Patagonia is known for creating some of the highest quality technical outdoor gear that consistently performs exceptionally while emphasizing comfort, classic looks, and a very strong commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility. While the upfront cost may be a bit higher than some brands, the durability of the pieces and the ability to repair and rewear are exemplary. I have Patagonia running shorts, fleece, lightweight wind jackets, a puffy or two, and casual wear that are nearly 20 years old, and they’re still comfortably functional and pleasing to my eye.
In this article, we review four pieces of Patagonia apparel currently on the market:
- Patagonia Wind Shield Pants ($169)
- Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover ($139)
- Patagonia Ridge Flow Shirt ($59)
- Patagonia Micro D 1/4-Zip Fleece ($69)
I’m pretty consistently between the small and medium sizes with Patagonia, and I tend to order up because I prefer a looser fit. I’ll highlight where perhaps that wasn’t the right decision with the current line.
While I reviewed only the women’s versions, each item comes in a men’s fit as well, with few differences in design.
Patagonia Wind Shield Pants
I’ve had my eye on the Patagonia Wind Shield Pants ($169) for two years because on cold and windy days, I usually need something a bit more than tights but less than two full layers. This lightweight, stretchy softshell bonded to my favorite Capilene Cool fabric is just the ticket. I’m focusing on performance for this review, but if you’re interested in the technical details of the fabrics used — at least 50% recycled content — check out the website. The pants are available in both women’s and men’s fits.
The cut seems a bit more generous this season in the very best way as someone who has, shall we say, well-developed mountain climbing glutes, thighs, and calves. The optimal temperature range for running in these for me is somewhere between 15 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. At 45 degrees F, they can be warm if it’s a bright, sun-ball kind of day, but add some biting north wind or some clouds, and they regulate optimally due to the wisely placed breathable panels of Patagonia Peak Mission Tights fabric along the lateral legs and behind the knees. Below 15 degrees F, I simply add a pair of tight shorts and taller socks to layer up where I tend to get chilly. I have gone as low as -5 degrees F this season, and I added a down running skirt, which slid on over the smooth face without resistance.
For kicks and giggles, I also wore these for a 90-minute run in 34 degrees F and sideways “snain,” which is that lovely mix of driving rain and snow with perhaps a few icy bits mixed in. They performed admirably, keeping the 25-mile-per-hour wind out and allowing me to be as comfortable as possible in nasty conditions, but they did get a bit heavier due to the significant rain content. That being said, they moved enough moisture out that there wasn’t enough in them to actually ring out by the end. Obviously, that wasn’t exactly the target weather conditions for the pants, but if it were the only option I packed for a trip, I’d totally wear them again. These pants aren’t designed to be super-warm, sub-zero pants, but they do such an amazing job of cutting the wind, sloughing off light moisture, remaining breathable, and allowing full motion — and therefore speed — that somehow they create a little microclimate that is warmer and more protective than their weight would indicate as being possible.
Optimal comfort and technical function are further achieved via the wide, soft, stretchy waistband with the external drawcord, which prevents any friction against the mid-section skin. Side pockets on either side of the hips swallow most phones, snacks, keys, extra gloves, and even a small headlamp. I’d love to see a small zippered pocket for a key in the small of the back like most Patagonia running bottoms have, but with the side thigh pockets, it’s less necessary. The ankles have a tall, gusseted zipper to facilitate easier on/off, and while I can get them over a pair of shoes, I still find it simpler just to be in sock feet. This zipper is helpful with heat management without sacrificing protection from snow and splash-back if the temperatures ramp up during your run. Lastly, the durable water repellent (DWR) finish on the softshell allows most snow to slough off, even if you’re taking regular hits from snowshoe tails or fat bike falls.
I tried both the small and medium Patagonia Wind Shield Pants on in a store, and the small pants fit more like leggings and restrict knee flexion and high step-ups. They’re also tighter than I prefer around the calves, though comfortable through the waist and hips. The side pockets on the small truly are no bounce. The medium fits a little more like running pants, and I have room to layer tall socks and tight shorts beneath. The calves are roomy enough, and there is zero restriction to any steep climbing, scrambly moves, or high leg lifts for fat bike rides where you routinely forget you have a dropper post. Regardless of how far I run, they do not sag, slip, or fall down — rather miraculous overall. I do get a little bounce in the side pockets if carrying the weight of a phone, but without a doubt, the mediums are my preferred size. I’m 5 feet, 5 inches, and they completely cover my ankle bones with a bit left over, but someone on the taller end of the spectrum may appreciate a longer length.
Summary: I. Love. These. Pants.
Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover
I purchased the first version of the Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover ($139) a couple of years ago as I searched for that illusive super lightweight wind layer that had magical breathability and protection, didn’t cause overheating, and squished to nothing when stowed. It was so light I found it hard to trust at first. Suffice it to say, many hundreds of miles later, it’s on my must-pack checklist for all mountain adventures in the spring, summer, and fall. The current rendition of the Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover is available in both a men’s and women’s specific fit, is super light, and can stuff into a long, thin pocket sewn into the hood.
There are no other pockets on the garment at all, which is wise with how light it is. The deep, two-way, unobtrusive zipper (with a thin garage to protect skin) in the front facilitates venting, regardless of whether the hood is snugly on your head or not. This has been a pretty key function up on high, windy ridges. I feel like the thin, Capilene Cool lightweight scuba hood provides a cone of protection for my head and face, while the deep zipper lets me easily regulate internal temperature. It allows for fewer clothing changes as temperatures swing. The forearms and a panel to the underarms are made from the same material, thus facilitating breathability and the sliding of sleeves up and down with ease. The sleeves are wonderfully long — my hands fit completely up inside without any pull across the back for those days when one pair of gloves isn’t quite enough, but you don’t need the second layer for long.
