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Patagonia Dirt Roamer Review

This mountain bike specific layer is nearly perfect for both runners and bikers looking for a breathable shell
patagonia dirt roamer softshell jacket review
Credit: Patagonia
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $249 List | Check Price at REI
Pros:  Excellent breathability, very lightweight, helmet-friendly
Cons:  Few pockets, trim fit doesn't allow for layering, expensive
Manufacturer:   Patagonia
By Ryan Huetter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 24, 2022
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 13
  • Weather Protection - 30% 7.0
  • Breathability - 30% 8.0
  • Mobility - 25% 8.0
  • Weight - 10% 9.0
  • Versatility - 5% 3.0

Our Verdict

We often wear regular softshell jackets for riding bikes because there have been very few specific jackets made for mountain biking. Enter the Patagonia Dirt Roamer. Ultralight and super comfortable, this jacket dumps heat on the grueling uphill climbs and protects from the elements on long, fast downhill rides, no matter the weather. There are relatively few features on this jacket, but the ones present are optimized for biking and running. As a purpose-built MTB softshell jacket, we think that Patagonia has really hit it out of the park with this one. Time to hit the trails!

Compare to Similar Products

 
patagonia dirt roamer softshell jacket review
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $249 List
Check Price at REI
$249 List$249.95 at Backcountry
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$225 List
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$129 List
$129.00 at REI
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Pros Excellent breathability, very lightweight, helmet-friendlyDurable fabric, great fit, all-around usefulnessWaterproof, comfortable, stretchyExcellent weather protection, great mobilitySuper breathable, durable, inexpensive
Cons Few pockets, trim fit doesn't allow for layering, expensiveLimited water resistance, fitted cuffsSmall hood, light on featuresSlightly heavy, larger sizingPoor wet weather protection
Bottom Line This mountain bike specific layer is nearly perfect for both runners and bikers looking for a breathable shellThis is a great medium weight softshell jacket that will hold up to rugged use thanks to its durable fabricThis waterproof softshell jacket is one of the few hybrid models that we have found to be highly breathableThis is a softshell ready for the worst weather you can throw at itThis budget-friendly softshell is one of our favorites for summertime rock climbing
Rating Categories Patagonia Dirt Roamer Arc'teryx Gamma LT... Rab Kinetic 2.0 Marmot ROM Hoody Outdoor Research Fe...
Weather Protection (30%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
4.0
Breathability (30%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
10.0
Mobility (25%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
10.0
Weight (10%)
9.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Versatility (5%)
3.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
4.0
Specs Patagonia Dirt Roamer Arc'teryx Gamma LT... Rab Kinetic 2.0 Marmot ROM Hoody Outdoor Research Fe...
Measured Weight (size medium) 8.3 oz 17 oz 11.6 oz 16.1 oz 13.4 oz
Material 100% recycled nylon, DWR finish Wee Burly (56% nylon, 34% polyester, 10% elastane) 100% recycled polyester GORE-TEX Infinium: 92% recycled nylon, 8% elastane, plain weave, 170g/sqm 86% nylon (46% recycled), 14% spandex
Type Active Active Technical Active Active
Lined/Insulated? Interior Knit Backer No No No Yes, lining 91% nylon, 9% spandex
Hood? Yes, helmet compatible, adjustable, stowable Yes, helmet compatible, adjustable StormHood Yes, under helmet with rear hood adjustment Yes, hood compatible Yes, climbing helmet compatible, adjustable, stowable
Number of Pockets (zippered unless otherwise noted) 2 (1 external back, 1 internal chest) 3 (2 handwarmer, 1 internal) 2 (hand) 2 zippered hand, 1 zippred chest 3 (2 hand, 1 chest)
Adjustable Cuffs? No Stretch cuffs Yes, velcro Yes, vecro Elastic cuffs
Available Sizes XS - XXXL XS - XXL S - XXL S - XXL S - XXXL

Our Analysis and Test Results

We really enjoyed testing the Dirt Roamer. For one, it forced us to get out on our bikes and enjoy some of the amazing singletrack riding in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Range! As a specialized MTB jacket, this thing rocks. Any extra features that we don't need out on our ride have been stripped. Because of that, if you want to use this jacket for hiking, backpacking, or general around-town use, you might find the lack of features off-putting. We score this softshell as a biking jacket but try to do a thorough job at describing its performance as a crossover piece as well.

Performance Comparison


patagonia dirt roamer softshell jacket review - ripping the local trails in funky weather? the dirt roamer has you...
Ripping the local trails in funky weather? The Dirt Roamer has you covered.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Weather Protection


The Dirt Roamer is somewhere in between a beefed-up windshell and an ultralight softshell jacket. Maybe it's both! Using a 100% nylon stretch fabric coated with a DWR water-resistant treatment, you can rip through all the mud puddles you want and go for long rides in inclement weather. The fabric also does a great job at blocking wind — we really liked throwing this layer on top of a light shirt for wind protection while climbing, and thanks to the soft knit backing, it does not feel clammy or uncomfortable against bare skin at all.


