Kit review: Kora yak wool baselayer top
A yak? The wool from a yak? What, those big furry creatures that roam the Himalaya? Wool from one of those beasts? To make a baselayer top? You are kidding, right? These were the various comments from friends after I mentioned that I was wearing a yak wool baselayer. And there's no kidding. The latest in baselayer excitement is clothing make from the wool of yaks. I was very keen to try a yak wool top as soon as I heard about the latest development in baselayer clothing. And while my first thoughts were of a very furry and woolly top, when the long-sleeved baselayer arrived from Kora it actually looked pretty normal. I already wear merino wool baselayers and the yak wool baselayer looks and feels very similar. I think that on first wear the yak wool top is actually softer than merino, which is a definite advantage for me because I find wool-based products quite itchy until after the first few washes.
What’s so great about yak wool?Like merino wool, yak is a natural product and can claim many benefits when turned into a baselayer including warmth, breathability and anti-odour properties. In fact, yak wool is claimed to be 40 per cent warmer and with a 66 per cent greater air permeability than 260g merino wool equivalents. It’s also said that yak wool has the ability to wick and transport more water vapour through it than merino.
Testing a 230g yak wool Kora ShoLa women’s long-sleeved baselayerKora’s yak baselayer is made from a” unique “Hima-Layer” fabric, which is ethically sourced directly from native communities in the Himalayas”. I have been wearing the baselayer for many days of activity, including walking, running and cycling. And I have yet to wash it! This is not because I am unhygienic but because I want t see how long it takes before it starts to whiff. So far I am on seven days of wear and it still smells just fine. The fit of the Lora ShoLa women’s medium size baselayer is perfect. I am usually a UK10. The trunk length is ample and the arm length is brilliant. I have long arms and the sleeves are still long enough to tuck into my gloves. The baselayer also does a great job of wicking sweat to the outside of the top. I could actually see this happening on a cold day. The sweat could be seen collecting on the outside of the baselayer before it evaporated. This meant that while I was hot and sweaty on the inside, the top did not collect water vapour and so I did not feel the chill like I might if I was wearing a cotton baselayer. (Cotton is not very good at wicking away sweat.)
Would I buy a yak wool baselayer?Yes. The Kora Yak baselayers are not cheap, with starting prices of £95 for men’s and women’s leggings and tops, but I think the performance is excellent. Merino wool tops are very long lasting and I expect the yak version to be just as high quality. The ShoLa women's long-sleeved baselayer is £105. See kora.net
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