New Torrentshell 3L vs. Older Torrentshell Jacket
Patagonia now makes the Torrentshell with a 3-layer material, in contrast to the previous 2.5-layer fabric of last year's model. The storm flap has been updated to address an issue of it getting caught in the zipper, and the roll and stow design has been simplified. The new jacket is slightly heavier, weighing about 1.5 oz more. The price has also increased, something we will have to take into consideration when selecting our Best Buy winning jacket during our next test round. Compare the updated 3L model, shown first, to the model we tested.
We're now linking to the updated Torrentshell in this review, but the text to follow still tells of our adventures in the previous model.
Hands-On Review of the Torrentshell
The Patagonia Torrentshell is one of the higher overall scoring jackets in its price range. Using a proprietary coated waterproof breathable fabric for weather resistance, it offers exceptional performance and storm worthiness. It's lightweight, compact, and versatile.
The Torrentshell is an excellent 2.5-layer rain shell that excels at a wide range of uses. It received high scores across our metrics and has one of the best hoods we tested.
Not a lot of complaints here; this contender uses Patagonia's tried-and-true proprietary H2 No 2.5 layer fabric. The Torrentshell performs 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 can fit over a climbing or bike helmet. It features a superior hood design, which fits snugly around the wearer's head, making it ideal for "action sports" users.
The Torrentshell offered superior water resistance to most other jackets in its price range, and its DWR held up among the best in this category.
The Torrentshell features a large, stiffened brim; an elastic cord that tightens around the brow passes through a soft fabric sleeve on the underside, which creates some space between your forehead and the hood. Another cinch on the back of the hood adjusts the height of the brow. It's weather tight with a ball cap, helmet, or just your head, and the hood rolls away if you prefer. Velcro can be found at the cuffs, while a relatively long waist seals out the downpours.
This model uses a 2.5-layer waterproof/breathable material Patagonia calls H2NO. H2No is a coated proprietary fabric waterproof layer sandwiched between the outermost (visible) layer and the innermost half layer. What is also quite cool is this jacket is constructed with a with a 100% recycled nylon face fabric.
Breathability & Ventilation
Patagonia's 2.5 layer H2No laminate fabric is fairly breathable; it didn't steam up too much when hiking in drizzle, and its pit-zips are average, allowing airflow through the generously cut torso when open.
Patagonia updated the innermost material on this model helping it to feel notably less clammy and humid feeling than most other proprietary 2.5 layer jackets.
The Torrentshell has fully waterproof hand pockets. This feature is a bit of a trade-off, with both offering slight advantages; mesh pockets allow for slightly better ventilation, but waterproof pockets keep items slightly drier. We prefer the ability to keep things drier; however, folks who run super hot might want every option to dump heat and may lean towards the mesh-line products.
The pit-zips featured on the Torrentshell. These vents were similar or slightly smaller than the ones featured on its closest competitors, the Marmot Precip and The North Face Venture Jacket, but unlike those jackets the pockets didn't allow for any ventilation. We do think that there is a positive trade-off as items stayed slightly drier in the Torrentshell than the mesh-lined pockets of those jackets.
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 experience some of the least sleeve pull-back and hem movement with this model of any model in sub 150 price range.
Compared to other similar priced jackets like the Marmot PreCip or The North Face Venture 2; the Torrentshell offers better mobility and range of motion with the least amount of restriction or bunching. The Torrentshell didn't blow the other two other jackets away for movement, but climbing-oriented users should take note that it was noticeable.
The Torrentshell features an excellent cut, and its range of motion was above average. When compared to The North Face Venture or the Marmot PreCip, the Patagonia Torrentshell was the clear winner in range of motion.
The internal material of this model was recently updated for 2019, and feels less clammy than previous models. Not only is this new fabric an improvement over the old version but our testers consistently felt that this new material was notably less clammy feeling than others in a similar price range.
In real-world use and in our side-by-side shower tests, the hood featured on the Torrentshell cinched down to keep the weather out exceptionally well. This jacket's hood was the best-fitting over a climbing or bike helmet compared to other jackets in its price range.
The Torrentshell has our favorite hood design in its price range. We liked its drawstring closures that allowed the wearer to keep a decent level of peripheral vision. Unlike The North Face Venture 2, the Torrentshell fits respectably well over bike and climbing helmets, especially if you didn't zip it all the way up the last three inches or so.
The hood cinch on this jacket was very effective, but was slightly on the smaller side; not a big deal with bare hands but a little fumbley with gloves on.
The Torrentshell features two basic waterproof hand-warmer style pockets. These pockets sit under a waist-belt while backpacking but weren't uncomfortable, as their zippers are low profile. For backpacking and mountaineering, we still prefer a model with pockets that are raised slightly and entirely out of the way of a pack's waist belt. This is so we have easier access to them and to altogether avoid any possibility of them pinching our hips. After extensive use, we did not find the low pockets were an issue.
This model has more traditionally placed handwarmer pockets. While they were one the low side for backpacking or other outdoor pursuits where a pack is worn the low profile zipper minimized how much our hips were pinched.
The Torrentshell weighs in at just a hair over 12 ounces, which is right in the middle of the pack, making it great for human-powered outdoor activities like hiking, climbing, and backpacking.
This model tipped the scales at just over 12 ounces. This was pretty average overall but lighter-than-average among other models in its price range.
If you're trying to get away with as light of a jacket as possible, there are lighter options. Light and mega packable options exist, and the Outdoor Research Helium II (6.5 ounces) or the Black Diamond Fineline (7.5 ounces) are a bit more affordable than others in our review.
This model is one of the more durable jackets we tested. Patagonia's construction quality is top-notch, and the 50D ripstop 100% recycled nylon face fabric is burlier than similar models we tested, especially in a similar price range.
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, though could be a little smaller. As a result, it's not the most compact when stowed, but the ease of stuffing into a reversible pocket and clip-in loop is certainly nice.
The Torrentshell packs down fairly small and compresses into one of its pockets. It is easy to stow away, but could pack down even smaller if compressed in a backpack or if Patagonia were to make a smaller pocket.
The Torrentshell has the best hood designs in its price range. It has a stiffened brim, and the fabric sleeve around the elastic cinch (on the face portion) 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 tightly.
THe simple but effective velcro wrist closures on the Torrentshell.
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, and an exterior storm flap covers large pit-zips. The hand pockets are fully waterproof, and the jacket stuffs into the left-hand pocket. The wrist cuffs are lined with soft, nylon taffeta and adjust with a Velcro tab, while the elastic hem cinch has cord lock adjustments on both sides.
This jacket is a screaming deal. With its attention to detail, Patagonia has designed a durable product that offers stellar weather protection at a relatively low price. That said you can still buy a decent jacket, like the Marmot Precip, for less. Offering excellent value, the Torrentshell's toughness, mobility, and hood design proved superior to the Precip, and in the worst storm conditions, does a slightly better job of keeping us dry.
The Torrentshell's two lower hand pockets, while great for walking around, get partially blocked with a backpack hip belt or climbing harness. While a hip belt did go over the top of these pockets, they are comparatively low profile and didn't pinch our hips nearly as much as other models.
The cleverly named Patagonia Torrentshell is a rugged and streamlined 2.5 layer rain jacket. Its weather protection is fantastic for its price range and it breathes fairly well. It also sports a functional, comfortable hood. While it's crafted with backcountry enthusiasts in mind, it's also a great jacket for casual hiking or strolling around town.
We love this model for being one of the best possible rain jackets you can buy. Perfect for most outdoor activities from climbing to backpacking it is also something you could wear around the farmer's market on a rainy Sunday.