Patagonia Dirt Roamer - Women's Review
Cons: Not as protective for burly terrain, openings in pockets make them less secure
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Patagonia Dirt Roamer - Women's
$69.98 at Backcountry
$89.93 at REI
$119.99 at Amazon
|$64.96 at Backcountry|
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|$55.99 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Lightweight, four-way stretch, excellent fit, breathable, super comfortable||Lightweight, durable, great pockets, comfortable||Weather and water resistant, comfortable, flattering cut||Stylish patterns, comfortable, protective, good pockets||Lightweight, breathable, many pockets, affordable|
|Cons||Not as protective for burly terrain, openings in pockets make them less secure||Expensive||Bulky waistband with velcro tabs, too warm for hot days||Sizing is tricky||Not water resistant, runs large, velcro waist adjusters|
|Bottom Line||One of the best fitting shorts we have ever tested, with a minimalist design, lightweight, and a high level of comfort||One of the most comfortable mountain bike shorts out there, with 4-way stretch and a uniquely low-profile waistband||A technical short that provides protection from wet trails and is also really comfortable||A good looking and versatile pair of shorts that doesn't slouch on the details||A very functional pair of mountain bike shorts that are lightweight and super affordable|
|Rating Categories||Patagonia Dirt Roamer||Rapha Trail Shorts...||Endura MT500 Spray...||Wild Rye Freel||Zoic Navaeh|
|Fit and Comfort (30%)|
|Pedal Friendliness (30%)|
|Specs||Patagonia Dirt Roamer||Rapha Trail Shorts...||Endura MT500 Spray...||Wild Rye Freel||Zoic Navaeh|
|Shell Fabric||90-denier 86% recycled polyester/14% spandex with 4-way stretch and a DWR finish||Bluesign and Oeko-Tex certified, 88% Nylon, 12% Elastane||4-way stretch nylon front panels with DWR finish, waterproof 3-layer rear panels||Nylon||86% polyester, 14% spandex|
|Lining Main Fabric||None||None||None||None||None|
|Inseam Measurement||12.5 in||13.5 in||13.5 in||12 in||11 in|
|Number of pockets||2||4||2||3||4|
Our Analysis and Test Results
When we think of Patagonia brand clothing a lot of us think of fleece and puffy jackets, but their roots are in technical clothing, and the Dirt Roamer quickly won us over with its welded seams, lightweight material, and excellent fit. The updated version has double the pockets and uses a more durable fabric, extending their use into cooler temps. These shorts are made for long days on the bike, making them our Top Pick for Comfort.
Just one ride in the Dirt Roamer, and we were impressed. Putting it to the test won us over. Lightweight, breathable, comfortable, and a perfect fit, it features an extremely minimal aesthetic and design that puts shorts in the back of your mind and biking at the front. These are made for big, long days on the bike. Of course, they handle shorter rides with ease, but the lightweight fabric, stretch, water repellency, and breathability had us dreaming of our next big mountain bike adventure ride.
Fit and Comfort
We have never had a mountain bike short that we forgot we were wearing before testing the Patagonia Dirt Roamer. This short is so lightweight, so stretchy, and so functional, we quickly knew it was one of the most comfortable shorts in the test.
The Dirt Roamer comes in numbered sizes from 0-18, more than twice the number of sizes offered by most other brands. This makes for a much better fit for more ladies. While many manufacturers count on the waist adjuster to dial in a good fit, this short is cut to fit, and the minimal waist adjustment system is only required for tweaking the waistline. The size we tested fit as expected and we barely needed to adjust the waist, meaning no added bulky fabric to soak up sweat. The sizing has changed a bit from the earlier version with the updated Dirt Roamer running a bit larger with a slightly longer inseam and more girth in the legs.
The updated waist adjustment system is more symmetrical than before, with a thin webbing strap on either side. To tighten, pull the tab through the toggle and to release, lift the toggle and pull the webbing back out. These work well for small adjustments and have a low profile on the waistline. They stayed put while riding and are easy to adjust on the fly.
The 12 1/2-inch inseam provides excellent coverage from sun, wind, and weather. The asymmetrical cut means that they offer full coverage on top of the leg when seated on the bike without fabric bunching up behind the knee.
This is where the Dirt Roamer really shines. These shorts are made with four-way stretch (from recycled polyester and spandex), for just the right amount of movement while pedaling and descending. It flexes and moves without slipping or bunching up, no matter how steep the climb.
We rode in all kinds of weather, and the Dirt Roamer proved to be both breathable in warm temps and protective from wind and rain on blustery days. We have said this before but if we hadn't been testing and taking notes, we would have forgotten about this short altogether, which is a rare and high compliment to the fit, design, and technology that Patagonia put into it. These are simply the most pedal-friendly shorts we've tried, earning a perfect score in this metric.
We measured the inseam of the Dirt Roamer to be 12-1/2 inches, long enough to pair with kneepads. The updated fabric is still lightweight, but noticeably more durable and protective. We wouldn’t necessarily choose this pair for a super technical downhill run, but they stand up to the usual encounters with branches and bushes just fine.
Additionally, the tapered leg means that only very lightweight kneepads are compatible with the Dirt Roamer. However, for sun and wind protection, these are a favorite, with lots of coverage at a barely-there weight. The DWR finish worked like a charm to repel water when we encountered unexpected light rain showers.
Probably the most notable update to the Dirt Roamer has to do with pockets. Not only are there two instead of one, but they now zip from the top of the pocket, rather than the front. Having the zipper at the top is more convenient for accessing what’s inside, and prevents accidentally losing things if you forget to zip the pocket all the way closed. Many chamois’ these days have small pockets on the side of the leg for carrying gels or snacks (including the Dirt Roamer Chamois from Patagonia, which is not part of this test). The inside of the shorts pockets have slit openings to allow access to these chamois pockets. If your chamois doesn’t have pockets, the opening still allows for some venting. Having openings in a pocket seems counter-intuitive, especially for smaller items that could possibly fall out with major jostling or in a crash. We didn’t lose anything, but it might be wise to keep very critical things in a fully secured pack pocket.
Welded onto the legs, these pockets add almost no bulk to the shorts when not in use. They are located just where we want them, on the side of the legs, and big enough to hold a phone, snacks, or micro-trash. Because they are welded, they do not flap or sag with the weight of what is in them.
We all know that work on the bike generates body heat. As with most pockets that are not super breathable mesh, we did see some condensation build-up on the phone screen, though not to the degree of some of the burlier shorts we tested.
The super clean and minimal look of the Dirt Roamer may not be for everyone. We tested a patterned pair, but it is still somewhat subdued. Because the seams are almost all welded, there isn't any stitching to create contrast or texture. However, charming details add feminine touches, including the asymmetrical taper on the legs and the overall flattering cut of the shorts. These shorts are sleek and ready to roll, and they look it.
The cost of the Dirt Roamer may seem like a lot of dough for a pair of shorts, but the details and quality are fully evident from the first ride. Being comfortable on the bike is priceless, so if you don't need a lot of protection, these are worth their weight in gold (which isn't the best metaphor since they weigh almost nothing).
We were surprised how much we enjoyed riding in the Patagonia Dirt Roamer. They are light, stretchy, well-made, and breathable. They are not the most protective shorts, but the fit is so perfect we hardly noticed that we had them on. All of the details are just right and that is why they are our Top Pick For Comfort.
— Laurel Hunter
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