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We tested the best hiking shirts on the market for 2024. Read on to see how they performed, which is best for you, and get some great buying advice.
Table of Contents
Best Hiking Shirts
The best hiking shirts are:
- Best Overall Hiking Shirt: PATAGONIA LONG-SLEEVED CAPILENE
- Best Women’s Hiking Shirt: OISELLE WOMEN'S FLYOUT SHORT SLEEVE
- Best Short-Sleeve Hiking Shirt: SMARTWOOL MERINO 150 SHORT-SLEEVE SHIRT
- Best Budget Hiking Shirt: REI CO-OP SAHARA
|1. Patagonia Long-Sleeved Capilene
|100% Polyester (50% Recycled)
|2. Oiselle Women's Flyout Short Sleeve
|65% Polyester, 32% Tencel, 3% Spandex
|3. Smartwool Merino 150 Short-Sleeve Shirt
|87% Merino Wool, 13% Nylon
|4. REI Co-Op Sahara
|92% Polyester, 8% Spandex
|5. Starter Men's Athletic-Fit Short Sleeve Shirt
|6. Hanes Long Sleeve Cool Dri T-Shirt
|7. Columbia Zero Rules Tee
|8. Columbia Silver Ridge Lite
|Omni-Wick RipStop 100% Polyester
|9. Outdoor Research Astroman
|85% Nylon, 15% Spandex
|10. Arc'teryx Motus LS Crew
|100% Polyester, Phasic FL with DAO Fabric
✅ High UPF
❌ Average weight
- Fabric: 100% Polyester (50% Recycled)
- UPF Rating: 50
- Weight: 5.4 oz (0.34 lbs)
Patagonia’s long-sleeve Capilene excels by almost all of our metrics, making it our best overall hiking shirt. It’s extremely comfortable and comes at a great price. We like the many thoughtful features in this seemingly simple shirt design. It has the highest UPF of any shirt we tested and comes with odor-reducing technology.
We’re always impressed with Patagonia’s focus on sustainability and the Capilene is no different. It's made with 50% recycled polyester and is Fair Trade certified sewn. As a bonus, we love that it dries quickly making it great for water sports too. It’s hard to find a con, but if we had to split hairs we’d say the weight is only average.
Best Women’s Hiking Shirt:
OISELLE WOMEN'S FLYOUT SHORT SLEEVE
Price: $58SHOP WOMEN’S
❌ Low UPF
- Fabric: 65% Polyester, 32% Tencel, 3% Spandex
- UPF Rating: 15
- Weight: 4 oz (0.25 lbs)
The Oiselle Women’s Flyout short sleeve shirt is designed for trail running but numerous hikers have told us about how comfortable and breathable it is to hike in. We found this is largely due to the blend of polyester, tencel, and spandex fabrics. This mix of fabrics also offers great odor protection. The most eye-catching spec to us is the 4-ounce weight, the lightest on our list. Speaking of eye-catching, these shirts also win high praises from hikers for the attention to detail on the craftspersonship and stylish design. For a running shirt designed for warm weather, we wish there was more UPF protection. This is our top pick for a women’s hiking shirt.
Here's what our friend Lindsey Falkenburg (aka tandemtrekking) had to say...
"Oiselle is a Seattle-based company founded by a female CEO. Technically, their clothing is made for running in but I find it works really well for hiking as well. I love their shirts because they use fabrics that are both technical and beautiful. The details on their clothing is unique and really gives you the feeling that you stand out. These clothes are made by women, for women. And did I mention they are comfortable as all get out, stylish and they don't come in garish bright colors that offend the eye when you're out in nature? I can't get enough!
I recommend their Flyout Collection - there are a number of different options in terms of tank, t-shirt, or long sleeve. The fabric is unlike anything I have ever worn, it is super light and comfortable and breaths really well. Plus, you really have to sweat in it for multiple days for it to start smelling!"
Lindsey hiking the Enchantments in her Oiselle shirt.