The hood on the Dirt Roamer has a single adjustment point in the back instead of using stretchy elastic along the sides to ensure a good fit around a bike helmet. The wrist cuffs are fitted with a very small amount of elastic but don't have an adjustable closure. The hem in the back is longer than similar lightweight shells, giving you more coverage when tearing through wet trails. For those using this jacket beyond just riding, the extra-long hem provides additional coverage over your shorts or pants, so there is less wetting out when wearing a backpack on a rainy day.

patagonia dirt roamer softshell jacket review - the dwr coating readily sheds water, but eventually will wet out...
The DWR coating readily sheds water, but eventually will wet out like most softshell jackets.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Breathability


This is one of the most breathable softshells we tested. For those needing to be able to easily dump heat and moisture while on strenuous climbs without having to zip open the front or use pit zips, the Dirt Roamer keeps you from becoming drenched in sweat. The brushed knit backing helps to keep you from feeling like you are wearing a plastic bag, which is so often the case with the unlined wind shells that trap your sweat inside.


The thin fabric of the Dirt Roamer dries very quickly, so even if you do find yourself working hard enough to sweat it out or you get caught in a light drizzle, the fabric breathes even when the exterior is wet, something virtually unheard of in a hardshell layer.

patagonia dirt roamer softshell jacket review - getting off the saddle and riding steep uphills often leaves us...
Getting off the saddle and riding steep uphills often leaves us overly sweaty - not so with the Dirt Roamer.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Mobility


With stretchy nylon material used as the primary fabric in the Dirt Roamer, you can ride, climb, and react without feeling like you are being restricted at all. This is a very mobile softshell jacket, and you'll hardly even notice it on your body — a great thing when you're working hard at your sport. The sizes do run a tad small, so consider sizing up if you plan on wearing a base layer or fleece underneath or if you are often in between sizes. We found that a chamois or a sun shirt was just about perfect in terms of interior layering before the jacket started feeling too tight and constricted. If you need a warmer layer, then plan on throwing it on over the Dirt Roamer rather than trying to cram it inside.


Both for riding and for climbing, we found the wrists on this jacket to stay put whether we had gloves on or not, and when getting out of the saddle on hard uphill climbs, the hem stayed put rather than riding high above the waist.

patagonia dirt roamer softshell jacket review - wearing an r1 techface hoody underneath this jacket felt about as...
Wearing an R1 Techface Hoody underneath this jacket felt about as tight as we would want to still be mobile.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Weight


With a weight of only 8.3 ounces, to call the Patagonia Dirt Roamer ridiculously light would not be an understatement. There is only one lighter jacket in our review, and it does not have nearly the same effective weatherproofing or fabric durability. We are impressed.


Digging deeper, there are plenty of features that this jacket is lacking that allow it to achieve such a light weight. With a single inner chest pocket and one rear V pocket, there is some functionality lost in the pursuit of weight savings. For most riders and runners, you won't notice the lack of an exterior chest pocket, though for backpackers and climbers, this might be a bit more of a concession.

Seriously astounding weight for the performance you are getting.
Seriously astounding weight for the performance you are getting.
There are not many features, but the main one is that large rear...
There are not many features, but the main one is that large rear pocket that can fit everything you need for a ride.

Versatility


One of the issues in building a lightweight jacket that is designed primarily for one activity is that features useful in other applications get neglected. For mountain biking without a hip pack, a single rear pocket and a small inner chest pocket are totally adequate. For anything involving a backpack, that rear pocket is useless, and not having an externally accessible pocket in the front becomes pretty annoying. We also found our iPhone 13 did not fit into the chest pocket, so we had to stow that in our hip pouch.


We feel that this jacket is great for biking and for running, but we would recommend other lightweight options if you want to do anything besides these two activities. If you want a single jacket that can do it all, then there might be better models for you to check out within this review, but if you want the best softshell for riding bikes and trail running, then it is hard to beat this one.

patagonia dirt roamer softshell jacket review - hard to access the main pocket when wearing anything with a hipbelt.
Hard to access the main pocket when wearing anything with a hipbelt.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Value


We like the Dirt Roamer; it is a great mountain biking jacket. You do pay a premium for its light weight, tailored fit, and performance. It is as expensive as jackets that offer more weather protection or that are as stretchy, but we feel it is worth buying as a specialized garment.

patagonia dirt roamer softshell jacket review - we did like this jacket for climbing, mainly because it was so...
We did like this jacket for climbing, mainly because it was so comfortable and stretchy, but wearing a pack was a bit of a pain with the lack of accessible pockets.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Conclusion


If you are sick and tired of feeling sweaty and clammy on the top of every singletrack climb and are looking for a softshell jacket for mountain biking, then the Patagonia Dirt Roamer might be the jacket for you. We find it limited to cycling and running uses, but if that describes what you are after, this lightweight shell can offer you a lot. This specialized layer doesn't excel in every single sport, but as a niche jacket, it is hard to come up with anything that does as well.

patagonia dirt roamer softshell jacket review - this is a rock solid mtb jacket. it can do a few other things too...
This is a rock solid MTB jacket. It can do a few other things too, but this is where it really shines.
Credit: Ryan Huetter

Ryan Huetter
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