This is a gear about the best hiking shirts of 2022 by BikeHikeSafari.
Hiking shirts are designed to improve your hiking experience by keeping your skin cool and dry, and enabling free and flexible movement.
There are so many different hiking shirts available it can be tricky to know which one to buy. To make it easier for you, I have put together a list of the best hiking shirts, their pros and cons, and some advice on how to choose the product that is right for you.
Best Hiking Shirts for Backpacking 2022
The Best Hiking Shirts for Backpacking in 2022 are:
Best Hiking Shirt 2022 – Overall
Materials: Polyester 100%
> Moisture wicking
> Mesh back for ventilation
> UPF 40+ protection
> Good choice of colors
> Synthetic materials only
The Columbia Silver Ridge Lite shirt is made from 100% Polyester.
The moisture wicking technology pulls moisture away from the body, which allows your sweat to dry and keeps you comfortable. The back of the long sleeve shirt is lined with mesh to help with ventilation.
The shirt has button down cuffs which you can roll up if needed, and the shirt does up with buttons down the front.
There are two chest pockets which are useful for storing small personal items. The long sleeve shirt also offers UPF 40 protection from the sun.
There are 15 colors to choose from, including different shades of green and grey, so you can find a look to suit your individual style. Or you can match your shirt to your other hiking clothes.
Columbia is a well known brand who have been manufacturing sportswear for people who love getting outdoors. This shirt is an excellent choice for hiking. It is comfortable enough to wear all day, but is designed to be stylish so you will look great at the same time.
Overall, this shirt is one of the Best Men’s hiking shirt available and is rated as the best hiking shirt for 2022. There is also a Women’ version which is also the Best Women’s Hiking Shirt.
Best Merino Hiking Shirt
Materials: Merino 100%
> Thermoregulation technology
> Moisture wicking technology
> Odor resistant
> Offset shoulder seams
> Only two color choices
The Icebreaker Tech Lite Merino Wool shirt has been upgraded to the Tech Lite 2. It is now made from 100% Merino Wool which is an upgrade from the Merino Blend of the older shirt. The result is a breathable, flexible shirt with the benefits of Merino wool.
This includes moisture wicking properties, along with odor resistance and thermoregulation to keep you warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. The shirt is also super soft and one of the lightest hiking shirts weighing in at only 5.5 oz / 157 grams.
The shoulders of the shirt are offset to prevent any chafing, so you can wear the shirt all day without feeling uncomfortable. There are only two choices of color, midnight navy or light gray, but both colors look very sleek and stylish.
Icebreaker designs clothes that inspire people to get outdoors and bring them closer to nature, which is why they choose to incorporate natural fabrics into their products.
Overall, the IceBreaker Tech Lite II comes in a Men’s Hiking Shirt and Women’s Hiking Shirt version and both are the best Merino Wool Hiking Shirt for 2022.
Best Bug Proof Hiking Shirt
Material: Polyester 100%
> Quick drying
> BugsAway protection
> No chest pockets
> Discontinued so pick one up now at a good price
This long sleeve shirt is made from 100% polyester. It is lightweight and quick drying with moisture wicking technology to keep you cool and dry.
This shirt benefits from BugsAway technology, which provides invisible and odorless protection against bugs. It is blended with permethrin and will repel bugs for up to 70 washes according to Exoffico. In my experience it is much less than that. It should be noted that it will not keep bugs away from places not covered by the shirt such as your face and hands. Thought I’d mention that as some people think the shirt works the same way as deet repellent. It only protects the shirt.
It is a real game changer when you are hiking in muggy climates. It also has UPF 50 protection for your skin.
The shoulder seams are more forward to prevent any chafing and rubbing on the rucksack straps, and the seams on the shirt are flat to prevent friction.
There are three colors to choose from – a chequered blue, chequered red and blue, and a sage green. The cuffs can be unbuttoned and rolled up if needed, and you can do up the front buttons of the shirt as low or high as you want.
