Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $83 - $129 | Compare prices at 9 resellers
Pros: Great Waterproofing, More 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 water proof
The Women's Patagonia Torrentshell is the less high tech, and in our opinion much preferred, option in Patagonia’s rain shell line (the fancy version is the Patagonia Rain Shadow). 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.
We would happily recommend the women’s Torrentshell as a simple, well-made raincoat for any Patagonia loving lady in pretty much any locale. It is fairly priced, straightforward, and backed with the brand’s great reputation. The caveats are mostly regarding the high expectations in style and design we have for this company…and where this jacket falls a little short.
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 nice and durable. 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 13.7 ounces it wasn’t the heaviest either, and since it packs up nice and small we consider it a fair compromise.
All the zippers function very well and are easy to operate. Even the pit zips can be operated easily with one hand. The cinch along the waistline is easy to use and stays tight once adjusted, and the cuffs on the sleeves are easily adjusted with a Velcro strap. The collar doesn’t have any fleece, making it one of the most uncomfortable collars we tested (when you breathe into the collar there’s a little bit of clamminess happening).
We also 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 Gore-tex, but the design of the Torrentshell doesn’t ventilate as well as the jackets with mesh pockets such as the Marmot Precip or Oracle.
The Torrentshell performs well and at $120 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. Although the Patagonia Rain Shadow - Women's 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. But if you are counting ounces, shell out the extra cash for the Rain Shadow. If you are looking for the best performance at the best price, try the Marmot Precip - Women's, and for the ultimate featured and performance packed heavyweight (literally) of a rain shell, check out the Marmot Oracle - Women's.
A big part of Patagonia is the history, manufacturing process, and philosophy behind their gear that is told in 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. by Yvon Chouinard. Highly recommended reading.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Torrentshell is a pretty solid little jacket. No standout features here, just solid all-around performance.
The women’s version of the Patagonia Torrentshell is identical to the men’s. Patagonia brings the same sharp styling, high quality construction, enviable label and environmentally committed business practices. It is easy to see the desirability of this raincoat. It’s relaxed and affordable. It’s sized a little roomy to layer comfortably.
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.
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 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 Torrentshell also 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.
We felt ambivalent towards the women’s Torrentshell for the most part. There were many perfectly fine things about it (detailed above) but nothing to get too excited about.
As the women’s version is essentially the same jacket as the men’s, the technical criticisms are the same, but we wish that Patagonia had taken some extra care to craft a more women’s specific jacket. For instance, a little tailoring would have gone a long way here. Just because we hike, bike, climb, run, etc. doesn’t mean we don’t want our rain shell to fit nicely. Frankly, sometimes it’s raining and we’re 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. Also, the phantom pot belly created by a strange folding of the zipper is really not cool.
The hood is seriously shallow, ponytail not included, and the collar lacks any cozy fleece lining…hello chin chap. In regard to the side pockets, many tested rain shells had mesh pockets, which we prefer. The incorporation of mesh pockets have two important advantages the way we see it: creating another vent system to help disperse moisture buildup inside the jacket and presenting a warm, maybe even fuzzy (depending on what you’re base layers are) place for your hands.
Another dislike that we have with the Torrentshell lies in its breathability. Simply put, this jacket does not breathe or ventilate well. The pit zips help, but some of the other jackets we tested are much better ventilated. Read the note below for more info.
The final 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. We found ourselves forgoing the two cinches for the rim of the hood and just using the cinch in the back.
A Note on Breathability:
None of the rain jackets that we tested proved to be very breathable. Almost all of the jackets boast a “waterproof breathable technology” of some kind, but please interpret these claims loosely. We found that when we wore the jackets for any kind of high exertion activity (and we pointedly took at least one hard one-hour run in each jacket in the rain, in addition to climbing in them, hiking in them, walking in them and biking in them) we found that we were promptly creating our own weather inside the jacket. The only thing that saved us from our self-made monsoon was the fact that each jacket we tested had pit zips to let out some of moisture.
Some of the jackets also 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 breathable” fabric that the rest of the jacket is. As such, the Torrentshell jacket was one of the least breathable jackets we tested.
Any activity in wet or rainy conditions or just for around town use. Can also cross over as a shell for skiing or other winter activities, but layer up. 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 $120 this is not the most expensive jacket, or the least expensive, we tested. A solid Jacket that performed in the middle in all regards.
Patagonia Rain Shadow - Women's – Slightly Lighter, $60 more
— Erisa Coppernoll and Robert Beno
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 19, 2012
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