Buying Guide: Travel Clothing

Travel clothing has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years. Fabrics and features are designed to make packing easier, laundering easier, luggage lighter and our bodies more comfortable in the kind of weather us Brits and Europeans just aren't used to.

So before you head off with your UK walking gear, a few pairs of shorts, a couple of T-shirts and one smart outfit scrunched up in your hand luggage (never to be worn again), discover some of the superb innovations available from travel clothing brands today. Packing just got easier...

Travelling light - lightweight travel clothing

Travelling light used to mean going without, and probably smelling a bit. But the world's leading travel clothing brands are constantly experimenting with fabric technology to make their garments lighter to pack, lighter to wear and easier to wash on the move for fresh repeated wear.

Opt for synthetic fabrics (such as nylon or polyester) or synthetic/cotton blends. Synthetic fibres can be cleverly woven for durability and enhanced with stretch for comfort, while also remaining very lightweight to pack and to wear in high heat.

Pack easy-care, quick-drying garments. This means you can easily wash your garment at a campsite, in a sink, or even in a river and hang it up to dry overnight (rather than being forced to pack it in your bag while damp - an travellers taboo). Really travel-savvy garments will have drying loops to make this even easier.

Consider your warm layers carefully - Don't bulk up your luggage with a heavy hoody or knit just in case you encounter cold evenings. Opt for lightweight microfleece, which has a very high warmth-to-weight ratio (perfect for the flight home, too).

Pack what you think you'll wear then remove half of it! It's an ancient rule that still goes. There's nothing more annoying than arriving home having lugged unworn clothes around the world for no reason! If you choose the right kit, your comfort won't be compromised.
Shop Men's Lightweight Hot Climate Clothing Shop Women's Lightweight Hot Climate Clothing

Sun-protective clothing / UV-protective fabrics

Clothing is, of course, our first line of defence against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. But when you cover the exposed parts of your body with sun cream, you want to be sure that the skin under your clothes is as safely protected in harsh sunlight.

UPF fabrics = sun-protective clothing

A large amount of research has been done around the ability of various fabrics to 'block out' potentially harmful UV-rays. As such, fabrics can now be rated in the same way as your trusty sun cream - by UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor).

Many different kinds of fabrics can be UV-protective; it's all down to the tightness of the weave - the way the fibres are constructed and their ability to provide an intense 'shade' effect. So a high UPF rating doesn't necessarily make for a heavier garment. Indeed, sun-safety is where today's lightweight hot climate travel clothing fabrics become even more valuable - if you feel the need to cover up entirely, you can do so without overheating.

Leading travel clothing brands including Craghoppers, Columbia and Patagonia sell superb ranges of sun-protective clothing of various UPF right up to the highest protection rating possible - UPF 50.

Our tip

When you buy sun-protective clothing, be sure to remember that any exposed parts of your body still need protection - but you might be able to save some precious luggage space by not having to carry too much!
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Insect repellent clothing

If you've been lucky enough to avoid nasty bites so far, take it from us - just one bad experience can be enough to ruin an entire day out and even an entire holiday. Whether you're driven to distraction by midges in the Highlands of Scotland, ravaged by Sand Fly bites on the Croatian coast, or at serious risk of contracting insect-borne disease while sharing a rainforest trek with thousands of Mosquitoes - insect bites are a serious issue and precaution is a must when you're travelling.

What about my usual insect-repellent spray or roll-on?

Of course, insect repellent sprays and treatments are an invaluable source of protection. But in the hustle and bustle of a holiday, do you always remember that insects can get under your clothes? That it might not be enough just to spray your exposed ankles and neckline?

Insect-repellent fabric = insect-repellent clothing

Through years of research it is now possible for clothing manufacturers to treat their fabrics with insect-repellent. Insect repellent clothing is a great way to ensure a good level of coverage before you even start with the spray-on top up.

Does it wash out? While some insect-repellent garments lose their performance after 30-35 washes, leading manufacturers have created permanently insect repellent clothing. For example, NosiLife from Craghoppers has been proven by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine to prevent 90% of bites; protection that will last as long as the garment does.

Does it irritate the skin? Although its always wise to check a specialist fabric out if you have sensitive skin, insect repellent fabrics are generally non-irritant. And because you won't need to apply endless repellent under your clothing, you'll avoid as much contact with irritant substances such as Deet.

Casual travel clothing - what's the difference?

The whole point of travel is escape - so that means keeping the essential clutter (like what to wear) as simple and easy to manage as possible. The last thing you want is to pack all your favourite clothes for those casual days, dinners out, or even those international business meetings, and find you arrive with a pile of crumpled kit that comes home with you unworn.

Casual and smart-casual travel clothing should be carefree, easy to pack, hassle-free to clean and look great straight out of your rucksack.

For downtime, urban excursions, relaxed beach holidays and even work trips - you need clothing that can handle the journey and still look the part.

Travel clothing brands such as Craghoppers, Royal Robbins, Columbia, Marmot and Patagonia (to name but a few) are working hard to create travel garments that perform in high heat, require minimum ironing and have enough style to take you from the office to a beachfront bar on the other side of the world.

Our tips

  • Look out for classic checked shirts in lightweight polyester/cotton blends.
  • Choose versatile zip-off trousers so that you can switch your look from practical full-length to casual crops or shorts.
  • Ladies, check out the simple feminine styles from Royal Robbins - in soft blended fabrics that drape beautifully without endless ironing or hanging, but still launder very easily on the move.
  • Pick out quality cotton T-shirts that last rugged laundering and won't lose their shape.
  • Keep it simple - substitute fussy fashion gear for simple, carefree styles that you know you'll feel good in in warm weather.
  • Swap your evening knitwear for lightweight fleece - the easiest warm layer to carry with you around town.

Shop Men's Casual Travel Clothing Shop Women's Casual Travel Clothing

'Travel friendly' features

You'll often hear clothing described as 'travel friendly'. In addition to the wide range of performance fabrics on offer, clothing manufactures innovate by including small details and features that make a big difference to life on the move.

Drying loops - Stopping over in a hostel or camping? Easily wash then hang dry your gear overnight or in the sun (or in your tent!).

Secure pockets - When you're travelling at a pace, it can be easy to lose sight of your valuables. Secure pockets - or 'security pockets' - are zipped and concealed to provide a safe stowing place for cash, tickets, keys etc.

Easy care / quick-drying - Who knows when you'll have a chance to wash your clothes? Easy care clothing can go straight in the campsite laundery or be srubbed in the sink, then hung out to dry without a hassle. One rule - if you can't wear it more than once during your trip, you probably shouldn't take it!

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