Best Lightweight Hiking Shirt in 2021


Hiking can be a relaxing and fun activity. But, to fully enjoy the hike, you would need to wear comfortable clothes. Whether it is a long or a short excursion, the shirt you wear will play a key role in your comfort and general enjoyment of the hiking experience.

What You Should Know Before Buying Lightweight Hiking Shirt

Lightweight Hiking Shirt Material

When buying a trekking shirt, you should consider something comfortable, light, breathable, durable, and friendly to your pocket. These features aid in having a better hiking experience. Generally, lightweight hiking shirts are made of polyester or merino wool, and below is a short explanation of both materials.

Although it is a synthetic material, polyester is durable and does not quickly fade. That means your polyester trekking shirt will hang around in your closet for some time. It also dries faster as it is a lighter material that absorbs less moisture compared to Merino. As a synthetic material, it is also considerably cheaper than merino wool.

On the other hand, Merino wool is a naturally antimicrobial material that is good for trips that last longer than a day. By the end of the hike, your lightweight trekking shirt will not be heavily scented by your sweat as the material is odor resistant. Merino is soft and comfortable on the skin and more breathable in comparison to polyester.

Based on the above features, I recommend polyester lightweight hiking shirts as they are more durable, lighter, and cheaper.

Lightweight Hiking Shirt Styles

Hiking shirts come in several styles that include short-sleeve, long-sleeve, athletic, and button-up styles. All these are suitable for different climates, so you should have the weather at the back of your mind when choosing the design for your lightweight trekking shirt.

Long-sleeve hiking shirts are the best option for those with sensitive skin as they ensure that your arms do not get in close contact with plants that could cause allergies. These shirts are also ideal for sun protection, and when the temperature gets warmer, you can easily fold the sleeves.

Short-sleeved hiking shirts are mostly suitable for warm conditions. When hiking, you are likely to warm up very quickly, so a short-sleeved shirt will provide enough air circulation.

Button-up shirts are great for layering as well as temperature control. You can easily button up or unbutton the shirt to suit your needs at the moment. Most of these shirts have collars, meaning your neck will also have protection from the sun.

Athletic shirts are often tight, making them ideal for low temperatures. These also work well as bases when layering for the cold weather.

Zip-up shirts are another option to consider. They usually have a zip that does not go all the way to the bottom of the shirt, and they are often long-sleeved. The zip makes them perfect for both warm and cool temperatures and also provides sun protection.

Comfort and Fit

A fitting and comfortable shirt may improve your hiking experience, and it is necessary to consider the environment in which you are going to get the most suitable shirt. For instance, when hiking on a hot day, you might consider getting a cool long-sleeved shirt to protect your arms from sunburn. Your hiking shirt also has to be the ideal fit because the last thing you want is your shirt moving around or being too tight while you are trying to enjoy your hike.

Weight

A lightweight shirt is essential for an enjoyable hike as it will most likely be tiring, and you do not want extra weight from your clothes. For warm climates, consider getting a light shirt without jeopardizing its quality. In cooler weather, you can get away with a heavier shirt as it will be warm.

Sun Protection

The skin is the largest human organ, and we ought to do the best we can to protect it from sun damage. Hiking often exposes us to the sun, so it is essential to consider a shirt that will provide the most sun protection (especially in hot climates) while keeping you comfortable. You do not want to get home with a terrible sunburn.

The Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) is an excellent feature available on some shirts. UPF is a rating system that measures the extent to which material provides ultraviolet protection. The higher the UPF, the more sun protection that material provides to prevent sun damage to the skin.

Quick Drying

You will most likely sweat while hiking, and therefore a quick-drying hiking shirt may be the best way to go. Should the rain start pouring while on your excursion, these kinds of shirts will dry quickly to keep you comfortable.

Breathability

A breathable and well-ventilated shirt will reduce stuffiness and help you stay cool and dry. It allows the sweat to escape quickly, meaning that you will not have to worry about feeling sticky while hiking.

