As an enthusiast overnight backpacker or day hiker, would you consider wearing a committed hiking shirt as an alternative to a regular shirt? After all, it is lightweight, breathable and easy to cool and dry – everything you can ask from a shirt being an outdoor enthusiast. You will agree with us that having the best hiking shirt is an absolute must for a pleasant hike.
Unlike an ordinary shirt, a hiking shirt is designed from lightweight and highly breathable material that allows better wicking of moisture and offers superior sun protection. The choice for a hiking shirt on today’s market is enormous, and not everybody can make the best buying decision. It is precisely for this reason why we decided to come up with this buying guide to help you with your decision.
In this guide, we will be talking about the high-quality features that define the best hiking shirts. This includes choice of material, UV light protection, size and fit, breathability and fast-drying and comfortable seams. To narrow down the search, we have picked and reviewed seven top-quality shirts the market has to offer. The reviewed shirts are the best in terms of quality, performance, and affordability. You can buy one right away.
Our top picks
|Product Name||Weight||Material||UV Light Protection||Price|
|Mountain Hardwear CoolHiker||6.1 oz||96% polyester and 4% elastane||UPF 25||Check price on Amazon|
|Mountain Hardwear River Gorge||5 oz||100% polyester||UPF 50||Check price on Amazon|
|Columbia Bahama II||16 oz||100% nylon||UPF 30||Check price on Amazon|
|Columbia Silver Ridge||8.8 oz||100% nylon||UPF 30||Check price on Amazon|
|Berghaus Explorer||7.5 oz||100% polyamide||UPF 50+||Check price on Amazon|
|Black Diamond Stretch Technician||16 oz||3% elastane, 22% polyester and 75% cotton||Not specified||Check price on Amazon|
|Arc’teryx Bernal Flannel||9 oz||60% cotton and 40% polyester||Not specified||Check price on Amazon|
Things to Consider Before Buying
The kind of hiking shirt you wear is usually one of the most important backpacking decisions. You need to look for fabrics that trap air to maintain your body heat, including wicking properties. Here are the major points of consideration when shopping for a hiking shirt.
The material you choose defines the quality of the shirt. The first choice is a polyester mesh shirt, which comes with numerous holes and good UV protection. The holes offer enough ventilation and moisture wicking for effective performance in the hot climate.
The second choice for you is nylon, which like polyester is remarkably lightweight. Nylon does dry out faster and can be treated to provide superior UV light protection under the hot sun. With this material, you can choose to buy a short or long-sleeve shirt.
The third choice can be a blend of cotton and polyester, elastane and polyester, and elastane, polyester, and cotton. The need for a fabric that can trap air and wick moisture rules out cotton in favor of synthetics.
We are all familiar with the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) in sunscreens. UPF (think SPF in outdoor attire) sounds like a sophisticated feature that only top-end hiking shirts would have.
Some manufacturers use special dyes or fabrics to boost a hiking shirt’s UPF. So what does it mean when a hiking shirt is indicated to have say, UPF 30? This means only 1/30th of UV rays from the sun is hitting your skin.
Fashion items are not allowed to list its UPF rating unless it’s 15 and above. So you can rest assured that the UPF rating on your hiking shirt means that it’s specially manufactured to offer extra protection under the sun.
Knowing the correct size for your hiking shirt allows you to choose a shirt that offers a snug and a comfortable fit. A smaller size provides a tighter fit that can be convenient during the day, but you should consider a sizeable shirt for overnight hiking/backpacking.
Though, the fit is subjective and can vary for different people, it is a good idea to choose a hiking shirt that is not too tight to restrict movement or too loose to cause your shirt to be easily caught in branches and other sharp objects on the trail.
Breathability and Fast-Drying
Let’s face it. Nobody likes that feeling when clammy shirts wet with perspiration clings to the body. And when you hike under hot and humid conditions, you’re most probably going to sweat a lot.
The best hiking shirt is designed to ensure that your sweat, moisture, and humid air, leave your body quickly and cools you down faster. Sewing lightweight mesh panels in areas of frequent sweat build-up is a common method of designing hiking shirts with better breathability.
The speed of drying goes hand in hand with breathability. Why is drying speed an important feature for good hiking shirts? That’s because it affects how well the shirt can keep you cool.
Also, it is the evaporation of the sweat off the shirt that keeps you cool. If a hiking shirt dries slowly, this means that perspiration and body heat gets trapped and build up inside the shirt, which is not a very cooling or comfortable prospect.
