and large enough to fit over outer garments such as overcoats or heavy jackets. I bought it from a local travel store some 20-plus years ago.

I always pack three wire coat hangers. These can hold any of the wash-out clothing items mentioned above. I also carry travel clothespins, each of which has a hook on one pin, making it easy to hang things. I use them for my socks and other small items.

Skip Carpenter, Coronado, CA


When stationed in Saigon during the Vietnam War, although I had a desk job with the US Army we always wore jungle fatigues. The shirt pockets were high and large, and, while nothing is pickpocket-proof, they at least provided a relatively safe place for your wallet and other valuables.

After beginning my international travels, I purchased several Serengeti safari SHIRTS from Cabela’s (800/237-4444), a mail-order house located in Sidney, Nebraska. I pack two or three of them when going on vacation.

Although neither as high nor as spacious as those on the jungle fatigues, the breast pockets still offer pickpocket-resistant alternatives for your passport and other documents. In addition, the shirts dry overnight.

Robert A. Siebert
Jamaica, NY


5.11 Tactical (866/451-1726) PANTS are rugged, with large pockets for cameras, GPS, camper toilet paper rolls, etc.

The back and cargo pockets have Velcro-type closures so offer some resistance to pickpockets. The pants are sold to the police market, so color choices are a bit limited. 

The description of 5.11 Tactical SHORTS is similar to that of the pants. (The 5.11 “Academy” shorts are not as good because they have smaller pockets.)

The 5.11 line is sold all over the Web and in big-city, police-supply retail shops. LA Police Gear (866/793-1911) usually has competitive prices and occasional sales.

Cabela’s has several travel SHIRTS that include a zip-closed pocket behind the upper right pocket. This secure pocket will easily take one or two passports.

The shirts usually also have a sunglasses pocket in or behind the upper left pocket. For long-sleeved SHIRTS, I prefer the World Traveler design, which has no epaulets and is available in a couple of plaid print patterns, making me look much less like an Indiana Jones wannabe. The World Traveler usually costs around $40, but they go on sale regularly.

For short sleeves, I have two or three lightweight Cabela’s shirts in plaid print with pockets similar to those of the World Traveler. I didn’t see them on Cabela’s website the last time I checked, though. They were as good in the Egyptian desert as they were in the Amazon rainforest.

George Anderson
Minneapolis, MN


I use TravelSmith underwear. It can be washed in the sink at night and be dry the next morning. 

Currently, the T-SHIRTS cost $28.50 and the BRIEFS, $12. I take two pairs of each, just in case they don’t dry in time.

Ed Gorlin, Lexington, VA


I love to wear good, old, well-worn JEANS when I travel. Why?

• I hate polyester clothing, even the new travel stuff. It’s cold when the weather is cold, hot when the weather is hot. It quickly gets smelly when it’s hot and humid. Good, old cotton is more comfortable.

• If the jeans are well worn, there is nothing a laundry service can do that will shrink or otherwise “injure” them, which is usually a concern in third-world countries, where they use very hot water.

• It is usually cheap, by American standards, to have jeans laundered, and they can usually be done overnight, thus I need fewer items of clothing when I travel. Two weeks with a carry-on is easily doable.

• You may think jeans don’t look dressy enough. Throw a scarf around your neck and you’re ready to go!

Ann Vercoutere
Larkspur, CA


My favorite travel clothing comes from Chico’s (888/855-4986), in their Travelers line.

Colin Brodie wearing an L.L.Bean sun shirt and Ethel Brodie wearing Chico’s Travelers slacks at Kuang Si Falls, Laos.

The material is stretchy, for comfort on airplanes, buses, etc. It never wrinkles, so it can be packed by rolling or folding it to fit small spaces in luggage. It can go from casual on sightseeing trips to dress wear (I’ve worn it with a sparkly top on cruises). Their clothes can be hand washed in hotel basins and hung to dry overnight.

The outfits come with SLACKS, TOPS and JACKETS. I’ve had some of my slacks for 15 years, and they continue to hold up and look good. I usually take two pairs of pants, wearing one and packing the other, as they are my staples for daily dressing.

The other clothing that works well for me when we’re going to an area where we’ll be outdoors in sunshine for a good part of the trip is a sun SHIRT, worn for sun protection. My husband and I also both own a few of these from Magellan’s, L.L.Bean and Columbia (800/622-6953). All are long-sleeved. 

Touch-up ironing may be needed, or the shirts can be removed from the dryer and hung while still damp. The one from L.L.Bean wrinkles the least.

Ethel Brodie
Discovery Bay, CA


I have found that, for traveling, wearing a SKIRT is the ticket for me. Since I leave from Seattle, Washington, I need to wear something warm, plus I’m usually cold during the flight. It should be comfortable, and, for me, that means the length is just below my knees and the skirt is gathered or what you would call loose.

The skirt must have pockets and an elastic waist, and it should have a pattern, not a solid color, to hide spills.

Sun shirt from Magellan’s. Photo: Brodie

Underneath the skirt, I wear warm TIGHTS. Before my arrival to a warm or hot climate, I remove the tights in the bathroom prior to landing or in the ladies’ room at the airport.

I layer the TOPS, so I can remove or add as many layers as necessary.

All of my travel skirts have come from thrift stores in the chain Value Village (425/462-1515), and they have served me well. 

By wearing a skirt, I’m wearing what would be acceptable in just about any society, church or place where I should be dressed modestly. And, since it comes from Value Village, if something happens to it, there’s another one where that came from!

Joyce Renee Lewis
Camano Island, WA