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Perhaps better known for being the staple diet of pandas and elephants, can clothing derived from bamboo challenge merino and synthetic alternatives for adventure travel? We put it to the test to find out.

air t
Best for...
Adventure travel
Supremely comfortable
Cut can be a little strange

For hiking and travelling duties it's vital to consider your clothing material choice. Some prefer the thermal capabilities of merino while others prefer maximum breathability from synthetic materials. And of course, there's still a place for cotton with Fjallraven's G-1000 material holding its own.

Bamboo is a relative newcomer, but is gaining popularity as a great middle ground between the two, it also has some compelling environmental claims.

We cherry picked a range of items from leading bamboo clothing manufacturer BAM to see how well they performed both out on the trail and while travelling.


Air_T.jpgAir T | £23

The Air T is incredibly comfortable to wear, much like your softest cotton t-shirt. In fact, it's so comfortable that we take it with us on summer hiking trips to wear to bed. It has also been used for summer backpacking duties where it was breathable and comfortable throughout, with no chaffing from the seams. We swapped it for a synthetic top from a high-end brand when the shoulder seams started to rub and it quickly cured the problem.

Because the Air T looks good and doesn't have that shininess a synthetic tee can have it also works really well for travel. We found that the naturally antimicrobial properties of bamboo really shone through with the Air T and even after a sweaty day spent traipsing through airports it still smelt okay at the end.


mens-bamboo-zip-neck-baselayer-black.jpgBamboo Leggings and Zip Neck Baselayer set | £75 (set)

These are very soft and comfortable with a good amount of stretch. The cut of the crotch on the bottoms is a little strange and could do with a tweak to allow more room for 'manly parts' but other than that they fit well and allow for good freedom of movement. The top is cut long in the arms and hem which works well when cycling. Both the top and bottom stayed in place during a long day hike where others might ride up or fall down.

As with the other items on test the BAM baselayer set deals with moisture well, we'd put the breathability somewhere between a decent synthetic and a merino. Temperature regulation was also very good on a brisk spring hike.

If, like this tester you find merino wool itchy to wear, then bamboo is a great alternative if you want something softer and more cosseting than synthetic base layers.



Overall, we were impressed with the thermo-regulating properties of the items on test, but most of all felt that the comfort and looks were a cut above other technical clothing on the market. This makes bamboo clothing ideal for adventure travellers who need technical clothing that doesn't look too conspicuous.

For more information check out BAM bamboo clothing here

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