[Travel gear] Ably women’s shirt and hoodie review

If you’re in the market for wrinkle free travel clothes or travel shirts for women, you are in luck! I’m a sucker for practical things, especially on Kickstarter. So, I backed Ably and got my 2 shirts and hoodie in September 2016. I have been using them relentlessly the past month and a half while in Australia and Asia. Here’s my review and thoughts from road testing my Ably shirts for women (plus hoodie!).

Updated 11 February and 28 March 2017

Hanson Bay on Kangaroo Island

Hanson Bay on Kangaroo Island

The shirts

These Ably shirts have Filium technology. This makes them repel liquids, stains and odors. It isn’t supposed to absorb sweat, but it isn’t waterproof. You can read more about them here.

They say you can wear them every day and not have to wash them for unspecified amounts of time. So far, I’ve washed them once after about 4 weeks into my trip. I didn’t wear them every day, but rotated the 2 shirts nearly every day for at least the final 2 weeks.

Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island

Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island

They did start to smell just slightly towards the end of my 4 weeks in Australia. That’s when I decided to do a wash. I did sweat a lot more in Singapore. I’ve worn each shirt about 2 times in one week in Singapore, and they seemed ok to for maybe 1 or 2 more wears each depending on weather.

Where I’ve worn them

  • Australia at the start of summer in dry heat up to 30+ degrees Celsius (December 2016)
  • Singapore during rainy season (humid, and up to 30 degrees C) (January 2017)
  • and soon, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Cambodia
At Emu Bay Beach on Kangaroo Island

At Emu Bay Beach on Kangaroo Island

The hoodie

The hoodie is warm enough for cool pre-summer and early summer evenings in Australia. I don’t think I’ll use it much in Asia except for when I’m in very air conditioned places (which is most indoor places in Singapore). The hoodie is liquid repellant, just like the shirts. I wore it in light rain in Australia and it worked well. I could brush off most of the water and it didn’t get absorbed into the material for the most part.

Where I’ve worn it

  • Australia for light showers and night walks in early summer (December)
  • Airports and airplanes
  • Singapore in air conditioned places
Kingscote on Kangaroo Island at night

Kingscote on Kangaroo Island at night

Ably sizing

After I submitted my survey, they changed the sizing chart and it made me worried that the small size would be too small for me. So I changed all of them from small to medium. It turned out that the women’s medium hoodie is a perfectly snug fit for me, but the women’s medium shirts are slightly big for me. I don’t mind that they are a little loose, but the neck opening being too big is sometimes awkward.

I usually wear about 4 or 6 (small) in US women’s sizes, or an 8 or 10 in UK sizes. I think that is a 36 in European sizes. I’m also pretty short, at 157 cm or 5’3″.

The good things

Liquid repellant

You can truly brush off any liquid that lands on the Ably shirts and hoodies. It’s nice when you have a little moment of panic, and then remember that the fabric won’t absorb anything (unless pressure is applied).

Odor resistant

I have sweated in the shirts in Singapore, and then let them air dried and they didn’t smell. It might smell while the sweat is still there, but if you hang it out overnight (like they also show in their video), it should be totally fine the next day.

No wrinkles in this shirt!

If keeping your travel clothing wrinkle free is something you worry about, these shirts have that added bonus of being wrinkle resistant. I usually roll my shirts when I pack them, but a few times I just stuffed them in. When they came out, I shook them out and they were good to go. There might be some creases, but they will fade after a few minutes. Wrinkle free travel clothes, woot woot!

Thin, but quality

The shirts are very thin without feeling flimsy. When you first feel it, you might think this is really too thin. When you put it on, all doubts will go out the window. They are not so thin that they are see-through: they are thin but the threads are still quite dense so there is coverage. They feel super light on, and are pretty soft on the skin.

The not so good things

I only have one real complaint, and that is about their consistency for sizing. I wish that the sizing was consistent across their products. I had originally chosen smalls for everything, and after seeing the sizing chart again changed it all to medium. I would have preferred to have small shirts and medium hoodie had I known how they would fit.

