We have all seen a Quick Dry Shirt that uses Moisture Wicking Technology designed to reduce (or even eliminate) sweating. But does it really work for hiking?
For some people, there are few things more annoying than walking through your favorite forest while drenched in your own sweat. A sweaty shirt causes discomfort, extra weight, and unnecessary friction and can really become a burden while hiking.
But here’s the thing… Some cheap polyester products on the market are simply claiming to be “quick dry” but are a complete waste of money. This is why we have carefully reviewed the most popular moisture wicking shirts on the market and have found the best quick dry shirts that really work!
To make it easier to compare which is right for you, we have broken the quick dry shirts into three categories. You can click on the icon above to slide down to your desired section of this article.
Quick Dry Tee Shirts[table “6” not found /]
Under Armour T-Shirt
The most important difference about the Under Armour Quick Dry Shirt is the comfort. The material seemed softer and much more natural. There are no scratchy tags and they fit most body types extremely well.
Their own UA Tech fabric utilizes their unique Moisture Transport System which wicks sweat quickly and dries super fast.
Even if you sweat excessively while hiking, the shirt dries super quickly. With almost 20 colors to choose from, this Under Armour quick dry shirt will give you the most personalization in the fashion department. You could also own several without looking like you never change shirts!
Color shown: CarbonHeather
Vaiden Silver Ion Moisture Wicking Shirt
The material felt unrestrictive and breathable and was super comfortable to wear. It’s also one of the lighter materials available.
The added bonus of the Vaiden Moisture Wicking shirt is the Anti-Bacterial Silver Ion technology which also fights odor causing bacteria which can develop after sweating.
If you’re a smelly sweater, (who isn’t) the Silver Ion tech is perfect for you.
Nike Mens Dri-Fit Tee Shirt
Soft, name brand and works great… simple. There are almost 20 basic color options.
There’s a taped seem around the neck to further avoid friction. The neck is also loose fitting. If you’re annoyed by a tight neck area, this shirt will feel more comfortable than the others.
Color shown: Cardinal
Jeansian Quick Dry T-Shirt
Perhaps more suited to a sports field than a hike, this is a snug fitting athletic-fit quick-dry shirt which may put some people off.
With its low price tag however, the Jeansian Quick Dry Shirt is great value for money. The shirt is cool and comfortable with the largest selection of printed designs. As far as wicking ability, the shirt stayed dry and airy, just as expected.
32 Degrees Weatherproof® Quick Dry Tee Shirt
As the last on our T-Shirt list, we chose the 32 Degrees Weatherproof Shirt. Not very strong on the UV protection department but serves as a simple affordable quick dry shirt.
The material seems a bit thin to some but is actually super durable. This also makes for a great undershirt if you are prone to sweating a lot during the day.
Quick Dry Polo Shirts[table “7” not found /]
Champion Double Dry Polo
The freedom of movement of the Champion Quick Dry Polo is amazing. For any given activity level this shirt will keep you as dry on the hike as it does in the boardroom.
The Double Dry technology actually works amazingly well!
We found the stitching to be the neatest and smoothest of all the shirts which makes for less friction or scratching on your hike.
Note: The Champion logo appears quite prominently on the back and sleeve which might not be suitable for some.
Dickies Cooling Polo Shirt
The quick dry hollow yarn construction of the shirt wicks moisture away very effectively. There is also an additional panel sewn into the upper back and under the arms where most of the heat needs to escape. Together this works incredibly well and creates a cooling effect leaving this as the coolest of all the polo shirts. The UPF sun Protection is 50+
We’d recommend this quick dry shirt to anyone who would plans extended hikes in harsh sun.
32 Degrees Moisture Wicking Polo Shirt
Again, 32 Degrees comes in with great value for money. The price is what makes this quick dry shirt so amazing. It does everything the other moisture wicking shirts do but for much less money.
With the 90/10 combination of Polyester and Spandex, this shirt feels super comfortable and soft to the touch.
The stitching is neat and a great fit, especially for taller guys as the shirt is just slightly longer than the others on the list.
