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Hiking

10 Best Hiking Shirts in 2020

Having one of the best hiking shirts with you when you’re traveling can make a world of difference, as any experienced hiker will tell you.

We have compiled a list of 10 of the best hiking shirts available today on Amazon, along with a buyer’s guide to answer all your questions about what shirt to get, what fabric is best (should you choose polyester or merino wool?), and more.

We hope that you find this guide interesting and useful.

View The Best Hiking Shirts Below

1. Vapor Apparel Sun Protection Performance T-Shirt

Vapor Apparel Sun Protection Performance T-Shirt

CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON →

We have selected this as one of the best hiking shirts available on the market today.

This long sleeve shirt is available in 28 great different colors and designs. It features PURE-tech moisture wicking technology to keep you dry, and it also features technology that keeps bad odors away from your body. The crew-neck design is fitted at the wrists and shoulders to keep you covered.

The shirt is breathable and isn’t heavy, making it comfortable for long days out in the sun, whatever activity you are doing. On that note, this material is also recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation because of the UPF 50+ UV protection that it offers.

Pros:
+ Unisex fit
+ 28 different colors and designs available
+ Moisture wicking
+ Crew-neck
+ UPF 50+ UV protection

Why We Like It – We chose this long sleeve shirt as the best hiking shirt you can get right now. This is because of its effective and efficient features and nice design.


2. Smartwool Base Layer Top

Smartwool Base Layer Top

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We chose this shirt as the best hiking shirt for quality. This baselayer running top is woven from 100% merino wool, meaning it will keep you warm no matter what the temperature is outside. Merino wool is also moisture wicking and keeps you dry. It dries very quickly and doesn’t lose its shape when it gets wet, making it great for hiking.

The design of this shirt includes a zipper at the neck. You can have it open or closed, depending on whether or not you need to cover up more or concentrate on cooling down.

The flatlock seam construction means that this shirt will fit you nicely without chafing or rubbing your skin.

This long sleeve hiking shirt is ideal for running, and it has been rated very highly on Amazon.

Pros:
+ Shirt made of 100% merino wool\
+ Wicks moisture away from the skin
+ Dries quickly without losing its shape
+ Zipper
+ Flatlock seam construction

Why We Like It – We like this long sleeve hiking shirt because it has comfortable seams. It’s also made from an efficient, natural fabric that is great for hiking in all different sorts of conditions. That is why we have chosen it as the best hiking shirt for quality. The merino wool is well respected across the world for being one of the best fabrics available for outdoor activities, such as hiking.


3. Hanes Sport Cool DRI Performance Tee

Hanes Sport Cool DRI Performance Tee

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This women’s long sleeve hiking shirt is made from 100% polyester. You can machine wash it, and it features DRI technology so that the fabric dries quickly. Like most Hanes shirts, the neck is tag-free, so you won’t have any labels irritating you as you walk or run.

It also features odor protection technology in the form of FreshIQ to keep bad smells away from your body.

You can get this shirt in a choice of eight different colors.

We chose this shirt as the best hiking shirt available for value.

Pros:
+ Feminine fit
+ Made from 100% polyester
+ Tag-free nag
+ FreshIQ odor protection
+ Choice of eight different colors

Why We Like It – We like this polyester shirt and chose it as one of the best on the market for value. It is comfortable and gives you everything you will need to help you as you go hiking, as well as being a comfortable feminine fit.


4. Roadbox Outdoor Long Sleeve Dri-fit T-Shirt

Roadbox Outdoor Long Sleeve Dri-fit T-Shirt

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This 100% polyester long sleeve base layer has a UPF of 50+. Like most good hiking shirts, it wicks moisture away from the skin, is breathable, and dries quickly to keep you cool.

The fabric of the shirt is very soft, making it great for whatever conditions you will be wearing it in. The flatlock seamlines mean that your skin is protected from chafing and rubbing. To this end, there is also no tag at the neck.

You can get this shirt in a choice of four different designs.

Pros:
+ Shirt made of 100% polyester
+ UPF of 50+
+ Wicks moisture away from the skin
+ Breathable
+ Flatlock seamlines

Why We Like It – We like this trekking shirt because it is great for hiking. The polyester fabric is nice to wear and will be great in all conditions.


