Patagonia is a name that has been synonymous with outdoor pursuits since the early 70’s. In spite of their brand recognition from those who are about to climb a mountain or at least want to look like it, Patagonia hasn’t really expanded into the world of mountain bike apparel. Their new Dirt Craft line changes that, with purpose built shorts and a jacket which both pair well with their Forerunner jerseys which straddle the line between trail running and riding.
After giving the new threads some trail time, it looks like Patagonia is well on their way to being competitive in the cycling space – especially if you’ve grown tired of brightly colored kits with an enduro flair…
At first glance, the Dirt Craft and Forerunner lines are all about simplicity. They aren’t loaded with more features than you’ll ever use, but have a few smart touches that should make riders just looking for casual riding gear very happy. The $149 Dirt Craft shorts are available in black or rattan, and feature a stretchy, water resistant outer fabric with DWR treatment. Like other Patagonia products, they use bluesign approved fabric and continue their manufacturing transparency by stating exactly where the fabrics and shorts are produced right on their site.
The button and zip closure has proven to be secure in all situations, and fit adjustments can be made with the hook and webbing adjustment on the waist. If that’s not enough, there are also belt loops if that’s more your style. Pockets are kept simple with two standard drop in pockets and a third zippered pocket on the left leg.
Inside you’ll find a removable liner that is heavy on ventilation with perforations in the 3 layer chamois as well as big mesh panels throughout the short. Another nice touch is the lack of silicone grippers at the legs in lieu of compressive spandex bands like a high end road short. Of all of the clothes, the outer short fit me the best and was comfortable from the start. The liner I found to be a similar fit to the rest of the collection – a bit narrow, sort of the ideal fit for someone very tall and skinny.
On fit, that seems to be the area that Patagonia still needs the most work. Personally, I’m 5’8″, 150 lbs, and about a 30″ inseam with a 29″ waist. Usually I’m safe with smalls across the board. In this case, I ended up with a medium short, small jersey and small jacket. Both the jacket and the jersey are a great fit everywhere except for the chest and shoulders which I found to be too narrow. However, after trying on the medium jacket and jersey they were so long in the torso and the sleeves that I chose to go with the smalls. You will probably need to size up on the shorts, while the jersey and jacket will probably run true to size though the tall, skinny types will find the fit to be best.
Fit issues aside, the $129 Dirt Craft jacket and Forerunner jersey are really nice, simple pieces of clothing. Other than a few pockets at the side, a napoleon pocket and an internal draw cord, the jacket is as simple as it gets. Built with a DWR coating, the ripstop nylon/spandex mix is the perfect answer to days that are just cold enough to warrant a jacket with the threat of rain, without going to a full rain jacket. At 297g the jacket is light enough that it rolls up and fits in a bib pocket pretty well and was a layering addition to have on the trail. Available in forge grey, kelp green, and underwater blue.
If the Forerunner jersey fits you better than me, it would make an excellent choice for a light weight jersey. The 100% recycled polyester fabric offers 15 UPF sun protection along with their Polygiene permanent odor control plus the bluesign approved in electron blue, French red, navy blue, and supply green. Weighing just 116g, most of that weight is probably in the 11″ zipper which offers quite a bit of ventilation potential. As noted, for myself I found the chest and shoulders too narrow which caused the sleeves to pull up after a bit of aggressive riding. With the medium like wearing a dress due to its length, the fit just didn’t agree with my physique. Which is too bad, because otherwise it’s a pretty nice jersey, and not super expensive at $45.
Available in both men’s and women’s, the Dirt Craft shorts and jacket and Forerunner jersey (LS and SS) are a valiant foray in the world of mountain biking. Perhaps in need of a few tweaks to the fits, Patagonia is bringing some true competition to the premium mountain bike clothing arena for those looking for styles that are a bit more subdued.