Durability

Textile waste constitutes a considerably large percentage of global waste which means that we need to do our best to reduce textile waste. Therefore, you should consider buying a durable shirt that will last longer. Not only will this be beneficial to your wallet, but also to the environment. Polyester is one of the most durable materials used in the manufacturing of hiking shirts.

Size

A correctly sized shirt is essential for comfort, and the best way to figure out your size is to look at the shirts you already own. You should also bear in mind that some brands have smaller or bigger sizes than others. When possible, always ask the shop assistants to let you try on the shirt before buying it.

Features

If you are hiking in places with lots of trees and shrubs, the chances are high that you will come across bugs and ticks. Features such as antimicrobial treatment and bug-repelling ability will come in handy. It means that you don’t have to get home and start dealing with a tick bite fever.

Some hiking shirts also come with collars which is an excellent feature to provide neck protection.

What’s the Best Lightweight Hiking Shirt?

To help you find the best lightweight trekking shirt, I have reviewed several shirts available in the market. The focus is on shirts that provide all the various qualities mentioned above, and the list below consists of five of the best hiking shirts I could find.

I have also added an FAQ section to help you with some answers that you might need answering. Enjoy the article, and hopefully, you will find your perfect match. To complete your hiking look, you can check out these best hiking pants.

1. BALEAF Women’s Long Sleeve Shirt

Specs
Price: 💲
Weight: 0.4 lb (0.2 kg)
Fabric: 100% Polyester

The BALEAF Women’s long sleeve shirt comes in a wide range of colors for every taste. The design features long sleeves UPF 50+ fabric to protect against ultraviolet rays that can be harmful to the skin.

With a 100% polyester construction, this shirt is quick-drying with a cooling effect that one would need when hiking on a warm day. However, some users have noted that the fabric is not breathable in hot summer weather. Its design allows the shirt to be worn as either a sweatshirt or an undershirt. The BALEAF Women’s shirt is my top choice, and it is also the best budget shirt on my list.

Sadly, this shirt does not stretch, and therefore you need to ensure your correct size before buying.

Pros

  • Available in a wide range of colors,
  • UPF 50+ sun protection,
  • Long-sleeved to protect your arms,
  • Quick-drying fabric,
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Does not stretch,
  • Not breathable in hot weather

2. Columbia Bahama II

Columbia Bahama II
Specs
Price: 💲💲💲
Weight: 0.7 lb (0.3 kg)
Fabric: 100% Nylon

This shirt comes with easy-to-use adjustable features such as buttons which easily convert the shirt from long to short sleeves. Hidden vents on the shoulders of this product increase breathability and comfort.

It is made with nylon fabric which is lightweight and fast-drying to keep you cool in warm temperatures. The UPF 30 nylon fabric on this shirt and its long sleeves help prevent skin damage by providing sun-protection. However, hiking shirts with UPF 50, such as the BALEAF shirt above, will provide more sun protection than the UPF 30 shirts.

This lightweight hiking shirt is a relaxed fit that makes it ideal for those who are more comfortable in loose-fitting clothes. However, the sizes run big, so you might have to order a size or two smaller than their normal size so that the shirt is not too bulky.

Pros

  • UPF 30 sun protection,
  • Loose and relaxed fit,
  • Durable material,
  • Nylon material which is fast drying,
  • Adjustable from long to short sleeves

Cons

  • Available mostly in big sizes

3. Smartwool Men’s Merino 150 Baselayer Short Sleeve

Smartwool Men's Merino 150 Baselayer Short Sleeve
Specs
Price: 💲💲💲
Weight: 0.4 lb (0.2 kg)
Fabric: 87% Merino Wool, 13% Nylon

The short sleeve design of this men’s shirt means it is ideal for warm and cool weather. It also comes with a warm lining that helps to regulate body heat to keep you cool. However, this base layer performs poorly in its moisture-wicking abilities.

This baselayer shirt is made of a blend of merino wool and nylon, which creates a durable, lightweight, and comfortable shirt that has the qualities of both fabrics. The shirt has a versatile design that allows for everyday wear apart from hiking. The raglan sleeves and flatlock seam construction also make it a more comfortable fit. The shirt is also odor resistant that makes it the best option for weekend camping and hiking trips.

