What does ‘hike your own hike‘ mean to you?
I’m so bombarded with new gear, new trails, and new hiking advice that I often forget why I hike in the first place: freedom. Nature’s mirror is stunningly beautiful.
Out on the trails, I’m my best self. I’m the person I want to be for my family and friends. And we want you to be your best self on the trail, too. Merino wool helps us achieve this by making us comfortable and protecting us from the ever-changing elements.
So, we’ve compiled a list of the best Merino wool hiking shirts for men to aid you in finding your best outdoor self! There are three shirts for each season (twelve in total), so whichever trail you conquer, no matter the conditions, Merino wool has you covered.
- Best Merino Wool Hiking Shirt For Summer
- Best Merino Wool Hiking Shirt For Fall
- Best Merino Wool Hiking Shirt For Winter
- Best Merino Wool Hiking Shirt For Spring
Disclosure: Merino Wool Gear DOES NOT sponsor products to maintain our genuineness and authenticity. However, as an affiliate member, we may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
Best Merino Wool Hiking Shirt For Summer
When you think of wool, you typically don’t think of summer. Instead, you may picture all those itchy wool sweaters from grandma’s house. Luckily, that’s not what Merino wool is about. It’s a high-tech performance fabric that showcases wool’s highly sought-after natural properties. And the best part about these properties is that they work in both cold and hot conditions. That’s why Merino wool is such a great fabric in the summer.
And, in terms of hot-weather hiking shirts, you can’t beat the breathability of Merino. Although this means it can be delicate, which is why many fabrics are corespun with sturdier synthetic fibers. This increases the strength and longevity of the shirt. Moreover, you’ll want something to provide adequate protection from the summer sun.
So when you’re looking at these summer hiking shirts, focus on fabric weight (for breathability), fabric composition (for durability), and UPF rating (for sun protection).
Icebreaker Merino Tech Lite II
100% Merino wool | 150 gsm | Regular fit | 9 colors | Price: $$$
Pros: High-quality material | Free-flowing fit | Offset shoulder seams
Cons: Sizing may run large | Not the softest Merino wool
Long-distance backpackers will understand the importance of an odor-free hiking shirt. Pure Merino wool has no stench or funk, even after dozens of miles on the trail. And in terms of summer hiking shirts, our favorite smell-free, 100% Merino wool tee is the Icebreaker Tech Lite II.
In terms of performance, this Merino wool hiking tee is at the top of the class. The free-flowing fit is comfy and aids in moisture management. Moreover, design features like offset shoulder seams and a drop tail hem prevent unwanted backpack chafing. Although some users say this tee can be overly roomy, we view the fit as standard. Consult Icebreaker’s sizing charts if you have concerns about the fit.
Still, it’s not the softest fabric compared with the other hiking shirts on this list. Nevertheless, this adds to the material’s strength. Pure Merino can be delicate, and the 18.9-micron fibers are slightly more robust than softer 17.5-micron ones.
All in all, the Tech Lite II is a simple, versatile tee ready for any adventure. It does an excellent job of regulating your microclimate and won’t let you down when pulling 20+ mile days. And since they are just over 5 oz., you could pack an extra one for camp. Choose from any of the nine colors (plus seasonal releases) below!
Patagonia Capilene® Cool Merino Shirt
65% Merino, 35% recycled polyester | ~125 gsm | Slim fit | Price: $$$
Pros: Enhanced breathability features | Functional base layer | Sustainably produced
Cons: Sleeve & hem length may be short | Lighter shades may be see-through
Hiking in the heat with long sleeves may seem counterintuitive. However, they actually keep you cooler – especially when they’re Merino wool. The material is soft, moisture-wicking, and much more. And one of the lightest, highest performing Merino wool baselayer/shirt/tee – or whatever you want to call it – is the Patagonia Capilene Cool Merino LS shirt.
This base layer’s enhanced breathability features set it apart from other Merino wool hiking shirts. It’s about as thin as possible without being tear-resistant (4.9 oz. weight) and has side vents for better airflow. Although it’s so thin, some lighter shades may be see-through. That’s not a big deal if you’re hiking in the middle of nowhere, but it could be a problem if you wear it around town.
Yet the eco-friendly materials make this shirt – and most of Patagonia’s products – stand apart. Merino wool, in itself, is sustainable. Yet Patagonia uses wool certified by the Responsible Wool Standard, an industry recognition focusing on the ethics of wool harvesting, land management, and animal welfare. Moreover, the Capilene material is just recycled polyester, added for strength and durability.
