“Even on cold nights along Maine’s Kennebec River, the Merlin kept me toasty into the 30s,” says Ward. Premium 850-fill down provides heater warmth for blanket weight, but that’s only part of the Merlin’s secret sauce. The Epic by Nextec shell fabric, which has a coating that repels light moisture and blocks chill wind, boosts insulation and kept the bag from wilting in soggy camp conditions, even when tropical storm Bill dumped heavy rains on Ward along the Cape Cod seashore.
The Merlin is cut slim for maximum thermal efficiency and minimum weight and bulk, but our 5’11,” 205-pound tester never felt constricted. Heselton loves the snap closures (as opposed to traditional Velcro), which stayed closed and never scratched his face. The cinchable hood provides the extra warmth that pushes this bag firmly into fall and spring mode (its 30°F rating is not wishful thinking), justifying the price. $314; 1 lb. 9 oz.; 4 sizes; featheredfriends.