5. 281Z Military Stretch Cotton Underwear T-Shirt

281Z Military Stretch Cotton Underwear T-Shirt

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This military-style short sleeve shirt is made from 95% cotton and 5% elastane. The cotton is soft to the skin and also breathable, aiding you in not overheating in hot conditions. It also has flat seams that do not rub your body, thereby causing discomfort.

This short sleeve shirt comes from Ukraine, and the sellers are keen to point out that “this T-shirt is widely used in Ukrainian armed forces and law enforcement agencies.” The shirts are, therefore, particularly robust and well tested.

Pros:
+ 95% cotton and 5% elastane
+ Breathable
+ Flat seams
+ Company works closely with the Ukrainian government to produce shirts effective for military use
+ One of the best short sleeve hiking shirts

Why We Like It – We like this short sleeve shirt because it has been developed for armed forces and therefore should know a thing or two about durability and comfort over prolonged periods in many different conditions. The flat seams and unique fabric help to make it particularly interesting.


6. BALEAF Outdoor Performance Hiking Shirt

BALEAF Outdoor Performance Hiking Shirt

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This 100% polyester hiking shirt offers a guaranteed UPF of 50+. The moisture wicking technology leaves your skin much drier than otherwise. The material is also lightweight and breathable, making it comfortable for use on those long days spent out hiking. This comfort is also added to by the flatlock seams and the lack of a tag in the collar so that your skin doesn’t get so irritated while wearing this shirt.

The long raglan style sleeves allow for a good range of movement while you are out and about.

Pros:
+ 100% polyester
+ UPF of 50+
+ Wicks moisture away from the skin, breathable, and lightweight
+ Flatlock seams
+ No tag in the collar

Why We Like It – We chose to add this hiking shirt to our list of the best hiking shirts because it can be put through the tumble dryer. As simple as it sounds, many of these shirts can’t be, due to their material makeups. If you only have a tumble dryer available for drying your clothes and you don’t have space for drying racks or lines, perhaps this hiking T shirt might be a useful addition to your wardrobe.


7. Denali Performance Men’s Teaser

Denali Performance Men's Teaser

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This hiking shirt is made of 100% microfiber and carries the MIF (Melanoma International Foundation) Seal of Approval, being recommended by them for the prevention of skin damage. It’s compliant with AATCC 183 (see the section entitled “What is AATCC 183?” in the buyer’s guide). The shirt features something called Zyptron Stain Release, which makes it much easier to clean out all the dirt that you might get on it while hiking.

The material will wick moisture away from your body to help to cool you off more quickly.

This hiking shirt is available in a choice of 20 vibrant colors.

Pros:
+ 100% microfiber
+ MIF Seal of Approval
+ Zyptron Stain Release
+ Wicks moisture away from the skin
+ 20 vibrant colors available to choose from

Why We Like It – For a good choice of a microfiber hiking shirt, this may be what you’re looking for. It’s also much easier to clean than many other shirts due to the Zyptron Stain Release system.


8. Hanes Long Sleeve Cool Dri T-Shirt

Hanes Long Sleeve Cool Dri T-Shirt

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From Hanes, we now feature this hiking shirt that is also made from 100% polyester. It features many different plain colors sizes that are available, with a nice tailored fit.

It comes with a tag-free collar and has double-needle stitching along most of the seams to make sure that it lasts as long as possible and doesn’t wear out with use.

As well as all this, this Hanes hiking shirt comes with a UPF rating of 50+, keeping you safe from the sun’s UV rays.

Pros:
+ 100% polyester
+ 19 different variations of colors and quantities (some of these variations come with two shirts instead of
just one)
+ No tag in the collar
+ Double-needle stitching in many of the seams
+ UPF rating of 50+

Why We Like It – We added this hiking shirt to our list of the best hiking shirts because it is made for durability and to last, first and foremost, while also coming in a nice variety of colors.


9. Wrangler Authentics Canvas Shirt

Wrangler Authentics Canvas Shirt

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For something a little more classy, you may want to consider this hiking shirt: the Wrangler Authentics Canvas Shirt. Made of 100% cotton, it features a button-up design and two classic chest pockets at the front – these fasten using velcro tabs.

You can machine wash it, and there are four different variations of pattern and color available.

Unusually for an item of clothing, this shirt can come with a 1-year warranty. To access it if you need to, you simply contact the company, and they will take it from there.

Pros:
+ 100% cotton
+ Classic design
+ Button-up
+ 1-year warranty
+ two front chest pockets that fasten using velcro

Why We Like It – We liked this shirt for its slightly retro design and 1-year warranty.


