Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Waterproof, good breathability, great hood, durable
Cons: So-so ventilation, small zipper pulls and cord locks
Best Uses: Backpacking, mountaineering, climbing, all round use
The Patagonia Torrentshell is an affordable, high-performing 2.5-layer rain shell. It has the function and attention to detail we expect from Patagonia and is a great deal. It is very similar in design and construction to our Best Buy winner Marmot PreCip; however, the PreCip breathes better, is more ventilated, and we recommend it over the Torrentshell for hiking and backpacking and more high energy adventures. That said, the Torrentshell does a little better job sealing out the downpours and its hood plays really well with helmets. It is more durable as well, so it's more appropriate for rough activities like climbing and mountaineering.
If a truly ultralight rain jacket is what you're after, check out the Marmot Essence, our Editors' Choice winner.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Patagonia Torrentshell is the highest overall scoring jacket in our tests that did not receive an award. It's an excellent jacket. Very similar in design and price to the Marmot PreCip, it's a little more durable and more mobile when the hood is over a helmet.
No complaints here, the Torrentshell earned the highest score we awarded for water resistance. The hood has well thought out features and fits a helmet better than others. There is a large stiffened brim and the elastic cord that tightens around the brow passes through a soft fabric sleeve on the underside. This creates some space between your brow and the hood. Another cinch on the back of the hood adjusts the brow. The Torrenshell was weather tight with ball cap, helmet, or just your head, and the hood rolls away if you prefer. Velcro at the cuffs and a relatively long waist combine to seal out the downpours.
We found Patagonia's 2.5-layer H2No laminate fabric to be fairly breathable. This jacket didn't steam up too much when hiking in the drizzle. The Torrenshell's pit zips are average and get some air flowing through the generously cut torso when open. Fully opening the wrist cuffs allows a little additional air movement. The similar Precip and Venture both have mesh-lined hand pockets that add to their ventilation (the Torrentshell has fully waterproof hand pockets).
Comfort and Mobility
There's nothing fancy about the Torrentshell; for the most part, it features the minimum to get the job done well. It doesn't have a fleece patch at the chin, but does have one at the back of the collar, which we didn't find added much. The hood design is very comfortable around the face and though the three cord locks are small, adjustment is simple. Because of the small cord locks and the small string pulls on the pit zip and pocket zippers, operating things is a pain with gloves. What this jacket does offer is great mobility. The hood moves with or without a helmet better than others and the generously cut torso stays put when reaching with the arms.
The Torrentshell weighed in at 12.1 ounces, right in the middle of the pack, and practically the same as the similar Marmot Precip and The North Face Venture.
We feel this model is one of the more durable jackets we tested. Patagonia's construction quality is top notch and the 50D ripstop nylon face fabric is burlier than similar models we tested.
This jacket stuffs into its left hand pocket and there is a webbing clip-in loop for securing it to a harness or backpack. Some jackets compress small because it's a struggle to get them in their pocket, but the Torrentshell stows easily. It's not the smallest when packed, but the ease of stuffing and clip-in loop are nice.
The Torrentshell has the best hood we tested for use with a helmet. A stiffened brim, along with a fabric sleeve for the around the face elastic cinch are very comfortable on the brow. The cord locks for this cinch, as well as the brim height adjustment, are exterior and easy to adjust when the collar is zipped up tight. There's a micro fleece patch at the back of the collar, a hang loop, and a snap closure for rolling and stowing the hood. Large pit zips are covered by an exterior storm flap. The Torrentshell's hand pockets are fully waterproof and the jacket stuffs into the left hand one. The wrist cuffs are lined with a soft nylon taffeta and adjust with a Velcro tab. The elastic hem cinch has cord lock adjustments on both sides.
The Torrentshell works well for most wet and rainy activities. It's high performance enough for backcountry use and fine for around-town use as well. With its generous cut, we found it easy to layer underneath for cold weather. Because the hood works so well with a helmet, this is our favorite rain jacket for climbing and mountaineering.
At $130 this is a great deal. With its attention to detail, Patagonia has designed a durable product that offers stellar weather protection at a relatively inexpensive price. The Best Buy winning Marmot Precip is $10 cheaper and with it's superior breathability and ventilation, we think it is a better choice for high energy adventures.
The cleverly named Torrentshell is a rugged, streamlined 2.5-layer rain jacket. Its water resistance is top notch, it breathes fairly well, and sports a functional, comfortable hood. While it's crafted with helmet-clad climbers and mountaineers in mind, it's also a great jacket for hiking and backpacking.
The Patagonia Torrentshell - Women's, $130, is a solid, all-purpose rain shell.
— Brandon Lampley and Robert Beno
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Most recent review: June 15, 2015
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