Röjk The Monk Hoody [long-term review]

30884644-origpic-85ba2dSwedish brand Röjk have been in existence since 2010 and first grabbed my attention with the funky poses they arranged their clothes into for their product shots: it always seemed like they had captured their jumpers, leggings or socks mid-dance at a silent disco.  Sadly they no longer seem to take quite the same approach, but they seemed like a brand worth watching and last year I purchased a hoody, The Monk.  So where is brand and hoody aimed?  Is it a casual piece of outdoor apparel or is it aimed at being a solidly dependable mid-layer? Here’s what they have to say:

This versatile and popular hoodie has won many a fan with its unique look and blend of materials. Brushed polyester on the inside makes it soft and comfortable against the skin, while wool and silk in the outer fabric add warmth, freshness and great style. The large belly pocket keeps your belongings in place with zippers on both sides, while hiding another, smaller pocket for your card case or phone.

Röjk logo

Materials

One of the more interesting aspects to the Röjk brand was that they use of wool-synthetic blend in their clothing. In this case a mixture of wool (32%), polyester (49%), polyamide (14%) and silk (5%).  The mottled outside definitely  has the appearance of (perhaps) a relatively fine wool but the inside is brushed and much softer than you would expect if it was wool alone.  For someone who often finds wool itchy, this was a pleasant surprise and it is certainly as comfortable as any fully synthetic garment.

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The fabric is a blend of wool, silk, polyester and polyamide.  It’s also nice when a brand has a sense of humour…

Whilst you might expect this to translate as a very warm jumper, the fabric thickness is relatively thin, and it really has no wind-blocking properties at all. You’ll get cold riding a bike, and in anything more than a light autumnal breeze – one point to casual outdoor apparel then…

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The fabric is a blend of wool, silk, polyester and polyamide.  It’s also nice when a brand has a sense of humour…

It’s hard to tell if the advantages of wool (as a fabric) are noticeable.  The top seems to remains relatively impervious to drizzly rain and I have been frequently wearing this is an outer layer in the relatively mild winter we have been experiencing in the UK this year, which is perhaps the biggest testament to its  capability, but I suspect fans of all-wool garments will find it ultimately unfulfilling.

 Fit

The fit is close with high-arm holes that gives a relatively tailored look – another point to casual apparel.  It took me a while to get used to as the sleeves of anything you wear underneath tend to ruck-up into your armpits, such is the close-fit of the arms, and inevitably this usually results in an unsightly struggle to un-ruck your sleeves by fiddling around with your armpits.  This initially took me by surprise but in over the past year, things seems to have stretched and relaxed very slightly so I no longer find this such an issue.

 

On the whole, it conforms to the Scandinavian pattern, with relatively long arms compared to body length, but because the sleeves are so fitted, it is almost impossible to roll them up your arms.  I can still only manage to push them a couple of inches up my wrist after a year of wear.

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This is the extent to which I can push the sleeve up my wrist.

 

Features

The top features one large tunnel pocket on the front. As with all tunnel pockets, it easily gobbles up most of what you can throw at it: keys, sunglasses, hats, buffs a map…but the bottom of the zip is so close to the bottom hem that stuff also quite easily falls out again.  I have lost hats and glasses whilst cycling with this top because I have forgotten to zip the pockets up.  Perhaps in an attempt to counter this, it does have a second zipped inner pocket, just big enough for a small phone or MP3 player, but iPhone 6 Plus owners will be out of luck.  This pocket also has a small hole for threading headphones through.

 

The pocket is made up of a robust mesh so it doesn’t add too much material to the front, but like all tunnel pockets, it is still a large area of unstructured fabric which quickly looks lumpy and baggy if you load it with too much stuff and ends presenting itself as a curious contradiction when compared with the the close-fitting high arm-holes.

 

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This small internal zippered pockets is large enough for a small phone or MP3 player.

The sleeves also have a thumb hole, which works well and is comfortable.

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Thumb holes in the cuff.  These allow you to make good use of the long arm length.

Another small feature, is the the loop at the top zip, for threading headphone cables through.

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Inside detail of the top zipper.  Notice the small green loop for keeping headphone cables in place.

The hood is a decent size and is sufficiently voluminous and to feel protective, but the method of tightening the hood is completely unusable.  It is this part that I think belies the true nature of this piece of clothing.  No garment that was to positions itself as being a reliable, functional piece of kit that could be depended on in the outdoors would use the method that Röjk has chosen for this hood.  The design flaws are many: the cord is stretchy, but the holes through which it is threaded are too tight.  Thus, one can tighten the hood, but not un-tighten as when you try to expand the hood by pulling open the hood hem, the cord simply stretches, rather than loosens.  The leather tab that would otherwise act to tighten and loose the hood is therefore rendered useless and in any case is too small to be used easily with gloves on.  It is, in summary, an example of form over function. The only reason this part wasn’t cut off when first worn was to be able to take the photo below.  Rest assured that it has now been removed.

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Finally, a word of the general finish.  There are a few details which make this seem like a beta product.  The finish to the top zip guard is untidy and ragged, and the zipper garage at the end of the top zip is also useless.  Whilst it could be seen as a way to hide the ends of the zipper (and perhaps that is what it is), it makes the zip protrude slightly from your chest and I feel could have been finished in a neater fashion.  Perhaps this is too pedantic… you make up your own mind.

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Some aspects of the general finish of the garment seem untidy.

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The zipper garage at the bottom of the top zip is also not functional.

Conclusion

Whilst this is a very wearable piece of clothing, there are one too many contradictions for it to sit (and sit) easily.  Clearly this falls into the casual urban wear type niche, but the finish and styling is not quite there if this is the case.  It is sometimes easy to forgive the poor styling of hard-core functional pieces of clothing that do their job in the outdoors well, but in this case this hoody doesn’t have that fall-back.  I think Röjk remains an interest company to watch, but hopefully future generations of their products will improve of their function before concentrated on their form.

Would I buy this agian: No…which isn’t to say I don’t wear it, but I wouldn’t buy it again.

(This review is based on a product bought in early-2015.  If you get the chance, always view products first hand, as some features (or colours!) may have been updated or modified.)

Availability

Röjk has a list of retailers on their website here.  In my experience, finding stock in stores not in Scandinavia can be difficult.  Try the German based Globetrotter for a good online store that will ship EU wide.

Anything you want to know that I haven’t covered?  Get in touch below!
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