10. Naviskin Sun Protection Outdoor Shirt

Naviskin Sun Protection Outdoor Shirt

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Finally, we have the Naviskin Sun Protection Outdoor Shirt. This 100% nylon shirt offers a UPF of, you guessed it, 50+. The shirt feels light and breathable and wicks moisture away from the skin. The mesh-lined vents, down the center of the back, aid with this process.

It has two chest pockets that fasten using a hook and loop system and also features tabs so that you can roll the sleeves up and keep them there without them getting in the way while hiking.

This long sleeved shirt is available in 6 different colors.

Pros:
+ 100% nylon
+ UPF of 50+
+ Mesh-lined vents down the back
+ Tabs to keep long sleeves rolled up
+ 6 different colors available
+ Wicks moisture away from the skin

Why We Like It – For those of you who are after another slightly more classic design, this long sleeved hiking shirt offers all that and more. While maintaining a classy appearance, the addition of vents and sleeve tabs makes it very functional for hiking too.


Hiking Shirts Buyer’s Guide

What Should I Wear When Backpacking?

Leaving aside shirts for now (we will go into shirts in more detail in a moment), let’s think about the other essentials that are particularly important to take backpacking and hiking.

Adult man ready for some hiking

Of course, it depends on where you are going. A winter hike in Saskatchewan will be considerably different from a summer hike along the Southern Californian coastline. If you are just going for a hike for a couple of hours, you’ll know what to take with you. The obvious thing to say is warm, waterproof layers for cold climates and sun-protecting, moisture wicking layers for hotter climates.

It all essentially comes down to 2 decisions though – how functional do you need your clothes to be? And is it more important that your clothes are lightweight or comfortable?

For example, in terms of functionality, you may decide against spending a lot more money on a pair of shorts with 20 different pockets in them because you simply don’t need them – or maybe you will decide that they are worth the money. In terms of the weight vs. comfort decision, this is perhaps a very personal choice for every individual hiker. Greater comfort sometimes means excess weight and vice versa, meaning your skin won’t feel quite so hard done by, but it will take more energy and more time to complete your hiking trail.

For all the clothes you take with you, the key is warmth and comfort. Remember, it’s a lot easier to stay warm than to get warm. If you are sleeping out overnight while you hike, it’s probably a good idea to take two sets of clothes – one especially suited to walking in the climate you are walking in and one for when you are sleeping.

Base layers should be moisture wicking and comfortable, especially. Merino wool is an efficient fabric for this. The base layer is responsible for managing the pocket of air next to your skin and keeping moisture evaporating at a rate consistent with how quickly you are producing it.

Once you have your base layers sorted (underwear, tank tops, thermal layers, bras, etc.), think about your shirt. Again, wool or synthetic is often the best choice, making sure that you can get rid of all excess moisture. Although it might not feel like it, long sleeves can make a world of difference in both hot and cold climates.

In hot weather, the long sleeves will keep the dangerous rays from the sun off your skin, and in cold weather will help you keep warm while also keeping away bugs, ticks, and so on. It’s then also a good idea to wear some kind of convertible pants if you think you will need them – alternatively, roll-up pants will do just as good of a job, or yoga pants.

After this, think about your mid-layers. These will be layers of insulation primarily, although they may also be water-resistant (as opposed to waterproof). Think of fleeces and puffy vests, that kind of thing.

As your top layer, you may want something waterproof, if necessary. Always check that your coat or waterproof pants are fully waterproof, not just water-resistant. It wouldn’t be fun to be halfway up a mountain somewhere, caught in a rainstorm, only to find water leaking in. If you can’t find shelter, this may even eventually lead to hypothermia.

What else? You should always wear ankle protection on your feet, such as high boots and comfortable socks. It may also be a good idea to wear gloves and hats (both for the protection from the cold and the sun) and possibly added extras such as scarves.

Is Polyester Good For Hiking?

Smiling traveling girl with backpack on rock looking at camera

We will attempt to answer the broader question here of what fabrics are the best for hiking?

The best fabric for hiking is still debated, and there are many different opinions. However, there are certainly many indisputable arguments and benefits for individual fabrics – ones that we will go through now.

