Patagonia designed the Storm Racer jacket to be lightweight without compromising on what matters: comfort, waterproofness, and breathability. I was “lucky” over the past couple of months with many opportunities for windy, wet, cold, and generally bad weather in the UK to test and review this jacket as I was training for the Arc of Attrition race — 100 miles of Cornish coastal path in wintry conditions. This jacket meets the mandatory kit requirement and would be a good one to take with me on this event.
The Storm Racer is a hooded hard-shell jacket with a minimalistic design. The overall cut is straight without having too much of a snug fit. An obvious fact is that it zips fully open at the front and can be put on like a normal jacket. This is unlike some other wind/waterproof shells I came across that lack a full-length zip and have to be put on like a jumper, which can be cumbersome.
The size S I tested feels true to size and weighs 187g on my kitchen scale, which is on the light side compared to other race shell jackets I own.
The fit allows a full range of movement, even when wearing base and mid layers. It was also roomy enough to cover a small hydration vest underneath if needed. I usually wear my hydration vest over all other layers, including the shell, but under drenching conditions and with a hydration vest that isn’t waterproof, it’s often preferable to cover everything.
The jacket material feels premium and solid, yet it is thin and flexible. It relies on Patagonia’s H2No technology, a multi-layer design made out of an inner tricot layer for comfort that feels smooth against the skin, an outer ripstop fabric woven to resist tearing for durability, and a water-repellent surface coating.
I ran into brambles on one of my outings and was expecting to have scratched or torn some of the fabric, but no damage was done, fortunately thanks to the ripstop fabric. I ruined other jackets that way in the past; this one is tougher-wearing. The fabric also resisted abrasion from the hydration vest rubbing over it and did not keep creases from packing and unpacking it, even after a couple of months of use.
The surface coating was not as water-repellent as I would have expected, compared to some other high-end jackets I have used. While rainwater would initially form beads and roll over the jacket, it would soon start spreading into the outer layer. That being said, the H2No fabric did remain waterproof overall, and I didn’t get wet even after a few hours of running in the rain. As would be expected for a premium shell jacket like this one, and in line with mandatory kit rules in numerous trail races, waterproofness is also ensured by all seams being taped, with zips also being aquaguard-like.
The jacket design has no vents. Besides having the obvious option to keep the front zip open, breathability comes from the fabric design itself. I did not feel excessive wet-out effect (when moisture from perspiration cannot escape through the fabric and gets trapped in) and could most of the time forget I had the jacket on.
I only experienced a little bit of wet-out and overheating when exerting myself by running harder, long and sharp uphills. Fortunately, hills do not last forever, and these effects went away as soon as I reached the top.
The jacket’s only pocket is at chest level. It is waterproof inside, surprisingly roomy, and can be used for storing small light items such as gloves, a buff, or energy bars, or for packing the jacket itself by flipping the pocket inside out (the pocket zip is double-sided). I would not use this pocket for carrying heavier items like my smartphone, finding it would bounce when running.
Packing the jacket into the chest pocket was cumbersome the first time I tried. It took a couple of attempts to get it right and to learn how to do it fast and efficiently. The eventual trick was to flip the pocket inside out, hold it with a grip on each side from the zip, and push the jacket inside (without needing to pre-fold it) with the thumbs, aiming first for the corners of the pocket. Once done, the packed jacket was compact and could easily be stored away in my hydration vest or backpack. There was no wrinkly plastic bag effect after unpacking. All creases quickly went away, and the jacket continued looking sharp.
The hood is adjustable and can be tightened with a single drawstring mechanism at the back of the head. The hood includes a hard brim to help keep it in place, especially in windy conditions. The brim is vertical, which doesn’t help divert much rolling raindrops from the face. I simply addressed it by wearing a cap underneath. The jacket has no storage or mechanism to secure the hood when not in use. I avoided having it in the way and flapping when in the wind by simply using the drawstring to tie it tighter together.
The front of the jacket zips high, covering the whole neck and, if needed, the mouth and nose area for increased protection. Both front and chest pocket zips have zip garages, avoiding things getting caught in them. The jacket cuffs are designed to be kept open without velcro to tie them close. Instead, the cuffs are flat on the top half of the wrists, which helps keep them in place, and slightly elastic on the bottom half. The cuffs are wide enough for covering a watch and gloves and for easily pulling the sleeves up and down as needed.
I found it practical when scrambling, when I wanted to cool down, or when I wanted to check my watch. The lower end of the jacket can also be tightened with a drawstring mechanism. The jacket always held in place when wearing either a backpack or a hydration vest, without rolling up and being pulled higher from moving.
True to Patagonia’s green credentials, the jacket fabric is made of recycled plastic. The jacket label also references Patagonia’s own garment repair scheme for extending the life of the item or making sure it’s properly recycled. Hopefully this will not be needed; the jacket seems solid and durable.
Overall, the Storm Racer jacket is a strong contender for your next winter or mid-season trail race or training run outing. I could forget I was wearing it when using it, and I could simply enjoy my running without worrying about weather conditions.
Review by Julien Cazorla
Men’s Storm Racer Jacket
(Steam Blue option available)
£150 (currently on sale)