Merlin Atlow textile jacket review

Merlin Atlow textile jacket

Overall SBS Rating 78 /100
Reviewed by: Alissa Potter
Review Conditions
Yamaha XT660R

Well done, Merlin. This is a sleek, quality, retro-styled jacket that looks and feels like it should cost double its price tag. Merlin have done a cracking job on the unisex Atlow and I love it.

I wore this jacket as I toured through Japan and it looked and felt perfect wherever I went – especially in downtown Tokyo where a lot of people commented on its style.

The jacket wasn’t just a coffee-shop-showpiece though, I put it through its paces when caught out in a mountain-top snowstorm and when riding through muggy gorges and along the warm coast.

There are a few things to note, but before we get to that, here’s what you need to know about the jacket.

The Atlow is a wax cotton jacket with a fixed waterproof membrane. You can’t see or touch the waterproof liner, so it’s not like one of those jackets that feel like a binbag against your skin if you remove the thermal lining. It does come with a removable tartan thermal liner; take that out and the material is still soft and plush.

The Atlow is peppered with pockets: four big poppered ones at the front, a small zipped one behind the top left pocket and another zipped one on the lower sleeve for a card or ticket. As well as a waterproof zipped pocket on the inside, useful handwarmers sit behind the two big lower pockets.

The pockets follow that classic heritage look, and so does the accompanying buckle belt. This is a unisex jacket, but the belt does a brilliant job of bringing the garment in at the waist for a more fitted look. When my partner, Andy, wore the jacket for a week of testing, he didn’t need to bring it in and just took the belt off in the end.

It’s not just the belt that helps with fitting though; popper adjustments on the upper and lower arm as well as on the base of the jacket help get the best fit. You can also tighten the neck strap (the collar has a lovely soft fleece material) and the cuffs have a zip and clip, which makes getting thicker gloves on easy peasy. Merlin have hit the nail on the head with fitment and style with the Atlow.

Aside from its good looks and sleek style points, let’s get back to its functionality. The Atlow is a three-quarter length jacket, made using waxed cotton with a fixed waterproof membrane. So, it was never going to be the ideal jacket for summer riding. It can be worn in the heat, but with no ventilation you’re going to start sweating as it gets hot. It’s also quite heavy, and while the wax cotton and waterproof liner combine to keep rain out, it can feel sodden and weighty after a soggy ride.

It’s a warm jacket, with an excellent fit and adjustability at the neck, wrist and waist to keep you toasty. It’s also supremely comfortable and despite being a waxy jacket, it doesn’t feel stiff in the slightest.

What I love most about this jacket is its style and functionality. At the time of review it was £250, but I’d believe you if you said it was £400! Merlin have put some serious effort into making the Atlow look ultra-cool, and done a brilliant job of backing it up with top-notch build quality and packing it with features.

Alissa and partner Andy are reviewing kit for SBS Mag while travelling around the world by Yamaha XT660R. Read more about their travels at

Textile jacket scores
  1. Fit & Comfort
  2. Protection
  3. Breathability
  4. Build Quality
  5. Features


    1. Breathable waterproof membrane
    2. Removable thermal liner
    3. Elbow/shoulder armour
    4. Ventilation zips
    5. Waterproof pockets
    6. Sleeve adjustment
    1. Connecting zip
    2. Back protector
    3. Storm collar
    4. Scotchlite

Fit & Comfort

19/ 20
For a male the jacket would be 20/20, for a female it’s so close to perfection, apart from it can feel a little tight on the hips.


17/ 20
Decent elbow and shoulder protection, but a shame it doesn’t come with a back protector as standard.


10/ 20
While the liner is billed as breathable, there’s no ventilation and it’s a heavy jacket, lowering the score on breathability.

Build quality

20/ 20
No signs of fraying, superb build quality.


12/ 20
Abundance of pockets, compression straps, belt, liners, excellent wax material, neck fastener, plush collar, waterproof inside pocket means top scores for features.