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Patagonia Dirt Roamer Review

Comfortable and lightweight with a minimalist design and performance oriented tailored fit
Patagonia Dirt Roamer
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $99 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, comfortable, tailored fit, adjustable waist closure, quick drying
Cons:  Tailored fit may be too slim for some
Manufacturer:   Patagonia
By Jeremy Benson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 15, 2018
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 12
  • Comfort - 20% 9
  • Fit and Pedal Friendliness - 20% 9
  • Features - 20% 6
  • Durability - 20% 7
  • Style - 10% 8
  • Protection - 10% 6

Our Verdict

For the past couple of years, Patagonia has been busy adding to their mountain bike specific clothing collection. The Dirt Roamer is one of two pairs of shorts in their men's line, featuring a lightweight, quick-drying, recycled 4-way stretch material with sonically welded seams. This minimalist short has a slimmer performance-oriented fit with a shorter inseam and comfortable contoured and articulated waistband. The shorts have only one pocket, but it is a well-designed backloading zippered thigh pocket that holds its contents securely in place. The unique waist closure has a zippered fly with a button integrated with a cam locking webbing strap to adjust the tension. The Dirt Roamer shorts are impressively lightweight and are incredibly comfortable for long days in the saddle. They quickly became a tester favorite and earned our Top Pick for Minimalists Award.
The Dirt Roamer shorts are no longer offered in the color we tested; they are now available in Forger Grey, Carbon, and New Adobe (pictured above).

Compare to Similar Products

 
Patagonia Dirt Roamer
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price Check Price at REI
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$109.00 at Backcountry
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$78.74 at Amazon
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$71.96 at Backcountry
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$83.65 at Amazon
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Pros Lightweight, comfortable, tailored fit, adjustable waist closure, quick dryingTrim and clean fit, quality chamois, pedal-friendlyStylish, functions well with knee pads, high-quality and reasonable priceAffordable, comes with chamois liner, trim fit, clean styleRemovable inner liner, many well-placed pockets, affordable
Cons Tailored fit may be too slim for someA little heavy, below average ventilationMinimal waistband adjustment, over-complicated closure systemHanging mesh pockets, limited ventilationNot the best quality chamois
Bottom Line Comfortable and lightweight with a minimalist design and performance oriented tailored fitA trim pair of trail riding shorts that deliver exceptional comfort and pedal-friendliness but don't breathe particularly wellA dialed all-mountain/enduro short that ticks most of the boxes but has some minor waistband issuesThese trail riding shorts offer an excellent combination of performance and affordabilityThis model is an excellent choice for the rider who demands a quality product at a reasonable price
Rating Categories Patagonia Dirt Roamer Troy Lee Designs Sk... 100% Airmatic Fox Racing Ranger Zoic Ether Shorts +...
Comfort (20%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Fit And Pedal Friendliness (20%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Features (20%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Durability (20%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Style (10%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
Protection (10%)
6.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Specs Patagonia Dirt Roamer Troy Lee Designs Sk... 100% Airmatic Fox Racing Ranger Zoic Ether Shorts +...
Shell Fabric 4-way stretch 90 denier 87% recycled polyester/13% spandex with a DWR 95% Coolmax polyester, 5% Lycra Polyester elastane stretch blend 2-way stretch ripstop fabric 100% Polyester
Removable Inner Short? No Yes No yes Yes
Lining Main Fabric None AIR COMP CyTech Premium Removable liner 95% Polyester, 5% Spandex
Chamois None, but compatible with Endless Ride Chamois(sold separately) TMF 4-hour Foam pad Dual Density Foam
Inseam Measurement (inches) 11.5 in 12.5 in 12 in 12 in 12 in
Number of pockets 1 2 2 3 6
Weight (ounces) 5.22 oz 8.58 oz 8.76 oz 7.5 oz 10.2 oz
Weight Liner N/a 4.25 oz N/a 3.84 oz 4.4 oz

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.

Performance Comparison


Testing the Dirt Roamer shorts in Truckee, CA.
Testing the Dirt Roamer shorts in Truckee, CA.
Photo: Heather Benson

Comfort


The Dirt Roamer shorts are one of the most comfortable shorts in our test. 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 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.

The slim performance oriented fit is enhanced by a thoughtful cut...
The slim performance oriented fit is enhanced by a thoughtful cut that includes the shape of the leg opening. The shorts are cut higher at the back of the knee so that they don't make contact when pedaling.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

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.

4-way stretch material, welded seams, articulated waist, slim fit...
4-way stretch material, welded seams, articulated waist, slim fit, and a good cut all combine to make these some of the most pedal-friendly shorts in the test.
Photo: Heather Benson

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.

When seated pedaling the shorts rise up a couple inches above the...
When seated pedaling the shorts rise up a couple inches above the knee. The light material and welded seams make these some of the most pedal-friendly shorts in our test.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Features


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.

Tension on the waist can be adjusted by pulling the webbing attached...
Tension on the waist can be adjusted by pulling the webbing attached to the Opposet button.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

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.

The thigh pocket is well designed and functional. The slim fit of...
The thigh pocket is well designed and functional. The slim fit of the shorts helps keep the contents from flopping around while riding.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

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.

Durability


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.

The dot above the letter i on the logo is likely to peel off in the...
The dot above the letter i on the logo is likely to peel off in the near future, otherwise we can see no durability issues with these shorts after hundreds of miles of use.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Style


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.

Are those technical mountain bike shorts, or casual wear?
Are those technical mountain bike shorts, or casual wear?
Photo: Jeremy Benson

On the bike, the Dirt Roamer shorts have 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. If you're into something flashy, we'd suggest looking elsewhere.

Function over fashion, but these shorts look good on and off the bike.
Function over fashion, but these shorts look good on and off the bike.
Photo: Heather Benson

Protection


The Dirt Roamer shorts scored a little lower than the competition for the level of protection they offer. Other competitors 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 are 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 lightweight material and shorter inseam of the Dirt Roamer...
The lightweight material and shorter inseam of the Dirt Roamer doesn't offer much in the way of protection, a tradeoff for the very high level of comfort.
Photo: Heather Benson

Value


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 they are a 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.

We weren't sure what to expect from the Dirt Roamer, but they...
We weren't sure what to expect from the Dirt Roamer, but they quickly became a tester favorite.
Photo: Heather Benson

Conclusion


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 makes 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