Wool & Prince x Pack Hacker Collaboration
We’ve been working closely with the folks at Wool & Prince for the last year, helping with the design decisions and iterations on the Travel Collection. Our first ever gear collaboration! The Travel Collection consists of the Travel Zip Hoodie, Travel Tee, and Travel Neck Tube.
If you look closely, you’ll notice members of the Pack Hacker team wearing prototypes or early iterations of these items quite a bit in review photos and videos over the last year. We wanted to thoroughly test all of the garments to make sure they’re the best they can be before launching. (What can we say? It what we do.) And we’re excited about how the Travel Collection turned out.
Now, we most likely won’t do full reviews on these products (it’s pretty hard to stay unbiased on gear we’ve helped design) so we’ll be covering all of the details and explaining our design decisions for each piece of clothing in this post. Wool & Prince has been a pleasure to collaborate with, and we’re excited to dive in and share with you all the love and details we’ve put into the Travel Collection.
So let’s jump into all the nitty-gritty!
Why Wool & Prince?
One of the pieces of gear that helped us live a minimalist lifestyle while traveling around the world for two years was the Wool & Prince Button-Down Oxford. It was one of seven total tops we packed. That was back in 2017 and it’s still going strong today. Since then, we’ve reviewed several other pieces of Wool & Prince clothing as well.
We’re excited that the first brand we’ve collaborated with is one we’ve had so much long-term experience with. Plus, they care a lot about quality, durability, and sustainability—all things we dig at Pack Hacker.
The folks at Wool & Prince are also great to work with. We’ve been working closely with them to create simple minimalist pieces of clothing that have some subtle, smart functionality. You know, enough features to be useful (without the kitchen sink) but not too much as to make the garments complicated (which is what we’ve found a lot of “travel clothing” products do). We’ve even been able to visit their headquarters in Portland, Oregon to get hands-on with some materials while iterating and improving each item.
There are two main features that we consider essential for the Travel Collection. One: Merino wool. Two: dark colorways.
If you’re familiar with Pack Hacker, you’re probably not surprised. We think Merino wool is one of the best fabrics to travel with. You can wear it multiple times in between washes without any stank. It’s quick-drying and sweat-wicking. It has natural elasticity that makes it super comfortable and it typically protects you from UV rays better than cotton. And more. That’s like a win-win-win-win-win.
We believe in Merino wool so much that we’ve written a massive guide all about Merino wool clothing. It has just about everything you need to know about the stuff, so check that out if you want to learn more.
Wool & Prince takes an interesting approach to some of their fabrics—especially their Merino/nylon blend materials. Now, a Merino wool blend is not uncommon. But what is unique is how Wool & Prince goes about creating the blend. They wrap strands of nylon, and in some cases spandex, around Merino wool fibers. The nylon adds durability and some structure that help with longevity. By incorporating nylon using this method, it also helps combat pilling—which is a pretty common issue with Merino wool clothes. The spandex, of course, adds stretch to make things extra comfy.
Some may argue that more nylon against your skin could diminish the anti-microbial properties of the Merino wool. Which seems logical. But we have not noticed much difference (if any) in terms of the odor resistance during our testing of the products in the Travel Collection and other Wool & Prince products that use similar material—like the V-Neck Tee. And we definitely like the added durability and pill-resistance the nylon provides.
Darker colors hide dirt, which is especially great if you’re going a few wears in between washes. They also draw less attention. Meaning you won’t stick out in a crowd due to your t-shirt and people are less likely to notice that you’ve been wearing the same shirt all week. Both of which are perks we look for in travel clothing.
So, every piece in the Travel Collection is made with Merino wool and available in darker colorways. The Travel Zip Hoodie is available in Black. The Travel Tee is available in both Black and Charcoal Heather. And the Travel Neck Tube is available in Charcoal Heather.
One of the nitpicks we’ve had with Wool & Prince garments in the past is that the tags can fade. We know it’s a small thing, but when a shirt lasts for years, having a tag that stays intact for years too keeps the shirt looking nice. It also makes it easy to know the right way to put it on at a glance. So we’re happy that there’s a new style of heat-pressed tag used on the Travel Collection and likely a lot of other Wool & Prince garments moving forward. So far, we’ve had no issues with this new tag.
Lastly, (before we jump into the specifics about each item) all of the garments in the Travel Collection pack into themselves—a handy feature while you’re on the road. We’ll include photos below and you can check out the video on our YouTube channel if you’d like to see the packability in action.
