Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $70 - $129 | Compare prices at 6 resellers
Pros: Good waterproof/breathable standard, affordable, packable, climber-specific and function-driven
Cons: Not the most tailored fit, not comfort-driven
Best Uses: Climbing, mountaineering, backpacking, hiking, and every day/around town rain jacket
If there were a category for best name, Patagonia would win for its clever play on words. The Torrentshell is a solid, all-purpose rain shell. It did not stand out in any category, but performed consistently and solidly. Ultimately, it lost the Best Buy award to the Marmot PreCip - Women's by only a hair, and this was due to some fairly minor differences: the Torrentshell costs $30 more, and the fit had a minor paunchy quirk.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The field of rain jackets is a very competitive one these days. Patagonia's Torrentshell performed very well in all categories, but it fell short in just a few minor aspects, and that was enough for it to be edged out of the winning categories. The tried-and-true Marmot PreCip - Women's, similar in design and feel, just pulled ahead of the Torrentshell. But if Patagonia's signature environmental ethics are a priority for you, this is an excellent rain jacket that will not disappoint.
The Torrentshell is on par when it comes to water resistance. While we did see a little wet-out on the wrists after prolonged exposure to moderate rain, overall the jacket kept us dry and comfortable.
The Torrentshell is constructed of 2.5 layer H2No® Performance Standard shell with waterproof/breathable nylon ripstop. This material breathes well, but it wasn't the best we reviewed. Pit-zips and a roomy fit aid in air circulation, which ultimately helps the jacket breathe.
This jacket is cut larger than the rest of the jackets we reviewed, making it easy to wear warmer layers underneath, but a bit too roomy when wearing minimal layers. One relatively minor design issue we found was in the cut of the chest. On all of our testers, who are of several different body types, the jacket paunched out in the middle of the chest. This was a mild annoyance when geared up for climbing, where side-to-side mobility and visibility is important when accessing gear from a harness. The hood, however was among the better ones we tested, fitting well with and without a helmet--and maintaining good mobility and peripheral vision when wearing a helmet. It is easily adjusted with two front cinches and one at the back of the head.
The Torrentshell weighs in at 11.3 ounces, placing it on the lighter side of the jackets we tested. This makes it a great shell for climbing and backpacking, as well as any travel or urban adventures you can drum up. If you want something ultra-lightweight for long distance backpacking trips or light and fast climbing or skiing missions, check out our Top Pick winner, the Outdoor Research Helium II - Women's, which is half the weight.
This jacket is rugged and dependable. Ripstop nylon prevents tears, making it well suited to climbing and other mountain adventures. Patagonia also submits each of its shell jackets to what they call their "Killer Wash," a durability test that has established a fair amount of notoriety. Their high standard for durability is part of their overall high quality standards as well as their commitment to minimizing environmental impacts. A durable jacket will last longer, and that reduces waste!
Patagonia really got it right with its stowable pocket. The jacket fits tightly (and still easily) into its own pocket, making it one of the smallest packed jackets we reviewed. It also has a carabiner clip loop sewn into the inside of the pocket so you can clip it onto the back of your harness if the skies look dreary at the start of your climb. The clip loop is a contrasting color which makes it easy to locate. These may seem like small things, but our reviewers appreciated the keen awareness of climbers' needs.
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 crosses over readily to skiing or other winter activities because of the extra room for layers. The jacket is optimized for climbing, mountaineering, and backpacking.
At $129 this jacket falls right in the middle of our review's price range. Our Best Buy winner, the Marmot PreCip, performs similarly, but costs $30 less. We think the Torrentshell is a great deal for a rain shell very similar to the PreCip, but it is more geared toward technical climbing and mountain use. It will hold up over time, comes complete with Patagonia's Ironclad Guarantee, and will do its job keeping you warm and dry.
The Torrentshell is a simple rain shell with a very clever name. While not loaded with comfort features, it is light, rugged, and boasts a good balance of water resistance/breathability. It was thoughtfully crafted with the climber in mind, but still a great all-purpose rain shell.
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.
— Lyra Pierotti
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Most recent review: October 21, 2014
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