Merlin Outlaw D3O Explorer Review: Can It Handle Rain and Cold Weather?

I recently tested out the Merlin Outlaw D30 Explorer Smock, a 3-season cool weather riding jacket targeted at the ADV touring market. I was eager to see if this jacket could provide versatility for riding in changing climates.

Based out of the UK, Merlin gears their products towards wet, cooler environments typical of the European market.

Therefore, this is not a jacket meant for sweltering summers in the Mojave. Merlin Outlaw D30 Explorer Smock is designed with UK and European weather in mind.

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 Outlaw D3O Explorer


Key Takeaways

  • Cool-weather riding jacket
  • Waterproof and protective
  • Lacks ventilation for heat


I tested the Explorer Smock to reveal its performance in cool and wet riding conditions. Throughout this review, I uncover key factors like waterproofing, breathability, protection, comfort, and versatility.

I aim to highlight this jacket’s ideal uses so readers can determine if it meets their needs.

While I found the smock provides exceptional waterproofing and impact protection, it lacks ventilation for very hot environments.

Below, I dive deeper into the construction, features, and usage recommendations based on various riding contexts. I also compare the Merlin to similar options to understand where it shines.

By the end, you’ll know exactly how the Outlaw Explorer performs and whether it’s the right jacket for your cool-weather adventures.

Construction and Materials

The main shell uses Halley Stevenson’s ripstop wax cotton, providing a unique look and feel compared to standard textile motorcycle jackets.

I like the grid pattern of the ripstop as it prevents tears from spreading. The material feels tough while maintaining comfort against the skin.

Unlike a laminated jacket, the Merlin uses a separate HU Mex waterproof Z-liner on the interior to achieve waterproofing. During testing, it kept me bone dry even in heavy rainfall.

While not as breathable as high-end GoreTex, the HU Mex liner provides better moisture transfer than cheaper waterproof liners.

Armor and Safety

The Outlaw Explorer includes level 1 CE-rated D3O armor in the elbows and shoulders. This flexible, lightweight material hardens instantly upon impact to dissipate energy. While armor doesn’t cover the whole arm, it does provide important impact protection.

The back features a foam back protector, which many jackets lack. However, I wish Merlin offered a CE-level option for increased back protection.

3M Scotchlite reflective panels are strategically placed on the shoulders and back for visibility. Overall, the Outlaw provides excellent impact protection for the price point.

Comfort and Fit

I’m 6 feet tall, 200 pounds with a 42-inch chest, and the size large fit comfortably. The sleeves were long enough while allowing full arm movement. Based on the sizing chart, the Outlaw fits true to size.

The collar lays flat and avoids irritating the neck. I like the ability to unzip the collar fully for increased airflow when off the bike. The waist cinches down well, and the sleeves seal out moisture at the wrist.

While stretch panels or gussets would allow more flex, the ripstop wax cotton moves decently well. The included belt loops also let you connect the Outlaw to Merlin riding pants.

Merlin Men’s Jacket Sizing


Waterproof Storage

The left chest houses a waterproof vertical zipper pocket. Small items stay dry inside even when riding through downpours. Just ensure not to use the separate non-waterproof hand pockets on the sides for electronics or valuables.

With the waterproof pocket and the ability to seal out moisture, the Outlaw protects your gear from the elements. Quick-access pockets would be included on the exterior.

Ventilation and Breathability

Designed for cooler conditions, the Outlaw lacks direct vents to flow air through the jacket. It relies solely on the breathable liner to transfer moisture out. During real-world testing, things got steamy quickly when riding above 50°F.

The zippered underarm vents do help a small amount by promoting air circulation inside. I recommend wearing moisture-wicking base layers to aid evaporation. Lack of airflow prevents this from being a versatile 3-season jacket.

Versatility and Usage

The Merlin Outlaw Explorer Smock excels in cool, wet weather, where breathability takes a backseat to