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Types of Shirts

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Short Sleeve Performance Tops

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Long Sleeve Performance Tops

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Hiking Shirts

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Fleece Tops

Top Picks

How we choose: The best shirts highlighted here were selected based on 419 reviews of 327 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

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Top Long Sleeve Performance Top

Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

Outdoor Research’s Echo Hoodie is an ideal alternative to the grease and chemicals of sunscreen. Weighing in at 4 ounces, the Echo Hoodie provides SPF15 sun protection, with material that wicks sweat and keeps you comfortable when the sun is beating down on you. This hoodie and a ball cap completely negated my need to carry sunscreen (and bug spray) over the summer.

Reasons to Buy

  • Sun protection
  • Wicks sweat
  • Limited odor control
  • Lightweight
  • Thin material
  • Packs small
  • Sufficient length in torso and sleeves
  • Flat stitching

Reasons to Avoid

  • Durability
  • Polyester
  • THIN material
  • Hot in the shade
  • Pocketless

The Echo Hoodie became my go-to shirt for all outdoor activities this summer. I hiked in it—a lot. I ran in it. I rappelled into a cave in it. I mowed my yard and took a follow up nap on my deck in it. I even wore it on a winery tour for style and sun protection.  Balk Knob, Shawnee National Forest Rock Island State Park, Tennessee Cumberland Mountains, eastern Tennessee Initial Impressions Right out of the package, I was surprised by how light and thin the hoodie was. The shirt packed down to the size of a softball in my hand and only weighed 4 ounces.  The fit was just right.

Read more: Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie reviews (2)

Top Hiking Shirt

Patagonia Light Farrier's Shirt

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

An excellent and sustainable work-shirt for days in the sun and other weather. I was comfortable in non-summer conditions in the southeast US. This is not a hiking shirt, but a functional shirt for those in outdoor jobs also suitable for casual office situations. Excellent design with functional pockets and a good fit, along with what initially seems like solid durability. Best thing I can say is I am about to order two more after testing this one.

Reasons to Buy

  • Comfortable against the skin
  • Layers well
  • Works well tucked and untucked
  • Sturdy buttons
  • Sized accurately
  • Durable (so far)

Reasons to Avoid

  • Collar a bit floppy (no button)
  • Not for warm weather use
  • Rather large hanging loop

  Patagonia Light Farrier's Shirt I began testing the Patagonia Light Farrier's shirt in Fall 2023 through the winter for work outdoors as a natural resource consultant in the southeast US.  My uses included field reviews, wetland delineations, and species surveys in all sorts of terrain, vegetation and weather.  I can honestly say it is now my favorite field shirt between October and April in my area (when days are typically not higher than 70's (deg F).  I am planning on buying two more this summer, which is the highest recommendation I can make.

Read more: Patagonia Light Farrier's Shirt review (1)

Top Fleece Top

Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5 reviews)

I've had this fleece since 5th grade. I'm now four years out of college (that's 15 years!) and it hasn't begun to show wear. Just buy one.

Reasons to Buy

  • Comfortable
  • Lasts forever
  • Easy maintenance
  • Can wear in many different seasons
  • Polyester fleece made from recycled material

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not windproof
  • Not compactable
  • Fleece pills up a bit
  • Small chest pocket
  • Collects lint and hair like a boss

For those of you who still want to know more about this fleece after reading the opening summary, it is true...I've had this thing for 15 years and I've worn it in all sorts of weather doing all sorts of activities. Yard work, hiking/camping, wearing it to football games, you name it. This thing has been with me through lots of life — campfires with friends, long hikes for contemplation, a first date with my (at the time) future wife, and it collected all of the shedding hair from the puppy we brought home a few years back.

Read more: Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover reviews (5)

Fleece Top

Patagonia R1 Pullover

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4 reviews)

The Patagonia R1 is the ultimate mountain shirt. It is great as an insulating piece in cold weather and a great stand-alone fleece in cool weather. It can be used for almost any cold weather activity. I personally used it mostly for backpacking and hiking, but I have also seen many climbers wearing R1 Pullovers and hoodies.

Reasons to Buy

  • Warm
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Deep zipper for additional venting
  • Comes in beautiful colors
  • Comfortable
  • Wicks moisture and drys quickly
  • Flattering fit

Reasons to Avoid

  • Price
  • Snug fit in chest
  • No pockets

The Patagonia R1 is a staple in my backcountry gear. It goes on every trip with me. I love it so much that I bought two! I wear it as a stand-alone fleece from 45-59 degrees. I could wear it while hiking/running at 20-40 degrees. I wear it as a baselayer (under a puffy) when the temperature drops into the 30's. It is a very minimalist piece that has no pockets, hood or adjustablilty, but it only weighs 9.7 oz. If you are interested in a hood, try the R1 Hoody. If you are interested in pockets and would like a little more room, try the R1 Full Zip Jacket.