Comfortable Shirt Seams
At first glance, shirt seams may seem like a negligible, if important at all feature. However, the comfort and performance-enhancing properties of a good hiking shirt are usually in the details.
The seams in hiking shirts should be flat and shouldn’t rub against your skin as they’re usually the layer of fabric directly in contact with your skin. As such, many manufacturers employ flat-lock seams as they do not have materials bunching up on the underside of the fabric.
Imagine your shirt seam chafing or worse, causing a rash on your shoulder or neck with the sun hitting down when you’re outdoors. In physically-demanding activities, like hiking, you need all the comfort there is to get.
Top Products on Today’s Market
Hiking being a physically demanding activity requires the right attire to keep you feeling comfortable under different types of weather conditions. Let’s look at some of the best hiking shirts that you can buy today.
Price: Approx. $50
Weight: 6.1 oz
Material: 96% polyester and 4% elastane
Specific features: Imported, cool. Q zero, flat-lock seam, antibacterial treatment, fast drying fabric, superior wicking, and active apparel fit
Best use: Hiking in hot weather
Description: The Mountain Hardwear CoolHiker T-shirt is made of a very comfortable fabric that features 96% polyester and 4% elastane. The fabric does stretch very well compared to other materials.
Cool. Q ZERO Technology on the back and sides of the shirt lowers the fabric temperature when you sweat, offering cool comfort outdoors. Polyester and spandex blend dries quickly and will gently stretch with you, offering maximum freedom.
The flat-lock seam of this T-shirt is strong, flexible, and very comfortable. It has fewer layers, which simply means less chafing when working out or when hiking on a hilly rocky terrain under the hot sun.
The sun protection rating of UPF 25 offers better protection than most sun lotions that you might be tempted to bring along a hike. The T-shirt comes with a user-friendly size chart, which provides you with the ideal size and fit.
- Q Zero technology delivers an immediate cooling sensation
- Flat-lock seam design eliminates chafing during workouts
- Antimicrobial finish eliminates odor during workouts and intense hiking
- Poly jersey fabric dries quickly and has a better moisture wicking ability
- UPF 25 protects you from direct UV light exposure
- Limited color options for preference
- Not convenient for cold weather hiking
Related: Mountain Hardwear also sells the Canyon Men’s Shorts, which you can buy along with the hiking T-shirt. These shorts provide a good hiking outfit for a hot summer day, and they are the best because of their combination of superior performance and comfort.
Price: $40 – $70
Weight: 5 oz
Material: 100% polyester
Specific features: Long sleeve hoody, regular fit, 28-inch back length, quick drying, sun protective, ultra-packable, and moisture wicking
Best use: Fishing, kayaking, and camping
Description: The Mountain Hardwear River Gorge Hoody is what you need if you are thru-hiking. This unique long-sleeve T-shirt is made of 100% polyester fabric, which is strong, flexible, breathable, fast drying and features good shrinking and wrinkle resistance.
This hiking wear has an excellent UPF protection rating of 50. This ensures that only 1/50th of the sunlight hit your skin. As a result, you are able to enjoy the benefits of vitamin, stay dry, and comfortable all through the hike.
The low profile hood and long sleeves allow you to use the T-shirt in cold weather when the temperature drops. The shirt is quick drying, allowing you to wear it during intense workout or when hiking under the hot sun.
The shirt is fitted with a zip secured pocket that you can use to carry small essential items during a hike. Weighing in at 5 ounces, the River Gorge Hoody is extremely lightweight and packable for ultra-light backpacking.
- Polyester fabric is strong, flexible, breathable, and comfortable
- UPF 50 offers superior UV protection for comfort
- Long sleeves and low profile hood offer better insulation in cold weather
- The regular fit is snug, comfortable, and it prevents irritation during use
- Good moisture management ensures that your body is sweat-free
- Not a good for hiking under the hot sun
- It is available in the medium red color only
Related: Mountain Hardwear also sells the Yumalino Men’s Pants. These pants are made of high quality synthetic material, and they come with a low-profile waistband and full length inseam gusset for comfort and mobility.
