Fleece layers fall into that unusual purgatory between utility and luxurious. In all however the coldest situations, it may be exhausting to justify the extra weight and bulk in your pack. Nevertheless, they’re nice as beater layers to abuse as a substitute of that delicate puffy jacket. You may hike, sweat, and spill meals in them with out risking their efficiency. They get moist, poked, and scratched, but they only preserve going. Within the Senchi Merlin, you get all of this, simply with out the load and bulk.

Stripped down and filled with fishnet-like holes, the Merlin is as near nothing as a fleece can get, nearly. It guarantees supreme versatility and performance, whereas additionally being hip in that hard-to-get type of method. Even when you’ve heard of the Senchi, then you definately in all probability haven’t seen any of their stuff earlier than. That’s the place I used to be, so I jumped on the chance to check out this fleece when it fluttered my method. Might this factor change my view of the standard fleece? That’s what I hoped to seek out out.

READ NEXT — The Finest Fleece Midlayers for Via-Mountain climbing

Senchi Merlin Alpha 120 Hoodie At-a-Look

The Senchi Merlin is a extremely light-weight and tremendous yellow fleece. I believe that it actually completes my fashionable ensemble.

MSRP: $115
Weight: 6.6 ounces (dimension small)
Kind: Light-weight, breathable fleece
Materials: Polartec Alpha Direct 120 insulation (63% recycled polyester, Bluesign licensed)
Options: 1/2 zip, hood, kangaroo pocket
Sizes: Unisex match, XS-3XL
Nation of origin: Made within the USA

Supposed Use

The Senchi Merlin represents a light-weight avenue to boosting heat in chilly situations the place a puffy is likely to be too scorching and a shirt simply ain’t slicing it. The premier breathability of the Polartec Alpha Direct material helps this fleece keep related throughout a variety of exercise ranges, from layering in camp to steaming up a cold climb. When you would possibly get away with carrying this as your solely heat layer in sure situations, the Merlin is finest suited as a cold-weather complement to an current three-season layering system. Mix it with a wind or rain shell, and also you’ll be making toast very quickly.

Circumstances of Assessment

I wore the Merlin from organising camp on the finish of the day till I began sweating the following day. It was lounger and hiker.

It’s been a scorching summer time, however I used to be stoked to carry my Bigbird yellow Merlin with me on a 6-day traverse of the CDT’s Collegiate West within the Colorado Rockies. We spent loads of time above 12,000ft, which was ultimate for locating cooler air and testing the capabilities of this fleece. I’ve worn it in a variety of situations, preserving it on past after I would sometimes strip so as to take a look at the moisture administration and breathability.

I additionally used it in lieu of my puffy as a lot as doable to push its decrease temperature limits. I slept in it, ate in it, and hiked in it. It may not be a full thru-hike of testing, however my fleece positive is pungent. That’s gotta rely for one thing.

Senchi Merlin Hoodie Options

The 1/2 zip and kangaroo pocket are in full view. Each are good options of the Merlin.

Alpha Direct 120: The large story with the Merlin is the Polartec material. The Alpha Direct 120 is extremely light-weight and upon shut inspection, it’s simple to see why. It appears fluffy from a distance, however transfer nearer and it’s exhausting to grasp what’s happening. This material is fluffy, however it’s also extremely porous. You may see by means of it fairly simply. Very easy, really. Bizarre.

Zip: The 1/2 zip on the Merlin is nice for dumping extra warmth. It’s exhausting to think about Alpha Direct holding an excessive amount of heat with all these holes in it, however the Merlin is toasty. The zipper helps prolong the comfy exertion/temperature vary of this factor, which is fairly candy for a lazy layerer like me.

Kangaroo pocket: I favor full-length zippers for max venting and flexibility (and I’m fairly good at getting twisted up in my pull-over layers too), however not less than the Merlin trades this for an superior kangaroo pocket. Honest commerce. It’s not tremendous safe, nevertheless it’s a fantastic spot for a telephone, water filter, or hanging your digits round camp. It’s additionally completely positioned to stay helpful when sporting a hip belt. Yep, that’s dope.