Big & Tall Moisture Wicking Polo
The size goes up to 4x Tall so if you struggle to find a shirt, this one’s for you. You may want to pick one size larger than you’re used to but overall, the length is the best we could find. Though this is probably more of a golf shirt, it will definitely keep you cooler on a light walk.
Haggar Quick Dry Shirt
Haggar is not as well known for their moisture wicking shirts as for their clean and classic style. Whether it be for golfing, walking, light hiking or even just a BBQ on a hot day, they work just fine and look great.
A small side note regarding the sizing… These shirts are made in Lesotho. I guess, in Lesotho everyone is really small ’cause the only complaints were the tight fit. You might need to buy a size or two larger to be safe.
Quick Dry Button Shirts[table “8” not found /]
Columbia Royce Peak II Long Sleeve Moisture Wicking Shirt
The moisture wicking Columbia Royce Peak II with vented back also has a UPF 50 sun protection. We love that the vented back doesn’t look “game ranger” but allows for great air circulation. This will be covered if you wear a backpack though.
The material is slightly elastic and moves comfortably with your body while you hike. It’s slightly thicker than the others giving it more durability in the outdoors. A little velcro keeps the pockets closed and neat.
This shirt could definitely be worn on a hike as well as in the boardroom. Due to the comfort, high sun protection, material strength and style, this quick dry shirt gets our highest rating.
Note: The shirts run a bit large so consider a size smaller if you want a slimmer fit.
Columbia Silver Ridge Lite Quick Dry Shirt
The Silver Ridge Lite has the obvious advantage of being lighter in feel than the normal Silver Ridge shirt. It offer a little less sun protection than the Royce Peak II but feels much cooler. The material is thin and flexible and dries lightning fast.
Columbia Bait Caster Long Sleeve Shirt
The Bait Caster is 100% Nylon giving it the slowest dry time but the most natural feel. The sleeves conveniently tie up. The back has large vents and the sun protection is UPF 50. This quick dry shirt wicks moisture really well and is awesome for fishing, kayaking and hiking. With the added rod holder and extra flaps and tie downs, the shirt definitely has more of an outdoors look.
Columbia Tamiami II Shirt (Short Sleeve + Tall)
The Tamiami has a 40 UPF and comes in short sleeves. Its the lightest Colombia moisture wicking shirt available. Be careful though as the sizes (as with most Columbia shirts) are very big. It has the best back vents of all the Columbia shirts but we don’t particularly love the look. It serves a decent function though… you wont find a cooler shirt.
Columbia Silver Ridge Quick Dry Shirt
Lastly there’s the Silver Ridge standard which has 86% Polyester and 14% Elastane. The new Silver Ridge Lite is cooler and less prone to wrinkling but this older version is still worth a mention. Like any of the quick dry shirts on the list, the Silver Ridge will work in hot, cold, wet or dry weather. The slim design looks great (remember to consider buying a size smaller) and there are over 15 colors to choose from.
How a Moisture Wicking Shirt Works
Similar to a candle wick drawing melted wax upward to the flame, so does the moisture wicking material draw moisture outward using capillary action, away from the body, to the surface of the material.
An example of this process in nature is when a tree draws water from the ground up through its roots and into the branches and leaves where it then evaporates.
The principle behind moisture wicking clothing is the hydrophilic (loves water) material which draws sweat away from the body, combined with the hydrophobic (hates water) material which allows for easy evaporation of the sweat.
But does it work? Absolutely! We were left cool, dry and comfortable in situations where we would normally be drenched.
See the full review on the best quick dry pants for hiking.
Is a Moisture Wicking Quick Dry Shirt Unhealthy for You?
There are opinions that wearing a moisture wicking shirt will “override” the body’s ability to cool itself down by sweating.
Here’s the argument against that… A wet, sweaty shirt will not cool you down as much as it will restrict ventilation around your body. We need this ventilation. Remember, before we started wearing hiking watches and sleeping in lightweight tents, we only started wearing shirts a few thousand years ago. Before that we would trek, hunt and run around shirtless which caused the sweat to evaporate off our bodies and cool us down.
This unrestricted flow of moisture and air is exactly what moisture wicking replicates.
Here are Some Videos about how “Quick-Dry” material works