My New Favorite Thing: The Kora Holocene Vest:
I have claimed a number of favorite things over the years. When I was seven years old my favorite thing was my Steve Austin Six Million Dollar Man action doll. By ten I moved on to my California Free-Former skateboard. At thirteen it was my Mongoose Supergoose BMX bike. My adult self is in love with my 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser, and yet… this winter I found a new favorite thing-The Holocene Vest by Kora.
How can a simple vest claim such a vaulted status you may ask? Throw your Land Cruiser aside? Really? Well, the Land Cruiser is staying so don’t worry. The Holocene vest has earned its status through amazing comfort, incredible performance, and a very unique construction material: Yak Wool!
The Kora brand is unique in their approach and philosophy blending high-tech fabrics with ancient wisdom from Himalayan Nomads. Kora is the first brand to successfully utilize Yak wool in the production of high-performance garments for the outdoors. Beyond Kora’s commitment to quality, the brand is committed to socially responsible practices.
Power to the People
All of their raw materials are sourced from a cooperative of Tibetan herders offering them a guaranteed market and 10% stipend in return. I rarely ramble on about a company, but Kora has earned some extra keystrokes for their support of viability of Tibetan culture and the ecological protection of the Himalayan Plateau. They make damn good products, too.
The yak, scientific name Bos Grunniens, has roamed the earth for thousands of years. Unlike its low altitude cousin, the common ox, the yak has evolved and survived under some of the harshest conditions our planet can offer man or beast. In 2013 Michael Kleinwort set out to create a performance clothing line and company that utilizes yak’s incredible wool fiber. Starting with yak wool base layers, Kora now offers an array of products and accessories focused on the outdoor adventurer.
Most of us are aware of wool’s amazing applications. Merino wool has been a favorite for years for base layers, hats, and jerseys. But what makes Yak wool so special? The answer is found in its incredible warmth and comfort to weight ratio compared to Merino.
The Secret to Yak Wool:
- Yak wool is fine, trapping air between the multiple fibers to keep you warm
- Yak wool is hollow, trapping air within the fiber, to further increase insulation
- Yak wool is super flexible- Flex means comfort against your skin as the fibers adapt to your movement
- Yak Wool is strong therefore it can be spun and knit into durable, lightweight fabrics using a looser knit, which allows for greater air flow and water vapor (sweat droplets!)
The crew at Kora didn’t just spin out some Yak wool and start making garments. They spent years researching and developing their high-tech fabrics and have science to back their claims. Independent lab testing has shown that Yak wool is 40% warmer than merino wool, 66% more breathable, and offers a greater moisture transfer rate. It also beats out synthetic and merino wool in maintaining core body temperatures.
Kora has developed three different fabrics for their clothing depending on its applications. The Holocene Vest utilizes Kora’s Stratam fabric, a blend of 56% Yak Wool, 42% Dupont Sorona, and 2% elastane. The result is a super warm, moisture wicking, odor free mid-layer to keep you toasty warm during your outdoor adventures. I’ve been wearing the Holocene Vest as a mid-layer barrier all winter. It’s truly impressive in its warmth, comfort, performance. On a recent 20 degree I wore the Holocene Vest as a final layer with a base layer and long sleeve thermal jersey. It was the perfect combination. The Holocene Vest does not only excel in the field. It is just as at home on the bike as the office adding to its appeal and versatility.
In summary, Kora’s garments are definitely a cut above the competition. To be expected, that quality comes at a cost. However, if you’re looking for the finest natural fibers, amazing performance, and care about a company’s commitment to sustainability practices and social values, I recommend the Holocene Vest or any of Kora’s products.
Editor’s Note: Read more about Kora in our review of the Kora Yak Wool Holocene Vest and the Azog Jersey – https://fat-bike.com/2020/02/kora-yak-wool-azog-jersey-and-holocene-vest-review/