Chapter 46: How to Care for Your Silk Clothing

Many ultralight backpackers use silk clothing to reduce their pack weight and volume.

A short-sleeve and long-sleeve shirt give you layering options and a backup. Silk is lighter than most any synthetic and packs very small. Silk shirts can be as light as 2 ½ ounces for a T-shirt or 3 ounces for a long-sleeve shirt. They work well on cold days to insulate or hot days because they breath and dry out so well.

It’s a great piece of clothing to layer with because you can put a couple of layers of silk and something else like a down jacket under your rain gear.

Some backpackers hesitate to use silk because they’ve never used it for anything else, or they are worried it will take a lot of effort to clean. I’ve used silk for over 20 years and I’ve learned I don’t have to baby it.

After your hike, just toss it in the washer on a cold or warm gentle cycle. Your normal soap should be fine.

For drying, lay it on a towel or just hang to dry. It’s easy.

Silk can snag. One time after a 40 or 50-mile hike I arrived back at the trailhead with my long-sleeve silk shirt in perfect shape. I hopped in the car, and snagged it on a rough spot on my arm rest. But overall, it’s very functional and light. And it’s easy to wash and dry.