ApolloWhen I first started FlashPacking I had to select what clothing I would take with me. I quickly found out that not all t-shirts are equal. There are basic cotton shirts that soak up sweat, hold onto it for a long time, and stink very quickly. Their cost can very greatly, depending on brand and what's printed on them. But they are still a very bad choice for travel due to how they handle sweat. My next option was to try shirts designed for athletics. It seemed a logical choice considering the heat and sweat issues being so similar. However, I found out that not all athletic shirt materials are the same, and they still lack something FlashPackers and BackPackers need.

I tried brands from the local "we sell everything under the sun for less than anyone else" store. They are very inexpensive, and I don't overheat in them. However, they handle sweat almost as poorly as the cotton ones. It pools up and takes almost as long to dry. They stink quickly and require daily washing. But they always dry overnight after being washed, and I can't always say that about cotton. I then tried t-shirts from some of the major athletic shoe manufacturers in hopes that they would be better. They seemed to be cut better and provided a nicer fit, by adding a little extra room in the armpit through sleeve opening area. But the material itself performed the same.

With odor being an issue, I started looking online for other ideas. I found that many backpackers like to use t-shirts, and socks, made of merino wool or a merino wool blend. It was a conflicting idea in my mind at first, as I'd always thought that wool was only good for keeping heat in your body. However, I learned that merino wool can act more as a temperature regulator. It can help keep you warm when it's cold out, or cool when it's hot. It also has a natural ability to kill bacteria, which can fight odor. I did a bit more reading about what manufacturers other travelers prefer and made my choice. I purchased a few t-shirts a henley, and some socks. I quickly found that the socks I purchased, although thinner than most other merino wool socks, were just way too thick. They held in too much heat and took too long to dry. I've been content, but not really happy, with the shirts. They fight odor well when compared to the cotton and those athletic shirts. They look good. But they still need washed either daily or every two to three days, depending on my activity and how much I sweat. Rinsing them is certainly not enough either. They require a true washing of the fabric. Additionally, the ones I purchased seem to wear out quicker than I had expected. The color faded fast, they stain extremely easy, and they began to show signs of wear. The material grew thin, stretched out, and threads started breaking, all much quicker than I'd expected. Not good considering the price and that I can't replace them very easily while still traveling.

So, at this point I've been sticking with the athletic shirts and have been washing them after one day of use. They pack a little smaller than cotton shirts, which is good since I have to carry more than I'd like to due to needing to cycle between washing and wearing. I'm still on the lookout for the ultimate travel t-shirt. I've not yet found a better option for socks. So I either wear cotton and wash them after one use, or go without and wear sandals.

I'm well aware that some of the projects on Kickstarter have resulted in less than happy backers. But I seem to have found some interesting enough projects lately that I'm willing to give them a try. Most recently I found the Apollo T-Shirt by HercLéon America . They've developed their own material, that they are calling HercFibér. In the comments section of the project page, I found this quote from the project creator "After two years, we finalized the fabric make up to mostly Beechwood, plus copper and spandex but the shirt and socks have different amounts of each material."

Apollo tshirtThey advertise the material as not needing to be washed... ever! So I wanted to know more. Now, when I think of not needing to be washed, I think that water never needs to touch the material. That can't possibly be correct, and it isn't. Here is what I found. The fabric itself doesn't absorb dirt and bacteria. Instead, it stays on the surface where it can be rinsed off. Rinsing isn't the same as washing because you're not using soap/detergent and you are not scrubbing/agitating the fabric. Additionally, the material itself kills bacteria. So while you're wearing it the bacteria collects and grows slower, reducing odor. Then, when you take it off (and stop contributing to the addition of more bacteria), the material has time to kill off the remaining bacteria and eliminate the rest of any odor caused by it. It's advertised as stain resistant as well. This, if it is all true, is great news for FlashPackers and BackPackers.

They do suggest rinsing the socks at least every 10 days, just to get rid of the old skin cells and the bacteria growing on them, since the bacteria killing part of the material can't reach that part. I also read this response when asked about the thickness of the socks, "Honestly it's pretty thin. Since we tried to avoid cotton and wool, we couldn't make it overly thick and fluffy like I would've liked, and we tried bamboo but I was worried it would rip after getting wet since that's what happened with the underwear we tested making it out of bamboo (bamboo has a low wet strength). So we were left with a strong, but relatively thin sock material. Still comfortable, still clean, but just doesn't have the thickness of wool or bamboo socks." The project owner seems to be bothered by the fact that the socks are thin, but I couldn't be happier with this news! If I want thicker socks, I'll stick with the wool. Now I'm looking forward to trying out a thin option.

Apollo tshirt backI've backed the project and will be getting four t-shirts and six pairs of socks. I'll keep three of the t-shirts for myself and will give one to my fiance. She didn't originally want one, until she found that they are now offering them in women's sizes and cut. She only wanted one to try out, and that works out perfectly for me. I intended to only pack two and wear one anyway. The reasoning for using three shirts while traveling is that it's always possible to end up with two wet shirts at the same time due to activities and/or weather. That gives me better odds of always having a dry shirt. The same logic holds true for the socks, so I'll be splitting them up evenly with her and we will both get three pair. In a perfect world we would only each need one shirt and one pair of socks, which would get rinsed once every 10 days and then dry while we slept. But things are rarely perfect while traveling, and with this option we can still pack very light.

Apollo socksIt should be noted that I reached out to the project owner and questioned him about washing the material. If you do find a reason to wash it, or if you just insist on doing so, you should use low temperature water, a gentle setting, and don't use fabric softener. In fact, he educated me that fabric softener should only ever be used on cotton materials. So, that's good info to have that effects how I wash my wool and my athletic shirts, all of which I hope to be able to eliminate anyway. He also said to dry it on a low temperature setting. I usually hand wash my clothes while traveling, and hang them to dry. So the temperature issues shouldn't ever be a problem.

Since it's a new product, they are only available in three colors; navy blue, gray, and black. But these work great for me since I like to keep my colors simple and interchangeable while traveling, as it helps reduce how much I have to carry.

I'll provide an update after I've used the shirts and socks for a while, and will let you know what I think of them.