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MTB specific jacket from Patagonia

Patagonia Dirt Roamer Jacket Review

Words Deniz Merdano
Photos Deniz Merdano
Date Jan 8, 2021
Reading time
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I literally forgot to smile for this shoot. Not because I was unhappy, but being in front of the camera can be unnerving... How do the others do it?

Dirt Roamer Jacket

Every Jacket has a story.

One minute, I am going for an Affirmation of Youth* ride on a sunny but very crisp November day and next minute, I'm reviewing a jacket made by Patagonia for playing in the dirt. The first time the Patagonia Dirt Roamer Jacket was brought to my attention was a month prior, in October. Cam McRae and I were shooting the YT Decoy that he pedaled uphill unassisted and the Patagonia's matching Dirt Roamer MTB Storm pants that he recently wrote about. It wasn't particularly a cold or a wet ride, but I was over dressed and slightly clammy under my Gore-tex Paclite, Outdoor Research Soft shell.

I was curious about Patagonia's foray into the MTB world although not overly surprised as there is plenty of profit to be made in the genre. The pants seemed to work. The Dirt Roamer Shorts AJ reviewed seemed to work. I have always been drawn to the brand, culture, ethics behind it and the logo. That beautiful logo...

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Never been to Patagonia, but the logo makes me think I could somehow.

Cam pointed out that although the Pants were waterproof and able to handle a Shore-class wet ride, the jacket was not in the same waterproofing league, at least not on paper. But did it matter? Not as much as he thought. There I was, way too warm in my Gore-tex, wishing I had a lighter jacket. Fast forward to the Affirmation of Youth Ride* a month later.

A perfectly executed Covid-aware and socially distanced ride came to an end. I had forgotten a change of clothes for the outdoor 'story time from the trails' après ride. It was November in the PNW and it was unseasonably clear but very cold. The Patagonia Jacket made a reappearance at that moment from the truck, as Cam handed it to me. Just so that I wouldn't freeze my ass off as the sun went down. The Dirt Roamer jacket was enough of an extra layer underneath my existing soft shell to keep me toasty on the ride back home.

*what 40+ year-olds call their b-day rides around here.

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A shot of the derriere and the hood, which is permanently attached (both the hood and the derriere - Ed.)

Let me paint you an atmospheric picture. The weather has been a mixed bag of halloween goodies in the part few months. Not unexpected in this part of the world where the warm ocean moisture meets the cold coastal mountains and all too often dumps a fair bit of water on us. We've had some stellar weather too, mixed in with the wet that made us consider bringing a canoe to the trails.

For me, dressing for rides is always a challenge as overheating is just as common as the rain soaking through the garment. Sometimes you get both too: warm and rainy. That's the worst. Getting wet inside and out is almost inevitable. If the ride is around an hour long from my house, I can deal with the consequences.

Lately, the weather predictions have been more erratic than usual. Someone told me this can be partly blamed on the lack of airplanes in the air which aid in weather predictions. I didn't look into this claim, but the theory is sound.

I try to keep my winter layering consistent. Two layers with the optional third. The third layer is the jacket that changes depending on the moisture content and the length of the ride, and so far I've been mostly off with my top layer choice. Either too warm or not warm enough. Waterproof but not breathable enough for hard efforts.

Temperature levels 0˚- 10˚c (32˚- 50˚F)

Base layer

From October to March, I use a bargain-bin find IBEX Long sleeve Merino shirt that has saved my bacon more than once. Now I hear IBEX is making a comeback and can't wait to see what they come up with and I hope I get to test some of it. This merino shirt is fitted and takes up almost no space both on my back or in a pack. I have used it on it's own in the spring and late fall quite effectively but the risk of damaging it crashing is too much of a gamble, as I love it to bits. I usually hide it under a midlayer. It is my most used garment for the winter months and I'll be sad when it wears out.

Mid layer

I like to wear an athletic MTB jersey that wicks the sweat and heat away from the baselayer. Dakine makes decent breathable jerseys and I have a particularly loud orange coloured, Adidas running jersey I found at Costco for $15cad that I am fond of. Either of them will do depending on what has been washed and if the thermometer is at the high end of the range I mentioned above, they are all I need save for a precipitous day.

Sometimes a short sleeve jersey will find its way to the top of my merino baselayer but this fashion faux pas is unforgivable no matter what generation you belong to. I acknowledge this blatant mistake and keep my public appearance to a minimum.

Top layer

Now this is why you are here, reading this review. Whenever I am dressing up for a ride, whether it is a photoshoot, hour of power lap, leisure cruise, a recon mission for the next shoot, or the NSMB favourite let's get scared to death ride, I would like to be prepared for different weather conditions without carrying more than necessary and over dressing.

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The hood fits over a size medium Smith helmet without a fuss but only when the zipper is done up afterwards.

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Excellent cuff length and rain flap. No velcro anywhere on this garment.

