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Reviews > Clothing > Underwear > Kora Shola 230 Base Layers > Test Report by Brian Hartman
KORA SHOLA 230 WOOL CREW TOP AND LEGGINGS
I have been backpacking for over 20 years throughout Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and most recently in Western USA. In addition to backpacking I enjoy family camping with my wife and kids and being outdoors in general. I would describe myself as a mid weight backpacker. I use fairly light weight equipment and gear but still like to bring more than the bare essentials with me while on the trail.
November 3, 2018
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Material: 100% Yak wool
Fabric Weight: 230 gsm (grams per square meter)
MSRP: US $145.00 ea
Listed Weight: N/A
Crew - Measured Weight: 9.5 oz (269 g)
Leggings - Measured Weight: 7.1 oz (201 g)
Available Colors: Obsidian Blue, Shale Black
Available Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, 2X-Large
Size Testing: Large - Crew; Medium - Leggings
Extra-long body length
Low profile crew neck collar
40+ UPF sun protection
The Shola 230 Crew and Leggings (hereafter called Shola Crew and Leggings, Shola 230, or Crew Top and Leggings) are thermal base layers made of 100% Himalayan Yak wool. They are designed to be worn next to the skin as base layers, and Kora claims them to be warm in cold weather, yet cool and comfortable during intense activities. Their best qualities are their warmth per weight, natural odor resistance, and their ability to draw moisture away from the skin to keep it dry. In addition, they have built-in 40+ UPF sun protection. Both the Shola Crew and Leggings are made of 230 gsm fabric that is purported to be 40% warmer than Merino wool, 66% more breathable, and 17% faster at transporting water vapor away from the skin. The details of a study by Sheffield Hallam University, comparing Yak wool base layers to Merino wool and polyester, are presented on Kora’s website as proof of Yak wool’s ability to reduce heat loss in cold temperatures.
The Crew Top has a high neck collar and long body length to keep air out, while the Leggings are cut high at the back of the waist which should help keep my lower back covered when bending over. Both have flat-locked seams to help prevent chaffing and pressure spots against the skin. The Leggings also have an elastic waistband to help keep them in place.
the manufacturer, Kora is a British company that started making wool
base layers in 2013. The company’s founder is passionate about
sourcing his wool from local nomadic herders in Himalaya to help
sustain their livelihood. Today Kora has many clothing styles as
well as new fabrics in their product line. Their fabrics are made
in house and their products are tested by ambassadors around the world
to ensure Kora’s quality and performance standards. Kora's
product line includes men’s and women’s zip tops, long and short sleeve
crews, polo shirts, leggings, shorts, vests, sweaters and
The Shola 230 Crew Top
and Leggings arrived in an oversized DHL envelope. As soon as I
saw the envelope on my
doorstep, I knew what it was and hurried inside to open it. The
Crew and Leggings were in excellent condition with no snags, holes or
stitching. Both are solid black in color. The Crew has
that runs across the shoulders and down each arm, as well as on both
sides of the torso, while the Leggings have yellow stitching that runs
down the outside of both legs. Kora’s name and logo are neatly
the upper left shoulder of the Crew and completely around the
waistband. I really like the subdued look, which
helps keep them from looking like a technical garments.
The shirt is 31 in (78.8 cm) in length from top to bottom and 34.75 in (88.1 cm) across the chest. The shoulders are 16 in (40.6 cm) from seam to seam and the neck is 6 in (15.3 cm) in diameter. Finally, the sleeves are 28 in (71.1 cm) in length from shoulder to cuff. I should mention here that I originally ordered this shirt in size Medium but ended up exchanging it for a Large, because it was too tight to put on. Kora customer service was excellent to work with and I had the new shirt in a few days. For reference, my chest is 37.5 in (95.3 cm) in circumference and the sizing chart recommends Medium for chests up to 38.6 in (98 cm) and Large for chests to 40.9 in (103.9 cm). The Leggings are 40 in (101.6 cm) from top to bottom and 25 in (63.5 cm) around the waist.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
Two hang tags were included with the Crew and Leggings. The first gave a brief description of the item, simply saying that it was made from 100% Yak wool and that Kora buys its wool directly from the Himalayan community in support of the local people who live there. It also provided Kora's website and mentioned that lab tests comparing Yak wool to Merino wool purported it to be 40% warmer and 66% more breathable.The second hang tag provided instructions for caring for the garment. The instructions are as follows: wash in a laundry bag on wool cycle at 30 C (86 F). Do not dry clean. Do not bleach. Do not use fabric softeners. Wash with similar colors. Line dry in shade. Do not tumble dry. Ironing is not recommended. Expect 5% shrinkage. Author comment: No, please don’t shrink any smaller!
TRYING THEM OUT
Even in size large, the Shola 230 Crew fit tight in the chest, upper arms, and arm pits. The sleeves are 3.5 in (8.9 cm) too long, but it’s easy enough to roll them up. Beyond that, the top was lightweight and felt smooth against my skin. I wore it around the block in 46 F (7.8 C) weather this morning, underneath a mid weight jacket, and I was cool when I started out but quickly warmed up. The Leggings fit much better and were easy to slip on and off, and comfortable to wear. I look forward to colder weather and the opportunity to test the warmth of these items and their ability to keep me dry and comfortable in tough conditions.
