Winter Biking: Wear Yak Wool and Never Be Cold Again

Facts About Yaks

Despite their looks, yaks produce soft, warm, and strong wool. Living in the high altitude of the Himalayas at 4000-5000 meters in harsh weather conditions, yaks need the ability to stay warm. Under the yak’s thick and rough hair is a warm down which is used to make the wool. Each spring yaks lose their down during a molting process thus not requiring shearing like merino or alpaca. One yak provides about 100g of down per year, making the wool expensive and rare. Yak wool is purer than other wools because the climate they live in does not allow them to secrete fat. Thus, it does not require chemical treatment to soften the wool to rid it of the rough scratchy feel.

Photo by Sean Martin on Unsplash

Keep Warm and Dry

Natural fibers like alpaca or merino wools are great, but after testing the Yushu base layer from Kora Outdoor, I’m adding yak to my list. According to the Kora yak wool is 40% warmer than merino; 66% more breathable; 17% faster at transporting water vapor away from the skin. From what I can tell from wearing their base layer, it seems about right.

The Yushu base layer is made from 60% premium yak wool and 40% superfine merino. The fabric is soft, lightweight, and well constructed. To prevent chafing the seams are double-stitched and flat. High-wear areas such as the under-arm feature a panel of corespun merino (a durable nylon yarn wrapped in the softest merino) to ensure extra strength.

Under-arm panels use corespun merino

I’ve been testing the Yushu base layer biking, hiking, and snowshoeing. I even slept in it, too. The material is very warm, breathable, incredible wicking properties, and naturally odor-resistant. Yes, I’m now a fan of yak wool.

On one of my cold winter test rides, I wore a BRANWYN wool bra, the Yushu base layer, and a cycling jacket. I was warm and toasty even with a cold north wind. Upon finishing my ride I undressed assuming the Yushu base layer would be soaked. To my surprise, it was totally dry and odor-free! After a shower, I put the base layer back on and went off for an evening hike in the snow.

Yak wool has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties which help it stay odor-resistant. As a result, you can wear it multiple times before it needs to be washed. This sustainable wool option reduces the use of water and energy since it doesn’t have to be laundered as often. The company recommends washing the Yushu base layer in a laundry bag and line dry, which worked just fine for me.

The sleeves and torso run long but I like the added length especially when on the bike. If you’re shorter you may have an issue and I recommend double-checking the company’s website for the sizing chart. Kora’s 30-day Trial Guarantee lets you can purchase with confidence and if you aren’t completely satisfied, the item can be returned.

Kora Outdoor

Price: $130 USD

Color: Black

Fit: Sleeves and torso run long; Next to skin fit

Sizing: XS-XL

Material: 60% premium yak wool, 40% superfine merino

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