I learned early in my formative hiking years that any ole’ shirt doesn’t cut it as a hiking top. Just like you wouldn’t wear denim shorts on a multi-day backpacking trip (ouch!), a bulky, moisture-absorbing jersey would be nothing short of a suffer-fest.
So hear me out, ladies: a proper, hiking-specific shirt makes all the difference. From overall design to fabric content and seams, a lot goes into making a shirt worthy of the most rugged of outdoor pursuits. And I’m here to help you pick the finest of the litter.
From sleeveless tank tops and sun protection hoodies, to base layers and comfy tees, I’ve rounded up tried-and-true staples for a variety of adventures. Let’s take a closer look at the best hiking shirts for women.
My Review Process
Hiking and backpacking have been sewn into my lifestyle for decades. From multi-day hikes in iconic U.S. parks to sprawling mountain ranges abroad, foot-propelled adventures are my favorite elixir. And, my favorite way to explore and connect with a place.
Time in the wild will teach its share of lessons, of course. Akin to learning about preparedness and proper gear, I’ve realized how important it is to choose a hiking shirt that will go the distance on your hikes.
So what makes for the best hiking shirt? Fabric content reigns supreme, because it’s responsible for sweat-wicking and overall breathability. Factors like UV protection and seam construction also matter. I’ll delve into these features and more in the Buying Guide below, so be sure to give it a read.
Patagonia and performance come hand-in-hand. It’s no surprise their Capilene Cool Trail Shirt steals the podium for Best Overall women’s hiking shirt.
Other than a slightly higher price tag and limited plus sizes, there’s nothing I dislike about this Patagonia Capilene Trail Shirt. The scoop neck and drop tail design provide awesome coverage and movement without annoying bunch-ups when carrying a heavy backpack. The underarm gussets and raglan sleeves prevent chafing when clocking miles, too.
What wins my heart, though, is the finely-tuned performance fabric. It’s lightweight, washes and dries in a flash, and is treated with Patagonia’s staple HeiQ Pure for reliable odor control.
Ultimately, the Patagonia Capilene Trail Shirt is one I can count on time and time again. Soft and comfortable yet built to last, it’s the one I grab above others whether hitting hiking trails for a few hours or a few days.
Crave comfort whether you’re on a mellow trail in the desert or tackling a high-elevation, cold weather traverse? Black Diamond delivers the goods with their Women’s Alpenglow Hoody.
It ticks all the boxes for technical long-sleeve tops; lightweight, moisture-wicking, and maintains breathability in tempermental weather. It also has the added bonus of a hood, UPF 50+ sun protection, and a hip security pocket for small necessities. The “BD.cool” in-fabric technology really helps regulate body temperature, too. In turn, that minimizes sweat and odor built-up.
For plus-size ladies, sizing sadly isn’t the most inclusive. But for the average female looking for a protective, long-sleeve technical shirt, it’s a solid choice. I’ve had a BD Alpenglow Hoody in my closet for years, and it continues to be my go-to for climbing, hiking and the most active adventures.
Want underarm airflow when cranking out miles on the trail? I’m with you, ladies! Especially if the forecast calls for a bit more heat, sleeveless tops are my druthers. And the one I rely on most is the Arc’teryx Lana Merino Wool Women’s Tank.
It’s made from merino wool, the creme de la creme of outdoor fabrics, spun around a nylon core for extra durability. If that sounds pricey, you’re not wrong. However, rest assured you can expect unparalleled odor control, breathability, and temperature regulation.
In terms of design, I love the simple but flattering shape; perfect for daily wear. Most of all, though, the wide shoulder straps and minimal seams ensure no chafing from backpack straps. I’ve worn the Lana on dozens of multi-day backpacking trips, and it proves its own as hiking shirt royalty every time.
Looking for an all-year hiking staple that easily transitions from the trail to the town? REI Co-op’s Sahara Tee is the kind of shirt you’ll want to buy in every color, for every type of outdoor pursuit.
The soft, lightweight polyester/spandex fabric wicks sweat and dries fast, a prerequisite for any hiking top. The antimicrobial treatment and UPF 30 protection are also big bonuses. I can see it performing swimmingly on a long-distance trek.
Although some may find the fit too boxy or loose, I think REI really hit the mark with the relaxed fit and scoop neck design. So much so that I reach for it just as often when planning a backpacking trip as when relaxing at home.
Okay, so it’s technically a quarter-zip. And a mid-layer. But Patagonia’s R1 is such a refined, timeless piece of activewear, that it squeezes into our top Zip-Up Layer pick without debate.
It’s a top you’re bound to see worn by the most seasoned of hikers and mountaineers. Why all the hype? Patagonia’s staple technical top is the epitome of versatility; perfect for layering, but beloved as a base layer, too. Featuring a waffle grid interior, the R1 traps warmth while wicking moisture. All while staying comfortable, cozy, and curbing growth of odor.
Although I do miss the older hooded R1, this updated model still has a nice longer length and zippered breast pocket. At day’s end, Patagonia’s best-selling R1 holds true as a functional, packable, colder weather shirt you can depend on for years to come. Mine has followed me on hiking trips for nearly a decade, with no plans of stopping.
Hitting the hiking trails both in peak summer and during the depths of winter? For the most fervid of outdoor-loving ladies, it’s important to choose a hiking shirt that will adjust to whatever elements you’re faced with.
Well, you can stop your search with Smartwool’s Merino Short-Sleeve Tee! The merino wool/nylon core blend masters the act of body regulation; keeping you cool in the heat and warm when the temps plummet. The naturally antimicrobial properties of wool ensure excess sweat and odors are kept in check, too.