The body of the Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover has a unique texture and feel — the ultra-lightweight 100% nylon stretch taffeta with durable water repellent allows unhindered movement, but there’s almost a crispness to it that clearly levels up the performance and takes the edge off the wind. Once you have it on and you’re cruising in the elements, it all makes sense. Compared to the former Patagonia Airshed 1/4-Zip Pullover Wind Shirt, which I also have and love, it is a bit less soft but a better technical performer.
So where exactly does the Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover fit in the grand scheme of things? In Patagonia’s technical high-endurance-output line, it’s part of an integrated system designed specifically for mountain running that minimizes clothing changes and keeps pack weight low. In my personal gear collection, I use this over a short sleeve technical top when light wind protection is favored over warmth. It’s a piece I can wear all day most days when I’m up high because of the venting and breathability, and I love not having to take a less breathable option on and off several times throughout the day. On cooler days, it’s a great light-wind layer in conjunction with insulation, especially thanks to the superb scuba hood. Now, if it’s freezing, blowing a gale, and I’m bashing through willows, there are better and more sturdy protective pieces. So, is this essential? No, but is it incredible if you run on the warm side and just need a bit more than a base layer? Absolutely.
Size-wise, my past season version is a medium, which fits beautifully, stays down around my hips and waist, and accommodates my layering preferences. This new version is also medium and may be a bit roomier in the body, but I wouldn’t change a thing. If you’re in between sizes, you may want to size up based on comments from some users on the website, who found the sizing to be slim through the hips.
We like this jacket so much that we’ve named it the best hybrid jacket for winter running in our Cold Weather Running Gear guide.
Patagonia Ridge Flow Shirt
The Patagonia Ridge Flow Shirt ($59) is made of a highly breathable, moisture-wicking jacquard fabric that is oh, so soft, loosely skims over the body, and dries even before you realize it’s damp. In the women’s shirt, a cap sleeve provides a bit of sun protection with maximum shoulder mobility — a great lifting/spinning/high-intensity workout option. There’s a large keyhole design mid-back to improve venting and provide an aesthetic detail. I may be in the minority, but I can’t imagine why a large hole in the mid-back is desirable under any circumstances, but to its credit, there is no chafing created while wearing any of my hydration packs, so I suppose I’ll accept it … and make sure I never wear it sans pack outside and risk a very odd sunburn. The men’s shirt with standard short sleeves does not have this detail.
I find the sizing difference between the small and medium Patagonia Ridge Flow Shirt to be very similar to the various Capilene Cool running shirts. The small gives me a more tailored fit but still plenty of length, and the medium is roomier and breezier, with more flexibility through the shoulders — I prefer the medium.
Patagonia Micro D 1/4-Zip Fleece
This classic, clean Patagonia Micro D 1/4-Zip Fleece ($69) has been in the Patagonia insulation line in some form for as long as I can remember — in both a men’s and a women’s version. I can attest to the longevity of such a piece, as I have one from the last century that is still cozy and wearable — at under $70, it’s an incredible value piece.
Micro D fabric is a fine pile, 100% recycled microfleece that is ultra soft and feels incredible, whether over a sports bra or casual shirt in an everyday setting. The stand-up double fleece collar keeps the elements out with the zipper up, and the chin stays protected via a subtle zipper garage. The length extends to the hips, which allows for full arm motions without any midriff-exposing surprises. While I prefer lounging and adulting in this fleece, simply because it’s so lovely, it excels as a high warmth-weight ratio insulation layer for lift-served ski days and stop-start activities where warmth is a prime focus. Though it may not be what it was designed for, I survived several years in the wintry rain of western Oregon with an earlier version of this fleece as my frequent choice of outerwear — it retains heat even when wet, breathes well, and dries relatively quickly as long as the rain isn’t too heavy, so it was about perfect for the dark, early morning daily runs. Technical rain gear has come a long way since then, so my Patagonia Micro D 1/4-Zip Fleece is firmly back in the warm, dry insulation category, however.
Based on history and past purchases, I confidently chose the medium and found that the small would have been a better fit. Both have excellent arm mobility and length, such that I can pull my hands up inside and give myself a hug, but the medium has significantly more room through the body and shoulders, such that sizing down is the better option. Will it stop me from wearing this lusciousness? Absolutely not. This is one of the coziest fleece tops in my collection, and it’s refined enough to achieve “Colorado dressy” in almost any non-athletic setting. You simply can’t beat the value of this cozy, long-lasting, classic piece.
Patagonia Apparel Overall Impressions
Patagonia gear is always a pleasure to review because I know I’ll have technically sound, comfortable, and high-performing pieces to keep me running and adventuring without concern of gear failure.
It is not hyperbole to state that if I were to write a best-gear-ever list to summarize my all-time favorite and most reliable running gear, the Patagonia Wind Shield Pants and the Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover would be included.
The Patagonia Micro D 1/4-Zip Fleece would be on my favorite lounge gear list with optional hard-core activity usage as well. While the Patagonia Ridge Flow Shirt might not make the best-ever list, it’s a solid t-shirt option if both performance and aesthetic details top your desired traits list in your gear.
With Patagonia’s commitment to high-quality recycled materials and fabrics, Fair Trade Certified sewing practices, bluesign fabrics, as well as their Worn Wear program and sustainability practices, you can feel a bit better about your purchases knowing full well they’ll outlast about anything else in your outdoor adventure clothing collection.
Call for Comments
- Have you tried any of the pieces in this apparel review? What were your impressions?
- Is there any other item of Patagonia gear that you love? Tell us why!
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]