The Himalaya’s best kept secret
While staying with a family of nomadic yak herders at 5000m altitude, Michael was struck by the yak’s fortitude. His fingers were so cold that he was unable to operate his camera, but the yaks - dusted with frost at dawn - were unfazed. In later discussions over yak butter tea, the herders explained that the yak was able to cope with the harsh Himalayan winter thanks to a layer of soft wool under its outer coat. Then, in spring it shed this wool, which the herder collected painlessly, without shearing the yak. After the collection, the herder could sell this wool, earning much-needed income for the family. They used this to buy staples such as rice, barley and salt. However, many did not collect the wool at all, and so it would simply fall on to the grassland.
Developed at altitude over 5 millennia
Michael could not shrug off one thought: that this soft and warm yak wool would make amazing outdoor performance fabrics. The yak’s coat protects it from extreme conditions, yet allows it to move freely, and quickly, about the plateau. Could these properties be harnessed into a performance wool fabric that would allow adventurers to go further?
kora was born
kora is the Tibetan word for a pilgrim’s circumambulation of a sacred mountain or place. For Tibetans, it is a way of paying homage to nature and the mountain deities. We could not think of a more fitting name for our company. Our first fabric, Hima-Layer™ Original 230 (now known as the "Shola"), formed the basis of our signature range. Not only was it incredibly soft, and odour-resistant, but lab tests showed the fabric to be even warmer and more breathable than similar merino wool fabrics. Field testing proved that our base layers were ideal for hikes that had a wide temperature range and required real exertion. The fabric kept adventurers warm, dry and remarkably fresh-smelling even when temperatures plummeted below freezing in the camp at night and soared to 25 °C (77F) during the day.
The trail ahead
kora’s products continue to be acclaimed by adventurers, journalists and a loyal band of customers alike. We’ve worked hard since launch to expand our range, which now includes mid layers and accessories. Behind the scenes we continue to push the boundaries of technology to create products to outdoor adventures using the Himalaya’s miracle fibre.
Watch our story
kora's designer explains the extraordinary level of thought and detail that goes into the design and development of kora pieces.
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.