Saturday, 26 February 2011

Mountain Hardwear Micro Chill 100wt Fleece

Mountain Hardwear Micro Chill

When it comes to fleece I tend to just buy cheap ones from places like Primark rather than from outdoor shops and to be honest the ones I have work fine. I have one fleece jacket by Mountain Equipment from years ago but it’s made from what was called Ultrafleece (also known as Karisma or K2 fleece) and is quite thin but slightly more wind resistant than regular polar fleece. In addition when I started to get back into walking I bought a thin fleece zip neck from the Mountain Warehouse, similar to 100wt fleece but I’ve rarely worn it. The cheaper fleece stuff I own is similar in weight/thickness to 200wt polar fleece and I have a couple of zip neck pullovers from Primark and a full zip hoodie from Uniqlo mentioned previously.

Just recently however I received a Mountain Hardwear Micro Chill zip neck from Webtogs for review. The micro chill is made from 100wt Polartec Classic and while it’s nice enough I can never quite decide if 100wt fleece is a heavy base layer or a light mid layer, and I’ve never really felt that my ‘wardrobe’ was lacking.

The Mountain Hardware Micro Chill is at 1st glance a fairly basic design, a zip neck with no pockets, loose cuffs and no means of tightening the waist. In this respect there doesn’t appear to be any reason to choose it over similar garments from other brands. On closer examination there are a few things that are probably worth mentioning.

The seams are flat stitched for comfort and the sleeves are raglan style which means there are no seams on the shoulders, the other nice touch is the way the neck zip is finished off, there’s a little pocket that the puller sits in when fully zipped so you can’t feel the zip when it’s fully zipped.

I checked out what else was available from the other Brands in similar style and using the same fabric and there are a few with TNF making 3 very similar looking zip neck pullovers, the Khyber, Glacier and Glacier Delta, Mountain Equipment have the Micro Zip T. Comparing them I couldn’t really see any reason to choose one over the other apart from maybe the Mountain Equipment one which has a zipped chest pocket and given a choice that‘s probably the one I‘d go for although if used as a base layer the pocket won‘t be accessible and having no waist draw cord rules it out as a mid layer for me.

I wanted to take my canoe out at the weekend so decided that rather than wear my Paramo VAL over a base layer I’d try the Mountain Hardware Micro Chill instead. With only a long sleeve base layer under the Micro Chill I was warm enough as I was wearing a buoyancy aid although I did need to pull on my Montane Flux once I’d stopped for a snack and had taken my buoyancy aid off.

In use the Mountain Hardwear is ok but not outstanding, I certainly wouldn’t rush out to buy one. I haven’t found myself needing a 100wt fleece and even if I did there’s nothing that makes it stand out from the others. As far as I’m concerned it really comes down to the intended use, if it’s a base layer then I’d choose from the ones mentioned above and make my decision based on fit, if it’s a light mid layer then I’d be looking at something with pockets, hem drawcord and probably a full zip. To be honest it doesn’t offer much that I can’t get from a £4 fleece from Primark and at £40 it’s just too expensive for what it is in my opinion. You can get perfectly adequate fleeces on the high street but of course they’re not exactly technical, unfortunately neither is the Micro Chill. It could be argued that the Micro Chill is worth the asking price as it’s made from a premium fabric but the thing that goes against it in that respect is that for an extra £10 you can get the full zip version by Mountain Hardwear which adds a zipped chest pocket, 2 x zipped hand warmer pockets, dual waist draw cords and internal cuffs and those features take the jacket to another level above what you would get in a generic high street fleece.


  1. Good review of the fleece Richard. I agree with you on light fleeces. You can find adequate tops at far less expense. Also you can find plenty of trade name fleeces at discount prices. £40 is expensive in my opinion but i’m sure that there are plenty of people out there prepared to pay it just for the logo on the front.

  2. I must admit, I don't tend to wear fleece anymore for active pursuits. I have a MHW Monkey Man which is uber toasty for standing around with the telescope, or to change into back at the car after a walk or overnighter. But my Paramo VAL seems to have supplanted lightweight fleece for most purposes.

  3. I saw the Full Zip version today and thought it was a lovely piece of kit and may well go back tomorrow and get one. I totally get what your saying though with smock type fleeces, I think they just think everyone will pay loads of money just because they are light in weight.

  4. @ Alan, it's a nice enough top but a bit of a solution for for a problem.

    @ Fraser, I haven't been wearing fleeces much lately either, usually either a combined effort of Montane Flux and Uniqlo light down for static stuff or my VAL on the move with the Flux for over the top when stopped.

    @ Jamie, I haven't seen the jacket in the flesh so to speak although from the spec it's something I could be tempted by if I was on a shopping trip and didn't see anything else. It might be a nice option. In any case it's a better option at the price than the zip neck unless you really intend using it as a thick base layer.