super thin shirt?

2:54 p.m. on March 26, 2013 (EDT)
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I will be thru hiking the PCT this summer, and the first bit of the trip is through desert.  I am looking for a shirt that is so thin, its practically see through.  I want a shirt like this to help keep the sun off me.  Any suggestions on brands or perhaps fabrics to look for?

4:31 p.m. on March 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Greetings Elliott!

What first comes to mind is the Mountain Hardware Wicked Lite series. I have a long sleeve version that is polyester and perhaps the fastest drying shirt I own. I use it for sun protection in summer and as a base layer in winter.

It isn't see through but is the thinest I've seen short of a mesh top.

And speaking of mesh: check the brynje items on closeout here:


For desert hiking the common wisdom I've heard is to wear cotton which can prolong the evaporation process and thereby provide more cooling. I've only done one dry-hot trip though so I'm no expert.

Some ideas anyway....

5:11 p.m. on March 26, 2013 (EDT)
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no need to pay big bucks for some technical underwear when a lightweight cotton t shirt will do...

6:28 p.m. on March 26, 2013 (EDT)
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White loose cotton is the old stand by, but I had good luck with some of the under armor shirts designed for the military. My best advice for anybody goin into the desert is to get a big hat, cowboys didnt wear them for looks. I like a sombrero the best, kinda loosely woven for the air to flow thru. Look at traditional desert people, they know how to survive in the oven.

11:38 a.m. on March 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Thank for the replies guys.  I was looking into the traditional shirts that Middle Eastern people may wear.  They are cotton and super thin and lightweight.  I just have to find a store that sells them!

12:25 p.m. on March 27, 2013 (EDT)
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two thoughts.  if you are looking for straight cotton, short sleeve button down shirts, try hawaiian shirts.  cheap and cool.  if you would rather have a light synthetic that wicks and vents to keep you cool, a bunch of places make shirts where the back or sides are vented.  i have an old columbia short-sleeve shirt, and i'm sure LL Bean and places like cabela's or bass pro sell shirts for fishing with the same general design. 

12:27 p.m. on March 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Lightweight cotton shirts in the summer around here in Nevada, just make sure they have long sleeves and a collar.  A broad brimmed hat is hard to wear with a packframe or tall internal pack.  I like the Columbia hats with sides and brim in the back.

A ripstop nylon shirt has some utility for hot weather, but does not breathe as a well as cotton. I use them around water like fishing and canoeing when they can have some water added for evaporative cooling.

I got some great light cotton shirts in bolivia for $8 apiece that I wear all the time when it is hot.  There are great shirts from Mexico and Guatamala, but you have to look for them.

1:08 p.m. on March 27, 2013 (EDT)
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For my desert hikes, I go to Goodwill, or other second hand clothing stores. They have white dress shirts, often in very lightweight cotton. Long sleeved and loose. When I hiked in Yemen in the 70's most of the men wore similar shirts, and western style suit jackets with the sleeve cut was a fashion thing. For head gear, a baseball cap with a white flap sewn to the back to cover the neck works well. I have also used an old cork tropical helmet. It may look goofy, but they are very practical because you can wet them down and cool your head, which is very important in the hot climates. Daytime highs in Yemen and Ethiopia when I was there, ranged up to 120 degrees or a bit more. You won't have that sort of extreme, so you won't need to hike looking like TE Lawrence.

10:54 p.m. on March 27, 2013 (EDT)
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My avatar was taken in the So Cal high desert.  I do A LOT of camping there.  I am wearing one of those cheap Hawaiian shirts you can get at the local drug store for about $10. Works as well as those $80 tech fabric shirts hawked in the sporting goods stores.  Both the cotton and synthetic versions of the cheap Hawaiian shirts work.

I found that the suggestions mentioned by both Leadbelly and Erich work well.  If you go with the loose fitting dress shirt, opt for one that appears more worn; the weave on newer shirts need to be "opened up" to vent better and allow more efficient evaporation. 

Perhaps even more important than your shirts will be the choice of head wear.  Keep the sun off both your head and neck. I will use a boonie hat or cap with a bandana tucked in around the rim and draped down over my neck to shield from the sun.  Both hat and bandana can be wetted down if you choose.  But for really hot and sunny exposure I find using a parasol better yet than the hat/bandana combo.  I prefer the Go-Lite model with the aluminized topside.

No matter what you choose for apparel, however, you  will find it plenty hot hiking in the desert during the summer time.  Enjoying sweat soaked physical toil is an acquired pleasure.  If you can embrace the sweat, salt grittiness and stickiness as a sort of free dry spa sauna, you will suffer less, compared to going around loathing that feeling.  I find washing up and getting into clean clothes after setting up camp goes a long way toward rehabilitating my sense of comfort.  In any case sitting around in your funk gets old, and can lead to skin problems and infections if you don't clean the grit off on a regular basis.  


10:08 a.m. on March 28, 2013 (EDT)
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I already have everything I need, except some sort of shirt.  Ill have to just shop around and see what I can get.  Thanks guys!

7:27 p.m. on March 28, 2013 (EDT)
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When i rode my MC across the USA and ended up at a point in time in the south west i bought a shirt at walmart made by the chinese with Remington logo on the tag. it was a shear nylon in  oak camo with a vented mesh back held closed by a velcro tab.

I bought it for a real loose fit so that sun didn't cook this Yankee. I rode thru 7 of 5 deserts there from baker field to needles.

 If not for signs, it all looked like one big desert to me. I doubt i paid over 10 bucks for that shirt.

7:40 p.m. on March 28, 2013 (EDT)
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that's the high desert in California. one straight road goes thru it all.

9:15 p.m. on March 28, 2013 (EDT)
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My vote is for a single needle men's white dress shirt.  Like what one might wear to a job interview, sans tie of course.  $1.50 at a thrift store, not much more retail.

June 18, 2018
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