Read more: Patagonia R1 Pullover reviews (4)

Hiking Shirt

Patagonia Long-Sleeved Sol Patrol Shirt

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3 reviews)

Designed for warm temperatures, the 50+ UPF Sol Patrol shirt is comfortable, quick-drying, and highly sun-protective. Best suited for fishing, hiking/backpacking, and general travel, this relaxed fitting button-up is ideal for many outdoor activities. Current testing shows top quality performance, even though some features seem unnecessary.

Reasons to Buy

  • Men's and women's models!
  • Cool and comfortable
  • Well thought out features
  • Quick drying
  • 50+ UPF sun protection

Reasons to Avoid

  • White color shows stains
  • Zippered chest pockets may be overkill

It gets muggy here in the mid-Atlantic. Much of the Appalachian range is considered a temperate rainforest. Typical hiking under the canopy here is nearly 100°F and 100% humidity. Loose fitting shirts like the Patagonia Sol Patrol have become my personal favorites for nearly any summertime activities, especially when hiking/backpacking.  UPF sun protection in apparel has been very important to me, as I try not to use chemical protection on my skin for outdoor activities. Patagonia products have become a mainstay in my preferred clothing for quite some time.

Read more: Patagonia Long-Sleeved Sol Patrol Shirt reviews (3)

Long Sleeve Performance Top

Showers Pass Basecamp Merino Hoodie

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

The Showers Pass Basecamp Merino Hoodie is a terrific outdoor companion to anyone who values high-quality activewear made from natural fibers. The midweight, wool hoodie is great at moderating temperatures and resisting odors, while providing you with an eye-catching, cozy mid-layer. It's also a versatile piece for year-round performance—as a nighttime layer around a summer campfire, as a hiking layer in cool temps, or as part of a system of winter layers.

Reasons to Buy

  • Comfortable
  • Zippered kangaroo pocket
  • True to size
  • Fun color options
  • Shape and coverage
  • Cozy
  • UPF 40 sun protection
  • Resists odor
  • Thermoregulation
  • Hooded

Reasons to Avoid

  • Prone to snagging

Showers Pass Basecamp Merino Hoodie If I could make every garment I own out of wool, I probably would. I love the material for its sustainability, efficiency, and general comfort. And the Showers Pass Basecamp Merino Hoodie is perfectly demonstrative of these points. Available in men's and women's sizes, the hoodie is made from 230 gsm, midweight merino wool, which is an environmentally, biodegradable fiber (although some dyes prevent previously biodegradable fibers from degrading). Plus, it’s one of the coziest garments that I own.

Read more: Showers Pass Basecamp Merino Hoodie review (1)

Long Sleeve Performance Top

Outdoor Research Astroman Sun Hoodie

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

The OR Astroman Sun Hoodie is an extremely lightweight, long sleeve, hooded shirt designed primarily as a sun layer for climbers. However, I believe this shirt has uses far beyond that—biking, exposed peaks, glacial travel, on the water/ paddling, travelling, and as a wind layer. The shirt boasts a UPF rating of 50+, full coverage hood, packs tiny, and weighs in at 6 ounces (no reason to leave it at home!). The thin fabric requires a little extra care around rough rocks, thorns, etc to ensure it lasts.

Reasons to Buy

  • High 50+ UPF rating
  • Fit—boxy enough to encourage air flow and not restrict movement, slim enough to tuck under a harness or blow around in the wind
  • Large, oversized hood
  • Tons of stretch
  • Reduces use of sticky sunscreens/stops to re-apply
  • Versatility
  • Weight—6 oz

Reasons to Avoid

  • Thumb loops poorly executed
  • Price might be too high for some (I personally believe it has enough value to justify it however)
  • Long-term durability may be questionable

 *This review is for the Astroman Sun Hoodie (available in men's and women's), however Outdoor Research also makes an Astroman S/S Sun Shirt and an Astroman L/S Sun Shirt, both in men's and women's.*   As you can see the fit is quite boxy, not much tailoring, great for airflow.  FIT/ COMFORT The fit of the Astroman Sun Hoodie definitely airs (pun intended) on the boxy side. There is plenty of room underneath for air movement to keep the user cool. I've worn the hoodie both directly against the skin (it's uber soft) and with a thin merino tee, with a high level of comfort in both.