Senchi bag: Senchi features a zippered mesh bag with all Alpha fleece purchases. That is supposed to scale back microplastic air pollution and defend the garment throughout wash cycles. That’s cool, sensible, and accountable. And at lower than an oz., it may serve double responsibility as your path ditty.

Trim match: The unisex sizing corresponds roughly to straightforward males’s sizes. That mentioned, the Merlin undoubtedly falls on the “trim” facet of the match spectrum. I put on a males’s small in all the things fairly comfortably, and this fleece is correct at my smaller restrict. This makes it energetic layer, however I’ve zero house beneath for something in addition to my baselayer/shirt. Undoubtedly dimension up when you’re in between sizes or need room for layering beneath.

READ NEXT — A Mild Historical past of Alpha Direct, That See-Via Ultralight Fleece!

How’d it do?

I type of actually like this fleece. And at such a low weight, it’s simple to justify preserving it round. Whereas I haven’t had the arrogance to depart my puffy at house, the Merlin paired with a wind jacket would possibly preserve me simply as heat, with the additional advantage of boosted versatility. The fleece is an efficient, breathable energetic layer by itself, and is somewhat furnace so long as a breeze isn’t flowing by means of the gaps within the Alpha material. Because of this I can put on it whereas climbing in addition to in camp, whereas my puffy is just about only a stationary layer.

Measurement and match

As I discussed above, the Merlin in my typical dimension suits like a fluffy hug. That’s good whereas I’m shifting, and the next-to-skin really feel is great, however when you have any intention of layering beneath, then it’s price contemplating the following dimension up. Taking off my fleece with out turning it inside is a talent that I’ve realized, nevertheless it didn’t come simply.

It can be a bit sensitive to placed on for a similar causes, however that is with me being additional cautious to not stress the armpit seams. The material has confirmed sturdy up to now, however its gossamer weight and holey look preserve me cautious.

Versatility and Sturdiness

Alpha Direct doesn’t appear to be your typical fleece. It’s fluffy and has holes in it. Breathable and heat? You betchya.

Sturdiness has been good up to now. Nevertheless, I don’t count on any miracles. With care, the Merlin might final a really very long time, however anybody on this piece must be life like. This can be a finely tuned, ultralight layer designed for excessive ounce-cutters. With few exceptions, decreasing weight additionally reduces sturdiness. I hate to take a position, however I wouldn’t put any cash on my Merlin lasting so long as a typical fleece. Nonetheless, I’m going to like the journey.

It is likely to be exhausting to imagine it by trying on the Merlin, however with the Alpha Direct 120, it’s really probably the most heavy-duty and sturdy providing from Senchi. Their different fleeces make the most of the Alpha 90 and Alpha 60, that are lighter and extra breathable. 

Initially supposed for use along side a shell materials to supply heat in insulated jackets, Senchi determined to let Alpha stand alone. If you need breathability, preserve it this manner. If you need extra heat, then add a shell, no stitching required. By deconstructing the artificial puffy, we get the most effective of each the breathable insulation and protecting shell with the flexibility to combine and match as situations change.


Alpha Polartec is bizarre. Simply how these things is manufactured is properly past my comprehension, and it combines webbed threads for construction with tufty fluff for warmth-trapping insulation. Senchi takes this odd materials and crafts it right into a mid-layer that’s each heat and very breathable. Don’t count on this factor to chop the wind or block a breeze, however in nonetheless situations, it’s surprisingly heat for being the garment equal of Swiss cheese. Toss on a wind jacket in blustery situations, and also you’re messing with some severe heat.

Throughout my journey, I solely as soon as wanted to throw on my puffy over the Merlin when the katabatic winds picked up. With temps within the 40’s, situations have been gentle, and the Merlin was nearly all that I wanted.


