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An Honest Review of Unbound Merino, the Travel Shirt That Stays Fresh

What if we told you there was a shirt you never have to wash? Could you imagine how beneficial it would be for lightening your on-the-go wardrobe baggage? On top of that, you wouldn’t have to worry about giving up your travel time to do laundry.

Unbound Merino is one of the few companies that tout its theoretical never-wash ability. Since the brand recently added button-down shirts to its collection, we had to see what the hype was all about.

Started by three lifelong, travel-hungry friends, Unbound Merino makes simplistic, high-performance Merino wool attire for avid travelers and the man always on the go. It offers everything from underwear and socks to T-shirts, sweatshirts, and button-downs, all of which are made utilizing the same durable and lightweight Merino wool.

Merino wool is a thin-stranded fabric that comes specifically from New Zealand and Australian sheep and boasts a heap of performance benefits, most importantly, its ability to wick moisture away and starve odor-causing bacteria. But thinking it could be used for a shirt you never have to wash would be asinine.

It’s not.

We took the shirt on a 12-day test run through workdays, a wedding, and a college football watch party to see if the fabric lives up to Unbound Merino’s claim and we were pleasantly surprised by the results.

Unbound Merino

The Unbound Merino Classic Button-Down is a fantastic and versatile work shirt. Not only is it comfortable and suitable for all occasions, but the merino wool and organic cotton blend will also protect you from any sweating or mishaps during your lunch or coffee breaks.

I tend to have a little extra pep in my step when I get out of the office for food and occasionally, that energy leads to clumsiness. Over the last two weeks, I spilled coffee on my button-down, twice, and had a mole sauce burrito split at the bottom and drip down the front of my torso.

For most shirts, you could say that shirt is due for a wash — or maybe it’s even unsalvageable following a burrito explosion depending on the color and the fabric. That is not the case with Merino wool fabric.

Instead of the fabric absorbing the coffee and sauce, the liquids blobbed and slid off the shirt like a raindrop would along a glass window. By the time I got back to the office, there were no stains, no outlines, and no signs of my ungracefulness.

Two days later, I had a wedding to attend. I felt, with the short turnover and recent blunders, it was the perfect opportunity to put the shirt’s durability and performance to the test. I grabbed the button-down from the closet and threw it on again. To my surprise, there were no remnants of food or beverage, and no stench of sweat or cologne. It was almost like I had opened up the shirt for the first time.

unbound merino button down shirt
Unbound Merino

With my fresh, clean, already-worn-thrice button-down shirt, I was ready. After the wedding ceremony, we were greeted by everyone’s favorite two-word phrase: Open bar. I like to pair my wedding receptions with wine, so I went with a bold, fruit-forward pinot noir from the Willamette Valley. After a few glasses, the dance machine I was born to be came out of his shell. However, the dance floor isn’t as forgiving with a glass of red wine as it might be with a slab of medium cheddar, and I spilled two-thirds of the glass on my shirt.

You would think that red wine is where Unbound Merino would draw the line, but no. Much like the aforementioned liquids, the wine beaded together and slid off my shirt without hesitation. Then, as the sun went to sleep, we headed to the fire pit for some warmth and good old-fashioned campfire smoke. Campfire smoke lingers on everything. Well, everything but Unbound Merino’s wool fabric. I still can’t believe it.

Then, it was time for the ultimate test. I decided to layer the Unbound Merino button-down over my favorite Oregon Ducks tee for a college football watch party. The gathering included everything from beer cheese and buttery pretzels to craft brews and braised chicken wings — what could go wrong? Well, a lot, but I welcomed all the chaos after my past experiences in the shirt. And still, it didn’t smell and it didn’t stain.

The shirt isn’t invincible, though. The one test the fabric didn’t fully pass was a trip to see my favorite furry friend whose paws were enveloped in mud. Surprisingly, it still didn’t exude any bad odors, but it did collect some of the dirt. It was finally, at this point, 12 wears later, that I had to wash the shirt.

unbound merino button down shirt
Unbound Merino

Unbound Merino products have three guarantees — clean, fresh, and wrinkle-free — and it delivers on every one of them in the shirt category, whether it’s a button-down or a tee.

The shirts will wrinkle a bit if you forget to store them on a hanger or you’re stuffing one into your luggage for a trip. However, once you start wearing it, those wrinkles will even themselves out, which is a great quality to have when you’re traveling or going back to the office after the gym.

The best quality is by far the shirt’s ability to stave away odors and odor-producing bacteria. Merino wool naturally offers heightened breathability and antimicrobial properties, and that’s something you just can’t replicate. Aside from all the technical, high-performance details, Unbound Merino offers a minimalist style and undeniable comfort that is equally at home whether you’re traveling, at the office, or heading out to a night on the town.

The goods aren’t cheap, but they do fill a void for the simple man who’s looking for more casual travel attire options or is a sucker for top-notch performance. We recommend snagging a shirt so you can see for yourself.

Editors' Recommendations

Bryan Holt
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Bryan Holt is a writer, editor, designer, and multimedia storyteller based in Portland, Oregon. He is a graduate from the…
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