When hitting the trail, one of the most important things to do is choose proper clothing. Not only does the right apparel keep you protected, but it also makes sure that you stay dry and comfortable. A high-quality shirt is probably the centerpiece here, as it can really make a difference between a great hike and a miserable one.
As you certainly know, a trekking shirt comes in direct contact with your body. Because of this, it needs to feel nice, allow your skin to breathe, wick sweat away, and dry off quickly. Of course, it’s a big plus if the walking shirt you choose looks stylish too.
In this article, we’ll present some of the best hiking shirts that meet the requirements we’ve previously listed. In addition, we’ll also take a look at all the factors that go into making good outdoor shirts so you can easily choose the right garment for your next hike.
Which shirt is right for you? Start by considering typical weather at your usual hiking destinations. In hot weather the ideal shirt is quick-drying and wicking, with full coverage and a UPF rating to protect you from the sun. Some lightweight shirts are even impregnated with insect repellent.
In cold weather, wool and (non-cotton) fleece shirts do a great job of keeping you warm -- even if they get wet from sweat, rain, or melted snow. Make sure to stay away from cotton, which loses its insulating value when wet.
A shirt's a shirt, right? Yes, but the ideal hiking shirt won't ride up, won't bind across the shoulders (even when you reach forward with both arms), and doesn't have seams that'll rub or chafe beneath the straps of a backpack.
How To Choose A Shirt For Hiking – Buying Guide
To give you the right balance between comfort and protection, most hiking shirts use synthetic fabrics. Polyester is the most common choice here, but other additions like merino fabric, nylon, or spandex can also be found. We advise that you always pay attention to this because the method of fabrication and additional material treating can be the difference-maker between the best backpacking shirts and less durable models.
Sizing the shirt properly will have a huge impact on its performance on the trail. Luckily, all of the top-rated hiking shirts come in many different sizes so this shouldn’t be too much of an issue for most hikers. Of course, always be sure to check the sizing guide because some models might run smaller or larger than usual.
Just because the best hiking shirts focus on functionality and performance doesn’t mean that the style isn’t also a factor. Almost all of the models we’ve featured have several color options to choose from. Furthermore, you’ll be happy to see that the best men’s hiking shirts are designed according to the latest activewear trends.
Whether you’re hiking in the middle of the summer or going to higher altitudes, sun protection is a must unless you want to end up with nasty sunburns. Because of this, all the models we’ve picked come with a degree of built-in sun protection (UPF). If this is very important to you, look for walking shirts that are rated UPF 50+.
To have or not to have sleeves: that is the question. Paraphrasing aside, if you have a hard time deciding on the issue of sleeves, consider this. If you want a casual and versatile walking shirt, go for a T-shirt. On the other hand, if you enjoy different types of hiking (high altitudes for example) you should opt for a long-sleeve outdoor shirt, as it can get chilly once you climb up a mountain.
Generally speaking, synthetic materials are very lightweight so the weight of your trekking shirt won’t be an issue regardless if you have it on or carry it in your backpack. Of course, if you are particularly weight-conscious, all the shirts for hiking list their weight on their product pages.
A few of the items in our list above pride themselves on their antimicrobial properties. This means that the fabric is specially treated to eliminate bacteria which, in turn, reduces the nasty odors. So, even if you sweat profusely, you won’t start to smell.
All types of polyester fabrics found in the best hiking shirts generally rank very high when it comes to comfort. Because of this, you can count on all of the models we listed to feel nice on the skin. On the other hand, we advise that you stay away from cotton shirts when hiking because they can be very uncomfortable when you get sweaty.
If you’re worried your new trekking shirt might disintegrate at the seams, look for an extra sturdy one with double-needle sewing. On the other hand, if you’re focus is more on comfort, the best shirt for hiking needs to have flat seams to prevent chafing.
Q: What Is The Difference Between A Regular Shirt And Hiking Shirt?
Regular shirts that are designed for casual wearing comfort and focus more on style rather than functionality. On the other hand, a hiking shirt needs to be lightweight, provide good body temperature regulation (neither too hot nor cold), wick sweat away, and dry as fast as possible.
Q: How to Wash My Hiking Shirts?
Most synthetic shirts are pretty easy to wash and don’t require any special washing regime. Of course, always make sure you read the label and check for the product care instructions. As long as you don’t exceed the recommended temperature that is indicated on your trekking shirt, you shouldn’t have any unpleasant surprises.
Q: Why Do I Need A Special Hiking Shirt? Can’t I Just Wear My Gym Shirt?
While gym shirts can also be designed to keep moisture away, that’s probably the only aspect in which they are similar to hiking shirts. First of all, the best backpacking shirts (as well as hiking pants and hiking clothing in general) are designed to withstand a longer active time than your average gym session. In addition, T-shirts for hiking come with built-in sun protection to shield you from the harmful sun UV rays that you’re exposed to outdoors.
Globo Surf Overview
Going on a hiking trip is a delightful experience but, to make the most out of it, you’ll need to prepare properly. With the right clothing, you’ll be able to weather everything that the journey throws at you. Hopefully, our guide and product selection helped you find the best lightweight shirt that will provide reliable protection and comfort on all your hiking and backpacking trips.
More Backpacking/Hiking Reviews:
- Winter Hiking Boots
- Rain Pants
- Garmin Watch
- Survival Kit
- Hiking Baby Carriers
- Survival Books
- Bug Out Bag
- Gore Tex Jacket
- Drone For Gopro
- Lightweight Backpack
Do you have a bad experience using a regular gym shirt instead of a reliable shirt for hiking? Any funny stories to share about hiking and proper apparel? What’s your favorite brand of shirts you’ve owned so far? Have fun and let us know what your favorite shirt is, in the comment section below!