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Best Hiking Shirts: Reviews of Our Faves for 2021

In my opinion, the best hiking shirts are those that feel so comfortable you don’t notice them at all, just like the rest of your clothes for hiking. They should be made from fabric that minimises friction, feels wonderfully soft on the skin and doesn’t limit movement in any way. Hiking for hours in varying conditions also means that odour control, moisture management and temperature regulation are all key features of the best hiking shirt material. Not to mention the compatibility of the fabric and cut with the weight of a loaded backpack on your shoulders. Not much to ask from such a simple item of outdoor clothing, right?!

Yes, we didn’t think choosing the best shirt for hiking would be so involved either. So, we’ve tried out a bunch of shirts to see which we love and which perform so well that we don’t notice them at all!

Disclaimer: We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

ProductMen's/Women'sFabricCost
Montane Women's Dart Zip T-ShirtWomen'sRecycled polyester$
BAM Origin Longline T-ShirtWomen'sBamboo and organic cotton$
Smartwool Merino Sport 150 Go Far Feel Good TeeWomen'sMerino and polyester$$
Isobaa Merino 150 Short Sleeve CrewMen'sMerino$$$
Showers Pass Hi Line Merino Tech T-shirtMen'sMerino and polyester$$$
Trew Weightless Nuyarn Merino TMen'sMerino and nylon$$
Columbia Zero Rules Short Sleeve T-ShirtMen'sPolyester$

The best hiking shirts for women in 2021

Montane Women's Dart Zip T-Shirt
Montane shirt details

Montane Women’s Dart Zip T-Shirt

Eco-conscious: Made from 100% recycled APEX ECO fabric and treated with Polygiene for longer wear and less washing

This full-featured hiking shirt offers excellent value for both casual hikers and multi-day trekkers. It’s the only zip neck t-shirt on our list which also makes it one of the most versatile. This feature is especially useful in the shoulder seasons when the temperature fluctuates more and a quick vent at the neck can cool you right down without having to shed a layer. Likewise, I really like the extra height around the neck for sun protection.

Other features include offset shoulder seams to avoid rubbing backpack straps, flatlock stitching at the seams to prevent chafing, and armpit panels to maximise movement and minimise rubbing. Plus, like the Helly Hansen shirt, the extra length at the back makes wearing a backpack much more comfortable.

Finally, the fabric is quick drying and moisture wicking with the ability to deal with odour surprisingly well for a synthetic shirt. This is thanks to the Polygiene odour control treatment that inhibits the growth of bacteria. As such, it’s a superb option for multi-day hiking in changeable conditions.

Pros

  • Good odour control
  • UPF 40+
  • Neck zip is super versatile
  • Very comfortable
  • Quick drying
  • Very good for high energy activities
  • Good value

Cons

  • A little on the warm side in hotter conditions

Find the latest price at:
Montane | Cotswold Outdoor


BAM Origin T-shirt
Bam tshirt details

BAM Origin Longline T-Shirt

Eco-conscious: Made from bamboo and organic cotton

Like the Smartwool Shirt (below), the Origin Longline T-Shirt by BAM Clothing is as suitable for everyday wear as it is for hiking. With a similar relaxed fit, the shirt feels airy and comfortable in warmer conditions with short sleeves to complement its suitability for summer wear. It also boasts extra length at the hem which is ideal for wearing with hiking leggings and / or a backpack.

Where it doesn’t compete with the Smartwool shirt is in its ability to deal with a build up of odour, making it best suited to day hikes rather than multi-day trips. More than a day of wear and you’ll start to notice it becoming a bit stinky, though certainly not as bad as some synthetic options.

The 160gsm fabric is super soft on the skin and nicely breathable. Plus, it also has a UPF of 50+.

Overall, it lacks some of the design features preferred for heavy and prolonged use on the trail. But if it’s a comfortable and protective shirt you’re after ,that’s also super stylish, this is the best on the list.

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Comfortable
  • Cool and airy
  • Extra length at the hem
  • UPF 50+

Cons

  • Odour builds up after a day
  • Doesn’t dry very quickly

Find the latest price at:
BAM Clothing


Smartwool merino shirt
Smartwool shirt closeups

Smartwool Women’s Merino Sport 150 Go Far Feel Good Tee

Eco-conscious: Contains 56% merino wool from non-mulesed sheep

This loose-fitting t-shirt from Smartwool provides the perfect balance of style and function that is equally fitting for multi-day backpacking trips as it is for everyday wear, and everything in between. The Smartwool Women’s Merino Sport 150 Tee contains 56% merino wool for excellent temperature regulation and odour resistance (I’ve worn this shirt for 5 days straight without a whiff of nastiness!). But because it is blended with polyester, the fabric is more durable for such a lightweight shirt, and dries more quickly than the shirts on this list that have higher merino content.

