MERLIN Exile Explorer Jacket Review: Cafe Racers Rejoice or Waste of Cash?

The right gear for every season is crucial to staying comfortable and protected on long rides. I recently tested out the new Merlin Exile jacket, a versatile cold-weather option packed with features.

In this detailed review, I’ll provide my first-hand impressions of how this jacket performed after putting it through its paces.

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

MERLIN Exile Explorer Jacket


Key Takeaways

  • Waterproof and breathable
  • Armored for impact protection
  • Versatile 4-season protection

Key Features

Here are some key features that make the Exile stand out:

  • Fully waterproof and breathable Hytex membrane
  • Removable quilted liner for extra insulation
  • Multiple vents to prevent overheating
  • Three interior pockets plus two exterior hand warmer pockets
  • Plenty of adjustability for a tailored fit
  • CE Level 1 armor in the shoulders, elbows, and back

With an MSRP that might seem a little high, the Exile offers exceptional value considering its versatility, weather protection, and stylish look. If you’re seeking a new 4-season riding jacket, keep reading to learn how it held up during testing.

Putting the Exile Through Its Paces

To give the Merlin Exile jacket a thorough evaluation, I wore it on rides covering a wide range of conditions over several weeks:

  • Short hops around town in cool weather with liner removed
  • All-day rides in colder temps with liner inserted
  • Rainy rides to test the waterproofing
  • Highway miles to check airflow at speed

The Exile kept me comfortable and protected mile after mile throughout all these tests. Here are some of my impressions after really putting this jacket to work.

A Truly Waterproof Design That Keeps You Dry

My first wet weather ride was a great test of the Exile’s waterproofing. Temperatures were in the mid-40s F, with periodic rain throughout my 3-hour trip.

The jacket’s outer cotton shell, waterproof Hytex membrane, and storm flap behind the zipper kept me completely dry. No water seeped through whatsoever.

Removable Liner Adds Versatility and Warmth

Having a removable liner provides great flexibility for varying conditions. On cold but dry days in the mid-30s, I could zip it in for extra core insulation.

When they were in the 50s, I took the liner out for more airflow. The quilted liner feels soft and comfortable against the skin.

Strategic Vents Prevent Overheating

I was impressed by how well-placed the Exile’s ventilation is. The long underarm zipper vents, as do the back exhaust vents, allow great airflow.

I opened them up during a brisk but sunny 60-degree ride and was able to fine-tune my temperature. I stayed cool without the wind getting inside.

Adjustments Provide a Tailored Fit

Between the Velcro sleeve cinches, bicep snaps, and waist drawstrings, I was able to snug up the Exile for a personalized fit.

This prevented wind from entering and kept the jacket from riding up. The pre-curved sleeves moved naturally in the riding position without binding.

Armor Offers Impact Protection

The CE-rated shoulder, elbows, and back armor add crucial impact protection. The elbow and shoulder armor fits tightly, so it won’t shift around in a slide. There’s even an exterior spine pad pocket that fits an optional back protector for extra spine coverage.

Interior and Exterior Storage

You get ample storage with the three interior pockets plus two fleece-lined hand warmer pockets. I was able to fit my phone, wallet, keys, and sunglasses with room to spare. The hand warmer pockets are perfectly placed and cozy on cold mornings.

Final Verdict on the Merlin Exile Jacket

After logging hundreds of miles with the Merlin Exile, I’m thoroughly impressed with its quality, comfort, and value.

The versatility, weather protection, storage, and armor make this an outstanding 4-season jacket. Its understated styling also looks great on any bike.

Here are some of the things I like most about the Merlin Exile motorcycle jacket:

  • Fully waterproof and breathable for all-weather riding
  • Warm removable quilted liner for cold weather usage
  • Flexible fit with sleeve, bicep, and waist adjustments
  • Loads of ventilation from underarm and back vents
  • Excellent impact protection from CE armor
  • Plentiful interior and exterior storage
  • Handsome looks that work with any style of bike

Considering the Exile’s features, it’s reasonably priced. I highly recommend it to any rider looking for a do-it-all jacket that can handle commuting, touring, or all-day rides in any condition. Merlin has added another impressive piece to their Explorer collection.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Merlin Exile Jacket

How does the sizing run on the Exile?

In my experience, it runs true to size. I typically wear a men’s large, and the large sample I tested fit great. But be sure to consult Merlin’s size chart and measure yourself for the best accuracy.

Is it a slim or relaxed fit?

Overall it has a slightly relaxed fit to allow wearing layers underneath. But the sleeve and waist adjustments let you cinch it for a trimmer profile.

How is the collar comfortable?

The padded stand-up collar is lined with soft microfleece, so it’s very comfortable even when fully zipped to block the wind. The snap tab also helps customize airflow at the neck.

Can you wear a back protector under it?

Absolutely. A Velcro pocket inside the back lining will accommodate most CE-rated back protectors for extra impact protection.

How is the sizing for women?

Merlin offers a women’s version of the Exile cut for a contoured female fit. Sizes range from XS to 2XL and come in black and olive color options.

Conclusion: A Versatile Riding Jacket That Ticks All the Boxes

Finding the perfect riding jacket often means choosing between style, comfort, protection, and convenience.

With the Merlin Exile, you truly get the complete package. After testing it across many types of rides, it’s become my go-to jacket for fall and winter.

For all-around performance across changing conditions, the Merlin Exile stands out as one of the best 4-season options around. Ride protected and ride in style!

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