Merrell Kennebec Jacket Review

Merrell Kennebec Jacket Review

Hitting the slopes, or hitting the town?  How about hitting the slopes and then hitting the town?  Merrell’s Kennebec Jacket will save you the trouble of stopping home to change first.

Merrell Kennebec JacketFeatures:

  • Two color options: Basalt Heather (pictured) or Ink Heather
  • 2-layer Opti-Shell waterproof, breathable exterior fabric
  • Opti-Warm lightweight, low-bulk synthetic insulation
  • Fully taped seams
  • Extended quick-dry cuff with thumbholes
  • Mesh back panel for heat and moisture regulation
  • Velcro cuff adjustments
  • Insulated, contoured hood
  • Interior security media pocket
  • Removable powder skirt
  • Waterproof reverse coil zip chest and hand pockets
  • Drawcord adjustable hem
  • 32” center back length (size large)
  • MSRP $229
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Opti-Shell fabric keeps you dry

My Experience

One of Merrell’s trademarks is making high-performance outdoor apparel that is stylish enough to wear for casual or professional use, and that characteristic is fully on display with the Kennebec jacket.  It’s built for playing hard in the snow, but looks just as appropriate for wearing to church or to work on nasty winter days.

Performance benefits come from Merrell’s proprietary fabric technology.  On the outside is Opti-Shell exterior fabric that keeps you dry even in a heavy downpour – I’ve done a lot of this kind of testing over the past few rainy weeks – but is breatheable enough to prevent overheating when the sun comes out.  The inside features low-bulk Opti-Warm insulation, at a higher density through the trunk (100g) than the sleeves (80g).

Thin insulation results in a jacket that isn’t as bulky as a typical winter coat, but just as effective at keeping you warm.  For aerobic activity, a single base layer is all you need to stay comfortable with temps in the low 30s, and for less active outings, a midlayer underneath will keep you comfortable well into the night.  It’s easy to layer with the Kennebec, thanks to taffeta-lined sleeves that help your arms glide smoothly into the jacket without catching or bunching up.

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Extended wrist cuffs with thumbholes

One of my favorite features is the extended cuffs made of a very soft quick-dry polyester fabric.  The cuffs can be worn underneath heavy gloves to seal out snow and cold, or over the top of thin gloves or bare skin if you just need a bit of extra warmth.  Anecdotally, they also come in handy for gripping cold steering wheels before the car’s heater kicks in.

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interior mesh pocket, snap and elastic snow skirt, taffeta interior lining

Merrell packed the Kennebec with a lot of other thoughtful features such as pit zips, a mesh back panel, interior mesh pockets, and interior and exterior chest pockets that are perfect for stashing wallets, phones, or sunglasses.  Around the waist, an elastic removable powder skirt can be snapped for a snug fit which helps prevent snow intrusion in the event of wipeouts, or it can be snapped back onto itself for a looser fit.

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The Kennebec’s hood uses the same soft interior fabric as the rest of the jacket, and feels very comfortable against your face.  It’s cut roomy enough to be worn over a thin helmet, but for everyday “off-slope” use it may seem a little too big, especially for the superior (above eye level) field of vision.

The Good:

  • Attractive styling for casual use
  • Strong insulation without major bulk
  • Extra protection from cold or snow at wrists, waist, and collar
  • Ample pocket storage

The Bad:

  • Limited color options
  • Some adjustability of hood fit (drawstring or otherwise) would be nice

The Bottom Line

Whether you use it for performance activity or casual use, Merrell’s Kennebec is a jacket that’s effectively able to do it all in winter conditions.  It also provides the added benefit of making you look good while doing it.

Buy Now: Available at MooseJaw.com

Written By

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.