Montane Allez Micro Hoodie review

Not necessarily a huge amount to say here: the Allez Micro is a hooded quarter zip baselayer shirt, made from Polartec High Efficiency, a fabric which was one of the very best innovations of the past decade.  I reviewed the Patagonia Capilene 4 hoody back in the day, when it was one of the very first pieces to use the fabric.  Later that year I bought a Capilene 4 long sleeved crew, and have used that since, when the weather gets reasonably chilly.  I ended up passing that gen 1 Cap 4 hoody along, mainly because the hood was too tight for all day comfort.  I’ve periodically missed the warmth and functionality of having a hood in that particular layer, as well as the versatility of being able to use a warmer baselayer hoody as a midlayer, too.  So I bought an Allez Micro, and have been happy.

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The main, perhaps only difference of substance between the Allez Micro and the current Patagonia Thermal Weight hoody is the hood, with the former being a single layer, and the later double.  I much prefer the reduced warmth, and enhanced moisture transport, of the single layer.  For the same reason, I much prefer no pockets on a shirt like this.  I did buy the Allez Micro in size large, which lets me wear it over a t-shirt if desires, while still being slim enough for layering.  This also makes the hood big enough to wear for days at a time, even over a variety of hats.  Sleeves and torso are very long, almost excessively so, though it makes the thumb loops fit ideally, and the fabric is light and flexible enough that some excess around the wrists goes unnoticed.

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Polartec HE was on the vanguard of the defining textile apparel trend of the past decade, and understanding how unusually, occasionally exceptionally wicking and air permeable fabrics interact as various parts of a layering apparatus.  The Allez Micro, for example, is light enough and would seem to be more than fast wicking enough to be a hot weather baselayer.  A few months ago I found myself wearing it on a windless day pushing into the 80s, even at 7000 feet, and having it rather than something like the Pulse hoody contributed significantly to my pace suffering in the heat.  Not only does the grid fabric trap air and as a result add warmth, when worn alone on a calm day, it also wicks too fast to work in hot weather, as the fabric effectively eliminates convective cooling.  That same attribute is of course it’s main virtue in the cold, and why most of the time Polartect HE works best against the skin.

Some sort of shell is often important, in cold, weather, to control evaporative rates and thus provide for some adjustment in heat and cooling.  A big virtue of HE is that it moves moisture so fast that there is a lot of foregiveness in layering.  One can, for instance wear a relatively not-breathable wind layer, to guard against stronger winds and to take advantage of the more limited moisture absorption (relative to soft shell windshirts), and get away with venting via the front zip in warmer and calmer moments.

Something like the Allez Micro also works, decently, as a midlayer over a slower wicking t-shirt, which slows down moisture transport against the skin, but speeds it up through the midlayer.  In this case, there is less wiggle room when it comes to a wind layer, but on something like a spring ski trip where one might have both hot afternoons and very cold mornings (or days), this arrangement might be the best way to cover as many conditions as possible without duplicate layers that can’t all be worn together (for instance, while sleeping).

The Allez Micro is a versatile option, and Montane did well providing the salient details, without anything extra.  Recommended.

4 Comments

  1. I love my Capilene 4, Thermal Weight, (I think there was one other name) hoody. I have one sitting in reserve, but the original (minus a couple of small holes) is still going strong. Glad there is an alternative, as Patagonia has a track record of ditching the very best pieces they produce.

  2. Hey Dave, I’ve got an old R1 hoody that I’ve completely trashed over the last decade so I’m shopping for a replacement that’s a little less warm. Seems like the Allez would be a good option. I’m a bit confused by Polartech Power Dry vs Power Grid vs High Efficiency. Are High Efficiency and Power Dry synonymous? Any other insight you can offer between PD and PG?

    Thanks for all the great articles.

    1. The Allez would fit that end perfectly. Power Grid is classic R1 fabric, Power Grid HE (high efficiency) is the more spaced out, lighter grid of the Allez, Capilene Thermal Weight, etc. Power Dry is more standard baselayer fabric (Capilene mid weight or whatever they call it today). Polartec’s website is sort of helpful on this front: https://www.polartec.com/fabrics/base/power-dry

  3. The hoodie I’ve really been enjoying this year is a Polartec Powergrid hoodie called the Livingston (or the ladies Leah), from Fayettechill in, you’ve probably guessed it, Fayetteville, Arkansas. They’re primarily a “lifestyle” brand but this, and some of their other items, are legit technical pieces. Often compared (usually derisively, since the Livingston is very similar) to the Melanzana fleece, this is a USA made garment.

    I wore mine almost daily through this year’s cold Wisconsin spring, and it’s back in action again now that it’s winter. Hood fits great under a cycling helmet and the garment is very warm for its weight. This is my first grid fleece item, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, insulation wise. It’s been great anything I’ve needed a midlayer, or just a hoodie, for.

    Anyhoo, I highly recommend it!

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