Kora Yushu LS Zip Yak Wool Base Layer Review

It’s tricky to find just the right base layer for winter sports in Northern Minnesota. As someone who cross-country skis and snowshoes, I’m sweating within minutes on trail and need something that’s breathable, wicking, and able to trap heat so I don’t shiver the minute I stop. So I tested Kora’s “ultimate cold weather base layer,” the yak-merino wool blend Yushu LS Zip, to see if it has what it takes.

Kora Women’s Yushu LS Zip At a Glance

MSRP: $140
Materials: 60% yak wool, 40% merino wool
Weight: 240 grams
Fabric origin / garment origin: Tibet / China

Men’s Kora Yushu LS Zip here.

Circumstances of Review

I wore the zip top exclusively for 10 days of skiing and snowshoeing in the “North Woods” near Lake Superior. The temperatures have ranged from the high teens to the mid-30s Fahrenheit. Some days were sunny and crisp, while others were cloudy and damp. I’m 5-foot-7 and weigh 140 pounds, so I tested a medium size. I did not have access to a laundry.

Intended Use

While I used this garment for skiing, it is well designed for hiking, trail running, and snowshoeing due to its robust materials: 60 percent premium yak wool plus 40 percent superfine merino wool. While there are no other fibers used, the fit contours and moves well with the body.

Well-placed reinforced panels add durability as well as “colorway kora” trim at the neck to reduce friction. The YKK ¼-zip is made from recycled materials. Yak wool is not as soft as merino but has natural breathability, temperature management, and odor control (have I mentioned we did not have access to a laundry?).

Kora Women’s Yushu LS Zip Features

close-up of black kora yushu collar showing purple hem lining and purple quarter-zip unzipped, with printed care and fabric origin information on inside of shirt against wood plank backdrop

Zip Neck

Hima-Layer Yusha is a trademarked fabric of yak and merino (18.6 microns certified mulesing-free) wools. The line includes a neck gaiter, hat, tights, shorts, a crew top, and a zip top (which I tested). I prefer the quarter-zip specifically for its high collar and the flexibility to zip or unzip depending on the temperature. The rugged zipper extends from below my chin to my sternum.

Body Fit

Kora strives to ensure their base layers conform to our individual bodies. The top hugs my curves well, with the sleeves extending past my wrist. I wouldn’t mind the tail extending a few more centimeters. Still, this is one great fitting base layer.


Kora offers a “Live & Love or return” guarantee, which means they will accept returns within 35 days for any reason. This offer does not extend to sale or gift card items, however.

Feel-Good Factor

When you choose to wear a Kora garment made with yak wool, you will be helping the Kegawa Herders’ Cooperative of Tibet, which sells directly to Kora for a favorable set price plus 10 percent. That just feels so right, doesn’t it?

Kora Women’s Yushu LS Zip Pros

smiling hiker wearing green strpied beanie, mittens, black snowpants, black base layer with purple quarter-zip against snowy forest backdrop

Excellent Temperature Regulation

Yak wool is substantially warmer than merino, easily warm enough on its own while I hiked in the forest out of the wind. Using the base layer as intended under my jacket, I stayed warm even after sweating it up on sprints. I was quite impressed with the speed at which it dried.


I don’t think I’ve worn the top long enough to know if it will survive years of sweaty ski trips, but after multiple days of activities that require just as much aerobic movement in the arms as in the legs, I’m impressed with how it keeps its shape.

Sleek Look

This is just a guess, but I’m thinking Kora’s body fit idea was generated by a woman. Thank you is all I have to say. I may be wearing a “base layer,” and your reasons for contouring are all about holding in warmth, but you have also succeeded in making me look stylish.

No Stink

At the risk of sharing too much information, during my outdoor adventure in Northern Minnesota, I have not had access to laundry. Perhaps this can be considered a reasonable comparable field test to a thru-hike, the main difference being that cross-country skiing is a far more aerobic sport. I sweat a lot and yet could not detect odor of any kind. That cannot be said for other items I wear.

Close-up of black kora yushu wrist cuff with colorful yellow, brown, grey, and maroon fabric tag

Kora Women’s Yushu LS Zip Cons


Yak wool is itchy; not skin breaking out scratchy like old school wool sweaters, but enough to notice. It’s likely not a deal breaker considering the robust feeling of yak wool and its warmth to wicking ratio, but definitely noticeable.

Thumb Loops?

There are no thumb loops. I don’t use them, but thought you might like to know.

Overall Value

Hiker standing on snowy cliff looking over winter forest wearing black shirt and pants, green striped beanie, and holding trekking poles

I love how the Kora Women’s Yushu LS Zip fits and keeps me warm while sweating it up during a Minnesota winter. I wish it was a bit less itchy and I could use a few more inches of material around my booty, but overall, this is zip is good value and I look forward to taking it out on more miles of uphill skiing!

Shop the Women’s Kora Yushu LS Zip

Shop the Men’s Kora Yushu LS Zip

Comparable Products

Icebreaker Merino 260 Tech Half-Zip

  • MSRP: $135 – 150
  • Materials: Merino wool

Smartwool Intraknit Thermal Merino Colorblock Quarter-Zip Base Layer Top

  • MSRP: $135
  • Materials: Merino wool

The Kora Yushu LS Zip base layer was donated for purpose of review.

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Comments 2

  • Jackie Bourgaize : Jan 26th

    Very thorough! I’m always on the lookout for the perfect zipT. Thank you so much.

    • Alison Young : Jan 26th

      thanks, Jackie! I really like this one 🙂


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