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The Best Hiking Shirts for Your Next Adventure

Best Hiking Shirts 00 Hero
Photo: Filson Alaskan Guide Shirt

Heading out to your favorite manicured trail is all well and good, but when you’re preparing for a real off-grid adventure, a common shirt isn’t going to be enough. If you find yourself in the thick of the brush, spending countless hours under the sun, or traversing difficult terrain, you’re going to want something a bit more robust – a dedicated hiking shirt. Luckily, the outdoor industry understands that the casual hike might always take an unexpected turn; even more so for those who seek to brave the world’s toughest backcountry trails.

Since the beginning of the hiking industry’s endeavor for more efficient outerwear, it became immediately clear that heavy, cumbersome garments were a deterrent, rather than an ally. They were hot, low on airflow, and generally uncomfortable. In order to evolve, manufacturers began to experiment with lightweight textiles, and today, the implementation of water and moisture-resistant fabrics has become commonplace. As a result, protective outerwear is the best that it’s ever been, boasting UPF-rated sun protection, abrasion-resistant attributes, and a slew of interesting traits that keep the wearer cool, dry, and focused on the task at hand. Below, we’ve aggregated a handful of our favorite on-trail examples, helping you to find the best hiking shirt for your upcoming adventure.

Best Hiking Shirts Rundown

Hiking Shirt Considerations

Material: It’s important to understand the material making up your garments, especially if they’re meant to be tools as well. While generally, two main materials compose most hiking shirts (nylon/polyester and wool), the blend and how the shirt is designed can vary depending on the brand, use-case, sustainability efforts, and a myriad of other factors. Deciding what material is right for you is the first step in narrowing down the right shirt.

UV protection/UPF rating: One of the most important aspects of a hiking shirt is the UPF rating. The Ultraviolet Protection Factor is a lab-tested rating that tells you how much UV protection can be expected from the shirt. An average cotton shirt, for example, has a UPF rating of around 5, which means a fifth of the present UV radiation gets through. For context, a 15 UPF rating is the minimum to be considered UV protective, with 50+ being the highest.

Situation: Many hiking shirts have varying strengths so it’s important to know what situations your shirt can handle. A high UPF rating and light breathable materials are commonplace in hot-weather shirts, great for running or intense hiking, while a wool blend almost always means it’s built for colder weather. The old outdoors adage “cotton kills” has some merit, but certain cold-weather conditions mean warm clothing with some blend of cotton is called for.

Moisture-Wicking and Anti-Microbial Properties: With outdoor technology rapidly improving, hiking shirts have benefited from new materials that wick moisture and fight bacteria. The ability to wick sweat and reduce odor is extremely practical, especially for high-intensity adventures. When looking for a new hiking shirt, check for these features and decide whether they are useful for your outings.

Long Sleeve vs. Short Sleeve

You may have noticed that every pick on this list is a long sleeve shirt. This is not a mistake; with the advancements in outdoor clothing material, long sleeve shirts can keep you just as cool as a short sleeve shirt. Between moisture-wicking capabilities, ultra-light materials, and high UPF ratings, long sleeve hiking shirts provide essential functions without leaving your skin exposed to the sun or other hazards.

REI Co-op Sahara Long-Sleeve T-Shirt

REI Co op Sahara Long Sleeve T Shirt Mens
  • Durable yet affordable
  • Easy maintenance
  • UPF could be higher
  • May not last as long as premium options

The Best Budget Shirt: For those of you interested in a reliable option that won’t break the bank, REI Co-op’s Sahara Long-Sleeve T-Shirt is worth a look. It’s quick drying so you won’t be weighed down on the trail and can be quickly hand washed. The anti-microbial polyester material breathes well and wicks sweat, and the UPF 30 rating provides adequate UV protection. Additionally, to minimize friction from backpack straps and the like, the shirt’s shoulder seams are rolled forward. It also makes for a great casual shirt so burgeoning hikers can feel less intimidated about entering the space.

Material: 92% polyester and 8% spandex
UPF: 30

Patagonia Men’s Long-Sleeved Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt

Patagonia Mens Long Sleeved Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt
  • Premium quality at a reasonable price
  • Super lightweight
  • Tight fit for some people

The Best Lightweight Shirt: Patagonia, a legendary brand in the outdoor community, touts this as its most lightweight technical shirt. It features all the hiking shirt essentials like moisture-wicking, anti-microbial, and fast-drying functions. The set-in sleeves and drop-tail hem allow the shirt to move with you, preventing unwanted interference. Along with the recycled materials, the sewing is Fair Trade Certified, which means the makers are fairly compensated. The Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt is an affordable yet quality option in line with Patagonia’s sustainability mission.

