In recent years, Patagonia has put a lot of focus on trail running. That focus has driven them to deliver some unique and highly-functional products for those of us who like to run on dirt. I first caught a glimpse of the Patagonia Light Flyer Jacket at Outdoor Retailer in 2011. With its recent introduction, the Light Flyer is a purpose-built trail running jacket for foul weather. Bring on the rain, I say!
Patagonia Light Flyer Jacket Features:
- Extremely breathable 3-layer GORE-TEX® Active fabric is durably waterproof and windproof
- Self-fabric stand-up collar is lined with lightweight mesh for comfort
- Upper arm zippers can be unzipped to facilitate air flow through the jacket toward the back venting system
- Comfortable articulated sleeve with fold-over cuff converts to mitt for wet/cold weather protection
- Small waterproof pocket at center back holds essentials
- Low-profile drawcord at hem
- Reflective logos at left chest and center-back neck
- Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish
- Fit: Athletic with articulated sleeves
- Colors: Bandana Blue (tested), Paintbrush Red
- MSRP: $279
Patagonia Light Flyer Jacket Review
The Light Flyer is Patagonia’s lightest waterproof/breathable running jacket. Built with Gore-Tex Active, the Light Flyer is minimalist with a twist. It’s 9.1 oz weight tells the tale that this jacket has scrimped on creature comfort in favor of trail worthiness. Those trail manners are what makes the Light Flyer a great jacket to have in your arsenal should you choose to run in inclement weather.
I grew up in Seattle, so I’m used to heading out into the rain. With that same gusto, I’ve been chomping at the bit for stormy days this fall. I’ve found a few and set out to test the Light Flyer in its element.
When I said the Light Flyer is minimalist “with a twist”, I meant it was designed with just the right features and built around Gore-Tex Active (W. L. Gore’s best all-around fabric, in my opinion). With Gore-Tex Active, you get the best of both worlds: waterproof and breathable. Traditional Gore-Tex laminates simply don’t breathe nearly as well as Active does. Yet, it still protects against foul weather like you’d expect it to.
The Light Flyer is pocket-free in the front with two zippered upper-arm vents. The back features a single pocket in the middle-lower back. This pocket is so small it’s only useful for an energy gel or two and a single key. Sadly, it’s not even large enough to fit my iPhone 4S, so forget about bringing that smart phone along, unless you have alternative carrying options. Granted, a hip pocket may be better for carrying a phone, but nonetheless, the miniature pocket is a bit of a miss.
When it comes to performance of the Light Flyer, it’s hard to fault anything there. Gore-Tex Active fabric does an amazing job at shedding the elements while allowing ample ventilation. The built-in back vents are fantastic at improving the overall performance, which is only improved when the upper-arm zips are opened. I will say that the location of the vents make it difficult to open/close the zippers with a single hand. I had to grab the jacket with one hand and zip with the other as a single-handed pull never seemed to work. Once opened, the cross-ventilation is easy to feel.
To further combat the elements, the jacket features built-in mitten cuffs. When not in use, they serve to protect the backside of the hand from rain, snow and wind. Once the weather turns nasty, they are easily deployed as mittens, with full coverage and protection. In this mode, the sleeves do get a bit uncomfortable. Perhaps a more stretchy softshell material would be better. As-is, they do the job in a pinch, but would get annoying for an extended period. Again, they are “just in case”, and typically, I’d be running with gloves, so the added protection is ample for its intended use.
I really liked the diameter and height of the mesh-lined collar. The light fabric lining really improves overall next-to-skin comfort and warmth. Until broken-in, the zipper had a hard time fitting into the zipper garage in the collar, but that improved with use.
After a long run in the rain, I couldn’t be more appreciative of the good qualities of the Light Flyer — namely the choice of Gore-Tex Active fabric and it’s ability to breathe. And, after a wet, snowy mountain bike ride, I was as dry as a bone inside and very comfortable. Patagonia Ultra Running Team member, Justin Angle agrees:
A NOTE ABOUT FIT: I’m 5’11 and 175 lbs. I often fall between a medium and large in most jackets. The size large I tested fit me perfectly with just the right amount of wiggle room while still maintaining a streamlined, minimalist feel. Sleeve length was great.
Good Light Flyer
- Gore-Tex Active Shell is their best laminate yet
- Extremely light for a fully-waterproof/breathable shell
- Athletic cut makes for an efficient feel
- Extra length hem keeps you covered running or biking
- No-nonsense design
- Built-in back vents are a nice touch
Bad Light Flyer
- Can’t open arm vents one-handed
- Built-in mitten cuffs are uncomfortable for extensive use
- Miniature rear pocket doesn’t carry essentials
Bottom Line: Patagonia Light Flyer Jacket
The Light Flyer Jacket rewards those who check the weather in anticipation of that next storm. Running in the rain and cold is refreshing, invigorating and calming and the Light Flyer allows you to get out in the worst weather while staying dry, warm and comfortable.
Buy Now: Available at REI.com