Overall, this is one of the best bug repellent hiking Long Sleeve shirt.
The Arc’teryx Cormac Shirt Sleeve Shirt is a popular but expensive hiking shirt that is versatile enough to be used hiking, running, at the gym or at home.
The Arc’teryx Cormac Shirt is UPF 50+ rated does a couple of things well. It is good at wicking moisture to the outside of the shirt so the breeze can cool you down. It is also a very lightweight hiking shirt. Although the material is soft and light not everyone will like the feel when they are hot and sweaty. But when you are hot and sweaty the odor resistance will be appreciated.
Overall, this is one of the most popular lightweight hiking shirts.
Material: 52% recycled Nylon, 48% polyester
> Zip chest pockets
> Quick drying
> Recycled materials
> Nice Stretchy material
> Only two color choices
The Patagonia Sunstretch shirt is a comfortable, lightweight and stylish hiking shirt that can double as a good travel shirt. In keeping with the environmental heritage of Patagonia it is made from a blend of polyester recycled nylon and is Bluesign approved. It is stretchy and quick drying as it is designed to be worn in hot and humid hiking conditions.
The chest pockets have a zip so you can store important items like a passport. The chequered design is fashionable, but it also comes in a plain neutral color if you would prefer.
Overall, this is a great hiking shirt that uses recycled material for the environmentally conscience hiker.
Material: Polyester 100% (50% recycled)
> Made from recycled materials
> Fair Trade
> Odor control
> Lightweight and breathable
> Only a couple of color choices
If you have a quick look at the Patagonia clothing range you will see that a lot or garments use the Capilene material. And this Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail Shirt is made from recycled polyester and is Fair Trade sewn.
It benefits from odor control and moisture wicking technology to keep you dry and fresh during a long day of hiking in hot and humid weather. You can also use this shirt as a base layer if you are hiking in colder conditions.
There are four colors to choose from- black, blue, and two shades of gray. The design is simple but sleek, and will look great with other sportswear or even casual wear.
Patagonia is a brand dedicated to manufacturing durable, functional clothes with limited impact on the environment. They use recycled materials, but also ensure that their clothes will last to stop them becoming waste.
Overall, this is yet another awesome hiking t-shirt from well known brand Patagonia.
Material: 92% polyester, 8% spandex
> Soft fabric
> Quick drying
> Adjusted shoulder seams
> Only three colors to choose from
> Discontinued so pick one up at a good price before they are gone
This long sleeve hiking shirt is made from 92% polyester and 8% spandex, for a stretchy and comfortable fit. The fabric is soft and quick drying.
The shoulder seams have been moved forward to avoid chafing against rucksack straps on long hikes. The shirt also has UPF 30 protection to keep your skin safer in warm conditions.
The moisture wicking technology will keep your skin dry and allow your sweat to evaporate, helping to prevent the build up of odors. There are three colors to choose from- green, white, blue and grey.
Overall the REI Co-Op Sahara Shirt is a good sunshirt. But this style is discontinued so pick one up now at a good price before they are all gone.
> Lightweight and flexible
> Moisture control
> Polygiene odor control
> UPF 50 sun protection
> No thermoregulation
> Only available in Australia and New Zealand
This long sleeved shirt is designed to be worn for warm hikes and outdoor activities. It is super lightweight and is made from a blend of stretchy elastane and nylon which allows for free and flexible movement.
The combination of moisture control and polygiene odor control technology will keep you cool, dry, comfortable and fresh in this shirt, even on long hot hikes.
The UPF 50 sun protection will help to protect your skin.
This shirt has a relaxed fit with useful chest pockets. The button down cuffs can be rolled up if needed, and you can button the shirt up to the collar for extra coverage. The blue chequered design is eye-catching and stylish, and will compliment most hiking trousers.
Overall, this is one of the best lightweight hiking shirts for summer.
