Fleece/Insulated Tops Page
As a sizing reference: I'm 5'7", 155 lbs (yeah, I'm a little guy), medium build (BDU top medium/regular, BDU pant medium/short), waist 32", chest 43". Keep this in mind when you read my comments with respect to sizing, so you have an idea of how the garments featured below will fit on you. ALL garments in these pages are size Medium, unless stated otherwise.
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MSM Hoodie RAW
3/17/17 - The MSM (Mil-Spec Monkey) Hoodie RAW is now available in a new colour - MSM Grey. The MSM Hoodie RAW is a basic (RAW) hoodie with a couple of MSM touches.
About MSM - MSM was started by 'The Monkey', who was then known as 'DJ Monkeyboy' when I first met him years ago. He wrote gear reviews, then later started making patches and doing videos. Years later, MSM has become well known in the industry as the 'go-to' place for tactical and morale patches, most of which are designed by The Monkey himself, and for his enthusiastic and entertaining SHOT Show videos. As time went on, The Monkey expanded from patches into other products including head wear and apparel; nylon gear and accessories. MSM's sense of humour and personality is evident when you meet him or watch his videos, and infuses a lot of that into his products.
"A Real Urban Grey?" - Back in April of 2015, the Monkey shot me a link to this article (part 1 of "A Real Urban Grey?); asking whether I had any input or thoughts. It's a good read, so please read it. Based on his own personal observations (and his graphics design/art experience), the Monkey felt that most 'tactical' greys offered by manufacturers were too cool; and that a warmer grey would blend in better in an urban environment. The Monkey then set out to do his own research, and armed with his Pantone book and colour sample cards, proceeded to walk around town collecting data (and tons of useful photos) on what shades of grey worked best. The second article continued with the research; this time with photos of the Monkey dressed in different colours wearing a Guantanamo bay prisoner hood on his head and grey gear in urban settings (most likely scarin' some folk in the process). The Monkey came to the conclusion that a warmer grey with a touch of brown worked better than the often bluish, darker greys that were the latest tactical rage, or an unsaturated grey with no colour.
MSM Hoodie RAW - The MSM Hoodie RAW has been out for a while, but what caught my interest was this new offering in 'MSM Grey'. I gave the Monkey a hoot and he explained that after he had found the shade of grey that he wanted, he sent off a sample to the hoodie manufacturer to try to colour match. They got close enough, and this new Grey Hoodie is the result. The MSM Hoodie RAW is a low key hoodie design, made of upper-mid weight fleece of a 9oz 50/50 cotton poly blend. The inside has a brushed fleece texture and the outside is smooth knit. It's also made in the USA.
MSM Grey - I've illustrated the MSM Grey Hoodie below with a bunch of different items for comparison. Note that how the photos appear vary depending on your screen settings. It was also difficult to get it to be very consistent under daylight-balance fluorescent lighting, but I did the best I could. In some photos, the MSM Grey looks almost like khaki, when compared to the cooler, bluish greys. It's definitely a much warmer shade. But when compared to greens and other khaki-ish colours, it looks less saturated. I found that the closest colour to it was Patagonia Alpha Green, which really isn't green (to my eyes).
Some of the features of the Hoodie RAW are:
Sizing, fit etc - The MSM Hoodie RAW has a snug/trim fit. I'm wearing a size Medium with a t-shirt underneath. You can see that it's a perfect fit on me with very little excess material. I don't really like loose sweatshirts as they tend to let too much draft in the bottom and sag on the arms and belly. But, if your personal preference is for a looser fit or you need to conceal something inside the waistband, go up a size. If you want baggy and want to layer it over long sleeves, go up two sizes. The length is a longish; ending up mid-butt on me. The snug fit also makes the Hoodie suitable for use as a mid-layer under a looser jacket.
Notes and observations - I really think that The Monkey was really onto something with his "50 Shades of Grey" research. I do feel that the warmer grey does blend in better in the urban area I'm in. It's also a very nice colour, to boot. It's not too dark nor too light - just very 'neutral' with a some warmth, which I think the Monkey was shooting for. It's definitely a different grey than your normal grey sweatshirt, which is basically unsaturated. Quality of the stitching and seams are very good - it's a well put-together garment. I prefer the versatility of a zip-up hoodie vs. the pull-over type, but a complaint I have with some of the zip-up front hoodies I've tried is that the stiffness of the zipper sometimes makes the belly bulge out. I'm not referring to how easy or hard the zipper is to open and close, but how flexible it is. The zipper on the MSM Hoodie is very flexible, so combined with the snug fit, I no longer get 'zipper belly'.
In the photos above, I'm wearing it with my very faded OD Green VERTX tactical pants, which have worn/faded to desaturated khaki-ish green. (Note: I do not go around in public wearing the MSM Skull Multi-wrap around my face. Unless I'm going into a bank...not.) The Hoodie RAW is not your heavy fleece hoodie, and not really for cold weather. It's more of a cool weather garment in my opinion, and perfect over a T-shirt for cool days or evenings. For comparison, it's just a bit cooler than my Arc'teryx Atom LT hooded version and I'd say just about on par with PCU Level 3 gridded fleece clothing. Unlike some fleece garments, the cuff remains snug around the hand when the thumbholes are used; and do not let a draft in. The velcro fields on the shoulders are so well colour-matched that they really don't stand out much if there aren't any patches on them. If you really don't want the velcro, the patches can easily be removed carefully with a seam ripper.
One thing I'd like to see is bartacking or some extra stitching at the ends of the thumbhole slits. Another is a hang loop. Other than those small improvements, this simple, functional and well thought-out garment has become one of my favourites to throw on as I walk out the door.
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