Best hiking shirts of 2024

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Hiking is often an enjoyable experience but it can also at times be an uncomfortable experience. It can be hot or cold and it can be dry or wet. It can be tiring mentally and physically and it can be painful. And things can be made even worse too – that’s if you end up wearing a hiking shirt that’s not properly made for the conditions.

Our team here at The Great Outdoors are experienced backpackers and hikers and, over the years, each of us have come to understand what types of shirts work best for hiking and what materials and details to look out for.

If you’re looking for tips on what types of hiking shirt you should be looking for then we’ve already published an in-depth guide to choosing a hiking shirt that will help you there, but as a brief top line before we dive into the best hiking shirts of 2024, you should first and foremost focus on the fabric when you’re shopping around. Look for lightweight and breathable materials like moisture-wicking synthetics or Merino wool, which efficiently manage perspiration and keep you dry during strenuous hikes. You should also consider a shirt’s fit as well, opting for a relaxed yet not overly baggy cut that gives freedom of movement. Ventilation features such as mesh panels or zippered vents can also enhance breathability. Sun protection is vital, so seek shirts with UPF ratings to shield your skin from harmful UV rays. Additionally, check for odor-resistant properties, particularly if you’re embarking on multi-day hikes.

The best hiking shirts

This is The Great Outdoors team’s selection of the best hiking shirts available for 2024. We’ve selected options for different seasons and at different price levels. The majority are synthetic but there are also one or two Merino wool options. Bear in mind that most of these are available with either short or long sleeves and as men’s and women’s versions.

  • Alpkit Woodsmoke – $90 / £90 | Available at Alpkit | TGO Gear Awards winner
  • Paramo Katmai Light – £85 | Available from Paramo | Chris Townsend’s Best Buy
  • Patagonia Self Guided UPF shirt – $110 / £115 | Available from Fjallraven & Cotswold Outdoors
  • Smartwool Anchor Line – $89 / £80 | Available from Smartwool
  • Craghoppers Kiwi Long Sleeve – $65 / £40 | Available from Craghoppers
  • The North Face Sequoia – $85 / £75 | Available from The North Face
  • Jack Wolfskin Stretch Vent – $56 / £60 | Available from Jack Wolfskin
  • Outdoor Research Way Station – $95 / £80 | Available from Outdoor Action
  • Columbia Silver Ridge Utility – $60 / £65 | Available from Columbia
  • Royal Robbins Amp Lite – $55 / €80 | Available from Royal Robbins

Alpkit Woodsmoke – TGO Gear Awards Winner

best hiking shirts: alpkit woodsmoke

Available in: men’s and women’s, long sleeve only Price: $90 / £90 (Available at Alpkit) Weight: 12.69 oz / 360g (medium) Materials: polyester

First on our list to the best hiking shirts is the Alpkit woodsmoke. This might have the look of the kind of casual shirt that someone might wear down the pub or to a mountain film festival but it does in fact have the performance and comfort that’s required for outdoor activity. That’s why we chose this for a prize in The Great Outdoors Awards this year; it’s a shirt that has the kind of moisture wicking and temperature regulation you want when you’re out in varied conditions on the trail.

It’s made from hollow core polyester fibres that are able to trap body heat to keep you warm whilst also lift moisture off the skin and spreading it out thin so that it can evaporate into the atmosphere quickly. In our tests, we found that sweat would build up, especially under a backpacking pack, but the shirt managed to dry out quickly so there wasn’t a lingering dampness.

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To counter the risk of odour build-up that can occur with plastic-based garments, the Woodsmoke comes embedded with Polygiene, a brand of antimicrobial treatment used in textiles to prevent the growth of odour-causing bacteria.

The fit is neat but not close and the Woodsmoke layers well over any weight of baselayer. Freedom of movement is excellent with only a small amount of hem movement when you lift your arms up.

Read more: Peter Macfarlane’s full review of the Alpkit Woodsmoke

Available at: alpkit.com

Paramo Katmai Light – Chris Townsend’s Best Buy

Paramo Katmai Light - Best Buy

The Katmai Light has been my favourite warm weather hiking shirt for many years. I usually only wear it when I expect it to be my outer layer most of the time. I hoped that would be so on this trip, but it wasn’t to be and the shirt was worn under a waterproof jacket most of the time and a windproof jacket much of the rest. It still worked well, though I don’t think it would have been as comfortable without the BAM t-shirt under it as my arms sometimes felt a little damp and chilly. It does dry fast though. The polyester fabric is soft and comfortable and was still like that after two weeks wear. I love the big bellows chest pockets that easily hold smartphone and notebook and the wide Velcro-closed cuffs with no slits to let midges in and which allow great ventilation when open. The sleeves can easily be rolled up too (not a feature I needed on this trip).

