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Unbound Merino x Carryology Meili Travel T-Shirt


Exclusive Release | Unbound Merino x Carryology Meili Travel T-Shirt

by , October 6, 2023

 The world’s greatest “go anywhere” T-shirt. Designed to take you from deserts to glaciers and everywhere in between. Inspired by Meili, the Viking god of travel. And honed from a fusion of nature and technology.

Introducing… Unbound Merino x Carryology Meili Travel T-Shirt.

Crafted from a unique new woven fabric blending the magical properties of premium merino wool with Spectra® - the strongest manmade fiber on earth. 


Second Batch Coming April 2024

Unbound Merino x Carryology Meili Travel T-Shirt



So if you’ve been paying attention, it’s well-known that professional explorers and seasoned travelers both are in love with one fabric for their clothing – Merino wool. And we talk about Merino a lot. Really, a whole lot. And for good reason. Merino wool is probably the best possible performance fiber in existence for travel and everyday clothing. It’s like magic. 

Unbound Merino x Carryology Meili Travel T-Shirt

Now, why Merino wool? Isn’t wool scratchy?

First, Merino wool is super soft to the touch and soft against the skin. This isn’t your Grandpa’s old sweater. It’s different from regular wool at a microscopic and genetic level. Merino wool comes from a very specific breed of sheep, dating back to the Middle Ages. Since then, these domesticated sheep have thrived in many parts of the world, the most well-known being Australia and New Zealand. The climate, the geography, and the farmers all create a perfect recipe to create the finest Merino wool on planet Earth. After millions of years of evolution and then hundreds of years of selective breeding, the result is unlike anything else. Compared to most other performance fabrics, which have only been around for a few decades, there is just no contest when it comes to the creation of this natural fiber.


Man in wool shed

The performance benefits of Merino wool are astounding. 

It keeps you cool when it’s hot outside. 115ºF summer in Texas, no problem.

It keeps you warm when it’s cool outside. -20ºF winter in Iceland, no problem.

As someone who runs hot and runs very sweaty, it wicks away moisture and breathes like nothing else I’ve ever worn. 

It’s antimicrobial, so it stays fresh and simply does not stink (unlike cotton or synthetics). Some have even done the Merino wool challenge and worn their shirts for 100+ days without washing… with zero stink. 

It dries super crazy fast; unlike other fabrics that could take a day or longer to dry, Merino takes hours. 

Soft against the skin. Softer than your average cotton t-shirt.

Wrinkle-free so you don’t look like a mess when you pop it on.

It can even do your taxes for you. Okay, I made that one up.



But this is Carryology, why are we talking about apparel? Easy answer. In our opinion, the number one best performance benefit of this magical fiber is directly linked to carry. Or lack thereof maybe? The single best way to carry better while traveling is to carry less. And Merino clothing allows you to do exactly that. Volume and weight are the killers when it comes to packing, and the primary source of volume and weight comes from… yep, you guessed it… clothing. 

But with Merino wool clothing, you can carry less. Way less. Radically less. 

Carry less, but better. 

Carry less, travel more. 

For me, I regularly travel with just two Unbound Merino t-shirts while traveling internationally for weeks on end, rotating between the two. Yes, weeks. Yes, two shirts. As of publishing this article, I am currently on a 26-day work trip to three different countries and I have… two shirts. You can only wear one shirt at a time, so why would anyone lug around 15 shirts that they’re not wearing in their backpack while traveling? It just doesn’t make sense. Once you make the plunge, you’re immediately saving up 15+ liters of space and potentially 5+ lbs of weight. And if you spill something on the one shirt? Pop your new shirt on, wash the old shirt in the sink, throw it over a chair, and it will be dry by the time you’re back from grabbing noodles from the street vendor on the corner (this example is from an actual experience I had in Vietnam three months ago).

Australian merino



For me, my go-to brand when it comes to Merino wool has been Unbound Merino. I’ve personally tried over 15 different Merino wool t-shirts and I keep coming back to Unbound Merino. Just so you know I’m not messing around, here is a photo of my closet. Black Merino wool t-shirts forever. Now, I first discovered the brand in approximately 2016 and I’ve been wearing them ever since. They first appeared to me like they did with probably many of you, via their Kickstarter. In the name of science, I decided to bite the bullet and make the expensive (or so I thought at the time) investment and purchase one of their black t-shirts. A few months passed. Then I went back to their website for a second order. And then a third. I was hooked. 

