Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Great waterproofing, somewhat affordable, packable
Cons: Not the best fit or most comfortable, hood cinches are tough to use, not very breathable
Best Uses: Everyday rain jacket or any application where you want something light and waterproof
The Torrentshell is the less high-tech, and in our opinion preferred, option in Patagonia's rain shell line (the fancy version is the Patagonia Rain Shadow). We like this jacket, but are not ready to recommend it over the Editors Choice winner, the Marmot Aegis. It is a solid, middle-of-the-road performer in all categories (including price) and would be a great option for someone seeking that Patagonia quality with a slightly lower price tag. But, if you are focused on price, we feel the Best Buy winning Marmot Precip is a better value. To see exactly how it compared to others, check out our complete Rain Jacket Review.
Although the Rain shadow is lighter (11.4oz), the fact that the Torrentshell can pack into its own pocket and the Rain Shadow can't makes the Torrentshell preferable for packing and transporting. If you are counting ounces, shell out the extra cash for the Outdoor Research Helium 2 - Men's. If you are looking for the best performance at the best price, try the Marmot PreCip.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
A very waterproof and decently priced rain shell, the Torrentshell is very similar to our Best Buy winning rain shell, but is slightly less ventilated. It packs into its own pocket and is decently lightweight.
The Torrentshell is completely waterproof. The 2.5 layer H2No fabric does the job well in conditions from drizzle to downpour to sleet. We never had any issues with leaking or soaking, even in problem areas such as the zippers and seams. All the seams are taped up nicely and the zippers all have storm flaps to help keep the water out. The fabric itself is durable.
The main dislike that we have with the Torrentshell lies in its breathability. Simply put, this jacket does not breathe or ventilate well. We found that the Torrentshell, along with the Rain Shadow, were the least breathable jackets we tested. None of the rain shells we tested were as breathable as 3-layer Gore-tex found in hard shell jackets, but the design of the Torrentshell doesn't ventilate as well as jackets with mesh pockets such as the Marmot PreCip or Marmot Oracle.
Some of the jackets we tested had larger mesh-lined pockets that can be left open and, when coupled with the pit-zips, significantly helped with the jacket's breathability. The Torrentshell is not one of these jackets. As mentioned above, the pockets of the Torrentshell are made of the same waterproof fabric that the rest of the jacket is constructed from. As such, the Torrentshell jacket iss one of the least breathable and least ventilated jackets we tested.
Comfort & Mobility
The Torrentshell is a pretty solid jacket. No standout features here, just decent all around performance. However, testers felt that the Torrentshell's fit and cut could be a little better. We found that the front zipper folded in a strange way, giving us a pot-belly look, and that when arms were raised the waistline of the jacket rode up, exposing some lower back skin to the cold and rain.
The newest version of this jacket includes a small patch of micro fleece on the collar for added comfort. The collar is also extremely tall, almost inordinately so, and testers found it constantly jabbing at the underside of their chins.
All the zippers are smooth and easy to use, and the pit-zips go down and up one-handed no problem. The cinch on the bottom of the jacket is easy to use and stays tight once adjusted to your liking. The cuffs are easily adjusted with a simple Velcro strap. The pockets are made of the same waterproof material as the rest of the jacket, so while doing nothing for the breathability of the shell, they keep the condensation produced by your body from hitting whatever you've got in your pockets.
The hood is bomber and has a great shape to it, though fitting a helmet in would be almost impossible. One small gripe we have with the Torrentshell is that the hood cinch (excepting the back cinch) is very difficult to use due to the fact that the loose ends of the elastic cord are located inside the collar. Testers found it more convenient to forgo the two cinches for the rim of the hood and just using the cinch in the back.
Weight & Bulk
The Torrentshell packs up into one of its pockets and is easily clipped to a harness or the outside of a backpack for ease of transport and maximum packability. At 13.7oz. the jacket was neither the lightest nor heaviest of the jackets that we tested. The primary difference between this jacket and the Rain Shadow is weight: the Rain Shadow shaves off a few ounces, but at the expense of not packing into a pocket. We like the addition of that feature for only 2 more ounces on the Torrentshell.
This jacket excels in any wet and rainy condition. It packs up well, so is adequate for backpacking.
The Torrentshell looks good and performs well. At $130, it is about the middle of the road as far as price goes. If you are looking for a solid rain jacket with dependable Patagonia craftsmanship that won't break the bank, this is it.
The Patagonia Torrentshell - Women's, $130, is the women's version of this jacket.
The Patagonia Alpine Houdini, $200, is likely the best super ultralight waterproof breathable jacket for climbers. It weighs a mere 5.5 oz. packs down TINY, has a hood than can go over a helmet, and stuffs into a pocket than can clip to your harness. We suspect that this will become our favorite super ultralight (read: occasional use) rain jacket for all types of climbing.
This is an average performing jacket at an average weight and average price. It gets the job done, but doesn't stand out in any way.
— Robert Beno and McKenzie Long
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Most recent review: June 4, 2014
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