- Fabric: 87% Merino Wool, 13% Nylon
- UPF Rating: 20+
- Weight: 4.7 oz (0.29 lbs)
Made from Merino wool mixed with Nylon we love the excellent comfort the Smartwool crew short sleeve hiking shirt offers. The wool feels soft against your skin, making this the most comfortable hiking shirt on our list. The high-quality merino wool is also very durable. And merino wool naturally wicks moisture away from your body, making it a great versatile option in warmer temps or a great layering piece in cooler climates.
At 4.7 ounces we like that this falls on the lighter end of the spectrum. The biggest drawback for us is the cost. The wool makes this shirt’s price fall into a premium range. Price aside, this is our pick for the best hiking t-shirt.
❌ Heavy-ish option
❌ Average comfort
- Fabric: 92% Polyester, 8% Spandex
- UPF Rating: 30
- Weight: 5.8 oz (0.36 lbs)
REI does a great job offering high-performance gear at a budget-friendly point. The Sahara hiking shirt is no different making it our best budget hiking shirt. This is a traditional style hiking shirt (think African safari look) with front pockets, collar, and vented mesh back. We would recommend this lightweight shirt for warming hiking and you could easily pop a baselayer under this for cold weather hiking.
Like other shirts in its class, it comes with UPF protection on odor resistance. We’re not huge fans of the weight, which is heavier than most models we tested. We found comfort to be in the middle of the pack.
The Other Noteworthy Models
Starter Men's Athletic-Fit Short Sleeve Shirt
Price: $16.99SHOP MEN’S
❌ Low comfort
❌ Minimal features
- Fabric: 100% Polyester
- UPF Rating: None
- Weight: 4.8 oz (0.3 lbs)
If budget is a concern, you're going to like the Starter short-sleeve athletic shirt. At only $15, this is the least expensive shirt on our list. Coming in at under 5 ounces we also like the weight. We found that comfort can be an issue with this hiking shirt as it’s a rather tight fit. Some wearers might prefer to size up to get a more relaxed fit.
It doesn’t come with any UPF protection and no pockets. While it’s not a high performance by any means we think the price tag makes this a nice option for the budget conscious.
Hanes Long Sleeve Cool Dri T-Shirt
Price: $12.50SHOP MEN’S
❌ Not durable
❌ Less comfortable
- Fabric: 100% Polyester
- UPF Rating:50+
- Weight: 4.5 oz (0.28 lbs)
If you need an inexpensive, lightweight hiking shirt in a pinch the Hanes Men’s Long Sleeve Cool Dri T-shirt can be found at your local Wal-Mart or Target. We love the $25 price tag, the second least expensive shirt on our list. We could see this being a great option for a thru-hiker needing a replacement shirt when other options might be hard to find.
At 4.5 ounces this is the second lightest on our list too. We like that it comes with antimicrobial fabric and a nice UPF rating. We question the durability, we've heard multiple reports of the sleeve stitching unraveling.
✅ Lower price t-shirt style shirt
- Fabric: 100% Polyester
- UPF Rating: 30
- Weight: 7 oz (0.44 lbs)
The Columbia Zero Rules hiking shirt is a basic t-shirt design. While not the most durable it does perform better than similar t-shirt models like the Hanes or Starter hiking shirts we tested. It has a few more features than those models too. Most notable for us was the ZERO technology that reacts with sweat to automatically lower its fabric temperature.
We also liked the 30 UPF which the Hanes and Starter shirts also lack. Comfort-wise we found the 100% polyester design to be less breathable than shirts made of a synthetic mix of fabrics. The biggest red flag for us is the weight, this is the second heaviest option on our list.
- Fabric: Omni-Wick RipStop 100% Polyester
- UPF Rating: 40
- Weight: 8 oz (0.5 lbs)
A classic long sleeve, collared, button-front hiking shirt, the Columbia Silver Ridge Lite is available for both men and women. As a more traditional hiking shirt, it comes loaded with features. We especially like the zippered front pockets. These keep items more secure than just a snap.