Price: $20 – $70
Weight: 16 oz
Material: 100% nylon
Specific features: Imported, vented, quick dry, Omni-shade sun protection, backcountry cloth, and rod holder on chest
Best use: Hiking, overnight backpacking, and camping
Description: The Columbia Sportswear Bahama II Shirt is a multipurpose men’s shirt. This unique top is available in twenty three distinct colors for preference and convenience. And it comes with a suitable size chart.
The shirt has provided a perfect fit for over two thousand users. It offers enough space for easy maneuverability as you go about your hiking adventures. However, you have to be careful when selecting the sizes, because you might end up with a larger option.
The mesh-lined cape vents on the shoulders will keep you cool and comfortable when the sun is hot. It is a convertible; all you have to do is use the buttons to convert it into a short sleeve. The nylon fabric is lightweight, durable, and fast drying.
The shirt’s Omni-shade sun protection ensures that the UV light does not affect your skin. It is fitted with two chest pockets for storage. You can keep your mobile phone, credit card, driving license, or even a fishing license in the pockets.
- Nylon fabric is versatile, lightweight, and fast drying
- Omni-shade sun protection keeps you safe from excessive UV light
- Hidden vents offer superior breathability
- Two chest pockets for storage
- Numerous color options for preference
- Long sleeve design allows you to use the shirt in cold weather
- Some of the available sizes may turn out to be too large
Related: To complete your hiking outfit, we recommend you to buy the White Sierra Convertible Pant along with the shirt. This pant has a good Omni-shade sun protection of UPF 30, it is highly water repellent, and it is travel friendly.
Price: $30 – $170
Weight: 8.8 oz
Material: 100% nylon
Specific features: Imported, Omni-wick advanced evaporation, sun protection cuff, pockets with loop and hook closure, Omni-shade sun protection of UPF 50, and roll-up sleeves
Best use: Hiking, camping, and overnight backpacking shirt
Description: The Columbia Silver Ridge Shirt is an outstanding women’s hiking shirt for the money. Designed specifically for women, the shirt fits cozily and comfortably. Over two hundred women are satisfied with the fit.
The Omni-wick advanced evaporation ability of the shirt keeps you cool and comfortable under the hot sun. The Omni-shade sun protection of UPF 50 keeps you well-protected from direct UV light exposure in longer durations.
The Silver Ridge is a convertible; all you have to do is roll up the sleeves to transform it into a short-sleeve shirt. It features strategic side stretch panels, allowing freedom of movement during use. The venting at the back ensures that you stay cool and dry.
With this shirt, you have seven colors to choose from, including cypress, white, haute pink, fossil, dark raspberry, bluebell, and black. The shirt is also fitted with sunglasses cleaning patch. The hook and loop pocket provides room for storing a mobile phone.
- Nylon fabric is lightweight and fast drying
- Omni-wick advanced evaporation keeps you cool
- Roll-up sleeves converts the shirt into a short-sleeve design
- Omni-shade sun protection keeps you safe from UV light
- Hook and loop pocket provides storage space
- Venting at the back offers additional breathability
- Available in limited color options for preference
- The available sizes are not consistent
Related: You should consider buying a pair of pants for this shirt. We recommend the Columbia Sportswear Trail Pants. These unique pants feature two-way comfort stretch, roll-up legs, zip-closed security pocket, articulated knees, active fit, mid-rise, and Omni-shade sun protection.
Price: $40 – $70
Weight: 7.5 oz
Material: 100% polyamide
Specific features: Imported, permanent odor protection, pre-colored yarn, sun collar, and two chest pockets
Best use: A very suitable shirt for a day hike, summer camping, and multi-day travels
Description: If you want, a suitable shirt for a day hike or summer camping, then, the Berghaus Explorer Eco Shirt is the ideal choice. The polyamide fabric is abrasion resistant, good solvent resistant, stretchable, and fast drying.
Instead of fabric dyeing, the manufacturer used pre-colored yarn to produce a shirt that has good solvent and abrasion resistance. It is ARGENTIUM powered; a feature that provides permanent odor protection during intense activity.
With this shirt, you can effortlessly acquire a nice casual appearance, but it is also suitably active for generally out-of-doors use under the hot sun. You get four colors (olive marlin, olive check, navy check, and gray marlin) for preference.
It consists of two chest pockets with button closure. You can use the pockets to store your mobile phone or travelling papers. It has a sun collar and a remarkable sun protection rating of UPF 50 for effective protection against UV light.
