What Hiking Shirt Should You Wear? 7 Considerations

a hiking shirt

As an Amazon Associate, Modded gets commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Ah, the great outdoors. What’s better than smelling mountain air, crackling fire and the dirt on your shoes? Millions of people go hiking annually. Your trek could be an hour or an all-day affair. Regardless, you’ll need a solid hiking shirt to ensure your comfort. 

Choosing your hiking shirts can be challenging. There are a lot of factors to consider! So, how do you pick one out? Here’s a guide on selecting a hiking shirt for your next walk on the trail. 

How Do You Pick a Hiking Shirt?

Hiking is one of the most popular hobbies in the U.S. Did you know nearly 60 million people went hiking in 2021? Almost all of the 60 million people have a favorite hiking shirt. How can you pick one? Use these seven factors. 

1. Climate

The top factor in your quest for a hiking shirt is the climate of your trail. Thankfully, we have research available to see what the weather will be like on your trip. Some places are easier to guess than others. 

For example, imagine you’re going to the Cascades in northern Washington. The climate here is pretty predictable. It’s going to be on the colder side with high precipitation. Once you reach October, the temperature will max around 52 degrees Fahrenheit.

On the other end, some parks are hot throughout the year. Think about the Everglades in South Florida. All year, this place is humid and sweltering. Even around Christmastime, you’ll start sweating. Thinking about a fall hike when it’s cooler? The temperature ranges in the low 90s, even close to Thanksgiving. 

2. UV Protection

When you’re outside, you become vulnerable to the sun. The only way to avoid it is to be in the shade. However, only some parks provide that protection. Imagine you’re in Grand Canyon National Park or Death Valley. You definitely need a shirt that protects you from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. 

How do you get UV protection from your hiking shirt? According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, you should find loose-fitting clothes and unbleached cotton to protect from the sun. It may be uncomfortable but don’t rule out denim for protection.   

3. Color 

The next factor in your hiking shirt expedition is color. The color matters for a few things. First, the aesthetics. Looking good out there while hiking is important. You may be on a hiking date or with a large group of friends. You dress to impress in the office. OK, maybe it’s not the same on the trail. You should pick your favorite colors to match your desired aesthetic. 

Color is also vital for protecting against UV rays and keeping yourself cool. If you know you’re headed for cold weather, you might want to take dark colors to absorb the sun’s rays. However, a dark hiking shirt won’t help you in the Everglades. Pick light colors in warm weather to reflect UV rays and stay comfortable. 

4. Sweat Protection 

The temperature could be 45 or 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Regardless, there’s a chance of sweating. If you sweat easily, don’t worry about it. It happens to the best of us. Some conditions like Parkinson’s disease or diabetes can cause sweating. You may have taken a pain reliever like Aleve that caused you to sweat more. Find a shirt with good sweat protection.

Cotton may seem uncomfortable for some, but it absorbs sweat very well. Other suitable materials for sweat protection include bamboo and linen. Taking your favorite dri-fit shirt would also be acceptable, especially if you plan to do some running. 

5. Water Resistance

Unfortunately, sweat isn’t the only thing that can hamper your hiking shirt. You may also run into rain showers. Typically, you can check the weather beforehand. Though the weather can damper your plans with a sudden storm. It can start raining cats and dogs anytime in subtropical climates, such as Florida. 

Sweat protection helps the fabric underneath. How can you find a shirt that repels the moisture on top? You need to find a waterproof or water-resistant shirt. For example, find a shirt with resistant materials like polyurethane laminate. This coating is waterproof but still comfortable on your skin. What about waxed cotton? It’s another fabric that’s terrific for water protection. It’s a little pricier, but it’s worth the cost.

6. Hike Intensity

Many outside factors determine your hike and how you should buy a hiking shirt. What about things that are in your control? One thing you will know ahead of time is your hike intensity. 

How long is your hike? The trails nationwide vary significantly depending on where you go. For example, the Glacier Point hike in Yosemite National Park is only a mile long. A brisk walk can complete the hike in about 15 to 20 minutes. You won’t need to consider your hiking shirt too much because the hike won’t take long. 

Conversely, you may encounter a difficult hike like The Maze in Utah. Specifically, it’s in the Canyonlands. It’s about 14 miles long, but that’s not the worst part. There are high cliffs and scorching temperatures in the summer. This intense hike requires high-quality clothes to ensure your comfort and protection. 

7. Extras

Shirts are shirts. They’re straightforward pieces of fabric that you wear to cover your body. Many shirts don’t come with frills. However, some tops will have extras that can be handy for hiking. For example:

  • Pockets: Shirt pockets can be controversial. However, they’re helpful for hiking because you can whip out something if needed. Do you have a Swiss army knife? What about your keys? The pockets are suitable for holding them.
  • Buttons: You may think button-up shirts are for suits and formal wear. However, they’re convenient for the trail. Imagine you start your hike when it’s cool outside, but the temperatures rise. You can unbutton the shirt and allow some air to flow inside the shirt.
  • Collars: Again, you might not associate collars with athletic gear for hiking. Though, collars benefit you with UV protection. Your neck is one of the most vulnerable places for sunburn. A collar provides simple protection that can go a long way. 

Finding The Perfect Hiking Shirt

At the end of the day, it’s all up to your and your comfort level. How does each shirt feel individually on your body? What’s suitable for one hiker may differ from your preferences. You’re the one hiking two or 20 miles, so pick the best hiking shirt for your needs. Use this guide for selecting your favorite shirt, and have fun on the trail!

Stay up to date with the latest by subscribing to Modded Minute.