The fabric has an antimicrobial treatment that prevents odor from building up. Compared to the other models we tested we found the Silver Ridge Lite to have an average level of comfort. We don’t like that at 8 ounces this is the heaviest option on our list.
✅ Awesome sun protection
❌ Heavier option
- Fabric: 85% Nylon, 15% Spandex
- UPF Rating: 30-50
- Weight: 6.1 oz (0.38 lbs)
Available in long or short-sleeve options, the Astroman hiking shirt is a highly sun-protective shirt that’s a favorite among climbers and hikers. We found the Nylon stretch fabric to be durable, lightweight, and flexible allowing the shirt to bend with ease and fold down compactly.
The high UPF rating coupled with the built-in Sun Snap Collar gives full protection around your neck. You’re going to pay for this shirt though. At $95 it’s the most expensive on our list. We don’t like that it’s rather heavy as well.
✅ Great for trail runners
- Fabric: 100% Polyester, Phasic FL with DAO Fabric
- UPF Rating: None
- Weight: 5.5 oz (0.34 lbs)
Designed with trail runners in mind, this long sleeve pullover crew is made from sweat-wicking, flex-fit polyester that keeps you dry and cool while working up a sweat. We found the shirt has a trim fit that works and moves with the body to keep this shirt close fitting for improved moisture-wicking.
The Motus LS Crew also features built-in reflective blades on both sleeves for visibility at night. The price tag would make us think twice about buying this shirt unless we wanted it for specific use like trail running.
Key Factors To Consider When Choosing
Price ranges widely with hiking shirts. Basic shirts run around $20 while premium models can be almost $100. Materials like wool or highly engineered synthetic blends add to the cost.
Hiking shirts that provide the greatest value:
- Patagonia Long-Sleeved Capilene
- Oiselle Women's Flyout Short Sleeve
- REI Co-Op Sahara
- Smartwool Merino 150 Short-Sleeve Shirt
Affordable hiking shirts:
Premium hiking shirts (most expensive):
Hiking shirts can weigh as little as 4 ounces. We recommend a maximum weight of 12 ounces for 3-season hiking. Lightweight, thin shirts for warm weather hiking are the lightest. Durable, thicker shirts weigh more.
The lightest hiking shirts:
- Oiselle Women's Flyout Short Sleeve
- Hanes Long Sleeve Cool Dri T-Shirt
- Smartwool Merino 150 Short-Sleeve Shirt
When it comes to the comfort of your hiking shirt, there are many features to take into account. The overall fit, style, flexibility, and even the way the seams are sewn together are a few of the most important things to pay attention to. Many hiking shirts have switched to a ‘flatlock’ seam design to minimize chafing.
Fitted styles of the shirt will move with you, while a looser fit allows for more airflow and ventilation. The material makes a difference too. Merino wool shirts are the softest on your skin, while synthetics offer quick-drying, inexpensive options.
The most comfortable hiking shirts:
Other Things to Consider
3 Common Hiking Shirt Styles
Short-Sleeve Athletic: A short sleeve hiking shirt is a very versatile piece of clothing to have on your next thru-hike. Not only is it great for warmer temperatures, but it can also be used as a base layer for added warmth underneath another piece of clothing.
Long-Sleeve: If your skin’s sun-sensitive or you will be trekking through brush and bushes, then a long-sleeve hiking shirt is the way to go. Not only will the extra fabric protect your skin, but in the winter, the extra sleeve length will provide more insulation. And if you get too warm? Just roll your sleeves up and Voila – you’ve got yourself a temperature-flexible garment.
Button-Shirt: The most versatile of the three common hiking shirt styles, a button shirt is great for temperature control, layering, and sun blocking. With the unbuttoning of a button, you can easily begin cooling yourself down, and with most button shirts having collars, you can also ‘pop’ your collar for added sun protection on your neck. Another great feature? If you’re a fan of pockets, a button-down shirt will be your best option in having pockets as added features—some even with zippers.
