It’s good to head out to your favorite groomed trail, but when you’re gearing up for a true off-grid adventure, a regular shirt won’t suffice.
Outdoor markets recognize that a simple hike can always turn into a challenge and are manufacture hiking shirts to prepare for those situations. So, what types of shirts are most suitable for hiking?
Short sleeves t-shirts, wicking long sleeves pullovers, and long button-up sleeves shirts are all the day-to-day shirts you will find out on the trail and in everyday city life. However, The fabric they are made of is the most crucial aspect to consider, such as wool and nylon, to name a few.
Sure, lightweight tees and form-fitting shorts are better, but if you’re in the middle of nowhere, spending many hours in the sun, or on rough trekking terrain, you’ll need something a little more durable.
That said, let’s take a closer look into why these are the best shirts for hiking, the materials they consist of, and some of the top choices.
Related to: 8 Types of Sustainable Clothing for Camping and Hiking │ 32 of the Best Outdoor Clothing Brands │10 Totally Non-Essential Items Hikers Bring
Understanding The Different Types Of Shirts For Hiking
Hikers may claim that there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate attire. While it may be tempting to put on an ordinary t-shirt before a hike, this is not the best choice. Even seasoned hikers like me are guilty of this, but selecting the proper equipment is crucial.
It is especially true with shirts: a specialized hiking shirt will help you control your body temperature, wick sweat, and protect you from the sun.
There’s a reason some shirts are developed expressly for hiking: they’re built to satisfy the unique needs of hikers and backpackers who spend hours (or days!) outside.
However, choosing the proper hiking shirt can be complicated with so many possibilities.
Therefore, I’ve compiled a list of the different fabrics that define every type of hiking shirt. So to start off, let’s first look at the key fabric properties of overall hiking clothing.
Hiking Clothing: Key Fabric Properties
Regardless of the material or appearance of your hiking apparel, you’ll need different layers with distinct assemblies; let’s take a closer look at them.
A fabric’s capacity to take moisture (sweat) away from you and move it to the fabric’s outer surface, where it can dry fast, is essential in a base layer or any garment that touches the skin. So despite working up a sweat, you won’t be damp or cold.
Your mid-layer must contain this element if you want to stay warm. Even though clothing does not generate heat, if it is effective at insulating, it will help to retain the heat your body produces.
Waterproof and windproof
It is essential in an outer layer or “shell” because it prevents the elements from soaking your clothes in the rain or chilling you when the wind whisks away the heat your body creates.
Water and wind-resistant jackets do not entirely prevent rain and wind; therefore, they only provide modest weather protection. Furthermore, waterproof jackets may not declare that they are windproof, even though they are.
It is important in all of your layers since it helps your wicking layer dry faster. A layer that is not breathable will not dry your sweat efficiently, so you can end up soaked by your own sweat.
UV protection factor (UPF)-rated shirts protect the skin from harmful UV rays. It is also critical for any hiker in any environment.
Fabrics You Can Choose From
With so many textiles available for clothes, the list of fabrics that are suitable for hiking is limited. That said, here’s a rundown of some standard outdoor fabric options.
While old-school woolies were irritating, today’s wool gear isn’t. Merino wool, for instance, is made up of fine fibers that make it soft, breathable, moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and odor-resistant
Textiles made of polyester, or nylon, are less expensive than merino wool and are excellent at wicking sweat and drying quickly, as well as being made from recycled materials.
Synthetics have a tendency to smell nasty, which is why specific clothing includes an antibacterial treatment to kill microorganisms that cause odor. The majority of “techie” fabrics are made of polyester or nylon.
Due to its limited wicking ability, silk is not ideal for challenging climbs. Compared to untreated silk, treated silk performs better because it has been chemically altered to improve wicking. There’s nothing like the silky, sumptuous feel of silk, but it isn’t terribly durable or odor-sealing.
Cotton excels at absorbing sweat, remaining wet, and cooling you for its poor wicking and drying abilities. If you don’t mind feeling damp and sticky, you could wear it in searing heat.
On the other hand, cotton near to your skin is a recipe for hypothermia when the weather turns cold, which is why long-time hikers say “cotton kills.”
What Are Some Of The Best Shirts For Hiking?
Button-up shirts have the most features, including storage pockets and sun-protection collars, and heat management is easier because you may unbutton the shirt. In addition, T-shirts are often lightweight and offer more versatility, despite their lack of features.
