When you talk to people about baselayers, while they are mentally putting your name on their list of boring gits they must avoid in future, you’ll tend to hear a lot of chat about Merino. I’m a bit meh about it if I’m honest. It’s alright. I find it’s itchy, gets holed easily and I generally prefer polyprop a lot of time. I’m sure the merino evangelists will be along shortly to tell me how wrong I am, but it’s my opinion so I’m stuck with it.
Colour me interested then, when the Kora ShoLa arrived. The fabric used is called Himal-layer (I see what they did there) which is made from yak wool. It does make sense, if any animal has evolved to handle high altitude and low temperatures, it would be the Himalayan Highland Coo.
The claims are big, they say it’s 40% warmer than merino by weight, which means that this 230gsm fabric is lighter but as warm as 260gsm merino.It supposedly has 66% greater air permeability. How you measure that I’m not sure, it may involve beans. It’s also allegedly 17% better at moisture transport than merino. So far, so much marketing to live up to.
Design-wise, there’s some good stuff here. The seams are flatlocked and very well placed to avoid chafing when you have a pack on. The zip is sufficiently long to allow good venting. There’s a wee detail flash on the sleeve which is unique for every top, kinda like a fingerprint. Handy if you suspect someone of nicking your top, you can twiddle your Poirot moustache and shout J’accuse with sound scientific evidence. Other than that, I’m not sure it has much purpose, except maybe for making you feel like a unique and special snowflake. I should also mention the sizing is a bit on the wee side, so you’ll need to go up a size from normal, hence my sample being an XL. That’s not down to me eating more pies. Honest.
If you’re a long term reader, you’ll know I don’t truck much with marketing stuff, real life performance is where it’s at. Well, this fellow has only been out for two trips so far so it’s far from extensive but initial impressions are good.
It is warm, and it’s easily vented with that long zip. Moisture management is excellent, any damp bits dry off very quickly when you stop, or in my case lean over my poles and heave like a beached whale. Whether it’s 17% better than merino is impossible to say, but so far I like it. There’s no itching so far, and smell management is similar to merino so you won’t reek out the pub after a day on the hill.
My general impression is that this could be a very good choice for a winter baselayer, I’ll keep using it this season and report back.
Pants. I still can’t get used to that. It’s good for international viewers, but it still makes me think of Y-fronts.
Anyhoo. These are the Rab Vertex.
What we have here is a pretty light pair of general purpose trews, mine pitch in at a little under 300g. I’ve been wearing these for cragging over the summer, indoor climbing in the autumn and some general hill wandering.
The first observation is that they are nice and light. So light, that I expected them to be summer use only. It turns out they are remarkably wind-resistant and have been great for hill walking and camping in the Autumn and are surprisingly warm for the weight. The material is Matrix SWS, which is a nylon/spandex mix which dries fast when they get wet. There’s a couple of decent side pockets and one big one on the right thigh. The leg hems have a wee cord for adjusting if you like to tighten things up down there, but the legs aren’t that flappy so they’re not really used.
When it comes to climbing, they’re stretchy and plenty flexible, so they move nicely and don’t get in the way which is pretty much ideal.
I fully expected these to be wee flimsy lightweight summer trousers and it turns out that they’re very adaptable legwear for use in a whole load of circumstances and conditions. I wouldn’t wear them for playing in the snow, but for the rest of the year, they’re excellent. They may be pants, but they are most certainly not pants, if you know what I mean.