Travellers guide to travel shirts reviewed
Review 21 July

Traveller’s guide to: Travel shirts

A travel shirt is more than a fashion statement: these hardworking items can protect you from the sun (and biting insects too), keep you cool, hide your valuables and help you look smart everywhere from mountain slopes to city bar

Key features to look out for when selecting a travel shirt include the following:

1) Collar

Every travel shirt should have a collar, which can be rolled up to protect your neck from the sun. Some shirts offer an extra-length collar, giving a greater level of protection.

2) Fabric

A travel shirt should offer a good level of sun protection. Look for fabric that offers a high UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating; 15 is good but 50+ is best. A moisture-wicking fabric (which moves sweat away from the body) will help keep you cool. Quick-drying material is useful if you get caught in rain or if you need to hand wash the shirt to wear the next day. A patterned shirt is often better at hiding dirt and sweat patches. If you’re likely to wear a rucksack, try it on with the shirt to make sure the seams sits comfortably against your skin.

3) Weight

A lighter shirt is more luggage-limit friendly. However, do check that potentially useful features (such as pockets or sun protection) haven’t been sacrificed in order to save a few grams.

4) Sleeves

Travel shirts come in a variety of sleeve lengths: short, three-quarter, long. Long sleeves are most versatile – they provide protection from the sun and insects, and can be rolled up if you’re too hot; check that there are buttons/Velcro tabs to secure long sleeves when they’re rolled up.

5) Pockets

Pockets are a personal choice – some prefer more than others. Do consider pocket placement, though. Women may find some breast pockets impractical for instance. Also, travel shirts may feature a hidden pocket for tickets/passport, which can be really useful depending where and how it sits against the body.

6) Insect protection

Some travel shirts come impregnated with insect repellent. Their repellency is usually guaranteed to last for a certain number of washes, though some manufacturers guarantee it for the life of the garment. If the shirt you like isn’t repellent impregnated, you can easily treat it yourself – Wanderlust’s Dr Jane recommends EX-4 spray. Do remember that a treated shirt only protects the flesh that it covers.

Lowe AlpineCassava LS / El Paso LS £45

The test: With a UPF of 50+, this shirt offers great protection from the sun; it’s also quick-drying and breathable. The women’s version is patterned to help conceal sweat patches; the men’s is plain but has additional mesh and venting. The collar folds up to protect your neck (not a double collar); the sleeves roll up and secure with a button.

The women’s version has one pocket – passport-sized, concealed and zipped, it sits well on the side of the body; it’s also mesh-lined to help with venting. The men’s version has two chest pockets too.

At 222g (women’s UK size 12), this is the heaviest on test, though not ludicrously weighty. It is also not impregnated with insect repellent. However, it has some nice features such as the half covering of the buttons on the women’s version – great to stop gaping.

The verdict: A good price for some good features. It it not repellent impregnated but represents good value for money.

In brief
Features: ★★★★✩
Design: ★★★★✩
Comfort: ★★★★★
Protection: ★★★★✩
Value: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★✩

www.lowealpine.com

Craghoppers Nosilife Darla II / NosiLife Long Sleeved Shirt £50

The test: If biting insects are an issue then this is the shirt for you. Made from a fabric that retains repellency for life, you won’t need to treat it. It also boasts a UPF of 40+ and the collar has a double roll to cover your neck.

The fabric is quick-drying and features mesh and venting to help with breathability. Women get two buttoned pockets on the chest and a concealed zipped one that sits well against your side and fits a passport. Men get five pockets, including an extra hidden one.

The cuffs are particularly well designed to keep insects out as they button close to the skin. Sleeves roll up and secure with a button. The shirt also has a sunglasses loop on the front for stowing your shades. Weight-wise (185g, women’s UK size 10), this is the fourth-lightest on test. The only niggle is that there is no patterned option available.

The verdict: The level of sun protection, lifelong insect repellency and nifty features make this a winner.

In brief
Features: ★★★★★
Design: ★★★★✩
Comfort: ★★★★★
Protection: ★★★★★
Value: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★

www.craghoppers.com

Mountain Hardwear Canyon £50

The test: For an extra £5 you get a lighter shirt – at 171g (women’s UK size 10), this is third lightest on test. You do lose a little in the way of sun protection, however: the fabric is UPF30 – good but higher is available.

