| GEAR TO GO|
SOFT WEAR FOR HARD TRAVELS
Durable but softer-than-you-realize synthetics and blends rendered in travel-specific configurations (like neat-o hidden pockets) are the key to packing light and looking earnestly presentable when the need arises. These fabrics compress down to sartorial pancakes and, when exhumed from deep duffel crevasses, recover their appearance considerably more quickly than does your jet-lagged self. (Unless otherwise noted, these garments come in both men's and women's sizes.)
Cotton undies are the weak link in most travel outfits; they get soggy on the person and stay soggy when rinsed out. Better are Mountain Hardwear's super-wicking ZeO2 undertrou (men's briefs, $24; women's briefs, $22; men's and women's boxers, $32.50); they wick away sog and dry overnight when washed. I've become a zealous advocate of good travel socks; they wick, pad, and protect busy feet. Three favorite brands, with lighter and heavier choices for each: synthetic Thorlos Casual ($12) and Light Hiker ($12); SmartWool Casual Walk ($14) and Adventure Walk ($17); and wool/synthetic blend Bridgedale GTX Trail ($15) and GTX Trekker ($17.50). —R.E.H.
I'd begin packing for any trip by throwing in a couple of Ex Officio Active Tees ($38), quick-drying synthetic T-shirts that don't look like long underwear. The golfy look is a sure bet for dinner presentability, as with L.L. Bean's Intera Knit Shirt ($34), a pass-for-cotton polyester piqué treated to wick perspiration; it's also a worthy base layer for hiking. For warm weather, Ex Officio's Window Plaid Shirt (short-sleeve, $58; long-sleeve, $62), 60/40 cotton/poly, is cool as an ice-blended drink. Beneath one of its two Velcro-tabbed pockets is a hidden zippered pocket for safe stowage of your passport or Altoids.
TravelSmith's Triblend Explorer Shirt (men's only, $59) has seven pockets in all, including a zippered one on the shirttail that tucks inside your trousers or skirt, plus a huge pocket to hold airline tickets. It's long-sleeve dressy, but roll-up sleeve tabs make it summery, as does its nylon/poly/cotton blend. Once you touch the sumptuous microfleece of BertramMann's Fleece Zip T (men's, $52; women's, $48), you must possess it. The zip-front shirt works as a wicking base layer, stands alone as a dressy pullover, or functions as a light sweater. A notch warmer is Patagonia's Micro D-Luxe Pullover ($90), an amazingly lightweight and stuffable middle layer that steps up as a dressy sweater when needed.
Convertible trousers are the invaluable utility player in a travel wardrobe. L.L. Bean's Ripstop Climber Pant ($69) camouflages the zippered seam that converts the pants into shorts. Zippered cuffs help you remove the leggings over boots. The same qualities that make Mountain Hardwear's Mountainwear Pack Pants ($110) the best I've found for trekking and backpacking also suit them brilliantly for general travel: soft nylon fabric reinforced in the right places; deep, secure pockets; and a crotch and waist that are seamlessly lined with microchamois to dissipate sweat and prevent chafing. Heavier and awesomely rugged is The North Face's Utility Pant ($76), made of a cottonlike version of indestructible Cordura. Patagonia's dressier Supplex nylon Gi II Pants ($75) add subtle
zippered cargo pockets on the thighs. Zoic's spiffily styled Persueder Short ($50) takes another approach to crotch and waist comfort, placing stretchy, airy Spandura in both realms to permit ease of movement and breathable comfort for sessions of captivity.
JUST FOR WOMEN
The quick-drying Macabi Skirt ($69) is so clever that some very secure men wear it on rafting trips. It's loose, airy, and adjustable: Wear it full length when propriety dictates, or snap and buckle it up and you can wade through bonefishing flats or just sun your gams. Up top, REI's feather-light polyester/spandex Morocco Tee ($24) and tripocketed nylon Morocco Gadget Shirt ($55) make a functional ensemble. For cooler weather, substitute The North Face's new Aurora Zip Neck ($78) against the skin or use the soft microfleece pullover as a stretchy sweater. —Robert Earle Howells
For a Directory of Manufacturers, please see page 123.