Finding a hiking shirt that can keep you cool despite the strong rays of the sun, withstand the elements and stop you from smelling like you’re spent a week hiking through a bog is a tall task. But getting hold of the best hiking shirts to keep you dry and comfortable is an essential part of your pre-trekking planning.

One of our big goals here at The Adventure Junkies is to make your life easier when it comes to gearing up for the outdoors. We’re here to help you wade through the different types of fabric, fit and wicking technology that’ll see you finding your hiking shirt soulmate. Here’s our guide to the best types of hiking shirts for keeping you cool, calm and collected on your next adventure into the great outdoors.

For more of our top hiking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

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Boots | Shoes | Sandals | Pants | Shorts

Base Layers | Fleeces | Down Jackets | Rain Jackets

 

 

LEARN HOW TO CHOOSE HIKING GEAR FOR YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE

 

 

QUICK ANSWER – THE BEST SHIRTS FOR HIKING

1. SMARTWOOL NTS MID 250 

2. ARC’TERYX MOTUS 

3. REI SAHARA 

4. MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR WICKED

5. COLUMBIA TECH TREK 

6. COLUMBIA SILVER RIDGE 

7. COLUMBIA TRAIL SUMMIT

8. COLUMBIA TAMIAMI II

9. EXOFFICIO BUGS AWAY

 

 

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HIKING SHIRTS REVIEWS

SMARTWOOL NTS MID 250

Check out the latest price on:
REI

WOMEN’S VERSION: SMARTWOOL NTS MID 250 

MATERIAL: 100% Merino Wool

FEATURES: Long sleeve with UPF 50+ sun protection and a 10″ (25 cm) center front zipper and collar, flatlock seams and shoulder panels for comfort, material is naturally stretchy to fit to the shape of the body

PROS: The merino wool offers natural breathability, moisture-wicking and odor resistance and isn’t itchy, seams prevent chafing, zipper can be used for ventilation in hot weather and collar can be raised for warmth in cold weather, good for layering as it can be used as a single layer in warm weather or a base layer in cold weather

CONS: Pricey

 

 

 

ARC’TERYX MOTUS

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

WOMEN’S VERSION: Arc’teryx Motus 

MATERIAL: 100% Polyester

FEATURES: Short sleeve with UPF 25+ sun protection, polyester has flatlock seams to prevent chafing and the close fit allows fabric to wick away moisture

PROS: Excellent breathability, the shirt stay dry, fits well without being overly tight and can be used as a base layer in cold conditions

CONS: Pricey and the fabric isn’t as effective as other brands in dispersing odors

 

 

 

REI SAHARA

rei

Check out the latest price on:
REI

WOMEN’S VERSION: REI Sahara 

MATERIAL: 95% polyester / 5% spandex

FEATURES: Long sleeve with a polyester/spandex blend that is soft and stretches for comfortable, the material is fast drying and the fabric provides a UPF 50+ sun protection, includes a collar and is button up at the front

PROS: High level of sun protection, stretchy to fit the shape of the body comfortably, has excellent breathability and the collar can be used for extra sun protection

CONS: Material feels heavy and may shrink in a hot wash

 

 

 

MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR WICKED

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

WOMEN’S VERSION: Mountain Hardwear Wicked

MATERIAL: 100% Polyester

FEATURES: Short sleeve with interlocking polyester fabric and flatlock seams to make this shirt comfortable and lightweight and able to wick away moisture quickly, reflective trim aids visibility if walking at night time

PROS: Antimicrobial finish effectively prevents odors and material is very soft and quick drying, can be used alone in hot conditions or as a base layer in colder weather

CONS: Fabric can snag

 

 

 

COLUMBIA TECH TREK

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

WOMEN’S VERSION: Columbia Tech Trek 

MATERIAL: 100% Polyester

FEATURES: Short sleeve with antimicrobial treatment to prevent bacterial growth, material is stretchy to mould to the shape of the body

PROS: Excellent at moisture wicking and keeping the body cool even in very hot conditions. Can be used as a base layer during cold weather, fabric is very comfortable, lightweight and quick drying

CONS: Fabric is very thin and can snag if washed with items containing hooks or Velcro, it offers no UV protection

 

 

 

COLUMBIA SILVER RIDGE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

WOMEN’S VERSION: COLUMBIA SILVER RIDGE 

MATERIAL: 86% Polyester / 14% Elastane

FEATURES: Long sleeve, fitted shirt with collar and UPF 50+ sun protection, includes vents to keep you cool and roll up sleeves that can be buttoned, the polyester allows water to be wicked away quickly and efficiently in hot conditions

PROS: Quick drying, stylish, wicks away sweat quickly, venting keeps you cool

CONS: Feels cold in cold weather and is more designed for hot weather, sizing comes up large so buy a smaller size than usual

 

 

 

COLOMBIA TRAIL SUMMIT

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

MATERIAL: 88% polyester / 12% elastane

FEATURES: Long sleeve with stretchy material to mold easily to the shape of the body and thumb holes to keep the sleeves in place, half-size zip for heat regulation and fabric allows moisture to be wicked away effectively, flatlock seams and heat reflective inside to regulate body temperature

PROS: Thin but excellent as a base layer in cold weather or stand alone in summer and well-fitting

CONS: Sizing comes up small

 

 

 

COLUMBIA TAMIAMI II

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

MATERIAL: 100% polyester

FEATURES: Short sleeve with mesh-lined vent at the back for increased air ventilation, close fitting style, antimicrobial finish to prevent odors and UPF 50+ sun protection, fabric is breathable and light