> BugsAway protection
> UPF 50 sun protection
> Ventilated shirt
> Great for the tropics
> Not made from recycled materials
This is another ExOfficio hiking shirt made from a blend of polyester and nylon. It also benefits from BugsAway protection, as well as UPF 50 sun protection. The back of the shirt is ventilated to keep you cool and comfortable in warm weather conditions.
This shirt has chest pockets for the convenient storage of small personal items. You can unbutton and roll up the sleeves, and there are even useful tabs to keep your sleeves in place. The snap buttons down the front of the shirt are quick and easy to fasten and unfasten.
This hiking shirt uses BugsAway technology, which provides protection against bugs. It is blended with permethrin and will repel bugs for up to 70 washes. It should be noted that it will not keep bugs away from places not covered by the shirt such as your face and hands. Thought I’d mention that as some people think the shirt works the same way as deet repellent. It only protects the shirt, not exposed parts of your skin.
The shirt has a relaxed fit and comes in a choice of 9 colors, including white, navy, and various colored chequered patterns.
Now that you have more information about the best hiking shirts available, how do you decide which one will be best for you? There are several things you will want to consider when making your choice.
One of the questions you will need to ask yourself is how important the color and pattern of the shirt is.
Some shirts have limited color choices so it will be harder to find something to match your other hiking clothes. You should also think about whether you want to have a collar on your shirt.
Depending on what style of hiking you are doing, it can be useful if you want to stop off somewhere for lunch or a drink either as part of your walk or activity, or straight afterwards. Some people also prefer the smarter look as opposed to casual active wear.
Types of Hiking Shirts
There are 3 main types of hiking shirts mentioned in this review, they are Hiking T-Shirts, Button up colared hiking shirt and Sun Shirt or Sun Hoody.
Hiking T-Shirts are popular and mainly use merino wool or high UPF rated polyester. Most people will prefer a hiking t-shirt style with no buttons at all. Think about whether you want a relaxed fit, an active fit, or a tight fit shirt.
Button down shirts can be useful, especially if you want to roll up the sleeves. Snap buttons are easier to use than traditional buttons, particularly if you have sweaty hands! Most button up shirts generally look smart and have a collar. This makes them versatile enough to use as a travel shirt when you want something durable that looks good.
Sun Shirts and Sun Hoody
The sun hoody or hiking sun shirt is usually a very light and uses a very breathable material that not only protects you from the sun but provides good moisture management. Sun shirts are becoming more popular for hiking and backpacking. I first started using them as running shirts and transitioned into using sun shirts for hiking. Most offer some form of odor control built in such as polygiene or similar.
When combined with a hood they offer premium sun protection, specially on the back of the neck and ears. But many people, myself included, prefer to wear a sun hat for backpacking rather than a sun hoody.
Another thing you will need to consider is what materials you would like your shirt to be made from.
Merino Wool is a magical material. They have useful properties like thermoregulation, odor resistance and moisture control. This makes them well suited for hiking and backpacking. But they are not so good when hiking in the tropics. When wet they will cling to your skin and not be very comfortable.
Polyester is a man made fiber that is commonly used in hiking shirts. They are very common in hiking base layers as they provide a level of thermal control, wicking and are generally cheap. But they are not very strong and often are blended with other materials.
Nylon is a synthetic material that is quite strong. Almost all stitching will be nylon and when a hiking shirt is needed for bush bashing through overgrown trail, then nylon is best. Due to its strength it is often blended with other fabrics to produce the best results.
Zippers and Buttons
Having pockets on the shirt will be important for some people, to allow easy access to certain items without having to go into your rucksack.
A zip up pocket is easier to use than a button pocket and arguably more secure for smaller items. Some chest pockets are large enough to store a passport or documentation which is useful if you are travelling.
You will be wearing this shirt for hours at a time so make sure it feels nice against your skin and fits you properly. Use the size guides properly to ensure you buy the right size, and remember to take into consideration any other layers you might wear. If you plan on wearing a t- shirt or a vest under your hiking shirt then you might need to size up to avoid it being too tight.
