Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Versatile, durable, long lasting DWR, good stormworthiness, minimal clammy feel
Cons: Heavy, average packed size, mobility, and freedom of movement
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Patagonia Torrentshell 3L is the newest version of Patagonia's mega-popular and value-focused line of Torrentshell jackets. The newest version has a 3L construction, which provides a step up from the previous 2L and 2.5L models they've made over the past decade. The fabric upgrade makes this model more durable, less clammy feeling, and improves its weather resistance, with almost no weight or packed volume penalty. This helps this model be incredibly versatile, remaining light and compact enough to throw in the bottom of your pack for even a short day hike, but durable and storm-resistant enough to carry into the mountains where the possibility of severe weather is very real.
Not a lot of complaints here; this contender uses Patagonia's tried-and-true proprietary H2No waterproof membrane, sandwiched inside a durable 50D face fabric (which is thicker than average), and a durable tricot liner for a stormworthy 3-layer design. We were impressed by the weather resistance offered, and the Torrentshell performed well in real-world use as well as in our side-by-side shower and hose tests. We were particularly impressed by the level of stormworthiness for the price, and few other models can touch its level of weather protection for under $150.
The Torrentshell features a large hood with a stiffened brim and elastic cord that tightens around the user's face, helping to seal out the elements. While the hood is on the larger side, it should be noted that it does not fit well over a biking or climbing helmet. The front zipper has storm gutters on the front and the back, meaning you are more likely to stay dry while hiking up wet overgrown trails, or while traveling in exposed areas.
Breathability & Venting
We can't visually tell the difference in the 3-layer model's ability to move moisture versus the 2.5-layer model, but there was certainly a difference in feel; this is an aspect that all of our testers noted, particularly that the 3-layer design was less clammy. The new Torrentshell is not only significantly less clammy feeling than the previous 2.5-layer Torrentshell but compared to 2.5 layer models in general.
In fact, this is one of the least clammy feeling models in the $200 an -under category. There was an even bigger difference in warmer conditions, where the jacket was breathing less overall. While on the more breathable side for its price, it still scored lower compared to air-permeable models or jackets that used Gore-Tex Paclite, Gore-Tex Active, or eVent.
To help with moisture and to dump heat, this product offers two 11 inch long pit zips, one under either arm. At 11 inches long, they are a good length, and assist in heat and moisture management. This is a reminder to the importance of layering appropriately for a given activity, as even the most breathable fabrics can't handle the average person hiking uphill when wearing too much clothing.
Comfort & Mobility
There's nothing too fancy about the Torrentshell, and it has a functional but minimally focused design. It doesn't have a fleece patch at the chin but does have one at the back of the collar, though this is mostly to absorb sweat and grim and keep it from working its way down to the waterproof membrane. The hood design is comfortable around its wearer's face, using three cord locks to adjust it and lock it into place.
Compared to other similar priced jackets like the Marmot PreCip, the Torrentshell offers better mobility and range of motion with the least amount of restriction or bunching. The Torrentshell has shifted to a 3-layer design and feels far more comfortable against your skin and less clammy than previous models or similarly priced options.
The Torrentshell has our favorite hood design in its price range. We liked its drawstring closures, which allow the wearer to maintain a decent level of peripheral vision. While the hood is deep, it doesn't fit well over a climbing or bike helmet, and these types of users will need to wear their hood underneath their helmet.
The Torrentshell features two basic waterproof handwarmer 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 slightly raised and entirely out of the way of a pack's waist belt. This is so we have easier access to them and to avoid any possibility of them pinching our hips. After extensive use, we did not find the low pockets were an issue.
The Torrentshell is one of the more durable jackets we tested, which added to its versatility. Patagonia's construction quality is top-notch, and the 50D ripstop 100% recycled nylon face fabric is thick and more tear resistant. The 3-layer design protects the waterproof membrane better than a 2.5 layer jacket would. The durability makes it a better option for folks who are hard on their gear, but doesn't present much of a weight penalty. The Torrentshell is notably tougher than the 2.5 layer proprietary products we tested and thus will hold up better for extended backpacking trips, climbing or off-trail travel.
The Torrentshell stuffs into its left-hand pocket, and there is a webbing clip-in loop for securing it to a harness or backpack. We liked the size Patagonia opted for its stuff sack/stuff pocket; it's not so hard that it is a total pain to get it in but small enough that it does a good job of actually compressing the jacket to minimize space in your pack or on your harness. The Torrentshell has an average packed size but is still plenty small enough to be used as a just-in-case layer while out on day hikes (and hoping to save weight).
The increase in durability and superior longevity does have a downfall, but it isn't a significant one. The Torrentshell increases its weight from the previous 2.5-layer version a total of 1.5 ounces, going from 12.5 to 14 ounces. While 14 ounces is on the heavier side of jackets we tested, it can hardly be considered heavy. Its weight is in line with similarly priced models, and we feel the 1.5 ounce increase is well worth it for what you get in durability and versatility.
The new 3-layer version is a little bit more expensive than the previous model, and more costly than many "price-pointed" 2.5 layer jackets from competitors. However, we feel that its slightly more expensive cost is easily worth the investment for superior durability, longevity, and versatility. Sure, you can buy a less expensive jacket that will keep you dry, but no model that costs less will last as long with the same level of use; this 50D 3-layer design is simply going to last longer than 2.5 layers, which only have a coating to protect the waterproof membrane.
The cleverly named Patagonia Torrentshell is a rugged but value-oriented 3-layer rain jacket. Its weather protection is fantastic for its price range, and it breathes reasonably well. It also sports a functional, comfortable hood and some of the better storm protection for the cost. It strikes an ideal balance of toughness and weight, and it's light enough to throw into the bottom of your pack and forget about for short afternoon hikes. While it's crafted with backcountry enthusiasts in mind, it's also an excellent jacket for casual hiking or strolling around town.
— Ian Nicholson