Winter is upon us and as an avid cyclist I am not a fan of the cold and wet. This perfectly reasonable aversion has culminated in my current love of base-layers. At first I balked at the idea of spending £40 on a wooly t-shirt with the fabled magic power to keep me warm and dry despite being super thin. Then after one particularly cold, damp ride across London I finally caved and purchased a Rapha merino wool base layer … and my obsession began.

Base layers help regulate your temperature and are great for runners, cyclists or climbers. The highly breathable fabrics trap cool or warm air next to your skin, helping combat bitter cold or scorching heat. Kora have taken things up a notch with their Hima-layer, a base layer constructed from 100% Yaks Wool. Regular sheep live at a few hundred metres altitude; Merino sheep live at around 1000m altitude; Yaks live at 4000-5000m altitude. This reasoning is at the heart of kora’s belief that Yak’s wool makes for the best all-round performance fabric.

kora fabric

The long sleeve zip top I’ve been testing certainly feels fantastic and has a soft inviting touch, without any itching. It’s also tastefully designed – not the most important element for an undergarment but a lot of technical clothing is embellished with lots of flashes and sartorial go-faster stripes. The zip’s high neckline is great for protecting yourself from the cold and it snug without being overly tight. The zip is carefully stitched so as not to chaff, and it’s great to be able to regulate temperature ever so slightly on long journeys.

The kora base layers are designed for active use – and to test this I wore them for a day of cycling, improvising, circus skills and capoeira. The cut held up admirably against a range of body movement and any top you can safely cartwheel in has a reasonable claim to being “active”.

The best thing about base layers is their ability to wick sweat away from the body. Cycling across town will tend to leave a boy breathless and the Hima-Layer fabric does a great job of taking water vapour away from the skin – I had to touch the outside to realise how much moisture it was holding – which is gross but also impressive.

The ShoLa 230 zip men’s is out now in blue with an SRP of £105 from kora.