Sometimes fall has a colder-than-expected bite, and winter temperatures arrive a couple of months before we’re ready to give up trail exploration.  Merrell’s Crestbound Stealth is designed to provide winter-appropriate warmth with autumn’s compulsion to stay out in the elements.

Merrill Crestbound Stealth Features:

  • Shell: 100% polyester M-Select XDry waterproof
  • Herringbone texture exterior
  • Durable Water Resistant (DWR) finish
  • Insulation: Thinsulate Platinum 100g
  • Fully seam-sealed
  • Interior zip-secure chest pocket
  • Interior sweater fleece back panel
  • Hanging adjustable hood with collar
  • Chest pockets with hidden snap closure
  • Velcro adjustable cuffs
  • Waterproof taped zippers
  • 12” pit zippers
  • regular fit
  • Center back length 32” (size L)
  • Two color options
  • MSRP $259

merrell crestbound stealth jacket

Crestbound Stealth Jacket is Both Technical and Casual

The Crestbound Stealth is the heaviest and toughest of Merrell’s fall hiking jackets in 2014.  Its primary functional intent is cold-weather camping and hiking, but in true Merrell fashion, it is also stylish enough to wear as an everyday jacket in casual or even workplace settings.

merell crestbound stealth outdoor

Before setting up camp in the High Sierra

We’ve been using the Crestbound Stealth as a day-to-day jacket since late September, and most of our cold weather trail/camp testing took place in the High Sierra in late October and early November, with nighttime temps dipping into the 30s.  While the jacket proved very capable in both casual and active capacities, our verdict is that it’s probably better suited for casual use than for dedicated trail use, for reasons we’ll explain shortly.

Of course, calling this jacket a casual garment doesn’t mean it’s a sissy.  In fact, the Crestbound Stealth does an outstanding job of maintaining warmth and resisting the elements, and the exterior shell is tough enough to resist all variety of scrapes and pokes and scratches.  Warmth is provided via 100g Thinsulate Platinum insulation on the interior, as well as an elastic hem cord and Velcro adjustable cuffs.

On the exterior surface, Merrell uses its proprietary M-Select XDry fabric, which is a thin waterproof layer that blocks wind and precipitation from the outside while also allowing air permeability from the inside.  As with other waterproof/breatheable fabrics, XDry is far more effective at blocking water than it is at breathing, so the Crestbound Stealth also has large pit zippers on either side to help with thermoregulation during aerobic outings.

merrell crestbound stealth hood

Insulated hood interior; elastic drawcord; herringbone exterior fabric

Fabric construction in the hood is exactly the same as the rest of the jacket, including the same interior insulation that keeps your head as warm as the rest of your body.  The hood has elastic adjustment cords on either side of the neck as well as the back of the head to keep it secured in place.  The brim falls a little bit low over the eyes if the cords aren’t engaged, but once the right tension is established you don’t have to mess with it anymore.

merrell crestbound stealth profile

Although the Crestbound Stealth is built to handle the worst elements, it rides a bit too heavy and bulky to be a dedicated cold-weather hiking or backpacking jacket, especially if you’re trying to travel light.  It weighs in at just over 2 pounds, and the padding feels too thick for anything but slow-pace hiking, particularly when the jacket is worn under a day pack.  One other construction quirk is that when the pit zips are fully shut, they protrude uncomfortably into the armpit area every now and then.

Fortunately, Merrell’s classic styling is in abundance with the Crestbound Stealth, which makes for easy transitions from casual to more sophisticated settings.   As an everyday piece, this could easily become a very stylish one-jacket-does-all component of your fall or winter wardrobe.

merrell crestbound stealth rear

The Good

  • Great weather resistance and insulation
  • Rugged, durable exterior fabric
  • Stylish for outdoors or casual use

The Bad

  • Too bulky for aerobic activity or long hikes

Bottom Line: Merrell Crestbound Stealth jacket

Earning high marks for style and weather resistance, the Crestbound Stealth is a fashionable jacket that’s equipped to handle harsh conditions.  For dedicated hiking or outdoor activity, something lighter and leaner would be more to your liking.

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About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

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