20+ Best Hiking Shirts For Day Hikes + Backpacking Trips

When you hit the trails for several hours (or days) at a time you want to feel super comfortable in your clothing. The best hiking shirts help you stay comfy in a way that regular shirts do not. Once you try a hiking shirt you won’t go back to wearing your regular clothing on hikes.

In this guide, we first cover everything you need to know about the best hiking shirts. The top features, styles, fabrics and materials used, etc.

Further down you will find a list of the best hiking shirts for men, women, and kids. If you want to just see the prodcuts that we recommend, scroll down. Otherwise, read on to learn more about hiking shirts.

Best hiking shirts for men and women

What exactly is a hiking shirt?

Hiking shirts are designed with a purpose. They are made of fibers that manage moisture and are constructed in a way to prevent chafing or discomfort over the long haul.

The best hiking shirts contain a blend of synthetic fibers and sometimes merino wool.

These synthetic fibers wick moisture away from your skin. They also disperse moisture across the fabric. In warm temperatures, the moisture will evaporate keeping you cool and dry. In colder temperatures, this will decrease heat loss. Finally, hiking shirt fabric should improve overall airflow to accelerate the evaporation of moisture.

Ordinary shirts are not recommended since they often contain a high percentage of cotton. Cotton is not a moisture-wicking fiber and will lead to discomfort on the hiking trails. Avoid cotton hiking clothes. Stay comfy.

The purpose of hiking shirts is moisture management by wicking, dispersal, improving airflow.

In this guide, we show you the different styles of hiking shirts that you can get including base layers, T-shirts, short sleeve hiking shirts with collars, long sleeve hiking shirts, and hiking shirts for hot and cold weather. We recommend investing in a variety of styles for different seasons and climates.

Top brands of hiking shirts

Zero in on these brands. They offer the best quality products.

  • REI Co-op
  • Patagonia
  • Columbia
  • ExOfficio
  • Outdoor Research
  • North Face
  • Marmot
  • Kuhl
  • Craghoppers
  • Arc’teryx

Key features of a great hiking shirt

There are many things to consider before you buy a top-quality hiking shirt.

Let’s explore the features that you should look for in a shirt.

Materials

What your hiking shirt is made of is the single most important factor. So, what are the best hiking shirt materials? Let’s review the options.

Cotton – As previously stated, avoid cotton clothing.

Bamboo – Bamboo hiking shirts are a great option if you want a natural material. Bamboo is a form of rayon that will wick moisture in the Winter which keeps you warm. It is breathable so it will keep you cool and dry in the Summer.

Synthetic materials – Most hiking shirts are a blend of polyester (for moisture management), nylon (for durability), other synthetic materials such as lycra/spandex (for stretch/fit), and merino wool. Go for these options. Combined, they provide excellent performance. These types of hiking shirts are called technical hiking shirts. Hiking shirts that are a blend of synthetic materials are the best shirts for hot weather hiking, and also the best shirts for desert hiking.

Merino wool – Provides insulation, is antimicrobial thus odor-resistant, and has decent moisture management qualities. Merino wool hiking shirts are great to have for Fall, Winter, and Spring hikes since they will also keep you warm and insulated.

Comfort + Fit + Design

Weather/climate – For warm weather a loose fit is optimal, and for cooler weather look for a more fitted size and shape of a shirt. You should get both hot weather hiking shirts and cool weather hiking shirts for your hiking clothing wardrobe.

Ventilation – Most weather conditions require ventilation to stay comfortable. Buttons and zippers located in the front or armpit areas help to ventilate your body. A breathable hiking shirt is a good idea if you are hiking in hot and humid climates. Button up hiking shirts will keep you cool and well ventilated.

Fabric weights – Polyester and merino wool shirts are available in different thicknesses such as lightweight or midweight. Be sure to check the weight per square area of various shirts to get a good idea of thickness. The thicker the fabric, the more insulation. Also, a thicker fabric will wick more moisture away from your skin keeping your skin dry and comfortable. A lightweight hiking shirt is ideal for hot weather.