- Polyamide fabric is lightweight, durable, and fast drying
- Polygiene technology offers permanent odor protection
- Pre-colored yarn has good water resistance
- Two buttoned chest pockets for storage
- Sun collar and UPF 50 offers effective protection against UV light
- A good choice for hiking and multi-day travelling
- Limited color options to choose from
- Short sleeve design may not be convenient for overnight use
Related: Berghaus also sells the Explorer Eco Short, which provides you with a complete summer outfit when worn with the shirt. The short has a reliable sun protection rating of UPF 50, and it has a durable water repellent finish.
Price: Approx. $90
Weight: 16 oz
Material: 3% elastane, 22% polyester and 75% cotton
Specific features: Long sleeve, button down, shaped front & back hem, two chest pockets, and climbing specific gussets
Best use: Hiking, thru-hiking, and camping
Description: The Black Diamond Stretch Technician Shirt is what you for hiking, camping, and thru-hiking. This shirt is casual and self-effacing, providing you with the comfort you need. It is available in one color, denim/black plaid.
The shirt is made from a durable, lightweight cotton-poly blend fabric, which combines the fortes of two fibers. As a result, the shirt offers exceptional tear-resistance and it is highly breathable, especially in hot weather.
It features gusseted underarm panels that not only add breadth, but also reduce stress that you might experience from a tight fit. With this shirt, you get a medium and an x-large size. The two sizes provide you with a regular.
The long sleeve design is convenient for hiking in exposed areas, usually above the tree line. This particular design is also suitable for overnight backpacking. The two chest pockets provide enough room for carrying your mobile phone among other small items.
- Cotton-poly blend fabric is tear-resistant and breathable
- Gusseted underarm panels reduce tight fitting stress
- Regular fit allows for unrestricted movement through a wide range of motion
- Two chest pockets w/ button flap closure for convenient storage
- Breathable design offers superior cooling in hot weather
- Limited available sizes for a perfect and a snug fit
- Only two colors are available for first choice
Related: Black Diamond also sells the Black Diamond Stretch Font Pant, which is available in slate and Adriatic colors. This pant comes with climbing specific gussets for better fitting, multiple pockets for storage, and roll-cuffs assist, and modern slim fit.
Price: Approx. $130
Weight: 9 oz
Material: 60% cotton and 40% polyester
Specific features: Casual style, articulated & gusseted underarms, laminated chest pocket, button-down, and slim fit
Best use: Hiking and mountain town living
Description: The Arc’teryx Bernal Flannel Shirt is a suitable choice for hiking and mountain town living. This is a breathtaking shirt that will fit you about perfectly. It is thinner compared to similar and competing models, and not to mention that it is remarkably lightweight.
It is made from lightweight cotton-blend fabric, which has superior smoothness and is much more breathable than most fabrics. The shirt’s material does not wrinkle or shrink easily and it is easy to wash and dry.
The shirt is fitted with articulated patterning that provides you with a comfortable fit and unrestricted mobility during intense hiking. The available size chart is very user-friendly, providing you with small, medium, large, x-large, and xx-large sizes for preference.
You have four colors to choose from, including caper, Pompeii nighthawk, Deja dark moss, and centaur pilot. It is fitted with a laminated chest pocket for storage and a distinctive look. The gusseted underarms offer unhampered mobility.
- Slim fit is good for outdoor functionality
- Cotton-blend fabric is smooth, breathable, and wrinkle-free
- Gusseted underarms and articulated patterning guarantee unrestricted mobility
- Laminated chest pocket offers storage and distinctive look
- Front button-up closure for easy opening and closing
- Full range of motion allows for greater flexibility and maneuverability
- Less effective wicking ability, making it unsuitable for intense activity
- A bit pricey compared to most popular models
Related: Arc’teryx also sells the Gamma AR Softshell Pant. The pant offers you a complete outfit along with the shirt, and it comes with a snap closure, an adjustable webbing belt, and NU water repellent layer.
The Arc’teryx Bernal Flannel Shirt marks the end of our best hiking shirts review. Always look for fabrics that are fast drying, superior moisture wicking, wrinkle-free, and highly durable. Therefore, this favors most synthetic materials.
Hiking shirts can make a difference between a memorable trip and an uncomfortable misadventure. We hope you now have plenty of resources to help you snag some really good ones that suit your outdoor needs.
Do you have any good suggestions we missed out on? Be sure to share your stories and favoring hiking shirts in the comments section below, and we may feature them in a future article. Happy shopping and hiking!