What’s Better, Merino Wool or Kora Yak Wool?

Kora Yak Wool

I recently got introduced to Kora, a fairly new company that has an innovation to add to the baselayer market: baselayers made of yak wool! This is an interesting twist on materials, since historically most high-end baselayers were made of merino wool. Now we are seeing llama wool and yak wool added to the mix!

Hiking Baselayers: What Do We Want!?

Kora yak wool topWhen it comes to hiking baselayers, hikers want a product that they can rely on to keep them warm, yet not too warm. In addition to how well the baselayer “breathes”, hikers also want baselayers that wick moisture away from their skin, and a fabric that doesn’t stay stinky! If out backpacking, the last thing a hiker needs is a smelly baselayer, especially if we’ll be wearing it for more than a day or two.
How do the Kora yak wool baselayers fit into the diverse range of baselayers on the market?

Review of Kora Yak Wool Shola 230 Zip Top

I’ve had a chance to test out a women’s Shola 230 Zip, a baselayer made entirely of Kora’s yak wool fabric called the “Hima-Layer Original 230”. What is unique about the Kora yak wool?

Detailed stitching on the Kora Yak Wool Shola 230 women’s zip top
Kora Yak Wool Shola 230 Zip sleeve detail
Kora Yak Wool Shola 230 Zip sleeve detail

Unlike merino wool, Kora yak wool is apparently 40% warmer for the same weight, 66% more breathable, and 17% better at wicking moisture from your skin. Obviously, I can’t attest to how accurate these numbers are from my testing, however, I can say that the Shola 230 Zip top is definitely warm, highly breathable, and wicking. I found that it seemed much warmer than merino wool, which is ideal for cold weather adventures, but a little too hot for a Southern California 50 degrees Fahrenheit February. This will be the top I’ll be wearing at my next snow skills course and on snowshoeing outings! Since I want to try out ice climbing too, I know exactly which baselayer I’ll choose when I get that on the calendar.

The idea behind Kora yak wool is that the material is from animals (the yaks), who endure much more extreme altitudes and temperatures than merino sheep.

Specs of the Women’s Shola 230 Zip Top

  • Fabric: Kora’s proprietary yak wool, the Hima-Layer Original 230
  • Sun protection? The tight weave provides UPF 40+ sun protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays
  • Machine washable? Yes.
  • Sizes available: XS-XL
  • Price: $160
  • Where to buy: Kora.net

Happy trails!

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