Travel Zip Hoodie
Let’s kick it off with the Travel Zip Hoodie, shall we? We have a lot to talk about with this thing, so grab a coffee or tea and get comfortable—we’re going in.
The Travel Zip Hoodie is a streamlined, simple-looking hoodie that has some smart features built-in, including the ability to stash into its hood for easy packing (which we’ll cover in a bit).
The main fabric is a French Terry, which is a common fabric type for sweatshirts. To get a little more specific, the fabric breakdown for the Travel Zip Hoodie is: 75% Merino wool, 22% nylon, and 3% spandex. We’ve been testing a prototype hoodie for about six months—wearing it multiple times a week—and we’ve got to say, the folks at Wool & Prince have nailed this fabric. The Merino wool allows you to wear it multiple times without worrying about stink (plus all the other benefits of Merino wool), the nylon adds durability, and the spandex gives it extra stretchiness. Plus, the jersey exterior paired with a loop interior creates loft and helps lock in the heat.
If you’ve read any of our reviews, you’ve probably noticed that we typically have good luck with YKK zippers—they’re a trusted manufacturer making durable zips. So, we’ve opted to use YKK zippers through this hoodie (and the whole Travel Collection).
The main zipper in the front is a low-profile, reverse coil, locking YKK zipper. The reverse coil keeps a clean look as there are no zipper teeth showing. Since the zipper is self-locking, it basically stays where you want it.
Just point the zipper downwards and it will lock into place—super handy if you want to wear the hoodie partially zipped. Point the zipper upward and it unzips smoothly. You can even grab each side of the hoodie and tear it open with ease, Superman/Superwoman-style (…just us?). There’s also a zipper garage at the top so you can avoid that metal-to-skin contact when this thing is fully zipped up.
The hood is made using stretchy nylon trim fabric which adds weather-resistance, helps with quick-drying, and makes packing this thing easy (we’re getting to it, we promise). It has a cotton pull string with metal eyelets and metal cord ends to not only help with durability but also elevate the overall feel.
You’ll find the same fabric that’s used on the hood on the elbow pads. This is an area of hoodies that tend to show more wear so this fabric adds durability and a little more weather-resistance.
There are two pockets on the front of this hoodie, kangaroo-style. Each pocket features an auto-lock reverse coil zipper so the pockets stay closed. The zippers are low profile and tucked behind some fabric welting which is great for style and added security—it’s pretty tough for thieves to unzip your pocket if they can’t find the zipper. Of course, you can keep the pockets open for easy access (you know, like a normal hoodie). At the top and bottom of these pockets, you’ll find a teal bartack (reinforced stitching) that matches the Pack Hacker teal to add a subtle pop of Pack Hacker branding.
Inside the left-hand pocket, you’ll find a small divider pocket for coins, keys, cash, whatever you want to keep separate if you have multiple things in this pocket. We wanted to keep the pockets simple, and avoid anything too complicated or over-engineered, so that’s about it.
The inside of the hoodie is quite simple as well. There are no compartments or anything crazy going on. The interior fabric we mentioned earlier is soft and comfortable. We’ve also added a teal twill locker loop at the top. This little loop does more than you may think—it works well to hang this thing up, it’s easy to see against the black in low light situations, and it adds a little more Pack Hacker branding.
Finally, the Travel Zip Hoodie packs into its hood. Simply: zip it up all the way, fold in the sleeves and sides, then fold it in half and roll it into the hood. That’s it—you’re packed!
One note about packing this thing up—you have two packing options. You can roll it up the front so that when packed into the hood, that nylon trim material protects the hoodie. This is great if you’re strapping it to the outside of a pack, for example. You can also roll it up the back so that the inside of the hood is exposed when packed. This allows you to access the drawstrings and pull it into a tight package. We dig packing it this way when we’ll be cramming it inside a packing cube or backpack.
Next up, the Travel Tee. Jumping right into the fabric, both colorways (Black and Charcoal Heather) use Wool & Prince’s classic 78% Merino wool and 22% nylon blend. Like we mentioned before, this material is pretty interesting—basically, two thin strands of nylon wrap around the Merino wool fibers to add durability, keep the shirt a bit more structured, and reduce pilling.
