Merlin Expedition Wax Jacket Review: Should You Buy It?

I recently had the opportunity to test out the new Merlin Expedition jacket. I was eager to see how this new offering from Merlin measured up.

Over the course of several weeks, I wore the Merlin Expedition jacket on rides of varying duration and in diverse weather conditions.

Below, I will share my experiences and impressions to provide a detailed review of how the Merlin Expedition jacket ultimately stacked up.

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

Merlin Expedition Wax Jacket


Key Takeaways

  • Excellent weather resistance
  • Full protective armor package
  • Durable waxed cotton construction

Materials and Construction

The Merlin Expedition jacket uses a premium 12oz Halle Stevenson waxed cotton outer shell. This heavy, durable fabric lends the jacket a stiff, sturdy feel right out of the box.

However, I noticed it softened up nicely after just a few rides.

The natural waxed coating provides an attractive luster while also imparting weather resistance. During my testing, light rain and road spray easily beaded up and rolled off the surface.

After wiping it down post-ride, the wax finish looked nearly as good as new.

Reinforced leather panels are integrated at the elbows and shoulders for abrasion and impact protection.

These armor zones use a rich brown leather that complements the olive jacket colorway. I’m pleased to report the leather remained scuff-free after some inadvertent drops and scrapes.

Fit and Sizing

I typically take a size medium in motorcycle jackets, and the Expedition in medium fits me well. The cut is relaxed but not overly baggy. It provides plenty of room for layering underneath without appearing sloppy.

I’d describe the sleeve length as generous but not cumbersome. For reference, I’m 5’10” with an average arm length, and the sleeves extended just past my wrist bone. The slightly longer fit ensures good coverage even when reaching forward on the bike.

One thoughtful design detail is the gusseted panel where the sleeves attach at the shoulder. This flexible fabric insert prevents restrictive pulling across the back and neck when moving your arms.

Overall, I found the relaxed “British cut” of the Merlin Expedition very comfortable without impeding movement or appearing oversized.

Protection Features

The Merlin Expedition includes a full complement of CE-rated armor:

  • Level 1 shoulder & elbow armor
  • Back protector

The elbow and shoulder pieces use flexible, low-profile D3O armor. This advanced material is soft and pliable when at rest but instantly stiffens upon impact to absorb energy.

I didn’t find the elbow or shoulder armor excessively bulky or restrictive.

It’s also great that Merlin included a back protector. Many jackets omit this crucial piece of safety gear to cut costs. The back protector pre-installed makes the Merlin Expedition ready for safe riding immediately.

Beyond the armor, the jacket meets CE Level A standards for road safety. The burly 12oz cotton shell withstands abrasion extremely well.

Based on my testing, the Merlin Expedition provides a very good level of protection for an urban and touring jacket.

Weather Protection

With its waxed cotton outer shell and waterproof liner, the Merlin Expedition provides excellent defense against wind and precipitation.

Throughout testing, I rode in light rain, heavier downpours, and on cold mornings with wind chill down to 40°F. The jacket kept me warm and dry in every condition.

The fixed cotton outer layer blocks wind effectively. Rain initially wets out the surface but soon beads up and sheds off while you ride.

For colder weather, the full removable thermal liner adds warmth. It connects via a zipper and sturdy Velcro strips to seal out drafts.

On warmer rides, I removed the liner and wore a t-shirt underneath. The waxed cotton remains windproof and provides good ventilation when opened up.

Overall, the Merlin Expedition keeps you comfortable across a wide range of riding conditions.

Storage and Features

The Merlin Expedition contains a well-designed set of internal and external storage pockets:

  • 1 interior breast pocket
  • 2 interior waist pockets
  • 2 standard side waist pockets
  • 1 chest map pocket
  • 1 internal wallet pocket
  • 1 lower right hip pocket
  • 1 left wrist pocket

The voluminous chest map pocket is ideal for stashing phones, wallets, or snacks for easy access on the go. I also made regular use of the dedicated internal wallet pocket behind the liner.

Small touches like the wrist pocket for ID or cash and the lower hip pocket expand the utility beyond ordinary jacket designs. The abundance of storage options makes keeping must-have items within reach easy.

Ventilation System

The Merlin Expedition incorporates vents across the chest, back, and sleeves to prevent overheating in warmer weather. These exhaust ports have two closure snaps each that allow you to regulate airflow:

  • 1 back vent
  • 2 chest vents
  • 2 bicep vents

I typically left the vents fully open in hot conditions and then snapped them shut to retain warmth as temperatures dropped. The front vents are conveniently placed for operating while riding.

The vented pockets also aid cooling by allowing air to flow completely through the jacket. Overall, the Expedition offers effective climate control that really extends the jacket’s seasonal versatility.

Styling & Details

In addition to its functionality, I also love the classic styling of the Merlin Expedition jacket:

  • The olive colorway has a vintage military look but avoids appearing overtly tactical.
  • Subtle branding on the sleeve retains the heritage vibe.
  • Antiqued brass snaps and zipper pulls add visual interest.
  • The corduroy collar provides a distinctive touch when flipped up.

The Expedition immediately stands out from the sea of generic black textile jackets on the market. Little flourishes like the snap-closure storm gusset on the sleeve cuff also demonstrate thoughtful design.

Overall, Merlin did an excellent job blending fashion and function in the Expedition. Protective and practical riding gear also looks great off the bike.

Final Verdict

After testing the Merlin Expedition jacket in real-world conditions, I can confidently recommend it as high-quality, versatile riding gear.

The premium waxed cotton shell provides exceptional weather protection and abrasion resistance. Clever storage solutions and venting options make the Expedition jacket practical for day-to-day use.

The entire package is beautifully designed with nice finishing details. Considering its fair pricing, the Merlin Expedition jacket delivers fantastic value.

It will be my new go-to jacket for general street and touring rides where I need serious protection without sacrificing comfort or style.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the fit like?

The Expedition has a relaxed, roomy fit. I’d recommend ordering your normal jacket size for a comfortable layered fit. Size down if you prefer a trimmer racing cut.

How heavy and bulky is it?

Despite the burly fabric, the Expedition doesn’t feel excessively heavy or stiff. The waxed cotton breaks in nicely. Weight and bulk are comparable to most textile jackets with armor.

How is the sizing?

The sizing runs true to size, in my experience. I typically take a medium in jackets, and the size medium Expedition fits me well. Refer to the size chart for detailed dimensions.

Can you wear it off the bike?

Absolutely! The vintage waxed cotton style looks great off the bike. It works well as a stylish outdoor jacket.

Does the wax finish need special care?

The waxed finish requires minimal maintenance. I wiped down with a damp cloth post-ride. Periodically re-applying wax treatment will maximize weather protection over time.


After thoroughly evaluating the Merlin Expedition jacket, it fully lives up to its billing as a premium waxed cotton motorcycle jacket.

The combination of protection, weather resistance, storage capacity, and comfort proved ideal for my daily commuting needs. While not inexpensive, the quality materials and construction easily justify the reasonable asking price.

Overall, the Expedition is an exceptionally well-rounded jacket that provides versatile four-season performance.

It quickly became my favorite daily riding jacket, and most riders looking for a protective heritage-styled jacket would be similarly pleased.

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