A few years back I picked up the Patagonia Light Flyer Jacket. The jacket was made of Gore-Tex Active fabric (highly breathable) and was loaded with running specific features. The jacket worked great for running, but while backpacking I really missed having an option for a hood. Last year I came across a new jacket from Patagonia. Another running specific jacket that now incorporated a hood. I was hoping the jacket could not only perform for running but also have a few features that would allow crossover on backpacking trips. I decide to pull the trigger and have been testing it since.
Initial Thoughts- The Patagonia Storm Racer was designed through a collaboration with their trail running team. Their runners were looking for a jacket that was light enough for racing, yet still met the requirements for international ultras. The Storm Racer is made from 30 denier ripstop nylon and is coated in a DWR finish. The material feels similar to their Torrentshell line of jackets. The Racer has no pockets on the outside, and one pocket on the inside at the chest. It is sized appropriately to fit a phone or bars, etc. Each sleeve has a waterproof zippered vent that is located on the top of the arm. Heat rises, so why not let it rise out the top of the sleeve, rather then underneath. On the back of the jacket is another pair of vents that run vertically. The wrist collars have elastic and are sized to cover the top of the hands. Moving up to the collar there is a soft knit collar that rises high around the neck. The collar also manages to hide a hood which is hidden by the snap closure. The hood has a single pull cinch and is formed to prevent rain from hitting you in the face. The jacket in size Mens XS comes in at 8.28 oz. I purchased the Chartreuse color which is bright, think safety green bright. No way to misplace this jacket. The jacket is build and feels typical of Patagonia's quality.
Use- The Patagonia Storm Racer was used on trail runs in freezing weather and on temperate backpacking trips that required an additional layer of wind protection. While using the jacket for running the first thing I noticed was the inner material. The material is textured which creates a slight ripple feel. This is claimed to help keep the jacket from sticking to sweaty skin, eliminating that clammy feeling some jackets give you. Surprisingly the material really works. Even on runs where the temperature was rising I was able to maintain comfort by venting the front zip and arm zips. Since I often run with a vest the rear vents were often compressed and couldn't function fully. Considering the material is just waterproof nylon (no fancy materials) it breathes incredibly well. In comparison to the Gore-Tex Active material, Storm Racer breathes slightly less. All the zippers on the jacket are easy to use with bare hands or gloves. On backpacking trips I enjoyed the option of the hood, but wished that Patagonia would have added hand pockets. I realize that the jacket is geared towards runners, but I don't want to have a specialty jacket for ever sport. The one thing I hate is that the internal chest pocket is not designed to store the jacket. I could easily make do without the hand pockets, but not being able to pack the jacket in a pocket is annoying. The hood on the other hand is well designed at fits comfortably. The adjustment is easy and the coverage is solid. Since this is an Arizona review, I tested the jacket in the shower for waterproofness and coverage. The jacket did great. The sleeves are generously cut to provide hand protection, but I would have liked to see the deployable hand coverage that were found on the Light Flyer.
Final Thoughts- The Patagonia Storm Racer is designed for fast and light travel in the backcountry. Whether racing across the Hardrock course or hill repeats on your local trail. The jacket works excellent for trail running, mountain biking and hiking (with some compromises). The Racer is as close to an all around jacket I have found for multiple outdoor disciplines. A few tweaks and the jacket could be perfect, but unfortunately Patagonia discontinued it this year. So if you really want one you can snag it on clearance at Patagonia's website. Overall I am pleased with the jacket and it will continue to be my preferred wet weather jacket for running, cycling and backpacking.
*This product was purchased for testing.