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Hiking shirts: Our 5 picks that will keep you comfortable

Hiking shirts: Our 5 picks that will keep you comfortable

hikers trekking in a forest together and wearing hiking shirts-Best hiking shirts

The Best Hiking Shirts-short sleeves-Detailed review

Hiking, mountaineering and trekking are physically demanding activities that require high-performance clothing which keeps you comfortable, no matter the conditions. A hiking shirt is one of the most vital pieces of hiking clothing because it is in direct contact with your skin.

It should therefore be breathable, moisture wicking and quick drying. For longer hikes, it is a big advantage if a shirt for hikers is also antimicrobial so that it doesn’t cause odors.

In this review you’ll find a collection of the best short- sleeve hiking tops. We’ve picked out the best five short- sleeve hiking tops currently available and reviewed them so you can make an informed choice about what to buy. All the tops in this review are breathability, quick drying, odor resistant and moisture wick. You can wear them as stand alone tops or underneath mid layer garments, such as a fleecy jacket.

Buying a Hiking Shirt-What is important?

Material

Hiking clothes are typically manufactured out of polyester or merino wool because they’re quick drying, breathable, and comfortable. Hikers, mountain climbers, and trekkers frequently face a choice between buying a merino sweater or a polyester sweater. Both materials have advantages, and both have drawbacks. We’ve compiled a list of five merino sweaters and four polyester sweaters (see the table below) so you can make an informed decision about what type of clothing works best for your needs.

Polyester Shirts

Polyester dries much faster than merino wool and soaks up less sweat. But, polyester does not breathe as well as merino wool. Some polyester garments are treated with anti-microbial chemicals to resist odors, but these can wash off. Polyester clothes are also less comfortable to wear.

Merino Shirts

Merino sheep are known for producing exceptionally fine, soft, and resilient yarns. They are also resistant to moths and mildew. In addition, merino wools are hypoallergenic, meaning they do not cause allergic reactions in people who suffer from allergies. Because of these qualities, merino clothing is popular among allergy sufferers.

Sun protection

A sun protective clothing rating tells you how well a piece of clothing protects you from the harmful effects of sunlight. It depends on various factors such as the tightness of the weave (denim versus loose knit shirts), fiber type (cotton, polyester, rayon etc.), the number of layers, the color of the fabric, the treatment of the fabric (dyeing, printing, washing) and the state of the fabric (new or used).

Comfortable seams

Seamless shirts should be made from fabric without any kind of layer underneath so they don’t rub against your skin. They’re usually sewn using flatlock stitches which means there’s no layer under the stitching. These types of stitches are very comfortable because there’s nothing between them and your skin.

Antimicrobial properties

It’s a good idea to buy an anti-microbial shirt. This will keep your shirts from smelling bad even after they’ve been worn for several days. Polyester shirts can be made into anti-microbial ones by treating them with chemicals.

Durability

A hiking shirt must be water-resistant. It should also remain so after frequent washing.

Best hiking shirts

Icebreaker Tech Lite Shirt

Icebreaker Tech Lite Shirt-Best hiking shirt
Icebreaker Tech Lite Shirt-Best hiking shirt

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Running
  • Everyday use

The Icebreaker Tech Light T-Shirt is perfect for hikers, mountain climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts. It is designed with an ultra lightweight merino wool material that keeps you warm during cold weather conditions. The cotton blend construction ensures that your body temperature remains constant throughout the day. The shirt also features a moisture wicking technology that helps keep you dry and comfortable.

The Icebreaker shirt also offers great breathability, odor control and is moisture wicking. It has a regular fit that is not too tight nor loose. Thus, the shirt offers great freedom of movement.

For those looking for variety, the shirt comes in eleven different colors. The Icebreaker Tech Lite shirt is best for those who just want a comfortable shirt for everyday wear.

Buy here the Icebreaker Tech Lite Shirt

Arcteryx Cormac T-Shirt

Arcteryx Cormac T-Shirt-Best hiking shirt
Arcteryx Cormac T-Shirt-Best hiking shirt

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Running

The Arctery x Cormac Crew tee shirt with short sleeves is made from the Ostria material (100 percent polyester), which is a lightweight grided stretch knit that provides excellent moisture wick­ing performance and air permeability, and is treated with a durable antio­dor (DAO) treatment based on silver salt technology. It has an UPF 50+ rating, which is one of the most UV protective ratings among the hiking shirts in this selection.

Flat lock seams help keep you warm by preventing friction between layers and keeping them from bunching up. Gussets allow for greater range of motion at the shoulders and elbows. And the ArchaCormac logo shirt is available in a large print of the Archeopteryx fossil across your chest.

Buy here the Arcteryx Cormac T-Shirt

Columbia Zero Rules Shirt

Columbia Men's Zero Rules Short Sleeve Shirt-Best hiking shirts
Columbia Men’s Zero Rules Short Sleeve Shirt-Best hiking shirts

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Running
  • Everyday use

The Columbia Zero Rules T-Shirts are great options for hiking, mountaineering  and trekking in warm climates. They’re made of 100 percent zero interlock polyester, feature Omni-Wick, Omnishade and Omni-Freezer technologies, and ensure that moisture is quickly transferred from the skin to the material where it is dispersed across its surface to evaporates quickly.

