Shoulder season is peeking through the clouds, lined by wildflowers for folks north of the equator, and the crunch of leaf-covered tracks in the southern hemisphere. On either side of the split, rainy days are on the way. During the unforgiving hours, pedaling through cold rain, I have often dreamt of being shroud in a completely waterproof suit. The product designers at Dirtlej, in Wittlingen Germany, clearly share my desire for a dry home to ride inside, and they have created precisely that.
The Dirt Suit Pro Edition closes the gap between your shorts and rain jacket, keeping you warmer, dryer, and off the couch longer. With long sleeves, a tall collar, and long shorts to cover the top of your knee pads, this super-tech onesie will have your friends shopping shortly after the soggy weekend group ride.
Fit and function
Before trying the suit on I was curious if it would be baggy, and generally look like I was wearing overalls. It doesn’t. In fact, the suit fits tighter than some of my bifurcated riding gear, and I would strongly recommend following the size guide when you order. If I gained 5lbs I would have to go up in size from the small that I tested.
I also had the feeling that it might look silly or novel. It doesn’t. It looks like you are wearing a smarter version of a waterproof jacket and shorts, which you are. The flexible material at the suit’s lumbar allows it to move with you as you slide around in the mud.
The cut of the suit leaves room for a back protector beneath, and ample overlap with any style of kneepad. The hood fits comfortably over a size XL helmet and cinches down tight with a central adjustment draw. I prefer to keep the drawstring tucked away while riding by rolling it securely in the flap of material at the nape of the suit.
There are two large zippered ventilation openings on either leg, two on the chest, and two that run the full length of the torso and underarms. The material also breathes as well as any top-shelf waterproof apparel, and If you are unable to cool off in this suit, it is likely too warm out to wear rain gear. The designers at Dirtlej know how your hands can feel (or rather not feel) at the end of a rainy winter shred, and they added some large zipper handles to the underarm vents making them easier to operate.
The four waterproof pockets keep your ride accessories dry from the inside and out, so you won’t have to let your wallet air out between rides.
In the dirt
I rode in the Dirtsuit for a few months this winter, in temperatures ranging from 0°C (32°F) to 10°C (50°F). Much of this riding was up a singletrack climb in the hills behind my house, then down one of the faster descending tracks, with ride times ranging from 1.5-4hrs. With roughly 600 meters (1,968ft) of ascent per lap, this place is perfect for testing how well rain gear keeps the elements outside, and the sweat evaporating.
Even on warmer days, I started the climb with the suit zipped shut and reached the top with the side vents opened up to let the steam escape. Then at the summit, I zipped it up to keep warm while coasting. I like to ride decently hard to keep warm in the winter, rather than wearing heaps of layers, and the Dirtsuit’s varied ventilation openings made that a comfortable option. The side vents start roughly a third of the way down the underarm, and extend to the waistline, providing a massive amount of fresh airflow. I was comfortable climbing and descending for multiple laps in this warm, dry onesie until temperatures reached the 10°C mark. Once the ambient temperature is above that I prefer to forego rain gear, and simply keep rolling to keep warm.
On the cooler end of the spectrum, our winter days only dipped below freezing for a couple of weeks this year. When riding on snow or frozen ground I wore a wool base layer, zipped the suit up tight all around, pulled the long sleeves over my waterproof gloves, and enjoyed the ride. The Dirtsuit won’t save you from the deep-freeze of a winter tire puncture or mechanical, but in every other case, you will be cozy and warm in its shell.
- Actual weight: 919g for the size small
- Waterproof: 15,000mm water column
- Breathability: 10,000 g/m2/24h
- 4 waterproof pockets
- 8 zippered air vents
- Shell material: 85% polyamide, 15% polyester
- Liner material: 100% polyester
- Machine washable
- Sizes: Unisex XS-XXL, Women’s cut XS-XL
- Available spring 2018 through these dealers
I am a proponent of products and practices that allow people to enjoy going outdoors more often, and that is the clear aim Dirtlej took on with this suit. If I made the Dirtsuit I would give it full-length legs, which Dirtlej has created with their Core Edition. If you like to put your head down and pedal through the soggy seasons, this is a well-built piece of gear to help you through. It is tough enough that you may want to wear it on winter trail building days, or layer up to watch races in the rain. Dirtlej also makes summer apparel and several other products that can be found on their site.
Lastly, I have looked far and wide for a pair of waterproof short and rain jacket combo that matches these technical capabilities and found nothing in this price range. For helmet-to-knee coverage, the Dirtsuit Pro comes at a fair price.
What do you think? Is there a wet-weather onesie in your future?
We would like to thank Dirtlej for providing the Dirtsuit Pro for review.