Kora Yak Wool Base Layers

Yak wool is one of the lesser known base layer fabrics. It’s warmer, lighter, and more breathable than merino wool, but still provides odor resistance, durability and softness. Kora has brought to market the Shola 230 Yak Wool Crew, and this is my review.

Starting with the basics, the Shola 230 Crew is indeed produced from yak wool. Yak wool is similar to merino, but it provides advantages in heat retention and breathability.  The 230 is a form fitting long sleeve design that’s made to stay close to the body to avoid bulk, while still providing excellent insulation. It has a low cut neck to avoid sticking out from under other layers, and durable flat-locked seams that provide extra strength without creating friction points or bulges. It has an inherent 40+ UPF rating too. They run true to size, matching bottoms are available, and the model tested here retails for $145.

Kora Yak Wool Base Layer

What I liked

I did find that the Shola 230 kept me warmer than most of my merino wool base layers. Despite the material being thin and breathable, it managed to trap heat right at the skin’s surface, insulating even when directly exposed to the wind with no other layers on. It’s proven warm enough for hiking through deep winter freezes and even biking when the temps drop down into the thirties. It also dries very quickly, rarely leaving me with a damp spot behind my backpack or on my chest after working up a sweat. It’s an overall great performer.

The fit is great. The Shola really hugs the curves of the body and it’s obviously been designed to do so. Underneath other layers, it adds practically no bulk and stays in place without bunching or getting twisted up, making it excellent for aerobic activities like jogging, hiking or biking. I’ve found that it can be paired underneath a short sleeve shirt to provide an excellent balance of heat retention and breathability.

The fabric is indeed quite soft. Holding it in the hands, there really is no indication that it’s any type of wool at all. The carefully chosen knit produces a feel that’s soft and smooth in a way that reminds me more of polyester. It feels quite nice.

Odor control seems to be on par with merino wool, making it excellent for extended camping trips or long day hikes. Even after vigorous activities like running or biking up long climbs, it remained fresh and scent free the entire day, a definite plus for those long distance hikers and backpackers out there.

Kora Yak Wool Base Layer

 

What I didn’t like

While the material feels softer to the touch than merino wool, I personally found it to be, initially, a bit itchier. It takes a bit of time to get used to the fabric, but once you do it’s great to wear for extended periods of time. It will take some acclimation though.

Caring for yak wool takes a little effort than most base layers. You’ll need to wash it on your wool setting (or delicate if you don’t have one) and line dry it instead of tossing it in the drier. Thankfully, it dries very, very quickly, so this isn’t really an issue. It’s worth noting, however.

Kora Yak Wool Base Layer

Overall

The Shola 230 crew from Kora provides an excellent alternative to merino wool and synthetic base layers. It’s soft, fits great, and and outperforms both when it comes to drying time and warmth, and competes handily with wool when it comes to odor resistance. It’s a bit itchy at first, and you’ll pay a premium for the more exotic material, but a solid base layer is worth investing in if it keeps you warm, dry and comfortable in depths of winter.

Recommended

For more information on Kora and and their wide range of gear, check out their website, http://www.kora.net/usa/

For information on our rating system and our testing procedures, check out our About us/ Contact us page.

I want to extend a huge thanks Kora for providing this product for review. We couldn’t do it without their help. Our full disclosure can be found here.

Thanks as always for reading! Don’t forget to follow our blog for future updates and reviews. If you have any questions, comment below, send us an email, or find us on Twitter or Facebook (links on the right).

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3 thoughts on “Kora Yak Wool Base Layers

  1. Do not buy this product !!!!!!!!!!!!! I purchased the base layer , its supposed to be 100% yak wool . I seriously have my doubts if its even wool of any kind . It is paper thin , so much so , you could see through it holding it up . Not warm at all , you would be better off getting a cotton long sleeve , its that weak . They also do not tell you that its MADE IN CHINA . That alone makes me suspect that its not what it is supposed to be . I am going to take it to a lab , down the street from me , to have it tested . They will be able to tell if its natural or synthetic fiber , and if natural , if its plant or animal . It feels like a poly /cotton blend , heavy on the poly . If its not what its supposed to be , Kora can expect a fraud law suit coming soon . Save your money , its a rip off .

    • Hi,

      I took another look at mine and it’s definitely Yak Wool. Where did you purchase yours? Any chance you got a counterfeit?
      It’s actually entirely possible for yak wool to be impressively thin, and it’s actually a great base layer when woven properly (if it’s too thick it would be crazy hot to wear).
      Likely, what’s going on is the wool is sourced one place, shipping and woven another. It’s fairly common. But, if you find anything strange I would be interested in knowing.

  2. I bought a base layer directly from Kora a couple years ago and I was far from impressed; the sizing ran incredibly small (so much so that I don’t even wear it anymore because it’s uncomfortably tight), and had holes in it after about four wears. I bought an xl 3/4 leggings and they barely made it below my knees.

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