Then, I became such a fan that I reached out to them asking about doing some coverage on Carryology to share their products with our readers. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but pretty quickly the brand’s founders and I became fast friends. Back in April 2019 (whoa, more than four years ago), co-founders Dan and Dima flew down from Toronto, Canada to Austin, Texas for a weekend of BBQ and ramen and drinking and general troublemaking. We had a blast. 

When we said our goodbyes after hanging for those four wild days, we commented that,

“Hey, maybe someday we should do a project together!”

hanging out with Unbound

Then once 2020 rolled around, we all found ourselves with a lot of extra time. Can’t remember why we had so much time, but I digress. It made for a perfect time to brainstorm what a project together might look like. 

But… how do you improve a t-shirt?



A t-shirt is already so simple. It’s a staple. It just kind of… exists. It’s perfection in its basicness. A t-shirt made from Merino wool was almost perfect. It already did all the things. So, how could we create the best travel and everyday t-shirt of all time?

The answers came from firsthand experience traveling with Merino wool to a few dozen different countries, in dramatic environments, and extreme climates. Learning where Merino excels, but also where it needs a little improvement. 

Now, for many of these projects, we select our favorite fabrics and apply them to existing silhouettes. We even create brand-new products from scratch. Occasionally, we will custom-develop a new fabric that never existed before. But for this one, we turned it up a notch. We wanted to be involved with every single stage of the process to select the best ultrafine Merino wool the world has to offer.

Unbound Merino x Carryology Meili Travel T-Shirt



Fast-forward. We’re in an old 4×4 in rural Australia, bouncing down the dirt road to a Merino wool sheep farm. Our first stop in our journey to understand wool at the deepest level. Freshly cut grass and sheep shit attack our sense of smell. Mr. Marius Cuming of the Woolmark Company is at the wheel. Marius is tall, always smiling, larger than life, speaks in a rich Aussie accent, and is taking us around the countryside to teach us everything about the exact Merino wool that Unbound Merino will use on this project. Our first stop is meeting the experts who grade the wool on the sheep out in the field. Right here, these experts decide which sheep have the very best wool who then will pass along their genetics onto the next generation of Merino sheep via selective breeding. The better the living sheep’s wool, the better chances it will have to be selected to pass on its DNA to make Merino wool for generations to come.

Australian merino wool

Then, onto the fun part: step two. We pull into another farm, a herding dog chasing alongside the truck down the long road ending at a simple wooden workshed. Inside, a flurry of activity. Seasoned sheep-shearing veterans are skillfully and humanely trimming the wool from these sheep. Watching these experts work was like watching a form of ballet, each position seamlessly transitioning to the next, keeping the sheep in a comfortable and safe position. They toss each respective wool pelt into a graded bin, with the superfine Merino being the top tier, the stuff Unbound Merino uses. 

Australian merino wool

Wool sharers shed

Next, we head to the Elders Wool auction house. Shockingly enough, when we arrived at the warehouse in the suburbs of Melbourne, we were greeted by an employee who happens to be an avid reader and fan of Carryology, Samantha Wan. Small world. She and Marius walked us through endless aisles of wool of various qualities all graded and ready to ship. And then we got to witness the live bidding on bins of wool. Basically think of one of those fast-talking auctioneers, but with an Australian accent. Representatives bid fiercely, all purchasing wool which is destined to become quality products around the world.

And finally, we’re at a high-tech facility where this magical wool is turned into ultrafine fibers and then knit into fabric for clothing. This facility is used by some of the biggest names in the outdoor gear industry and they are no strangers to creating high-performance fabrics for extremely demanding users. While ultrafine Merino wool knit fabric is incredible and this was fascinating to see… we knew we were going to throw a small wrench into this process and do something different.

merino wool with unbound and carryology

As the day came to an end, we pulled up to our Airbnb in Melbourne, and right there on the street, Marius recited an incredible spoken performance of The Man Of Ironbark. He had been practicing this for weeks, recalling every word from memory. Something I will never forget.

