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Reviews > Clothing > Base Layers and Undies > Kora Shola 230 Base Layers > Test Report by Kathleen Waters

KORA SHOLA 230 BASE LAYER CREW TOP
TEST SERIES BY KATHLEEN WATERS
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - November 25, 2018
FIELD REPORT - January 16, 2019
LONG TERM REPORT - March 25, 2019

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: kathy at backpackgeartest dot com
AGE: 68
LOCATION: Canon City, Colorado, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.60 m)
WEIGHT: 118 lb (53.50 kg)

Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado. Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Kora
Year Received: 2018
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.kora.net
MSRP: US $145.00 Crew
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 7 oz (198 g) Crew
Colors Available: Obsidian Blue and Shale Black
Color Tested: Shale Black
Sizes Available: XS to XL
Size Tested: Medium crew
Sleeve Length Listed: 31.9 in (81 cm) - MEDIUM
My Personal Sleeve Length Measured: 25 in (63 cm)
Chest Width Listed: 36.5 in (92 cm) - MEDIUM
My Personal Chest Width Measured: 34 in (86 cm)

Other details:

Material: "Hima-Layer Original 230 fabric, using yak wool sourced from nomad families on the Qinghai Tibet plateau in the Himalayas"
Built-in 40+ UPF sun protection
IMAGE 3
Picture Copyright Kora

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

I have to confess, I really don't know anything much about yaks. I know even less about yak wool, so my expectations of what the Kora Shola 230 Yak Wool Crew Base Layer would be like were rather neutral. I suspected the crew would most likely be very warm. After all, yaks live in cold places, right? But I also thought the yak wool might be a bit scratchy because those hairy beasts sure don't look to be soft and cuddly!

While whether or not the crew will keep me cozy remains to be seen, on very first sight and touch, I happily discovered, that yak wool is wonderfully soft. I mean REALLY wonderfully soft.

The crew is constructed with a modified raglan shoulder so there isn't any seam at the top of my shoulder where a normal seam might be irritating especially when wearing a backpack. Nor is there a seam across my back which again, can sometimes be annoying.
IMAGE 4
Modified Raglan Sleeves

Obviously - since it's a "crew" - the neckline is a crew neckline that is neither too narrow nor too wide. There is a not-too-large Kora logo embroidered near the neckline on the left side of my chest.

The body of the crew is fitted with princess seams for a more contoured fit. The contrasting seams utilize flat-locked stitches to have a low profile, be stretchy, and circle the sleeves and body of the crew to signify a kora - the devotional practice of walking around a sacred mountain.

The long sleeves sport a cloth piece of fabric vertical to the left cuff which depicts the contours of the Himalayas and colors of Tibetan prayer flags according to the Kora website. Neat touch!
IMAGE 5
Kora Chest Logo
IMAGE 6
Cuff Tag

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

On the website, Kora's care instructions are rather simply stated:

Use the cool setting on the washing machine or use the "wool setting" with a temperature of 86 F (30 C) and line dry in the shade. Accordingly this will result in minimal if any shrinkage.

Wash at 86 F (30 C) on a wool cycle with similar colors.
-Don't dry clean or tumble dry
-Don't use bleach or fabric softener.
-Line dry, in the shade.
--Iron on lowest heat setting.
-Close zip before washing.
-As with all natural fibers of this nature, including merino wool fabrics, it's normal to see up to 5% shrinkage from washing.

These instructions are duplicated in detail on the retail hang tag along with additional information about yak wool and Kora.

A small cloth care tag is also sewn into the back neckline seam.

TRYING IT OUT

The Kora Shola 230 Crew is very form-fitting as I would expect from a base layer. It isn't difficult to put on but it definitely isn't "sloppy" loose! I have no trouble with extra bulk for layering under my other tops.

The length is great! The hem almost hits the bottom of my bottom and gives me ample material to tuck into my pants. And the crew neckline is nice and high on my chest for maximum coverage there.

As is usual with most of my base layer tops, the sleeves are slightly longer than I need. If I pull them down all the way, the cuffs are well over the palms of my hands. That doesn't bother me at all as I like to be able to tuck my base layer tops into gloves or mittens when it's particularly cold out and certainly slightly-long is way better than slightly-short!

While writing this report, I wore the Shola crew and was very comfortable (no outer layer) temperature-wise and despite my super-dry irritated skin, did not feel any scratchiness from the fabric, seams or neck tag.

A close examination of the base layer found no defects, dropped or crooked stitches, pulls, snags or uneven coloration. The Kora Shola 230 base layer crew looks to be high quality!

TRIVIA NOTE

Kora is the Tibetan word for a pilgrim's circumambulation of a sacred mountain or place. It's a way of paying homage to nature and the mountain deities.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Over the last couple of months, I didn't get to go to any exotic backpacking locations - heck, with the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays, I'm lucky I got in a couple of overnights at all! Love the season, but it sure puts a dent in my outside treks!

I did wiggle in some time in the backcountry of Fremont County on the unmarked trails and primitive camping of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acreage adjacent to my home and in southern Canon City territory.

This means lots of dirt, rocks, scrubby pines and juniper and not much else. It means not-so-flat campsites and absolutely no shelter from trees due to their rather stunted height.

It's been warmer than usual with daytime temperatures averaging in the low 60s F (low 16 C) during the daytime and just about freezing at night. Though we probably have had more snow this winter so far than the last couple of (complete) winters, I did not encounter snow on any of my overnights. However, thanks to early sunsets, I spent relatively more time in the tent than on summer outings.

