Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $83 - $299 | Compare prices at 11 resellers
Pros: Great Waterproofing, affordable, packable
Cons: Not the most tailored fit, hood cinches can be tough to use, not very breathable
Best Uses: Backpacking, hiking, everyday rain jacket or any application where you want something light and water proof
The Torrentshell is a versatile, solid performing jacket. Completely waterproof, it is also fairly durable. The 2.5 layer H2No fabric does the job well in conditions from drizzle to downpour to sleet. We never noticed any issues with leaking or soaking, even in problem areas such as the zippers and seams. All the seams are taped and the zippers have storm flaps to help keep the water out. There are two waterproof pockets, and the jacket packs into one of the pockets for maximum portability. While not the lightest jacket we tested, at 11.3 ounces it wasnít the heaviest either, and since it stores into a small package, we consider it a no-brainer to toss into our pack when headed out on a trip. We award this jacket our Editor's Choice for being an easy to pack, go-to shell that works just as well in the backcountry as it does for everyday wear.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Torrentshell is a solid rain shell. No standout features here, just solid all-around performance. The womenís version of the Patagonia Torrentshell is identical to the menís. Patagonia brings the same sharp styling, high quality construction, enviable label, and environmentally committed business practices to this piece. Itís relaxed and affordable. It is easy to see the desirability of this raincoat, which is ultimately what wins it our Editor's Choice award.
The jacket is highly waterproof. No leaks or seeps anywhere on the jacket. All the seams are neatly and solidly taped and all the zippers are completely and securely covered with storm flaps. The hood is bomber and has a great shape to it, although fitting a helmet in would be almost impossible. It can stand up to even prolonged, heavy downpours, which is where the lightweight, minimal shells start to fail.
The Torrentshell is constructed from a H2Noģ Performance Standard shell with waterproof/breathable 2.5-layer nylon ripstop. This material breathes slightly, but overall results in sweat-buildup on the interior of the jacket when working hard. It does have pit-zips, which allows for ventilation inside the jacket.
Some of the jackets also had larger mesh-lined pockets that can be left open to double as vents, and when coupled with opened pit-zips, significantly help with the air circulation inside the jacket. The incorporation of mesh pockets have two important advantages: creating another vent system to help disperse moisture buildup inside the jacket and presenting a warm, maybe even fuzzy place to warm your hands.The Torrentshell is not one of these jackets. Instead, the side pockets are made of the same waterproof material that makes up the outside of the jacket.
Comfort & Mobility
Overall, the comfort of this jacket is pretty standard. It protects well, but doesn't have any special features to make it more comfortable. However, that keeps the weight down, which we appreciate. Itís sized a little roomy to layer comfortably.
As the womenís version is essentially the same jacket as the menís, the technical criticisms are the same, but we wish that Patagonia had taken some extra care to craft a more womenís specific jacket. For instance, a little tailoring would have gone a long way here. Just because we hike, bike, climb, run, etc. doesnít mean we donít want our rain shell to fit nicely. Frankly, sometimes itís raining and weíre not on a trail. With this jacket, it boils down to wearing a straight up and down tube that is a bit too short and rides up when you reach out for anything. The hood is fairly shallow, and the collar lacks any cozy fleece lining.
Other than these style complaints, this jacket does its job protecting from the rain, and allows is to hike and move while staying dry.
All the zippers are smooth and easy to use, and the pit-zips go down and up with one hand, 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 collar doesnít have any cozy fleece, making it one of the more uncomfortable collars we tested, but this is a minor detail that saves weight.
The hood, while well-shaped and protective, has a front cinch that is very difficult to use due to the fact that the loose ends of the elastic cord are located inside the collar. We found ourselves forgoing the two cinches for the rim of the hood and just using the cinch in the back.
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 youíve got in your pockets.
Weight & Bulk
The Torrentshell packs up into one of its pockets, which is a feature we love for backpacking, since it is easily clipped to a harness or the outside of a backpack for ease of transport. It weighs 11.4 ounces, which isn't outstandingly lightweight, but is also not too heavy to carry along on a backpacking trip. This weight is acceptable for such a waterproof and protective shell. If you want something ultra-lightweight for long distance backpacking trips or light and fast missions, check out the Top Pick winning Outdoor Research Helium 2 - Women's, which weighs half as much as this jacket.
The Torrentshell works well for virtually any activity in wet and rainy conditions. It is versatile enough to be carried into the backcountry or used as an everyday, around-town rain jacket. It can also cross over as a shell for skiing or other winter activities, but will require layers underneath since it does not include insulation.
At $130 this jacket falls in the middle of the price spectrum. Jackets like the Best Buy winning Marmot PreCip Jacket- Women's perform similarly, but cost slightly less, while other models like the comfort-driven Marmot Oracle - Women's cost more. For a versatile, all-around protective rain shell, we think the Torrentshell is a good deal. It will last you a while, comes complete with Patagonia's ironclad guarantee, and will do its job keeping you warm and dry. Remember, it serves essentially the same function as a hard shell for a fraction of the cost.
This is a simple, standard rain jacket that protects from the elements. While not flashy or loaded with comfort features, it does its job admirably while not weighing too much, and packs down into an easily portable package for toting along on outdoor adventures. We wouldn't mind more feminine styling, but overall think this is an excellent all-around rain shell, which wins it our Editor's Choice award.
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.
— McKenzie Long and Erisa Coppernoll
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: December 3, 2013
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