The material is breathable sufficient that I didn’t actually miss a full-length zipper. The 1/2 zip was sufficient, and the kangaroo pocket was completely price having on chilly mornings. On my morning bike rides or on breezy passes, I can really feel the air on my pores and skin. I run fairly scorching, so this can be a good function after I’m pushing the higher restrict of temperatures the place it’s acceptable to be sporting a fleece.

Clearly, no material will breathe when it’s smooshed between again and backpack, so the Merlin nonetheless will get sweaty with a pack on, nevertheless it dries quick when allowed.

Senchi Merlin Hoodie Professionals

The Senchi Merlin works nice as promised and is fairly darn comfy. I beloved sporting this factor.

Light-weight: The size doesn’t lie and the Merlin is among the lightest fleeces on the market. Issue within the 1/2 zip and kangaroo pocket, and also you get an especially useful layer for the load of some Clif bars. With no face or backing materials, the Merlin is just about simply insulation. Nothing that you simply don’t need.

Versatility: Breathable by itself, and tremendous heat below a shell layer, this dynamic duo ought to be capable to deal with most 3-season situations in a method {that a} conventional puffy can’t.

Consolation: The Alpha Direct material has a lovely softness that feels good even subsequent to the pores and skin. It’s additionally so light-weight that the Senchi Merlin is as unobtrusive as a t-shirt. There’s no bulk to get in the way in which.

Pocket, zip, and hood: Whereas mixed they in all probability double the whole weight, I recognize the added options of this fleece. A hood is a should for me, and the 1/2 zip and pocket are price their weight, for my part.

Senchi Merlin Hoodie Cons

Bigbird yellow isn’t for everybody and with the restricted availability of Senchi merchandise, you would possibly must push your consolation zone and take a look at one thing new.

Availability: You may’t love what you’ll be able to’t get, and Senchi merchandise can promote out quick. That’s the secret with widespread gadgets from small producers, so don’t hate. It’s what it’s. And as of writing, there are Merlins obtainable, although dimension/coloration selections are minimal.

Sturdiness: Once more, I hate to take a position and my Merlin is in fantastic form, however when you’re tremendous exhausting in your gear, then possibly Alpha Direct isn’t the material for you. It’s sturdy for what it’s, nevertheless it exists close to absolutely the restrict of light-weight. Child accordingly.

Remaining Ideas

It’s going to be exhausting to depart the Merlin off my packing record. It’s simply so good at so many issues, and weighs so little.

I’ve by no means been a lot of a fleece man, however the Senchi Merlin provides me few excuses to depart it behind. If something, it should problem my steadfast dedication to bringing my puffy alongside irrespective of the situations. Often, fleece layers are heavier and bulkier than my puffy regardless of not being as heat or protecting from wind so it has been simple for me to just about ignore the class.

Now, nevertheless, by changing my trusty puffy with the Merlin, I’ve a heat layer that’s breathable sufficient to truly hike in. And after I’m hanging round camp, all I must do is throw on a wind or rain shell, which I carry anyway, to basically mimic the capabilities and use-case of that previous jacket. This can be a cool thought, although I’m unsure that I’ve the heart to strive it.

So what am I attempting to say? The Merlin is a candy piece of drugs that has the uncommon potential to alter how I pack for backpacking journeys in a profound method. Destabilizing as it’s, that’s what good gear is all about. Should you’re on the lookout for an especially light-weight fleece, then look no additional than the Senchi Merlin.

Store the Senchi Merlin Hoodie

Related Light-weight Midlayers

Mellanzana Micro Grid Hoodie
MSRP: $86
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Materials: Polartec Micro Grid

Learn our overview of the Melly right here.

FarPointe Tremendous Cruiser
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FarPointe Alpha Cruiser
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Mountain Hardwear AirMesh Hoody (ladies’s)
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Arc’teryx Delta Hybrid Hoodie (ladies’s)
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The Senchi Merlin was donated for the aim of overview.



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