A long-sleeve polycotton button-down shirt is my long time favorite for three-season backpacking. I can roll up the sleeves and adjust the front ventilation or have mild wind protection as needed.
I also find this style of shirt comfortable, the loose fit and partial cotton blend breathe well, and the collar provides sun protection on my neck—a simple, inexpensive, and effective shirt. And my preferred style is plaid Western-style shirts typically from Wrangler. Besides aesthetically pleasing to me, the plaid cuts down a bit on the grime vs. a solid shirt, too.
However, I tend to like short-sleeve shirts for quick day hikes or traveling in between more extended trips. The short sleeve I find makes a more comfortable shirt for me during day hikes when I need less versatility or even a preferred shirt for areas such as back East with the lower elevations but more humidity and less sun exposure.
As with some favorite all-purpose utility pants, my preferred short sleeve shirts for day hikes or traveling end up as another Wrangler performance brand special.
The Wrangler shirts go by different names such as performance, outdoor utility shirt, camp shirt, etc. depending on where, when, and who sells the shirt with slightly different styling (snaps vs. velcro on the pocket for example). No matter; all these options are mostly the same with a baggier fit that works well for ventilation, SPF protection, and made of nylon or a nylon-poly blend for rugged wear. And come in plaid for the aesthetic styling as part of the outdoor uniform I prefer. 🙂
I purchased three of these shirts back in 2016, packed the burnt orange one for my road trip, and wished I packed all three!
I loved how comfortable the shirt felt overall, the durability, and how it looked presentable when resupplying in town or meeting up with friends. And they cost less than $20 each. Tellingly, I still wear them now when I know I’ll be outside for the day and don’t wish to wear a long sleeve shirt. And when I did a lot of day use guiding pre-COVID, I rotated through the three shirts frequently.
I still prefer the long sleeve for backpacking (again, I like the versatility the long sleeves allow). Though I do think the cotton blend breathes better in the long sleeve Western plaid shirts, the baggier cut does allow more than enough ventilation with the nylon lasting well for the constant wear I put these shirts through overall.
For sub-$20, you get some long-lasting, comfortable, good-looking (IMO) shirts that compare favorably to more expensive options sold at REI or similar. The shirts do run baggy, so size down if you are on the cusp of sizes and prefer a more trim fit.
Where to get? Amazon seems to have a limited selection in stock of the solid color that I do not prefer, but you might. They also sell the “ATG” version that is a poly-nylon blend. But it looks like a particular megalithic big box store(rhymes with Paul-Bart) has the best selection overall.
Disclosure: I purchased these shirts with my funds.