Second thing, to be truly eco-friendly, you would need to have other clothes in your wardrobe that also don’t need to be washed often. Otherwise, you’d still have to do laundry, just with fewer items. If you have access to a washing machine that adjusts the water level for the load, then that is fine in terms of water conservation. If you don’t, you’re still using the same amount of water anyway. As for electricity, I’m not so sure how it works out.

A last minor thing is that for me, hoodies never stay on my head if I have a ponytail or a bun. So I have to let my hair out to wear my hood up. But, this is a problem I have with most hoods, not just this one. I have a lot of hair. I mean a LOT!!! The hood stays on pretty well for the most part, but I do have to at least loosely tie it closed if there is a breeze of any kind. I also feel like hoods are often not tall enough for me to comfortably move my head and not feel strain on my neck by the tension of the hood. If this could be solved, this might be the only hoodie I ever wear ever again ever.

I think for the hoodie, since it is a little long for me, a double zip would be great! I feel a little bit like a mermaid when I’m zipped up in my hoodie.

The verdict

I would highly recommend Ably shirts as a travel shirt for women. As I paid my own money for these and love them, I will likely continue to wear them and I may even buy a few more. They have a few longsleeve versions that look nice too. I like that these are wrinkle free travel clothes that don’t look or feel like they are, and I don’t need to worry about matching them to other clothes I have because of the color palette (and usually paired with my Iguaneye shoes).

I think the best part about these shirts are the they are so light and thin without being see-through or flimsy. Close second would be that I can wear them multiple times without having to wash them. This is similar to my Icebreaker merino wool shirts, but the lightness of the fabric puts them at the top of my list for when I’m in especially hot and humid countries.

I hope you found my Ably shirts review useful! It’s a great travel shirt womens, and I love the feel of it!

On the ledge at Hanson Bay on Kangaroo Island

On the ledge at Hanson Bay on Kangaroo Island

Update on Ably shirts from the road

11 February 2017
I’m nearing the end of my 3 month trip through Australia and Asia with almost only wearing Ably shirts, and these shirts have held up pretty well. I still haven’t washed them that often (total of 3 times since the beginning of December 2016), but did choose to throw them in for a spin after a few dusty days around the temples of Angkor Archaeological Park (Angkor Wat and others) in Cambodia.

Me in Ably shirt at Angkor Wat

Me at temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia

I do have one very tiny hole, the size of a pin prick, in my blue shirt. I’m not really sure how that happened, but I’m hoping that it doesn’t get bigger and doesn’t start happening more often.

On really hot days, the shirts can get soaked with sweat. They do dry pretty quickly, but if you have a lot of back sweat or backpack strap sweat it may be uncomfortable for a little while. It’s not as uncomfortable as regular cotton, though, and are even slightly better than the merino wool shirts I’ve worn in the past.

On not so hot days, I can wear one shirt for a few days in a row. I’ve also slept in them on some days when I’ve been too lazy to dig around for another shirt. I’m more convinced now that I may not need other shirts when traveling, but that also makes for some repetitive travel selfies!

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Ably shirt review

  • Steve Lee

    How do you think they’ll hold up after washing several times? Will they still be stain/odor resistant?

    • Hey Steve! I’ve washed them 3 times now, and I think they should retain their stain/odor resistant qualities. I have worn them now in Sri Lanka and Cambodia as well, and some of those days were really hot. As long as you let them hang out to dry, they should be ok.

      I’m not sure what the exact process is for making the shirts “filium activated” to have those qualities, but they say that filium isn’t made from nanoparticles or harsh chemicals so it won’t “come off” of the fabric onto our skin, etc. This makes me think that the shirts will continue to have their stain/odor resistant properties, but I’ll update here if I find anything different!

      • Steve Lee

        Thanks Chewy. I’m really interested to see how they hold up over time. Great write up, BTW!

        • No problem, and thanks! I’ll try to update as I wear them more. I do have one tiny hole in one of them, which I’m not sure how I got, but hopefully this isn’t going to be a recurring problem.