DIRTROAMER JACKET AND STORM PANTS
Featherlight MTB-ing outerwear that sets new standards in comfort.
(This story originally featured in Wild #185, Spring 2022)
By James McCormack
Patagonia may not necessarily be as well known for their mountain bike apparel as they are for their other outdoor gear, but perhaps they should be. The company’s Dirt Roamer collection, which includes shorts to go with the shell jacket and pants I tried out, is some of the nicest MTB gear I’ve ever worn. It does, however, come with a problem.
I guess the issue only arises if you think of the jacket and pants as an inseparable pair. Both are superlight, super breathable and super functional. But the pants (with a 3-layer waterproof/breathable material) are waterproof, while the jacket, which relies purely on a DWR finish, is not. And I’ll be honest, given that fact, I actually didn’t see how the two garments would work together. So let me look at them both individually, starting with the jacket.
Before I began wearing it, I didn’t think I’d particularly like the jacket for the simple reason that it’s not fully waterproof. Yes, down the track, I found that it kept me dry in showers and light rain—the DWR is actually pretty awesome, and water beads up really well on it—but once it started bucketing down, I got wet. Patagonia doesn’t claim it to be waterproof either, and when I first put it on, I asked myself, “Why would I only want a water-resistant jacket?” I stayed dry that first day, despite some light rain, but perhaps the more astonishing thing was what happened once I got home. The jacket was so featherlight (just 234g), so comfortable, so breathable, so motion-friendly thanks to its inbuilt stretch, and so soft against my skin that I simply forgot I had it on. A couple of hours after being home, I suddenly looked at myself and realised, I’ve still got my jacket on. I hadn’t noticed. This thing is effortlessly the most comfortable shell jacket I’ve ever worn. And so I began wearing it not just MTB-ing, but walking, trail running, road cycling, and more. It packs down to almost nothing, and the hood, which while big enough to put over a helmet, nonetheless stows away easily. In fact, I can say that over the last two months, I’ve worn this jacket more than any other piece of outerwear.
The Storm Pants are equally great. Soft and comfortable, they’re reinforced at the crotch, bum and the knees (both wear points for cyclists). And despite being slim and close fitting, and tailored for bike positioning, they have enough stretch that you never feel even slightly impinged in them. They almost encourage movement. Unlike the jacket, however, the pants—with their 3-layer waterproof-breathable fabric—will keep you totally dry. The funny thing is though, because of that waterproofness, before I wore the jacket I would have sworn it would be the pants that would see more use. In fact, it’s turned out to be the opposite. This is neither good nor bad, just surprising.
So, despite the differing level of waterproofness, does the system work? I’d say yes, although I still think you’re going to want a waterproof—rather than water resistant—jacket for days when it’s bucketing down. But taken individually, both garments are superb, absolutely as good as they get, and it’s worthwhile owning both for that reason alone.
NEED TO KNOW
Jacket: Water-resistant outerwear.
Pants: Waterproof outerwear
WEIGHT (PAIR; AS TESTED):
Jacket: 234g (M)
Pants: 338g (M)