Review - Mountain Hardwear – Monkey Man Grid™ Jacket

MSRP: $220 CAD


High Loft insulation, highly breathable, thumb loops (read below), a hood that fits a hat underneath, full-length front zipper, very stylish, durability


Not windproof


Slightly tapered athletic fit. I normally have a really hard time finding clothing that fits due to my broad shoulders and narrow waist. This thing fits like a glove. It’s also got a bit of stretch to accommodate for different body types.

Would I recommend?

Absolutely. It has become my go-to sweater for the past 3 years and have worn it very often in all sorts of environments and conditions. I only wear different sweaters when society says I should probably put it through the wash.

If you read nothing else, know that as the owner of an outdoor adventure company that works both as a professional guide and an in-the-city business-person, I highly recommend this fleece if you’re looking for something warm, highly breathable, and with a series of features that make being outside (and in the city) more luxurious during high aerobic activities in the freezing winter, or for cooler nights in the spring ~ fall.

There were two times I was most impressed with the Monkey Man Grid Jacket. The first was when I was playing a game of capture the flag in -22 Celsius in the forest. The second time was while doing some dry-tooling (picture ice climbing with axes and crampons, but on rocks instead of ice) in Thunder Bay at -25 Celsius. While running around in -22, I found that this was this was the perfect outer layer. Kept me warm enough while running, the hood kept my ear from freezing, and it was breathable enough that I didn’t overheat. I was blown away by how comfortable I was throughout the day while I was active. When I stopped moving, I had to throw the Ghost Whisperer jacket and then I was good.

In Thunder Bay, I was ice climbing and then hopped on a rock climb using my crampons and axes. It was frigid out side, and so I started off by wearing some gloves, but found that it was too challenging to hold on to the ice axes while doing this incredibly strenuous climb. I hesitantly took off the gloves, and slipped the thumb loops of the sweater on. I expected my hands to go numb within a few minutes, but by having the thumb loops on, it forced the high-loft fleece to sit on the tops of my hands up until the first knuckle. This kept the blood flowing to my finger tip warm, and my hands never got all that cold. I was blown away!

On top of that, it looks damn good. My body type is athletic with a narrow torso and broader shoulders and this thing fits like a glove. More importantly, its cut is such that it accents those features with a slightly tapered torso and a two-toned pattern that gives the impression of a more athletic cut. When I put this on, I know I look good (which says a lot, cause I could use all the help I can get!).

It’s a fantastic example of function and fashion crossing paths and walking hand-in-hand. By owning the black one, I have been able to take it into business settings where a blazer isn’t quite necessary. I’ve worn it on top of a dress shirt and tie, and the combo looks solid. It tells people I’m professional enough to walk into a meeting wearing a shirt and tie, but that my life is the outdoors. Functionally speaking, it has kept me a warm while getting to and from meeting, and walking around downtown Toronto in the winter months.

I’ve also worn it to a few first dates. Now before you go judging, give me a second to justify my rationale. Firstly, it legitimately looks good. Sure, it’s not a collared shirt or a graphic tee, or whatever the cool kids are wearing these days, but it looks classy enough that with a nice pair of jeans in the right environment, it definitely goes (this is coming from a guy who often recruits his little sister as his fashion advisor because of his lack of fashion sense, so take this one with a grain of salt). Secondly, and more importantly, it’s a good gauge for the type of person sitting across from you. Some dates have looked at it and said, “Oooh… very cool sweater. It looks so warm and so soft. Can I touch it?” Others were less impressed with my clothing choices. I personally preferred the former ones.

It’s an incredibly high loft fleece sweater. On its own, in a windless environment, it’s quite warm. I found that I don’t really sweat much with this garment, because of how breathable it is, unless I’m wearing an outer layer that prevents me from expelling that heat. It’s not windproof at all, and that helps prevent me from overheating in the first place. That being said, its lack of windproofness has also made it not the ideal outer-layer in very cold windy situations where I have not been very active (like waiting for the dog to do her business). If I had to pick, I’d prefer it keep me comfy when I’m doing aerobic activity in the cold than keep me warm when I’m doing nothing. Maybe because it breathes so well, I haven’t notice too bad a smell yet either. This is a good thing because I’m often not near a washing machine (or I’m too lazy to throw in a load).

Lastly, the hood! If you ever have a choice between getting something with a hood and getting the same thing without the hood, always go for the hood. The hood on this thing is very thin, so it nicely fits under a helmet. It also has a bit of fleece to it and is warm-ish, but not warm. This is exactly what I want from this type of hood. If I’m ever going to be anywhere that it’s cold enough to warrant a hat, I’ll have a hat. I use the hood for those times I’m doing a high aerobic activity in the freezing cold, and I really don’t want a hat, but it’s still cold enough that I need some ear and head protection.

Overall, this sweater is incredibly functional and fashionable, and has quickly become my go-to mid-layer. I find it incredibly breathable, but not windproof. For its ideal use of high aerobic activity in very cold temperatures, that’s the perfect combo. It has a ton of great features and fits greats.

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