- Buyer's Guide
A Portable Gym for the Minimalist Traveler | Pocket Monkii 2 Review
Looking for travel-friendly workout equipment? Check out our review of the Pocket Monkii 2 and Monkii Bar 2 Adventure Kit – XLab Edition to see if they’re right for you…
Travel a lot? Want to stay or get fit on the road but, like me, you are addicted to minimalist carry? Well, you are in luck!
It was just before the pandemic started. January 6th, 2020. I looked at my calendar. I was going to be flying around the US and overseas for 5-12 days at a time nearly every other week for at least the next 4 months, making films and consulting with clients. I’d worked really hard to get in shape over the previous 5 years. And although I’d always traveled a lot, it was never quite this packed. How was I going to stay in shape – or maybe even improve?
That’s when I discovered calisthenics. If you’re interested in more information, there is (of course) plenty of information about calisthenics online. But I’ll oversimplify and say it’s basically gaining strength through bodyweight exercises. Most of it can be done with little or even no equipment – especially when you start out. I fell in love with calisthenics and haven’t missed a workout since. To top it all off I look and feel better than I have at any other point in my life.
At home, I use gymnastics rings and straps. But with the tiny bags I travel with, stuffing my rings and straps in would take up nearly half the bag. And forget about using rings in a hotel room. Thankfully the solution comes in either of two very small packages from Monkii.
The Pocket Monkii 2 is almost comically small – not much larger than a beer cozy. It just launched on Kickstarter. But I got a sneak peek from the awesome team over at Monkii and have been using the PM2 for over a month. If you are planning to work out in your hotel room I don’t think you’ll find a better, and definitely not a more compact tool to help you reach your fitness goals.
The kit consists of a door anchor, a strap with two handles, a carabiner to attach the handle strap to the door anchor, and a small, very well-made bag to hold the parts. In fact, it’s all very well made. The aluminum handles feel great in the hand and the webbing feels incredibly strong. Yet the whole kit weighs only one pound. I suspect if you follow the included 21-day training program you’ll lose more than that pound, making the total travel weight of the PM2 less than zero – sort of.
Great. So it’s small, lightweight, and very well made. But does it work? Oh yes, it does! Progressive overload – making an exercise a little harder each time than the time before – is the secret to gaining muscle and getting fit. The door anchor has loops that run along the length of the strap. So changing from a higher point to a lower point along the strap (which makes the exercises progressively more challenging) is quick and easy. I do wish they made this door anchor strap two feet longer for really advanced deep leans. But it works great for everything else.
Even if you’re not calisthenics obsessed like I am, you can easily use the PM2 at home or on the road to progressively overload your muscles, getting stronger and more fit. Not just as a stop gap until you can get back to the gym but as a complete gym replacement. And if you pick up their outdoor anchor 2.0, you can anchor the PM2 to trees, overhangs, and playground structures.
I’m quite impressed with the quality and usability of the Pocket Monkii 2. But if you’re just starting out and feel lost on your path to a healthier you, their app will show you how to get the most out of it.
Being able to carry a full gym around wherever you go is awesome. It’s no wonder these guys have such a large and dedicated following. The Pocket Monkii 2 can be ordered at a discount for a limited amount of time over on Kickstarter.
Though experienced calisthenics peeps can get a great workout with the PM2, if you are used to doing your workout on gymnastics rings (like me), I’d strongly recommend picking up the Monkii Bar 2 Adventure Kit – XLab Edition for your travels. Monkii shrunk down the heavy, bulky gymnastics straps into a strong, thin, lightweight package. And they replaced the large heavy rings with two strong, compact aluminum handles. It also includes a super solid door anchor to quickly set it up in your home or hotel room. But for me, what makes this kit stand out most is when you set it up on a pull-up bar, playground structure, tree branch, or any overhead object strong enough to hold you safely. It lets you get a full rings workout in a package that you’ll hardly notice in almost any EDC bag.
As a side note, I’d like to point out their patented anodized aluminum cam buckle. It’s crazy strong for its size and it works as good as it looks. It’s a smooth operator that works in partnership with the markings on the straps to make it easy to adjust the straps to the same length. A very nice touch!
The big difference between the Pocket Monkii 2 and the Monkii Bar 2 is that you can adjust the distance between the left and right side strap hanging points and much more easily to full suspension training. I’m talking about the same kind of training you do with gymnastics rings, fully suspended dips, pull-ups, L-sits, and more.
Since getting the Monkii Bar 2 I find myself walking around town, looking for fun objects to attach these to. Strength training in the park by the river? How about at the base of the mountain? Top of the mountain? Sure, I’ll take all three. Once you’ve found a couple of good places to attach this to, you could work out in a different beautiful place every day – like going on a run but for your muscles.
What if you don’t want to leave your house – ever. I get it. Though the Monkii Bar 2 kit is super travel-friendly it’s built to be used every day. I found very few compromises vs using a full-size gymnastics rings and straps setup. That said, if you already own a nice set of wooden rings and decent straps and you never need to take them anywhere, there’s no need to pick up the Monkii Bar 2. But if you don’t own a set of rings and straps and think you might someday want to travel with your gym or even just set up outside around your town, be sure to check out the Monkii Bar 2 Adventure Kit – XLab Edition from Monkii.