Patagonia Rainshadow Review
Cons: Clammier than some, average performance
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Rainshadow uses Patagonia's proprietary H2No in a 3-layer construction that offers some of the better weather protection for its price. Even directly compared to the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L, which in theory is made of the same fabric, this model repeatedly took notably longer to wet out in every single one of our tests. In fact, this model took the cake for weather protection among proprietary fabrics used on a sub $200 shell.
Its DWR impressed our review team. It provided a like new DWR, even after several months of relatively heavy wear. Its front zipper is watertight and features a full-sized rain gutter that kept the water off our shirt, even during our garden hoses tests.
The Rainshadow offers a nice, functional hood design, which does a great job of cinching down around our heads — without reducing our peripheral vision. It cinches in three points to accommodate a wide variety of headwear but didn't fit very comfortably over a bike or climbing helmet.
Breathability and Venting
The Rainshadow offers noticeably better breathability than nearly all the basic, price-oriented 2.5 layer models, but doesn't quite offer the same performance as the higher-end models, which is to be expected.
To increase breathability, the Rainshadow feature two pit zips, which are an excellent way to dump heat and moisture. Our testers are impressed with Patagonia's design, as we were able to keep these zips all the way open, with little to no water being allowed inside.
Comfort & Mobility
The Rainshadow checked in average overall compared to the competition and was generally less clammy than most basic 2.5 layer coated models. For those accustomed to basic $100 shells, you will undoubtedly find this to be an upgrade.
The Rainhadow's mobility is respectable and above average. Its fabric doesn't really feature much stretch, but it offers nice articulation and an action-focused fit. This model is far from restrictive and will provide enough freedom of movement for all but the most demanding users.
The Rainshadow offers one Napolean-style chest pocket and two lower handwarmer pockets. The handwarmer pockets aren't really raised and are generally not super useable with a backpack with a hip belt on. They are low enough profile that they didn't pinch us, even if they became pinched under the waistbelt of a loaded pack.
This model weighs about 14 ounces, which is pretty middle-of-the-road. It isn't ultralight, but it isn't heavy either, and is plenty light enough for most backpacking, hiking, mountaineering, or other human-powered adventures. It's also still light enough to be considering a "just-in-case" shell, which can live in the bottom of your pack on day hikes, ready for an unexpected thunderstorm. It is lighter than most "heavy-duty" 3-layer jackets and is only a few ounces heavier than the majority of options we tested.
Like many of Patagonia's products, this one stuffs into this model's left-front handwarmer pocket, which doubles as a stuff sack. Unlike many other models that offer a similar design, this Rainshadow's pocket is sized to compress the jacket into a reasonable size. After polling our testing team, 100% of them would rather have a reversible stuff pocket take more energy to compress the jacket if it meant the finished package was more compact in nature. Similar to most Patagonia products, the stuff sack has a carabiner clip-in loop to hang it off your harness or wherever you please.
The Rainshadow offers average compressibility. It packs down plenty small enough to keep most backpackers and hikers satisfied.
This model uses a 30-denier 100% recycled nylon stretch ripstop face with Patagonia's proprietary PU H2No membrane and a tricot backer, which provides for decent durability. It held up to overgrown trails and some alpine rock climbing reasonably well and proved average for tear and abrasion resistance. We were impressed by the longevity of its DWR and ability to bead water, even after extensive use.
The Rainshadow is a slightly more expensive proprietary, non-air-permeable model; however, its performance is above average. It vastly outperforms most basic 2.5 layer models in the $100-$150 price range, and its 3-layer construction and quality materials add to its overall performance and value. While the Rainshadow isn't a screaming deal, it does provide a higher level of performance over the more basic models.
The Patagonia Rainshadow is a slightly above-average jacket at a slightly above-average price. It's a non-air-permeable proprietary option that offers solid performance and vastly outperforms nearly all 2.5-layer models in the lower-priced range. Our testing team found it quite versatile and note that it will perform well for all but the most demanding users. It's perfect for those who demand a little more performance than the most basic of models and are willing to pay a little more for these attributes.
— Ian Nicholson
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More