The Best Hiking Shirts in Australia [2019]


Author: Gaby Pilson - Professional Mountain Guide

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It might seem like a minor piece of equipment, but a hiking shirt is actually a critical piece of outdoor gear.

While you could just wear any old t-shirt, a proper hiking shirt is designed to protect you from the sun and the elements, keep you comfortable, wick sweat, and minimise that not-so-sweet mountain smell while you live your best life in the outdoors.

Our job here is to help you find the best hiking shirt out there, so we created this guide to do just that.

After the summary table below, we’ll walk you step-by-step through the ins-and-outs of hiking shirts and what to look for before you buy. Then we’ll finish up with detailed reviews of 5 of the best hiking shirts out there.

Note this article focuses on mens hiking shirts. Click here to check out hiking shirts for women.


iMAGE
PRODUCT
OUR #1 RATED
OUR #1 RATED

THE NORTH FACE ALPENBRO

  • UPF 50
  • Zippered chest pocket
  • Strategically placed shoulder seams
  • Quick dry


SALOMON TRAIL RUNNER

  • Lightweight
  • Sustainable and natural bamboo fabric
  • Odor resistant
  • Moisture wicking


ARC'TERYX ELAHO

  • UPF 40 protection
  • Gusseted underarms for mobility
  • Breathable material


KUHL AIRSPEED

  • Moisture wicking
  • Well ventilated
  • Zippered and buttoned pockets


MARMOT ACCELERATE

  • Affordable
  • UPF 30
  • Reflective
  • Breathable

How to choose the Best hiking shirt

Buying a hiking shirt might seem easy (it’s just a shirt, right?) but it turns out that these pieces of outdoor gear are actually loaded with a bunch of high-tech features to keep you comfortable as you charge uphill. Here are some things to look out for:

Material

The main characteristic that differentiates a hiking shirt from something you’d wear around town is the material. Here are some of the different materials you might see in a hiking shirt:

1. Cotton

Generally speaking, many of our urban-use t-shirts are made from cotton, which is cheap and comfortable. But, cotton can be dangerous outdoors because it has zero insulating properties when wet - in fact, it actually makes you colder! Thus, it’s best to avoid cotton t-shirts in most outdoor settings.

2. Synthetics

Many hiking shirts are made from synthetic fabrics, which are great at wicking moisture and keeping you comfortable, even when wet. But, they tend to trap odors and will smell pretty horrible after a few days in the mountains.

3. Merino Wool

This wonder fabric is all natural and is great at wicking away sweat on a hot day. It dries fairly quickly and stays warm even when wet. Plus, it is really good at repelling odors, which keeps you smelling fresh on day 10 of your backpack. But, all these features come at a cost: merino can be quite expensive.

Sun protection

Many high-end hiking shirts actually offer some semblance of sun protection, which is great for preventing sunburns and reducing the amount of sunscreen you need to use. Shirts that protect you from the sun will have an SPF (sun protection factor) or UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating.


hiking shirt reviews

Now that you know what to look for in a hiking shirt, let’s get right to the reviews!

#1 The North Face Alpenbro review

TOP PICK

BUY AT wild earth

The North Face is known for making outdoor gear that looks good, and the Alpenbro is no exception. Built for strenuous hikes, the Alpenbro provides style and protection in a long-sleeve button-up shirt design.

Made with FlashDry technology, which helps wick moisture away, and a UPF 50 fabric, the Alpenbro is designed to protect you from the elements. Our favourite part? The North Face strategically placed the shoulder seams a bit closer to the chest on the Alpenbro to increase durability and help reduce irritation when carrying a backpack.

Pros
  • UPF 50
  • Zippered chest pocket
  • Strategically placed shoulder seams
  • Quick dry                                                       
cons
  • Relatively expensive
  • Synthetics can smell bad                        

#2 Salomon Trail Runner tee review

BUY AT wild earth

The Salomon Trail Runner is a hiking shirt with a classic t-shirt design. Made out of a lightweight and breathable bamboo charcoal fabric, the Trail Runner naturally repels odours and dries quickly to keep you comfortable even when you’re moving quickly in the heat.

Since it’s a t-shirt, the Trial Runner doesn’t offer as much protection from the elements as other designs do, but if you like high-octane activities in the mountains, then the Salomon Trail Runner might be the hiking shirt for you.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Sustainable and natural bamboo fabric
  • Odor resistant
  • Moisture wicking
cons
  • Little sun protection
  • Not great for colder conditions              

#3 Arc'teryx Elaho shirt review

BUY AT wild earth

​A light, button-up long sleeve shirt that looks as good in town as it does on the trail, the Arc’teryx Elaho is a super versatile hiking shirt for the mountains. Specifically designed for trekking and hiking, the Elaho is made with a lightweight, airy, and durable technical fabric.

The Elaho's high-quality fabric breathes well to keep you cool on the trail all while providing you with UPF 40 protection from the sun. Even though this is a long sleeved shirt, it has gusseted underarms for a full range of motion, making it a great option for your next hiking adventure.

Pros
  • UPF 40 protection
  • Gusseted underarms for mobility
  • Breathable material                                 
cons
  • Synthetic materials can smell bad
  • Expensive                                                  

#4 Kuhl Airspeed shirt review

BUY AT WILD EARTH

​The Kuhl Airspeed combines all of the benefits and style of a button-up shirt with the functionality of a t-shirt. Made with AirVolution fabric, the Airspeed helps protect you from the sun while wicking moisture and drying quickly in the heat.

The Airspeed has knit panels on the back and on the sleeves to allow for natural movement while you hike. If that wasn’t good enough, even though it’s made from a nylon/polyester blend, it feels like cotton without any of the negative consequences!

Pros
  • Moisture wicking
  • Well ventilated
  • Zippered and buttoned pockets              
cons
  • Not as much protection as a long-sleeve
  • Synthetics can smell bad

#5 Marmot Accelerate shirt review

BUY AT WILD EARTH

​If you need a high-quality hiking shirt without the high price tag, the Marmot Accelerate might be the shirt for you. Perfect for high-output activity with its perforated AirExchange fabric, the Accelerate can accompany you on a quick morning trail run or a day out in the mountains.

The AirExchange fabric in the Accelerate is quick-drying and wicking with UPF 30 protection and a reflective covering to keep you visible even at dawn and dusk. The Marmot Accelerate is a great hiking shirt option for outdoor enthusiasts on a budget!

Pros
  • Affordable
  • UPF 30
  • Reflective
  • Breathable                                               
cons
  • Not as much protection as a long sleeve
  • Synthetics can smell bad

verdict

Since you can only wear one hiking shirt at a time, you better make sure it's a good one. If we had to choose one shirt out this line-up, it would be The North Face Alpenbro, which combines sun protection with fast wicking fabric and a smart, hiking-inspired design. See you on the trail!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mountain guide

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Gaby Pilson

Professional Mountain Guide


A professional mountain guide and experienced outdoor educator, Gaby enjoys travelling and exploring the world’s most remote locales.

As a writer and editor, Gaby has written for a variety of climbing and travel blogs, news sites, and climbing magazines.

She is currently finishing a master’s degree in outdoor education but in her free time, Gaby loves a strong cup of coffee and searching for the next great adventure.