Mons Royale Brand Highlight: // Ski Reviews
If you haven't already noticed, we recently picked up a new clothing and base layer brand, Mons Royale. We're really excited about this addition to our brand and product offering on SkiEssentials.com as Mons Royale shares a lot of the same values we do: environmental integrity, treating their employees right, and lots more. Their clothing is rooted in performance, but they do it with a different attitude and feel compared to most merino wool base layer brands. In addition to being very technical garments, they also look great with some distinct youthful influence and more focus on fashion-forward colors, designs, and cuts.
The story of Mons Royale started the same way as a lot of brands in the ski industry do. In 2009, fed up with the current selection of base layers on the market, the founders of Mons created their product and it was on the shelves of retailers in New Zealand shortly after. Their initial advertising drastically set them apart from other base layers brands with much more focus on fashion and style. In February of 2010, Mons Royale exhibited at the ISPO Trade Show in Munich, outfitted an impressive team of pro athletes across the globe, and they've been on a roll ever since. While Mons has become a successful brand in the process, it's still not exceptionally easy to find. You typically won't find it at local ski shops, which makes us even more excited to be offering a wide range of their products on SkiEssentials.com.
Why should you choose Mons Royale? After all, it's pretty expensive stuff. Is it worth shelling out around or over $200 for a full set of base layers? In one, simple word, yes. Merino wool is an incredible material. Wool base layers used to be thick, heavy, and not very functional. Merino wool, on the other hand, is basically a miracle fabric. Let's run through some of the benefits. It has a high warmth to weight ratio, which is ideal for skiing. You'll stay warm, but you'll also have freedom of movement and won't be weighted down by unnecessarily heavy clothing. It has natural air conditioning properties. Merino wool has the highest moisture absorption capacity of any fabric. This means it will keep you warm and dry when it's cold, but also will keep you cool when it's hot by pulling moisture and sweat away from your body. It's also exceptionally breathable, very soft against your skin, and because it's a natural product it's 100% biodegradable and environmentally sustainable.
Mons Royale takes it a step further by using ZQ merino wool, which means their fabric meets the highest standards of animal welfare, environmental care, and social sustainability. In order to attain the ZQ certification, farmers and manufacturers must meet a number of different requirements. All fabric needs to be traced directly back to the farm it came from. ZG merino growers must be careful stewards of their land. ZQ merino sheep must live free range lives. All farms and growers must be audited by a third party. ZQ merino is only sources from farms who meet the highest environmental sustainability standards. Mulesing cannot be practiced on any sheep. Finally, all fleece is hand selected to ensure the highest quality fibers. That's serious dedication not only to a high quality product, but also to environmental and socially sustainable practices, which makes us even more proud to carry Mons Royale.
Alright, enough on the background and focus of the company, how does the gear actually perform? Let's start with a fun backstory. In March of 2014, I was lucky enough to get my hands on two full sets of Mons Royale. Two tops, and two bottoms. On a bitterly cold day at Stowe, VT, I decided to wear all of it. This was probably the second time I had worn any of it, and, needless to say, I was very excited about it. Unfortunately, later that day, I skied into a tree and broke my femur. In the hospital, the emergency doctors cut off all my clothing. Yup, 4 brand new pieces of Mons clothing just cut in half. Was I more upset about the broken leg or the cut clothing? To this day, I'm not sure. Because of this experience, perhaps no one at SkiEssentials.com was more excited to be bringing Mons Royale into our brand selection than me. I quickly picked myself up a set of the Olympus 3.0 base layers, top and bottom, as well as a Santa Rosa Hinge Balaclava. The Olympus 3.0 felt like the best choice for here in northern Vermont as it's one of their thickest base layers, and so far I'm very happy with it.
Base layers, in my opinion, should do more than just keep you warm, they should keep you comfortable. That's the best way to describe the feel of Mons Royale, in my opinion, it's just incredibly comfortable. I'm the type of skier that doesn't want to wear a lot of layers. At most I'll have a base layer, light insulated mid-layer, and an insulated jacket. I want to have freedom of movement and don't like to feel like my clothing is bulky. I'm a big advocate for the idea that if you don't feel good, you're probably not going to feel good. On bitter cold Stowe days, that combination is plenty to keep me warm. The fabric feels soft and cozy against your skin, unlike some synthetic base layers, which really helps on those cold days. Because of the properties of merino wool, however, I also don't overheat. I spend a lot of time hiking when I'm skiing, whether hiking a feature in the park, to the chin of Mt. Mansfield, or while coaching little groms. Synthetic base layers are tough for me because I do sweat a fair amount, the material gets saturated, then I absolutely freeze when I get back on the lift. That doesn't happen for me with Mons. Sure, I'll still sweat a little during a high energy activity, or if I'm hiking for a long time, but the Mons Royale fabric really helps keep me dry. It's quite amazing how well it wicks moisture, then just dries.
Another thing I love about Mons Royale is its fit. Compared to other merino wool brands that I've worn, the Mons Royale fit is a little bit more relaxed. It's still an athletic fit and stays close to your skin, but the cut is just a touch longer, which in my opinion helps it feel a little cozier, and also more stylish. I opted for the Olympus 3.0 in black, but even the black is more styled than most base layers. A Mons Royale logo on the sleeve and some yellow detailing under the arm where their breathable merino mesh helps complete its look more than your average base layers. I have no problem throwing on a pair of casual pants after skiing, but keeping my Mons top on. It's plenty stylish for around town, in my opinion. For those that want to take it to the next level, Mons has some really good-looking designs and colorways. They also have a whole line of mid-layers and jackets for those that want to wear Mons all the time.
Which brings me to my closing point. I ski almost every day. That means base layers and full outerwear first thing in the morning, followed by office clothes about 2 hours later. Over the past couple months there have been more days than not where I literally wear (at least half) of my Mons gear all day long. It's incredibly comfortable, keeps me warm in a sometimes-chilly warehouse and office, and even looks good too.