Rowan spends a lot of time trail running through all the seasons Canberra throws at him, so he was the perfect person to test out Patagonia’s Nine Trails shorts and t-shirt and their Houdini Rain Jacket and give us the lowdown on how Patagonia’s men’s trail running range worked out in the long run.
Running Through Canberra’s Seasons
After a long winter in Canberra, the joy of running in spring with sunshine and higher temperatures makes it a special time of year. Trading thermal tights, gloves, beanie, several layers on the top half and running in the dark for light clothing and sunshine is something I really look forward to each year.
I love having the 4 distinct seasons here, each bringing a welcome change from the last. The downside to this is requiring some pretty diverse gear to maintain comfort throughout the year, which I think is pretty critical for maintaining motivation and training in both the depths of winter and height of summer.
My main love of the outdoors over the past 15 years has centred on endurance sport, with off-road triathlon being the focus for my coming season of racing. It’s always tricky to juggle a multisport training load — my weeks involve 50-60 km of running, most of which I do off-road.
The warmer weather combined with receiving a set of Patagonia gear has made getting out on the trails these past few weeks very exciting! Patagonia really is a premium brand that needs little introduction, with ethically produced, thoughtfully designed gear made for adventure across a spectrum of mountains to ocean. This is my first time running in their clothing and I am stoked to say that it has lived up to my high expectations.
Discussing the pros and cons of running gear can be a really personal thing. With my background of training each week I am running flat out in shorter sessions and then spending 2-3 hours cruising along trails of a weekend. This means I place a real premium on gear fitting well and being comfortable kilometre after kilometre on the trail. The next aspect I will be looking at is the technical features in a broader sense, looking at versatility and functionality. I will touch on durability (only briefly as this is not a long term test), weight and price to round out the picture.
Patagonia Men’s Nine Trails Short
Along with shoes, running shorts are, for me, the critical item for maintaining comfort on the trails. Putting the Nine Trails Short on for the first time I was struck with how different they feel to what I normally run in. The length, at 8 inches, is more relaxed, and they had a full-length supportive liner rather than a brief, which at first felt different but quickly felt really natural. The storage options were also plentiful, with 3 large zippered pockets rather than a small single which I am used to.
Getting out on the trail I was really happy to have the full-length liner. The real test was a 32km trail race I did shortly after receiving them. Normally for a race of this length I would use body glide to reduce the friction from a brief style liner through my hip creases, but I went without to play with fire and see what a difference this design feature would make.
After a couple of hours I was pretty impressed not to have any issues at all — the only thing was making sure the shorts were pulled up quite high on my hips to ensure the liner sat as it is designed to. The material breathed well, and didn’t get noticeably heavier with sweat throughout the run, which was awesome.
Often a long run for me will end at a local coffee shop, so having the capacity to comfortably store a phone, wallet and even a lightweight wind jacket in the pockets of my shorts is a real bonus that I haven’t experienced before. Likewise the storage makes light work of carrying a couple of bars or gels along with your phone on a long run.
The short material had a nice level of stretch which meant the fit was still comfortable even when all the pockets were loaded up.
In the weeks of running I have put in so far the durability is looking good, with no fading or wearing even in the higher stress areas. Weight wise they are a substantial short at 192g for a medium pair. The weight didn’t concern me and seemed like a fair compromise for the great liner and pockets.
I wouldn’t wear them as a road race short but for their purpose on the trail they are spot on. At $90 they are an expensive set of shorts and definitely more than I would normally spend. But that money is getting you a top quality pair of high performance shorts which are made from over 90% recycled plastic.
Patagonia Men’s Nine Trails Shirt
As a full time parent I often find myself wearing my training gear for a few hours before squeezing a run in between other commitments. Having a humble t-shirt that nails both jobs is a great proposition.
Pulling the Nine Trails Shirt on for the first time I could have sworn it was cotton, with that heavier woven feel and warmth. Once I started pushing on the trail, the breathability of the shirt highlighted that it really is a more high tech piece of gear. It breathed really well for its weight, and had some well placed gussets to help with chafe free arm swing. Likewise, keeping tags off the neck is one of those small details that you appreciate after a longer day in a shirt.
It really strikes me as a great 3 season running shirt, as that thicker material with breathability makes it a great option for spring and autumn, or as a base layer through winter. I wouldn’t choose this for doing a speed session where my sweat rate is really high, or likewise running over summer in the heat.
Spending time both running and cruising with the family in the 9 trails tee, I think Patagonia did a great job at creating a shirt which looks good and feels great in a variety of situations. It costs $70, which is a lot for a t-shirt, but the versatility it offers justifies the price. Similar to the short there is nothing to report with durability after the time reviewing the shirt.
Patagonia Men’s Houdini Jacket
The ultimate piece of running comfort in spring or in the mountains is having a high quality lightweight jacket that removes wind chill and keeps you dry with a passing shower. The Patagonia Houdini Jacket is incredibly light and with the nylon shell I found myself starting off my early morning runs with this jacket on, but stuffing it away after a couple of kilometres once I had warmed up.
The fit was really comfortable, with the half elastic cuffs, full-length zip and toggle adjustable hood. I went with an XL (I’m 6’5” and 85 kg, so could have fit a L), which was a bit bigger but allowed me to comfortably throw the Houdini Jacket on with a full hydration pack underneath.
Again, on the days my long run coincided with wintery conditions, having the Houdini was a real pleasure. We all know the type of days, where the temperature is a high single digit but squalls and wind drop the apparent temperature well below 5 degrees. Being able to grab the jacket out of my back pocket as I crested to top of hills or ran exposed ridgelines instantly gave me the insulation to keep my core and upper body in that sweet spot for the whole run, rather than cooling down and having to try to regain equilibrium. And once I was back in the forest it easily packed back down for me to continue on.
The Houdini Jacket is incredibly light at around 110g and being able to pack down to the size of an avocado in its own pocket makes the Houdini a super easy piece of kit to add to your expeditions where you are pushing in the outdoors and need a bit of insulation from the elements. At $160 the jacket is quite moderately priced.
Patagonia have developed a really well designed and executed trail running range. The shorts, t-shirt and jacket are all great stand-alone pieces of kit, but for me have been the perfect combination for spring running. They are definitely on the expensive end of the market but, as with the majority of gear, you get what you pay for and the versatility and thoughtful design will make these compelling options for a wide range of runners and others who enjoy being outdoors in quality gear.
Rowan was provided the Patagonia Nine Trails Short, and Nine Trails Shirt and the Houdini Jacket for review purposes and got to keep them. The views are entirely his own
Hit the trail…