How Kora’s Founder came across the incredible benefits of Yak Wool during a winter trek into a remote corner of the Eastern Himalayas.
While staying with a family of nomadic yak herders in high altitude, Michael was struck by the yaks’ apparent calmness. They appeared unperturbed. Despite the unbearable cold, all the yaks looked at ease, even comfortable.
The herders told him that the secret of their endurance to this cold was the soft wool under their thick outer coats. It insulates them from the extreme Himalayan winters. Then, each spring, it falls loose naturally.
After it has been collected, the herders sell this wool to a middleman providing a much-needed income for the community.
Michael had a hunch that this soft and warm yak wool would do a great job of keeping outdoor athletes comfortable too.
If it has been designed by nature to cope with these extreme conditions, then it could developed into the ultimate performance wool fabric on the planet - he thought.
As a keen conservationist, endurance triathlete (Norseman Triathlon 2010; ultra-marathons, road cyclist), Himalayan explorer (Wild China Co-Explorer of the Year 2011) and linguist, Michael knew this was the life-project he’d been looking for. He spent the next 2 years refining his vision: a social company creating the world’s best technical base layers, run on fair trade principles.
Kora was born.
Kora is the Tibetan word for a pilgrim’s circumambulation of a sacred mountain or place. It’s a way of paying homage to nature and the mountain deities.
Michael worked with finest yarn spinners and fabric mills to transform the raw wool into our first fabric, Hima-Layer™ Original 230.
The results were even better than expected.
Not only was it incredibly soft, light and odour-resistant, but lab tests have shown the fabric to be even warmer and more breathable than merino wool.
The real test came when Michael took the prototype base layers on a kora (10- day hike) around Kawa Karpo, one of Tibet’s most sacred mountains. Temperatures plummeted below freezing in the camp at night and soared to 25C (77F) during the day. Yet the base layer kept him warm, dry and remarkably fresh-smelling throughout the trip.
Kora officially launched its first products in 2013 with the Shola 230 Zip and the Shola 230 Leggings. Both were highly acclaimed by athletes, journalists and customers.
Since then, we’ve expanded our range to include many new styles as well as new fabrics. We continue to work hard to develop new fabrics and garments suitable for the outdoor adventures that we love.
After 6 years, our mission is still the same:
“Use the science of nature to support athletic performance in extreme environments; bring positive change to the communities that provide our wool; make the highest performance products on fair trade principles - and never compromise on quality and integrity.”
If you want to know more about mission, click here.