Patagonia Dirt Roamer Review
Cons: Few pockets, trim fit doesn't allow for layering, expensive
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Patagonia Dirt Roamer
Check Price at REI
|$249 List||$249.95 at Backcountry|
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Check Price at REI
$129.00 at REI
|Pros||Excellent breathability, very lightweight, helmet-friendly||Durable fabric, great fit, all-around usefulness||Waterproof, comfortable, stretchy||Excellent weather protection, great mobility||Super breathable, durable, inexpensive|
|Cons||Few pockets, trim fit doesn't allow for layering, expensive||Limited water resistance, fitted cuffs||Small hood, light on features||Slightly heavy, larger sizing||Poor wet weather protection|
|Bottom Line||This mountain bike specific layer is nearly perfect for both runners and bikers looking for a breathable shell||This is a great medium weight softshell jacket that will hold up to rugged use thanks to its durable fabric||This waterproof softshell jacket is one of the few hybrid models that we have found to be highly breathable||This is a softshell ready for the worst weather you can throw at it||This 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%)|
|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|
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Ryan Huetter
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