Over the last 20 years, I've spent a LOT of time on the road, lugging too much stuff all over the globe, going through increasingly stringent security lines and just watching travel become more unpleasant every year.
About six years ago I started getting obsessed with bags, continually searching out the perfect luggage that would create the least amount of friction during my travels. From G-Ro to Lexdray, I've never stopped looking for easier ways to travel.
This state of affairs has led me to start searching out not only bags but gadgets, clothing, footwear, etc. that helps me travel light. I never thought I would EVER wear underwear more than once, but today's high tech fabrics and return to merino wool have introduced a whole new industry that allows multiple wears and no stink.
Travel Light is my ongoing column that explores these brands,
travel hacks, and tips to help you get the most out of traveling in todays less than ideal conditions.
I got the chance to road test Y Athletics socks (2.0 Version), Silverair Merino Underwear and short sleeve crewneck tee on my recent trip to Amsterdam for ADE. Here are some thoughts and a quick interview with Y Athletics founder Sam Mazumdar.
When hitting the road, always remember... "go lightly."
Underwear - Yes, you probably think I'm disgusting for rocking the same pair of drawers consecutively on this trip (3x to be exact, but I let them air out so calm down). Can I say underwear is game changing? If so, then this fits the description without a doubt. Insanely comfortable, soft and no bunching up like normal boxer briefs, and yes no stench of my long walks and close contact with my special parts. Make the investment and buy ten pairs.
Socks - Yes, another thing that I never thought that I would wear multiple times but these were even better than the underwear aside from some minor pilling which tends to happen with merino. The crew sock and ankle sock both remained stench-free, comfortable and dry with 4x wears each. I could have pushed them to six or seven wears with no problems.
The Tee - This is a great layering tee but a little too gym-bro for my style as a casual tee. I wore it mostly as a layer and even to the gym (the one time I went). It is comfortable, stretchy, wicks up the sweat nicely and can easily handle multiple wears. This is great for putting under sweaters, button-ups or if you want to work out and not take a lot of gym gear. I hope to see some more proper casual tees from them soon, but it's excellent for what it is and allows you to minimize the gear you bring along.
Overall - Y Athletics delivers big on their promise of comfort, wearability, and stink-be-gone durability. The brand is on the higher end of the price scale but well worth the price because of the high quality and multiple wear factor. You can dramatically reduce your load when packing a couple of pairs of socks, tees, and underwear to make room for bulkier items like sweaters, pants, etc.
Interview: Y Athletics CEO, Sam Mazumdar
Recently it seems there has been a trend toward clothing that travels well. Less stink, more breathability, etc. What got you into this lane of clothing design?
The first product we made at Y Athletics was a high-performance athletic shirt with a clean design so it could be worn around town. After that shirt hit the market, our customers raved about how they loved traveling with it as it helped them pack light. The features we focused on along with the minimalist look just happened to be perfect for travel. That's really when we started to bring the travel aspect into our branding.
Can you tell us a little bit about the tech that goes into the garments? Why are they so great for travel and workouts? What makes them different than other products on the market?
There's a lot that goes into it, but we're most known for infusing pure silver into all our products. Silver neutralizes odor-causing bacteria better than any other treatment or material, which is ideal for travel and workouts. It's a technology that's used in military and spacesuit clothing as well. While we're known for silver, it's really the fabrication that makes our products different than others in the market. We create every product from scratch using custom yarns and fabrics engineered specifically for that product. I'll give you a few examples which will give you a better idea of the thought process behind developing the garments:
For underwear, we used a beautiful 17.5-micron ultra fine merino wool with a jersey knit on the outside for a smooth hand and a terry knit on the inside for better next-to-skin comfort. For socks, stretch and durability were important, so we used a higher micron merino and a new silver with more stretch than the silver we use in shirts and underwear. For shirts, we used a synthetic fabric that dries quick and integrated zoned ventilation panels into the garment. It's the engineering and design that goes into our products that sets us apart.
Merino Wool has also been making a comeback on this circuit. What are your thoughts on this fabric and why do you think there is such a significant resurgence?
Merino Wool is an amazing yarn and something we are heavily invested in. We especially love Merino because it's a natural yarn with temperature regulation and odor controlling properties. While processed Merino Wool does not actively kill the bacteria that causes odor, it prevents them from latching on to the garment by absorbing a lot of moisture and preventing bacteria growth on the skin. That's one of the primary reasons we use Merino for garments that stay concealed (underwear and socks).
Customer awareness of the functionality of Merino Wool is obviously a big reason why it's making a comeback, but another big reason is because of the advancements in yarn and textile processing. We're seeing a lot more variety and finesse in merino yarns from suppliers, and we are able to knit amazing fabrics with those yarns.
Your styles are very athletic-inspired, do you ever plan on making a more casual shirt?
Definitely. We're coming out with a beautiful 100% Merino Wool shirt later this year that doesn't have any athletic cues at all. At the same time, we are using all our expertise in making performance clothing and incorporating elements that make it unique.
What’s the longest you’ve ever worn a tee, socks or underwear without washing them?
I've gone two months wearing two shirts, and I've worn two pairs of socks and underwear without washing them for about a month, and they didn't smell bad afterward. I did that for the purpose of testing our products. You can really push them to extremes, but if you have access to laundry, it's best to wash them after 2-3 days of sweaty pursuits or a week of casual wear.
What are some of your favorite travel hacks? Can you give our readers some tips on how to travel lighter?
Sure, I'll give you three:
1) No bias intended but all YA gear are travel hacks as they drastically cut down the amount of clothes you need to carry. For other brands, look for clothes that are either made from majority Merino Wool or have some sort of permanent antibacterial agent in them.
2) Interchange clothes every other day because it helps to keep them fresh for longer. For a two week trip, I'll carry two shirts, two underwear, and two socks. I rotate between the pairs every other day, and I can usually go the full two weeks with a wash in between.
3) When I have to check-in luggage on domestic flights, I usually send them to my destination via FedEx Ground a couple of days before. It costs about the same ($20-$30 per piece), but I get to avoid all the hassle of checking in and lugging the luggage around.
You manufacture your garments in the USA, what was the rationale for this when so many people manufacture overseas?
We make some of our products here in the US but not all of them. While it is true that a lot of brands manufacture overseas due to cheaper labor, for us, that's not a factor because the majority of our cost comes from our raw materials. The quality and technology that goes into manufacturing our clothes come first, and that's something you have to pay top dollar for regardless of the country you make them in. When we find the necessary expertise domestically, we proudly make them here at home