I love the long cut which doesn’t ride up underneath a backpack waist belt. Plus, the short cap sleeves are airy and loose to allow for extra airflow. These, together with the flattering v-neckline and loose fit make the shirt feel more like a vest, but with greater protection from the sun and from backpack straps.

To add to the comfort levels, this shirt features flatlock seams to minimise chafing, and the fabric is ultra soft. A superbly comfortable hiking shirt for warm conditions.

Pros

  • Flattering shape
  • Airy armpits
  • Excellent odour control
  • Extra length

Cons

  • I’d prefer not to have the logo on the front – but I’m clutching at straws!

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Smartwool


Used gear banner

The best hiking shirts for men in 2021

Isobaa merino shirt
Close up of Isobaa shirt

Isobaa Merino 150 Short Sleeve Crew

Eco-conscious: Made of 100% merino wool from non-mulesed sheep

As the only 100% merino wool shirt on this list, the Isobaa Merino 150 Short Sleeve Crew gets top marks from a sustainability point of view. The shirt is also totally biodegradable once it’s no longer wearable, and Isobaa use recycled and recyclable packaging. But its eco-credentials aren’t the only thing that we love about this hiking shirt. It boasts seam-free underarm gusset panels to minimise rubbing, and the backpack friendly shoulders have offset seams to maximise comfort.

Like the other merino shirts on our list, this Isobaa option will go for days without the need for washing it. The lack of synthetic blend does mean that it is a little less durable than other options. But if you look after it and wash it as little as possible it will certainly go the distance.

Finally, we love that the form-fitting, stylish design works perfectly as a base layer as well as stand-alone shirt on warmer days.

Pros

  • Exceptional odour control
  • Very eco-friendly
  • Gusseted armpits
  • Extra length at back
  • Stylish

Cons

  • Not as durable as merino/synthetic blends

Find the latest price on:
Isobaa


showers pass merino t-shirt

Showers Pass Hi Line Merino Short Sleeve

Eco-conscious: Merino wool is a sustainable fabric with odour resistance, which means less washing

This super stylish merino short sleeve from Showers Pass seamlessly covers all your lifestyle needs. It’s as at home on the trail as it is at the office, making transitioning between the two a doddle! Although it is designed as the perfect cycle commuter shirt, we also love how well it deals with hiking adventures. The 18.5-micron merino / polyester blend creates an exceptionally soft finish that is lightweight, moisture wicking and naturally odour resistant. Plus, the even balance of wool and synthetic fabric on the sleeves and back means that the fabric doesn’t hold as much moisture as higher percentage merino fabrics — a well thought-through touch that manages sweat in all the right places.

The extra length at the back makes carrying a backpack more comfortable, and the popper buttons at the neck make for quick and easy ventilation when the going gets tough on the trail. A superb option for summer hiking, biking and living!

Pros

  • Doesn’t hold water
  • Good moisture wicking
  • Stylish

Cons

  • Not as technical as other options

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Showers Pass


Trew Merino t-shirt for hiking

Trew Weightless Nuyarn Merino T

Eco-conscious: Merino wool is a sustainable fabric with odour resistance, which means less washing

Long distance hikers and adventurers, your ideal shirt has arrived! This bad boy will go for miles and miles without smelling. We’ve worn it all day, everyday for a whole week of movement (including some high energy fun!), before it needed washing. Less washing means less deterioration of the fabric over time, not to mention the positive environmental implications. It also looks gorgeous, feels sumptuous and does all the things you’d expect from high percentage merino fabric. The 125 Superfine NuYarn Merino is combined with 15% nylon and performs significantly better than traditionally spun merino: loftier, stretchier, faster drying, warmer and stronger.

The Weightless Nuyarn T is slim fitting with extra length at the back hem. It also has flatlock seams and side seams that cut towards to the back for greater comfort, fit and movement.

An big thumbs up from us, and one of the best hiking shirts on our list that feels so good we hardly notice we’re wearing it!

Pros

  • Exceptional odour control
  • Stretchy and slim fitting
  • Quick drying, for merino

Cons

  • Seams at the shoulders

Find the latest price at:
Trew


Columbia Zero Rules Short Sleeve T-Shirt
Columbia tshirt

Columbia Zero Rules Short Sleeve T-Shirt

Those that struggle with chafing or have sensitive skin will love the super silky finish of the Columbia Zero Rules Short Sleeve T-Shirt. Made from 100% polyester, the soft fabric isn’t just created for comfort. The Omni-Freeze ZERO technology of this new line of Columbia hiking shirts feature tiny blue rings on the inside of the shirt that concentrate a cooling agent close to your skin. It makes the most of your sweat to help keep your temperature low in hot conditions. Very cool indeed! The fabric also provides UPF 30 sun protection making this sporty-looking shirt ideal for hiking in hot conditions.

