Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket Review Summary
The Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket includes waterproof and thermal liners, D3O CE Level 1 armor in the shoulders, elbows, back, and chest, and excellent ventilation. If you want a jacket with comfort, protection, and build quality, plus great retro styling, check out the Mahala Pro D3O Explorer.
Retro Waxed Cotton Styling
D3O CE Level 1 Armor on Shoulders, Elbows, Back, and Chest
Waterproofing liner included
Thermal liner included
Only Level 1 Armor
It is Heavy
Hot for Mid-summer due to weight
No reflective elements
No short or tall options
Waterproof liner ‘sticky’ inside
Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket Image Gallery
Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket: All-Weather Comfort with Waterproof and Thermal Liners
When asked to review the Merlin Mahal Mahala Pro Explorer Jacket and Pants, I took one look at the retro wax cotton styling and jumped at the chance to review it. The Merlin pair is retro styling with plenty of hidden technology. Last year, I reviewed the Richa Brutus GTX Jacket and Pants. I would define them as technology-laden. It will be interesting to see how the two different styling approaches match up.
The Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket is a stylish multi-season textile motorcycle adventure jacket for around $580. It features a Reissa waterproof liner, a thermal liner, mesh panels for ventilation, and D3O CE Level 1 protection at the shoulders, elbows, back, and chest.
I tested the jacket on an adventure/touring bike (Husqvarna Norden 901).
I received the jacket in May, which is ideal for testing a jacket that includes a waterproof and thermal layer.
Five passionate and experienced riders formed Merlin. From a small barn conversion in the British heart of automotive manufacturing, Merlin launched its first collection in 2012.
Merlin’s goal from the outset came from personal experiences, wanting to break the norm and ultimately redefining what was possible at price points reachable for the everyday rider.
Today this core goal remains but has developed into rider focussed collections where, no matter your riding style.
I would like to thank Revzilla for providing the opportunity to review the Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket.
Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket Features
The Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket has excellent styling but comes loaded with weather, impact, and abrasion protection.
- Cordura® cotton outer with water-repellent finish
- 3-in-1 interchangeable waterproof and thermal liners
- Mesh panels at the chest for added ventilation
- Accordion stretch panels
- Multiple pockets
- Adjustable fit
- D3O L1 protection at shoulders, elbows, back, and chest
For a complete list of features, visit Merlin’s product page.
First Impressions of the Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket
My first impression was that the jacket had nice traditional styling. I liked the flat green with a black accent color and subtle branding. Upon taking the jacket from the box, my next thought was that it was pretty hefty (more on that later). After slipping the jacket on, it had an excellent fit and finish with plenty of adjustability. The styling is the thing that popped for me.
Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket Construction
The outer shell uses a Merlin-exclusive Cordura cotton fabric. This construction allows for a CE AA abrasion-resistant jacket.
- 80% Cotton Cordura
- 19% Polyester
- 1% Polyurethane
Nylon mesh lines the interior throughout for increased airflow and comfort.
The collar features soft neoprene-type fabric and neck bead to minimize chafing and add comfort. In addition, the collar has a dome snap to attach to the opposite side for a secure fit. A small loop on the tab end, combined with a hook on the collar, allows the collar to be folded back. Also, the collar tab is connected to the main zipper lapel with a wedge of stretch fabric for even further comfort.
There are six pockets on the outer shell plus 2 in the interior:
- 6 Exterior
- Two large cargo-style pockets on the front. These have a dual snap closure with a rolled top for waterproofing.
- Two slash pockets behind the cargo pockets with a magnetic closure.
- One large pocket on the lower back. Again, with a dual snap closure and rolled top for waterproofing.
- One small pocket on the left outer bicep with a flap and snap closure
- Interior: Two large pockets, one with a zipper and the other with a velcro tab closure
- Thermal Liner: One interior pocket with a velcro tab closure
I found the front cargo-style pockets awkward to get my hand inside. An extended zipper may have been helpful.
In a word, none. As mentioned previously, this jacket is mainly about style. Reflective strips and other elements don’t match that aesthetic.
Lack of branding is almost nonexistent in today’s market. The ‘Merlin’ name is embroidered on the collar. The Merlin appears on the domed snaps. Cordura and D3O labeling is also displayed.
The branding on the Merlin jacket is exceptionally subtle. Nicely done!
The main zipper is large and has a glove-friendly pull tab. Additional zippers can be found on the following:
- Waterproof and thermal liner
- A short and 360 connection between the jacket and pants.
All the zippers are YKK and worked smoothly.
The Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket is available in Black and Olive/Black.
Waterproof Inner Liner
The Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer uses a Reissa liner. The liner attaches with a single full-length zipper starting at the waist, continuing around the collar, and back down to the waist on the other side. There is also a small zipper on each cuff.
The liner can be zipped into the outer shell alone or with the thermal liner.
Thermal Inner Liner
The Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer also includes a thermal liner. The liner attaches to the outer shell or waterproof liner with a full-length zipper and zippers at the cuff.
The liner includes an additional internal pocket.
Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket Overall Build Quality
The following is the sizing chart from Revzilla
Merlin Men’s Jacket Sizing
|SIZE||CHEST (IN)||WAIST (IN)|
Sizing information is provided by the manufacturer and does not guarantee a perfect fit.
I wear an XL or 2XL for most jackets. At the time of the order, I was 6’3′′ tall with a 48” chest. The Merlin chart put me in a size 3XL. I am now closer to 46-47 inches and have a lot of room. A 2XL would likely have been a better fit. Adding the thermal liner takes up some of the excess space.
There are no short or tall options available.
I found the jacket to be very comfortable. In addition, the two liners provide waterproofing and warmth to expand the temperature range. The neoprene-edged collar also allowed neck comfort.
The Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket has a few features to help adjust its fit:
- Adjustable straps on each side near the waist
- Expansion zipper at the hip
- Adjustable straps at the biceps and forearms
- Zippers at the cuff
- Velcro tabs at the wrists
- Accordion stretch panels at the elbows and shoulder blades
The cuff adjustment allows for an easy fit into a glove with large gauntlets and opens wide enough to put the top of your gloves inside if desired.
Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket Functionality
The Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer uses a REISSA Power-Skin liner. According to the textile manufacturer’s website, REISSA is a composite material with high sensitivity to changing weather conditions, and it is an advanced textile with a highly developed specific polyurethane resin coating or membrane.
The outer shell has a DWR coating to repel rain and a full-length storm flap covering the main zipper.
The cuff has a large enough opening to wear gloves inside the sleeve. This is my preferred setup when riding in the rain.
I do a rain test on any gear claiming to be waterproof. This test could be done by either riding in the rain (preferred) or spraying myself with a hose. In this case, with rain in the forecast, I headed out on a 1-hour ride. I did not include the thermal liner to ensure I could feel if any rain made its way through. Also, I wore a long sleeve base layer that would show any wet spots.
The Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer worked well but could have been better. In a steady rain, I had minimal leakage from the vents on the arms. Also, the main jacket absorbed some rain and added to an already heavy jacket. The jacket weighed 7.5 pounds dry and 10.4 pounds wet. After hanging the jacket overnight to dry, the jacket was still damp the following day.
The sheets of paper towels I inserted in each front roll top pocket remained dry. Although the pockets are on the outside of the waterproof liner, the vinyl lining and roll-top did the job during my limited testing.
On one occasion, I wore a short sleeve t-shirt with just the waterproof liner installed. I found the liner to be a bit sticky against my skin.
I would conclude that the Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer will keep dry in light rain.
The Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket has built-in mesh panels on the chest and zippered vents on the arms and back.
The large chest panels open easily with vertical zippers and horizontal velcro. After opening the zipper, simply fold the flap back at an angle, and the panel is held open with snaps. The large opening allows more airflow as compared to just opening the zipper.
The arm and back vents offer a zipper backed by mesh.
I was able to use the Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket in many weather conditions, from 3 C (37 F) (in combination with the waterproof and thermal liners) to 30 C (86 F). Although the vents worked great when moving, in traffic, the heavy weight of the jacket made for a hot ride. But, the jacket flows air very well when moving.
I always wear a jacket while riding and tend to run hot naturally. So I think the Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket would work great in all but the hottest conditions or stop-and-go traffic.
The Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket offers several layers of protection:
- Outer shell made of Cordura cotton fabric
- D3O CE Level 1 protection in shoulders, elbows, back, and chest.
The shoulders and elbows use smaller Type A sizes, while the back and chest use Type B full coverage. It would be nice to see Type B on all pieces, especially larger sized jackets.
Many jackets today do not include back protection. A big thumbs up to Merlin for not only including D3O back protection and two-piece chest protection. Well done!
Also, D3O is a leader in motorcycle impact protection. All of the armor in the Mahala Pro D3O Explorer is from D3O. As you can see, it’s in the name!
If you want to geek out a little (maybe, in this case, a lot), check out D3O.
