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Patagonia Storm Racer Review

The lightest and most compressible model in our review turned out to be far more versatile than we expected, albeit a little on the expensive side compared to most of its direct competition.
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Price:  $249 List | $249.00 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightest weight, incredible packed size, excellent freedom of movement and range of motion, breathable, comfortable, hood maintains good peripheral vision
Cons:  Not super durable, DWR average in longevity, hood doesn't fit over a bike or climbing helmet, stuff sack pocket is big
Manufacturer:   Patagonia
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 18, 2018
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 17
  • Water Resistance - 30% 7
  • Breathability & Venting - 20% 6
  • Comfort and Mobility - 15% 8
  • Weight - 15% 10
  • Durability - 10% 5
  • Packed Size - 10% 10

The Skinny

The Patagonia Storm Racer is an ultralight rain jacket geared towards trail runners and ultramarathoners. It also excels in a number of other activities in which weight and minimal packed volume are your highest priorities. The Storm Racer is the lightest model in our review and currently, one of the lightest rain jackets on the market. It offers decent breathability and performs significantly better than most found in its weight range, like the Black Diamond Fineline and Outdoor Research Helium. The only real catch to the Storm Racer is its price tag; at $250, it's one of the most expensive in our review.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Crazy light and impressively small when packed, the Patagonia Storm Racer will disappear in your pack. Clip it to your harness or running vest and forget it's there. The lightest model in our review is billed by Patagonia as a trail running or ultramarathon rain shell, but its versatility extends far beyond those activities, as it's ideal for actions where weight and packed size are of the utmost importance. The Storm Racer also provides adequate breathability, and all of our testers loved its stretchy material. It's only real downfall is the price, as it's $100 or more than its most direct competition.

Performance Comparison


This model was our favorite of the super lightweight models for its solid storm worthiness  above-average mobility  and excellent breathability. It was also hands down the lightest model overall. While maybe not quite an all-arounder or our first choice to hang out in for days on end in the rain  the Storm Racer will still get the job done. It is the perfect just-in-case model to throw in your pack  clip to your harness  or tuck away in your trail vest to guard against an unpredicted drizzle or an afternoon thunderstorm.
This model was our favorite of the super lightweight models for its solid storm worthiness, above-average mobility, and excellent breathability. It was also hands down the lightest model overall. While maybe not quite an all-arounder or our first choice to hang out in for days on end in the rain, the Storm Racer will still get the job done. It is the perfect just-in-case model to throw in your pack, clip to your harness, or tuck away in your trail vest to guard against an unpredicted drizzle or an afternoon thunderstorm.

Water Resistance


We were impressed by the storm-worthiness despite its remarkably low weight. The Storm Racer uses Patagonia's proprietary H2No 3-layer fabric and the front zipper sports a low profile gutter on the inside, which proved effective at keeping the water out, even on wet, brushy shoulder season runs.

Overall we found this model above average for weather resistance  but for longer trips in a constant drizzle or adventures where you are standing around while being exposed to the elements  we might opt for a beefier model.
Overall we found this model above average for weather resistance, but for longer trips in a constant drizzle or adventures where you are standing around while being exposed to the elements, we might opt for a beefier model.

Compared to its most direct competition, the Storm Racer is average for its weather resistance. Its hood seals out the elements nicely, though we wouldn't recommend it for activities in which your hands are over your head for long periods of time. Otherwise, the cuffs were more than adequate.

Like many things about this model  the Storm Racer's cuffs are pretty minimal. With that said its basic design of elastic extending over just one side of the cuff did a reasonably good job at keeping water out (as long as we weren't doing too many activities that required our hands to be above our heads.)
Like many things about this model, the Storm Racer's cuffs are pretty minimal. With that said its basic design of elastic extending over just one side of the cuff did a reasonably good job at keeping water out (as long as we weren't doing too many activities that required our hands to be above our heads.)

The Storm Racer is comparable in storm worthiness to its most direct competition, which includes the Black Diamond Fineline and to a lesser degree, the Outdoor Research Helium II. While it had several advantages over these two models, we didn't find the longevity of the Storm Racer's DWR to be one of them, finding it diminished slightly quicker than the models above.

