The Best Shirts for Hiking – Stay Cool AND Dry

When you’re on the trail, you want the best shirt for hiking possible.

A good hiking shirt can make all the difference in keeping you cool, comfortable, and protected from the sun. Usually, these are usually made out of synthetic material blends for the best performance.

Did you know that synthetic shirts block more sun than cotton, according to A cotton-based shirt will hold onto sweat like nobody’s business. A synthetic one, however, will actively dry off as you keep moving. It’s one of those things that you don’t appreciate until you need it.

Man standing on rock in a forest

In today’s roundup, I am going to cover what I consider to be the best shirts for hiking based on the following criteria:

  1. Cost
  2. Sun protection
  3. Material
  4. Style (Kidding, mostly)

Comparison of the shirts

NameSun ProtectionPriceView
The Columbia Men's Tech Trail IIUPF 50 $$On Amazon
Hanes Men's Cool Dri T-ShirtUPF 50$On Amazon
North Face Men's HyperLayer FCUPF 30$$On Amazon
Mountain Hardwear CanyonUPF 50$$$On Amazon
Mountain Hardwear Canyon Short SleeveUPF 30$$$On Amazon

Columbia Men’s Tech Trail IIColumbia Tech Trail

While it’s far from a budget option, one of the most expensive shirts on the list, it’s a reliable option. It ticks all of the boxes: good fit, excellent material blend (94% Polyester, 6% Elastane) with their “omni wick” moisture-wicking technology. It also provides

UPF 50 sun protection for those hot days on the trail. That means it blocks both harmful types of rays from the sun, UVA and UVB.

For the money, this is definitely one of the highest performing shirts on this list.


Hanes Men’s Cool Dri T-Shirt Hanes Cool Dri

The clear budget winner here is from Hanes, and I’m convinced that you won’t find a better option for the price. It’s made of 100% polyester and also has UPF 50 sun protection. I own a pair of these shirts, and they do not disappoint.

Even after a full day outside and sweating them up – they don’t say wet long. The moisture-wicking is excellent, and the fit is surprisingly good.

It did run a little small, but not by much. You may want to look into sizing up if you purchase them.


North Face Men’s HyperLayer FC North Face Hyperlayer

North Face is a brand that has grown on me a lot over the past year or so. That said, this shirt’s sun protection is a little disappointing coming in at UPF 30. The material is again 100% polyester so that it will take care of sweat with no issues.

Right now, this is one of the brands that I trust the most to provide a high-quality shirt that will last for years. The price isn’t the best, but it’s not close to the most expensive shirt on the list.


Mountain Hardwear Canyon Mountain Hardwear Canyon Longsleeve

This hiking shirt takes utility above and beyond the other shirts on this list. It has two front pockets and two zippered pockets on the chest – perfect for essentials you don’t want to lose or leave behind.

It’s also made of 100% polyester and rated UPF 50, which is excellent and what I’ve come to expect from an outdoor shirt. The significant advantage here is that it also has a collar that you can flip up to protect your neck.

Overall, a great shirt that you would have trouble going wrong with. The only downfall is the price in that it’s the most expensive shirt on the entire list.

With the advantages it offers over the other shirts, it definitely deserves a look.


Mountain Hardwear Canyon Short Sleeve Mountain Hardwear Canyon Short sleeve

I couldn’t finish this list without at least including one short sleeve shirt. I know that not everyone may prefer long sleeves for their outdoor activities, so I included what I considered to be one of the best out there. And as you probably guessed, this one is a copy of the above shirt, except for lower sun protection (UPF 30)

It has the exact same polyester construction and the same front pockets as the above. If you’re looking for a breathable, high-quality shirt to keep you cool while you hike – look no further.


Overview of all of these hiking shirts

By now, you probably have a good idea of which hiking shirt is for you. I think in comparing all of these shirts, it’s obvious to me how similar they all are. Not only in function, but the higher end ones are all priced almost precisely the same.In this case, the best shirt for hiking is going to come down mainly to your budget. 

I’m a fan of spending a little bit more money to get a potentially longer-lasting shirt, but there’s no guarantee that price = quality. For durability, I tend to side with North Face. Their shirt here underperforms compared to the Columbia or Mountain Hardwear shirts, but it is also significantly cheaper. For the money, the Hanes shirt is unmatched with the sun protection it offers. I know that Hanes isn’t going to get you any street cred, but it’s a great shirt. The moisture-wicking it provides is top-notch.

If you’re going for utility and you like to have a lot of storage, there’s only one option on this list: The Mountain Hardwear shirts. The abundance of pockets helps store little things like a pocket knife or car keys. The collar is also a nice touch that none of the other shirts can offer. I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed by any of these shirts for hiking. Read the reviews from other users and follow your wallet’s heart!

As always, I hope that you enjoyed reading this gear guide, and you have a better idea of what to get for your next hike!

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