Patagonia Biking Clothing Spring 2020
Last Fall and this Spring I tested some items from Patagonia’s mountain biking clothing kit. I’ve been impressed with the functional, minimalist design of these pieces, and they’ve become my favorite clothes for riding trails.
The Capilene Midweight bike jersey is a great layer to wear on cool spring morning rides, or to bring along in your pack to wear on a long downhill.
Patagonia Biking Clothing Spring 2020
These have become my go-to liners for all my mountain bike rides. Designed specifically for mountain biking, these liners have a really thick chamois, great fit, and excellent ventilation (the majority of the surface is a breathable, tightly woven mesh).
The chamois padding is really thick and provides a good deal more cushion than a standard road cycling chamois, which is great for bumpy rides when I’m bouncing on and off the seat. This liner might take some getting used to if you’re used to a road chamois, but I’ve adapted to the thicker padding and I believe it’s well worth it.
The fit of this liner is great for mountain biking. 8 ¾” inseam is shorter than most road liners, but plenty long enough for mountain biking since I’m always wearing it under shorts. The elastic waistband is secure, without feeling constrictive, and small silicone grips on mid-thigh elastic bands keep the liner securely in place on my thighs, with no slipping. The overall effect of the design is that these keep me comfy in the saddle, while fitting more like underwear – a minimalist design that functions really well.
An additional bonus of the highly breathable mesh is that it dries super quickly; these liners will dry out on your body after riding through a rainstorm, and on multi-day bike-packing trips you can wash these and they’ll dry much faster than a standard liner. Additionally, two low-profile loops of cord on the hips allow these liners to attach to Patagonia’s Dirt Roamer or Dirt Craft bike shorts, creating a modular system for mountain biking shorts – cool!
Finally, a no-frills, minimalist pair of shorts for mountain biking. I’ve worn some mountain bike shorts over the years that included zip-open vents, Velcro waist-cinching panels, and all kinds of pockets. The thing is, I never really needed any of those features. I don’t put things in my pockets when I ride (it just feels awkward), and I just want a pair of shorts that breath well and don’t snag on the seat.
These Dirt Roamer shorts are impeccably designed – breathable, low-profile, everything you need and nothing you don’t. The material is stretchy, feels cool in hot weather, and the panels are welded together (rather than stitched), which eliminates any chafe points that could be caused by stitching. This is fantastic design for long mountain bike rides, especially riding multiple days in a row – anyone who’s spent many days in the saddle knows how the smallest irritation can turn into a painful sore after thousands pedal strokes.
The only additions to these shorts are a low-profile side pocket and snaps beneath the waistline that hold one of Patagonia’s mountain bike liner shorts (i.e. Endless Ride liners shorts or Dirt Roamer liner bibs), creating a modular liner-shorts system.
The pocket, while small, works find for holding my wallet or phone while stopping in at a gaas station, or carrying a Gu packet on a trail ride. These shorts are cut long, as is the fashion in mountain biking, with an 11 ½” inseam. I’m a cross-country rider myself, but I’m told by my friends who ride more aggressively that this length will cover the top of their knee-pads.
As a side note, these slim, stretchy shorts are great for other hip-flexy activities like yoga, rock climbing, and even surfing! I’ve been wearing them at the climbing gym all winter.
This is a simple, comfortable jersey for Spring and Fall riding when you want long sleeves. Like the Dirt Roamer shorts, the design is minimalist – just a well-fitting top with a few subtle features that add functionality for riding trails.
The 5.1 oz recycled polyester seems to strike the perfect balance between warmth and breathability for shoulder-season riding, making this jersey a really versatile piece. The fabric has a bit of loft in it, like wool, allowing both insulation from wind and breathability at the same time. I’m impressed with the range of temperatures in which this feels comfortable to ride in – from direct sun in the 60s to a chilly breeze in the 40s – a performance range I’d only tend to expect from merino wool.
This jersey is cut slim, but not skin-tight like a road biking jersey, which feels comfortable for riding trails. Like a lot of Patagonia uppers, I wear a Small despite being 6’ tall – I’d recommend browsing a few comments on their website or other review sites to get other people’s take on sizing.
A note on colors – for the ’19 and ’20 seasons, Patagonia is only selling the men’s version of this jersey in black or camo. I wish they made a lighter color, since that would help this jersey ride further into the warm spring temps without being too hot. I need to point out that selling a camo-colored jersey as a Fall riding piece is pretty tone-deaf – in Colorado, like much of the country, fall is hunting season, and we’re trying to stand out, not blend in. I don’t ride in blaze orange, but I certainly don’t go out on trails wearing camo.
The only additional features on this piece are three pockets on the lumbar spine that hold food and accessories (if you’re not wearing a backpack). They are a bit smaller than the traditional rear pockets on road bike jerseys, but I think this is appropriate, given that most mountain bikers have some additional storage, be it a back pack, fanny pack, or under-seat bag.
In summary, this is a well-designed jersey for cool-weather mountain biking. Despite being made of common-place polyester, the fabric’s structure makes this jersey about as versatile as the merino wool garments that cost twice as much! Considering that polyester will stand up a lot better to snagging on twigs and branches, I’d say this piece is a great value.