Patagonia is no stranger to the mantra “function over form” and the Storm Racer Jacket is a perfect example of just that. Sporting a unique design, the Storm Racer is ready to protect you from nature’s worst on that long-distance backcountry trail run.
Patagonia Storm Racer Waterproof Jacket Features:
- Part of the High Endurance Kit system
- Featherweight H2No® 100% recycled nylon ripstop
- Double-sided zipper system with waterproof zippers
- Adjustable hood maximizes field-of-vision
- Low-bulk elastic cuffs
- Integrated stuff sack
- Weight: 200g (medium, actual)
- MSRP: $249
Storm Racer is a bit of an enigma
Honestly, I love highly-functional gear. I value versatility. But, like most people, I have a method to how I use every piece of gear. With that in mind, the full Patagonia High Endurance Kit has been in review over the course of the year and it’s taken me much of that time to appreciate the full system as a whole. As a system, it works like a dream, but in pieces, your results may vary.
The kit consists of the Capilene Cool Trail Shirt, Airshed Pro Pullover, Slope Runner Endurance Vest, Endless Run Shorts, Strider Pro Pants and, of course, the Storm Racer Jacket. Of all those pieces, the Airshed Pro Pullover remains one of my favorites for cool mornings in the mountains. It’s light, breathable and has just enough protection to stave off morning chill.
As a kit, everything works in concert. But, like you, I have other shirts, jackets and hydration options that are better-suited for my typical 5-mile runs. As I discovered, the Storm Racer can be used separately from the full kit with much success — you just need to know the intent of every feature.
So, back to the Storm Racer. The most unique feature is the double chest zipper. Immediately, it makes the chest area less bulky and natural-feeling. This is particularly evident when fully-zipped because there’s just a smooth collar against your chin. There’s no need for a bulky zipper garage. As a result, the zipper-free chin feels outstanding when fully-zipped as it stands up just enough to provide coverage, but never digs or scratches the underside of my chin. When the form-fitting hood is deployed, the front is the perfect height to comfortably rest just under my chin while still allowing me to tuck inside just a little when things are particularly cold.
The Featherweight H2No fabric is wicked-light (only 200g) and has just touch of stretch for added comfort while running. With a streamlined fit, the Storm Racer has extra volume to accommodate the Sloper Runner Endurance Vest (or a similar hydration vest of your choosing). The sleeve length is outstanding and provides proper coverage with or without gloves and the simple elastic cuff offers just the right amount of closure. There isn’t a drawstring hem, but that would just add unnecessary bulk. There is a single snap at the bottom of the right side. It serves to allow extra movement when climbing and it also keeps the jacket in place should you fully unzip that side.
Zippers… on both sides
Let’s talk a little more about the zippers. The two sides allow you to vent one side or both. They also provide access to a vest underneath. I found the zippers difficult to unzip on-the-go. It almost always required me to bite the collar and pull, or do the two-handed unzip. For extra bonus points, I think the right side zipper should be bi-directional to allow interior access without unzipping from the collar. That’s a minimal change that would add to the usability of the Storm Racer Jacket.
When unzipping both sides, the front panel can be tucked inside. It seems odd, but it works well for both vest access and dumping heat. As far as dumping heat goes, the H2No fabric does a great job at expelling moisture. I never overheated or saturated the jacket. The subtly-textured interior face of the fabric helps to transfer moisture off and away. I’d pin this fabric as one of the best at being both waterproof and actually breathable.
Now, as far as utility when not paired with the rest of the High Endurance Kit, the results are a little mixed. Yes, it functions well outside the Patagonia ecosystem. And, the double zips are nice to have. I found myself unzipping the right side alone for quick ventilation (it works okay). And, even though I mostly run with a handheld bottle, I did appreciate unzipping both sides and tucking the panel inside to provide an open chest for supreme cooling. Honestly though, when I’m not wearing a hydration vest, I’d rather opt for a traditional jacket.
Fit: I’m 5’11” and 170 lbs, so I went with the medium Patagonia Storm Racer Jacket, which is what I wear always with Patagonia tops.
- H2No fabric is light, breathable and protective
- Perfect sleeve length and simple cuffs are spot-on
- That hood is nice and protective and works well with a running hat
- Double zippers allow easy access to a hydration vest
- Good length for coverage
- Zipper-free chin is a welcome relief
- Would love a two-way zipper on the right side
- Maximum utility is limited to the High Endurance Kit
- Hood is loud when worn while running
The Bottom Line: Patagonia Storm Racer Jacket
Again, the Storm Racer is, without question, a specialized piece of kit. The benefits of the jacket’s design are best enjoyed with fellow members of the High Endurance Kit, but can be served with your favorite base layers or hydration vests. With dual zippers, the front can be tucked down for an open experience, or just one side can be opened for ventilation. I love the combination of the zipperless chin and hood — both of which make this jacket extra comfortable on the trail.
Buy Now: Available at Patagonia.com