Is it a good deal for a hiking t-shirt? Well, Merino wool clothing is hardly budget-priced, but that’s because it outlasts other fabrics. So if longevity, quality and peak performance is your hiking credence, Smartwool’s Merino Tee is fit for the task and worth the extra bucks.
For me, it was love at first adventure with the Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie. A long-sleeve, hooded shirt that excels in hot weather and the sunniest of days? Never did I think I’d enjoy full coverage in triple digit temps, but Outdoor Research makes it possible with the Echo.
The magic comes from the ultralight recycled polyester fabric, engineered with AirVent mesh technology. It provides superior all-day breathability while keeping moisture at bay. Best of all, , the Echo still provides support when a surprise wind or chill creeps in. I even use it as an extra layer during Spring ski tours!
Would a sun protection rating higher than UPF 15 be ideal? Sure. But despite being on the lower end, I still trust it to shield my skin on those brazen sunny (or even not-so-sunny) days. The Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie is an indispensable piece of hiking garb for active women.
A women’s hiking button-down that’s built for the toughest environments but looks great on and off trail? Patagonia’s Long-Sleeved Women’s Sun Stretch Shirt really hits the mark with utmost versatility.
From hot, humid weather to crisp days at elevation, the Sun Stretch is a chameleon. It excels as a sun protection top but also works as an extra layer on cooler days. The light and airy blend of nylon/T400 polyester really puts comfort at the forefront without compromising performance. I loved how the fabric dried quickly after sweaty summits and allowed stretch during more technical scrambles, too.
Like many Patagonia products, the quality comes at a price, ladies. But I found it indispensable for a motley of outdoor adventures. Plus, the craftsmanship is superb and it looks super sleek as a casual collared shirt for everyday pursuits. That kind of all-purpose utility is money well spent.
Maternity-specific activewear options are far and few in the outdoor industry. Luckily, Glamix fills the gap with a range of budget-friendly garb for the most active moms-to-be. Their Glamix Maternity Active Top was an easy pick for the best maternity hiking shirt.
Made from a lightweight, super-stretchy polyester/spandex blend, it’s soft, breathable and moisture-wicking. The perfect combination for staying cool and comfortable on hikes of any length. The gathered side ruching and longer length is a winning design, too, providing ample stretch to fit your growing belly.
The sizing takes a bit to figure out, so I recommend pregnant women size up to play it safe. But at the low price point, you won’t break the bank even if you have to order a couple of sizes for your pregnancy journey. From your initial weeks to postpartum, the Glamix Maternity Active Top is a stylish, hike-friendly maternity top that’ll win you over.
Under Armour knows how to create accessible activewear for a range of bodies and budgets, and their Tech V-Neck Twist T-Shirt is no different. It’s crowned our Best Value women’s hiking shirt because it offers quality at an affordable price you won’t think twice about.
The brand’s trusty “Tech 2.0” polyester fabric is lightweight, sweat-wicking, and dries fast. The V-neck and longer, looser design is a nice touch, too.
If you plan on layering on cooler-weather hikes, the fit may cause a bit of bunching underneath. For warm-weather outings that warrant a bit of extra airflow though, I wouldn’t hesitate to grab Under Armour’s Tech V-Neck Twist.
Women's Hiking Shirts Buying Guide
When it comes to hiking shirts (and hiking clothing in general,) avoid cotton. Synthetic blends made with polyester and nylon are the most common fabrics for activewear. They dry quickly, wick sweat, and are very breathable.
Merino wool, although pricier, is also an excellent choice. It’s naturally antimicrobial and manages odor, while helping regulate body temperatures.
Many hiking shirts for women offer sun protection, rated anywhere from UPF 1 to 40. If you’ll be regularly hiking in hot, sunny locales or at high-elevation, relief from damaging rays is super important. I recommend a lightweight hiking shirt with at least a UPF 15-20 sun protection rating.
When you sweat in the same hiking top for a season (or even a few hikes,) odor builds up; it’s a fact of an active life. A shirt with durable odor control is key, then.
Merino wool reigns when it comes to repelling stench, due to the fabric’s antimicrobial properties. Fret not if you prefer synthetic fabrics, though! Many modern hiking shirts add special odor-control treatments to help keep bad smells at bay.
Whether you’re on a day hike or a multi-day backpacking trip, a top that’s easy to wash and care for is important. Lightweight synthetic blends like polyester and nylon dry the fastest, and usually don’t require extra special care. Merino wool takes a bit more safeguarding, but its antimicrobial properties mean it can go longer without washing.
Seams (and their location) matter greatly on a hiking shirt. Whether you’re carrying an ultralight daypack or a 55-liter mountaineering load, poorly constructed or ill-placed seams can cause painful chafing and frustrating rubbing. Look for shirts that eliminate shoulder seams in general, or, use flatlock seams and stitching.
Looking for a versatile hiking shirt for women that performs on short walks and multi-day hiking trips alike? Our Best Overall pick, the Patagonia Capilene Trail Shirt, wicks sweat, dries quickly, and doesn't trap odors. It also looks just as great on trail as it does in town.
Prefer tank tops or sleeveless designs? The Arc’teryx Lana Merino Wool Tank is a clear-cut favorite for warmer temperatures, and its durability is unmatched.
If a long-sleeved, protective hiking shirt is your prerogative, Black Diamond’s Women’s Alpenglow Hoody offers an unbeatable UPF sun rating, and quality to boot.
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.