Showing posts with label Baselayers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baselayers. Show all posts

Gear Closet: Sherpa Adventure Gear Ananta Hoodie

Last week I took a look at the Tsepun Zip Tee from Sherpa Adventure Gear, and came away very impressed with how comfortable that baselayer is and how well it performed. This week, I'm going back into the Sherpa catalog to take a look at yet another one of their garments, this time putting the Ananta Hoodie to the test.

Where as the Tsepun is a mid-weight shirt meant to be worn close to the body, the Ananta Hoodie is an insulating layer that works best between your baselayer and your shell. Made from Polartec Thermal Pro fabrics, this pull-over is warm, quick-drying, very breathable, and surprisingly light weight. All of those elements add up to a fantastic piece of clothing for use in the outdoors or just around home.

While this hoodie performs amazing well, and is both water and wind resistant, the first thing that strikes you when you put it on is just how incredibly soft it is. The outer fabric on the Ananta feels fantastic to the touch, almost to the point where you think that it can't possibly be durable as well. But, I've been wearing this mid-layer quite a bit recently, and it has held up to daily use in a variety of environments without a single sign of wear and tear. In fact, it still looks exactly the same as when I first received it, which means it should survive quite nicely in the outdoors.

The Ananta Hoodie features a trim, athletic cut that hugs the body closely. This helps it to trap warm air close to the body to provide extra warmth over a form-fitting baselayer. But, if you prefer a fit that is a bit less snug, you may want to move up to a larger size. Personally, I like the way it fits, and since the Polartec fabrics have a stretchy quality to them, it isn't difficult to get it on or off as needed. Plus, the body-hugging design helps it to feel more natural under an outer shell too.

Simple in design, this hoodie nevertheless has some notable features. For instance, the hood is spacious and provides solid protection from the elements. A pair of cinch cords allow you to tighten up the fit as needed, although for the most part it works fine without having to do so. There is also a single zipped pocket on the left shoulder which is handy for stashing small items in pinch. Although I rarely use it for storing anything, it is large enough to fit a smartphone and is nice to have for those "just in case" moments.

Where I live, winter hasn't officially arrived yet, but we've had some cold, damp days already. During this time, I've found myself reaching for the Ananta on a regular basis, both when heading outside and for staying warm around the house. It is extremely comfortable, looks great, and provides a nice layer of warmth too. There have been times however when I've felt my hands instinctively reaching for a front pouch pocket that doesn't exist. If there were one thing that I'd like to see added to the Ananta in the future, it is just such a pocket. It feels like it should be there, even though it isn't.

Just like the Tsepun shirt, this hoodie was obviously built with quality and care. Everything about it feels well made and crafted to a higher level than some of the garments I've seen from Sherpa's competitors. That is once again a testament to its durability, and since it happens to look great and perform well, I know that this will be a regular companion on my future travel adventures.

Priced at $110, I once again see this as another Sherpa product that comes across as a bargain. You'll be hard pressed to find anything like the Ananta Hoodie anywhere else, and its blend of warmth, wicking, and breathability are tough to beat. It makes a wonderful addition to any layering system, or can be worn with a t-shirt and jeans for nice casual look. Just don't be surprised if you're stopped by strangers on occasion asking where you got it, because that's happened more than once to me as well.

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Gear Closet: Kora Baselayers - Warmth From Yak Wool

Staying warm in cold weather conditions starts with having good baselayers. The importance of having high performance, technical clothing next to the skin can't be overstated, as this is the part of your layering system that wicks moisture away from the body and helps to regulate temperature before adding an insulating and weather resistant layer as well.

Most baselayers today are made from technical fabrics or the wildly popular merino wool, which is a good choice because it is a material that is easy to obtain, and has natural wicking and odor-resistant properties. But, it turns out there are some other viable options for fabrics that can be used in creating clothing too, and some of them are even better suited to the job.

Kora baselayers utilize wool that is made from the hair of yaks that live in the High Himalaya. These animals have adapted over the centuries to the cold, windy, snowy climate found there, and as a result, they stay amazingly warm despite those conditions. It would seem logical than that their fur would be perfect for use in baselayers, right? That's what the team at Kora thought as well.

I recently had the chance to put the Shola 230 Zip top to the test while visiting Quebec, Canada on a snowshoeing/dogsledding trip. While I was there, the temperatures dropped as low as -45ºF/-42ºC with the windchill. No matter how you slice it, that's cold, and without a good layering system I would have been in big trouble. This top was the first thing I put on before adding the other layers, and after a few days of those deep-freeze conditions, I was certainly glad I had brought it along.

Kora says that yak wool is as much as 40% warmer than standard merino. I can't speak to that number directly of course, but I can say that Shola 230 Zip is amazingly warm. I noticed a dramatic difference in performance between it and my other base layers that use merino wool instead, and when the temperature really started to plummet, I definitely preferred Kora's offering over the competition.

The Shola top has a nice, athletic cut that helps it to mold to the body, just as you would expect from a good baselayer. You need it to fit closely in order to perform properly, otherwise your layering system won't do its job as well as it should. And if the baselayer fails, you're probably in for a long, cold day.

Just like merino wool, yak wool is very adept at wicking moisture away from the body. While snowshoeing up hill I managed to work up a sweat, even in the cold conditions. But thankfully, the Shola pulled that moisture away and dried very quickly, keeping me warmer as a result. And since yak wool shares the same antimicrobial properties as merino too, it doesn't absorb odors. That's important on a long trip when washing your gear isn't a possibility.

One of the nice features of the Shola 230 Zip is that it is cut extra long. The garment drops down well below the waist, providing extra comfort and warmth to an area that is often quite literally left out in the cold. Most of our jackets and fleece layers reach below the waist, so why not our baselayers too? In the extreme cold of Quebec, I was glad to have an extra layer covering just about everywhere on my body.

This is a very versatile garment both as part of a layering system and on its own. While it is too warm to wear all of the time, I found it to be great for trail running, mountain biking, or hiking in colder weather. It is comfortable, form fitting, and doesn't inhibit motion in anyway, and it also happens to look good too. That's a pretty good combination for any piece of outdoor apparel.

The supply for yak wool isn't quite so easy to come by as merino wool, which is raised in abundance throughout the world. This relative scarcity of the material is reflected somewhat in the price of Kora's products. For instance, the Shola 230 has an MSRP of $160, which is well above much of the competition. That price is likely to turn off some people immediately, but in my opinion its performance warrants the additional costs. If you spend time in the outdoors during winter months and cold conditions are an issue, chances are you'll feel the same way.