EN17092-4:2020 is a standards document specifying general requirements for CE certification. The standard includes but is not limited to impaction, abrasion resistance, tear strength, seam strength, and dimensional stability.
- Classification AAA: The highest level
- Classification AA: More suited to touring gear
- Classification A: Deemed suitable for urban riding
- Classification B is similar to A, but impact protectors are not required
- Classification C covers garments such as the mesh under-suits that have impact protection for off-road riding
The types of armor used in this jacket are:
- Shoulder Certified (EN 1621-1:2012; S Type A; Protection level: 1 )
- Elbow Certified (EN 1621-1:2012; E Type A; Protection level: 1 )
- Back Certified (EN 1621-2:2014; FB Type B; Protection level: 1)
- Chest Certified (EN 1621-3:2018; DC Type B; Protection level: 1)
EN1621-1 is a Certification Standard for Shoulders, Elbows, and Knees. Protector Style S = Shoulder, E = Elbow, K = Knee, FB = Full Back DC = Divided Chest. Type A has smaller dimensions, and Protection Level 1 offers lower protection than Level 2).
Merlin has a great webpage describing their approach to CE Certification.
Care for a waxed cotton fabric can be more involved than other materials. Here are some general guidelines:
- Lightly brush off any dirt or soil; if necessary, use a cold, damp cloth to wipe down the jacket. Clean your jacket regularly to maintain its appearance but go easy, as the wax will be removed. Dried mud, sand, or grit are abrasive to the wax, especially along inner sleeve seams, which is why brushing it off regularly is recommended.
- Re-wax the jacket when it loses its waxed appearance/finish, and water stops beading and soaks into the cotton. Purchase a waxed cotton dressing tin from several online retailers and heat the tin of reproofing wax so that it becomes pliable and easy to apply. You can place the tin into a pan of hot water and warm it gently. Evenly apply the wax with a lint-free cloth, paying attention to seams.
- Allow the wax to settle and dry slightly and remove any excess build-up. Use a hairdryer to melt the wax into the jacket- allowing an even spread of wax. Allow the jacket to dry in a well-ventilated area for 24 hours.
- Do not machine wash or tumble dry. Do not iron. Do not wipe with hot water. Avoid soap and detergents unless the garment is particularly dirty, and you need to get rid of these dirt/gnat marks before re-waxing.
Here are the attached instructions for the jacket:
For details, please visit Merlin Washing Instructions
All Merlin products carry a 12-month guarantee from the date of purchase against manufacturing defects. The product must be purchased through a Merlin authorized/approved retailer. Register your purchase on the Merlin website if you wish to extend your guarantee by a further 12 months. By registering through the form, you activate an additional 12 months of warranty (from date of purchase and registration) free (excludes accessories). You must register within a month of purchase and retain a receipt/proof of purchase for any claims.
For details, please visit Merlin Warranty.
Final Thoughts on the Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket
I received the Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket in early May, it is now late June, and I have used it on almost every ride this spring. And I am torn on my opinions about this jacket.
On the one hand, I love the retro styling, build quality, subtle branding, ventilation, and impact/abrasion protection.
On the other hand, I am not so enamored with heavy weight, water retention (the jacket, not me), and lack of reflective elements.
It comes down to the use case.
I will not use the Mahala Pro for multi-day rides with questionable weather conditions. I don’t think it fits the scenario for active adventure riding. In both cases, the weight, especially when wet, would be a hindrance.
I will use the Mahala Pro for day rides when the forecast does not call for rain or high temperatures. This usually is the type of riding we do for my riding group and me, and the Malaha Pro works perfectly.
I mentioned in the introduction that I reviewed the Richa Brutus GTX jacket last season. As a comparison, I would use that jacket in all the above scenarios. But I don’t think I would look as good doing it.
If you want subtle retro styling, comfort, multi-season weather protection, and D3O CE Level 1 protection everywhere, check out the Merlin Mahala Pro D3O Explorer Jacket. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
- Retro Waxed Cotton Styling
- Multi-season flexibility
- Excellent Ventilation
- D3O CE Level 1 Armor on Shoulders, Elbows, Back, and Chest
- Waterproofing liner included
- Thermal liner included
- Only Level 1 Armor
- It is Heavy
- Hot for Mid-summer due to weight
- No reflective elements
- No short or tall options
- Waterproof liner ‘sticky’ inside
- Manufacturer: Merlin
- Price: (When Tested) $579 USD
- Made In: Pakistan
- Colors: Black and Olive/Black (tested).
- Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL, 4XL, 5XL.
- Review Period: May – June 2023
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