There is an extra bit of roll on the collar to help protect your neck from the sun, and the sleeves easily roll up and are secured via button tabs. Both the men’s and women’s versions are made from quick-drying fabric and feature a mesh-lined and vented back to help with airflow. There are several colours available but no patterned option. The shirt does not offer insect protection.

The women’s shirt features just one zipped pocket, hidden on the chest; some may find its placement awkward, though it’s a good size. The men’s version has an additional pocket on the top of the chest.

The verdict: A smart shirt at a good weight at a reasonable price, though those needing insect repellency may prefer another option.

In brief
Features: ★★★★✩
Design: ★★★★✩
Comfort: ★★★★✩
Protection: ★★★✩✩
Value: ★★★✩✩
Overall: ★★★★✩

www.mountainhardwear.eu

Columbia Insect Blocker £50

The test: The clue’s in the name: this shirt comes ready impregnated with insect repellent that should last 70 washes. It’s not just insects you’re protected from – made from a UPF50 fabric, the shirt gives great protection from the sun too. The collar is also double-length to cover your neck.

Featuring sleeves that roll up and stay up – thanks to a buttoned fastener – it also has a mesh panel and venting at the back to keep you cool. The fabric is quick-drying but there’s no patterned option.

Women get two button chest pockets as well as a discreet poppered side pocket (mesh-lined to help with venting); this is on the small side, being only big enough to hold some cash. The men’s version offers the same number of pockets. At 217g (women’s UK size M), this is the second-heaviest on test.

The verdict: A well-priced shirt offering sun and insect protection, though the weight and small pocket may be a turn off for some.

In brief
Features: ★★★★★
Design: ★★★★✩
Comfort: ★★★★✩
Protection: ★★★★★
Value: ★★★★✩
Overall: ★★★★✩

www.columbiasportswear.co.uk

Páramo – Socarro / Katami £60

The test: At 149g (women’s UK size M), this is the lightest shirt on test. It’s made from a wind-resistant fabric that moves sweat away from the skin and boasts an impressive UPF50 rating for excellent sun protection. The collar can be rolled up, though it’s not double length.

There is no built-in insect repellency, but the fabric is densely woven, which helps protect against biters. The cuffs adjust with Velcro so can be worn loose or tight. At the bust (women’s), double buttons prevent gaping.

You can roll up the sleeves easily, but there is no way of securing them. The women’s version features a small chest pocket – high enough not to get in the way. A discreet, zipped, passport-size pocket is lower down and fits well against the body. The men’s version has an extra chest pocket. Both versions have a patterned design.

The verdict: A well-designed, patterned shirt that, despite a few niggles, is an excellent lightweight option.

In brief
Features: ★★★★✩
Design: ★★★★✩
Comfort: ★★★★★
Protection: ★★★★✩
Value: ★★★★✩
Overall: ★★★★✩

www.paramo.co.uk

RohanSanctuary Shirt / Overland Shirt £60 (£65 men’s version)

The test: Made from a robust, quick-drying fabric that moves sweat away from the skin, this shirt also comes with a BiteGuard finish, which protects against insects and lasts up to 70 washes. With a UPF of 40+, it offers good protection against the sun. The collar rolls up to cover your neck, though isn’t double length.

The sleeves roll up and secure with a button tab fastening and, as with the Craghoppers shirt, the cuffs close up tight to give additional protection against biting insects.

The women’s version has two breast pockets but no concealed one. The men’s version does have a hidden chest pocket. Women get two patterned options as well as a plain one to chose from; men’s versions only come in solid colours. Hitting the scales at 170g (women’s UK size 12), it’s the second-lightest on test.

The verdict: Good fabric with insect and sun protection, but missing some features that some cheaper models do offer.

In brief
Features: ★★★★✩
Design: ★★★★✩
Comfort: ★★★★★
Protection: ★★★★★
Value: ★★★★✩
Overall: ★★★★✩

www.rohan.co.uk

How we did the test…

We asked gear manufacturers to submit travel shirts that they felt were most suitable for travellers: those made from lightweight but durable fabrics that are good in hot climates and offer sun protection. From the 15 shirts we were sent our editor, Phoebe Smith, took them out on the road to see which performed best. The six here are all ‘Wanderlust Approved’, with a Value Buy and Best in Test (for the overall best buy) being indicated. All are available in men’s and women’s specific fits, with the different names indicated if applicable.

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