The Merlin Elmhurst presents another great armored option in the “Classic Waxed-Cotton” jacket category. This latest entry from this value-packed UK brand—our third Merlin jacket— is blessedly bereft of any big logos sewn onto the sleeves or emblazoned on the chest. Instead there’s a small Union Jack on the front hem, and a tone-on-tone “Merlin” across the back of the neck, and that’s it.
The short-cut jacket has a drop-tail and subtly pre-curved sleeves to work well on or off the bike, and the striking silhouette is accented by an asymmetrical slash pocket on the chest, a document pocket built into the sleeve, and standard zippered hand-warmer pockets.
Stylistically the Elmhurst makes a great city jacket, and technically and promises some real three-season adaptability with a full-sleeve zip-out thermal liner, and a fixed Reissa waterproof membrade layered underneath the waxed cotton shell.
The thermal properties of this jacket come from Outlast, which was famously born out of a NASA program (yes that NASA) to create a temperature regulating insulating layer. Outlast promises to keep the wearer warm when it’s cold; and cool when it’s hot.
That latter claim is harder to prove, but based on our experience with the insulated Lee Parks “PCI” insulated gloves, which uses the same Outlast liner, there’s definitely a little less of a penalty for continuing to use them once the weather warms, which helps extend this cool-weather riding jacket’s outlook into more of a three-season piece. And with the liner zipped in, it very clearly helps insulate the rider from the cold.
On the waterproofing front, this jacket has two levels of defense—a fitting feature for a brand hailing from soggy England. The jacket’s 8oz waxed cotton shell is made by Halley Stevensons (a 150-year-old textiles company from soggy Scotland), and provides a highly water resistant outer shell that’s backed up by a much more convincingly waterproof and breathable "Reissa Active Membrane", which is fixed in the jacket underneath the waxed cotton shell.
The Outlast layer is baked into the same full-sleeve zip-out liner. Zip it out for warm days on the bike, and you’ll still retain the protection of the 5-piece armor set that comes with this jacket.
The Elmhurst comes with CE-approved Level 1 armor in the shoulders, elbows, and—unlike most other jackets outside Aether, Klim, and own Union-brand jackets—the Elmhurst comes with a CE back protector, too.
> Olive Halley Stevenson's 8oz waxed cotton
> Waterproof, breathable Reissa Active membrane
> 125g full body removable Outlast temperature regulating liner
> CE Level 1 shoulder, elbow and back armour included
> Merlin branded antique finish hardware used throughout
> YKK zips throughout
> Waterproof, wind-stopping fold behind main zip
> Variety of outer and inner pockets
> Bicep, waist, hem, collar and cuff adjustment
> Cross quilted shoulder and chest pocket details
> Soft, padded collar
> Drop-tail design and pre-curved sleeves
> Waterproofing at a claimed 10,000mm
> Breathability rated at a claimed 15000g/m²/24h