Long summer adventures under a bright yellow sun can easily damage your skin. Sunscreen is always good, but between forgetting to bring it and forgetting to reapply it, you can still get burnt. The solution might be buying one of the best long sleeve hiking shirts for hot weather. Armed with one, you can adventure to your heart's content, knowing that you’re protected.
These shirts, also called sun shirts, are excellent summer choices. There are options that help you regulate temperature, wick away sweat, and block up to 98% of UV rays. As the world slowly gets hotter, protection from the sun is not only a good move now, it’s a prudent investment in your hiking future.
My Review Process
I’ve been hiking for nearly three decades. Throughout that time, I’ve had my fair share of painful encounters with the sun. Coming back from a hike looking like a radioactive orange is horrible for your skin and your overall health. If the burns get bad enough, even sitting down becomes a chore. Sunscreen was my go-to until I found the best long sleeve hiking shirts.
The biggest advantage to these options is the UPF rating. A UPF of 50 is the equivalent of blocking 98% of sunlight from getting through the fabric. In many cases, these shirts are more reliable than sunscreen, which can wash off when you sweat. I still recommend bringing sunscreen, but starting with a long sleeve hiking shirt gives you excellent added protection.
With that in mind, let’s dive into the list of my top 10 long-sleeve hiking shirts.
The Mountain Hardwear Canyon Long Sleeve is my choice for the best overall long sleeve hiking shirt. I wouldn't call it a formal shirt, but it’s very versatile and looks good both on and off the trail. Plus, it features numerous pockets, including a regular chest pocket and a side chest pocket for easy sunglasses storage. I also love the back vents to increase airflow.
Mountain Hardware makes great outdoor gear, but because it's a popular brand name, this shirt is much more expensive than others made with similar materials (mesh and polyester). Additionally, while button-up hiking shirts are well-made and stylish, you could argue that snaps would make it easier to take it on and off.
Overall, this comfortable and versatile long sleeve shirt checks a lot of boxes. I love the generous back venting, extended collar to protect your neck, and all the extra sun protection that a UPF 50 rating gets you. This is a great choice.
The Columbia Silver Ridge Lite Long Sleeve is my choice for the best men’s long sleeve hiking shirt. This solid entry comes at a digestible price, features quick-drying and sweat-wicking fabric, and has a solid UPF rating of 40.
There are a couple of downsides. For lighter and shorter hikes it’s a no-brainer, but intensive outdoor activities will reveal some durability issues. The lightweight fabric tends to stretch, and the stitching can unravel over time. Additionally, like many other moisture and sweat-wicking fabrics, the shirt gradually starts to smell.
If you need a long sleeve hiking shirt for the summer months, the Silver Ridge is a tried and tested entry. You’ll get great UV protection, quick-drying abilities, and a breathable, comfortable shirt to wear.
The Columbia Women’s PFG Tamiami II is an excellent option and my choice for the best women’s long sleeve hiking shirt. Featuring a stylish design, comfortable fabric, and a collar for added sun protection, the shirt looks and feels great on the trail. It also comes with two decently sized zipper pockets on the hip.
I wish there were more pockets, especially in the chest area. The convenience of a chest pocket to hang sunglasses or store small snacks would increase the overall utility. Additionally, while the large back vent is very useful, when sandwiched against a backpacking pack, it won’t work as well.
However, the comfort, great look, and collar of this lightweight long sleeve shirt make it a hiking winner. For more options, check out our article on the best hiking shirts for women.
This fun-looking hoodie design is my choice for the best moisture-wicking long sleeve hiking shirt. Like many top entries, it has an excellent UPF 50 rating. However, the comfortable fit and hood for full top-down protection set it apart from similar offerings. To seal the deal, it’s available for much less than brand names like Patagonia or Black Diamond.
The one downside I found is the sizing. While generally true to form, the larger size options fit more like a t-shirt. It’s not skin-tight, but if you want a little more room in the chest, I recommend going up a size.
However, for dry, warm mountain days when sunburn is a real concern, the Willit Sun Protection Hoodie is a great moisture-wicking shirt.
There are several Merino wool products in the outdoor gear world, so I was excited to try this one from Unbound. Clearly, it made an impression and won me over for the best odor-resistant hiking shirt. Merino is a wonderful natural wool with stink-proof qualities and even works well when wet. These excellent shirts are also made from ethically sourced merino, a great bonus.
The biggest downside to this lighter hiking shirt has nothing to do with performance. The Unbound Merino long sleeve kept me cool in the summer and works as a great base layer hiking shirt for winter. However, it’s pricey and doesn’t come with many color options.
Despite the price, it’s clear your money’s well spent here. A long sleeve shirt that has great temperature regulation and doesn’t hold onto odors is a win-win for me. I recommend this nice shirt if you want maximum comfort and don't want to smell like a wild animal after a hike.
Vapor Apparel’s Long Sleeve shirt is my choice for the best sweat-wicking long sleeve hiking shirt. The shirt features sweat and moisture-wicking polyester, is quick-drying, and has a fantastic UPF 50 rating. In fact, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends this level of sun protection for people who'll be outside for hours at a time.
The fit of this long sleeve is a bit tighter. A tighter fit is both a good and bad thing. On the negative side, a tight fit can feel restrictive when hiking and wearing a heavier pack. However, the tighter fit means it's harder for the shirt to get caught on errant branches or rocks sticking into the trail.
Overall, if you want a shirt that will keep you protected against harmful UV rays, the Vapor Apparel Men’s Long Sleeve Shirt is up to the task.
Patagonia’s Long-Sleeved Capilene Cool Lightweight Shirt is my choice for the best lightweight long-sleeve hiking shirt. A Patagonia staple, this shirt is very breathable and quick drying. It’s also made with a lighter-weight Merino base for excellent odor control. On top of all that, it’s just really comfortable to wear.
