Testing the Versatile Merlin Shenstone Air D3O Jacket

With summer weather arriving, I was on the hunt for a lightweight, highly breathable motorcycle jacket that could keep me cool while riding.

Merlin recently released the Shinstone Air D3O jacket, which claims to have “exceptional airflow” and mesh ventilation while still providing impact protection.

But does the Shinstone Air D3O deliver on its promises of cooling, comfort, and protection? Let’s take a closer look at how this jacket performs in real-world riding conditions. Is it the best ultimate warm-weather companion?

Merlin Shinstone Air D3O

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Key Takeaways

  • Generous fit allows mobility
  • Exceptional airflow from mesh
  • Includes useful waterproof liner

A Generous Fit for American Riders

One of my first impressions was that the Shenstone Air runs generously large, especially in the chest and arms. I’m 6’0″ and 180 lbs with a 40″ chest, and the size large jacket fit me perfectly.

According to the size chart, I should have worn an extra large, but sizing down gave a comfortable, snug fit. This is typical for Merlin jackets, which suit American body types well.

My riding buddy Pat, who is 220 lbs and 5’11” with a 44″ chest, also wore a size large, and it fit him spot on without restricting movement.

While the size chart may point you toward a larger size, I recommend trying a smaller size if you’re near the cusp. As long as you have full mobility and the armor stays put, the Merlin’s generous fit allows good airflow.

Ventilation Fit for the Dog Days of Summer

Without a doubt, exceptional ventilation is the Shenstone Air’s defining feature. The jacket is constructed from extremely lightweight and highly breathable fabric.

On initial inspection, I was amazed by the sheer amount of perforated mesh fabric – this jacket is made to flow maximum air.

The mesh ventilation starts on the shoulders and upper chest and extends all the way down the sleeves and torso.

Typically, hot spots like the inner arms and back panel are also amply vented. The collar was a bit thick and warm against the neck; otherwise, airflow was free and open.

During testing in 85+ degree summer heat, I stayed remarkably cool and comfortable even at highway speeds.

The generous mesh ventilation enabled air to penetrate the jacket easily, making it feel much lighter than typical textile jackets.

The mesh pockets do partially block airflow across the chest, but I’ll gladly sacrifice a little cooling for pocket storage.

For riders in hot climates or those who run hot, the Shenstone Air is one of the most breathable warm-weather motorcycle jackets I’ve ever tested.

D3O Armor for Impact Protection

While airflow is the priority, Merlin didn’t neglect protection by including removable D3O armor in the shoulders, elbows, and back. This advanced impact-absorbing material is soft and pliable until impact forces cause it to stiffen to absorb energy instantly.

I was glad to see CE Level 1 armor at the back since many vented jackets skip this crucial impact zone. The elbow and shoulder armor effectively covers the entire joint while allowing good movement. And if you need to remove the armor for washing the jacket, it’s easily extractable.

The outer shell is also reinforced with tough Dupont Kevlar fiber to resist abrasion without restricting airflow. And the wax coating adds an extra layer of water repellency during summer showers.

So, despite the lightweight feel, the Shenstone Air still includes the essential protective features I look for. The armor offers ample impact protection, while the abrasion reinforcements boost durability.

Weather Protection Thanks to a Waterproof Liner

One of the jacket’s best features is the waterproof REISA liner that comes included. It attaches securely using an internal zipper and snap system to create a completely waterproof inner layer.

During testing, I rode through several downpours with the liner installed and remained 100% dry underneath.

The liner does add warmth, so I typically only install it when rain is imminent. But it’s invaluable for quickly converting the jacket into a fully weatherproof shell.

Removable insulating liners are common these days, but it’s less common for summer mesh jackets to include a waterproof liner. Having this layered versatility helps justify the Shenstone Air’s $349 price tag.

Ideal Usage for This Jacket

After extensive testing, I would recommend the Shenstone Air D3O jacket for:

  • Riders in hot, humid climates who want maximum airflow.
  • Riders who don’t want to sacrifice protection for cooling.
  • Short commutes and urban riding where abrasion resistance is less critical.
  • Occasional canyon carving or longer trips when paired with the waterproof liner.

The exceptional ventilation makes this jacket ideal for high-heat areas where most jackets would be overbearing. Since it includes solid armor without excessive weight, it also adapts well to around-town riding.

Due to the armor and Kevlar reinforcements, the Shenstone provides ample protection for most riding applications.

However, I would choose a jacket with stronger abrasion panels for frequent high-speed canyon or highway riding where abrasion resistance is paramount.

Finally, the jacket is versatile enough for long-distance trips when paired with the waterproof liner and base layers for colder weather. But the vented mesh construction makes it best suited for warm conditions.

Test Results Summary

Here are the results from my testing across various criteria:

CriteriaRatingNotes
VentilationExcellentMesh airflow is exceptional
Fit and ComfortVery GoodGenerous but allows good mobility
Armor ProtectionVery GoodD3O armor in main impact zones
Abrasion ResistanceGood