Finally, Patagonia has this Cool Merino shirt in short sleeves if you prefer. But if you haven’t yet hiked with long sleeves, try. Not only do you get the moisture management benefits, but you get the added protection from the sun and all those pesky bugs. So, if you’re interested, head to Patagonia to learn more about this Capilene Merino crew.
Ridge Merino Solstice Sun Hoodie
87% Merino, 13% Nylon | 145 gsm | Relaxed fit | 7 colors | Price: $$$
Pros: Ultralight yet durable | 30+ UPF certified | Functional oversized hood
Cons: Sizing & color availability | Long sleeve due to thumbholes
You must worry about sun exposure if you’re hiking in the summer. You can go the sunscreen route, but you’ll have to reapply every few hours. Instead, try rocking a sun hoodie like the Ridge Merino Solstice. You get 30+ SPF protection as Merino wool is naturally UV-resistant. Think about it: sheep are in the sun all day, so their wool has to protect them from being burned. In other words, you get the same protection as the sheep!
And we get it; wearing a hoodie in the summer sun may not sound appealing. However, this Solstice hoodie is super ultralight. The fabric flows so freely that it barely feels like you’re wearing anything. Plus, the oversized hood drapes nicely over any ball cap or helmet if you’re climbing. Overall, it’s one of our favorite designs of all the Merino wool hoodies we’ve tried!
Although, in the world of Merino wool, ‘ultralight‘ and ‘free-flowing‘ often translate to rips and tears. Yet, Ridge Merino understands this challenge and uses (m)Force™ Technology – Merino wrapped around a strong nylon core – for extra strength. I have heavily used mine for over three years, and the cuffs have only slightly worn. Other than that, the longevity of this ultralight fabric defies the norm.
Finally, these Solstice hoodies tend to go fast, especially when seasonal colors are released. So, if you find a color you like and your size is available, get it before it’s gone!
Best Merino Wool Hiking Shirt For Fall
If you’re hiking in the fall, conditions can change instantly. You may start your hike on a clear, mild day, and then a cold front rolls in, pouring buckets. So, since your gear is the only thing protecting you from the unforgiving elements, it must keep you dry and warm.
The best thing you can do to manage your microclimate is to fine-tune your layering system. The standard lineup is a lightweight base layer, a pullover mid-layer like a fleece, and an ultralight puffer for insulation. Carrying a combination of these three will keep you protected down to frigid temps. Although, due to Merino wool’s warmth-to-weight properties, sometimes a midlayer can double as an overlayer and vice versa.
So, if you’re looking for a fall hiking shirt, focus on fabric weight (for temperature regulation & breathability) and fit (for versatility & layering).
Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer Quarter Zip
100% Merino wool | 250 gsm | Slim fit | 12 colors | Price: $$$$
Pros: Top-notch temperature regulation | High-performance features | Unique color block design
Cons: Initial itchiness may occur | Susceptible to snagging
Making a ‘Best Merino Wool‘ roundup is challenging without mentioning Smartwool. The sheer variety of Merino wool products they offer is astounding. And better yet, no matter the gear, you still get the same high-quality craftsmanship as always. Yet among all the new releases and specialized apparel, we can’t help but get back to the basics with Smartwool’s flagship 250 1/4 zip base layer.
The midweight, 100% Merino wool fabric hits the sweet spot regarding temperature regulation. It’s thick enough to keep you warm at freezing temperatures and thin enough to keep you dry while you sweat through the switchbacks. I like to call this 250 gsm weight the ‘Goldilocks‘ of fabric thicknesses. It’s not too hot or too cold. And feels just right!
Moreover, this base layer comes with tons of performance features. The flatlock seams and shoulder panels prevent any strap rub or chafing. And Smartwool has recently updated the fit of their classic thermal by making it slimmer. This allows for better layering and more next-to-skin comfort.
Finally, one unique aspect of the Smartwool 250 1/4-Zip is that it comes in a dozen unique patterns and designs. So, if you want something other than basic black – or a hood on your hiking shirt – you’re in luck. Click below to see if Smartwool has a color to match your style!
Wool & Prince Waffle Henley
78% Merino, 22% nylon | 270 gsm | Regular fit | 3 colors | Price: $$$$
Pros: High-quality fabric | Versatile style | Surprisingly breathable
Cons: Sleeves & Hem length may be long | Limited color selection
The problem with many hiking shirts is that they are hiking shirts. Their style isn’t necessarily acceptable for day-to-day activities. And since many of these shirts are expensive, you’ll want to get the most versatility from each garment. So, with all of that in mind, one piece of Merino wool gear that’s functional, fashionable, and ready for adventure is the Wool&Prince Waffle Henley.
