Aviator Air Dry T-Shirt Review​

Another entry into the travel wear game from the LA based Aviator: a 100% Merino Wool T-Shirt for Travel.

Introduction To The Aviator Air Dry T-Shirt

Aviator is a company I'v recently come across in my travel clothing research, looking for the perfect gear to help me in my one-bag travel goals. Right now, while they only have a few products, they focus on high quality and travel specialized pieces. They make a popular pair of travel jeans with a very loyal following, and they also make a 100% merino wool hoody that I recently reviewed (Air Dry Travel Hoody review)

 

Merino wool has pretty much been crowned the champion fabric of travel clothing, with good reason. For those new to the concept, merino wool basically has all the properties you want: coolish in warm weather, warm in cool weather, quick drying, comfortable, and an honestly amazing ability to fight odors. All natural. think about it - the sheep it comes from need all these characteristics, and so nature has developed a fabric we lowly humans have not been able to really top - yet (looking at you Western Rise, keep up the effort). 

For that reason, it's a great pick for things like hoodies, long sleeve t-shirts, short sleeve t-shirts, even underwear. Today we're focusing on the t-shirt category, with the Air Dry Merino T-shirt.

This is my review of the Aviator Air Dry T-Shirt. Aviator did send me a review piece, but this is not a sponsored article and other than product questions being answered, they played no part in this review. The opinions are my own.

This page does include affiliate links. When used to make a purchase, we make a small commission which helps keep this site running, but this in no way affects the results of our reviews.

Aviator Air Dry T-Shirt Overview

Aviator is throwing it's hat into the ring with the Air Dry t-shirt. Telling you to "wear more and pack less" their products are helping to cut down on unnecessary items in your bag, and focus on items you can wear more than once. It's smart and logical actually.

 

The basics - it's 100% Merino and New Zealand sourced (i.e. sheep specialists). Kind off all that needs to be said about the makeup of it! Easy and all-natural.

At first try-on, I was very impressed with both the feel and the drape. I'll get more into that second part in the next section - but the feel was really, really nice. Doesn't feel as "wooly" as some of the other brands I've tried in this sense. I think there are a few brands doing this well now, but not all. So pay attention when you find one that does. It comes in 3 colors to suit your palette, as well as both men's and women's versions which is good to see. It sells for $65.00, which I think is a good sweet spot for value and the quality this brings. They sell direct, so there's no real mark up to speak of, which is part of their business model.

Aviator Air Dry T-Shirt Fit 

I'm pretty vocal about this with merino. In fact, the issues I came across with merino shirts (t-shirts, long sleeves, and polo's) is that the fit and drape were honestly pretty terrible. I think, if the bohemian, yogi look is what you're going for, then it won't be a big deal and they'd be pretty comfy and practical with some linen pants of the same ilk. But, that's not really my gig any more. I do some hiking, but a lot of my travel is in cities now and I have grown out of the travel-like-a-hippy lifestyle. That's not a condemnation of that, it's cool if that's your thing. It's just not for me anymore. So I like my travel clothes, technical or not, to fit like non-travel clothes. I want a t-shirt to fit like a t-shirt. That's why my first favorite travel t-shirts are Patagonia Capilene Cool and the Threshold from Bluffworks (Bluffworks Threshold review, Patagonia will come later).

This merino t-shirt is different. The Aviator Air Dry merino t-shirt fit MUCH more like a standard t-shirt. It draped much more like one, too. I'm not sure if that's due to how they developed the weave, or if it's the weight of the fabric itself that makes it more like a cotton/synthetic fabric fit. I felt it was pretty true to size, and was perfect in my shoulders/chest/and sleeves. That last part is important. I HATE badly fitting t-shirt sleeves (too baggy or WAY too short). These were Goldilocks level, with not much extra fabric. I'm 5'6" with broader shoulders, and the men's small was absolutely perfect on me. I might tailor it up one cuff size on the length, but that's straight up a preference thing and me being picky as I have access to a professional seamstress. It's totally fine out of the box, and I'm admittedly on the short end of the stick. So all you normals will love it!  First pics are directly from the package, no washing.

I did wash it, to test that out, but I made sure to wash it properly, like you should with merino. This is a special fabric, don't treat it like an idiot would. In general, wash on cold on the wool or gentle cycle and air dry (let the name remind you; yikes, there's my one-dad-joke-limit for the article). I decided now to step it up, since I have a few merino pieces, and get some proper wool wash too (I chose NikWax but the Laundress is a good choice I've read, as well).