Know Your Terrain
TEMPERATURE: Check the temperatures of your trip and wear shirts according to these ranges...
- Cold (below 40 degrees): Dressing in layers will be best when hiking in colder temperatures. Having a solid merino wool base layer paired with a good hiking shirt that helps to regulate your body's temperature will keep you warm and insulated. Stick to fabrics that aren’t cotton, because if cotton gets wet it can take a long time to dry which will leave you wet, cold, and one very unhappy camper. Choosing a hiking shirt that’s made of a synthetic blend or merino wool would be a great option, as these fabrics are quick drying and adjust to your body's temperature.
- Cool (40-60 degrees): When hiking in this temperature range, it’s important to pick a hiking shirt that will keep you comfortably warm when staying still, but still able to cool you down for when you're working up a sweat. A lightweight, polyester blend shirt should do the trick in helping to regulate your body temperature. Whether you’re warming up while hiking at an incline, or keeping cool while heading down a mountainside, a fabric that’s able to adjust to the various levels of your body temperature at this range is key.
- Warm (60-80 degrees): A light, synthetic, hiking shirt will help pull any extra moisture away from your body when hiking in warmer temperatures. Finding a shirt that allows easy sleeve length adjustment from long to short sleeve, or that has built-in vents could be a great benefit for an easy alteration in this warmer temperature range.
- Hot (80-100 degrees and above): A thin, loose, hiking shirt will help keep you cool and comfortable when hiking in hot temperatures. Sticking with breathable fabrics like nylon or polyester will help to keep chafing from your backpack straps away. A looser fit will also provide nice ‘breathing room’ between you and your shirt's fabric, and if you opt for a lighter-colored garment, you’ll also help to reflect the sun’s rays rather than absorb them.
SUN: Protect your skin with UPF clothing and/or a long-sleeve layer
Contingent on where you're hiking, considering the amount of sun exposure you’re going to face could be an important factor in choosing your hiking shirt. Nowadays, there are shirts equipped with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) sun protection ratings that, like most popular sunscreens, are effective in providing extra sun protection for allotted amounts of time. Another good rule of thumb is to wear a lightweight, breathable long-sleeve shirt to keep you well-covered.
HUMIDITY: Pick fabrics that match your trips moisture level
When hiking in wet terrain, one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself clothing-wise is to stay far away from cotton. Since cotton holds water, wearing it in wet climates can quickly put you well on your way to a wet, chilly and miserable rest of your hike. Picking out a wicking-specific fabric like polyester, wool or nylon will help to keep away any excess moisture so you stay good and dry.
MERINO WOOL, POLYESTER, COTTON VS BLENDS
- SYNTHETIC – Polyester and synthetic fabrics are excellent to have on your back when facing wetter climates. Along with being cheaper overall than merino wool, synthetic fabric is also extremely moisture-wicking, and in the chance that it does get wet, it dries quickly. This is one of the most common fabrics you’ll find in any good outdoor clothing store. The only downfall is that most synthetic fabrics don’t have strong microbial properties, so if your hiking shirt gets stinky… it’s likely staying that way until you wash it.
"I usually go with a long sleeve button-up "traditional" polyester hiking shirt for sun and bug protection. I like that they dry fast and breathe well. They do smell quicker than merino wool though." - Paul "PIE" Ingram (aka @pieonthetrail)
- MERINO WOOL – Although it’s the most expensive option in hiking shirt fabric, merino wool specializes in being breathable and wicking water away from your skin. Another bonus is that the fabric has natural antimicrobial properties that help prevent odors from building up. So, if heading out on a long thru-hike this could be a good investment, as you could get away with wearing your hiking shirt quite a few times before it needs to hit the wash.