I also wore the Kora Shola base layer crew on several day hikes of approximately four miles (6.4 km) while fetching the mail from our very rural mailbox on our very rural rutted, very hilly dirt road! (I swear, the Colorado Trail is smoother than Canon Ridge Trail - our road!)

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Wow! I counted up the days that I wore the Kora base layer over the last two months and was surprised to find a total of 20 days and two overnights. Not all of those days were spent backpacking, but each day involved at least a four-mile (6 km) hike on our dirt, hilly rural road.

On three separate occasions, the base layer was worn on three consecutive days and two of those three were overnights where I wore the base layer to sleep-in as well.

WHAT I'VE DISCOVERED ABOUT THE KORA SHOLA 230 BASE LAYER SO FAR!


1.) Yak wool is super soft and comfortable to wear in all the temperatures I encountered. The fabric feels almost like silk rather than wool and does not irritate my skin even when I'm hot and sweaty. It is also very lightweight.

2.) The Shola kept me warm - way warmer than I thought it would based on the thinness/weight of the fabric. I was able to wear less-bulky top layers with the Shola and still be toasty.

3.) That said, getting toasty is what I do when hiking or snowshoeing and a big problem for me is getting sweaty-hot and wet, then cold when I slow down. The yak wool of the base layer does a stellar job of wicking and I didn't notice after-hike chilling to be as big a problem.

4.) The fit of the Shola is very close-to-the-skin which makes it very easy to layer on other mid and outer layers without feeling like the Michelin Man. I can put on my tightest favorite down vest without feeling the slightest bit constricted.

5.) Shockingly for me, so far I haven't snagged the Shola despite my less-than-gentle care of it. It's been jammed in my backpack and tossed in drawers. I've leaned against boulders and brushed up against annoyingly grabby juniper bushes, all with no adverse effects.

6.) Lastly, the Shola doesn't smell even after high-effort activities and multiple hours/days of wearing. AND, it washes and dries like a dream! Very easy to care with normal tech wash and hang dry.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Alas, as with the previous last two months, I was very limited in my backpacking locations - pretty much confined to the backcountry of Fremont County on the unmarked trails and primitive camping of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acreage adjacent to my home and in southern Canon City territory. Not that this is a bad place to be "confined"! But as much as I love my adopted hometown, it's nice to vary the landscape. Maybe next month.

Hiking and backpacking in my neck of the (sparse) woods means lots of dirt, rocks, scrubby pines and juniper.

As with most of the Colorado Front Range, it's been weird weather. We have had mostly warmer days with temperatures averaging in the low 60s F (16 C) and just about freezing at night. But then we have also had weeks where the daytime temperatures have hovered at or below freezing and the nighttime in the single digits (-13 to - 15 C). I never know what to expect. Weird!

And while the Rocky Mountains are totally buried in snow and though we probably have had more snow this winter so far than the last couple of winters combined, it melts quickly and I did not encounter snow on any of my overnights.

I also wore the Kora base layer top on several day hikes of approximately four miles (6.4 km) while fetching the mail from our very rural mailbox on our very rural rutted, very hilly dirt road! (I swear, the Colorado Trail is smoother than Canon Ridge Trail - our road!)

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

It's been four months now since I received the Kora Shola crew and I continue to be very impressed with the wearability and durability of the top.
It is very comfortable to wear in low temperatures when using as a base layer with either a light fleece or a down vest.

Yet, I've probably worn it more often solo as I heat up very quickly on trails. Even after 11 years of living here in southern Colorado, I'm still amazed at how warm the sun is in freezing temperatures with our low humidity versus the same freezing temperatures in the Midwest and East Coast with their dampness!

I usually start out with the Shola under another layer but shed that layer shortly thereafter. For instance, this past weekend, we were scouting out a base camp location on the Temple Canyon Trail for an upcoming fishing campout.
IMAGE 1
Temple Canyon Trail Break
IMAGE 2
Yeah, that's ice!

It was in the high 40s F (4 C - ish) with beautiful blue skies and no breeze at all. The trailhead is 300 ft (91 m) above the creek floor and that depth is reached in less than a half-mile (0.8 km). It's a decent trail but steep, rocky (loose) and this weekend, we had mud and patches of ice as well.

I started out wearing the Kora Shola and a very light pullover shell. Half way down the slope, I was calling for a break so I could pull off the pullover. And while I did put the pullover back on when we broke for lunch, I knew better than to wear it slogging back up to the top of the canyon.

As it was, I was rather sweaty at the end of the trail and was very glad for the efficiency of the yak wool wicking properties. Also very glad for the odor-squelching properties of yak wool!

STARRING ATTRACTIONS

1.) Super warm!
2.) Doesn't retain odors even after a couple of sweaty days on the trail.
3.) Has been very durable - seems to resists snags and pulls.
4.) Fits snugly as I like a base layer to fit.

MINOR DISTRACTIONS

1.) It shrank a little (or I gained weight!)

SUMMARY

I love wearing the Kora Shola 230 Base Layer Crew Top! I like how it fits closely to my body, keeps me warm and doesn't stink even after wearing for a couple of days. It's definitely earned a place in my outdoor wardrobe collection of base layers. As a matter of fact, it's at the top of the heap!

Thank you to Kora and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to wear my very first yak-wool clothing!

Kathleen (Kathy) Waters

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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