Read more: Chris’ full trip report from the Rough Bounds, including the Katmai gear test

Available from Paramo

Fjällräven Abisko Trekking Shirt

best hiking shirts: Fjallraven Abisko Trekking

SQUIRREL_BUTTON_12983072

Available in: short and long sleeve, only available in a men’s version Price: $110 / £115 (Available from Fjallraven & Cotswold Outdoors) Weight: 11.46 oz / 325g Materials: recycled polyester

This polyester shirt has a 16% elastane content giving it a nice bit of stretch. The fabric also has little holes in it that allow warm air to escape from inside and cool wind to blow through, making it lovely and fresh-feeling to wear.

In tests, the thin polyester wicked well and dried out quickly. As is the case with most synthetic shirts – at least those like this one that don’t have anti-odor treatment – the material did get smelly after a few days without washing it. The little extension at the back of the collar is a handy feature to have on those hot days when skin cover is needed.

It has four pockets in total: two poppered chest pockets and two zipped mesh pockets tucked behind these that double as vents. These pockets are big enough to hold a folded map or a large smartphone. You can also pack up the shirt into one of the zipped pockets for convenient storage.

Our tester (5 foot 10, average build) found the size M quite loose and long.

Available at: fjallraven.com

Patagonia Self Guided UPF shirt

best hiking shirts: Patagonia self guided

Available in: short and long sleeve, women’s and men’s Price: $89 / £80Weight: 6.5 oz / 184g Materials: recycled polyester

Another shirt on our list to the best hiking shirts is the Patagonia Self Guided UPF. This is a fantastically airy shirt. In hot conditions, there isn’t anything better that we’ve tried. Made from 100% recycled ripstop polyester, the material is thin and fresh feeling and the vents across the back work well to let hot air escape and cool air in. In our tests, the wicking performance was also very impressive with the fabric lifting sweat and drying out quickly.

You also get 40+ UPF protection from this and handy storage options thanks to the button down pockets on the chest. These pockets are big enough for a wallet but not for a phone.

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As is normal with polyester, this did start to smell after repeated use. It would therefore be good to see future iterations using some form of anti-odor technology, like Patagonia’s own HeiQ Pure silver-salt-based additive.

In terms of fit, our five foot 10 averagely built tester (me), said that the size M – his usual size – fitted perfectly by itself but it still also had a bit of room for a baselayer on colder days.

Kudos to Patagonia for making sure this is Fair Trade Sewn too.

Available at: cotswoldoutdoor.com

Smartwool Anchor Line

best hiking shirts: Smartwool Anchor Line

  • Available in: long sleeve and men’s only
  • Price: $200 / £170 (Available from Smartwool)
  • Weight: 3 lb 5 oz / 1502g
  • Materials: Merino, cotton, wool, nylon

Merino wool is an excellent material for outdoor use; it’s warm and comfortable, it’s water and odor resistant and it’s got a good resistance to flames – so a spitting ember from the campfire won’t instantly ruin it. This has a high merino content, with the material making up 79% of the shell. Fortunately for those who don’t like the feel of wool against the skin, the interior is made from a smooth cotton, polyester and elastane lining.

Out of all the shirts in this round up, this is the warmest by far. In winter, it serves well as a thick baselayer while in summer, it can work as a mid layer – or even a jacket.

Poppers feature throughout, including across the center front, on the cuffs and on the pockets too. The pockets are quite small in depth, and not big enough for a phone, but the pleat on each one does still create some volume.

Available at: smartwool.com

Craghoppers Kiwi

best hiking shirts: Craghoppers Kiwi

Available in: men’s and women’s, short and long sleeve Price: $65 / £40 (Available from Craghoppers) Weight: 8.99 oz / 255g Materials: recycled polyester

Craghoppers’ Kiwi shirt is a travel classic that’s been worn on many an Everest basecamp trek, African safari or long-distance walk.

Its main USP is that its fabric is woven in a way that make it able to fend off biting insects like mosquitoes and midges. It also provides a good degree of protection from UV rays.

The polycotton weave wicks away sweat effectively and it does also have a degree of water resistance but there is a threshold and in heavy and prolonged rain it can get saturated. The drying time is OK but it’s not as quick-drying as the shirts in this round-up that have high polyester content.

The fit is quite loose and baggy. Those who like a close fit might want to go a size down to their usual size. The pockets, center front and cuffs are all buttoned.

