Patagonia Dirt Roamer Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight, comfortable, tailored fit, adjustable waist closure, quick drying
Cons: Tailored fit may be too slim for some
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Dirt Roamer is new to our men's mountain bike shorts review and is one of two Patagonia models we tested. Since Patagonia is a relatively new and small player in the mountain bike apparel market, we weren't entirely sure what to expect. The Dirt Roamer pleasantly surprised us and quickly became a tester favorite for their casual style, lightweight, slim fit, pedal friendliness, and minimalist design. We chose them as our Top Pick for Minimalists.
The Dirt Roamer shorts are one of the most comfortable shorts in our test. That said the Fox Flexair shorts took home our Top Pick for Comfort Award for the lightweight, breathable, and soft feel. Still, the Dirt Roamer is dialed, their comfort starts with the excellent tailored and contoured performance oriented fit that feels right. The lightweight 4-way stretch fabric is soft and feels good against the skin, and these shorts are so light that you hardly notice you're wearing them. They have no ventilation, but the fabric is so light and breathable that you honestly don't need any, plus it's treated with a DWR and is incredibly quick drying. Lastly, the taped/welded seams are flat and smooth and cause no unwanted chafing no matter how long you ride.
Fit and Pedal Friendliness
The fit of the Dirt Roamer shorts is one of our favorite things about them. Our size 32 test pair fits true to size, and the adjustable waist system offers a couple of inches of adjustment should you need to tighten them. The waistband is contoured and is lower in the front and higher in the back in addition to being articulated for comfort while in the seated position. The fit is slim and performance oriented, with a high crotch and little excess material to flap in the wind. If you have unusually large thighs or buttocks the fit of these shorts may feel constricting and you may need to size up. Overall, the fit is quite similar to our Editor's Choice Award winner, the Kitsbow Mescal Ventilated.
The fit along with the material and construction of the Dirt Roamer makes them one of the most pedal-friendly shorts in our test. These shorts are incredibly lightweight, and it barely feels like you're wearing anything at all. The material is stretchy and soft and doesn't create any resistance while pedaling, and the welded seams are smooth and flat and don't chafe or irritate you in any way. The hem of the shorts is also cut at an angle, lower in the front and higher in the back to enhance their comfort when pedaling by eliminating any contact with the back of the knee. When pedaling, the hem of the shorts rises a couple of inches above the knee in the front, so they don't hang up or grab on the top of your knee during the pedal stroke.
Other shorts like the Fox Flexair and Specialized Atlas Pro scored well for their pedal friendliness. These shorts have a shorter inseam and a slightly tighter fit to allow great pedal motion. The 100% Airmatic and the Race Face Trigger also scored very well for their pedal friendliness, although they have a much baggier fit than the Dirt Roamer or the Kitsbow Mescal Ventilated.
The Dirt Roamer shorts are relatively minimalist in their design and therefore have limited features, although the features they do have are functional and useful. One unique feature is what Patagonia calls the "Opposet" adjustable waist closure. The shorts have a standard zippered fly which is secured at the top with a large plastic button. Through the button is a piece of thin webbing that runs a quarter of the way around the shorts and can be pulled to adjust the tension of the waistband. Testers were initially suspicious of this adjustment, but it has proved to work well and not self-loosen while riding.
There is only one pocket on the Dirt Roamer shorts, and it is a zippered thigh pocket on the left thigh. The zipper is oriented vertically, and the pocket is back-loading for easier access to its contents. This pocket is relatively large and can hold a variety of items, although thin objects like a smartphone fit best. If you're a big fan of pockets on your riding shorts you'll be better off looking elsewhere, competitors like the Zoic Ether and the Fox Ranger Cargo both have numerous pockets. If you plan on carrying a fat wallet and a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the 7Mesh Glidepath shorts have cavernous pockets.
The Dirt Roamer has snap loops on the inside of the waistband on both sides so they can be attached to Patagonia's Endless Ride liner shorts ($79). Testers found these snap loops could be paired with other brands of liner shorts as well, including the Specialized SWAT bibs. The construction of the Dirt Roamer short's lightweight, breathable, 4-way stretch material is done almost entirely with sonic welded seams. This makes for an exceptionally refined look and flat seams throughout the shorts that do not chafe or irritate the skin in any way. Combine the welded seams with the contoured waistband, articulated cut, and angled hem at the knee and these are some of the most comfortable shorts in the test.
