What Is a Hiking Shirt

What is a Hiking Shirt? – Styles and Benefits

What is a Hiking Shirt? Hiking shirts are pieces of clothing that were created to meet the needs of hikers and backpackers. The main goal of hiking shirts is to keep individuals cool and dry. A majority of hiking shirts are made of ripstop nylon. This fabric is extremely soft and thin. It prevents the shirt from “making sounds” as a person wears it. High-quality hiking shirts are fairly breathable and allow air to flow freely through the material. Due to this quality, one can wear hiking shirts for various outdoor activities in hot and humid weather. Additionally, high-quality hiking shirts should feel soft on the skin, and make no noise when it is rubbed together. 

Hiking Shirt Styles

There are three universal hiking shirt styles that are sold by brands. 

  • Short-Sleeve Athletic: A short sleeve hiking shirt is an adaptable piece of clothing to have for the next hiking trip. It’s wonderful for warmer temperatures and can be used as a base layer for additional warmth underneath another garment. 
  • Long Sleeve: The extra fabric helps to protect the skin. During the winter, the added sleeve length gives additional insulation. If it becomes too hot, simply roll up the sleeves. 
  • Button-Shirt: A button shirt is great for temperature management, layering, and blocking out the sun. Unbuttoning the shirt helps to cool yourself down and pockets are added flair. 

Advantages of Hiking Shirts

Wearing hiking shirts come with many perks for hikers and backpackers alike. Here are some advantages of wearing them: 

  • Lightweight: Hiking shirts aren’t heavy. Most of the time, they weigh less than cotton t-shirts. This is the perfect solution for hiking, the less bulk, the better!
  • Compact: Due to hiking shirts being made of nylon, it does not take up so much space inside a backpack or bag. The shirts are great for day hikes and overnight adventures. 
  • No Bad Odor: The design of hiking shirts helps to absorb moisture from the skin. This helps hikers to be dry and cool and stops smelly odors from forming. 
  • Staying Dry and Cool: Hiking shirts permit heat and sweat to escape. This keeps hikers to stay cool, even when engaging in tough physical activity. 


When hiking, hikers are consistently exposed to moisture. It’s crucial that their clothes can dry fast. Hiking shirts can be created using different fabrics. However, the best fabrics to use are synthetic and natural fibers. Cotton holds sweat against the skin, and this can cause issues such as chafing, blisters, or rashes. It is suggested to avoid this type of material completely. 

Synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon are superb for absorbing moisture from the skin. Shirts made from these materials dry quickly are long-lasting, lightweight, and inexpensive. The only disadvantage is they hold smell more than natural fibers. 

Natural fibers such as wool are amazing at keeping hikers warm even when wet. Merino Wool is great for thermoregulation, being breathable, and absorbing sweat. The fabric has natural antimicrobial qualities that help prevent bad odor from forming. However, wool can irritate the skin and be itchy. Also, merino wool is more on the expensive side and can be less sturdy. 

Some hiking shirts combine both nylon and spandex. Blends like these are more long-lasting and flexible than garments made from polyester. These shirts are snug, flexible, and comfortable to move around in. However, blends have difficult breathability and poor odor control compared to Merino Wool and synthetic fabrics. 


It’s important to feel comfortable while going on hiking or backpacking trips. The general fit, appearance, and shirt quality are important features to notice when looking for the right hiking shirt. 

Many hiking shirts have switched to a “flatlock” seam arrangement. The seams won’t protrude and be noticeable, so this avoids chafing. There are hiking shirts that fit more snug on the body and others that are looser depending on what feels best for you. Fitted hiking shirts move in sync with you. A looser hiking shirt permits more airflow and ventilation. 


What is a Hiking Shirt?
Source: Unsplash

Hiking shirts come in numerous designs from pullover sweaters, v-necks, to the classic button-up. There are styles that have zippers, roll-up tabs, pockets, and more. Longer hikes tend to require button-up shirts that could have options to include button pockets. Most of the styles are resistant and the fabric doesn’t need to be washed frequently. Keep in mind that these features can make the shirt feel warmer. 


Make sure to check the temperature before a hiking trip. Cold weather requires dressing in layers and utilizing Merino Wool fabrics. By combining a high-quality Merino Wool clothing piece and hiking shirt, can help regulate body temperature, and keep you warm during a hike. Warmer weather permits lightweight hiking shirts to keep you cool and comfy. 


Hikers have high standards for their clothing. It needs to keep them warm, dry fast, have proper breathability, and protect them from possible inclement weather. Hiking shirts are important in making the most out of your hiking experience – when looking for the best hiking shirts be sure it is made from the right material and is comfortable to wear!

Written by Taylor Sims

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