Long sleeves guard you against the sun and insects while also keeping you warm in cold weather, and shirts with a looser fit are more breathable.
From the start of the outdoors industry’s quest for more efficient outerwear, it was evident that heavy, unwieldy clothes were an impediment rather than an ally. They were hot, stuffy, and uncomfortable in general.
So manufacturers began experimenting with lightweight textiles to evolve, and now, the use of water and moisture-resistant fabrics is standard.
As a result, protective outerwear has never been better, with UPF-rated sun protection, abrasion-resistant properties, and a bevy of other unique features that keep the wearer cool, dry, and focused on the job at hand.
That said, I’ve included a few of the best on-trail examples below to help you select the perfect hiking shirt for your next journey.
Patagonia Men’s Long Sleeve Sol Patrol II
Get it from the Patagonia store here
Every outdoor guide on the planet swears by Patagonia, and the Men’s Long-Sleeve Sol Patrol II is the best shirt for your next overland adventure.
This multipurpose fishing and travel shirt feature a 50+ UPF sun protection rating, a fast-drying polyester ripstop fabric, and a Fair Trade Certified stitched silhouette. Furthermore, it provides cool-wearing properties that would make any less-outfitted trail-goer wry with envy.
In addition, if you’re looking for ethical, environmental clothes, the business has you covered with its recycled fabric manufacturing techniques, which emphasize creative design.
Woman’s Icebreaker Tech Lite II Crewe T-Shirt
Get it from Rei Co-op shop here
The Icebreaker Tech Lite is a natural fiber tee designed for outdoors and daily life. Merino wool is used in the Tech Lite, resulting in a super light, comfy, and breathable shirt. It also offers thermal regulation capabilities, keeping you warm when it’s chilly outside and cool when it’s hot outside.
In this way, you may wear the shirt alone in the summer or layer it with another piece in the winter.
The Icebreaker Tech Lite, which is available in both men’s and women’s sizes, is my favorite hiking shirt because of its adaptability.
It has a basic design in addition to being a functional performance shirt. So whether you’re going camping, skiing in the middle of winter, or having a family picnic, this shirt will fit the bill.
Columbia Men’s Zero Rules T-Shirt
Get it from the Amazon store here
This classic-looking hiking shirt is ideal for hiking in hot and sunny weather. The Omni-Wick technology in the Columbia Newton Ridge helps to quickly transport moisture away from the skin and disperse it across the fabric for speedy evaporation.
This short-sleeve hiking shirt is made of a nylon and elastane blend that is exceptionally comfortable to wear and feels light against your skin.
Some people may find the fit a little baggy; however, this helps with breathability (size down if you’re on the fence or prefer a tighter fit).
It includes various features, including large breast pockets, a secure zip-up security pocket, well-tailored back vents, and a soft patch to wipe your sunglasses. Columbia markets this as being ideal for both the trails and the city.
However, we discovered that it lacked the necessary sass for trendy urban hotspots yet performed admirably on the trails.
Columbia Silver Ridge Short Sleeve Shirt
Get it from the Amazon store here
If you prefer a button-up hiking shirt, Columbia’s Silver Ridge shirt is a good choice. Because of the polyester/nylon blend, the shirt provides excellent moisture management. In addition, the fabric is light and has Omni-Shade technology, which protects against the sun with a UPF of 40.
The fabric is a little thicker and crinklier than a trekking t-shirt. On the other hand, the Silver Ridge is more durable due to its higher weight. The shirt remains cool thanks to a fabric-covered back panel despite its heavyweight. With a backpack, though, that panel isn’t beneficial.
The shirt contains two breast pockets in addition to a back panel. Again, it’s the Columbia Silver Ridge’s adaptability that stands out. It’s a brilliant option for the trail, but it’s not something you’ll want to change out of straight afterward because it looks great.
We think it’d be a great shirt for a safari or work.
The Silver Ridge’s worth is one of its greatest assets. It’s one of the most feature-packed hiking shirts on the market, but it’s less expensive than many of its competitors’ t-shirts. Columbia is a great outdoor brand since they make excellent hiking gear at a reasonable price for everyone.
Huk Tide Point Solid Long-Sleeve
Get it from the Huk store here
Based on what I’ve seen so far, HUK is a must-have for any outdoor selection.