And finally, we even recorded a podcast together with Marius and were featured in their magazine called Beyond The Bale

Who knew nerding out on wool could be so fun?

Okay. So we knew every step of the process. We selected the very best ultrafine Merino wool on earth. And we’re back to the beginning question… how do we make a Merino wool t-shirt better?

Well, hands-on real-world Merino wool experience and a dash of insanity.



First, we wanted to improve upon the fabric itself. While Merino wool has incredible benefits (mentioned above), 100% Merino tees need care. And for some users who are hard on their gear, it can rip or tear. We really wanted to improve the durability, as we know many of you expect this. So we asked the geniuses at the fabric mill if they could create our own custom-blended Merino wool with Honeywell’s Spectra, the strongest fiber on Earth. Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) comes by many different trade names, but it’s all the same principle. Extremely strong and extremely light. After several different samples, we decided upon the one that performed the best in various climates (the Sahara Desert in Morocco, glaciers in Iceland, the streets of New York City, and more). 95% Merino wool and 5% Spectra fibers. This magic tech is 15 times stronger than steel and when paired with the ultrafine Merino wool, it’s now double the durability of a traditional Merino shirt (abrasion resistance). 

High-tech science space-age super technology meets natural Merino wool in a 150gsm fabric made for whatever you can throw at it.

Unbound Merino x Carryology Meili Travel T-Shirt

Unbound Merino x Carryology Meili Travel T-Shirt



Now, we had our custom fabric. There was only one color option for this and you know the answer already… Black. It just works. It’s minimal, it’s bold, it hides stains, it can be dressed up, it’s simple, it goes with everything, and it’s awesome. But, just like in the movie This Is Spinal Tap, we wanted it to be None More Black. We wanted something like VantaBlack and Mosou paint. So we contacted the folks at Coloro, the world’s leading mad scientists with decades of experience creating colors and dyes for many of the products we all use day to day. We made the same request that Nigel Tufnel asked, “How much more black could this be?” And they took that personally. Over the process of several months, Coloro had their team of scientists working on our project in their laboratories, attempting to get the blackest black possible. They did mention it would take some time to run some experiments to see what could actually be possible. Well, months later, Coloro reached out… and they presented an absolute triumph.

This collaboration uses the blackest black Merino wool dye ever made, custom-created specifically in Coloro’s laboratories for this collaboration. Scientifically speaking, it cannot be blacker. And yes, we are 100% serious. None More Black.

Unbound Merino x Carryology Meili



Now, there’s one very specific issue with Merino wool that we wanted to solve. It’s an odd one, but an important one. For Merino wool clothing owners who wear glasses or sunglasses and don’t always have a microfiber cloth on hand at all times… you know the issue. Because of Merino wool’s hydrophobic properties, if you use your shirt to wipe your glasses clean… well, it just smears and smears and smears. So, how do we solve this? A simple solution. And simple is never easy. Working with Unbound Merino’s expert designer and pattern maker, we added a small swatch of microfiber hidden on the inside, where the lower hem meets the side seam. The concept was easy in theory, but we did several rounds of prototypes and real-world testing, increasing/decreasing the size, adjusting the shape, testing different microfiber fabrics, and tweaking the placement. Now, it’s perfect. 

Hidden away from view, you’ve got a microfiber cloth at your disposal out in the field at a moment’s notice. Works great for smartphone screens and lenses, too.





One of my favorite things about Merino wool is the quick-drying aspect. But there are some caveats. First, for minimal dry time, you want to hang your shirt from a hook, so it has more surface-to-air ratio with the air. Tossing your shirt over a chair in a hotel room works, but just not as well, because the airflow to the fabric’s surface is being “blocked” by the chair itself. Second, you don’t want to just hang your Merino wool T-shirt collar from a spiky tree branch and put a hole in the fabric. So to maximize quick drying, we created a new feature that you can utilize while on the go. Now, you can use almost anything you can find. We added thin Dyneema cording located up on the inner side seams (one loop on each side). They’re sewn high up enough so the orange ultralight but stronger-than-steel cord won’t be visible while wearing and small enough where it doesn’t feel uncomfortable. 

