Consider a merino wool t-shirt for your next motorcycle trip (really!)

Are you planning your next motorcycle trip and dream of traveling light? You’ve come to the right place, this is part one of my ultimate guide to packing ultralight motorcycles where I explain why cotton alternatives will lighten the load on your saddlebags.

The merino wool t-shirt is a different breed

A woman sitting on a motorbike, silhouetted against the setting sun, a ridge of mountains visible in the background.
Biker | Guilherme Veloso on Unsplash

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Does the idea of ​​swapping your cotton t-shirt for a woolen t-shirt sound ridiculous to you? I was skeptical at first too. But after a long, sweaty day on a motorcycle, any cotton shirt would smell ripe. A soft merino wool t-shirt, on the other hand, can wick away a lot of sweat and takes a long time to feel. Here’s why you might want to consider fabrics other than cotton for all your clothing on your next motorcycle trip.

If you’ve worn cotton shirts all your life, merino wool can be a game-changer for you. Merino is a breed of sheep known for its fine, soft wool. According to, modern clothing manufacturers have perfected the spinning of merino into many cotton-like performance fabrics.

There are two main reasons to choose merino wool over cotton. First, merino is a fiber-rich fabric that is very good at wicking away moisture. Therefore, if you sweat in a merino shirt, it will easily handle a good amount of sweat. And we all know riding aggressively can be hard work.

Second, merino has natural antimicrobial and anti-odor properties. Why? So merino sheep don’t get horribly wet, smelly and moldy every time it rains. But what does this mean for you? You can easily wear a merino tee all day, then hit the bar that night, and it will smell as fresh and clean as a brand new shirt. Some people even wear their merino shirts for days.

Merino wool clothes often cost more than cotton clothes. But it also often lasts longer and requires less washing. If you’re trying to pack some light for your next motorcycle trip, the choice is clear.

You can also get better than cotton socks and underwear

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Biker | Harley Davidson on Unsplash

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If you want outfits that you can wear for a long day on your motorcycle — or multiple days — you’ll need to swap out more clothes than just your t-shirts. Many ultralight packers swear by their merino wool socks and underwear. Others prefer other technical fabrics.

Darn Tough is a brand from my home state of Vermont. This company weaves high-yarn socks from merino wool. The results are stunning. I’ve owned my Darn Tough training and running socks for a decade – and thousands of miles – and they show no signs of wear. That’s why Darn Tough is the only sock brand to offer a lifetime warranty.

When it comes to underwear, some travelers swear by merino wool. I really see the benefits of swapping your cotton underwear for merino. But personally, I prefer a lighter technical boxer made from a polyester weave. Ex Officio and other travel brands offer this type of underwear.

Why woven polyester underwear? Because they dry incredibly fast. Whether I’m hiking, commuting, or motorcycling, I can wash them in a stream or sink in moments and they’re still dry in the morning.

Consider your own comfort

A dirt bike parked in the mountains, a backpack strapped to its rack.
Motorcycle travel | d ng nguy n via unsplash

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It’s a good idea to order travel clothes and try out day-to-day wear to see if you find them comfortable. Many fabrics and specific cuts can be a matter of preference.

If you’re like me, you wear jeans on your motorcycle. But an outfit to wear around camp or your hotel room is probably worth putting in your saddlebags or backpack. This is especially true since this outfit can be as simple as athletic shorts and flip flops.

Then find out how to best organize your panniers/backpacks or find out why merino is such an amazing fabric for travel (motorcycle and otherwise) in the video below:

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