The cut of the shirt is fairly standard with an articulated panel on the sleeves for a greater range of movement. It also features flatlock seams throughout.

Pros

  • Very good at keeping you cool
  • Super soft finish
  • Good UV protection

Cons

  • Gets stinky after a couple of wears

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Types of hiking shirts

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to the style, shape and fit of their clothing. In this article we cover three types of shirts for hiking.

  • Tshirt

    Short sleeve t-shirts

    These are ideal for summer hiking in areas where bugs aren’t a problem and are the best hiking shirts for hot weather. They are super comfortable and can be worn directly next to the skin or with a fitted base layer underneath.

  • Long sleeved shirt

    Long sleeve shirts

    If you need a little extra protection from the sun and/or nibbling bugs, long sleeve shirts are an excellent option. Some prefer a simple long sleeve t-shirt, whilst others enjoy the versatility of a button-up, collared shirt. These can be unbuttoned for greater airflow or done right up with a popped collar to really cover up.

  • Vest

    Vests

    For very hot conditions wearing a vest or tank top is the best way to feel cool on the trail. These are good options for those who don’t ming applying suncream constantly, and they allow good airflow and coolness. They also don’t get as sweating (and stinky!) as shirts with sleeves do. However, they offer little protection from the sun and from the pressure of backpacks on your shoulders.

What to look for when choosing the best shirts for hiking

Properties of the best hiking shirts

To provide optimal comfort on the trail, the best shirts for hiking should have the following properties:

  • Quick drying
  • Moisture wicking
  • Odour resistant
  • Breathable
  • UV protective
  • Durable

Fabric type

In the ideal world, the best hiking shirt material should offer all of the above properties. Unfortunately this isn’t always case, although some shirt fabrics do a pretty great job at trying!

Merino wool

Good at: Moisture wicking, odour control, temperature regulation, providing warmth when wet, breathability, UV protection
Bad at: Drying quickly, rinsing your bank account!

Synthetic

Good at: Drying quickly, moisture wicking, not holding water, UV protection
Bad at: Odour control, providing warmth when wet

ABOUT COTTON: Although it may be tempting to just grab your favourite cotton tee shirt to hike in, this is best avoided when possible. Cotton holds water, dries very slowly and as a result, can give you a chill, gets very stinky and can cause chaffing.

Fabric thickness

Most shirts for hiking are lightweight and fairly thin. This is to ensure that air flows through the fabric easily to help prevent you from sweating too much. However, some hiking shirts, like the Mammut Trovat, are a little thicker and provide extra warmth when hiking during those in between times.

Fit

It goes without saying that you need to choose a hiking shirt that is appropriate to your size. However, this can vary wildly, depending on your preference. Some people like their shirts to be super baggy, whilst other prefer a skin-tight fit.

The best hiking shirts should ideally not be either of these. To provide optimal comfort, a hiking shirt should be loose fitting but not baggy. There should be a little room for air to flow between the shirt and your body to help keep you cool.

A shirt that is overly baggy can cause chaffing. This is most often a problem when carrying a backpack. The excess fabric can end up bunching or riding up underneath your backpack causing pressure points and resulting in repeated rubbing of the skin. Not pleasant!

A shirt that is too tight can also cause rubbing and discomfort at the armpits. It can also ride up underneath a backpack if it is too short. But mostly, a tight-fitting shirt can prevent airflow from keeping you cool.

Design features of the best shirts for hiking

  • Flatlock seam

    Flatlock seams

    It’s important to have seams that are as discreet as possible to avoid any unnecessary rubbing. Flatlock seams prevent ensure that the fabric is not folded over where it is joined but stitched together on a flat overlap.

  • Shoulder of shirt

    Seamless shoulders

    Some of the best hiking shirts position their shoulder seams so that they are not right on top of the shoulders. Or, the design of the shirt is such that there are no seams at the shoulders at all. The purpose of this is to prevent rubbing when wearing a loaded backpack.

  • Shirt sleeve

    Armpit panels

    Many hiking shirts have traditional armpit seams run up the side of the torso and join the arm of the shirt at the armpit. However, to avoid unnecessary rubbing, and to enable unrestricted arm movement, some shirts are designed with an additional panel inserted at the armpit. This eliminates the seams all meeting right in the armpit and can be much more comfortable for the wearer.


Whether you’re just out for a short day hike, or embarking upon a multi-day adventure, choosing the best hiking shirt for you will keep you comfortable and protected. And that equals more enjoyment on the trail and happy hikers everywhere!

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About the author

author-joey

Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard, and hiking small mountains and big hills.

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