Best Hiking Shirts of 2021 (Guide & Reviews)

by Julien Heron
Last Updated: January 3, 2021
Close-up on intermediate climber tying her shoelace

Finding the best hiking shirts to keep you cool in hot locations and insulated in colder environments can make all the difference in your outdoor adventures.

The clothing you wear while on the trail can either bog you down or enhance your experience and performance, so it’s essential to select hiking shirts that are lightweight, of the correct fabrics, and will suit your needs for the climate you intend to hike in.

For our best hiking shirt picks, including a comprehensive buying guide and our thorough review of each, keep reading.

The top 5 hiking shirts we recommend for [currentyear]:

Hiking Shirt Materials Buying Guide

No one likes to feel sweaty and clammy from wearing the wrong material. A damp shirt clinging to your skin as you try to beat the trail is big no-no. Let’s take a closer look at different fabric options for hiking shirts that you will (and won’t!) want to incorporate into your outdoor trekking wardrobe.


While you might think of uncomfortable itching when someone mentions wearing a wool article of clothing for a hike, it might surprise you how durable and comfortable this material can be. A far cry from that itchy ugly Christmas sweater you pull out once a year, merino wool hiking shirts manufactured from ultra-fine fibers are an excellent choice for outdoor adventures.

Fine merino wool won’t leave you feeling itchy, and is both breathable and moisture-wicking. So, if you wear a merino wool hiking shirt out on the trail in colder months, you’ll find that it dries quickly, wards off unpleasant odors, and won’t leave you all sweaty or clammy.

Of course, merino wool hiking shirts tend to be costlier than shirts made from more synthetic fabrics. Wool clothing is also probably not the best choice if you have highly sensitive skin.


As luxurious as it sounds, silk is an excellent material to consider if you are in the market for the best hiking shirts. However, we would only recommend hiking shirts with silk fibers if you are going to be hiking in moderate to cool climates, because silk does not have as strong a moisture wicking ability as fabrics like nylon do.

Treated silk hiking shirts are a good alternative, because they are designed to increase the product’s wicking properties. Silk is light and soft on the skin, so you won’t feel too bulky if you’re layering your hiking shirt with other cool weather pieces. Silk is a less durable material than wool or polyester though, and tends to gather odor more quickly, so super active hikers might prefer a different fabric choice.


Cotton is a big no-no for the best hiking shirts. Why is this? Well, while you would think that cotton is light and breathable, it doesn’t wick moisture and sweat very well. So, you’ll notice odors gathering and experience that unpleasant clammy feeling if you go out on a long hike wearing a cotton shirt.

What’s more, cotton takes quite a while to dry and won’t keep you insulated if you’re hiking in cooler climates.


Your best fabric options when picking out the best hiking shirts for your hiking adventures are nylon and polyester materials. Not only do nylon/polyester dry very quickly, but these synthetic materials are highly durable.

How to Layer Hiking Shirts

If you want to make the most out of the best shirts for hiking and ensure you’re prepared for any trail or climate, learning how to layer hiking shirts is key. Instead of wearing one bulky layer that will weigh you down once you are on the trail, a well-thought out system of layering will keep you nice and warm in cool weather without leaving you feeling gross and clammy.

Plus, if the weather warms up or cools down suddenly, you can just add or remove a layer as you need to. The best way to prepare for any weather changes no matter what environment you might be hiking in is to opt for a multi-tier layering system.

Base Layer

Your base layer shirt is going to be the one you wear right up against your skin. The base layer should be moisture wicking to avoid that clammy feeling or unwanted odors. It should also be light on the skin and dry fast.

Again, you never want to use cotton as your base layer as it will attach itself to your skin and leave you feeling gross and sweaty. It also won’t insulate you in cooler temperatures. Materials like silk, polyester, polypropylene, and fine merino wool are all fantastic choices for your base layer.

Upper Layer

If you’re going to be hiking in an environment with varying weather conditions, a quality upper layer is a long-sleeved shirt or collared shirt. The upper layer should also be light and breath well. Long sleeves will protect you from getting sunburnt in toasty weather, and keep you nice and warm in colder climates.

Of course, if you’re going to be hiking in very cold temperatures, you’ll probably want to add a weather repellant jacket on top of your hiking shirt layers.