Sleeve length – It’s a good idea to have a couple of short sleeve hiking shirts, and long sleeve shirts in your hiking wardrobe. Then you are covered for all conditions. In Spring, Summer, and Fall, I wear or carry both in my daypack. In Winter, I will carry a variety of hiking shirts and fabric weights for layering purposes. That’s how you stay comfortable.

Collars – A collared hiking shirt offers additional sun protection and is a good idea in high altitude locations or near the equator. If collars are not your thing you can also get hiking t-shirts or long sleeve hiking shirts with a crew neck.

Hooded – You can get hooded hiking shirts that offer excellent sun protection or keep your head warm in cooler temperatures.

Sun protection (UV protection + UPF Rating)

Harmful ultraviolet rays can penetrate the fabric of any shirt. Look for a hiking shirt that has a UPF rating that falls in the range of 0-50. This is a great feature if you happen to be extra sensitive to the sun.

Moisture-wicking

Moisture is uncomfortable in all climates and temperatures. In hot climates, perspiration can cause chafing. If it is cold out and you are sweating the moisture can become dangerous and cause hypothermia. This is why a high-performance hiking shirt should be mandatory. As discussed, synthetic fibers, and particularly polyester, will wick moisture away from your skin. This promotes comfort to the maximum.

Quick dry

A second element to moisture management is quick-drying fabric. Some fabric is designed to disperse moisture across the garment so that it will evaporate more quickly, thus keeping you dry and comfortable.

Antimicrobial properties + odor resistance

Nobody likes stinky moldy clothing. Right? When considering your options look for antimicrobial properties or treatment.

Merino wool is naturally antimicrobial. This fiber performs the best.

Polyester can be very stinky. Nylon is not much better. Thus, seek out a shirt that has antimicrobial treatments applied if made out of either material. It will help prevent terrible odors.

Durability

Everyone appreciates products that are long-lasting. That’s just good value. The most durable synthetic material is nylon. Polyester is also pretty good. Lightweight merino can be prone to tearing and holes from moths.

Okay, now you know what you should look for to make a good decision. Let’s take a look at the top-rated hiking shirts for 2020.

Pro tip: Stock up on hiking shirts during the off-season (Winter for most people) to get a huge discount! REI has some big discounts (up to 50%) in January-February since they want to clear out the previous year’s stock ahead of the Spring hiking season.

The Best Hiking Shirts For Men

These are our top picks for a variety of conditions and uses, and also the best options for both long sleeves and short sleeves. They are primarily polyester hiking shirts, some are blends.

Short sleeve men’s hiking shirts

These are the best hiking shirts for men that have short sleeves, including crew necks and polo shirts with collars. In hot weather, you want to stay cool, dry, and thus comfortable. All are lightweight, quick-dry, moisture-wicking hot weather hiking shirts that also provide some sun protection.

REI Co-op On The Trail Run T-Shirt

  • Super breathable
  • Back and sides are a polyester (92%) and spandex mesh (8%) blend for extra ventilation
  • 100% polyester front wicks moisture
  • Sun protection: UPF 50 in front, UPF 25 in back
  • Side pocket

Arc’teryx Cormac Crew T-Shirt

  • Airy, quick-drying, moisture-wicking, Ostria stretch-knit fabric (100% polyester)
  • UPF 50 sun protection
  • Seams that reduce chafing

Check REI price | Check Arc’teryx

REI Co-op Sahara T-Shirt

  • Quick-drying 92% Polyester, 8% Spandex fabric
  • Antimicrobial treated
  • Great for multi-day hikes
  • UPF 30 sun protection

KUHL Response Shirt

  • Quick-dry, moisture-wicking 100% polyester
  • Collared shirt protects the neck from UV rays
  • UPF 30 sun protection
  • Buttons offer extra ventilation
  • A great option for traveling that involves hiking or backpacking adventures

Long sleeve hiking shirts for men

A long-sleeve hiking shirt is more useful than you might think. Even in the Summer, it is a good idea to throw a long-sleeve shirt in your pack. The weather might change quickly. Or, it may be mandatory for sun protection in very hot climates. Otherwise, you will need a long-sleeve shirt as an extra layer to keep warm in cooler seasons, cold weather climates, or on snowy Winter hikes.

