REI Co-op Sahara Button-Up Long-Sleeve Shirt review: tailored for the trails

Cool and breathable, the REI Co-op Sahara is a travel-friendly choice offering good sun and insect protection

REI Co-op Sahara Button-Up Long-Sleeve Shirt - Women's
(Image: © REI Co-op)

Advnture Verdict

Pack the REI Co-op Sahara for hiking abroad in hot weather – it’s breathable and easy to care for, and is definitely worth a look for petite women looking for a hiking shirt that really fits. It’s just a pity the fabric has a slightly rumpled finish.


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    Easy to care for

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    Good sun protection


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    Rumpled finish to fabric

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REI Co-op Sahara: first impressions 

As the name suggests, the REI Co-op Sahara is desert-ready and is ideal for hot weather and international travel. 

Five neutral, classic colors look smart enough to wear on evenings out after a big day in the hills. Petite testers also report that this shirt’s smaller sizes fit brilliantly, so this might be a good choice if you find most hiking shirts tend to swamp your frame. 


• RRP: $60 (US) / £40 (UK)
• Materials: Nylon (95%), spandex (5%)
• Weight: 164g / 5.8oz
• Sizes available: XS / S / M / L / XL
• Colors: Heron Blue / Rust Marsala / Sea Olive / Stellar Grey / White / Toadstool
• Compatibility: Wear in warm weather or strong sun

REI Co-op Sahara: on the trails 

This soft-to-touch shirt is highly breathable and was one of the quickest drying fabrics we tested for our best women’s hiking tops buying guide – ideal for wicking away sweat, or for washing on the go if you’re travelling light. 

Once dry, the shirt doesn’t need any care or ironing to be ready to pop on again, although it does have a naturally slightly rumpled finish that not everyone will like. The fabric offers decent sun protection, and while it isn’t treated with any insect repellents, the weave is dense enough to keep them at bay. 

We wore the Sahara on hot summer city walks in Spain and were impressed by how well it kept the sun off and wicked away sweat over the course of a day, and still looked neat and tidy come dinnertime. 

The sleeves were the most roll-able we tried, too, and can be buttoned up neatly for a short-sleeve look. The two front pockets sit nicely flush with the shirt but aren’t huge.

Sian Lewis

An award-winning travel and outdoors journalist, presenter and blogger, Sian regularly writes for The Independent, Evening Standard, BBC Countryfile, Coast, Outdoor Enthusiast and Sunday Times Travel. Life as a hiking, camping, wild-swimming adventure-writer has taken her around the world, exploring Bolivian jungles, kayaking in Greenland, diving with turtles in Australia, climbing mountains in Africa and, in Thailand, learning the hard way that peeing on a jellyfish sting doesn’t help. Her blog,, champions accessible adventures.