Updated Torrentshell 3L vs. Older Model
Patagonia updated their waterproof recycled H2No fabric for this iteration of the Torrentshell. It's now a 3L material (the previous version was 2.5). This is designed with the intention of more comfort and longer lasting waterproofing and durability. Compare the two pants below — they're very similar in design. The updated pant is shown first, followed by the model we tested.
We're linking to the updated pant as it's more readily available. Until we have tested the new version, the review to follow pertains to the previous model.
Hands-On Review of the Torrentshell
The Patagonia Torrentshell pants are our runner-up Best Buy winner. They are a great deal and an excellent, simple design, from a company you can always feel good about supporting. These are a decent general-purpose rain pant; they're light enough to take backpacking, and versatile enough for many outdoor pursuits. We would not want to push the limits of these pants regarding terrain or movement styles: that is to say, they weren't featured enough for all-mountain use, nor were they comfortable enough to stretch into more mountaineering uses.
The Torrentshell pants will keep you dry in a torrent, so they got relatively high marks in this category with 7 out of 10. We knocked them down a bit simply because they used rain flaps to cover the 2/3 length side zippers. Otherwise, the H2No Performance Standard waterproof breathable fabric was up to par and a solid waterproof layer.
Patagonia's h2no fabric holds up to the competition.
Comfort & Mobility
This was not the strong suit of the Torrentshell. They feel like a very basic rain pant, and the fit is not as comfortable as the others in this review. We think the lack of a gusseted crotch hindered the mobility.
The cuffs are minimally adjustable with only two places to snap the button closure.
The fabric feels plasticky inside, not our favorite comfort feature, and they are a noisy pair of pants due to this plastic quality. They have a fully elastic waist with essentially a long shoelace which you can tie to tighten the waist. The cuffs are also half elastic, with a button closure that has two spots to snap it, allowing you a little diameter adjustment to better fit around your footwear.
The inner fabric feels more plasticky.
Breathability & Venting
These pants were reasonably breathable and featured double zippers which allow you to vent from the top of the side zippers, which is 2/3 of the length up the leg. The mesh zipper hand pockets could also provide some venting. Overall, however, we found these rain pants to feel clammy, as most 2.5 layer fabrics do.
The Torrentshell offers excellent venting and breathability capabilities.
At a light 6 ounces for a small pair of pants, these were average in this review, but certainly lightweight enough for most backcountry use. If you want a pair of rain pants for truly fast and light missions like long mountain runs, check out the Outdoor Research Helium pants.
For the light weight of these pants, they were not as compact as we would have thought. They do, however, pack into the left-hand pocket and have a clippable loop in case you want to clip them from something. We did not find this feature to be helpful, but perhaps it can help protect the material of the pants from dirt and sharp objects while traveling.
Lightweight and compact enough for backcountry use.
We like side zips and vents on rain pants. The 2/3 side zippers worked well on these pants. We could put these pants on over most footwear except bigger mountaineering boots. The pants have two zippered hand pockets and can stuff into the left-hand pocket, revealing a clippable loop. We didn't find these features to be beneficial.
This pocket turns inside out and you can stuff the pants into it - then it exposes a loop that allows you to clip these pants anywhere with a carabiner.
The only adjustment at the cuffs were a half elastic band and two spots to clip the button closure. This didn't provide much adjustability for footwear.
These two buttons provide only minimal cuff diameter adjustment.
The 50-denier 100% recycled nylon ripstop proved plenty durable during our testing period. This is a relatively high durability rating for fabric, and certainly on the higher end of this review. The simple design of the pants also contributed to their durability, as well as the straight-leg, athletic fit, which keeps the material closer to your body when moving.
For a product you can feel good about purchasing, these pants are a good deal. They are made of recycled nylon ripstop by Patagonia, and we were surprised, ultimately to see such an affordable price tag from one of our favorite ethical outdoor apparel companies.
The Patagonia Torrentshell pants are a decent all-around rain pant that performed above average in all counts but didn't stand above the crowd in any of our metrics. These may be a good entry level rain pant for someone who doesn't want to spend a lot of money and who doesn't like wasting resources; if you don't use them much, at least they were made of recycled nylon!