The Omni-Shades block out harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and protect your skin from burning, while the Omni-freeze keeps you cooler by reducing the overall heat of the fabric.

The fabric is also treated to prevent odor-causing bacterial growth. In fact, the fabric is treated with an antimicrobial agent to kill off any odor-causing microbes. Furthermore, the material is treated with a non-irritating, water-resistant print and flatlock seams. The result is a comfortable, breathable, and long-lasting cotton t-shirts.

Buy here the Columbia Zero Rules Shirt

Outdoor Research Echo Tee

Outdoor Research Echo Tee-Best hiking shirts
Outdoor Research Echo Tee-Best hiking shirts

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Running
  • Everyday use

The Outdoor Research Echo tee is another great choice for hiking and mountaineering in very hot weather. It’s made from the Air Vent polyesther material which is very light and permeable. So it offers excellent breathabiliy and dries very quickly.

The fabric is also protected with Polygiene anti-bacterial treatment for odor resistance. The t-shirt has raglan sleeve and flatlock seams for comfort. It has an UPF of 15 (sun protective), which is quite low but acceptable because the fabric is very absorbent. The shirt is available with various colours and fits comfortably.

Due to its porosity and lightness, the Outdoor Research Echo Tee shirt works well for hikes in very hot weather.

Buy here the Outdoor Research Echo Tee

SmartWool Merino 150

SmartWool Merino 150-Best hiking shirts
SmartWool Merino 150-Best hiking shirts

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Running
  • Everyday use

The SmartWooMerino 150 shirt is made from a blend of merino and nylon. It is therefore durable, breathable, odour resistant and moisture wickiing. The fabric has a weight of 150 grams per square meter (gsm) making it suitable for all seasons/weathers.

The SmartWool Men’s Merino 150 Shirt is made of 100% merino wool and is designed to keep you warm and dry during your outdoor adventures. Its unique construction eliminates friction between fabric and skin, allowing moisture to evaporate quickly. The cotton/polyester blend lining wicks sweat away from your body, keeping you cool and dry. The shirt is available in three different color options – Blue, Green and Black.

Buy here the SmartWool Merino 150

What are the Fabrics used for hiking shirts?

The most common fabrics used for hiking shirts are merino wool, polyester, and nylon.

MERINO WOOL

Merino is a natural fiber, obtained from the merino sheep. It has amazing qualities that make it perfect for outdoor wear.

Merino is a natural fiber that dries quickly and feels soft against the skin. Because it is so soft, it doesn’t itch like regular cotton.

Merino wool has some disadvantages but they’re not too bad. It’s expensive and not as durable as synthetic fibers.

POLYESTER

Polyester is a synthetic fibre that is water-wicking and quick-drying. It is not as smooth as merino wool, but it is much cheaper to manufacture.

Hiking t-shirt fabrics often contain polyester for their ability to keep you warm when wet. They’re sometimes blended with nylons to increase their durability.

One downside of polyester is its lack of natural odor resistance. Polyester also absorbs oil, but not water, so washing it doesn’t always get rid of the smell. Some manufactures will add an antimicrobial treatment to their polyester clothing to help prevent odor.

NYLON

Nylon is a natural fiber made from plant cellulose. It is stronger than cotton and wool, and resists abrasion better than either. It is also much lighter than both of those fibers. Because of its strength, durability, and ability to absorb moisture, nylon is used extensively in manufacturing fabrics such as carpets, ropes, and fishing nets. It is also commonly used in athletic apparel because it provides excellent support without being too heavy.

However, because of its strength, nylons are often combined with merinos or polyesters. They can also be made so they have wind and insect resistance properties. So some button up hiking shirts use nylons in large amounts (even 100%).

Nylon isn’t naturally odor-resistant but it’s not as bad as polyester for retaining smells.

ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR HIKING SHIRTS

ODOUR RESISTANCE

Odour-resis­tance is a useful property, especial­ly if you plan to do multiday backpack trips. Merinos are naturally odour-resistant so if you choose a merinohiking shirt then that will be another bonus.

Synthetic fabrics don’t offer the same natural odor protection as natural ones. Some manufacturers treat synthetic fabrics with an antimicrobial coating (or treatment) to increase odor-protection, so that is something to be aware of. Antimicrobial coatings don’t always live up to their promise and they will wear off after repeated washings anyway.

WASHING CARE

When it comes to laundry, merinos require slightly more attention than synthetic fabrics. However, the amount of effort needed is often exaggerated. In most cases, you can toss your merinos into the washer along with your other items, just make sure not to subject them to extreme temperatures. Ideally, wash them in cool or warm water, and normally with a medium speed, instead of attempting to destroy them with a high-speed cycle.

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