 

Post wash and dry update (second set of pics): Washed and dried in the air. Was a SLIGHT bit of shrink, but not much and I'd expect it to come back a little with wear. Specifically in the sleeves and around the waist area - though not really in length. But, fabric held up nicely and still feels great. I might still shorten it, in fact.

The Good

The fit was almost perfect on this one. Good drape and feel while wearing it, more like a regular t-shirt. Feel of the merino was very nice and lacked a "wooly" feeling. I had the "cool blue" color, and was digging that. I also like that it comes in two others. ​The weight was also great, meaning it was versatile for the different weather scenarios, and it will wear well as the weather warms up. That also means it's not so light as to be almost see thru and opaque, as some very light weight ones can be. Again, keeping an eye to more casual settings and urban settings, I'd rather not have the hippy vibe personally.

The performance was solid too, I've put that in it's own section.

The Bad

This is the best merino-specific t-shirt I've tried, so I'm not sure I can knock it much. Perhaps offer a charcoal or navy color for the traditionalists, those tend to show the dirt and wear less.

I'd like a 1/2 inch shorter length, but really you can't develop product for a single body type like that. Chalk that up to personal preference.

The Performance of the Aviator Air Dry Travel Hoody

OK on to the performance and Always Wander Smell Test. As with all of our reviews right now, we've had to slightly tweak and adapt our testing, as this was worn and reviewed during the COVID-19 crisis and we're based in NYC. We're under pretty strict quarantine here and we want to respect that and our neighbors. But, I've certainly been able to put it to use under what I'd call "normal wear" conditions, just like any other t-shirt. 

If you can believe it, I'm on day 6 of wear and there's nary a smell to be found outside of some slight deodorant hints. But as usual, this will vary with your brand, and that's nothing to do with the shirt itself, that's all on us. It's performed exactly as I'd expect 100% merino to.

For highlights, I've worn it in my apartment and out to the supermarket when I've needed food. Lots of working from home, and some household chores, as well as cooking. A few pushup sessions (Get swole, AW). Sweatshirt over, and on its own. Temps of course go from coolish to warmish in the apartment, so you'll get some light sweating at times, but nothing like walking around a warm city all day or light hikes, etc. 

I wore it 4 days with no application of deodorant post shower,  and 2 with. One day was store bought antiperspirant  and one day was a completely natural deodorant. It picked up the antiperspirant smell more in my testing. I typically wore it from 9am to 7/8pm when I draped it over a chair to air out, like I would on a trip. This is when the merino does it's thing to refresh. In these conditions, I kind of think I could wear it indefinitely. Traveling, I'd feel comfortable giving it 3 days no problem, depending on how hard it's pushed. Sometimes, merino can only smell as good as you. If you're putting a lot of your stink on it, it can only do so much. But used properly and with only light washing, it's pretty amazing.

The Improvement Requests

Add those two traditional colors and maybe that one shortening bit, and we'll call it a day.

Final Thoughts On My Aviator Air Dry T-Shirt Review

So, this is my second review of an Aviator merino wool product, and it's the second time they've changed my mind. I have to hand it to them, this is a great merino t-shirt, and if you're a similar body type to me, it's a really great fit. That's been my biggest challenge and problem over the last couple years with merino brands - I've been DYING to get into it for travel (I'm already a huge believer in the socks, specifically Darn Tough), but just hated the way they all fit. It was never about not believing in the fabric.

I figured it was only a matter of time before companies started taking that seriously, however. I know Outlier makes one as well, and from what I've seen/read that fit is good there too, but I can't speak to it personally. The Aviator Air Dry t-shirt - is one that got it right.

It's comfortable enough to wear for a full week, is pure merino wool so it performs fantastically, has enough color choices to cover most people, and comes in men's and women's.  Plus, at $65.00 it's very fairly priced I think from both a quality standpoint, and the fact that it's small batch (which is harder to scale). If you're looking for a merino T for your travel kit, I'd definitely recommend the Aviator Air Dry t-shirt. Until (or if) it's knocked off it's hill, this will be my merino shirt of choice in my bag.

 

They sell directly from their website, so hop on over and consider giving these guys your business:

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