Best Hiking Shirts Review

Keep reading for our review of each the best shirts for hiking, plus our selection for the top winner out of all 5 choices.

Arc'teryx Mens Motus Crew S/S

Arc’teryx Mens Motus Crew S/S on white background
Arc’teryx Mens Motus Crew S/S
The Arc'teryx Motus Crew Shirt is very smooth to the touch and lightweight
Utilizing an athletic design that focuses on fabric performance and fit, the Arc’teryx Men's Motus Crew S/S is an excellent top for trail running.
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  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Resists odor retention
  • Comes in multiple colors
  • Great standalone or layering piece
  • One of the pricier options
  • Material feel might not be to everyone’s taste

Our first best hiking shirts pick is this crew t-shirt by Arc’teryx. Available in 8 colors, this hiking shirt is made of 100% polyester for ultimate moisture wicking. It’s very lightweight and fits loose enough to work well on its own in warm weather or as a layering piece in colder climates.

For activities from rock climbing to trail running, the synthetic material of this piece makes it fast drying and highly breathable, which is just what you need during your outdoor adventure. We really like the fact that the fabric is designed to reduce odors with a built-in mechanical stretch so you don’t have to worry have restricted movement.

The Arc’teryx Motus Crew is an excellent option that won’t leave you feeling itchy or clammy, plus it retains its shape even after prolonged use.
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Mountain Hardwear Men's Wicked Short Sleeve Tee

Mountain Hardwear Men’s Wicked Short Sleeve Tee on white background
Mountain Hardwear Men’s Wicked Short Sleeve Tee
This versatile athletic shirt comes outfitted with Wick.Q moisture-wicking technology
This Mountain Hardwear Men’s Wicked Short Sleeve Tee uses interlocking, lightweight polyester fabric that is durable and comfortable. It'll keep you cool and dry all day.
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  • Features WickQ moisture wicking design to reduce sweat
  • Antimicrobial components in fabric
  • Lightweight and dries fast
  • Affordable
  • May not be ideal for hikes in cooler climates
  • Not long sleeved so won’t protect your arms from sunburning on bright days

The next choice on our list of the best hiking shirts is this lightweight selection by Mountain Hardware. It’s not only cost effective, but designed from 100% polyester for breathability and long-wear use. We love the fact that this tee features a WickQ moisture wicking design, which means the fabric not only deflects excess moisture, so you won’t get gross and clammy, but it is odor resistant too.

The lightweight polyester fabric is very durable and feels great on the skin, making it very comfortable. If you’re going to be hiking in warm weather, this short sleeve tee could be the perfect option to keep you nice and cool.

The fabric features antimicrobial technology, so you won’t have to worry about bacteria or unpleasant body odor after a long day’s hike. Bear in mind, this shirt probably isn’t ideal for hikes in cooler climates, and you definitely won’t get much arm coverage if you’re worried about a sunburn on a hot day.
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Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Long-Sleeve Shirt, Moisture Wicking

Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Long-Sleeve Shirt on white background
Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Long-Sleeve Shirt, Moisture Wicking
This durable shirt comes with venting, wicking material, and sunlight protection
This Columbia classic comes designed to keep you protected, dry, and comfortable during those long days out in the sun hiking or enjoying recreational activities.
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  • Omni-Wick technology reduce moisture
  • Omni-Shade technology to provide extra sun protection
  • Lots of pockets and venting
  • Looks great
  • Could get wrinkled easily
  • Fabric is not as durable as other brands

The next selection from the best hiking shirts by Columbia is a perfect choice if you’re going to be hiking in cooler temperatures and/or want to protect your arms from a potential sunburn. The Silver Ridge Long-Sleeve Shirt features special Omni-Wick technology to reduce moisture and regulate the skin’s temperature, so you don’t get too hot or clammy.

We absolutely love how this hiking shirt by Columbia sports Omni-Shade capabilities that offer UPF 50+ protection from the burning rays of the sun. So, whether you’re looking to layer up for a cold weather hike or protect your skin from a bad sunburn, this hiking shirt could be for you.

