How to choose a Merlin Waxed Cotton Jacket

How to choose a Merlin Waxed Cotton jacket

Choosing a new motorcycle jacket can be a daunting task. With so many materials and features to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to begin.

Waxed cotton is becoming an increasingly popular choice and it has many benefits. Aside from the fact that it oozes retro cool, it’s also highly durable, abrasion resistant and protective. Wax has moved on since the 70s, and, to paraphrase Jim Blackstock’s review of our Edale jacket in Motorcycle News  waxed cotton is no longer reserved for farmers in tweed caps.

We have a selection of waxed cotton bike jackets in our range across two collections, but when you’re so spoilt for choice how do you choose between them? We’re here to help…

The collections explained

Our wax jackets sit across two collections – Traditional Wax and Tech Wax.

The Traditional Wax range (Barton II, Yoxall II, Expedition and the new Monty jacket) are all made from Halley Stevensons 12oz Silkwax cotton. Silkwax is a little more reminiscent of the traditional waxes of yore, in that it’s heavier in weight and has the slightly sticky to wet feel you might expect. 

Halley Stevensons 12oz Silkwax up close
If you look closely at a 12oz Silkwax jacket, you can see that the weave is tightly knit. This gives the high water repellency and wind-roofing

In our Tech Wax range, all the jackets (and the Lombard trousers, too) are made from Halley Stevensons 8oz Cotec waxed cotton. Cotec was designed by Merlin in collaboration with Halley Stevensons, so you won’t see it used by any other brand.

Halley Stevensons 8oz Cotec up close
When you look closely at 8oz Cotec, you can see that the weave is slightly looser. This makes jackets made of Cotec more breathable and better for summer

As the ounces suggest Cotec is lighter in weight which makes it more breathable, but it’s also stronger too, achieving an ‘AA’ rating in the EN17092 tests as opposed to the single ‘A’ of our traditional range. In addition, Cotec has a less sticky to wet feel, but keeps the heritage wax aesthetic. 

Take a look at the graphic below which compares the features of both waxes.

A comparison table of 12oz Silkwax waxed cotton and 8oz Cotec waxed cotton

All lined up

All our wax jackets, no matter which range they sit in, come with thermal linings. The exceptions to this are Chigwell Lite and Shenstone Air, which we’ll come to later on.

In the Traditional Wax range, the thermal linings come in two guises. The first, which you’ll find in the Barton II and Yoxall II jackets, is a 150g full-bodied liner. 150g is the warmest of our thermal linings, and being full-bodied means you’ll benefit from the warmth all down the sleeves too, where a lot of thermal linings only cover the torso as a gilet.

The second type is a combined waterproof and thermal lining. This is one weatherproof inner layer, which brings together a 125g thermal liner and waterproof membrane, and is found in our Expedition and Monty jackets.

Merlin Outlast technology in a thermal liner
Some of our Tech Wax jackets use the NASA-worthy Outlast temperature regulating technology in their thermal linings

Our Tech Wax range carries the same principle. In the Chigwell Utility and Nomad jackets, the 125g thermal linings are bonded to the Reissa waterproofing. 

But in Edale, Kurkbury and Perton things are kicked up a gear. These three jackets use the space-worthy Outlast in their thermal linings. Outlast is super clever – it essentially stores excess body heat as it’s kicked out, and releases it when your body temperature starts to drop, keeping you permanently in a comfortable state of toastiness.

Whichever wax jacket of ours you choose, you can ride assured that you’ll be perfectly protected from whatever the weather throws at you.

Merlin Shenstone Air jacket in Olive
The Shenstone Air jacket has a waterproof membrane with no thermal lining. A storm flap stops rain water seeping through the zip, as shown above

Chigwell Lite and Shenstone Air are the only exceptions to the rule. Suited for summer riding, Chigwell Lite is liner-free with a mostly mesh construction, so you’ll get stacks of cool air flowing around your body on warmer rides.

Shenstone Air is great if you live in a changeable climate. Its mesh front, arms and back keep cool air circulating but a Reissa waterproof membrane can be zipped in and out as required, but the lack of thermal lining makes Shenstone not such a great option in colder temperatures.

Reaching new lengths

Both of our ranges have a variety of lengths to suit every style of riding. 

In our Tech Wax range, there are some shorter options – Chigwell Lite, Chigwell Utility, Nomad, Perton and Shenstone Air all have the typical shorter sports cut. 

Edale is a little longer as it sits around the hip while Kurkbury rests just below the hip. 

In the Traditional Wax range, Barton II is the shortest, followed by Expedition with Monty and Yoxall II being the longest.

Of course, it’s entirely up to you on which length you prefer. All jackets have connection zips to attach them to jeans, so whichever length you choose you can be confident there won’t be any risk of draft sneaking up your back.

Style without compromise

Protection is key when choosing a bike jacket, but we all like to look good too. In fact, Merlin prides itself on creating high-quality, technical garments that look just as at home off the bike as they do on it.

If you like the traditional waxed jacket look of the 70s, then the Kurkbury is a great option with its timeless style complemented by an adjustable waist belt.

However, if you’re looking for the classic quilted style, Edale has the heritage staple across the chest, shoulders and elbows. 

Brass finished Merlin branded snap studs
Brass finished Merlin-branded snap studs are used throughout the Heritage range

If you want something with the traditional wax look minus the fuss, then Perton is perfect. Apart from a small panel at the back of the jacket, Perton has no diamond quilting, but remains in keeping with the heritage range.

Within the Traditional Wax range, all the jackets feature diamond stitched quilting with the exception of Monty and Expedition. These are in our Explorer range, which puts a heritage twist on traditionally-styled adventure gear.

All our jackets come with the antique Merlin branded snap-studs and brass finishings.

A wax jacket isn’t just for Christmas

If you look after your wax jacket, it will look after you and last for many years.

Typically, a 12oz Silkwax jacket will require more regular maintenance. Due to the enhanced wax content in these jackets, you may find that bits of fluff and dust stick to them easier. But don’t let that put you off, it couldn’t be easier to clean it up. A quick, light brush with a cold damp cloth will get those bits right off. 

As the 8oz Cotec jackets have less wax content, they don’t have the same slightly sticky handle as Silkwax. So, bits won’t stick to them as easily but you should still wipe them down every now and again to keep them looking factory fresh.

When you notice that rainwater is beginning to soak into the wax rather than bead off it, it’s time to rewax. If it’s only happening in smaller areas, you could get away with using the 50ml wax dressing, but if you’re doing the whole jacket, you’ll need the 200ml.

And now, for the most important part. Please, please, please don’t throw your waxed cotton jacket (be it Cotec or Silkwax) in the washing machine. There’s a host of care advice on our website to help you, or if you can’t find the answer you’re looking for then please contact us.


Okay, waxed cotton expert. Now you know everything you need to know about our waxed cotton ranges. So go forth and find your nearest stockist – it’ll be the best decision you’ll ever make.


Published on 15 April, 2022 by Emily Macbeth