Read more: Outdoor Research Astroman Sun Hoodie review (1)

Top Base Layer Top / Short Sleeve Performance

Smartwool Merino 150 Pocket Tee

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

The Smartwool Merino 150 Pocket Tee is an active wear, base layer made up of 87% merino wool and 13% polyester. The high wool content maximizes one of nature's greatest insulator's ability to regulate temperature, ward off the multi-day stink, and manage moisture, while the polyester content adds durability and comfort. A lightweight wool tee allows for an endless amount of uses—from a thin sun shirt on hot summer days, to an excellent next to skin layer as part of a clothing system in winter. I've worn this from the trail, to the crag, to the pub, to the lake, to chasing the kids around the yard; it is really just that versatile. The fit is a little baggier than I would like, but that one constructive criticism is more than offset by the comfort, function, and versatility of this tee.

Reasons to Buy

  • Breathable
  • Wicks sweat/ feels dry
  • No stink
  • Soft, itch-free wool
  • Offset shoulder seams
  • High merino content

Reasons to Avoid

  • Sizing runs a little large in the mid-section

  First off, a disclaimer—I am an unabashed wool fan. It's amazing to me that man has made so many "revolutionary" fabrics designed to do, well...exactly what wool does. Mother Nature has shown us the exact fibre to be using for years. Our ancestors knew it, most experts that make a living outdoors know it, walk through the Scottish Highlands/Canadian North/Siberia, and see what their clothes are made off- natural materials.  Wool is, by nature, "scratchy" to some people. It has come a long way from the ragg wool of past, and high quality, low micron wool, like the kind used in this tee, are a lot softer.

Read more: Smartwool Merino 150 Pocket Tee review (1)

Long Sleeve Performance Top

Montane Dart Zip-Neck

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

The Montane Dart Zip-Neck is a long-sleeved synthetic shirt that is an ideal year-round base layer (a short-sleeved tee is also available). It wicks moisture away from the body very quickly, is exceptionally tailored, and protects the skin with a high UPF factor. If you’re looking to start your cold weather kit from skin out, I’d highly recommend it.

Reasons to Buy

  • Slim fit
  • High UPF rating
  • Deep zip for venting
  • No sweat lines
  • Resists odours

Reasons to Avoid

  • Large label on hip

Long-sleeve Dart Zip Neck on the left, short-sleeve Dart T-Shirt, also reviewed, on the right FIT AND COMFORT The Dart fits exactly as I would design an active base layer to fit. Slim, without being restrictive, and with a little extra length in the hem. I am 6 foot, 170 lbs and the size large fits perfectly. This is one of the main selling points to me, compared to a cheaper competitor's synthetic shirt. There is no extra baggy fabric around the stomach/chest/arms to bunch up and the extra length keeps it tucked in under a waist belt or harness.

Read more: Montane Dart Zip-Neck review (1)

Top Short Sleeve Performance Top

Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail Shirt

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

Patagonia's Capilene Cool Trail Shirt is a great T-shirt for backpacking, hiking, and running in warmer seasons, and even in shoulder seasons for folks with a high metabolism. It is very comfortable, dries quickly, and doesn’t stink after a few days. In addition, this Patagonia Capilene fabric shirt is Fair Trade Certified and meets Bluesign sustainability criteria, and is now on the top of my T-shirt pile for hiking and other activities. The lightweight construction may wear faster than heavier t-shirts, and the trim fit means take care with the sizing.

Reasons to Buy

  • Comfortable—feels more like cotton
  • Dries quicker than my other T's
  • Feels dry even when damp
  • Seams are comfortable
  • No odor noticeable after “stink test”
  • Fair Trade certified
  • Bluesign criteria

Reasons to Avoid

  • Very lightweight—not for cool temps
  • Long-term wear questionable
  • No pocket (if you like that)
  • Size is just about right, but trim fit

I like to wear T-shirts most of the year until it really dips consistently below freezing. For me they are a good base layer top for everything but deep winter, as I generate heat really quickly and prefer only my torso to have full layers leaving the arms with less layers for additional venting. The Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail Shirt is now one of my go-to's after several months of use. Fit: The Patagonia sizing chart was quite accurate. They call this a "Regular" fit. Their Large size fit me (6'0"/183 cm, 170 lbs/77 kg) perfectly.

Read more: Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail Shirt review (1)

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