Testing the latest in baselayer technology – a Kora yak wool baselayer top
My life of baselayer wearing goes along these lines:
- In my early 20s, I wore any old handy cotton t-shirt because I didnâ€™t know any better. But I generally ended up damp and then wet and cold during and after exercise.
- I discovered Helly Hansen (a brand I still love for great designs and fit) and I found that I could stay comfortable while exercising because the man-made fabric allowed sweat to wick through and away from my body.
- I realised that Merino wool baselayers would keep me warm and dry and avoid the whiff of body odour associated with many man-made fabrics.
- I came across yak!
Yes, yak! This is the latest trend in baselayer fabrics â€“ and I have been testing aÂ 230g yak wool Kora ShoLa womenâ€™s long-sleeved baselayer. The product is the same in the men’s version except with a guy’s fit. Yak wool is claimed to be 40 per cent warmer and with a 66 per cent greater air permeability than 260g Merino wool equivalents.
Itâ€™s also said that yak wool has the ability to wick and transport more water vapour through it than Merino. So yak baselayers are both incredibly light and breathable yet without compromising on the warmth and softness of wool. (I disagree a bit here but Iâ€™ll come back to that.)
Koraâ€™s yak baselayers are made from a unique â€œHima-Layerâ€ fabric, which is ethically sourced directly from communities in the Himalayas.
Kora yak baselayer on test
My usual test is to wear a baselayer for day after day while taking part in lots of sweaty activity. This I have been doing with the Lora ShoLa womenâ€™s baselayer.
I am usually a size UK10 and the medium fits me beautifully. I love the style of the baselayer (not that this should really matter because practicals are more important) but it does fit well. The torso is a good length even for someone fairly tall and the arm length is superb. I have long arms and the sleeves are still long enough to tuck into my gloves. This I really appreciate.
I wore the yak wool baselayer when cycling, running and Munro bagging. And so far there has been no sweaty whiff whatsoever.
The baselayer also does a superb job of wicking sweat to the outside. I could actually see this happening. When I unzipped my jacket after cycling hard for an hour and then again half way up a steep Munro I looked down to see water vapour (presumably sweat) on the outside of the top. From here I can only presume it evaporated itself off into the air (or through my Gore-Tex jacket).
At no point did I feel damp on my skin and even after exercising, when I stopped to get into the car and drive for an hour, I stayed warm and dry. This is almost unheard of for me as I usually find myself shivering with cold and damp very soon after exercise.
I will continue to wear the baselayer without washing it until it does smell (Iâ€™ll report back on the number of outings!).
The only thing I am not so keen on is the feel of the yak wool against my skin. To be fair, I don’t like Merino wool on my skin either. I find them mildly to very itchy. I prefer wool baselayers once they have been washed a few times, after which they feel softer on my skin. It could be that I have sensitive skin but it’s something to think about.
The Kora Yak baselayers are not cheap, with starting prices of Â£95 for menâ€™s and womenâ€™s leggings and tops and the ShoLa women’s long-sleeved baselayer costing Â£105,Â but I have been very impressed by the performance. The colour choice is limited but I imagine this will grow as the yak baselayers are developed.