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The modern hiking shirt has evolved into a versatile and highly technical garment that can help keep backpackers cool in hot conditions and warm and dry when temperatures take a plunge. Made from fabrics designed to wick away moisture, dry quickly, and vent heat, these shirts are designed to keep us as comfortable as possible on the trail. Many of these shirts exhibit a nice sense of fashion too, making them great for use while traveling or even a casual night out on the town.
Practically every major outdoor and travel gear manufacturer offers a hiking shirt of some kind, although not all of them are created equal. Choosing the right one can seem like a daunting task at times, although we’ve managed to sort through the staggering number of options and narrowed it down to our favorites.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Icebreaker Sphere Short-Sleeve Crew
Icebreaker eschews the use of synthetic and highly technical fabrics in favor of good old-fashioned merino wool — and for good reason. Merino is highly breathable, fast drying, antimicrobial, and incredibly soft. All of those features help make the Sphere short-sleeve crew a great addition to any hiker’s wardrobe, providing excellent performance in warm conditions and as part of a larger layering system when temps drop. Because merino has a natural resistance to odor, this is the only shirt you’ll need for trips lasting just a few days or weeks on end. Icebreaker’s trademark durability and attention to detail are on display in this shirt as well. For example, offset shoulder seams help to reduce friction while wearing a backpack, which eliminates irritated skin and the potential for developing blisters.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Smartwool Merino 150 Base Layer Micro Stripe
Smartwool is another company that uses merino wool in the majority of its products, also tapping into the natural fiber’s ability to dry quickly, vent heat, and avoid holding onto odors. The Merino 150 Micro Stripe is designed to work as a base layer, but it also functions incredibly well on its own. The shirt features an athletic cut that hugs the body nicely without inhibiting motion in any way, making it a great option for active pursuits like trail running or snowshoeing in addition to hiking. Smartwool has also wisely incorporated offset seams in both the shoulders and sides to help eliminate chafing from backpack straps, making this a comfortable shirt that you can wear all day on the trail.
Best Budget: White Sierra Techno Tee
White Sierra has always made high-quality outdoor apparel at reasonable prices, but its Techno Tee manages to stand out from all their offerings. Not only is the shirt quick drying and moisture wicking, but it also provides UPF 30+ sun protection as well. While it is made from a polyester knit mesh fabric, the Techno Tee is treated with white bamboo charcoal powder that bestows upon it antimicrobial and odor-resistant properties that make it a great choice for extended excursions. Add in an athletic cut, travel-friendly styling, and a nice level of durability –– all at a price that is extremely easy on the wallet –– and you get a product that is very easy to recommend.
Best for Women: Arc’teryx Lana Comp SS Shirt
Arc’teryx makes some of the best women’s outdoor gear on the market so it should come as no surprise that the company’s Lana hiking shirt gets high marks in terms of performance, durability, and versatility. The shirt features a women’s cut that includes gusseted underarms and an understated (yet stylish) look that will make the Lana a hit both on and off the trail. Made from merino wool, the shirt offers all of the performance features you would expect from that material in a soft, comfortable package. While the Lana shines on warm-weather hikes, it also layers up nicely and makes a great travel shirt too, particularly since it packs down to a surprisingly small size, taking up very little room in luggage or a backpack.
Best for Kids: Columbia PFG Tamiami Short Sleeve Shirt
With the Tamiami short sleeve shirt, Columbia has taken the best of the brand's technical aspects and shrunken it down to fit young explorers. The company’s Omni-Shade technology gives the Tamiami an impressive UPF 40+ level of sun protection, which is especially important for kids who spend extended periods of time outdoors. As you would expect, the shirt is also quick drying, highly breathable, and adept at wicking away moisture. An integrated mesh lining along the shirt’s back provides good ventilation for warmer days on the trail, while the ultra-light — yet still highly durable — ripstop fabric shrugs off rips, cuts, abrasions, and tears with surprising ease. All of these qualities make the Tamiami a nice choice for hiking, fishing trips, family vacations, and days at the beach.
Best Long Sleeve: Columbia Silver Ridge Shirt
When the designers at Columbia set out to create the perfect long-sleeve shirt for hiking they pretty much ticked all the requisite boxes with Silver Ridge. This garment uses the company’s proprietary Omni-Wick fabric to handle moisture and temperature control, while also integrating Omni-Shade technology to provide UPF 50+ protection from the sun. The Silver Ridge offers built-in venting, sleeve tab holders, pockets with integrated hook and loop closures, and mesh pocket bags as well. On top of that, the shirt looks great, making it a versatile product that you can wear just about anywhere. Whether you’re hiking a local trail, trekking the Appalachian Trail end-to-end, or striking out for distant lands, this is the shirt you’ll want in your pack.
Best for Adventure Travelers: REI Co-Op Sahara Shirt
Finding a shirt that is versatile enough to wander a night market in Thailand, grab dinner along the Nile in Egypt, or hike a trail in the Andes of Peru isn’t easy. Travel clothes require a blend of performance, style, and versatility that isn’t found in most pieces of gear. That said, REI’s Sahara hiking shirt can handle all of those situations and a lot more. Made from quick-drying, breathable fabrics, the shirt features mesh underarm panels for increased ventilation, reinforced shoulders to prevent chafing, and 50+ UPF sun protection as well. Thanks to its built-in button tabs, the shirt converts from long to short sleeve in a matter of seconds, while reinforced elbow pads bring extra durability where it's needed most.
Best for On- and Off-Trail Use: Mountain Hardwear Stretchstone Shirt
For a more traditional long-sleeve hiking shirt that performs well on the trail but looks great everywhere else too, the Stretchstone from Mountain Hardwear is an excellent choice. Made from flannel created with hollowcore poly fabrics, this shirt is as warm and functional as more technical fabrics, while still maintaining a natural look at feel. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this garment is just how stretchy its flannel is, making it great for hiking, backpacking, or even climbing. It even comes with two chest pockets for keeping important items close at hand and its shoulders have been reinforced to reduce the wear and tear that comes with constantly toting a backpack.
Best for Insect Protection: ExOfficio Bugsaway Halo Shirt
Who knew that a hiking shirt could help keep you from getting eaten alive by insects while out on the trail? The ExOfficio Bugsaway Halo offers many of the same features we’ve come expect from our hiking apparel with the added benefit of being treated with a product called Insect Shield, which keeps mosquitos, flies, ticks, and other insects at bay. The shirt includes mesh venting panels under the arms and back, two chest pockets, and integrated roll-up sleeve tabs. It even provides UPF 50+ sun protection, ensuring that you’ll stay safe not only from insect bites but harmful rays as well.
Our writers spent 4 hours researching the most popular hiking shirts on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 25 different shirts overall, screened options from 10 different brands and manufacturers, read over 20 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 5 of the shirts themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.