The Tide Point Solid Long-Sleeve Shirt is an excellent illustration of the brand’s trail-inspired capabilities, with a performance-focused button-down front, lightweight and breathable moisture-wicking fabric, two-way stretch for a more comfortable range of motion throughout the day.
But don’t worry if you become too hot in the summer sun; the shirt has laser-perforated underarms and backs to provide for adequate ventilation and breathability while you’re out on the trail.
Get it from the Patagonia store here
Patagonia’s technical t-shirt for women is constructed of an incredibly comfortable fabric to the touch. It is one you’ll enjoy wearing.
With its moisture-wicking and quick-drying characteristics, as well as its lightweight structure, this shirt prioritizes comfort. In addition, the tiny touches, such as the tagless design and set-in sleeves, help keep you itch-free and chafe-free during your activities.
I appreciate knowing that the items I purchase are made sustainably and ethically. For example, the Capilene Cool Trail shirt is Bluesign approved and Fair Trade Certified and is made mainly of recycled polyester.
It also has a simple and timeless design that makes it suitable for both the trail and a Sunday cookout.
While this shirt is attractive and functional, it is essential to note that it does not provide sun protection. So while it does a great job keeping you cool, bring some sunscreen with you, and you’ll be good to go.
SmartWool Merino 150 Womans Short Sleeve
Get it from the Amazon store here
Merino wool and nylon are combined in the SmartWool Merino 150 shirt. As a result, it’s long-lasting, breathable, moisture-wicking, and odor-proof. In addition, the shirt’s fabric density is 150 g/m2, making it suited for all seasons and weather situations.
The SmartWool t-shirt also has a crew neck and flatlock seams, effectively preventing rubbing and chafing. The t-shirt has a snug fit, but it still allows for a lot of flexibility. The SmartWool Merino 150 shirt is ideal for long hikes because it is comfortable and odor-resistant.
Hiking Shirts: Why Invest In One?
Hiking shirts aren’t your average tees; they’re made to withstand the challenging needs of hikers and backpackers. While they’re lovely for outdoor pursuits, many of them are also suitable for everyday wear.
Whether you’re hiking in Asheville, North Carolina, or having a family barbecue, a hiking shirt will make you look and feel great.
Hiking shirts provide several advantages over conventional cotton t-shirts, making them better suited for hikes. Here are a few crucial benefits:
Being Lightweight And Easy To Store
Cotton shirts are often heavier than hiking shirts. Furthermore, they often pack lightly and take up a lot less room in your luggage or backpack because of the materials used.
Therefore, they’re usually the best choice for light trekking. However, hiking shirts are also pretty adaptable, making them ideal for day hikes, overnight hiking, and vacation.
It Keeps You Cool and Dry
The majority of hiking shirts provide enough ventilation and breathability. It is crucial because it allows heat and sweat to escape. These shirts keep you cool for more extended periods, even while you’re doing vigorous activities.
Many hiking shirts have a vented panel down the back that keeps your back dry even when carrying a rucksack.
It Prevents Odors and Smells
Hiking shirts, in general, wick away moisture and sweat, preventing the formation of aromas and odors. Some shirts also have antibacterial characteristics, which prevent bacteria from growing in the fabric and, as a result, the development of odors.
Hiking shirts are ideal for long travels because you may often wear them for many days without washing.
It Has A High Durability Factor
Unlike conventional cotton t-shirts, Hiking shirts have a high potential to withstand the harshness of the environment.
They last a long time and can tolerate the harsh conditions of the outdoors because they are made of high-quality materials. As a result, there’s no need to be concerned about your shirt being ripped by a stray branch or pebble.
Hiking shirts of good quality can survive Mother Nature and be washed in a washing machine. Therefore, they can usually keep their properties after being washed frequently. These shirts are solid, but they nevertheless deliver on their promise of excellent comfort and ease of movement.
It Is Versatile
The adaptability of hiking clothing is often ignored. Yet, it’s a fantastic feature to be able to serve you on the most difficult of activities as well as a relaxed weekend picnic.
Most hiking shirts have a versatile style that allows you to go to a coffee shop after your trip without feeling underdressed. In addition to being fashionable, specific hiking shirts are also suitable for various climates, working well in both hot and cold weather.
A Buyer’s Guide For Hiking Shirts: Things To Consider
A hiking shirt’s primary goal is to keep you cool and dry during your hike. Furthermore, it is exceptionally soft and long-lasting.
