The German company Falke is known world-wide for their high-quality socks, also when it comes to hiking. However, Falke doesn’t produce only hiking socks but also activewear. Approximately two months ago, we got in touch with Falke and they offered us some samples of their activewear to test in return for unbiased reviews. We received the products just before we headed to the Dolomites for our hiking-intensive holidays. That was perfect and we were really eager to test their activewear on various trails.
The first product that I tested was the Falke Cool T-Shirt which is made of 100% polyamide. If you follow this website, you probably know that I mostly wear Merino wool base layers for hiking. Nevertheless, synthetic base layers such as this Falke t-shirt, do have certain advantages over Merino wool. They are more durable, less expensive and in many cases they dry faster. Therefore, I was very excited to test the t-shirt and see how it compares to my other base layers (see gear tests). During the holidays I climbed four 2000+ meters high mountains wearing the Falke Cool T-Shirt and below is what I learned about it.
The Falke Cool T-Shirt is suitable for:
The Falke Cool t-shirt is designed for warm to hot conditions and is therefore made of very thin polyamide (nylon) fabric. The first thing I noticed when I unwrapped the t-shirt was the porosity of the fabric. It is very porous which is great because a higher porosity entails better the breathability, and breathability is really important for hiking in high temperatures. Now, very porous fabrics tend to have durability issues (especially pure Merino wool!) but I don’t think that such issues are likely with the Falke t-shirt. The polyamide yarn seems very strong and the t-shirt uses a thicker fabric on the sleeves and shoulders to resist abrasion from the backpack. So far, I haven’t noticed any signs of wear and tear, and of course I’ll update the article in case I do.
So, when you are buying a base layer for hiking you typically search for a breathable, moisture-wicking, quick-drying and odor resistant garment and that’s what I kept in mind when I was testing the t-shirt in the great Dolomites.
I wore the t-shirt for the first time on the trail to the 2950 meters high Sass Pordoi (trail to be published soon). The first thing I noticed was that it absorbs a bit more moisture than my other synthetic base layers but still less than my Merino base layers. However, the t-shirt nicely disperses the moisture across the surface of the fabric which is important as the moisture dries faster when dispersed.
I was also surprised over the breathability. The Falke t-shirt is probably the most breathable base layer I’ve ever had. To determine this, I conducted a simple experiment of blowing air through the various fabrics of my base layers and noting the “resistance”. Falke t-shirt indeed showed the least resistance due to its porous fabric.
Despite the fact that I wore the t-shirt on three difficult ascends without washing it in between, it didn’t become smelly. Therefore, I assume it’s treated with an antimicrobial agent. In my experience such treatments eventually wash out, but so far the t-shirt has remained odor-resistant.
The biggest shortcoming of the t-shirt is that it’s hard to get it off when it’s soaked with sweat (for example after running). It does kind of glue to your skin. That’s probably because the fabric is so lightweight. The material is otherwise surprisingly soft to the touch. Nevertheless, as an eager user of Merino base layers I still find the material slightly less comfortable against the skin than Merino wool.
Comfort, fit, sizing and functionality
The t-shirt fits tightly to the body without compressing it. Because it’s quite stretchy it offers great freedom of movement and during my adventures, I never felt that my motion was limited in any way. It also has flatlock seams and a printed logo for increased comfort. I haven’t encountered any chafing or skin irritation while wearing it. I got the t-shirt in size L and it fits me perfectly – snug but not too tight. My chest diameter is 98 cm (38.5 in.) and I’m 180 cm tall (5 ft. 11 in.).
I have worn the t-shirt as a standalone base layer as well as under my Mountain Hardwear Monkeyman fleece jacket. The t-shirt is best for warm conditions, but it also works well under a mid-layer. Nevertheless, for hiking in cold temperatures I recommend wearing a long-sleeved base layer for extra warmth. The Falke Cool t-shirt is indeed made to suit warm to hot conditions perfectly.
Washing and drying
The Falke Cool base layer is machine washable at 40 C but should not be tumble-dried. Nevertheless, as the t-shirt dries fast this shouldn’t be a problem. It also doesn’t require as frequent washing as other synthetic base layers because it’s treated with an antimicrobial agent and thus it doesn’t get smelly so fast.
All in all, I’m very impressed by the Falke Cool t-shirt. The t-shirt is perfect for outdoor sports in warm conditions because it is very thin and provides amazing breathability. Furthermore, it also very moisture-wicking, quick-drying and odor resistant. The only complaint I have is that it’s hard to get it off when it’s wet. That was not a problem while I was hiking or mountaineering because the t-shirt usually dried before the end of the hike, but it is a bit annoying after running. I was also very surprised over the softness of the fabric which feels really nice against the skin. The Falke Cool t-shirt has become my base layer of choice for warmer day hikes and fast alpine ascents, and I’ll stick with it for the years to come.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.