We've ridden hundreds of miles in the Dirt Roamer shorts, and they show no signs of premature wear. The only issue that we can see is that the dot above the "i" on the Patagonia logo on the left thigh looks like it might peel off sometime soon. Aside from that, there are no rips, loose threads, or seam tape coming loose. This is impressive considering that even high-stress seams like the seat and the crotch gusset are held together with only their sonic welds. The 90-denier recycled 4-way stretch material is lightweight and quite thin, we expected it to be susceptible to damage from trailside bushes. So far, however, there are no pulls or runs in the fabric despite repeated encounters with sharp hazards at high speeds. We expect burlier and heavier shorts like the 100% Airmatic and Troy Lee Designs Ruckus to stand up better to high-speed crashes.
In typical Patagonia fashion, the Dirt Roamer shorts have a subtle and timeless style that looks as good off the bike as it does while you're riding. You'd be hard-pressed to identify them as mountain biking shorts if you didn't already know they were. The only thing that might give them away is the sonically welded seams throughout their construction. Otherwise, they have a casual style with a solid color scheme, one zippered thigh pocket, and a small logo on the side of the left knee and one on the back of the right hip. With a tailored slim fit and an inseam that hangs right to the middle of the kneecap when standing, these shorts look right at home running errands around town or stopping for an apres ride beverage at the local brewery. Unfortunately, they are no longer offered in the color we tested, but they are available in three other colors, New Adobe, Forge Grey, and Carbon.
On the bike, the Dirt Roamer has the same understated styling; these shorts are not flashy in any way. Instead, their classic look and slim fit is casual, minimalist, and extremely functional. Style is subjective, of course, but the muted tones, solid colors, and slimmer fit of these shorts is something that our testers appreciate. From a style standpoint, these shorts are most similar to the Specialized Atlas Pro shorts which also take a similar minimalist and clean approach. If you're into something flashy, we'd suggest looking elsewhere.
The Dirt Roamer shorts scored a little lower than the competition for the level of protection they offer. Other competitors, like the Pearl Izumi Elevate, 100% Airmatic and Troy Lee Ruckus, with longer inseams and thicker materials, are probably a better bet if you're doing shuttle runs or riding lifts. That's not really what the Dirt Roamer shorts are made for, however, and this shows in their lightweight and minimalist design. These shorts are light, comfortable, and very pedal friendly for long days in the saddle. They have an 11.5-inch inseam which rises a couple of inches above the knee when pedaling and provides a decent amount of leg coverage and UV protection. The fit is slim and contoured, but the leg openings large enough to be compatible with low profile knee pads, though they will hang up on bulkier models and rise high enough when seated that you may experience pad gap.
The Dirt Roamer is a versatile mountain bike short that is well suited to XC and trail riding and long days in the saddle. These shorts have a performance oriented fit and minimalist, no-nonsense design and provide all-day comfort and a high level of pedal friendliness. Whether you're going out for a short ride after work or an all-day backcountry epic, the Dirt Roamer shorts are a comfortable and good-looking option.
Patagonia is often referred to as "Pata-Gucci" for their notoriously high-end products and prices. Because the Dirt Roamer is a lightweight and technical pair of mountain bike shorts with welded seams made by Patagonia, we think that $99 is a pretty darn good value. These shorts are comfortable, lightweight, and pedal friendly with a clean look and casual style. If you like a slim, contoured fit, we don't think you can go wrong with these shorts at this price.
If you're a minimalist and comfort is at the top of your list when searching for a pair of mountain bike shorts then look no further than the Dirt Roamer. The combination of a great fit, lightweight 4-way stretch material, and no-frills design make these shorts not just comfortable, but extremely functional as well. Gravity riders should probably look elsewhere, but riders who appreciate a contoured slim fit and high level of pedal friendliness should definitely consider the Dirt Roamer.
— Jeremy Benson