No matter your level of experience, a good hiking shirt is a must-have. Unfortunately, while putting on old clothes may occasionally suffice, this is rarely the case for longer hikes. So when choosing the correct gear for your next walk, there are a few things to keep in mind.
The Materials Of The Shirt
If you’re a beginner hiker, a cotton t-shirt might be your best bet before hitting the trail. These are fine for shorter walks, but they aren’t ideal. Cotton tends to trap heat and sweat.
Sweat will draw the cool air as you climb further up the mountain and temperatures drop. However, it is not enjoyable because you may end up shivering for the rest of your hike. As a result, hiking shirts made of high-quality materials are ideal.
Ripstop nylon is used in the majority of hiking shirts. The material used in hiking shirts is thin and soft, unlike the ripstop nylon used in backpacks and tents. This cloth also dries rapidly and does not retain water.
Polyester and merino wool are two other excellent fabrics for trekking shirts. Polyester absorbs heat, so you won’t sweat as much and will stay warm when the temperature drops. In addition, polyester clothing is far more durable than cotton clothing of the same quality.
Merino wool is the same way. Merino wool is also great at controlling your body temperature and reducing odors, in addition to being durable. Overall, good hiking shirts provide comfortable travel and can last long before being changed.
High degrees of comfort go hand in hand with high-quality materials. Nylon, polyester, and merino wool fabrics are often silky and smooth on the skin. In addition to the materials used, the shirt’s overall fit, style, and stretchiness will determine its overall comfort.
Even the most minor elements, such as how the seams are put together, make a difference. For example, a flatlock seam is seen on most high-quality hiking shirts. Because the seams do not overlap, friction is reduced, preventing chafing and blisters.
Seams taped at the shoulder are also beneficial for increased backpack comfort. But, again, your unique preference will determine the optimum fit. Fitted shirts are more closely fitted to the body and readily layered.
On the other hand, tops with a looser fit provide better airflow and breathability.
Protection From The Sun
While most shirts have some built-in sun protection, hiking shirts go above and beyond, with UPF ratings often greater than usual. A quality hiking shirt is strongly suggested if your skin is susceptible to the sun or if you plan to trek on a hot, sunny track.
If you’re not familiar with UPF ratings, they’re similar to the ones found in sunscreen. It indicates how effective your product is at blocking dangerous UV radiation from the sun.
The product’s UPF rating indicates how well it protects your skin. It’s important to note that a rating of less than 15 isn’t regarded as adequate.
Your garment’s color, overall construction, and fiber mix all influence the UPF rating. Lighter colors are better in terms of color since they reflect white light and absorb less heat. Nylon and polyester are the most effective UV-blocking fabrics.
The Different Types Of Shirts
Hiking shirts are available in a wide range of styles. Long sleeve, short sleeve, button-ups, t-shirts, v-necks, crewnecks, and various other styles are available. All have advantages and disadvantages; however, the ideal option will mostly depend on personal preference.
The temperature is the most crucial aspect to consider when picking between long and short sleeves. Also, remember to factor in the elevation of the mountain you’re climbing, as temperatures tend to drop as you climb higher.
Even on hot summer days, a short-sleeved shirt may not be appropriate at higher altitudes. Furthermore, I recommend a long sleeve for people who are more prone to sunburn because it provides additional coverage.
Button-ups are ideal for long walks since they are durable comfy, and the fabrics do not require regular washing. On the other hand, T-shirts are better for trail runs, day hikes, and other sports.
Extras That Come With The Shirt
Finally, search for additional characteristics, such as pockets or antimicrobial properties.
Pockets are critical since they allow you to store your minor treasures. On the other hand, large pouches might detract from the appearance of a shirt when worn every day. The number and size of pockets are personal preferences; there is no right or wrong answer.
Look for a hiking shirt with strong antibacterial characteristics if you’re going on a longer hike or backpacking trip. It will keep you feeling fresh throughout your vacation by preventing bacteria formation, odors, and odors.
Roll-up tabs and built-in vents are two other essential features. If you need more movement, roll-up tabs are a terrific method to keep your sleeves out of the way. Built-in vents allow ample airflow during trekking, keeping you cool and refreshed.
As usual, it’s all about being prepared for the expected conditions and the unexpected ones and keeping yourself as comfortable as possible at all times.
You won’t even notice what you’re wearing if you wear the proper clothes, but if you wear the wrong clothes, you’ll be miserable. So best of luck, and I hope to see you on the trail soon!