Shola 230 Crew and Leggings are light weight and appears to be well made and
durable. However, the sizing, for me, was off, and I’m concerned
about the 5% shrinkage Kora says will happen once it is washed.
February 3, 2018
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I wore the Kora base layers for 28 days during Field Testing. I wore them on the three backpacking trips below, as well as on day hikes, and whenever I was outdoors for extended periods of time. The weather conditions in November and early December were mild, with above average temperatures and below average precipitation. During that time, I only wore the Crew top and not the Leggings. However, once temperatures dropped and winter kicked in, I started wearing both items, with multiple layers of clothing over the Crew.
Most of my time was spent in Indiana (IN), Ohio (OH), and Wisconsin (WI) in various local, state, and national parks, as noted below in my trip logs:
Trip One: 6 days, 5 nights
Weather: 26 to 35 F (-3 to 1.6 C) with moderate winds to 14 mph (22.5 kph)
Elevation: 1170 ft (357 m)
Comments: I wore the crew top on this trip, but wished I’d brought the Leggings as well when temperatures dropped at night.
Trip Two: 3 days, 2 nights
Location: Manitowoc County, WI
Weather: 22 to 34 F (-5.5 C to 1 C); conditions were clear and sunny the first day and cloudy with snow flurries afterwards
Elevation: 732 ft (223 m)
Comments: I spent most of my time on the Devil’s River State Trail, and surrounding areas. Having learned a lesson from my previous outing, I wore both the Crew top and Leggings and was glad I did.
Location: Franklin County, IN
Weather: 12 to 22 F (-11 to -5.5 C)
Comments: It was cold and windy on this trip so I donned both base layers and wore them the entire trip, which included the drive down, while hiking, at my campsite, in my sleeping bag, and on the return trip home. This was not something I'd normally do, but I wanted to see how good they were, and if they’d retain moisture and body odors.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
had high expectations for the Shola base layers at the start of Field
Testing, given Kora's claim that their garments were warmer, more
breathable, and better wicking than merino wool. Three months
later, I'm happy to report that the Shola Crew and Leggings lived up to
their hype and performed flawlessly throughout testing. They met
my expectations for warmth and breathability, and they wicked moisture
so well that I never felt clammy, even after working up a sweat.
I wore them directly against my skin with one or two additional
layers of clothing overtop of them, depending on the weather
conditions. As seen in the photos above and below, I usually wore
my Polartec Fleece or Thinsulate jacket over the Crew, but when it got
cold and windy, I added a Shell on top of everything. I wore
softshell pants or heavy weight nylon pants over the Leggings,
depending if I was hiking on-trail, or if I was going off-trail
Comfort / Fit: In terms of comfort, the Shola Crew and Leggings were top notch again. I found them to be soft and itch free, with the ability to easily stretch, so as not to impede motion. I had complete freedom of movement while wearing these items and felt no restrictions when I twisted or extended my arms or legs beyond regular movements. Regarding fit, I found the Crew stretched out as I continued wearing it, to the point where I was no longer bothered by its snugness. The Leggings fit great and I had no problems with them from the day they arrived. To reiterate what I think is an important point, I experienced no scratching or itchiness whatsoever from the fabric, seams, or tags of either item. In fact, I wore the Crew and Leggings for five straight days on my trip to the Cuyahoga National Park, and they were as comfortable to wear on the fifth day as they were on the first. Now, normally I wouldn't wear the same base layers for multiple days, while hiking and in my sleeping bag at night, but in this case, I felt it was important to push these items to their limits and see what they could handle. Knowing I could wear them for extended periods of time, and they'd maintain their performance, makes them that much more valuable to me as multi-purpose clothing.
topic wouldn't be complete without talking about the anti-microbial
properties of wool and how well the Shola Crew and Leggings performed
in that category. They held no odors whatsoever, despite me
wearing them 24x7 for multiple days in a row. I believe personal
hygiene is important on the trail and know I feel better when my teeth
are clean, my hair is brushed and I don't stink, even when hiking solo
in a big forest with no one else around. Just to make sure my
senses weren't dulled after being alone with myself for multiple
days, I asked my wife to smell the Crew and Leggings when I got home.
She was hesitant at first, but when I told her they were made of
wool, she agreed, and said they smelled fine.
The Kora base layers kept me warm and dry in cold, wet conditions during the past three months of testing. I had no issues with scratchiness as is sometimes a complaint with wool clothing. In fact, the Shola fabric was soft and smooth to the touch and completely odor resistant which allowed me to wear these base layers for multiple days with no issues.
This concludes my Field Report for the Shola Crew and Leggings. Thanks to Kora and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test. Please come back in two months to read my Final review.
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Read more gear reviews by Brian Hartman
Reviews > Clothing > Underwear > Kora Shola 230 Base Layers > Test Report by Brian Hartman
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