“What would it feel like?” I wondered. Worrying less about when I need to wash and dry my clothes, but excited only about the places to explore ahead. Curious to experiment, I took the UNBOUND Merino challenge in my recent trip to Hong Kong and Macau, traversing with the Unbound Merino 2 pack that includes: 2 pairs of Unbound shirts, 2 pairs of boxers and 2 pairs of socks. Combined with garments and shoes to complete my outfits, that was all.
Shipped all the way from Canada and awaiting my arrival in Hong Kong, I couldn’t be anymore excited to see if the rumours were true. Looking back? they most definitely are and are more than a myth. These are game-changing for travellers and you’ll see why as I put them to the test, both in the garments range in comfort and how they performed beyond limits.
I stumbled upon UNBOUND Merino whilst on my continuing search to streamline the way I travel – pack lighter, carry less and equip more versatile. UNBOUND uses 100% Merino – which can be found in high-performance sportswear – in their t-shirt and boxers, containing many properties to keep your body dry, temperature in tune with the occasion, all while looking good at the same time. UNBOUND Merino are Canada-based and have also just launched preorders for the Navy Blue colourway too.
I had many chances to put the garments through their paces, with a trip that panned from travels to Lantau Island under the sun, walks along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade on a grey and breezy day, local living meeting friends for casual dinners and meetings in fine dining environments.
I also stretched its limit as I walked an hour under the relatively tame but still hot heat from Grand Hyatt Hong Kong to Hotel Pennington in Causeway Bay, tested with carrying several luggage pieces by hand. Let’s explore each scenario and see how UNBOUND Merino clothes fared, shall we?
I switched between the grey and black shirts to add to the variety of outfits I wore during my trip, but it was a good chance to rock the black colour for those less than sunny weather days.
I wore this on a breezy, rainy day yet it was still pretty cool and humid in Hong Kong. For the record, dim sum was amazing here and we couldn’t wait to eat after waiting an unusually long 20 minutes.
Even in this awkward weather condition, the feel of this merino wool is really impressive – very kind and smooth to the touch. For both the shirt and the underwear it never tugged on my hair which would then cause discomfort. A couple of days wearing it full-on and it was the same as when I had first put it on.
Over time I grew to trust my unbound shirts as they performed as had hoped. I could firmly say that these shirts gave me the conviction to eat dumplings of all kinds, creamy desserts and go for social drinks in the evening all without changing (but showering of course. Naturally. Honest). Oh and my favourite dish at Dim Sum Square? The Cream custard bun. Delicious.
I spent the final 2 days in Hong Kong ferry-hopping to Lantau Island and Macau. The weather was beautiful for both days and I couldn’t wait to put my sunglasses on. It was hot and humid out under the sun, a perfect way to further test UNBOUND Merino shirts.
You’ll notice I travelled with my backpack on too which was pressed relatively tight against my back. Over time, this would trap the heat, and like any shirt with a bag on your back would create sweat points. The shirts managed to wick away the sweat from my body very well so I stayed dry.
I did loosen up my straps so I could get some air and space to give it a bit of breathability. Fortunately, no sweat patch or heavy moisture built-up. It stayed visibly clean. Notice me living up to the name One Tech Traveller too *smirk*.
If you ever get to go to Macau, you’ll be amazed by the drones of tourists and casino hotels dotted around. I took the free casino shuttle bus to Wynn hotel and walked my way up to Monte Forte and the Ruins of St. Paul’s. Google Maps was my best friend (even if location pinpoint was a bit off or slow) as I weaved between main roads, narrow streets, the shopping district and the backsides that would lead me up to Monte Forte.
The boxers have great length for better performance (much like compression shorts) and wick away sweat to keep dry, even during my arduous hike from Central to Stanley in the middle of the night (13km in distance and 900m altitude). Now that was impressive.
The socks while quite thick, actually didn’t build up heat or sweat pools so that was a definite plus. As a result, my feet didn’t smell anywhere as much with cotton socks which is great, though the blend of material meant it did transfer over a bit with use. Still, I would go on to wear it for a couple more days before feeling I should hand-wash them and hang it dry. It was as new from then-on.
You’ll have to also remember that these are put under the most stress compared to the rest of your body, especially as I racked up significant walking miles.
I like to think I’m a fashionista of some sort, exploring outfits with my wardrobe. What I like is that I can throw a layer on top to keep the style fresh and stay cool and dry underneath, where it can get heated quickly.
The grey shirt works well in balancing both lighter or darker tops you throw-on, like the one I’m wearing below. And yeah, that’s me capturing a few seconds of video that you’ll end up seeing me use in my upcoming Hong Kong video. Nice behind the scene shot there so thanks Iris!
Whether you think my style is stylish that’s up for debate (let’s just say it is), but what isn’t is how much I really loved wearing my UNBOUND merino shirts that allowed me to go days on end exploring. Either way, I loved the way it contours the body for full range of motion, looking sleek and not screaming tourist (maybe my camera gives that away though).
Within the mix of all the kinds of activities I got up to, I walked my way to Grand Hyatt Hong Kong where I had afternoon lunch at the renovated Grand Café. I’m a real big fan of the grey colour as it struck a nice balance of keeping casual to wear for any occasion but sharpened up to fit in with the scene.
The walk prior was a relatively tiring stint that I definitely worked up a sweat. Yet, I didn’t worry on my arrival as it never showed. My body stayed cool and relatively dry with moist wicked away to the surface unseen. You can see below the smart look of the Grey UNBOUND Merino shirt I wore. It allowed me to enjoy the several hours we lunched over talking away, keeping fresh and sitting comfortably. The food was absolutely delicious and I looked the part in the process. Win-win.
I took the UNBOUND Merino challenge head on and it deservedly has changed-the-game for me. From the cityscape exploring of Kowloon to the outdoors of Lantau Island, they kept my clothes footprint much smaller. It allowed me to wear it day-in day-out without washing with confidence and felt great to wear. Oh and for the record, I stayed fragrant fresh *queue breeze*. Work of magic? Nope, just UNBOUND’s take on merino wool.
You can say there’s a change of mindset required to know that your garments will perform when you need to. I’ve had to change that mindset, but now I can go without being conscious about the sweats I work up or moving between exploring to social settings. It’s really given me the freedom to travel.
Well, since then it’s been my daily wear to the office in sunny, but cold England. I like to keep my wear consistent instead of changing all the time Mon-Fri, so this let’s me do just that. I’ll be putting in a few more mileage with them before giving my final review so keep a look out for that.
It will also most definitely be making its way into my next backpack trip. Where to? I’m thinking Singapore. Maldives. Tibet. Who knows? What I do know is UNBOUND Merino is coming with me, every step of the way.