The Case for Long-Sleeved Shirts in Summer
Sleeves still play an important role against the elements, even when it’s hot
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My favorite hike of all time is the La Luz Trail, which climbs out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and deposits you on the 10,679-foot summit of the Sandia Crest. I did the hike two weeks ago, and while trekking along I found myself thinking about the Stio Eddy Shirt LS ($130; sizes S to XXL) I was wearing.
Temperatures were in the nineties at the bottom of the trail, so I rolled up the Eddy’s sleeves to vent while I started to hike. The nylon-polyester UPF 50+ blend breathed well and also did a great job of wicking buckets of sweat as I began my climb. After an hour, the air started to cool, but I became more exposed to the sun, so I rolled the sleeves down and popped the collar to prevent my arms and neck from getting sunburned. At the peak, the Eddy had dried out completely and the long sleeves kept me comfy as a breeze started to blow.
As a veteran gear tester, it takes a lot to impress me, but I was amazed by how one simple shirt could be so versatile during the course of a variable four-hour hike. If I’d been wearing a plain old tee, I would’ve stopped at least twice—once to reapply sunscreen to my arms and neck, and another to don a thicker layer. Neither of those things are a big deal, but it was really nice to just keep hiking. I was able to enjoy the scenery and not worry about my outfit and how much protection it was or wasn’t offering.
On the car ride down from the summit, I realized that at least half of my favorite summer pieces have sleeves, including the sun hoodie I wear at the river, the cotton shirt I use for travel, and the denim top I take camping. Here are my recommendations for the best warm-weather long-sleeved shirts that will keep you out of the sun and your body temperature regulated during your next adventure.
Wellen Seawool Hoodie ($78; sizes S to XXL)
While you’re at the river, worrying about how hot it is due to climate change, you can still feel good about wearing this hoodie with UV protection, because it’s made in large part from recycled plastic bottles and upcycled oyster shells. I found the fabric surprisingly soft, and the thin build helped me hide from the sun but never caused me to overheat. I’ve long loved Wellen’s simple but smart designs, and the same feelings apply here. The Seawool has a loose fit that looks relaxed on the water but not schlubby at the pub.
Outdoor Research Wayward Long-Sleeved Shirt ($85; sizes S to XXL)
The Wayward screams “dorky hiking shirt,” thanks to plenty of buttons and its zippered front pocket. But I don’t care, because it works so damn well. Made from an ultrathin and stretchy polyester-spandex blend, it vented and wicked sweat even better than the Stio Eddy, so it was the first top I reached for when the forecast called for temperatures above 100 degrees. I also love that the collar not only pops, but it has a button closure up front to ensure it stays up, even when I’m moving around. If I ever felt myself getting too warm, I rolled the sleeves up and used the button and loop system to keep them from falling back down.
Flint and Tinder Bone Button Western Shirt ($150; sizes S to XXL)
My family and I went camping last weekend, and I put this shirt on at about 7 P.M. every evening. Made from eight-ounce denim, it provided just enough warmth as the sun ducked behind the pine trees, and it kept me comfortable until bedtime. I brought the Bone Button along instead of a fleece because the denim is more durable, so it was great for gathering armloads of firewood. Like all denim clothing, the Bone Button looks even better with a patina, so I’m looking forward to breaking it in even more during the fall.
Patagonia Long-Sleeved Vjosa River Pima Cotton Shirt ($80; sizes XS to XXL)
I recently bought a plane ticket for the first time in well over a year and can’t tell you how excited I am to fly. I’m heading somewhere domestic, but I already know that this is the shirt I’ll be wearing for the ride. Made from 100 percent organic cotton, it fits well, looks sharp matched with shorts or jeans, and has an ultrasoft hand that makes sitting for long periods that much more tolerable. A thin build helps it breathe but never feels flimsy or cheap.