Merlin Barton 2 Jacket Review: Worth The Upgrade From V1?

The original Merlin Barton jacket earned recognition for its vintage wax cotton styling combined with modern protective features.

I like the way it embodied the essence of a classic motorcycle jacket while integrating armor and waterproofing for real-world functionality.

With the release of the updated Barton 2, I was interested to see how Merlin refined one of their most popular designs.

But, the main question I will answer in this review will be: Is this the best motorcycle jacket for all seasons for you? Let’s find out!

Merlin Barton 2 Jacket


Key Takeaways

  • Style meets safety
  • All-weather capability
  • Great value for money

The addition of CE-approved armor and abrasion-resistant materials seemed promising. Ultimately, I chose the Barton 2 because of its:

  • Heritage styling: The waxed cotton outer shell invokes mid-20th century riding jackets. I like how it provides a vintage look without going full-on retro.
  • Weather protection: The waterproof and breathable membrane helps keep rain out while preventing interior condensation. This makes the jacket suitable for cooler and wet riding conditions.
  • Armor upgrades: CE-approved D3O armor in the elbows and shoulders enhances impact protection compared to the previous model.
  • Abrasion resistance: Key sections feature durable fabrics designed to slide rather than tear in a crash. This boosts safety while retaining the wax cotton’s look and feel.

After closely evaluating the jacket’s specifications and features, I felt confident it could deliver reliable performance along with an appealing heritage-inspired style. Time to put it to the test on my daily commute.

Testing the Barton 2 in Real-World Riding Conditions

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been riding with the Merlin Barton 2 jacket on a daily basis. I alternate between a Honda CB500F and a Triumph Scrambler 1200 on my usual mix of urban roads, country back highways, and freeway commuting.

This has provided a great diversity of conditions to assess the jacket’s comfort, weather protection, and durability.

Here are some of my key findings after extensively testing the Merlin Barton 2 jacket on the road:

  • Superior waterproofing: The jacket kept me completely dry during heavy rain and morning mist. The outer wax cotton beads up moisture, while the internal waterproof membrane prevents any seepage.
  • Ventilation works well: Opening the chest vents allowed airflow to regulate my temperature during 50-60°F weather. I stayed cool and comfortable even when riding in direct sunlight.
  • Windproofing excels: The tight weave of the waxed cotton combined with a snug wrist cuff seal blocked cold winds at highway speeds. I stayed warm without bulky layers underneath.
  • Substantial abrasion protection: The jacket’s reinforced landing zones give me confidence that it will hold up in a slide. I’m happy to trade full leather construction for the Barton 2’s durability and weather protection.
  • Great fit for layering: With room for a hoodie or sweater underneath, it adapts well to colder mornings or nights. The sleeve length accommodates reaching forward on my Scrambler’s high bars.
  • Armor stays in place: The CE-approved D3O armor stays situated in crashes without restricting movement. It will absorb impact, while the jacket’s abrasion-resistant fabric helps prevent tissue damage.

Overall, I’m highly impressed with the performance and real-world protection the Merlin Barton 2 jacket offers.

It provides noticeable improvements over the previous model in terms of weatherproofing, ventilation, armor integration, and abrasion resistance.

Style That Stands the Test of Time

While technical performance is critical, I also want riding gear that looks good off the bike. The Merlin Barton 2 delivers on this front with its timeless waxed cotton styling:

  • Vintage-inspired design: The 12 oz. Halley Stevensons waxed cotton outer shell invokes mid-20th century motorcycle jackets. The minimal branding and color options further enhance the heritage look.
  • Rich material texture: The hand-waxed cotton has a substantial feel complemented by details like quilted leather elbow patches. It provides visual interest and character.
  • Flexible styling: With or without the thermal liner, the jacket transitions seamlessly from cafe racer cool to everyday wear. It works well with both jeans and fitted trousers.
  • Slim tailored fit: The pre-curved sleeves and waist adjustments enable a trim, flattering profile. Generous but not overly baggy sizing caters to different body types.
  • Low-key branding: Only the engraved snaps and sleeve emblem announce this as a Merlin product. It avoids excessive logos and loud colors.

The Merlin Barton 2 manages to seem both vintage and modern at the same time. It remains true to its roots while incorporating contemporary protective features.

The waxed cotton fabric will only get better with age and develop a worn-in look full of character.

Key Features That Enhance Comfort and Convenience

A jacket needs more than just protection and durability to make it a pleasure to wear every day. That’s why I appreciate the way Merlin optimized the Barton 2 for comfort, versatility, and practicality:

Pre-curved sleeves contour to the natural shape of your arms when riding or standing upright. This reduces fatigue and binding.

Adjustable waist tabs enable you to cinch the jacket for a customized slim or relaxed fit as desired. I like the clean lines this creates compared to baggy billowing.

Zippered chest vents make it easy to regulate airflow on warmer days. The positioning prevents flapping while directing air right to your core.

Water-resistant zippers on the exterior pockets and vents ensure moisture won’t seep into storage areas or the lining. One less thing to worry about.

Napoleon chest pocket provides quick interior access to valuables like your phone. With the thermal liner removed, a lighter nylon lining protects items.

Soft collar lining eliminates chafing or irritation around the neck. It’s a small detail that makes wearing the jacket for hours on end more pleasant.

Subtle quilted leather accents add an upscale look while reinforcing high abrasion zones. Form meets function in the elbow patches and shoulder panels.

The removable thermal liner lets you adapt the jacket for warmer weather. Wearing just the outer shell increases airflow for summer evening rides.

Vertical waist adjusters not only customize the fit but also prevent the bottom of the jacket from riding up when you lean forward. Set it and forget it.

Secure wrist cuff seals. Integrate Velcro and snaps to prevent wind and water from entering. You avoid the pressure points and gaps caused by a single closure method.

The Barton 2 deftly balances style and substance. It doesn’t neglect the small touches that enhance real-world wearability and convenience during daily use.

How Does the Merlin Barton 2 Compare to Similar Jackets?

JacketMerlin Barton 2REV’IT! BoroughRSD Mission
Outer shell12 oz. waxed cottonPolyesterCowhide leather

When it comes to heritage-style jackets with protection, the Merlin Barton 2 hits a sweet spot between cost, features, and performance. Let’s take a look at how it stacks up against some comparable options:

  • The REV’IT Borough offers similar vintage styling and armor but lacks the Barton’s waterproofing. It costs over twice as much.
  • The RSD Mission uses real leather for abrasion resistance. However, it sacrifices weatherproofing and costs almost three times as much as the Barton 2.
  • Many wax cotton jackets from heritage brands provide minimal to no armor. The Barton 2 provides CE-approved protection without compromising on traditional materials.
  • Other value-priced options like the Hood Jeans Nexus or Bull-It SR6 provide good protection but lack the stylish waxed cotton outer shell.

When evaluating cost, protection, versatility, and aesthetics, the Merlin Barton 2 emerges as an appealing option for riders seeking a balance of form and function.

It provides noticeable advantages over pricier competitors as long as you don’t require real leather construction.

5 Key Questions About the Merlin Barton 2 Jacket


Does the Barton 2 come in different colors?

The jacket is currently available in classic Black or vintage Olive colorways. Both feature a rich waxed cotton fabric with minimal logos and branding.

How long does the D3O armor last before needing replacement?

The CE-approved D3O armor retains protective properties with routine use for 3-5 years. Replacement armor kits are available when the time comes.

Is the jacket fully waterproof or just water-resistant?

Thanks to a breathable Hydratex membrane, the Barton 2 is fully waterproof. It kept me bone dry even in heavy