Editor’s note: This article was originally posted in Overland Journal’s Spring 2021 Issue.
The Micro Grid hoodie from outdoor clothing manufacturer Melanzana has developed a cult following over the past decade and a half. Perhaps it’s because this synthetic hooded pullover achieves the perfect balance of comfort and technical performance or because its two-tone color combinations are constantly changing. Or maybe the reason is that it’s sewn in the highest incorporated town in the United States, Leadville, Colorado, and made entirely from US-sourced materials. Whatever the case may be, people come from near and far to purchase one of these cozy and highly coveted tops.
Melanzana, which means eggplant in Italian, got its humble beginnings back in 1994 when friends and outdoor enthusiasts Fritz and Kevco moved to Leadville with the goal of producing high-quality, affordable outdoor gear. Fritz initially squatted in a tepee (handmade by him) while putting all of his time and money into getting the business up and running. By 1997, Melanzana moved into a retail space in town. Happy customers and slow, steady growth have seen “Melly” mature into the 7,500-square-foot, solar-powered retail location that they own today.
If you want one of these hoodies (or any Melanzana products for that matter), you’ll have to buy them in-person at the Leadville store because they do not offer web, email, or phone orders. And when you do make the trip, be prepared to wait for an hour or more to get inside and make your purchase.
People come from near and far, often waiting in line for hours to purchase one of these cozy and highly coveted tops.
Their flagship product, the Micro Grid, is made from Polartec 100-percent polyester fleece that weighs 5 ounces per square yard. This incredibly soft and stretchy material, exclusive to Melanzana, achieves a great balance of warmth and breathability. It’s ideal as an outer layer in mild temperatures or a mid-layer in colder climates. The square-shaped, micro-grid pattern that makes up this fleece, and for which this item is named, helps channel moisture and air between the squares.
Some of my favorite details are the always-changing color combinations and the sweatshirt-style pass-through front pocket that is large enough to store a pair of gloves or warm your hands on a brisk morning. The hood is another excellent feature of this garment that incorporates just a little more material than a standard hoodie, as well as an elasticized drawcord. This results in better coverage around the front of the neck that can be cinched up, covering the mouth and nose for added warmth without feeling too constricting. When not in use, the hood sits loosely around the neck like a scarf.
Melanzana guarantees that their construction will outlast their materials, and they offer free repairs for defective or failed sewing.
$73 | MELANZANA.COM
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