As far as features go, we wanted to keep things simple—the main feature is the Merino wool. It’s comfortable to wear, can be worn multiple times between washes…By now, we’ve covered all the benefits of Merino wool plenty, so we’ll spare you from another lecture. We will add, however, that this fabric will last a long time if you care for it properly. Again, you can check out our Merino wool guide for our preferred care info. Really, your wardrobe can be all set with a few quality Merino t-shirts—as far as tees are concerned, anyway—which is what we’d do if we weren’t constantly testing new clothing.
That said, there are a couple of special features. At the bottom of the wearer’s right side, you’ll find a small zippered pocket that can easily fit a credit card or some extra cash. It closes with a small YKK conceal zipper that pretty much blends in with the seam of the shirt. So it’s likely that folks won’t see it (unless they know about it) which we think is a great feature for traveling. You can keep your ID, a credit card, or some extra cash separate in your shirt just in case you lose your wallet or it gets stolen out of your pants or backpack. We’ve found that this is not just great for travel, but comes in handy during everyday use too.
Inside the top of the shirt, you’ll find the easy-to-see locker loop (like on the Travel Zip Hoodie). You can use this loop to hang up the shirt, plus it adds a subtle pop or Pack Hacker branding. You’ll also find some mesh material called Powermesh. Powermesh is similar to fabrics used in swimwear—meaning it’s soft and quick drying. And it creates a little pouch to stow the shirt for easy, compact packing.
We’ve found that packing the Travel Tee into this mesh pouch is much faster than a ranger roll or other fancy packing methods. To pack this thing up, simply fold in the sleeves and sides, roll the shirt from the bottom up, and flip it into the mesh pouch. One shirt burrito ready for your packing cubes!
To be totally honest with you, when we were first talking about this feature with the Wool & Prince team, we thought the shirt would be uncomfortable to wear with this extra fabric. Turns out, it’s really comfortable. Ellie, the Director of Design & Development, did an excellent job iterating and improving this feature. With each new sample, this mesh has become less intrusive to the shape of the shirt—on the final version, it’s not noticeable at all.
One last note about this Powermesh pouch—its size/shape changes with the size of the shirt. In other words, it grades to accommodate the amount of shirt fabric in each size while staying low profile (so it’ll be smaller in small sizes and larger in larger sizes). It’s the little design details, you know?
Travel Neck Tube
Last but not least, the Travel Neck Tube. As for the fabric, it’s made with a 75% Merino wool, 21% nylon, 4% spandex blend. Just like with the other garments in the Travel Collection, the Merino wool brings all those magical Merino wool properties while the nylon boosts durability, and the spandex adds stretchiness.
This thing functions very similar to a Merino wool buff which can be used in a ton of different ways and is one of our favorite accessories for travel. You can wear it around your neck as a scarf.
Pull it up over your face if it gets extra cold.
Use it as a sleeping mask over your eyes on flights or bright hostels.
Twist and fold it into a hat.
Wear it as a headband while working out, and a lot more.
This Neck Tube is so versatile already, we don’t need to add a bunch of extra features—just a couple of things to take it to the next level.
First, we’ve added a small pocket—about the same size as the pocket on the Travel Tee—to stash extra cash, a credit card, or other small items. Now, we wanted the Travel Neck Tube to stay flexible and not bulky, so this pocket does not have a zipper. It closes with two pieces of fabric overlapped on top of one another to keep the items inside. Think envelope.
You can also compress the Travel Neck Tube into this pocket for quick, tidy packing. Simply flip the pocket inside out and stuff this thing in. It creates a neat, compact package that kind of looks like a folded up pair of socks. It’s great to toss in your sling, backpack, or even a pocket.
There’s also a locker loop that makes hanging up the Neck Tube easy and provides a small pop of color like on the rest of the line. And that’s it! Simple, yet oh-so-functional.
Check Out Our First Collab!
So there you have it—the Travel Collection with Wool & Prince. Our first gear collaboration. We want to extend a big thanks to Mac, Ellie, Chris, Meg, and Sue on the Wool & Prince team, as well as the factory workers in South Korea for helping produce the Travel Collection.
This collaboration project has been a year in the making and we’re super excited about how these garments turned out. We think they’re sleek and functional, without being too over the top. The entire Travel Collection is on sale now on Wool & Prince’s website. You can pick up the Travel Zip Hoodie for $228, the Travel Tee for $98, and the Travel Neck Tube for $44. Make sure to check it out!