Patagonia Storm Racer Review
Cons: Heavier, expensive, awkward fit
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Patagonia Storm Racer is a fully waterproof shell jacket that stands out within our lineup for its unique double zipper layout. Designed to be part of a mountain running layering kit, this jacket has few features besides its reliable waterproof construction. While it certainly performs well in that area, its bulkier shape and double zipper layout designed to be worn over a backpack may be a turnoff for some people.
As one of the most fully waterproof jackets in our lineup, the Storm Racer struggles a little in the breathability ratings compared to lighter, softer materials without a waterproof membrane. While Patagonia's H2No material breathes reasonably well, its waterproof nature necessarily means it doesn't perform as well as woven materials.
The Storm Racer's unique double zipper design is intended in part to provide ventilation by unzipping portions of one or both of the diagonally-oriented zippers. While this certainly does help provide ventilation, things can still get steamy underneath the jacket, especially when also wearing a pack.
As one of only a couple models in our lineup with fully waterproof materials, this is where the Storm Racer truly shines. This jacket has all the features necessary to be a highly-functioning waterproof and windproof shell. In addition to the H2No material, the zippers are water-repellant with their laminated covers that prevent water from even reaching the teeth of the zipper, the front collar comes up high on the chin, and the hood has an adjustable cinch cord and stretchy material to maintain a snug fit. This is one of the most high-performing weather-resistant jackets that we've tested.
Comfort and Mobility
Where the Storm Racer excels in weather resistance, it struggles in the comfort and mobility metric, as its fit and sizing are a bit awkward. The fit of this jacket is bigger and baggier than most other models of the same size in order to fit a running vest or small backpack underneath, yet it's only big enough to fit a very slim pack before you're unable to close it. We could barely fit a trim hydration pack underneath with a total 6-liter storage volume. While we understand that this jacket is ideally intended for a running vest more than a backpack, this really narrows down the ideal use to a very small niche.
Without wearing any type of backpack, the fit of this jacket is definitely big and baggy. The front collar comes up high on the chin, and the chest and shoulder area is quite roomy in order to accommodate your gear underneath. The diagonal double zipper design is somewhat awkward and makes it harder to get leverage to pull the zipper than it is with a traditional zipper design. While we recognize that some mountain athletes will be interested in this unique design, we think most runners will prefer a more traditional and well-fitted jacket.
At a measured 7.8 ounces in a men's size medium, the Storm Racer is actually one of the heavier models in our lineup, with several competitors weighing almost 50% less. That said, while many other models are lighter, none provide the same weather protection. The Storm Racer also conveniently packs into a stuff pocket built into its hood, making packing, stowing, and unpacking a breeze.
As a minimalist waterproof shell designed to be worn as part of an integrated layering system for mountain running, the Storm Racer lacks many features seen on other models such as pockets or reflective materials. What it does have is a unique zipper system that provides ventilation and access to a running vest or hydration pack, and it has a dependable waterproof design with taped seams, water-repellant zippers, and an adjustable hood.
The Storm Racer is one of the most expensive offerings in our lineup with a retail price that is twice that of many other models we tested. While it does provide reliable waterproof materials and construction, its unique design for the specialized niche of mountain running and racing may not suit most users. However, athletes who do participate in fast and light mountain adventures, who regularly wear a running vest or hydration pack, and who want a waterproof layer to wear over everything, including their vest or pack will find great value in this particular design.
With one of the best waterproof designs in our lineup and a unique diagonal double zipper design, the Patagonia Storm Racer is a specialized running jacket for mountain runners and racers to wear over a running vest or hydration pack. While it is one of the only products on the market aimed at filling this niche, certain athletes may appreciate the design, but most users will probably find it too specialized for general use.
— Nick Bruckbauer