Our testers loved that this model's hood maintains great peripheral vision. It doesn't fit over a helmet  but it's low enough in profile that it can be worn under one.
Our testers loved that this model's hood maintains great peripheral vision. It doesn't fit over a helmet, but it's low enough in profile that it can be worn under one.

Hood Design

All of our testers loved the model's low profile hood, which allowed us to maintain excellent peripheral vision. The hood cinches down with a single toggle, which can be tightened with one hand. For practical purposes, you'll need two hands to loosen, or you could try one hand and a lot of jiggling.

This contender's hood easily cinches with one hand (or loosens with two). Overall  we felt it did a great job of accommodating a wide range of head sizes and headwear - with the exception of a bike or climbing helmet.
This contender's hood easily cinches with one hand (or loosens with two). Overall, we felt it did a great job of accommodating a wide range of head sizes and headwear - with the exception of a bike or climbing helmet.

For inquiring minds, the hood doesn't particularly fit over a climbing or bike helmet. However, it has such a low profile that it's not uncomfortable to wear it under instead.

We found this model very breathable  especially when compared to its most direct superlight competition  the Outdoor Research Helium II and Black Diamond Fineline.
We found this model very breathable, especially when compared to its most direct superlight competition, the Outdoor Research Helium II and Black Diamond Fineline.

Breathability & Venting


While the Storm Racer offers average protection in weather resistance, its breathability and comfort, despite it being one of the lightest in the review, are top notch. Offering a higher degree of breathability than both the OR Helium II and the Black Diamond Fineline, its performance is on par with that of the highest performing models.

If we were working hard whilst hiking uphill or trail running, you'd sweat out the Helium, Precip, or Venture 2 far quicker than the Storm Racer. Though the Storm Racer isn't impervious to sweating out, its performance is particularly impressive, especially when you take into account its light weight.

We tested all the models in our review both in the field as well as in a series of side-by-side testing. Here tester Ian Nicholson is performing one such test on a stair master in the Storm Racer.
We tested all the models in our review both in the field as well as in a series of side-by-side testing. Here tester Ian Nicholson is performing one such test on a stair master in the Storm Racer.

Ventilation Options

The Storm Racer is geared toward the weight weenies of the world, meant to disappear into your pack or running vest while taking up minimal space. As a result, it features zero ventilation options of any kind. We didn't find its lack of ventilation to be incredibly significant, thanks to its decent breathability performance. We consider breathability to be far more important than venting during testing; when its pouring rain or you're walking up a wet, brushy trail, opening vents simply isn't an option. It's more breathable than the Phoenix, Precip, Foray, and Torrentshell, but offers up less than the Drypoint, Beta SL, or Interstellar.

This model offered above-average mobility through both its design and the stretchy material that it's constructed with.
This model offered above-average mobility through both its design and the stretchy material that it's constructed with.

Comfort and Mobility


All of our testers loved the stretchy fabric. The Storm Racer has an activity-focused design that allows for exceptional mobility. While it outperforms the Black Diamond Fineline, Outdoor Research Interstellar, and Outdoor Research Helium, it just couldn't beat the Rab Kinetic Plus, the stretchiest model in our fleet. It offered up comparable performance to the Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite, Arc'teryx Beta SL, and the REI Drypoint GTX. The interior fabric is comfortable and uses a tricot backer that feels soft against our skin.

We loved the slim fit of this model for high output activities like climbing and trail running  but be aware that it isn't sized with a lot of layering in mind. Here  tester Ian Nicholson (who wears a size Medium in every jacket in this review) can comfortably fit a light fleece and a baselayer under this jacket  but a puffy coat would be a little tight. If you are between sizes or want to use this model for activities where you may want/need to layer underneath it  consider sizing up.
We loved the slim fit of this model for high output activities like climbing and trail running, but be aware that it isn't sized with a lot of layering in mind. Here, tester Ian Nicholson (who wears a size Medium in every jacket in this review) can comfortably fit a light fleece and a baselayer under this jacket, but a puffy coat would be a little tight. If you are between sizes or want to use this model for activities where you may want/need to layer underneath it, consider sizing up.