The thing we love most about this shirt – and most Wool&Prince clothing – is the expert attention to detail. This shirt uses two strong nylon filaments coiled around a 17.5-micron Merino wool core. Moreover, the buttons add versatility to an already stylish piece. So, if it gets toasty on the trail, you can undo a few buttons for extra airflow and a touch of personal style.
Yet, even with a desirable style, the sizing proportions differ from what you would expect from this type of shirt. Some users have noted that the sleeve and hem lengths are longer than similar products of the same size. So, it’s best to check the Wool&Prince sizing charts before ordering. The only other real drawback is that this waffle henley comes in only three colors: black, gray, and olive.
To sum up, the Waffle Henley is a genuinely unique and high-performing shirt. The lattice-like structure maintains a warm and dry microclimate. At the same time, the nylon-wrapped provides the material strength needed for the great outdoors. And when you’ve finished your excursion, it will help you blend in at the closest pub!
Duckworth Men’s Powder Hoody
50% Merino, 30% acrylic, 20% polyester | 300 gsm | Relaxed fit | 6 colors | Price: $$$$
Pros: Excellent drape & design | Warmth without bulk | 100% sourced and manufactured in the USA
Cons: No hood adjustment | Sizing may run large
Many Merino wool brands source their raw material from Australia or New Zealand. Then, they send it to Asia for manufacturing, then finally to the shelves in the USA. Duckworth, however, keeps their entire supply chain in the USA. For this Powder Hoody, they source their wool from Rambouillet sheep (a close cousin of the Merino) from their own ranch in Dillon, Montana. Then, all the scouring, spinning, dying, knitting, and manufacturing are done within the USA. By keeping its whole supply within the country, Duckworth has better control of their manufacturing process. In the case of the Powder hoodie, this leads to one high-quality, unique piece of Merino Wool Gear.
This hoodie has such a raw feel but in a good way. The soft yet durable Powder fabric is “Duckworth’s version of a wool fleece.” It has a simple, minimalistic design that works well with outdoor clothing, whether wearing it as an outerlayer or super-cold-weather base layer. We’d love to see extra features like a hood drawstring or elastic cuffs, but that would detract from this sweatshirt’s chill vibe.
Finally, this hoody truly has a cult following. People love how it looks and feels, and I can’t blame them because I love mine, too! So if you’re ready to drink the Kool-Aid (there’s no going back), head over to Duckworth below!
Best Merino Wool Hiking Shirt For Winter
It takes a special breed of individual to venture into the cold, frigid backcountry. With threats of frostbite, you need reliable gear that keeps you warm. And as you probably know by now, Merino wool regulates your next-to-skin temperature to skin temperature, so you can go exploring in any conditions.
So, for Merino wool winter hiking gear, you really want to look into the fabric weight and/or wool construction. For example, Merino can be used as insulation in addition to the traditional knit fabric. If you’re looking for an underlayer, you don’t want anything too bulky that will have you looking like the kid from A Christmas Story. “I can’t put my arms down!”
Minus33 Yukon Expedition Crew
100% Merino wool | 400 gsm | Regular fit | 3 colors | Price: $$$$
Pros: Ultimate cold-weather base layer | Moisture management properties | Big & tall sizes available
Cons: Only for freezing conditions | Launder with care
Canada’s Yukon territory (“The Klondike”) is a popular destination for winter explorers. From long-distance snowshoeing to cold-weather kayaking, there are plenty of outdoor activities for everyone. But, no matter your chosen sport, you must stay warm. Temperatures there can drop to double-digit negatives in an instant. And that’s where the Minus33 Yukon Expedition crew truly thrives.
This shirt is the warmest base layer, Merino wool or not. At 400 gsm, it’s about as thick as possible while still being able to rest smoothly underneath an outerlayer. Moreover, the smooth fabric, tagless interior, and flatlock seams add to the Yukon’s exceptional comfort. So, you get insane temperature regulation and a supersoft next-to-skin feel.
Editor’s Note: While Minus33 says you can tumble dry the Yukon crew on low heat, we suggest skipping the dryer altogether to avoid shrinkage. Just flat dry on a towel instead.
Also, Minus33 takes its customer’s feedback seriously. When I started Merino Wool Gear, the Yukon Expedition base layer only had one color (black) and your standard sizes S-2XL. Today, Minus33 offers this heavyweight thermal in three colors and several big & tall sizes. This continual growth and customer satisfaction level is why Minus33 is such a unique brand.
