This New Kit Proves Patagonia Is Taking Mountain Biking Seriously
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Product: Dirt Roamer Mountain Biking Kit
Release Date: 2019/2020
Before my current life chapter as a freelance writer, I worked for five years in San Francisco. There, I commuted to and from work by bike every day, often by way of the Wiggle, a well-known route that might appear roundabout and indirect to anyone unfamiliar with the city’s hills. During this half-decade, my appreciation for well-made and cleverly designed cycling apparel blossomed — it only took a few days of sitting in an office with damp pants before I opted to upgrade to a better bike kit.
Despite a change in career (and a departure from my old bike route), my passion for two-wheeled adventures has only grown. These days I spend most of my saddle time riding gravel and occasionally summon the confidence to ride downhill on full suspension bikes, too. There is no feeling that compares to riding a bike, never mind make or model.
When the opportunity to test Patagonia’s Dirt Roamer biking kit arose, I had already been looking for a good excuse to connect with old riding friends and tackle some rocky singletrack. Patagonia released the Dirt Roamer jacket ($229), shorts ($99) and bibs ($179) last fall. Together, they represent the most substantial effort by the brand — which is perhaps better known for lower octane sports like hiking and fishing — to address the needs of mountain bikers. In 2020, Patagonia is adding pants to the line.
Needless to say, it was an easy yes, and I immediately started planning a weekend exploring the trails of California’s Eastern Sierra, despite being fully aware that mountain biking — especially on steep, slick and technical terrain — is still a bit foreign to me. Over two eight-hour riding days, I tested the capabilities of each piece that makes up the Dirt Roamer Kit.
What We Like
If you’re looking for a burly kit that’ll keep you dry in the rain, slush, sleet, snow and hail, the Dirt Roamer is one of the best. In the Eastern Sierra we had two days of pretty consistent rain and although I did get sweaty at times wrapped up in waterproof membranes, I was neither soaked nor terribly uncomfortable. Riding bikes presents new challenges to rain layers, and lots of allegedly waterproof bike jackets will shed water for an hour, maybe two, but eventually wet-out and let moisture in. The Dirt Roamer jacket and pants don’t, even in horrendous conditions during long days.
Despite being a true hardshell, the Dirt Roamer pants stretch enough for a full range of motion while pedaling, seated or standing. Patagonia built them with a contoured fit (the cut is slightly bent at the knee) to match a riding position. It was a smart decision. The Dirt Roamer pants also handled sharp brush and my two wipeouts on loose rocks well, showing no signs of wear and tear when the weekend was over. (Along with keeping you dry, they also might save you a good scrape or two.) For most riders that only hop in the saddle seasonally, pants may not be top of mind, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth considering.
The kit breathes reasonably well too. We rode mostly in 40- and 50-degree temperatures, which is ideal for a hardshell layer like this one. I’d undoubtedly use a lighter shell jacket and shorts for more prolonged aerobic rides, but because our weekend was cool and overcast, I didn’t sweat much on most of our climbs, a pleasant surprise.
Watch Out For
For longer rides (a half-day plus), I’d suggest saving some room in your pack to stow the jacket and pants. Just like backpacking or backcountry skiing, you can think of mountain biking apparel as a system of layers used in specific scenarios and at different times during a day out. This kit will get relatively warm and clammy when the sun comes out and temps rise because it’s not designed for summer weather. Fortunately, the pants have large zippers that enable a quick on/off, allowing you strip down while leaving shoes and pads tied and strapped. When you’re pedaling uphill (just like skinning up for another ski lap), you might also consider taking the shell and pants off, especially if it’s a long climb.
The Dirt Roamer kit is designed primarily for hardcore riders — that is, people that embrace mixed conditions. If you’re a fair-weather rider who opts for Netflix over mountain biking when it’s 40 degrees and raining sideways, the full kit may not be for you — stick with the shorts and liner bibs. But, for those weirdos who ride year-round in half-frozen slop, the fully waterproof Dirt Roamer pants and jacket are worth the investment.
There aren’t many real competitors for the Dirt Roamer pants if you factor in the full bundle: waterproof, stretchy and breathable — the DTE Trousers (~$138) are the closest, but lack the fit and stretch. Destroyer’s forthcoming Sitkum Pant ($130) is also promising. While the mountain bike market is nearly saturated with quality shorts and softshell pants, there aren’t many hardshell pants that keep you dry through a full day of riding in wet conditions.
If you plan to ride in the wet, cold and muddy offseason, pick up Patagonia’s Dirt Roamer mountain biking kit. It’s fully waterproof, breathes well, marries comfort with burliness, and, frankly, there isn’t really anything like it on the market. It isn’t perfect for all rides or weather, but it’s an essential addition for anyone who wants to break their bike out of storage as early in the year as possible and keep the tires rolling until ski season.
Patagonia provided this product for review.
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