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What is the best packable shirt?

Hi. Can anyone recommend the best packable shirt? I heard there are some nice, durable shirts that pack into the size of a large plum and is very lightweight. I'd like to get one as an emergency clothing item. Appreciate your suggestions!

10 Replies

I love the Columbia Omni-Wick. I have a couple short and a couple long-sleeve versions.

Thanks Bradyparr! I will check it out. Cheers!


Hi @Bruceman007  and welcome to the forum.

Like @Bradyparr , I am a fan of the Omni-Wick shirts in general, but, your question has left out some important detail.  Are you looking for a button-up, or pullover shirt?  Once unpacked, are you hoping for a nice smooth fabric, or are wrinkles of no concern?  When you say "emergency clothing" do you mean if your other shirt gets damaged or dirty, you have a spare?  Or are you looking for something to protect you from the elements (cold; rain; wind)?  Are there any other features that are important to you?

Myself, and plenty of others here will be happy to provide some opinions and recommendations.  We just need to know what you're looking for.


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Hi Rob6,

These are great qualifying questions. I think a pullover would be best, wrinkles are OK and color doesn't matter. Here's my scenario: I'm hiking for a full day with one backpack. I am dressed in a short shirt and hiking clothes. Space is at a premium in my pack and weight is a factor. If it gets cold, or my shirt gets dirty or ripped, I'd like to pull out a spare that is both durable and functional. A hood or waterproof feature would be a plus, but not required. I've read about these type of shirts that either fold or scrunch into very small sizes, like a peach. Heck, I can even keep one in my glovebox too as an emergency shirt. Cheers.


Hey there @Bruceman007 .

Like @OldGuyot , I have, and really like my Patagonia Capilene Hoodie.

I also have some Outdoor Research Echo shirts, which I love.  That collection includes a long-sleeve hoodie.  

And, REI has a similar hoodie in their Sahara line.  

I think the OR Echo would pack down the smallest, but none of these would take up much space.  All are great for warm to hot weather, but wouldn't provide much protection against the cold.  For cold-weather, you'll have to sacrifice some packed size for warmth.

Hope this helps!

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Reading your criteria, a Patagonia Houdini immediately comes to mind.  I always have one handy.  It is windproof and water resistant, with a hood, but very light weight. Mine has often come in handy.

Th type of shirt I prefer for general outdoor wear is long sleeved(you can always roll them up when you wish), collared, with pockets with flaps or som sort of positive closure system, and somewhat loose fitting.  In colder weather I can slip a wicking layer underneath or even a light sweater for more insulation.  I have found that synthetic materials are best for durability.  Color i significant and I definitely prefer a somewhat brighter color.  There can easily come a time when you wish to be plainly visible.  I often wear shirts of this type year round, layering up in cooler weather.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

@Bruceman007 I agree with the Houdini. I use an Outdoor Research softshell hoodie. It's cool enough that I can wear it even when hot. Provides a good wind/ sun block.

Thank you hikermor! 


Thank you. Very helpful info!