The Patagonia Dirt Roamer Jacket has been filling this top-layer role quite successfully for the past couple of months. Leaving the front door of my house or the nearest trail-head, there is a 5 minute warm-up period with this three layer Deniz dip. I tend to start my uphill journeys a little tense on the shoulders and the arms, as I try to build up my core temperature spinning my legs at a lower cadence and harder gearing. Once my core starts to warm up, I can feel the heat radiating through my anteriors and lats. If I am covered in a GoreTex Paclite or Pro material softshell, I will start overheating almost immediately. Before that happens, I have to stop, and pack that top layer in my bag. Of course if it's a rainy ride, I will either have to take my climbing efforts way down and keep the layer on to avoid getting soaked or push through the heat and get to the top covered in sweat.

The Dirt Roamer jacket has eliminated that overheating for me almost completely. It exhales my steam exceptionally well and can stay on for the entire climb. It is a stretchy material that moves well with the body. The cut is on the slimmer side and works well with thinner base and midlayers that I usually wear. If you need to insulate underneath for sub 0˚c (32˚f) temps, I would recommend going up a size.

For a 5'9", 150 lb guy like me, the medium works well.

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Taped seams and smart, circle peel prevention on all the corners.

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Hood cinch for helmet free hood use.

The Dirt Roamer is constructed from mostly recycled nylon. This makes me happy. Also 1% of every purchase goes to Planet Earth Supporting Organizations and initiatives. I like this, too. The jacket will set you back $285 CAD which is on the high end of what I would like to spend on a riding jacket but I have no doubt you will get your money's worth out of it.

There are two pockets in this jacket, one on the inside over your heart, which is generally a great place for a pair of riding glasses, wallet or phone but not all at once. The second pocket is on the back tail, accessed from the side with a vertical zipper. It's easy enough to operate but it's a rather strange place for carrying stuff for me. My Gore jacket also has this pocket placement which I don't care for. I like side pockets where I can warm my cold hands or access things easily. I tend to keep spare gloves or stuff my spare camera lens in there during shoots. This rear pocket is decent enough for a pair of gloves but I wouldn't put anything heavy or that you wouldn't want getting wet in there.

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100% recycled nylon trim. No complaints for that proposition.

The Dirt Roamer is advertised as a water resistant jacket and this is mostly true; the DWR coating is brilliantly effective and the water beads quite nicely off the fabric, sheds dirt effortlessly and a hose or brush off is all you need after most rides. It is a very soft, and quiet fabric that is a joy to wear.

Packed away, the Dirt Roamer takes little to no space and there's no problem fitting in my camera pack or hip pack. The hood fits over the helmet effortlessly and has an adjuster. However it is not removable which I think would be a good feature on a jacket this light in construction.

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No matter what my face implies, the jacket gets a passing score from this guy.

Patagonia's Dirt Roamer Jacket does what it promises and what it promises is sometimes all you need. A jacket to put on and leave on the entire drizzly ride or when you get caught in the rain midway through the ride. I think it has its place in dry climates too as a wind breaker and the fitted cut is thoroughly fashionable.

In the sea of high end logos that dress mountain bikers these days, Patagonia offers a classy, effective garment with a price tag to match. If the story of the brand influences your purchasing decisions, Patagonia definitely has an important message to share.

This jacket gets an A+ from me... More info at Patagonia.ca

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Comments

hongeorge
+2 Deniz Merdano Dan
hongeorge  - Jan. 8, 2021, 1:15 a.m.

Been looking at this to replace a much-loved Gore jacket that I ripped on a crash. My worry with a jacket like this is the need to wash/clean it regularly, as we get serious mud.....

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+4 Deniz Merdano Matt Lee ehfour Dan
Pete Roggeman  - Jan. 8, 2021, 2:37 p.m.

If it's any consolation, you should be washing your jacket quite often if you ride in mud, no matter the colour. That dirt/mud is getting ground in to the membrane, along with sweat, and affecting its ability to vent vapour and keep water out. Most - almost all - people don't wash their tech garments enough. Many think you're not supposed to wash them at all, which couldn't be further from the truth.

Reply

DanL
+1 Deniz Merdano
DanL  - Jan. 8, 2021, 11:12 a.m.

Deniz - do you see a large difference between the NF pants and the dirt roamer pants in target use ? I know Cam reviewed them but wondering if you've been able to compare and contrast

Reply

denomerdano
+1 DanL
Deniz Merdano  - Jan. 8, 2021, 2:15 p.m.

NF pants are super versatile in how soft and comfy they are. I wear mine for non bike related activities all the time. And proven to be very robust in my recent crash. 

Patagonia pants seem more waterproof without added weight and bulk. 

Maybe Cam can chime in as he has worn both extensively..

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+2 Deniz Merdano DanL
Pete Roggeman  - Jan. 8, 2021, 2:38 p.m.

NF are soft shell (both DP3 and Berzerker) whereas the Dirt Roamers are hard shell. That's the simplest way to explain the main difference.

Reply

DanL
0
DanL  - Jan. 8, 2021, 2:45 p.m.

That makes sense, thanks

Reply

hotlapz
+3 AJ Barlas Deniz Merdano Dan
hotlapz  - Jan. 8, 2021, 12:02 p.m.