"My other go-to option is merino wool. It is soft against the skin, keeps the funk at bay, and is warmer when wet. It doesn't dry quite as quickly and, of course, costs more but it is worth it in my opinion." - Paul "PIE" Ingram (aka @pieonthetrail)
- BLENDS – A hiking shirt that’s mixed with a blend of nylon and spandex will be more durable and flexible than one composed of only polyester. So, if you’re looking for a garment that will be more fitted, flexible, and moves with your body, picking a hiking shirt that has a higher blend of make-up will be the way to go. Unfortunately, blends provide less breathability and odor control than merino wool and synthetic fibers.
- COTTON – Although cotton can be great for many things, being the fabric of your hiking shirt is not one of them. Cotton provides low breathability and can actually stop your sweat from evaporating. If this fabric gets wet, it’s staying wet for a lot longer than the other fabric options on this list. There is one climate where wearing a cotton shirt might be a good option, and that’s the desert where the coolness of wet fabric could be a good relief. However, this is still a heavy debate among many hikers.
"If you want to spend a little cash the long sleeve button-up REI shirts are solid and last a long time. If you're on a budget, head down to your local goodwill and grab a cheap Hawaiian shirt. Either way, you can't go wrong. Basically, anything not made of cotton will do." - Andrew "Reptar" Forestell (@reptarhikes)
UPF 30 OR ABOVE
Getting a "high UPF" shirt may or may not be necessary. All shirts come with some level of inherent sunblocking. However, for those with more sensitive skin or for those that venture higher and sunny elevations, you will want to pick a shirt with a high UPF rating. A few considerations could be to choose a shirt with long sleeves, a collar for added neck protection, and a shirt with a UPF rating of 30 or above.
A UPF rating in clothing is like the SPF rating for the skin on sunscreen. It will tell just how effective a fabric can be against ultraviolet rays. The higher the UPF rating, the higher level of overall sun protection your garment will have. If a garment has a UPF rating of less than 15 it is not considered to be UV-protective.
There are many factors that go into setting the UPF rating on a piece of clothing, including the color of the garment, the overall construction, and its specific fiber makeup.
Darker colors are well-known for absorbing more UV rays, while lighter colors will help to repel them. Among the fabrics, polyester and nylon are best at blocking UV light rays, while cotton is among the least effective.
When buying a UPF-rated garment, keep in mind that reading the washing instructions is important, since how you wash the item could either increase or decrease the overall rating.
ROLL-UP BUTTONS, ZIPPERS, POCKETS, AND MORE
Hiking shirts come in a vast variety of designs ranging from pullover crewnecks and V-necks to the old standby button-up. Among these designs, there are styles with zippers, roll-up tabs, pockets, and built-in vents that can run up the sides, under the arms, or directly along the back.
Whereas a polyester T-shirt would be better for trail running, day hiking, or taking part in sports activities, a button-up shirt would be ideal for longer thru-hiking, as most styles are more durable and the fabric doesn’t have to be washed as often.
With button shirts, there are also options that have zipper, snap, or button pockets that could be very useful in securing important items. Although, keep in mind that these added features can make the shirt warmer overall.
ANTIMICROBIAL TREATMENT AND BUG-REPELLING ABILITY
If you’ll be out on the trail for an extended period, then picking a hiking shirt with strong antimicrobial properties will help in keeping you and your shirt smelling clean. If you will be hiking through mosquito and bug alley, picking a shirt with built-in insect-repellent technology may be a real-life saver.
Also check out: 6 Best Insect Repellents for Mosquitoes and Ticks
What material shirt is best for hiking?
Merino wool or polyester material shirts are best for hiking. Both offer excellent breathability, quick drying, and moisture-wicking properties.
Are cotton shirts good for hiking?
No, cotton shirts are not good for hiking; they provide low breathability and dry slowly if they get wet.
Are tank tops good for hiking?
Yes, Merino wool and synthetic tank tops are good for hiking in warm weather. However, they offer little sun protection and aren’t recommended for high-sun exposure areas like desert hiking.