So, head to Minus33 before embarking on your next cold-weather adventure, and check out some of the best Merino wool winter gear! Finally, if you’re serious about this Yukon crew, go with the matching bottoms to complete the set. That way, thick, warm Merino wool protects every inch of your body.
Filson Crew Neck Guide Sweater
100% Merino wool | Heavyweight | Regular fit | 2 colors | Price: $$$$$+
Pros: High-quality craftsmanship | Heavy-duty knit construction | Water-repellent
Cons: Sizing discrepancies | Super expensive
Let’s get one thing out of the way: this sweater is super expensive. Like, more-than-a-car-payment expensive. Honestly, almost all of Filson’s gear is – you guessed it – expensive! But I can’t stress this enough: this guide sweater is worth it. The price tag may seem excessive, but you get what you pay for in the best way possible. Filson has some of the highest-quality craftsmanship in the industry and even uses 100% USA-sourced wool, which we love.
Besides the pure attention to detail, this guide sweater is our list’s warmest Merino wool hiking shirt. It’s even one of the highest-performing Merino wool sweaters overall. The tight, heavy knit is surprisingly breathable, even at 50 °F or more. Moreover, the dense weaving pattern improves durability (less pilling, snags, etc.) and water-repellency. The latter is exciting since the garment uses no synthetics, just pure, strong, and comfy Merino wool.
The classic, relaxed fit is functional and timeless. You can either wear it as the only outerlayer (suggested) or pair it with another jacket for more-than-enough warmth. It will always stay in style if you care for it correctly (dry clean only). You could even pass it on to future generations as an heirloom piece. Still, maintain the ribbed cuffs and hem since their structure is usually the first to fail.
In short, this is just one darn good piece of gear. Filson says it best: “Sure, we could make it lighter and not so hardy, but then it wouldn’t be a Filson Crewneck Guide Sweater.” Get yours below!
Ibex Wool Air Hoodie
Shell: 100% nylon | Insulation: 80% Merino, 20% polyester | Athletic fit | 5 colors | Price: $$$$$
Pros: Warmth-to-weight ratio | Wide temperature range | Packs away small
Cons: Zipper durability | No cinch cord at waist
In addition to being a soft, knit fabric, did you know Merino wool can be used as jacket insulation? It’s in the same ‘warmth-to-weight‘ as down. Although, aside from the wishy-washy ethics of down harvesting, Merino wool has an advantage since it still maintains warmth while wet. If you have a down puffer that wets out, it’s just an overpriced trashbag until it dries completely. Merino wool is a better choice for packable puffers, and the Ibex Wool Aire Hoodie is one high-performing packable puffer.
The proprietary Merino wool insulation works at temperatures ranging from cool summer nights to subzero winter mornings (depending on what you layer underneath). Ibex added features like the scuba-style hood and snug, athletic fit, contributing to the jacket’s warmth. At the same time, the elastic cuffs and hem do an adequate job of keeping everything in place. Although, we would love to see a cinch cord along the waist to protect against chilly drafts.
Finally, compared to backpacker favorites like the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket, this Ibex Wool Aire Hoodie outperforms in many aspects. It weighs slightly less than the Nano Puff (11.375 oz. to 11.9 oz.) and has a higher insulation fill (80 grams to 60 grams). So, you truly get more warmth at less weight. Head on over to Ibex to check them out for yourself!
Best Merino Wool Hiking Shirt For Spring
When the snow melts, the fun begins. Venturing off into the woods on a spring hike is beautiful; the birds sing, the flowers bloom, and the sun peeks through the clouds. It’s one of my favorite times of the year.
Still, even during a pristine spring season, weather conditions can change quickly. And, as seasoned hikers will know, spring means wet. So, you’ll want to have gear that’s quick-drying and breathable. Moreover, You’ll want to carry versatile gear that performs well across various temperatures.
When checking out the best Merino wool hiking shirts for spring, consider the fabric construction (versatility) and fabric weight (temperature regulation). For the latter, you’ll want to look for something midweight or lower and focus on layering.
Woolx Essential Tee
85% Merino, 12% nylon, 3% spandex | 150 gsm | Regular fit | 5 colors | Price: $$$
Pros: Extra comfort design features | Improved durability | Excellent summer base layer
Cons: Sizing may run large | Sleeves may be short for taller people
When the cold winter months are behind you, and you’re ready to hit the trail again, don’t forget to pack this Woolx Essential tee. Coming in at 150 gsm, you’ll get plenty of airflow and breathability from this ultralight fabric. You can wear it as a standalone hiking shirt in warmer conditions during the day while still getting 10-15 °F extra warmth if you pair it with an overlayer at night. This long-sleeve tee will keep your next-to-skin microclimate dry and warm no matter what you wear overtop- even a sleeping bag.
