Kora’s Shola leggings are an ideal winter base layer under ski pants or on their own for winter walks, yoga or snowshoeing. Made from super soft yak wool, they are warm, stretchy, breathable and naturally endowed with odor resistance.
Kora yak wool is a versatile textile that offers advantages over popular merino wool that is drawing athletes and recreationalists away from synthetic base layers. Just as soft and non-itchy as merino wool, yak wool is 40% warmer weight by weight, 66% more breathable and 17% better at wicking water vapor away from the skin, according to the company. Those impressive statistics make sense when one considers the natural habitat of yaks compared to sheep. Merino sheep usually live no higher than 1,000 meters (~3,000 feet) above sea level while the hardy yak fends off high-alpine harsh elements and thrives at 5,000-6,000 meters (~16,000-19,000 feet). A study that measured heat loss in people who ran for an hour at -5C degrees found that yak wool retained heat more than merino wool or synthetics. It also has natural UPF 40+ sun protection.
In field testing, I found that the Kora 230 ¾-length leggings, worn under ski pants during cold snaps ranging from 15-25F, were very warm and comforatable. They provided superior warmth without feeling the least bit clammy. When I first put them on they felt more snug than synthetic long underwear. However, the stretchiness and softness meant that they felt extra freeing compared to other bottom base layers, more like a second skin. The freedom of movement was apparent when skiing the steeps at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows when maximum flexibility was needed. They have now become my go-to long underwear for two straight winters.
On more temperate days, the leggings seemed to modulate temperature shifts easily, not feeling overly warm even inside the house. They live up to their reputation of being warm in cold temperatures and comfortable in moderate temperatures. The wide elastic waistband is just as stretchy and comfortable as the leggings themselves and do not bind or constrict movement at all.
I normally shy away from wool because it makes me itch, even merino wool. I can wear merino wool socks but I can’t tolerate the fabric over larger parts of my body. I don’t itch at all with the Kora yak wool and actually look forward to wearing the long underwear.
Kora also makes full-length leggings, upper base layers, hats and coats for men and women. The reviewer usually wears a medium in everything, tops and bottoms, and the medium size fit perfectly and was true to size. At well over $100 this is a premium product for discerning consumers but is so worth it for those who are sensitive to regular wool products.
Made with Hima-Layer Original 230 yak wool developed by Kora, the capri Shola 230 leggings are easy to care for. They can be machine washed in cool water and line dried with minimal shrinkage.
Kora is the first company to develop yak wool into high-performance technical fabrics in their Hima-Layer program. They spent years perfecting the wool and tested it extensively in the Alps, other parts of Europe and Arctic Greenland. They source the wool directly, develop their own products in-house and create designs with much attention to detail. The yaks don’t even have to be shorn. In the spring, they shed the soft underlayer of down, which the herders collect. Kora works with the Kegawa Herders Cooperative on the Himalaya Plateau, guaranteeing to buy all of their wool and giving them a steady source of income.
The Kora Shola 230 leggings are a highly recommended choice for active women looking for a soft, stretchy fabric that is warm and comfortable to wear as a base layer or outerwear in cool or cold weather.
Kora Shola 230 3/4 leggings
Disclosure of material connection: A sample was received for testing purposes, but the opinions expressed are solely those of the author.