Columbia Silver Ridge Lite Hybrid Shirt

  • Ripstop (tear-resistant) polyester fabric is durable
  • UPF 40 sun protection
  • Antimicrobial treatment reduces unpleasant odors
  • Hidden back vents keep you cool
  • Sunglass cleaning patch

Columbia Silver Ridge Lite Long-Sleeve Shirt

  • Lightweight button-up long-sleeve with collar (extra sun protection)
  • 100% polyester (best for wicking moisture)
  • Antimicrobial treated fabric
  • Back vent for ventilation
  • UPF 40
  • Convert to short-sleeve with roll-up button tabs
  • One of the best lightweight long sleeve hiking shirts for men

REI Co-op Sahara Long-Sleeve T-Shirt

  • Crew neck long-sleeve hiking shirt
  • 92% polyester, 8% spandex moisture-wicking, quick-drying fabric
  • Simple yet effective, good for layering
  • UPF 30

REI Co-op Active Pursuits Half-Zip Shirt

  • Super stretchy comfortable fit
  • 89% polyester, 11% spandex
  • Breathable and warm
  • Partial zip offers extra ventilation
  • Sleeve thumbholes keep the shirt in place – great for an aggressive hiker or trail runner
  • A seam-free shoulder provides long-lasting comfort when carrying a backpack
  • UPF 50 – top sun protection
  • Zip up collar offers extra sun protection

REI Co-op Swiftland Mid Layer Shirt

  • Mid-layer long-sleeve hiking shirt is perfect for cooler temperatures
  • Ultra-breathable if you get warm, wicks moisture effectively
  • Ripstop nylon with durable water repellent (DWR) finish in front
  • Thumbholes keeps the shirt in place
  • Underarm gussets
  • Zip pocket for ID, cash, keys
  • Odor resistant
  • Seam-free shoulders are comfy
  • 92% polyester, 8% spandex back and sides
  • UPF 50

Royal Robbins MerinoLux Henley Shirt

  • Crew neck with 2 buttons to help ventilate
  • Merino wool hiking shirt blend – 68% Sorona polyester, 32% merino wool
  • Wicks moisture
  • Naturally anti-microbial
  • One of the best merino wool hiking shirts for men

Royal Robbins Bug Barrier Tech Travel Shirt

  • Lightweight long sleeve crew neck shirt
  • Perfect for wet buggy climates/seasons
  • Insect Shield has a permethrin-based technology that repels insects
  • 91% polyester, 9% spandex

The Best Hiking Shirts For Women

Some of the best hiking shirts that we recommend for women are the exact same shirt as we recommended for men. Let’s call them the hiking shirt staples! The technical specifications and features are identical, just a different size and shape. However, you will also find some shirts below that are uniquely designed for women. Let’s take a look!

Short sleeve hiking shirts for women

These are the best options for hot weather and climates.

REI Co-op Sahara Shirt – Women’s

  • The perfect hiking shirt for hot weather/climates
  • Button-up style help allows for ventilation
  • Features back vents to keep cool
  • 95% nylon, 5% spandex
  • Wicks moisture and dries quickly
  • UPF 35 + collar sun protection
  • Comfy stretch fabric
  • Odor resistance treatment
  • Snap chest pockets

Outdoor Research Chain Reaction T-Shirt – Women’s

  • 86% polyester, 14% spandex blend
  • The lower back vent can hang loose or be tied
  • Lightweight, breathable
  • Odor resistance treatment
  • UPF 50 sun protection