I've become a big fan of anything made of Neoshell. I just bought a Westcomb Shift LT and it's perfect for mtbing. Unlike goretex or anything else I've ever tried, it actually breathes. It breathes so well I can wear it on climbs up Seymour without getting soaked under the jacket.

Another plus is Westcomb makes all its jackets in east van.

Reply

denomerdano
+1 hotlapz
Deniz Merdano  - Jan. 8, 2021, 2:21 p.m.

Will have to look into this Westcomb jacket you speak of.

You are right. Lightweight breathable jackets for anything but the wettest days...

Reply

rolly
0
rolly  - Jan. 10, 2021, 10:27 a.m.

That Shift LT is $475!  That's ridiculous.

Reply

cheapondirt
0
cheapondirt  - Jan. 9, 2021, 2:51 p.m.

Is there an affordable alternative - 80% as good but half the price (or less)?

It just seems goofy to spend this kind of money on something that will immediately be covered in mud, will most likely snag a branch soon after that, and will never get proper maintenance from me. I'd like to say I'd care for it, but in reality, barely make time to clean my drivetrain.

My fully waterproof jacket is great for the above reasons (and nothing else will do for working outdoors in the Fraser Valley) but I come home *really* sweaty!

Reply

denomerdano
+1 cheapondirt
Deniz Merdano  - Jan. 9, 2021, 4:23 p.m.

I've brushed a few blackberry bushes on my commutes at high-speed and the jacket faired well. A gnarly crash would most likely damage it. But same can be said for your bike too.

A Gore C3 Active or paclite will set you back $250-$270 ish. It's the closest fabric I've tried. Runs a little warmer too and doesn't pack as small. But Arguably more water resistant.

Reply

cheapondirt
+1 Deniz Merdano
cheapondirt  - Jan. 9, 2021, 9:26 p.m.

Gotta pay to play!

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 cheapondirt
Pete Roggeman  - Jan. 12, 2021, 7:25 a.m.

There are a lot of things that go into a good jacket - a really good one in this case. Cut and design, manufacturing quality, and materials. There's no real way to cut corners on the last two of those things (cut and design can be ripped off). 

You can get a jacket that costs less that breathes well OR is waterproof, but not that one does both that is also well-made (and low cost). Other options in the market always - always - bear this out. There are plenty of $100-200 riding jackets, but I can point out the reason(s) why they won't perform as well as this one with a quick glance at a spec sheet and a product photo or two. Does that mean they're useless? Hell no. For many people, a $115 Patagonia Houdini or any other thin shell will work for a lot (maybe most) of the time they'll need it. Even here - IF you're content with not riding when the weather is really bad.

But if you live in a place like the North Shore or the Fraser Valley where it rains hard AND can be cool/cold - in other words, the most challenging layering situation to dress for - you're not going to get good protection from the elements AND good breathability. You're going home sweaty because it's easy to make a jacket waterproof but not easy (or at least cheap) to also make it breathable.

Mud is no big deal, really. In a pinch, you can wash your outerwear with no detergent, or really mild detergent - but the best is to use the right stuff, which is a dedicated cleaner (Nikwax or Granger's) - or at least to use it sometimes.

As for tears and abrasion - well, that's always a risk, but it's not hard to sew up a jacket or use a product like Tenacious Tape which does a fine job on small and medium tears. Large or complicated repairs will be harder to do yourself but all the brands selling pricey jackets will take care of it for you or help faciliate a repair. I hear a lot of comments from people concerned about tearing their expensive jackets, but I've yet to hear about a jacket being ruined in a crash.

Reply

cheapondirt
0
cheapondirt  - Jan. 13, 2021, 9:46 p.m.

Pete, thanks for the thorough response (I almost missed it!)

I used to hike a lot and was always satisfied with the pretty generic jackets I could find from brands like Mountain Hardwear at places like Winners. As long as it fit okay, shed water well, and had pit zips, I was happy with it. It turns out the demands are way higher on a bike. More wind chill, more body heat, more dynamic movement. And more wetness in the same weather.

I just have to adapt my mindset. Not the same activity, not the same gear, and no reason it should cost the same.

The frugality in me says it's next winter's problem, I've already made it through December and half of January in a PVC jacket!

Reply

ehfour
+1 Deniz Merdano
ehfour  - Jan. 10, 2021, 9:55 a.m.

Great review @Deniz Merdano!  Any thoughts of the Brisker(?) gloves you're wearing

Reply

denomerdano
+1 ehfour
Deniz Merdano  - Jan. 10, 2021, 3:49 p.m.

Thank you.

My favorite gloves to ride in anything cooler than 15deg. 

I also like the brisker hydromatics for the 0-5 range with rain...

Reply

agleck7
0
Agleck7  - Jan. 11, 2021, 8:35 a.m.

Keep in mind that Patagonia is fantastic with warranty/repair and taking care of customers. So if I'm investing in an expensive piece of riding kit that's going to take a beating, that's an important consideration.

Reply

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