  • Cotton – Almost everyone that you talk to will agree that cotton is far from the best idea. It could even be a dangerous idea. Although many hiking shirts are made of cotton, and they could be worn over efficient base layers, the best hiking shirts will not be made of cotton. Cotton is a poor insulator (so it doesn’t trap your heat in very well), is particularly poor at wicking moisture away from your skin. It doesn’t dry quickly at all. All these are far from what you want when you are out hiking.
  • Merino wool – Merino wool is an example of wool coming to be known and respected as one of the most useful fabrics for wearing while out and about. Ultra-fine merino wool comes from merino sheep – these sheep were originally found in about the 12th century in Spain. However, almost all of it is now produced in Australia and New Zealand. The wool on the sheep is extremely fine. This has come about due to selective breeding. Merino wool is great for moisture wicking and is light and breathable, while also much less of an irritant to the skin than traditional wool. Merino wool may not be as popular as other fabrics, such as nylon or polyester, because it is quite expensive and can be irritant to some people’s skin still.
  • Polyester / nylon – These synthetic fabrics are the most popularly used material for hiking shirts because they combine a quick dry-time with a good amount of durability. As a drawback, you might find that they feel like they can make you feel slightly claustrophobic, and they may start to smell quite quickly.
    Other synthetic and natural materials are also used in the production of many hiking shirts. These may include silk, elastane, and microfiber, all of which also have their pros and cons.

What Does UPF Stand For?

Backpacker in a hike in the summer mountains

UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. It is a number representative of the amount of UV radiation that the material (in this case, the hiking shirt) will allow to pass through it. To work out how much ultraviolet radiation will pass through, you take the reciprocal of the factor number (so “50” would become “1/50”). This resulting fraction tells you how much radiation will pass through.

You can see that, with a UPF of 50, 1/50th of the UV radiation will reach your skin (or 2% of it).

UPF is completely different from SPF, which stands for Sun Protection Factor. SPF is used on sunscreens and will only protect you from UVB radiation, whereas UPFs also measure how effective the material is at blocking out UVA radiation. The SPF factor is indicative of how many times longer you can stay in the sun before you begin to burn in comparison to natural skin without any sunscreen on.

What is AATCC 183?

The American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists provide a test that relates to how efficiently a material blocks out radiation. In their own words, it tests the “transmittance or blocking of erythemally weighted ultraviolet radiation through fabrics.” These tests help give manufacturers some credentials that their materials efficiently block out the sun’s rays.

How Do I Choose a Hiking Shirt?

Man shopping for new clothes in store

When picking out what hiking shirt is best for your needs, you may want to consider the following things:

  • Ultraviolet radiation protection – One of the most important things that your hiking shirt must be able to do is to protect your skin from the sun’s rays. Skin cancer is no joke, and you must take every precaution. Look for a UPF of 50+.
  • What fabric is it made of? – Usually, a synthetic fiber such as polyester or nylon is all you’ll need, or merino wool as a good alternative, ensuring you’ll be able to keep your body temperature maintained. One of the best ways you can keep yourself comfortable is by selecting high-quality material (such as merino wool) as a base layer. You also want to make sure that the fabric you choose will be a help to you in all conditions you might face while out hiking.
  • What other features does it have? – Do you need extra pockets, like some of the products we have listed above? If you need your hiking shirt to be as comfortable as possible, what about the types of seams? Does it have a tag in the collar that might irritate your skin?
    What sleeve length does it have? – A long sleeve shirt and a short sleeve shirt both have their advantages and disadvantages.
  • How well does it wick moisture away from your skin? – This is one of the most important aspects of hiking shirts. Hiking shirts are, in essence, all about maintaining a constant body temperature so that you can operate well. The shirt needs to keep you cool. If a shirt is good at moisture wicking, it helps get the moisture out from that space more quickly than other hiking shirts. This, in turn, allows the body to cool faster. Moisture wicking technology is certainly of high importance when you are selecting a hiking shirt.
  • Fit – Obviously, your shirt must fit you and fit comfortably. When you buy a shirt online, it is always somewhat of risky business – how do you know if it will fit you properly? For the best chance of getting a shirt with a great fit, use the size charts provided with the product rather than the standard measurements for Amazon. Sometimes these charts are provided as photos with the image. This is a great way to make sure that you only have to make one purchase.
  • Design and price, etc. – While these considerations are not as important as the others mentioned, perhaps it might help you decide on one shirt if you are stuck choosing between two. You may like one design more than another or be attracted by the lower price of a certain shirt.

Conclusion

We hope this guide on the best hiking shirts has been useful for you and will help you to decide what is best for your needs.

As always, thank you for reading.

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