Fit

This model sports a slim fit; it's not outrageously slim but is geared toward more athletic pursuits rather than layering. We passed this model around to several people and found that a majority of people who wear a medium in Patagonia jackets will wear a medium in the Storm Racer. However, if you're planning on layering with more than a thin fleece, we would recommend sizing up. Only those truly on the edge between sizes or wishing to use it for backpacking or hiking, where layering will be more important, should size up.

Like all the other sub-8oz models  the Storm Racer only sports one small chest pocket that doubles as a stuff sack.
Like all the other sub-8oz models, the Storm Racer only sports one small chest pocket that doubles as a stuff sack.

Pocket Design

The Storm Racer features one Napolean style chest pocket that is big enough to fit nearly any smartphone, even if it's in a beefy case. This pocket can be reversed to double as a stuff sack and comes with a reinforced clip-in loop so it can be easily attached to a harness. The climbers in our group loved this feature and commonly carried this super light model clipped off their harness to guard against afternoon thunderstorms in Rocky Mountain National Park and the Bugaboos.

Weight


Weight and packed size are why you buy this model. At 6 oz (170g) the Storm Racer is the lightest in our review and one of the highest waterproof breathable models on the market. It's lighter than its closest competition, the Outdoor Research Helium II (6.5 oz) and the Black Diamond Fineline (7.5 oz) and is more breathable and stretchier than either of them.

Durability


The Storm Racer isn't a jacket we would say is particularly durable; while it isn't fragile, it isn't tough. It's plenty durable for trail running (Patagonia's stated intended purpose), day hiking, climbing, or backpacking where it will mostly be a just in case layer. We did test it out on climbing routes and were pleasantly surprised at how well its cuffs held up after some Washington Pass Alpine granite hand jamming (though it's worth noting that our testers babied it, with lead tester Ian Nicholson taking his off for a chimney pitch for fear of thrashing it).

This model packs away in its reversible chest pocket and is among the most packable models in our review. We liked that this pocket (unlike a lot of other models) strikes a nice balance of packing down small without being too challenging to stow away.
This model packs away in its reversible chest pocket and is among the most packable models in our review. We liked that this pocket (unlike a lot of other models) strikes a nice balance of packing down small without being too challenging to stow away.

Packed Size


Along with weight, packed size is one of the primary reason most people will consider buying this jacket. It's one of the incredibly compressible models we tested, alongside the Outdoor Research Helium II. These two models were comparable overall, though we wish Patagonia had made the Storm Racer's stuff sack pocket a little smaller to minimize its packed volume, even if it would have taken more work to stow it away.

Best Applications


Patagonia bills this model as a trail running jacket, something that is low weight, offers above average breathability, a trim fit, and a minimal packed volume. However, our review team found that it performs fantastically for a wide range of purposes. We loved its low weight and minimal packed volume and recommend bringing it on any trip where you'd want to bring a rain shell but are counting ounces.

While a small feature  all of our testers certainly appreciated the clip-in point on the stuff sack. This makes it easy to hang off your harness on multi-pitch climbs in the event of some chilly rappels or an afternoon thunderstorm.
While a small feature, all of our testers certainly appreciated the clip-in point on the stuff sack. This makes it easy to hang off your harness on multi-pitch climbs in the event of some chilly rappels or an afternoon thunderstorm.

Perfect as a just in case shell while day hiking, rock climbing, or backpacking, the Storm Racer will get you through an afternoon thunderstorm or an unexpected storm on a multi-day trip that started with a bomber forecast.

Value


At $250, this is one of the more expensive jackets in our review, costing significantly more than either of its closest competitors the Black Diamond Fineline ($129) or the Outdoor Research Helium II ($159). It is lighter than both but only by .5-1.5 ounces. For the price difference, it offers better mobility and breathability than either the Helium II or Fineline.

Conclusion


As a lightweight trail running jacket or just in case layer, the Patagonia Storm Racer is a sweet jacket that is tough to beat. While it is on the spendier side of the spectrum and does offer exceptional performance, we don't necessarily think it is 75% better than the price difference might indicate. It does have super stretchy fabric, fantastic next-to-skin-feel, and above average breathability, which go a long way towards bridging the price versus performance gap between it and several of its closest competitors.


Ian Nicholson