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Best Hiking Shirts 2021

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This is a gear about the best hiking shirts on the market in 2021.

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 2021

The Best Hiking Shirts for Backpacking in 2021 are:


Best Hiking Shirts – Overall 2021

Columbia Silver Ridge Lite

Pros:
> Moisture wicking
> Mesh back for ventilation
> UPF protection
> Good choice of colors
Cons:
> 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 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 shirt also offers UPF 40 protection from the sun. 

There are 15 colors to choose from, including different shades of green and gray, so you can find a look to suit your individual style. Or you can match your shirt to your other hiking clothes. 

Colombia 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 most popular hiking shirts available and is rated as the best hiking shirt in 2021.

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Icebreaker Tech Lite

Pros:
> Thermoregulation technology
> Moisture wicking technology
> Odor resistant
> Offset shoulder seams
Cons:
> Only two color choices

The Icebreaker Tech Lite shirt is made from a blend of 83% Merino wool, 12% Nylon and 5% Lycra. 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. 

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, this is the best merino hiking shirt on the market.

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Patagonia Sun stretch

Pros:
> Zip chest pockets
> Quick drying
> Recycled materials
Cons:
> Only two color choices

The Sunstretch shirt by Patagonia is made from an innovative blend of polyester recycled nylon. 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 in their 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.

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Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail Shirt

Pros:
> Made from recycled materials
> Fair Trade
> Odor control
Cons:
> Only four color choices

The 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 t-shirt style hiking shirt from well known brand Patagonia.

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REI Co-op Sahara Long-Sleeve T-Shirt

Pros:
> Soft fabric
> Quick drying
> Adjusted shoulder seams
Cons:
> Only three colors to choose from

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 sun 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 gray. 

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REI

Macpac Eclipse Shirt

Pros:
> Lightweight and flexible
> Moisture control
> Polygiene odor control
> UPF 50 sun protection
Cons:
> No thermoregulation

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.

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ExOfficio Men’s BugsAway Shirt

Pros:
> Quick drying
> Lightweight
> BugsAway protection
Cons:
> No chest pockets

This long sleeve hiking shirt is made from a blend of 75% polyester and 25% nylon. 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. 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 sun 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 shirts.

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ExOfficio Halo Long-Sleeve Shirt

Pros:
> BugsAway protection
> UPF 50 sun protection
> Ventilated shirt
Cons:
> 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. 

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Buyers Guide

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. 

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!

But some people will prefer a t-shirt style with no buttons at all. Think about whether you want a relaxed fit, an active fit, or a tight fit shirt. 

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.  

Another thing you will need to consider is what materials you would like your shirt to be made from.

Most hiking shirts are made from synthetic materials, but some are blended with natural fabrics like Merino wool.

This is because natural fibres like this have useful properties like thermoregulation, odor resistance and moisture control.

If you are conscious about your impact on the environment, then you might want to choose a shirt made from recycled materials. You can also keep an eye out for whether the shirt is Fair Trade. 

It is important to choose a hiking shirt with moisture wicking technology, and it is helpful if the fabric is quick drying.

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.

Thermoregulation or an Omni-freeze Zero cooling system can be beneficial in warm climates, and if you are heading to an area with lots of bugs then you might want to get a shirt with BugsAway protection to stop you getting bitten.  

If you are planning on carrying a rucksack during your hike then it is recommended to get a shirt with adjusted seams.

If the shoulder seams are positioned further forward then on a standard shirt, this will prevent chafing and friction from the rucksack strap. 

Once you have decided which features are a priority for your hiking shirt, the next most important thing is comfort.

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. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Are natural materials better than synthetic materials?

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. 

Why is moisture wicking fabric so important?

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. 

Another one of the Best Hiking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.

Best Hiking Shirt for backpacking

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Sydney, Australia.

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