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Hands-on Gear Review
Patagonia Torrentshell Review
Cons: So-so ventilation, small zipper pulls and cord locks
Bottom line: Slightly more durably jacket that's features, preformance, and design will keep the budget focused climber or backpacker satisfied
The Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket is an affordable, high-performing 2.5 layer rain shell. It has the function and attention to detail as many more expensive jackets, but costs only $130. It is very similar in design and construction to our Best Buy winner, the Marmot PreCip; however, the PreCip is $30 less expensive and offers slightly more ventilation, as it features pit-zips and allows venting through its hand pockets.
That said, the Torrentshell does a better job of sealing out in the downpours, offers better mobility, and its hood plays better with helmets. The Torrentshell is slightly more durable than the PreCip, making the Torrentshell more appropriate for rough activities like climbing, backpacking, mountaineering, or occasional downhill skiing.
If a truly ultralight rain jacket that you can easily clip to your harness or just leave in your pack as a "just-in-case" layer is what you're after, check out the less versatile (but only 6.5 ounces) Outdoor Research Helium II; our Top Pick Award winner for the best lightweight rain shell.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Torrentshell is one of the higher overall scoring jackets for its price. This jacket uses a coated waterproof breathable fabric for its weather resistance; for the price, it's an excellent jacket. It is very similar in overall design and construction to the Marmot PreCip and The North Face Venture 2, though it is a little more durable, while offering superior mobility.
Not a lot of complaints here; this contender earned a decent score for water-resistance, using Patagonia's proprietary H2 No 2.5 layer fabric. For weatherproofness, this jacket performed fantastically in both our real world and shower side-by-side tests. The hood is well thought out, has good peripheral-vision oriented features, and fits over a helmet better than most other jackets we tested - except for the Arc'teryx Beta SL.
The Torrentshell features a large stiffened brim; 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 height of the brow. The Torrentshell was weather tight with ball cap, helmet, or just your head. and the hood rolls away if you prefer. Velcro can be found at the cuffs; a relatively long waist combines to seal out the downpours.
Breathability & Ventilation
We found Patagonia's 2.5 layer H2No laminate fabric to be fairly breathable and just barely below average among jackets in this review, though slightly above average when compared to options in its price range. This jacket didn't steam up too much when hiking in the drizzle and its pit-zips are average, allowing air flow through the generously cut torso when open.
Fully opening the wrist cuffs allows additional air movement. The similar PreCip and Columbia Watertight II both have mesh-lined hand pockets that add to their ventilation, while the Torrentshell has fully waterproof hand pockets. This feature is a little bit of a trade-off; mesh pockets allow for better ventilation, but waterproof pockets keep items slightly drier.
Comfort & 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; though the three cord locks are small, adjustment is simple. Because of the small cord locks, the small string pulls on the pit-zip and pocket zippers, making them slightly more challenging to use when wearing gloves.
We found the Marmot PreCip's zippers and cord locks easier to manipulate with cold or gloved hands. What the Torrentshell does offer is great mobility. The hood moves with or without a helmet, outperforming most contenders, and the generously cut torso stays put when reaching with the arms.
Compared to other similar priced jackets like the Marmot PreCip or The North Face Venture 2, the Torrentshell offered slightly better mobility and range of motion with the least amount of restriction or bunching. The Torrentshell didn't blow these two other jackets away for mobility, but climbing-oriented users should take note that it was noticeable.
The Torrentshell had our favorite hood design among jackets in the sub-$150 range. We liked its drawstring closures that allowed the wearer to keep above-average peripheral vision. Unlike The North Face Venture 2, the Torrentshell fits respectably well over bike and climbing helmets.
The Torrentshell features two basic hand warmer-style pockets. These pockets will sit under a waist-belt while backpacking, though they were not as nice as jackets whose pockets were raised slightly and completely out of the way. Their low-profile zippers meant it was less of a big deal than most other models and we think the Torrentshell remains a great option for backpacking.
The Torrentshell weighed in at 12 ounces, right in the middle of the pack and slightly lighter than its closest competition, the Marmot PreCip (13 ounces) and The North Face Venture 2 (14 ounces). We think the Torrentshell is lighter than average among most rain coats on the market; however, if you're trying to get away with as light of a jacket as possible, be sure to check out the Outdoor Research Helium II, which offers nearly as comparable weather-resistance and is only slightly less durable. It does cost $30 more, but is half the packed size and weight at an impressive 6.5 ounces.
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. The Marmot Minimalist, The North Face Dryzzle, REI Rhyolite, Outdoor Research Foray, and Editors' Choice winner Arc'teryx Beta SL offer similar durability.
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 smaller, but it's a struggle to get them in their pocket. The Torrentshell stows easily. As a result, 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 (in its price range). 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. This contender's hand pockets are fully waterproof and the jacket stuffs into the left hand pocket. The wrist cuffs are lined with a soft nylon taffeta and adjust with a Velcro tab, while the elastic hem cinch has cord lock adjustments on both sides.
This rain jacket works well for most wet and rainy activities. It's high-performance enough for hiking and backpacking, but still functions fantastically as an around-town rain coat. 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 sub-$150 rain jacket for climbing and mountaineering.
At $130, this jacket 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. That said, the Best Buy winning Marmot PreCip is less expensive and offers slightly better breathability and ventilation; we think it is a better choice for high energy adventures. However, in the worst storm conditions, the Torrentshell does a slightly better job of keeping us dry. It is also easier to wear with a helmet and offers superior mobility.
Conclusion and The Bottom Line
The cleverly named Torrentshell is a rugged, streamlined 2.5 layer rain jacket. Its water resistance is top notch, it breathes fairly well, and it sports a functional, comfortable hood. While it's crafted with helmet-clad cyclist, climbers, and mountaineers in mind, it's also a great jacket for hiking and backpacking or just strolling around town.
Patagonia Torrentshell - Women's
Torrentshell Rain Pants
— Ian Nicholson
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