Our team is dedicated to finding and telling you more about the web’s best products. If you purchase through our links, we may receive a commission. Our editorial team is independent and only endorses products we believe in.
When summer rolls around, there’s truly only one thing I want to be wearing: a comfy, classic, and cool t-shirt. It’s the one garment that can have you covered for any sunny summer occasion, from a picnic in the park to a lazy afternoon nap (of which there will be many for me), straight through to dinner and then thrown in a suitcase for a weekend getaway. But that doesn't mean any worn-out college tee or threadbare thrift find can fit the bill. You should really be upgrading your t-shirt for the season, and opting for a version that can really do it all.
So where does one find this perfect tee? Over the years, I’ve certainly worn (and sweated through) my fair share. I've often felt like a t-shirt Goldilocks, bouncing around unsatisfied from one option to the next. None could boast the elusive combination of being stylish enough to dress up or down, while also being super soft and able to actually keep me cool. That is, until I found the superfine wool fibers of Unbound Merino, which managed to pull all of the above off and then some.
- Wrinkle resistant
- Incredibly soft
- Requires less washing
- Odor resistant
We don't like
- Pricey for a T-shirt
- Can start to pill over time
- Must be air-dried or dried only on low heat
A T-Shirt Born From Travel
As a versatile item of clothing that can easily be packed, it should come as no surprise that Unbound Merino was founded by three lifelong friends who love to travel. The adventurous trio of Dima Zelikman, Andrew Cariboni, and Dan Demsky wanted to create a versatile and smart t-shirt that would be a travel essential, and could be worn almost anywhere. As seasoned travelers themselves, they were aware that Merino wool was a common fiber with lots of appealing qualities for apparel. But it was being used solely for activewear and hadn’t been utilized to make a great fitting, everyday tee. So after many rounds of research and development, during which they perfected the fiber and fit, they created Unbound Merino in 2016 by launching as a successful IndieGoGo campaign.
The Fiber That Helps You Look, Feel (And Even Smell) Great
The essence of this brand (that’s right there in the name) is a simple fiber that’s bursting with benefits: Merino wool. Sourced from Merino sheep that are mostly found in Australia, it’s a superfine yarn that’s truly the overachiever of the natural fiber world. Not only is it extremely soft and light, but it absorbs sweat and pulls it away from the body to keep you cool. The fibers themselves are also coated in lanolin, an organic compound that’s antibacterial and naturally odor resistant. Still not impressed? The tightly wound yarn acts like a spring that bounces back in place to prevent wrinkling. Oh, and Merino is also both sustainable and ethically sourced.
Unbound Offers Boundless Comfort (And More)
Unbound Merino, and their impressive namesake fabric, certainly talked a big game when it came to claims of comfort, fit, and keeping you cool. But the real test would be trying out these tees for myself — and wearing them all day under the Southern California sun. The brand sent me two different T-shirt options to try: the Merino Wool Crew Neck T-Shirt and the Lightweight Merino Crew Neck T-Shirt (both $88). The pair of tees arrived perfectly presented in a slim box, wrapped in tissue with a handy list of care instructions. And as soon as I unwrapped them, I could indeed confirm that they are supremely soft. Like, “Wow, I want that on my body” soft.
And so I did put them on my body, wearing both tees the very next day. Both crew necks (in a size Large) hugged my body, in that perfect sweet spot between being too tight or too loose. They felt even better, like a cloud of softness surrounding my midsection. After wearing the heavier-weight shirt for an entire workday, I also took it for a test drive out to dinner. Even after 10+ hours of wear, it wasn’t stretched out, smelly, or even slightly wrinkled. Consider me impressed! But would this tee still be getting top marks after a few days of wear — and a trip out of town?
Meet Your New Go-To Travel Tee
Curious if these tees were indeed perfect for travel, I also tossed both in my suitcase for a weekend trip to Palm Springs. Sure enough, even after being haphazardly folded, they both came out of the carry-on in great condition. I just tugged on them slightly and any small wrinkles went away. I then pulled on the black lightweight tee and spent about 3 hours in 90-degree heat. Despite the fact that it was black (and thus a magnet for the sun’s rays) it still felt so comfy and relatively cool thanks that the lightweight feel. Yes, I did sweat as well, but there was minimal perspiration to be found on the t-shirt itself and practically no odor either.
Coming back from the weekend, it was time to put these tees to their final test: laundering. After wearing them both at least five times, I still wouldn’t classify them as “dirty”, but I wanted to see how they performed after being washed and dried. I consulted the care instructions sheet I received and put both tees in the wash with like colors on the delicate cycle in cold water. I then air-dried them, laying them flat on a drying rack, and in just a few hours, they were back to looking pretty darn perfect again. (In full disclosure, after the initial laundering, later on I forgot and put both t-shirts in the dryer on normal heat. Oops. After some initial panic upon pulling them out, I discovered they only shrunk ever so slightly, and still fit. Phew!)
Much More Than Just The Perfect T-Shirt
Lucky for us all, Unbound Merino didn’t just make one very impressive t-shirt and call it quits. They now feature an array of Merino wool apparel that also keeps you cool and comfy, including socks, underwear, pants, leggings, shorts, hoodies, and sweaters for men and women. I also tried out the All Season Crew Socks ($20), and it should come as no surprise they were also exceptionally soft and comfy.
For a t-shirt that isn’t bound by the usual limitations of wrinkles, odor, or poor fit, invest in an Unbound Merino tee (or better yet, a whole drawer full of their products). You’ll have a new wardrobe essential that truly lives up to the hype, a perfect addition to your travel wardrobe, and a tee you can wear every day in boundless ways.