Montbell Merino Wool Plus Hoody Review: Lightweight warmth for high energy pursuits
The Merino Plus Hoody from Montbell is an ultra-light, ultra-breathable hoody constructed of merino wool and polyester for exceptional heat and perspiration management. This is my review:
Hatched for ambitions of those on the move, the Wool Plus hoody is constructed from a blend of 78% merino wool and 22 % polyester, to provide a balance of warmth, stretch, durability, and naturally fast drying. The hoody features a form fitting hood, an extended tail, and unique spiral cut cuffs that extend just past the radius and across the outer hand to provide extra sun protection and warmth. It also features natural UPF 50 protection, is machine washable, and weighs just 8 ounces. Retail is $119.
The primary focus of the hoody, and its greatest feature, is how well it regulates heat and perspiration. The material is warm, yet extremely breathable. Warm air is trapped directly against the skin, but free to cycle in and out of the weaves of the fiber, exchanging hot humid air for fresh dry air. The result is a garment that feels comfortable and warm in a wide range of temperatures, given the user is being active. I found myself completely comfortable on 50 degree F days, relaxing on a windy peak after a climb, as well as 35 degree F days while huffing it up a steep 1000 foot climb. I never once started to feel overheated when it warmed up, or too chilly when the temperatures dropped. Perspiration build up dried surprisingly quickly, even while wearing a sweaty backpack layered over top. Being wool and polyester, the materials also insulate when completely saturated in water, so sweating or light never left me cold after clearing a peak. While not active, I found the lower limit for me to be in the high 50’s F in low wind conditions.
Comfort wise, the Wool Plus is exceptional. The fit is loose but not floppy, with the material sitting close to the skin while maintaining enough enough room underneath for a t-shirt and even a thermal layer. Even when layered up it still provides plenty enough room to bend, stretch and move completely un-impeded, with an excellent stretchy property that allows it to flow with the body. The hood sits close without being tight or flopping off in the wind, while the extended cuffs and tail kept out vagrant breezes. Fabric feel is also good, as the wool/polyester blend provides a soft, cottony feel that’s hard to find in a wool based garment. I never found it itchy and the seams are unobtrusive as well, with a flat, smooth texture that doesn’t chaff or grate.
Durability seems above average thanks to the inclusion of polyester in the weave, which in my experience improves long term durability. The stitching is quite robust, which is typically a weak point in these types of layers but not here. I recommend washing with powdered, unscented or non-liquid sheet based cleaners. Tumble dry low to maintain the feel and longevity.
The Merion Wool Plus hoody is a simple, elegant, and extremally comfortable layer that is perfect for those who like to hike fast and build up a sweat, or just for those who tend to run a bit on the hot side yet need a lightweight insulative layer for colder days. It pairs perfectly with lightweight layering systems (I pack a synthetic base layer, a synthetic t-shirt, this hoody, and a down jacket for my peak bagging days, for example) and is light enough at 8 ounces to barely be felt in the pack, stashed away just in case it is ever needed. It’s warm, breezy, and feels right at home in just about ever scenario, even hot summer months when I want a light layer, just in case. This just shows that a simple design and be an exceptional design with a huge range of uses, thus earning my highest possible rating.
The Highest of Recommendations
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