The sizing on this shirt runs small and you may have to order one size up to get the best fit. It is also the best premium choice on this list.

Pros

  • Versatile design for any activity,
  • Comfortable fit with flatlock seams and raglan sleeves,
  • Does not shrink,
  • Odor resistant and durable construction

Cons

  • Some complain about the material, others praise it

4. Columbia Men’s Zero Rules Shirt

Columbia Men's Zero Rules Shirt
Specs
Price: 💲💲💲
Weight: 0.4 lb (0.2 kg)
Fabric: 100% Polyester

This baselayer features a UPF 15 material for protection against ultraviolet rays. In contrast, other shirts in this review provide UPF 30 and 50 that give more protection against sun damage. The higher UPF a material has, the more protection it grants. However, the Columbia Thistletown Park shirt also features the Omni-shade sun deflector to reduce sun damage.

The construction is a combination of polyester and cotton and is comfortable and soft on the skin. This combination material is durable because of the polyester qualities, and it is highly breathable as both cotton and polyester are breathable. However, cotton shrinks, and as a result, this shirt shrinks after the first wash, so ordering a size up is advisable. Also, the signature logo is a plastic iron-on that is likely to come off after a few washes. Its design is versatile and can be worn as casual wear and activewear.

Pros

  • Polyester and cotton blend that has a cooling effect,
  • Breathable and durable construction,
  • UPF 15 fabric prevents sunburns,
  • Versatile for hiking and casual wear

Cons

  • Iron-on signature logo peels off after washing,
  • Shrinks when washed

5. Body Glove Women’s Short Sleeve Rashguard

Body Glove Women's Short Sleeve Rashguard
Specs
Price: 💲💲
Weight: 0.2 lb (0.1 kg)
Fabric: 86% Nylon, 14% Spandex

Unlike all the other hiking shirts on this list, this shirt is a rash guard swim shirt for swimming and other water sports like surfing and kayaking. The rash guard feature protects your skin from chafing, while the UPF 50+ provides excellent ultraviolet protection.

Due to the nylon and spandex blend material, this shirt is comfortable, durable, and fast-drying, while the short sleeves also increase breathability and comfort. These features make it an ideal choice for water sports.

Although the spandex makes it stretchy, some users of this product have noted that the sizes run small, so you may want to consider getting a size or two larger for a better and more comfortable fit. You also have to be careful when washing this product as it is not colorfast.

Pros

  • UPF 50+ UV protection,
  • Nylon and spandex fabric construction,
  • Rashguard shirt for swimming and water activities

Cons

  • Not colorfast,
  • Sizes run small,
  • Takes a long time to dry

My top pick of the best lightweight hiking shirt is the BALEAF women’s long sleeve shirt. This base layer is budget-friendly while providing all the best qualities that you would require in a lightweight hiking shirt. The long sleeves and sun-protection mean you never have to worry about sunburn, and it ticks all the boxes of durability, breathability, comfort, and fit.

Questions and Answers About Lightweight Hiking Shirt

How much should I spend on a good hiking shirt?

The price of a shirt does not always determine its quality. As shown above, my top choice is also one of the most affordable hiking shirts on the market. Therefore, I would recommend focusing on the features and quality of the shirt, above its price.

Does the UPF on my hiking shirt wash off?

UPF on clothes is not supposed to wash off when you wash your clothes. However, as your shirt wears out over time, the material becomes distorted, and the protection against the sun becomes less.
To increase the durability of your UPF rated lightweight hiking shirt, remember to take note of the washing and caring instructions that come with the shirt. After wearing it, always wash it in cold water, and if you are using a washing machine, use the gentle cycle.
Also, avoid ironing or dry cleaning these shirts and ensure that they are completely dry before storing, and do not expose them to direct sunlight in an attempt to dry them. Although your shirt has sun protection, always remember to apply sunscreen before going into the sun.



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