If the shoulder seams are positioned further forward than on a standard shirt, this will prevent chafing and friction from the rucksack strap. If you are planning on carrying a rucksack during your hike then it is recommended to get a shirt with adjusted seams.
Merino Wool is an obvious choice as they offer natural odor resistance. I have been able to get several days of hiking with a merino t-shirt without being too offensive to others. Cotton, bamboo and hemp also have a certain amount of odor resistance.
Some synthetic fabrics are not very good at preventing bad smells. But those that are impregnated with materials such as Polygiene do a good job at suppressing body smells.
It is important to choose a hiking shirt with moisture wicking technology, and it is helpful if the fabric is quick drying. While hiking and backpacking your will sweat or find yourself hiking in humid environments from time to time. The ability to move moisture away from the skin to the outer layer will assist in evaporation. While wicking of moisture doesn’t quite happen as well as some people expect some fabrics do a better job than others. Generally, light fabric synthetics do a very good job at moisture management. Merino is also good but only to a point.
There are some other features which can be useful, like a mesh panel to assist with ventilation or UPF sun protection. It depends largely on what climate you expect to be hiking in.
Sun Protection and UPF Rating
Most of the hiking sun shirts in this review have a UPF 50+ rating. While that means you will block about 98% of the suns harmful UV rays. UPF 50+ will block both UVA rays and UVB rays. As most of the harmful sun is absorbed or reflected by the fabric you are able to spend the day hiking and backpacking in the sun.
If you are heading to an area with lots of bugs then you might want to get a shirt with BugsAway protection or pyrethrum to stop you getting bitten. Pyrethrum can be sprayed or washed into any of the hiking shirts in this review. If you are hiking with mosquitos and need a shirt with mosquito protection then pyrethrum will do the job for you.
Pyrethrum is said to last around 50 washes by some of the companies that impregnate their fabrics in the factory but I think it is quite a bit less than that. Some of my trips to Africa have proven that! When washing pyrethrum into your shirt it doesn’t last long so apply as needed.
If you are conscious about your impact on the environment, then you might want to choose a shirt made from either recycled materials or renewable natural fibers. You can also keep an eye out for whether the shirt is certified Fair Trade. Also keep in mind that organic cotton might sound good but is generally produced in areas that suffer from water shortages and organic cotton needs a lot of water during production. So beware or organic and do your research prior to purchasing.
Washing and Care
It may sound obvious but make sure you read the label prior to washing. Most fabrics do not like a hot wash and do not like being put in a tumble dryer on a high heat or they will almost certainly shrink. Also check if you can use normal washing detergent or need a special wool wash or tech wash. To reduce washing and save on water you could consider wearing your shirt for several days until they are dirty and smell to save water.
Over the years I’ve hiking in cheap shirts and very expensive shirts and both offer value. Generally a lot of the more expensive shirts will last longer, be made from better materials and by companies taking a stronger stand on environmentally friendly materials, manufacture and design.
The Best Hiking Shirts for Sun Protection for 2022:
Frequently Asked Questions
Outdoor clothing manufacturers use different blends of synthetic and natural materials to create their products.
Some natural fibres like Merino wool have some really useful features, but they can be less durable and harder to care for than synthetic materials.
You also need to check whether the wool has been sustainably sourced and is cruelty free. Synthetic materials are designed and made for purpose, which means they will last a long time and perform well.
However, you might want to use recycled synthetic materials to avoid having a negative impact on the environment.
When you take part in outdoor activities like hiking, your body will release sweat. If this sweat gets trapped by the fabric of your clothing it won’t evaporate, and will remain close to your skin.
This puts you at risk of developing a chill, or getting a skin rash. It also allows bacteria to grow which could lead to bad body odor or even a skin infection.
Moisture wicking fabric prevents all of that by drawing the moisture away from your skin and towards the outer layer of the fabric. From here it can evaporate.