If I’m being asked to part with £105 for a baselayer, I want it to work some minor miracles. I’d want it to be massively warmer, much more breathable, better wicking, lighter and less likely to get smelly than any other baselayer I owned. And I’d want it to look good too.
So, imagine my amazement as this new Yak Wool (Yes, Yak. The hairy mountain beasts from the Himalayas) ticked all of those boxes and lived up to some bold claims by its new British manufacturer.
It’s always really difficult to relate numbers in marketing to actual, real-world performance. And especially when those numbers are for things like breathability, so when they say that the Shola is made from Yak’s wool, which is:
17% better wicking,
66% more breathable,
than merino wool, what does that actually mean?
Well, it means that you can wear the Shola for 3 weeks, every day, doing everything from stomping round the hills to going to work to heavy-lifting and it won’t smell, it won’t ever feel sweaty and it won’t leave you chilly. It performs like your own hair. It becomes you, and short of catching a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and thinking “Damn, I look good in this” you’ll probably forget you’re even wearing a baselayer.
A really flattering and yet snug fit, with a lush dark blue (obsidian) colour and simple detailing mean that the Shola is a garment that you can comfortably wear as an only-layer and not feel self-conscious, or like you’ve been caught on the way home from the gym. And since it has a UV protective equivalent of SPF40+ it does indeed work well as an only-layer in sunny climes.
And it’s soft. You wouldn’t think of a Yak being particularly soft, but it feels as snuggly as the finest merino, and so far mine hasn’t shown and sign of pilling.
The Kora ShoLa is an expensive piece of kit. But, based on my own use, I’d be happy to take it as my only baselayer on an extended trip. So maybe it’s a case of buy once, buy well, and make a sound investment.
Note: There’s also a women’s version, and matching bottoms for both sexes.