As with much of Woolx’s clothing, the Essential tee has extra comfort features to make your early-season hike successful. The predominantly Merino wool fabric still has 3% spandex for more healthy stretch, while the raglan sleeves – as you should know by now – prevent chafing from shoulder straps. Woolx even added underarm gussets, promoting airflow and keeping your armpits nice and dry! Moreover, the extra addition of nylon improves durability, so, hopefully, you won’t tear the material if it gets snagged on a branch.
Finally, regarding sizing, some users say that the Essential tee runs large. Moreover, some note that the sleeves are long. Woolx has included the garment and body measurements in their size chart. They do as much as possible to ensure you can find the shirt that fits your body type.
Helly Hansen LIFA Merino Midweight 2-in-1 Hoodie
57% Merino, 43% propylene | 225 gsm | Athletic fit | 4 colors | Price: $$$
Pros: 2-in-1 fabric technology | Hood fits snug | Additional comfort features
Cons: Manufacturing defects possible | Not completely odor-resistant
Helly-Hansen typically makes ski gear, but both ski and hiking gear share many of the same properties. They must provide warmth without bulk, protecting you from the elements while allowing room for movement. Moreover, with all this movement, they must be able to breathe. And even if this LIFA Merino midweight hoodie is designed for the slopes, it works just as well on the trail.
The secret to this base layer is its unique 2-in-1 LIFA Merino construction. The synthetic polypropylene interior wicks moisture away from the skin, keeping you dry, while the ZQ Merino exterior acts as a barrier to the environment, regulating your temperature. So, even if you’re trekking through cold and clammy conditions, this Merino hoodie will protect you.
Although the design is well-engineered, some users have noted minor flaws and defects in their hoodies. Some imperfections are purely aesthetic, which isn’t much of an issue. However, if there is a loose seam in a critical stitch, you may have durability problems in the future. So, if this concerns you, thoroughly inspect the shirt before ripping off the tags, or else Helly-Hansen, according to their return policy, only accepts returns in their original condition.
Finally, the last thing we love about this hoodie is the hood! It fits snugger than expected, which works well as an extra wind layer for an alpine trip. And, if you want you plan on doing some climbing or scrambling, you can easily fit a helmet on top. In other words, this Helly-Hansen base layer is ready for any adventure.
Meriwool Midweight Long Sleeve Thermal Shirt
100% Merino wool | 250 gsm | Regular fit | 8 colors | Price: $$
Pros: Top price-to-quality ratio | Ultrasoft next-to-skin feel | Tall sizes available
Cons: Neck shape and durability | Shrinking may occur
As you can probably tell by now, Merino wool hiking shirts can be expensive. Yet, suppose all you want is a minimal base layer without all the bells and whistles. In that case, this midweight thermal from Meriwool is an inexpensive alternative. You still get the added comfort and temperature regulation of 100% Merino wool shirts without a significant dent in your bank account!
And we get it; the term ‘value‘ often indicates a drop in quality, but Meriwool’s gear is different. Their affordability is one of the three pillars of their brand (comfort & performance being the other two). So even at a lower price, you still get clothing that keeps you warm and protected in the backcountry. And as any weathered backpacker knows: reliable, inexpensive gear is hard to come by.
Although there are some design aspects, like the swooped neck, that could be improved. Over time, the neckline may droop or crinkle without proper care. So, while Meriwool markets this product as dryer-safe, we suggest flat-drying on a towel instead. This will help prevent the fabric from deforming and shrinking.
Overall, if all you need is a trustworthy base layer, this Meriwool midweight thermal is your best bet. It’s just as comfortable and high-performing as some of the more expensive base layers we’ve tested, but still at the same quality. And that’s what Meriwool is all about.
Final Note About the Best Men’s Merino Wool Hiking Shirts
And there you have it: each season’s top three highest-performing Merino wool hiking shirts. We’ve covered ultralight tees, soft hoodies, versatile midlayers, Merino-insulated jackets, and much more! Hopefully, you found ‘the shirt’ for your next adventure. If nothing truly caught your eye, that’s okay, too. Poke around each brand’s collections to see if there is a shirt that better suits your needs.
Finally, if you want to keep up with the latest in the world of Merino wool, follow us on any social channel or sign-up for our newsletter below. We love it when new members join the flock!