PROS: Quick, wrinkle-free drying, very comfortable to wear and the material is soft

CONS: White version is see-through

 

 

 

EXOFFICIO BUGS AWAY

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

MATERIAL: 60% cotton / 35% polyester / 5% lycra spandex

FEATURES: Long sleeve with an odorless inbuilt insect repellant that lasts 70 washes to repel mosquitoes, ants, ticks, midges and flies, UPF 30+ sun protection with adjustable mesh ventilation in the sides and on the arms, security zip pocks in the left arm and waist for small items, sleeves can be rolled up and secured, stretchy material for close fit and quick drying

PROS: Close-fitting so prevents insects from getting in, very breathable in hot temperatures and very effective at preventing insect bites

CONS: Close fit can be too tight in warm weather

 

 

 


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COMPARISON TABLE – THE BEST HIKING SHIRTS

PICTURE
SHIRT
SLEEVES
MACHINE WASH
ANTIMICROBIAL
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
SHIRT
SLEEVES
MACHINE WASH
ANTIMICROBIAL
PRICE
RATING
Smartwool NTS Mid 250
Long Sleeve
Gentle Cycle
Yes
$$$
4.8
Arc’teryx Motus
Short Sleeve
Cold Water
No
$$
4.7
rei
REI Sahara
Long Sleeve
Cold Water
No
$
4.6
Mountain Hardwear Wicked
Short Sleeve
Yes
Yes
$
4.5
Columbia Tech Trek
Short Sleeve
Yes
Yes
$
4.3
Columbia Silver Ridge
Long Sleeve
Yes
No
$
4.3
Columbia Trail Summit
Long Sleeve
Yes
No
$$
4.7
Columbia Tamiami II
Short Sleeve
Yes
No
$$
4.5
ExOfficio Bugs Away
Long Sleeve
Yes
No
$$$
4.6

 

 

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST HIKING SHIRTS

MATERIAL

It shouldn’t come as much surprise that the most important consideration for buying a new hiking shirt is the type of fabric that it’s made from. As an activity that sees you getting hot and sweaty, but needing to stay cool and dry, the choice of material can make or break your day.

 

COTTON

Breathable cotton might seem the most obvious material for a hiking shirt, but actually, this type of fabric stops your sweat from evaporating, leaving you clammy and even hotter in sunny conditions. So, what’s the alternative?

 

SYNTHETIC FABRICS

Soft, lightweight fabrics such as polyester are much better at wicking away moisture that you release as sweat, and so help to regulate your body temperature better. As a result, they keep you cool and dry and allow your body to breath.

 

MERINO WOOL

Although this is a natural fabric, it’s also very good at wicking away moisture and can offer good temperature regulation, particularly during cold conditions. Hiking tops made from merino wool can also double up as base layers during winter, meaning you get more bang for your buck.

However, polyester and other synthetic fibers dry faster and absorb less water, making them often the best choice for a hiking shirt.

 

SLEEVES AND DESIGN

A second important thing to think about before investing in a new hiking shirt is the length of its sleeves. You might think that short sleeves are only for summer hiking and long sleeves for during colder weather, but sleeves can serve a different purpose.

 

LONG SLEEVES

Long sleeves are a great idea during summer as they can be used to protect your arms against the rays of the sun, while in winter, they can keep away the chill. Shirts with the option for rolling and button-up long sleeves are excellent for allowing you to respond to all weather conditions.

 

SHORT SLEEVES

Short sleeve hiking tops are very versatile. Not only can they be worn alone during the summer, but in winter, when you need extra warmth and layering, they can act as a base layer beneath another item of clothing.

 

DESIGN

Additionally design features to consider in hiking shirts are buttons and zips, both of which allow you to regulate your temperature quickly. Collars are also an excellent way of ensuring that the back of your neck doesn’t get burned by the sun.

 

COMFORT

The extent to which a hiking shirt is comfortable is directly linked to the type of material that it’s made of. Shirts that are made with breathable and lightweight fabrics are better at keeping you cool and therefore more comfortable while hiking.

Flatlock seams, where the two seams are stitched together without overlapping, can prevent chafing as the seams do not rub on your skin. This type of stitching is also highly flexible and strong, making a shirt more durable.

The fit of a hiking shirt will also impact upon how comfortable it is. Some are intended to be close fitting, while others a looser to allow air to circulate. For many, whichever style of fit you choose is based upon personal preference, but it’s important to read reviews about how true the shirt’s sizing is before making a purchase.

 

DURABILITY

Hiking shirts are intended to be taken into the great outdoors and so need to be able to withstand being rubbed against your rucksack straps and being caught in trees and bushes. Synthetic fibers are considered far more durable than natural fabrics and are more stretchy, which can make them fit better and be more comfortable.

However, these types of fabric can be damaged by washing them at hot temperatures, so it’s important to look at the cleaning requirements for the item to ensure it lasts a long time. One of the best things about synthetics is they are quick-drying, so they can be hand washed on the trail and left to dry naturally in the sun.

 

ANTIMICROBIAL QUALITIES

As an item of clothing that is used in high-energy activities, a hiking shirt is guaranteed to absorb its fair share of sweat. Because of this, many shirts are marketed as having antimicrobial qualities, which means that the fabric stops odor-producing bacteria from breeding and leading to a smelly shirt.

Merino wool is naturally antimicrobial, while synthetic fibers such as polyester are treated with antimicrobial agents to keep the shirt fresh, even after days of use.

Top 9 Best Hiking Shirts  – Hiking Clothes for Summer, Winter, Fall and Spring – Hiking Outfits for Women, Men and Kids – Backpacking Gear For Beginners

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