I had made some wisecracks about crafting with yak wool with Liz Sampey during an interview about her trip from Pakistan to Nepal last fall and soon after that, much to my delight, Kora launched their line of outdoor apparel that features Stratam 350 an exclusive new fabric that’s made with yak wool. The outer face of the fabric is made with renewably-sourced DuPont Sorona fibre to provide durability, warmth and shape retention. The feel of the outer layer is smooth and luxurious to the touch. The inner yak wool is constructed in a terry loop that enhances the insulation properties of the soft breathable, moisture-wicking yak wool.
The Holocene vest almost seems too nice to wear riding but it provides an extra layer of warmth for my core on really cold days in the saddle or while cleaning the snow off of the Taco before heading to the trails. It has two zippered front pockets and two huge pockets on the back that are large enough to stuff a light shell or mittens. The folks from Kora say that yak wool is 30% warmer than merino wool. I live in merino wool base layers for nine months a year. I have to agree that these two yak wool pieces of fine cycling garb are warmer than their merino counterparts in my arsenal of bike clothes. The terry loops on the inner surface of the Stratham 350 fabric creates some loft and the Sorona outer layer helps keep that warm air next to your skin. I can’t put a percentage on it but these two pieces from Kora feel warmer than the merino jerseys and vests that I wear.
The Azog Jersey has become my go-to mid-layer this winter. I’ve had to get used to an elevated level of luxury due to Kora’s superbly tailored fit and finish. For the last few years, I’ve worn long-sleeved merino wool jerseys from Surly, Woolistic and Earth Wind Rider. The Azog Jersey is a level or two above anything that I’ve worn before this review.
After I took stock of the enhanced levels of luxury, I did my level best to put my stink on it. I try to ride six times a week and this winter, I’ve been wearing the hell out of this thing. I keep a drying rack set-up this time of year and if you dry your wool clothing after each ride, you can stack up multiple days before you need to run them through the laundry. Yak wool is every bit as odor neutral as merino. When laundry day comes around, the Kora garments can be machine washed in cold water (less than 30C). I line-dry all of my wool clothes. The only special requirement that’s part of the instructions is that they suggest the zippers be closed during the laundry cycle.
This is the jersey that I wear on race day. It’s really become my favorite piece of new cycling apparel. I’m testing size XL and the tapered jersey fits me perfectly. (I’m 5’11” and 195 lbs.) The Azog has some unique twists to familiar features like pockets (duh) Pockets are not new but the pockets that adorn the back of the Azog jersey are called baguet pockets, They’re taller and set at a slight angle (presumably to carry loaves of French bread). There’s also a small zippered pocket that’s a great place to stash the ever-important car key! The other feature that I love is the extended sleeves with thumb holes. The jersey is cut long at the back and has a gripper panel along the hem to keep my tramp stamp covered.
I’m blessed when it comes to getting the chance to experience the best gear available. The Kora Holocene Vest and Azog Cycling Jersey are definitely at the high-end of what I’ve been fortunate enough to review. If you’d like to experience the warmth and luxury of yak wool, visit Kora.net for more information.