Material: 52-100% recycled polyester
UPF: 50+

Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Utility Lite Long Sleeve Shirt

Columbia Mens Silver Ridge Utility Lite Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Works as a casual or formal shirt
  • Loose fit for some people

The Best Bang for Your Buck: Columbia’s SilverRidge Lite Long-Sleeve is one of the most reasonable and versatile offerings on our list, and for good reason. Not only does it encompass all of the aesthetic pleasantries of a common formal shirt, but it’s also been built for an easy transition into the outdoor realm, thanks to its moisture-repelling Omni-Wick fabric, 50 UPF sun protection rating, and the company’s proprietary Omni-Shade technology, which blocks UVA and UVB rays, and acts as a deterrent for long-term skin damage. To round things out, additional venting has been added to the rear, working in tandem with Silver Ridge’s antimicrobial treatment to keep you dry, moisture-free, and devoid of odor.

Material: 100% recycled polyester
UPF: 50

Smartwool Men’s Active Ultralite Long Sleeve

Smartwool Mens Active Ultralite Long Sleeve
  • Good for colder conditions
  • Can be used as a base layer
  • No UPF rating

The Best Wool Shirt: Wool is the other main material used in hiking shirts if not polyester/synthetic material – so best to consider it as an option if cold weather outings are in your future. Smartwool’s Men’s Active Ultralite Long Sleeve works as a base layer for colder outings or a stand-alone garment. Although it’s half wool, the lightweight tee will still keep you cool during high-intensity activities. The reflective materials on the shirt make it the perfect companion on a late-night trail run, where a little warmth is appreciated without sacrificing performance. It may not be UPF rated, but it will offer UV protection while still being anti-microbial and wicking moisture.

Material: 53% Merino wool and 47% TENCEL lyocell
UPF: Unrated

Arc’teryx Cormac Crew Neck Shirt Long Sleeve Shirt

  • Great for running
  • Highest UV protection possible
  • Loose fit around the collar

The Best Hot Weather Shirt: Arc’teryx looked to outdoor runners when creating its Cormac Crew Neck Shirt Long Sleeve Shirt. Creating a versatile and lightweight shirt with the highest UPF rating currently possible. Using 100% recycled Phasic LT fabric, the shirt does all the basics like wicking moisture and abating bacteria, but it was also designed to maximize airflow with a low collar and unobtrusive seams. The high UPF rating combined with the breathability of this shirt makes it ideal for hot weather excursions.

Material: 100% recycled Phasic LT (polyester)

Kuhl Airspeed Ls

Kuhl Airspeed Shirt
  • Durable
  • Plenty of storage
  • Plastic buttons prone to wear

The Best Shirt for Humidity: KUHL’s Airspeed LS has a highly-performative name, and we’d be lying if we said that it wasn’t in reference to its inherent design aspects. From the get-go, the shirt was designed to take on the world’s hottest environments, thanks to its articulating five-panel sleeves, the company’s proprietary AirVolution performance fabric, and moisture-wicking technologies. On top of its ventilated characteristics, it’s also quick-drying, offers UPF 30+ sun protection, and boasts one of the more refined architectures on this list, making it a perfect choice for either the workplace or the outdoor space.

Material: The main body is 72% nylon/28% polyester, and the back, front sleeves, and side panels are 85% polyester/15% cotton

Filson Alaskan Guide Shirt

Filson Alaskan Guide Shirt
  • Trusted workwear
  • Heavy material
  • Have to iron often

The Best Cold Weather Shirt: Filson is a staple brand for us around these parts, and their beloved Alaskan Guide Field Shirt performs perfectly in colder environments. It remains one of the label’s core offerings thanks to the tightly-woven cotton, brushed on both sides of the flannel for thick and reliable warmth. To round things out, the brand has added two pockets to the shirt’s front, allowing it to take on an array of utility items, accessories, or essential outdoor peripherals. Not only does it perform well as workwear, but it also fits in a casual setting.

Material: 100% cotton twill
UPF: Unrated

Vollebak Equator Shirt

Vollebak Equator Shirt
  • Useful in multiple weather conditions
  • Super lightweight at 200 grams
  • Expensive

The Best Grail Shirt: No one makes products like Vollebak, an innovative label bringing space-age tech to textiles. And they’ve done it again with the Equator Shirt – a garment inspired by the hottest places around the globe (specifically those found around the equator). Although it’s about a 70% cotton blend, concealed air vents, Italian mesh, and the highest UPF rating possible make for a rugged shirt able to withstand multiple weather conditions. Not only that, but the rare cotton used (one of the rarest on the planet hailing from the Nile Delta) is one of the lightest available. The 12 shatterproof and heat-resistant buttons tie this tank of a shirt together.

Material: 72% cotton, 24% polyamide, and 4% elastane
UPF: 50+

The Best Hiking Pants For The Trails

Photo: TAD Recon RS Pants

With shirts out of the way, it’s time to get your pants sorted. Check out our guide covering the best hiking pants to complete your outdoor ensemble.