In summer 2019 I received the Falke Silk-Wool underwear and t-shirt from the iconic German brand upon request. As I had been previously impressed by the durability of the Klattermusen Eir t-shirt, I was really keen to test other base layers made out of Merino wool and silk, which is a much less utilized material for activewear although it has many interesting qualities when worn next to the skin. Luckily, Falke agreed to send both me and my boyfriend items from the brand’s functional sports underwear segment (my boyfriend reviewed the Cool t-shirt here) and we have been using them ever since. Here is what I learned about the Falke Silk-Wool t-shirt:
- Everyday use
The Falke Silk-Wool t-shirt is made of a luxuriously soft mix of 70% Merino wool and 30% silk. These natural fibers help to maintain the body’s ideal temperature in both warm and cold weather as silk has a cooling effect while Merino wool keeps you comfortably warm. As mentioned in the review of the Falke Silk-Wool underwear, the feel of the blend is quite different than that of the Klattermusen Eir t-shirt although the shirts have the same wool to silk ratio (70-30). The Silk-Wool fabric is softer, lighter and more porous. When first wearing the Falke t-shirt I noticed right away how incredibly light it was.
I got curious and weighed it to be 85 g (size L), and then weighed the Klattermusen shirt which turned out to weigh 105 g (size M). As the two shirts are made of approximately the same amount of fabric (±5%), I could infer that the fabric of the Falke shirt has to be quite a lot lighter than Klattermusen’s 140 g/m2 density. Upon inquiry, Falke informed me that the Silk-Wool fabric only weighs an astonishingly meagre 105 grams per square meter! It is thus 25% lighter than the silk and wool blend used for the Klattermusen t-shirt. In comparison, the densities of the fabrics made by the big Merino brands Icebreaker and SmartWool are quite a lot heavier. SmartWool’s lightest blend for t-shirts is 150 g/m2 (87% Merino, 13% nylon) – just like Icebreaker’s most used blend for its Anatomica, Body Fitzone, Siren and Tabi shirts (83% Merino, 17% Nylon/Lycra). If we are talking 100% Merino, Icebreaker’s Everyday line utilizes a fabric with a density of 175 g/m2 while the material of the Formal Friday t-shirt reviewed earlier this year weighs 156 g/m2.
The Falke Silk-Wool is thus an incredibly light natural fabric. But as with the Falke underwear, also the t-shirt suffers from piling – already after very few washes (following the instructions). Piling is when fibers tend to come loose from the fabric surface and form balled particles of fiber. Some people (like my significant other) don’t mind piling, but I can’t stand it. To mitigate the problem, I will thus have to wash the t-shirt extremely gently by hand, and occasionally use my electric pill shaver – with caution as the fabric is so incredibly thin and light. But the feel of the fabric is so luxuriously soft that it seems like a price worth paying. I should mention, though, that the porosity of the material means that the t-shirt is slightly see-through, but not terribly so. It should, however, be even less of a problem if you purchase it in one of the other colors available – near-black anthracite grey or dark blue.
In terms of sustainability, the Merino wool used is mulesing-free, while the silk is more sustainably produced than conventional silk as Falke reports that “it is made out of silk cocoons that were already used for other purposes. Normally, the cocoons are thrown away after the first working process, but we are using the silk rests to spin new yarn”. Falke produces most of its garments in Germany, and the rest on other production sites in Europe so also the labor force has proper working conditions.
Comfort, fit, sizing and functionality
As I was almost 7 months pregnant when I received the Falke Silk-Wool t-shirt, I asked for size L – which also fits me after having given birth. It is only slightly larger than the size M of the Klattermusen Eir t-shirt, so I would say that Falke’s sizing might be a bit on the narrow side. On the other hand, it is relatively long in the torso which is part of the explanation why it fitted me so well late in the pregnancy. Falke also offers other base layer tops in the Silk-Wool line; a long-sleeved Henley shirt and a camisole with elegant double shoulder straps. I was very happy with the t-shirt, though, as I often got inexplicably hot from the waist up towards the end of my pregnancy. The temperature-regulating properties of the fabric were thus nothing short of lifesaving since my shoulders and the baby bump was kept warm while my curiously boiling chest, arms and décolleté could cool down a bit.
I actually ended up basically living in the Falke Silk-Wool t-shirt and the long-sleeved Isobaa base layer in the last months of the pregnancy because they were among the very few cool and comfortable tops to fit me without making me feel like a Beluga whale. Thus, the anti-microbial properties of both shirts were greatly appreciated as I would wear them day in and day out. The odor-reducing performance was especially put to the test in the Dolomites when I wore the Falke Silk-Wool t-shirt on consecutive hikes where it got soaked with sweat. Other functional details of the t-shirt are the smooth flatlock seams, raglan sleeves and the printed logos. The washing instructions are printed on a small white tag as well as in multiple languages on longer black tags which should be cut off with a scissor. Otherwise, the latter may chafe your skin.
Washing and drying
The washing instructions tell you to wash the Falke shirt on an extra gentle wool cycle at the cold setting (30 C⁰ or less), but to mitigate the issue of piling I would definitely recommend washing it gently by hand in cool water. Piling will also be increased heavily by tumble-drying, which the instructions thus warn against. Drying should, however, not be a problem as the Silk-Wool fabric is so thin and delicate, but it will of course take longer to dry after handwashing than machine-washing since you shouldn’t wring the garment forcefully of water. Whether washing by hand or machine, you should use a wool detergent, and steer clear of bleach and fabric softeners which may interfere with the naturally anti-microbial properties of the Silk-Wool fabric.
Piling aside, I really love the Falke t-shirt. Not only is it functional due to the soft, antimicrobial and temperature-regulating fabric, but it is also cut so elegantly that I don’t hesitate to wear it for everyday life in addition to hiking and other outdoor activities. Due to the hassle of handwashing it, I will wear it a bit less frequently the next months, while my baby still regurgitates in all directions, but I will for sure throw it on for every hike due to its exceptional performance.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.