Available at: craghoppers.com

The North Face Sequoia Shirt

The North Face Sequoia Shirt

SQUIRREL_BUTTON_12983073

  • Available in: men’s only, short and long sleeve
  • Price: $85 / £75 (Available from The North Face)
  • Weight: 7.05 oz / 200g
  • Materials: recycled nylon

This is a practical shirt that offers just about everything you’d want for hiking. Made from nylon, it’s durable, UV resistant and has excellent moisture-wicking and quick-drying properties. The weave is breathable enough in itself but then there are also ventilation flaps across the back and there’s a zipped pocket on the chest that doubles as a vent too.

The center front and the cuffs are buttoned and there’s a sleeve tab that lets you fasten the sleeves when they’re rolled up. The fit is true to size and accommodates a baselayer underneath,

Credit to The North Face for using 100% recycled nylon for this too.

Available at: thenorthface.com

Jack Wolfskin Rays Stretch Vent

Jack Wolfskin shirt

SQUIRREL_BUTTON_12983076

Available in: short and long sleeve, Heidetal is the nearest women’s equivalent Price: $56 / £60 ( Available from Jack Wolfskin) Weight: 6.70 oz / 190g Materials: nylon

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This shirt from German brand Jack Wolfskin comes with bluesign approval, an industry mark that recognises sustainable and ethical methods of manufacturing. Just the inner mesh that lines the vents is made from recycled materials. The rest of the shirt, however, is made from virgin polyamide and polyester.

The material is moisture regulating and very fast drying. It also offers UV protection and comes with Jack Wolfskin’s proprietary anti-odor treatment.

On the left breast, there’s a large concealed zipped pocket that’s big enough for a standard size phone.

Available at: alpinetrek.co.uk

Outdoor Research Way Station

Outdoor Research Way Station Shirt

Available in: men’s and women’s, short and long sleeve Price: $95 / £80 (Available from Outdoor Action) Weight: 6.7 oz / 189g Materials: nylon, polyester, spandex

This shirt blends nylon, polyester and spandex resulting in a material that’s UV blocking, durable but light and that’s also moisture wicking and quick-drying. It’s bluesign approved meaning it meets industry standards in sustainable and ethical manufacture.

The weight is 144g making it one of the lightest shirts in this review and thus one of the best options for those who are gram conscious.

It has two medium-sized chest pockets – these aren’t quite big enough to comfortably hold a standard sized smartphone – and there’s also a zipped security pocket underneath the pocket on the left breast.

It’s very similar to the Patagonia and The North Face shirts in this round up, although this doesn’t have the ventilation options that they offer. Still, it is a light and airy shirt overall so that’s not much of a problem.

Available at: outdoorresearch.com

Columbia Silver Ridge Utility

Columbia Silver ridge

Available in: men’s and women’s and short and long sleeve Price: $60 / £65 (Available from Columbia) Weight: 6.4 oz / 181g Materials: recycled polyester

This shirt from U.S. brand Columbia is made from 100% recycled polyester. It’s thin, light and airy, but the fabric is woven tightly enough to make it fairly hardwearing. There’s 50+ UPF protection from it which is quite high.

As you’d expect from a polyester shirt, it’s able to wick away sweat and it’ll dry quickly. Odors will start to build up if this isn’t washed frequently enough – always the downside to polyester shirts.

Other details include vents along the back of the shoulders and there’s one chest pocket that’s sealed by a popper. The center front is closed up to the sternum by buttons and finished off with poppers.

The long sleeve version of this has a sleeve tab that lets you fasten the sleeves when they’re rolled up.

Available at: columbia.com

Royal Robbins Amp Lite

Royal Robbins Amp Lite shirt

SQUIRREL_BUTTON_12983082

Available in: men’s and women’s, short sleeve only Price: $55 / €80 (Available from Royal Robbins) Weight: 4.4 oz / 124g Materials: recycled polyester

The last product on our list to the best hiking shirts is the Royal Robins. At 122g this is the lightest shirt in this round up. It’s made from a recycled polyester that has a stretchiness to it making it very comfortable to wear and move around in. Again, this is another shirt with bluesign approval, so you can have peace of mind that this was ethically and sustainably manufactured. Royal Robbins is, after all, a brand with a good eco conscience. In fact, its founders Liz and Royal Robbins, were some of the earliest environmental advocates in climbing and in the outdoor industry and were the people who pioneered the “clean climbing” movement in the 60s.

The polyester fabric is breathable, fast wicking and quick-drying and the overall cut is quite loose and airy, making this a good shirt for hot temperatures.

In terms of features, there’s just the one small pocket which is sealed by a zipper.

Available at: royalrobbins.com

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>