Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Review

The Monkey Man is a warm, lightweight fleece jacket that offers premium breathability and warmth to create a reliable option that works as part of a larger ensemble.

Quick Summary

  • Where to buy: EVO, Amazon
  • Best for: Skiers looking for some extra warmth without too much added weight. Good for chilly conditions too.
  • Pros: This jacket is both soft and breathable. It also feels great against your skin, uses an athletic cut, and has a great finish. Incredibly warm as well.
  • Cons: Unique look may not be for everyone. Could have a more attractive design and the wrist elastic is a bit tight at times.
  • Alternatives: KOR Strata, Vashon Fleece, Steens Mountain Fleece

Why Trust Me

I’ve been hitting the slopes since I was a kid. I enjoy getting out in the snow and have hands-on experience with a wide range of different skiing items. I spent ample time analyzing and breaking down this jacket by looking at how its features hold up across different environments.

Detailed Review

The Monkey Man from Mountain Hardware is an incredibly reliable fleece that’s a good mix of warm, soft, and breathable. The cut is nice, and while the interesting design may not appeal to all skiers, the snug athletic fit certainly will. The fuzzy design feels good against your skin, while the moisture-wicking properties will help keep you dry. There are a few useful features and a surprisingly strong construction.

As Comfortable as it is Warm

Mountain Hardwear constructed the Monkey Man with a Polartec High Loft material, a special polyester fabric that uses a lofted structure to trap in warm air. That insulation system is amazing because it means you can keep your body warm without having to wear something that’s going to add too much weight to your entire ensemble. I always appreciate when a company manages to shave off ounces without sacrificing coziness.

A big part of that excellent warmth is the Monkey Man’s feel. This is, quite simply, one of the most comfortable jackets you can put on for the slopes. The fabric is soft and fuzzy, two aspects that make it feel great against your skin. Though the sizing may be a bit off (you should go bigger), the jacket is not bulky or intrusive either. It slots right into your layers with ease.

Construction and Flexibility

Another aspect of this jacket’s inherent comfort is in its flexibility. Mountain Hardwear made the Monkey Man with stretchy panels across the sides of the jacket, and they work wonders when it comes to range of motion. You’re going to experience a lot of stretch when wearing this. There’s almost no restriction, which is really important when you’re dealing with a warm mid-layer, and you should be able to twist and turn without any resistance.

Going off that, the Monkey Man compresses down nicely. It isn’t going to pack down into a single pocket or fold up as tight as some of the lighter ski jackets out there, but you lose a lot of volume when folding it up. You need to make some room when putting this into your pack or bag, but I was still impressed with this aspect.

Extremely Breathable

Another big plus of this model is the breathability. The High Loft fabric that Mountain Hardwear uses is extremely porous. That is a big plus because it means it easily and quickly transfers moisture away from your body. It’s going to keep you dry in most conditions and will actively fight against sweat build up. That makes it a particularly useful option for skiers who run hot or build up a lot of excess moisture.

As it wicks so well, the Monkey Man also dries quickly. The only downside to the construction is that it doesn’t come with great odor control. The porous design promotes airflow, but the jacket is going to smell after a long day of riding. That seems to be true even after it dries.

Additional Features

There aren’t a lot of features built into the Monkey Man, but the ones that are present are impressive and reliable. At the forefront are the three pockets that, matching with the rest of the design, are warm and well-constructed. Each one has a zipper to ensure nothing falls out while you ride. The two hand pockets also sit a bit higher in the design so you can easily access them if you have a backpack on.

I also appreciated the pull loops that make it easy to open and close the pockets while wearing gloves. That eliminates a lot of annoyance and ensures you can easily access snacks without having to get your hands cold. Also worth mentioning are the adjustable drawcord hem, thumb holes that prevent any sleeve ride-up, and the full-length front zipper specially covered with fabric to reduce abrasion.

Price and Value

This jacket offers a lot of value. Though the price range sits well above some more budget-minded options, it’s also well below some of the premium models from larger brands. Not only that, but the performance is incredibly impressive, and the construction is made for the winter months. That means you know you’re spending your money on a well-made item that can hold its own against some of the best fleeces out there.

What I Like

In my opinion this jacket’s most outstanding feature is its breathability. You want to get some good air flow out of a mid-layer, and the Monkey Man delivers on that due to its porous design. It’s rare to get real warmth out of something you can literally see through, but this model manages to keep you warm without getting too stuffy. No matter how much you push yourself, you’re going to stay cool.

I greatly appreciate the Monkey Man’s comfort as well. This jacket hits just about every level you would need for this aspect. It’s flexible in a way that actively promotes freedom of movement, the construction is both soft and plush, and it keeps you warm. I often find that jackets might hit one or two of those areas, but fall short somewhere else. The Monkey Man has no such issues. I was especially impressed how all of those worked with the athletic fit.

What I Dislike

My biggest knock against the Monkey Man is the low odor control. I don’t sweat as much as other people, but those who do will notice a smell after even a little bit of hard work. The moisture-wicking and quick-drying properties both mitigate sweat. I just wish that Mountain Hardwear would have used something like a powerful antimicrobial agent to deal with that issue. The wrist cinches can also be a bit too tight, which can cause some discomfort over time.

The Alternatives

The Monkey Man excels in many areas, but it’s not a perfect jacket. If you want other options that bring something else to the table or want something that fills a similar niche but with different features, look at these:

  • KOR Strata – Similar in design and style to the Monkey Man, the KOR Strata Jacket is another slimmed down model that delivers good insulation both on and off the mountain. It’s sturdy, but still has enough ventilation to prevent excess moisture build up. The flexible design allows you to easily move too, providing you with a generous range of motion.
  • Vashon Fleece – Another great mid-layer, the Vashon Fleece from Outdoor Research is a less expensive garment that doesn’t skimp. Not only does this have one of the slickest looks around, it also dries quickly and is incredibly breathable. You’ll never have to worry about getting too bogged down, nor will you need to stress about getting wet.
  • Steens Mountain Fleece – Though it’s a bit heavy and definitely cannot be worn on its own, the Steens Mountain Fleece is a well-rounded item that works wonderfully as part of a larger ensemble. It gives you plenty of warmth and good comfort in a slimmed-down design. There are a few useful features, such as elastic cuffs, as well.

FAQs

Does this jacket come with a drawstring base?

No. The Monkey Man doesn’t come with a drawstring base.

How many pockets does this jacket have?

The Monkey Man has two zipper handwarmer pockets as well as a zippered chest pocket.

Does this come with a hood?

The Monkey Man is a fleece jacket that does not come with a hood.

Final Verdict

It’s rare to find a jacket as soft or as comfortable as the Monkey Man. This model does a great job on the slopes, but the feel and flexible design also make it good for wearing around town or during activities such as climbing or hiking.

There’s no hood, but even so, the model offers a ton of warmth. It wicks moisture, is breathable, and dries quickly. That combination makes it an excellent fleece jacket for skiers who need some extra insulation during the winter months.

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