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Patagonia Dirt Roamer Review

Comfortable, lightweight, minimalist shorts for big days in the saddle
patagonia dirt roamer mountain bike short review
Credit: Patagonia
Price:  $129 List
Manufacturer:   Patagonia
By Jeremy Benson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 3, 2023
78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 15
  • Comfort - 20% 9.0
  • Fit and Pedal Friendliness - 20% 9.0
  • Features - 20% 6.0
  • Durability - 20% 8.0
  • Style - 10% 8.0
  • Protection - 10% 6.0

Our Verdict

Patagonia recently updated the popular Dirt Roamer shorts and has improved on an already excellent product. They've maintained the minimalist design and aesthetic of the original, but given them a touch more length, a more secure waist closure and adjustment system, a slightly tougher feeling fabric, and a new pocket layout. They are still ultra-lightweight and breathable with a performance-oriented fit, making them a fantastic option for hot weather and big days in the saddle. We loved the original, but with increased carrying capacity, enhanced durability, and a revised fit, we think the new Dirt Roamer is even better.
REASONS TO BUY
Lightweight
Comfortable
Great fit
Quick-drying
REASONS TO AVOID
Slightly longer and roomier than previous version
Editor's note: We updated the Dirt Roamer review on January 3, 2023, with product comparisons and alternative purchase recommendations.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Lightweight, comfortable, great fit, quick-dryingTrim and clean fit, quality chamois, pedal-friendlyGreat ventilation, low-pro waist adjustment, welded leg openingsClean style, reasonable price, pedal-friendlyWater-resistant seat panel, robust construction, welded hems
Cons Slightly longer and roomier than previous versionA little heavy, below average ventilationSmall pockets, lightweight material may not be the most durable, asymmetrical waist adjustmentDeep pockets allow contents to flop around while ridingLeg opening rides up, a little baggy in the seat, stiffer material
Bottom Line Comfortable, lightweight, minimalist shorts for big days in the saddleA trim pair of trail riding shorts that deliver exceptional comfort and pedal-friendliness but don't breathe particularly wellThis lightweight, highly breathable trail short is a great choice for cranking out the miles on hot daysHighly functional trail-riding shorts that offer clean styling and a great in-saddle feelThese burly shorts are for those that favor weather resistance and durability over comfort and style
Rating Categories Patagonia Dirt Roamer Troy Lee Designs Sk... Pearl Izumi Summit... Specialized Trail S... Endura MT500 Spray...
Comfort (20%)
9.0
8.5
8.5
8.0
7.0
Fit and Pedal Friendliness (20%)
9.0
8.5
9.0
8.0
6.0
Features (20%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Durability (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
Style (10%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
Protection (10%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Specs Patagonia Dirt Roamer Troy Lee Designs Sk... Pearl Izumi Summit... Specialized Trail S... Endura MT500 Spray...
Shell Fabric 4-way stretch 90 denier 86% recycled polyester/14% spandex with a DWR 95% Coolmax polyester, 5% Lycra 87% recycled polyester, 13% spandex VaporRize woven fabric 4-way stretch front panels with DWR, waterproof 3-layer rear panels
Removable Inner Short? Sold separately Yes No (can be purchased with liner) No (can purchase with liner) No
Lining Main Fabric None AIR COMP None None None
Chamois None, but compatible with Patagonia bibs and liners(sold separately) TMF 4-hour None None None, but compatible with Endura Clickfast™ liners (sold separately)
Inseam Measurement (inches) 12.5 12.5 12.5 13.5 13.5
Number of pockets 2 2 2 2 2
Weight (grams) 164 grams 244 grams 165 grams 224 grams 262 grams
Weight (ounces) 5.8 oz 8.6 oz 5.85 oz 7.9 oz 9.25 oz
Weight Liner N/a 4.3 oz N/a N/a N/a

Our Analysis and Test Results

Just a few short years ago we were testing the original Dirt Roamer shorts which were some of the first mountain bike-specific shorts Patagonia had made in some time. Since then, their mtb apparel has grown in popularity, and their line has grown in response. A mainstay in their lineup, the lightweight and minimalist Dirt Roamer shorts have recently been updated. While they don't look remarkably different, Patagonia made several notable changes that we feel have made these shorts even better than the originals (which we also loved).

Performance Comparison


patagonia dirt roamer mountain bike short review - the dirt roamer shorts go virtually unnoticed while you ride so you...
The Dirt Roamer shorts go virtually unnoticed while you ride so you can focus on the task at hand.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Comfort


The Dirt Roamer shorts are one of the most comfortable shorts in our test. An excellent fit, soft fabric, and minimalist design means they basically disappear while you are wearing them. The recent updates have changed these shorts slightly, but they still maintain the high level of comfort of the originals.


