Melanzana Hard Face Hoodie
Material: Polartec Hard Face Fleece
- Internal zippered pocket
- Hood with draw cord
- 2 Handwarmer pockets
- Available in Regular and Tall sizes
Days worn: 100’s
Test locations: Climbing and skiing areas across the western United States
Reviewer: 5’8”, 135 lbs.
Size Tested: Small Tall
One of the things that makes Melanzana products special is the company itself.
Melanzana is a very small company based in Leadville, Colorado, that has been around since the early ‘90s. They source their fabric from Polartec which is made in the US at Malden Mills. All Melanzana garments are sewn and sold at the shop in Leadville and online at melanzana.com; they do not wholesale to any retailers, which means they can keep costs down and pass the savings on to consumers and the profits to their employees.
I was first introduced to Melanzana as a kid while racing sled dogs alongside skijorer (google it) and Melanzana owner Fritz Howard. Throughout the years I have had several Melanzana products including the Micro Grid Hoodie (my favorite), a Micro Grid Skirt, and a Power-Dry Sports Bra (ladies need to try this one- it’s awesome!). I still own and regularly wear every item, including the Hard Face Hoodie.
Fit and Sizing
The Hard Face Hoodie comes in both Men’s and Women’s sizes with Regular and Tall lengths.
I wear a Small in the Micro Grid Hoodie, but have always wanted longer sleeve and body length, so I ordered a Small Tall.
The sizing is indeed quite a bit longer, with the sleeve length measuring about 2” longer than the sleeves on the Small Micro Grid Hoodie.
The body length is also longer, making it easy to layer with, and it easily stays tucked into my climbing harness. I have a -3” ape index, so women who are shorter may want to stick with the regular size. I have a small chest and could have easily gone with an XS Tall for a tighter fit, but wanted to use it as an outer layer as well. For overall fit, the women’s hoodie is fitted enough to be flattering, but I can still fit a layer or two underneath.
At $136, the Hard Face Hoodie falls somewhere in the middle of the price spectrum for similar products made by other companies such as Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, etc.
Fabric and Performance
Design simplicity is an important element to all Melanzana clothing; you won’t find any unnecessary zippers, pockets, or seams on their products.
The Hard Face Hoodie is made from Polartec’s Hard Face fleece. It is similar to their Powerstretch Fleece in that it has soft fleece on the inside and a smooth outer fabric, but the Hard Face fleece has a more durable, snag-free, and even slightly water repellent outer surface. I wouldn’t want it as my only outer layer on a snowy day, but the hoodie functions well as a mid-layer for skiing or an outer layer for hiking, skinning, or cold-weather climbing.
One of my favorite things about the Hard Face hoodie is its tall collar and hood. I have forgotten a neck gaiter or balaclava several times while skiing, and have been saved by the tall stand-up collar which easily covers my mouth and cheeks. When fully zipped, you can pull the drawcords on the collar and really cinch up the fit to keep you warm and toasty. The hood fits well under my climbing helmet, but is rather tight when I wear it under a ski helmet.
The only thing that sometimes keeps the Hard Face hoodie out of my pack on longer trips is its weight and bulk. While not outrageously heavy (stated weight is 16.3oz), it’s not as light or packable as some of the other options in my quiver of fleece layers (though it is warmer). It also does not pack up quite as tightly, so on longer climbing trips I often bring the Melanzana Micro Grid Hoodie or my Black Diamond CoEfficient hoody instead.
The Melanzana Hard Face Hoodie is a great fleece layer that offers a multitude of fit options, and is made by a good company.
It’s a comfortable hoodie for skiing, climbing, backpacking, and just about any other sport.