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Womens Best Hiking Shirts

The best hiking shirts for women are the ones that:

  • you wear on every hike because they fit perfectly;
  • stand up to trail dirt without staining;
  • protect tender skin from sunburn and insects and abrasions;
  • can be used in your layering strategy for warmth and ventilation;
  • look great after 25 (and beyond) wash and dry cycles.

I've been hiking for 45+ years so it's safe to say I've purchased and tried dozens of hiking shirts.

Here's where I tell you which ones are the best hiking shirts.

These recommendations are for womens hiker shirts, but the brands I favor also make great hiking shirts for men.


The best hiking shirts
have these features

You might be thinking that it's a little over the top to call out the best hiking shirt features, and if so, just skip down to where I name names.

If you want to size up the quality, versatility and durability of hiking clothing, this stuff is for you.

Quality: Think about this...

  • If you're a beginning hiker who plans to hike only in warm dry weather, don't spend lots of money on high end technical hiking shirts. Just wear what you've already got until you figure out if this hiking thing works in your life.
  • If you're a committed hiker, don't spend lots of money on hiking shirts unless you are hiking in areas prone to downpours, cold weather mood swings, blazing sun and insects.
  • If you're a rabid "don't get between me and the trail" kind of hiker, you need hiking shirts that will perform all of the functions I listed above.


Versatility: You need a hiking shirt that...

  • can be worn under or over other hiking clothing;
  • is rated at UV 40+, meaning it blocks sun rays 40 times longer than if you were without it;
  • has no cotton fibers (only nylon & polyester) so will dry quickly if you jump into the lake to cool off;
  • fits well to protect you from pesky insects and creepy crawlies;
  • will draw sweat away from your body and enhance evaporation, keeping you cooler;
  • looks good enough to go into town at the end of the hiking day.

Durability: Your hiking clothing needs to...

  • "wash & wear" in any conditions, including a lake, stream or puddle;
  • be thrown into the washing machine, and then the dryer, with no qualms about shrinkage, loss of color, or pilling;
  • last for at least 5 years of regular trail use (until you get a huge rip from a low hanging branch, or burn a giant hole in it at the campfire, or spill fuel from your backpacking stove on it, whichever comes first);
  • have extra buttons, if that's the closure method;
  • feature reinforced seams, to allow for some pretty vigorous movements.

Opinion: The best sleeveless
hiking shirts for women hikers

A sleeveless hiking shirt is the way to go if you've applied sunscreen.


Some of my favorite sleeveless hiking shirts are from Under Armour.

I prefer a modified tank style, with enough fabric to cover the straps of my sports bra and to prevent chafing from my pack.

The wicking ability of these shirts is wickedly good, and they don't hang onto body or cooking odors after they're laundered.

Lots of options to choose from for colors and fit...

like this one from Columbia.

Or this one, from ExOfficio.

And here's another great choice, from Sierra Designs.

What I like:

  • a built in bra with removable cups;
  • wicking fabric with some "give" to it;
  • wide shoulder straps to protect against pack chafing.


The best short sleeved hiking shirts

Sometimes a sleeveless shirt won't give me enough protection from the sun, bugs, or a brushy trail.

That's when I don one of these little beauties from Helly Hansen.

There are lots of reasons to love this shirt.

The short list includes:

  • wicking, fast drying polyester;
  • nice color selection;
  • softness against your skin;
  • reinforced seams;
  • no wrinkles when you pull it out of your pack.

Helly Hansen makes really great hiking clothing for women, and based on my long experience wearing their products, you won't go wrong wearing these shirts.

Is style really important to you on the trail?

This V-necked version with an interesting finish to the fabric might be more appealing.


The best long sleeved hiking shirts

Keeping our mantra of quality, versatility and durability in mind, here's my absolute favorite shirt to take along on every hike except winter snowshoeing:

Ex Officio convertible hiking shirt.

This shirt has traveled to many hiking destinations over a 7 year period, and it still looks great.

I like a white shirt because it keeps me cool and doesn't seem to attract as many insects.

Worried that white attracts dirt?

The dirt washes right out, whether in the Canning River in Alaska, a fjord in Greenland, or the washing machine in the laundry room.

Another nifty feature: You can roll up the sleeves and secure them with buttons, making this shirt versatile enough to leave other shirts at home (thus, a lighter pack).

My husband has a version of this shirt, and he says to add his testimonial about durability and good fit!

One of my best hiking shirts!

If you're hiking in windy hot conditions,  you'll need a shirt that can protect you from UV rays and the drying effects of all of that wind.

This shirt is designed to do just that: the Solar Wind shirt.



Tip: Always add a hiking vest to your long sleeved shirt once conditions demand more insulation to protect your vital organs in your torso from heat loss.

A cozy collar on a vest also blocks a cool breeze, keeping you more comfortable on the trail.


The best hiking shirts keep you comfortable AND look great

Who could argue with that statement, right?

But there are a LOT of places you can buy a hiking shirt. Overwhelm is not only possible, but probable.

The clothing companies I use and have recommended to you have been around for a long time, and are interested in developing a long term relationship with hikers.

Their price points are higher, but sometimes you can score a deal! It's worth a try, right?


If you decide to buy less durable (and thus less expensive) hiking shirts, please avoid cotton.

  • It's not going to give you the sweat wicking and fast drying features you really need on the trail.
  • It will get baggy and smelly after a season of hard hiking.
  • And don't overlook its association with hiking hypothermia.


Interested in plus size hiking clothing? You're not alone! Read these tips for locating the best companies that make great active wear in extended size ranges.


Send me any questions you have about hiking by using the CONTACT link at the top left of this page.

Happy hiking shirt questing!


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