Patagonia’s Dirt Craft is a well-thought-out, very lightweight bike short for warm weather riding. Because it is lighter, it’s probably not meant to protect you like a pair of leather chaps. The fit is different, and we’d suggest trying them on before you commit your $149, no small sum. If they fit you well, you’ll love the slim, but well padded chamois.
When Patagonia debuted the Dirt Craft shorts in 2016, their fit garnered some concerns. The liner fit very snugly, particularly around the waist. I, like some others, found them to fit like a sausage casing, which was perplexing when you realized that the outer short was fairly baggy and was in constant need of tightening with the hook and webbing tightening system. They’ve addressed the issue somewhat and the fit seems both more consistent between the short and liner, and less restrictive in the waist. Of course, if you are rail-thin (I’m not), the liner might feel great. Try before you buy. Either way, around the thighs and crotch, the fit is perfect—snug enough not to snag on the seat when dismounting, but not too restrictive.
The short has a chic, anti-cargo shorts sensibility. With minimal pockets, and the fine hand of the material, these are shorts you’d feel good about kicking around some European city in (without the liner of course).
Apart from the aforementioned fit issues, the short excels in hot weather riding (though I never got cold even in 50-degree temps). With strategically placed mesh panels on the liner (sides, inner thighs, above sacrum), the liner breathes very well, as does the lightweight material of the outer short. The pad itself is very protective without being bulky.
The short fabric is the Dirt Craft’s best feature—superlight, very stretchy, and supple. It’s also Bluesign approved, meaning it meets the most stringent sustainably standards. The liner’s mesh breathability panels are a nice touch. There are only three pockets, which keep the short lightweight. You wouldn’t stash much in the handpockets, but the zippered hip pocket is plenty big and well positioned for a smartphone (off to the side where it won’t bug when pedaling). The biggest quibble was with the hook and webbing system for tightening the short. They frequently come unhooked, seem to spontaneously loosen, and one of the hooks bent when it caught on something else in the washing machine.
The short is plenty long, to keep abrasions at bay in the event of a wipe-out. The fabric is pretty light, so it won’t help you much if you tumble into a cactus.
Frederick Reimers was the editor of Canoe and Kayak Magazine from 2007-09 and has been writing for Outside, Men's Journal, Skiing and Powder ever since.