Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $113 - $189 | Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros: Stylish, lightweight, great waterproofing
Cons: Zippers/pit-zips are sticky, doesn’t pack inside itself, hood cinches are tough to use, not very breathable
Best Uses: backpacking, everyday use
The Patagonia Rain Shadow is an attractive option for someone who needs a rain shell that looks good, is relatively lightweight, and isn't overrun with extraneous features. It is on the expensive side, so we would generally recommend the Patagonia Torrentshell over the Rain Shadow. It is slightly heavier but almost the same jacket for $60 less. Or go really cheap and get the Marmot PreCip, our Best Buy winner which is $80 less. To see exactly how the Rain Shadow compared to others, check out our complete Rain Jacket Review.
The Rain Shadow is Patagonia’s slightly more high-tech, lightweight offering in the shell category (their less expensive jacket is the Patagonia Torrentshell). The Rain Shadow is the most attractive jacket that we tested and we loved the fit and cut of the coat. It is also fairly comfortable and layered well over other clothing.
A big part of Patagonia is the history, manufacturing process, and philosophy behind their gear that is told in Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard. Highly recommended reading.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
A fairly lightweight rain shell made from Patagonia's 2.5 layer H2No fabric, this is a decent jacket for everyday outdoor use.
We found the Rain Shadow to be completely waterproof. We tested the jacket in everything from Bay Area misty fog, to warmer Southern California downpours, to Truckee autumn almost-frozen miserableness and the jacket kept all moisture at bay. We stayed dry on rainy days around town and after a 1 hour run in a steady downpour the only moisture inside the jacket was self-made perspiration. We never felt any seepage or leakage, even at potential problem areas such as the zippers and along the seams. The best thing about the zippers on this jacket is that they have a coating that actually keeps all the water out. Simply put, Patagonia’s 2.5 layer H2No fabric does the trick.
The rain shadow breathes OK, but as with any rain shells, it does tend to get a bit stuffy. In high intensity activities we got wet on the inside, so if you're a sweaty person well…you get the picture. The pit-zips help keep the jacket circulating air and prevent a complete soaking from the inside, but it was not as ventilated as the Marmot Aegis or the Marmot PreCip, which have pit-zips and large mesh pockets that can be left open to help with breathability. The Rain Shadow's pockets are not mesh and do not double as vents.
Comfort & Mobility
We really like the way this jacket looks. As far as rain jackets go, this one is as attractive as they come. We think that because the zippers lacked any type of storm flap, the jacket has a cleaner look than its competitors whose zippers have a flap of fabric covering them. The cut and fit of the jacket are also spot on. We could wear the jacket comfortably with a layer or two underneath, and it still looked good when thrown quickly over a t-shirt. The Rain Shadow is also pretty darn comfortable for a rain shell. It has a little bit of micro-fleece along the collar, making it slightly cozy.
We like the design of the hood on the Rain Shadow, and the way that it fit the head. Fitting a helmet in there would be a super tight squeeze, and would likely alter the effectiveness of the hood. While we liked the design of the hood itself, the hood tightening system left something to be desired. The loose ends of the elastic tightening cord inside the hood are located inside the collar. This means that to tighten the hood up you have to unzip the collar. Kind of a pain if you are putting the hood on in the rain and have to let some water in/heat out to tighten up the hood.
The cinches for the waist are right in front and straightforward, making it super easy to tighten up the bottom of the jacket. The cuffs tighten with simple Velcro and do a good job of sealing up tight.
One of the coolest features on the jacket is also one of the biggest problems with it: the zippers. The waterproof coating on the zippers makes them look cool and eliminates extra fabric on the coat, but also makes the zippers really hard to operate, particularly on the pit-zips. We found the pit-zips almost impossible to operate with one hand… so basically impossible to use. We did notice that the zippers started to loosen up after a lot of use, so maybe they will break in well.
In an effort to craft a lightweight rain jacket, Patagonia eliminated the need for more than two pockets on the Rain Shadow. The pockets themselves are pretty cool (they’re made of the same waterproof material as the jacket, so whatever is in the pocket doesn’t get wet from your condensation).
Weight & Bulk
The jacket is one of the lighter ones that we tested. At about 11.4 ounces it would be a good choice if you need a light rain shell. In an effort to make a lightweight jacket, Patagonia also eliminated the ability for the Rain Shadow to pack inside one of its own pockets. We find this strange as it is one of the only rain jackets we tested that doesn’t pack up small inside its own pocket, and for a lightweight jacket, that would be a very useful feature.
This jacket excels during any activity in wet or rainy conditions, even around town use. It can also cross over as a shell for skiing or other winter activities, but layer up underneath. As with all rain jackets, breathability is poor, so layer with a synthetic base layer in high intensity adventures or suffer the clammy consequences.
At $189 this is one of the most expensive jackets we tested. Considering the bare bones design and lack of convenient features such as packing down small, we wouldn’t call it a good deal.
Patgonia Torrentshell – Slightly heavier, $60 less
If looking for a lightweight shell, this is a decent choice, but it is not the lightest or most minimal piece out there. For an outstanding minimal shell, we recommend the Montane Minimus Jacket or the Outdoor Research Helium 2.
— Robert Beno and McKenzie Long
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: December 2, 2013
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