Kora Yardang Jersey Review
The Kora Yardang Jersey is a quarter-zip baselayer top. Unlike many popular baselayers on the market, it is a mix of merino and yak wool. If you are like me and think, “yak wool, that’s rad!” you may have just found the perfect shirt.
Kora Yardang Jersey At-a-Glance
Weight: 9.4oz in size Large (Kora puts the medium at 9.5oz, but I have washed this shirt about a dozen times since getting it)
Material: Mixed wool (30% Yak wool, 70% merino) at 240gsm (grams per square meter)
Intended Use: Midweight midlayer or baselayer
Women’s version here
Who This Is Best For
Hikers looking for a shoulder season baselayer will enjoy the comfort and warmth of this top. Wool is not for everyone; if you find 100% merino itchy, this is probably not going to be any different for you. While I felt comfortable in warmer temps, it would probably be a bit much for midsummer use.
Circumstance of Review
I’ve been wearing this shirt a lot… sometimes 2 or 3 days a week. Over Thanksgiving week, I left it on for 5 days straight in true hiker trash fashion. It’s been backpacking and climbing in Utah, as well as getting sweat in heavily while early season skiing here in Colorado.
Kora Yardang Jersey Features
Kora makes shirts with several different closures. I prefer quarter-zips on active base layers because you can unzip to vent a little better, while a full-length zip can make the lower half fold weird or interfere with buckles. No zips tend to provide the best protection but get hot quickly.
You know those things that look like winterized cows? This shirt is 30% made from their wool. I honestly can’t speak much about the technicalities of yak vs. merino (sheep) wool—Kora claims that “weight-for-weight, pure yak wool fabric is 40 percent warmer, 66 percent more breathable and 17 percent faster at transporting moisture away from the skin”—but I can say that this shirt is very comfortable and I think yaks are cool.
Good Fit for a Colder Layer Base
I used this shirt mostly as a baselayer (next to skin), which I preferred. Using it this way, I thought it had just the right amount of spare room to maintain mobility. Their website mostly shows it being used as a midlayer. I think this would work over a tighter, athletic-fit base, but your baggy unisex T-shirt would probably get bunched up in the slim(mer) cut of this jersey.
Kora Yardang Jersey Pros
Low on Stank
Do you have a bunch of synthetic sun hoodies that smell like a wet dog after wearing them for an hour? While some activewear companies use treatments or material blends to cut down on stank, they all tend to end up in the “exercise only” pile after a while. Wool naturally keeps body odor in check, and I found this shirt, in particular, does a great job. I felt comfortable wearing it two days in a row while camping with more civilized society (but maybe not to work). Related, but I tend to get backne (back-acne) after several days out; this was cut significantly as well.
High on Comfort
Some people find wool itchy no matter how refined it is. I generally do OK and wear wool socks and hats frequently. The first time I put this on, I got a little tickle, but since then, it has been smooth sailing. It is very soft, and I find the cut fits me quite well (135 pounds, 6’1″, extra long arms).
Dark purple on burnt orange isn’t a common color scheme in the US, but I think it rocks. Even better, my mom says that “the logo is really cool!”
Right Amount of Warmth
The natural fibers in this shirt tend to wick sweat very well, making it feel cooler in warm, active conditions. When it starts to chill, it holds up pretty well and is easy to layer over. In the wool clothing world, the warmth may be described as “200 weight”, or approximately 200 grams per square meter. Under that scheme, anything 170 and under is lightweight, 200-300 is midweight, and over 300 is heavyweight. This shirt is listed at 240gsm but felt a bit lighter than that, especially in breezy conditions, because it breathed and vented well through the zipper.
Kora Yardang Jersey Cons
Delicate Care Instructions
On a thru-hike, it’s nice to chuck everything into a washing machine, then a dryer, then dash out of town. Like many wool items, the stated care instructions for the shirt call for washing it in warm (not hot) water, then hanging to dry. Kora also instructs to keep the zip up while washing the Yardang jersey and to hang it in the shade. This is more care than I have to give in my day-to-day life, let alone a hike. I typically washed it on warm and hung it up to dry, but I forgot to zip it up more than half the time and put it through the dryer at least once. It’s come out fine, but I would prefer to not even think about it.
I personally prefer a hood on just about all my outdoor clothing, but for some people, this is a non-issue.
Wool is tragically quite expensive, and this shirt is no different. It retails for $140 dollars which is a little steep but in line with the competition. I think the use of yak wool plays into the cost here as well; it’s not widely used enough to have economies of scale.
A Few Comparison Items
- MSRP: $135
- Materials: 53% merino wool / 44% polyester / 3% elastane
- MSRP: $
- Materials: 81% merino wool / 12% nylon / 7% Elastane
The Kora Yardang Jersey was donated for purpose of review.
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