On our recent trip to Vietnam, I knew we would be going from rough and ready situations in the Sapa Mountains, to the very urban and bustling city of Hanoi as well as some quite posh accommodation on a boat trip around Halong Bay, all of which whilst contending with the heat and humidity of Vietnam.
Trying to find clothing that would cope with all of these situations wasn’t an easy task but after the success of some of their past garments, I opted for some shirts from Craghoppers.
The first of the two shirts I chose was the Nosilife Barmera Shirt in Ocean Blue Print. I absolutely love the print on this shirt – it’s a deep blue with a subtle pattern of light blue crosses. What I really like about this print is that it can easily be dressed up or down. It looks great tucked in with chinos, leather shoes and the sleeves down and also brilliant whilst untucked, sleeves rolled and buttoned up with shorts and flip flops.
I found the fit of the shirt to be most excellent; the shirt has a really good tailored style, however, not so close that it’s too restrictive in really hot weather. On each of the sleeves there is a button, which means that you can roll up the sleeves and fasten them in place. This is a practical and very useful feature in hot weather, as rolling down sleeves can be quite annoying.
The second shirt which I chose was the Nosilife Tatton Long-Sleeved Shirt in Fogle Blue. It has a really similar set of features to the Barmera. They both have a regular chest pocket as well as an awesome hidden pocket, which I will talk about a little later. The fabric that they are created from is incredible with its in built NosiLife qualities. NosiLife is amazing and you can read about it in my full review here. It literally saved us from being bitten in mosquito-central (Vietnamese rice fields) – I definitely wouldn’t go to a mosi area without wearing NosiLife.
Both of the shirts are equipped with Craghoppers’ SolarShield which gives the Tatton Shirt a UPF of 30+ and the Barmera Shirt an incredible UPF of 50+. I often didn’t think about UV rays getting through clothing but with thin travel clothing and the intense sun rays of foreign climates, it really can be a problem and having a high UPF rating on your clothing means that at least you have less skin to be worrying about.
The fabric doesn’t stop there. It is also antibacterial and wicking meaning that it is excellent for hot countries and trekking, where you might be building up a sweat when walking during the middle of the day or uphill. The final feature of these shirts and their fabric is their ‘wash & wear’ design. When we’re travelling, we are always hand washing and hanging things up to drying and I can report that these shirts not only dry very quickly but if hung up neatly will dry without the horrible wrinkling of many other travel shirts.
Craghopper Shirt Secret Pocket
A big concern when travelling in certain countries and cities can be theft and pick pocketing. Thieves and gangs are now very certificated and on busy streets and underground train networks; they’re incredible good at getting into your pockets and getting your cash, cards or phone out them unnoticed.
Although Vietnam is a relatively safe country, I’d always been a bit wary of being pick pocketed as it was impossible, as a British tourist, not to stand out from the crowd and be an obvious target. I hadn’t, however, really wanted to go as far as storing all my money in some sort of secret waist belt or necklace under my clothing as it is very ‘faffy’ and I’ve always thought those devices looked very difficult to be discrete when removing the money.
So when I found out that both of these Cragghopper NosiLife men’s shirts had secret chest pockets, I was chuffed that there was such an effortless and stylish solution to the problem. There is a regular, normal functioning buttoned chest pocket on both shirts but this isn’t the ingenious hidden pocket that no pick pocket or criminal would expect or be able to spot. How it works is there is a thin zip located within the seam of the shirt. The pull for this zip is tiny, colour coded and tucks under the hem so that it is impossible to spot when being worn normally. If you look carefully on the photo above you can see that I’ve pulled it out a little so it is more visible.
When you unzip this you reveal a hidden pocket which goes behind the normal chest pocket. I think this is literally the best feature on these shirts. Although a phone or wallet may create a bulge, cash or cards are not noticeable either by feel or sight. I used these pockets all the time; I love how you could quickly and easily get at all of your valuables and how that you could get them out so quickly and discretely, even in the middle of a street or a busy shop without anyone seeing. The best thing is that even if someone did see you reach to that area and pull out money they would just assume that you had your cash in the regular chest pocket. A final thing which is great about this pocket is that because of it’s location it would be very hard to pick pocket even by the most talented Artful Dodger or Fagin.
These shirts are so versatile; one day you could be sitting at a fancy roof top restaurant in one, the next you could be out at sea, squid fishing at night! With so many features and awesome pieces of design, these two shirts the Craghoppers Tatton and the Barmera are undoubtedly some of the best pieces of travel clothing that I’ve ever worn. I absolutely love how Craghoppers have managed to pack so many technical features into a fabric and designed things like secret pockets into a shirt. The major thing that sets these travel shirts apart from others isn’t just the feature set but how they’ve managed to make them look cool, stylish and not like most travel clothing which is khaki and screams of a western tourist. I could wear both of these shirts anywhere in the UK or abroad and not feel self-conscious or like a conspicuous traveller. They look brilliant in a fancy hotel, posh restaurant or rustic home-stay, urban hostel or on the trail.