Dyneema cord, in orange of course. Now, you can hang your shirt dry without damaging it wherever you are. Hang it from barbed wire if that’s all you have access to.






Custom ultrafine Merino wool and Spectra blend fabric. The blackest black Merino wool dye ever made. A microfiber cloth for glasses and smartphones. Dyneema cording for ultra-fast drying. There was only one thing left… a name.

Like 90% of our other collaborations, we opened the history books and began researching. It wasn’t long until we came across the mysterious figure of Meili, the brother of Thor. The only problem is that Meili is seldom mentioned in Norse mythology. In fact, he was never even illustrated. We don’t know much about this character, other than he is the God of travel. A perfect fit. But visually, there was much left to the imagination… So how could we create a worthy image of him?



The folks at Unbound Merino made a Hail Mary pitch while we were trying to find the perfect artist to envision this character for the collab. Frankly, when they said the artist’s name I thought it would never happen. He’s just too good and likely way too busy. Aaron Draplin. Yes, that Aaron Draplin. Owner of Draplin Design Company. Owner and creator of Field Notes Brand. Clients include Nike, Burton Snowboards, Ford Motor Company, Esquire, and probably about 10,000 more you’ve heard of. He’s an absolute legend. And while I was lucky enough to meet him at SXSW about 10 years ago, I figured that was certainly not enough of a connection to make him remember me or want to take on this project. Well… I was wrong. We hopped on a video call with Aaron and first off, he remembered me (or politely pretended to) and second, he was totally into this project. In fact, he was stoked.

Aaron Draplin

A couple of weeks passed and he sent over the first round of concepts, which we were blown away by. Selecting only one and choosing a direction was difficult, as we loved them all. But we all agreed on a concept. Then, after several rounds of refinements, Aaron created the final version of our Meili. And Meili was rocking some sunglasses. Because awesome.

Unbound Merino x Carryology Meili Travel T-Shirt

Unbound Merino x Carryology Meili Travel T-Shirt



The purpose of Meili’s character was for a few reasons…

First, because we’re history nerds and each collaboration needs a cool codename, obviously.

Second, it would be the logo label for the inside collar of the T-shirt. The logo is screen printed against the blackest black fabric with vivid orange ink. Invisible from the outside, with some contrast pop on the inside. It’s worth mentioning, both the Unbound Merino team and the Carryology team agree, no shirt should have an uncomfortable fabric tag poking you in the back of the neck. Comfortable screen-printed tagless always and forever.

Unbound Merino x Carryology Meili Travel T-Shirt

Third, we wanted to include a little free gift with each shirt purchased. Aaron Draplin’s badass Meili design, immortalized via a silicone Velcro patch to commemorate this collaboration. This 50mm patch was expertly manufactured by our friend Greg Li of Suburban. No, the shirt doesn’t have any Velcro to mount the patch to. That would be weird. Attach it to wherever you want. A backpack, your patch wall, your vehicle’s headliner. But be cool about wherever you decide, okay? Meili doesn’t play.

Unbound Merino x Carryology Meili Travel T-Shirt



Designed in a classic tailored fit for hikes and city outings alike.

150gsm, 95% ultrafine Merino wool, blended with 5% Spectra®, one of the world’s strongest and lightest fibers for durability and ease of movement.

Odor, wrinkle, UV, and abrasion resistant for total durability. 

Microfiber panel at the hem to keep your lenses and screens clean.

Hidden Dyneema hanging loops for easy air-drying.

Woolmark® certified Merino, adheres to the highest standards related to fiber content, performance, color fastness and dimensional stability.

WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production) certified production. 

These shirts have been developed from the fibers up, then tested across the world and performed flawlessly. I can confidently say, this is the Merino shirt of my dreams, the perfect solution for everyday and travel, built without compromise, and with ultimate performance and features in mind. 




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Unbound Merino x Carryology Meili Travel T-Shirt

Unbound Merino x Carryology Meili Travel T-Shirt


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