REI Co-op Sahara T-Shirt – Women’s

  • Classic hiking T-shirt
  • UPF 30 sun protection
  • 92% polyester, 8% spandex
  • Antimicrobial treatment prevents odors
  • Shoulder seam design helps prevent pack chafing

ExOfficio BugsAway Caddis Shirt – Women’s

  • Hiking in insect territory?
    • Permethrin treatment helps keep bugs off
  • 53% polyester, 38% nylon, 9% elastane blend
  • Moisture-wicking, breathable, stretchy fabric 
  • Handy chest pocket
  • UPF 50

Long sleeve hiking shirts for women

Sometimes, long sleeves are mandatory. For sun protection, bug protection, or simply to stay warm.

Columbia Silver Ridge Lite Shirt – Women’s

  • One of the best lightweight long sleeve hiking shirts for women
  • Button up long sleeve hiking shirt
  • Durable ripstop polyester
  • Omni-wick keeps moisture away from the skin
  • Quick-dry fabric
  • Antimicrobial treated
  • UPF 40 + collar for sun protection
  • Venting in back shoulder area
  • Roll-up sleeves
  • Zipper pocket

REI Co-op Sahara Long-Sleeve Shirt – Women’s

  • Great for hot climate hikes
  • Button up long sleeve shirt
  • 95% nylon, 5% spandex lightweight, moisture-wicking, quick-dry fabric
  • Packs up small and light
  • UPF 35 + collar for sun protection
  • Snap chest pockets
  • Treated for odor resistance
  • Roll-up sleeves convert to short-sleeves

Arc’teryx Kadem Top – Women’s

  • Versatile lightweight long sleeve hiking shirt
  • Top-notch moisture management (great choice for those that perspire greatly)
  • Comfortable in a wide range of temperatures
  • UPF 50 sun protection
  • Gusseted underarms 

Check REI price | Check Arc’teryx

Arc’teryx Remige Hoodie – Women’s

  • Cute, stylish hoodie / hooded hiking shirt
  • Thumb loops help keep the shirt in place
  • UPF 50
  • Low profile hood + brim offers extra sun protection
  • Gusseted underarms 
  • Moisture-wicking Thalden polyester fabric

Check REI price | Check Arc’teryx

Outdoor Research Enigma Crew Top – Women’s

  • Lightweight, breathable
  • 88% recycled polyester, 12% merino wool
  • Merino wool naturally resists odor
  • Great for colder temperatures as a base next to skin layer

REI Co-op Take Your Time Pullover – Women’s

  • Cute, soft, warm pullover top
  • 93% polyester, 7% spandex wicks moisture
  • Zip pocket

Royal Robins MerinoLux Henley Shirt – Women’s

  • Shrink and wrinkle resistant
  • Wicks moisture and dries quickly
  • 68% Sorona polyester, 32% merino wool
  • Naturally odor resistant
  • V-neck with 3 buttons to help with ventilation

Royal Robins Bug Barrier Expedition Shirt – Women’s

  • Super lightweight ripstop polyester, wicks moisture, dries fast
  • Bug resistant – permethrin-based technology
  • Hidden zipper pockets for small items
  • Long-sleeves can be rolled up and secured into short-sleeves
  • UPF 50

The Best Hiking Shirts For Kids

Keeping kids comfortable and happy on the trails is paramount to ensure a good time for all. Because kids are smaller they are more susceptible to overheating or getting cold. Be sure to invest in a hiking outfit for your children. A hiking hat, hiking socks, and a hiking shirt is a good starting point. Here are some great options for kids.

REI Co-op Sahara Solid Long-Sleeve Shirt – Kids’

  • Lightweight stretch ripstop nylon fabric
  • Wicks moisture breathes and dries quickly
  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Collar for extra sun protection
  • Roll-up sleeves
  • Easy snap buttons in front

REI Co-op Sahara Rattler Long-Sleeve T-Shirt – Kids’

  • Lightweight polyester fabric
  • Wicks moisture
  • Quick dry
  • UPF 50+ sun protection

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