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Hands-on Gear Review

Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man 200 Review

Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man 200 Jacket Phoenix Blue
Price:   $150 List | $74.97 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Fluffy soft, warm, elastic cuffs, extra large soft neck cuff.
Cons:  Bulky, not breathable.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Mountain Hardwear

Our Verdict

The Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man 200 is a fantastic fleece that should not be overlooked. We tried and tested this fleece in multiple environments, from snowy hikes to cool crisp days out at the boulders. While it doesn't stand on top for any one category, like breathability or warmth, it performs well in every category. There was nothing to dislike about the fluffy, soft, cozy, one of a kind fleece material that this jacket is made of. One of our testers even preferred this fleece over all the rest, and wore it whenever he had the chance. Ultimately, we preferred the warmth and comfort of our Editors' Choice winner, the Patagonia R3 Hoody, and found our Top Pick for Breathability, the Patagonia R1 Hoody, to be a better choice for aerobic activities in cold weather, but there is nothing wrong with this jacket and you'd probably love it if you bought it.

New Color Update - 2016
The Monkey Man 200 has new available colors for 2016. Keep reading to find out more!


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Heavyweight 25.7 oz. Polartec 300 Series fleece with REPREVE fibers

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Kenny Barker
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
November 3, 2016

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New Colors


Mountain Hardwear has updated the color options of the otherwise unchanged Monkey Man 200 jacket. The green color that we previously reviewed is no longer available. The new available colors include; Dark Fire, Phoenix Blue/Hardwear Navy, Shark/Black, and Black/Black.

Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man 200 Dark Fire
Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man 200 Jacket Phoenix Blue
 
Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man 200 Shark Black
Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man 200 Jacket Black black
 

Hands On Review


The Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man 200 is an efficient, streamlined, standard fitting fleece jacket. It's made with Polartec Thermal Pro Monkey Phur Lite (97% polyester and 3% elastane). This jacket features a 28.5 inch center back length. There are two zippered hand warmer pockets and one zippered chest pocket. The elastic cuffs and waist are comfortable and trap in the warmth. The zipper features a chin guard for when it is fully zipped. It weighs 14.8 ounces and currently comes in Green Scape/Amphibian, Black, Shark/Black, Phoenix Blue/Hardwear Navy and Smolder Red/Hardwear Navy.

Performance Comparison


This jacket is a cozy layer for cold days. It works great as an outer layer  fits comfortably under a pack  and even kept Baby Natalie warm and toasty when out for a hike with her dad.
This jacket is a cozy layer for cold days. It works great as an outer layer, fits comfortably under a pack, and even kept Baby Natalie warm and toasty when out for a hike with her dad.

Warmth


This fleece is warm, really warm. The design features of this jacket are created to help keep you warm when needed the most. The elastic cuffs and hem help trap in warmth. The extra-long plush collar zips snugly around the neck and is one of the best features of this jacket. We wore this as a single layer while hiking in the mountains in snow, and we definitely stayed nice and toasty. However, the lack of a hood was the most noticeable missing feature that affects warmth. Sometimes nothing can beat wrapping a cozy hood around your head, and it's just not an option with this jacket. This fleece jacket is a much welcome addition to your layering system, although in extreme cold, wet or windy conditions it should be used with an outer shell that has a hood.

This fluffy fleece kept us warm and cozy  but it lacks a hood. The chest pocket is a great addition for stashing your phone or keys when you want to use the handwarmer pockets for actually warming your hands.
This fluffy fleece kept us warm and cozy, but it lacks a hood. The chest pocket is a great addition for stashing your phone or keys when you want to use the handwarmer pockets for actually warming your hands.

Comfort


Mountain Hardwear states that this newer Monkey Man sports the same "Legendary Comfort" as the original. Although our testers have never worn the original Monkey Man, it is a pretty comfortable jacket. The fleece material is exceptionally soft and fluffy, and feels like it is lightly floating against the skin. But the cut is tight across the back and in the shoulders, and the jacket felt constricting, which caused it to lose comfort points. The cuffs are also tight and when they rode up our arms they tended to stay there, which was a bit annoying.