The downside is the fragility of the shirt. While an excellent lightweight option, be careful slinging your pack around as it may stretch the shirt out. It won’t take much force to warp the shape since the material is so thin.
However, this shirt can be a great sun protection option or base layer for colder weather. Its versatility, featuring a merino wool blend for comfort, odor control, and quick drying ability, makes it a multi-season winner.
Hanes has made a surprisingly great hiking shirt with their Cool Dri T-Shirts. These shirts are comfortable to wear and feature 100% moisture-wicking polyester and a UPF Rating of 50. They’re my choice for the best long-sleeve hiking shirt for hot weather.
Because of the flat neckline, you might want to get a neck gaiter or a buff to protect your skin from getting burnt on particularly bright days. However, with great temperature regulation, moisture wicking, and quick drying capabilities, this is a great long sleeve hiking shirt. And it’s available at a great price.
It comes with two large chest pockets and utility loops, which can be great for quickly setting your sunglasses on. I love the vented back panel and easy tabs for holding rolled-up sleeves in place. The collar also gives you an extra measure of sun protection for your neck.
The one big downside to this option is the reduced UPF rating of 30. This is still a great degree of sun protection for most outdoor activities but offers less protection than others. However, with a stylish and loose fit, this crisp button-down shirt doesn’t feel restrictive and provides a comfortable hiking option for both on and off the trail.
This is a great alpine summer option and my choice for the best-value long sleeve hiking shirt. Baleaf’s hoodie shirt has an excellent sun protection rating and is very durable. That durability guarantees years of use and abuse in the backcountry. The large hood also fits most heads easily.
On the downside, thicker polyester means breathability takes a hit. However, if you use this for alpine terrain and mountaineering, you’ll appreciate the thicker moisture-wicking polyester. All in all, if big mountain objectives are part of your summer calendar, spring for this option.
Summer Long-Sleeve Hiking Shirt Buying Guide
Dedicated hiking shirts are a special breed. They're more comfortable than your average cotton shirt and don't hold onto sweat. Some also have odor-controlling capabilities and higher UPF ratings than many tubes of sunscreen. Also, they’re not all built the same.
Consider the combination of factors below carefully before settling on your new favorite long sleeve hiking shirt. And, check out our best hiking pants for hot weather to complete the ensemble.
Costs for long sleeve hiking shirts vary. Some of the best options have price ranges between $15-30. Name brands like Columbia and Patagonia charge more, but their products are well-loved and reliable. For those, expect to pay between $50-80.
Long sleeve hiking shirts consist of different materials, each with its own benefits. The main materials used are polyester, nylon, merino wool, and elastane.
Polyester is a great synthetic moisture-wicking fabric and can be coated with COOLMAX or other additives to increase temperature regulation. Merino wool is a natural wonder that feels great and dampens odors. Nylon fabrics are similar to polyester but generally more durable and stretchier. Elastane is used for extra stretchiness, which is nice for a form-fitting style.
There are three general types of long-sleeve hiking shirts:
1. Collared button-up shirts
Collared shirts have a little more fabric but come with extra neck protection. They can also double as casual dress shirts.
2. Relaxed collar long sleeve shirts
These are usually thinner and more breathable but can have durability issues over time.
3. Long sleeve hoodies
These full-coverage shirts block the sun from your head to your waist. However, the hood can fly off in windy weather, and the material may be thicker than what you’d want in the middle of summer.
Comfort & Fit
Generally, thicker long sleeve shirts, like the Baleaf Men’s Sun Protection Shirt, will cover your whole torso. They're thick enough to be bushwhacking shirts and can act as bug shirts if the need arises. However, the thicker material affects comfort. It’s still soft and stretchy, but thinner models like the Patagonia Capilene will feel better and weigh a little less.
The fit generally comes in two styles, form-fitting or loose. Fitted shirts won’t get caught on sticks, roots, or rocks but can feel restrictive, especially when it’s really hot. Baggier, casual shirts fit a wide variety of body sizes comfortably, but the fabric can get caught in windy conditions and rip against branches or rocks if you’re scrambling.
UPF stands for Universal Protection Factor. It is a measure of how effective an article of clothing is at repelling UV rays. 50 is the highest rating and equates to roughly 2% of UV rays getting through the clothing. A UPF rating of 30 or more is considered good for outdoor activities with lots of sun.
A UPF rating is different from an SPF Rating. SPF (sun protection factor) is a measure of how long it would take your skin to burn. With an SPF of 0, the skin would start to burn after roughly 10 minutes.
Breathability & Durability
Shirts made with breathable material tend to be less durable but are the best hot-weather shirts out there. Pay special attention to the location of the vents. If vents are on the back of your shirt and you're wearing a pack, the effect is muted. Lighter shirts with thin fabric can also start to fray and degrade much faster than thicker shirts.
Thicker shirts have heavier fabric but can handle regular washing and travel through rugged terrain. I'd think twice about taking extra fabric into a hot environment like a desert, but the chances of them breaking are much less. If your adventures take you to places with cooler temperatures, the durable fabric is a great base from which to add layers.
The best overall long sleeve hiking shirt, and one of my favorite shirts, is the Mountain Hardwear Canyon Long Sleeve. If you want a long sleeve with maximum skin coverage, I recommend the Willit UPF 50+ Sun Protection Hoodie.
I also highly recommend the stylish, lightweight, and comfortable Columbia Women’s PFG Tamiami II. And, of course, if you’re looking for the best value, spring for Baleaf’s Long Sleeve Hiking Shirt. It isn’t the cheapest option, but the thicker polyester will last through the many rugged adventures.
*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.