Besides these features, the Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Long-Sleeve Shirt also includes sleeve tab holders, integrated venting, pockets with hooks and loops, and even mesh bags in the pockets. So, you’ll stay cool and be able to carry a few essential extras along with you. We also really like the fact this hiking shirt is stylish and tailored, so you can easily transition it to other settings.
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ExOfficio Men's BugsAway Halo Check Lightweight Long-Sleeve Shirt

ExOfficio Men's BugsAway Halo Check Long Sleeve on white background
ExOfficio Men's BugsAway Halo Check Long Sleeve
This ExOfficio BugsAway shirt won't allow sunburn or bugs to ruin your trip
BugsAway clothing comes treated with an Insect Shield that gives you odorless, invisible protection to keep you comfortable each time you slide your shirt on.
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  • Impressive bug repellant technology
  • Venting panels
  • You can roll the tab sleeves up or down
  • UPF 50+ sun guard technology
  • More expensive selection
  • Fabric tends to absorb moisture which could be uncomfortable on a long hike

Our best hiking shirts review wouldn’t be complete without this exceptional long-sleeve shirt by ExOfficio. If you’re tired of getting eaten alive by pesky bugs while on the trail, this shirt could be your new best friend. The 100% nylon fabric actually features bug repellant technology called Insect Shield, which wards off insects such as ticks, flies, mosquitos, and other unwelcome guests on the trail.

We love the fact the shirt also features mesh venting panels, both in the back and under the arms, plus tab sleeves that you can roll up and dual chest pockets. Not only is the fabric lightweight and breathable, the ability to roll the sleeves up or down as you desire with the tabs makes this shirt a great option for any season.

You can layer this hiking shirt with a short-sleeved shirt beneath and a jacket on top or wear it on its own during warmer months. The ExOfficio Men’s BugsAway Long-Sleeve Shirt also sports UPF 50+ sun guard components, to protect you from damaging UV rays and lower your risk of getting sunburnt on a bright day.
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O'Neill Men's Basic Skins Short Sleeve Sun Shirt

O'Neill Men's Basic Skins Short Sleeve Sun Shirt on white background
O'Neill Men's Basic Skins Short Sleeve Sun Shirt
The Basic Skins line offers protection from UV rays up to 50+
The O'Neill Men's Basic Skins Short Sleeve Sun Shirt gives maximum value with UV protection that comes designed to keep you covered and protected from the sun and surf.
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  • Slim fit
  • Made from light polyester/spandex
  • Minimal seam placement
  • Affordable
  • UPF sun protection is not as high as some other products on the market
  • Polyester mesh feel might not be as comfortable

Our final best shirts for hiking selection is by O'Neill, and is an excellent option if you want a short sleeve tee with moisture wicking technology. The hiking shirt dries very quickly, even if you are sweating heavily on a hot day outside. We also like that it offers UPF 30+ sun protection to guard your skin from harmful UV rays and sunburn.

The fabric is designed from polyester/spandex, making it light to wear and pretty breathable too. The slim fit and minimal seam placement offer comfort and optimal rash protection.

So, if you’re going to be on a long expedition or hike, this could be a great choice for you. It’s also very affordable, which is a big plus all around.
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All of the best hiking shirts on our list cater to different outdoor needs and preferences. After careful deliberation and considerable research, we’d have to name [amazon link="B006ZS4I90" title="the Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Long-Sleeve Shirt"] as the clear winner on our list.

We really liked the fact that this hiking shirt is long sleeved with tab sleeve holders and integrated venting, making it a great choice for just about any climate you’ll be hiking in.

Beyond that, its Omni-Wick and Omni-Shade technology tick all the boxes off our list for lightweight, breathable fabric that not only wicks moisture but protects your skin from UV rays with an impressive UPF 50+ strength.

We also really like the look of the shirt itself and appreciate that it includes extra pockets to give you more storage power on the trail. In short, the Columbia Men’s Silver Ridge Long-Sleeve shirt is a must-have for beginner and expert hikers alike, who want to stay cool, covered, and comfortable in the great outdoors.

Julien Heron
I’m passionate about all things outdoors, bridging the gap between generations and sharing my passion for hiking and camping. My goal is to spread the endless benefits of being outside, always striving for better performance, new challenges, and ways to explore responsibly.
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