Their comfort starts with the excellent tailored and contoured performance-oriented fit that feels right. Unlike other shorts that only come in a few sizes, the Dirt Roamer come in 9 different waist sizes between 28 and 40, so you can get a pair that fits you properly without having to compensate much with waist adjustments. We found them to fit true to size, but should you need to adjust them, the new external waist adjustment straps are so low profile that you hardly even notice they are there. They come in a lightweight 4-way stretch fabric that has a slightly rougher hand feel than the previous version, but it is still quite soft and feels good against the skin. 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.

patagonia dirt roamer mountain bike short review - while the cut has changed a little, the dirt roamer are still...
While the cut has changed a little, the Dirt Roamer are still exceptionally pedal-friendly.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Fit and Pedal Friendliness


The fit of the Dirt Roamer shorts is one of our favorite things about them. Our size 33 test pair fits true to size, and the revised adjustable waist system offers a couple of inches of secure and super low-profile adjustment should you need to cinch them down. The waistband is contoured and articulated for comfort while in the seated position and the fit is slim and performance-oriented. Patagonia added a little length to the new version with a 12.5-inch inseam, and the legs feel a touch roomier too. The previous version was a little too slim-fitting for some people with larger thighs and buttocks, but the updated fit should work a little better for a wider range of leg sizes. When standing, the shorts fall right around the middle of the knee, and they play well with light to mid-duty knee pads.


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 4-way stretch material is 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 just above the knee in the front, so they don't hang up or grab on the top of your knee during the pedal stroke.

patagonia dirt roamer mountain bike short review - the waist adjustment tabs are incredibly low profile and secure.
The waist adjustment tabs are incredibly low profile and secure.
Credit: 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. The closure and waist adjustment system has been updated, and we feel it is an improvement over the previous version. The shorts have a standard zippered fly which is secured at the top with two small metal snaps. Patagonia has done away with the one-sided Opposet adjustment system, and now there are two thin and super low-profile webbing straps, one on each side, that provide about 3/4 of an inch of adjustability on each side. These adjusters are very well designed, and they work great and stay put while riding.


There are now two pockets on the Dirt Roamer shorts, and they are top loading zippered pockets on the outside of each thigh. The pockets are ample size to fit a smartphone or some snacks, and the carrying capacity is much greater than the single pocket on the previous version. The pockets are welded to the inside of the leg, and we found that the contents stayed put and didn't flop around while pedaling. Patagonia also added pass-through flaps at the top of the pockets on the inside, so you can access the cargo pockets on a pair of liner shorts through the pockets as well.

patagonia dirt roamer mountain bike short review - top-loading zippered pockets on each side hold contents securely...
Top-loading zippered pockets on each side hold contents securely while you ride.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

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. While it is very lightweight, the material used in their construction has a slightly tougher hand feel than the original, and we feel it should be more resistant to damage from trailside bushes and the occasional light crash. 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.

patagonia dirt roamer mountain bike short review - style is subjective, but we feel patagonia really nails it with...
Style is subjective, but we feel Patagonia really nails it with their timeless designs.
Credit: 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, two zippered thigh pockets, and a small logo on the side of the left knee. 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. They come in three solid color options including the Moray Khaki we tested.


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 are something that our testers appreciate. If you're into something flashy, we'd suggest looking elsewhere.

patagonia dirt roamer mountain bike short review - the slightly longer length of the new dirt roamer adds a little leg...
The slightly longer length of the new Dirt Roamer adds a little leg coverage and plays well with lower-profile knee pads.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Protection


The Dirt Roamer shorts score 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 a 12.5-inch inseam that rises just above the knee when pedaling and provides a decent amount of leg coverage and UV protection. The fit is certainly performance-oriented, but the leg openings and length play well with lower-profile knee pads.

patagonia dirt roamer mountain bike short review - they aren't exactly cheap, but we feel these shorts are a great...
They aren't exactly cheap, but we feel these shorts are a great value for the right rider.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Should You Buy The Patagonia Dirt Roamer?


If you're a minimalist and comfort is at the top of your list when searching for a pair of mountain bike shorts for trail riding, 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.

What Other Mountain Bike Shorts Should You Consider?


If you're looking to save some cash, but you still want a light, comfortable, and pedal-friendly pair of shorts, the Specialized Trail Short is a more affordable option. Perhaps you want a bit more leg coverage and unique integration with knee pads? The POC Infinite All-Mountain Shorts have some added length with a heavily articulated cut at the knee and they remain comfortable and pedal-friendly enough for any type of riding.

patagonia dirt roamer mountain bike short review - the dirt roamer shorts are perfect for the trail rider who racks up...
The Dirt Roamer shorts are perfect for the trail rider who racks up big miles and wants to look good doing it.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Jeremy Benson
 
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