The neck collar is the best feature of this jacket. When fully zipped it extends just past the chin to trap in more warmth.
The neck collar is the best feature of this jacket. When fully zipped it extends just past the chin to trap in more warmth.

Breathability


The thick material of this fleece is not the most breathable material, but it does a better job than The North Face Denali Jacket and The North Face Khumbu 2 Jacket, which are made of the least breathable material we tested. It doesn't feature the pit zips like the Denali, but you can unzip the pockets, which also work as vents. During most activities such as running or hiking, the fleece needed to be fully unzipped to help lower body temperatures, even in 30 degree F weather. If you plan on using a fleece jacket for aerobic activities in cold weather, then check out our Top Pick for Breathability, the Patagonia R1 Hoody.

Out hiking in Red Rock Canyon on a chilly day. This jacket is great for frigid days but does not allow the body to breathe as well as others.
Out hiking in Red Rock Canyon on a chilly day. This jacket is great for frigid days but does not allow the body to breathe as well as others.

Layering Ability


This jacket has enough room to fit over a baselayer, while still remaining trim enough to fit under a shell. While the lack of a hood reduces the warmth of this jacket, it is a nice option when looking for a fleece to wear under a ski jacket, particularly if you wear a helmet. A hood tends to bunch up at the base of your neck between your jacket and helmet, and can impede visibility. When layering this jacket with an outer layer, you will definitely be warm and comfortable during extreme cold. Our testers did notice the sleeves would slightly bunch when sliding into a down jacket or rain shell. This is just a minor annoyance rather than a make-or-break for the jacket. If you need an extremely warm fleece without a hood to layer with, this fleece may be what you are looking for.

Ease of Movement


Our testers tried a lot of different activities while wearing this fleece and concluded that it wasn't the best jacket for being very active in. It was great to wear at the cliff between redpoint burns and belaying, but there wasn't enough range of motion in the shoulders to actually climb in it. The lofted fleece on the inside of the jacket tended to catch on our baselayer and it felt like it was restricting our movement. We did like the neck - when the jacket was fully zipped to the chin the neck cuff was loose enough to allow full range of motion looking side to side.

The Monkey Man 200 layered over the R1 for a lot of added warmth.
The Monkey Man 200 layered over the R1 for a lot of added warmth.

Wind Protection & Water Resistance


Like most of the other fleeces tested, the Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man 200 does not excel during windy, rainy conditions. It is slightly better at resisting water than the Patagonia jackets we tested, but not much better. This fluffy mid-weight type of fleece jacket soaks in rain water like a sponge, but it does dry quite quickly. It will never be very good at resisting the wind and should be layered with a wind breaker in blustery conditions.

The high loft material absorbs water easily  but even when wet this material kept our testers warm.
The high loft material absorbs water easily, but even when wet this material kept our testers warm.

Weight


This mid-weight fleece jacket won't weigh down your backpack too much. At 14.8 ounces, it won't make or break reaching the summit due to weight.

Best Applications


The Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man 200 is a great jacket for lounging around in due to its extremely soft, comfortable feel. It was great for staying warm between rock climbs or boulder problem attempts. It also does well as a mid-layer for activities during extreme cold.

The name of the game for this fleece is COZY! Baby Natalie hunkered down in the high loft  extremely soft jacket.
The name of the game for this fleece is COZY! Baby Natalie hunkered down in the high loft, extremely soft jacket.

Value


At $150, this jacket is less expensive than some fleeces on the market, but still a little pricey. Our Best Buy winner, the Marmot Reactor, performed just as well as this jacket but only cost $95.

Conclusion


The Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man 200 is a warm and cozy fleece jacket that should please most people looking for a new fleece for the cooler months. It isn't the most breathable, but it is comfortable and does what it's supposed to do. Our testers really enjoyed wearing it.

Other Versions


Monkey Woman 200
  • Women's version
  • Cost - $150
  • Weight - 13.3 oz
  • Flattering fit
  • Comfortable and cozy

Monkey Man Grid II Hooded Jacket
  • Cost - $180
  • High-loft Monkey Phur fleece with grid design
  • Thumb loops


Monkey Man Grid II Jacket
  • Cost - $160
  • Weight - 12.6 oz
  • Hoodless version
Kenny Barker

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: November 3, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (4.0)
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