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Patagonia Torrentshell Review

Patagonia Torrentshell
Price:   $129 List | $89.73 at REI
Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros:  Waterproof, slightly lighter-than-average, decent breathability, great hood in general, the best with helmets, more durable than most
Cons:  So-so ventilation, small zipper pulls and cord locks
Bottom line:  A slightly more durably jacket that's features, performance, and design will keep the budget focused climber or backpacker satisfied
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Patagonia
By Ian Nicholson
Monday November 13, 2017

Our Verdict

The Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket is a budget friendly, pedigreed rain layer. It performs on par with products donning a much higher price tag. 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.

Product Updated
The new Torentshell, pictured above, gets a few upgrades. Keep reading to see what's been altered.

That said, the Torrentshell does a better job of sealing out in the downpours, offers better mobility, and its hood plays better with helmets. It is slightly more durable than the PreCip and therefore 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.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Men's Rain Jackets of 2017

Our Analysis and Test Results

The latest Torentshell next to the Original Model


The Torrentshell line is now made with updated 100% recycled face fabric material. The backer is also switched out for a more comfortable material and new colors are thrown into the mix. Check out the new Torentshell (on the left) next to its predecessor in the side-by-side photos below.
Patagonia Torrentshell
Patagonia Torrentshell

The updates are as follows:
  • New Backer Material — According to Patagonia, the backer fabric is now more comfortable.
  • Updated Face Material — The face material is an updated 100% recycled nylon ripstop.
  • New Colors — The Torentshell is available in several new colors, one of which is the Viking Blue pictured above.

The latest iteration of this rain jacket has not yet been tested by our expert reviewers. The review below reflects the performance of the original Torentshell.

Hands-on Review of the Original Torentshell


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.

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.
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.

Water Resistance


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. Regarding weatherproofing, 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 forehead and the hood. Another cinch on the back of the hood adjusts the height of the brow. The Torrentshell was 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; a relatively long waist combines to seal out the downpours.

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 offered superior water resistance to most other jackets in its price range and its DWR held up among the best in this category.

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.

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.
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.

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.

The Torrentshell is an affordable yet extremely versatile jacket. We think it's great for hiking or backpacking  and its hood works so well with a helmet that our testers found it equally at home on morning bike commutes or while climbing and mountaineering.
The Torrentshell is an affordable yet extremely versatile jacket. We think it's great for hiking or backpacking, and its hood works so well with a helmet that our testers found it equally at home on morning bike commutes or while climbing and mountaineering.

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, an 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.

The Torrentshell provides the best head mobility when zipped up tight over a helmet. It is the most optimized for mountaineering and climbing of the similar models we tested.
The Torrentshell provides the best head mobility when zipped up tight over a helmet. It is the most optimized for mountaineering and climbing of the similar models we tested.

We found the Marmot PreCip's zippers and cord locks easier to manipulate with cold or gloved hands. What the Torrentshell does offer is excellent mobility. The hood moves with or without a helmet, outperforming most contenders, and the generously cut torso stays put when reaching with the arms.

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 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.

Mobility
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 movement, but climbing-oriented users should take note that it was noticeable.

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.
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.

Hood Design
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 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 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.

Pocket Design
The Torrentshell features two necessary hand-warmer-style pockets. These pockets will sit under a waist-belt while backpacking, though they were not as lovely as jackets whose pockets were raised slightly and entirely 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 an excellent option for backpacking.

Weight


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). The Torrentshell is lighter than average among most raincoats on the market. If you're trying to get away with as light of a jacket as possible, however, the Helium II 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.

Durability


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.

Packed Size


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 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 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.

Features


The Torrentshell has the best hood we tested for use with a helmet (in its price range). A stiffened brim and the 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. An exterior storm flap covers large pit-zips. 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 jacket has a hang loop and small strap for securing the rolled hood at the back of the collar. We didn't feel the rear of the neck fleece patch added much. The pit zips are of average size  and the taffeta-lined wrist cuffs tighten with a Velcro tab.
This jacket has a hang loop and small strap for securing the rolled hood at the back of the collar. We didn't feel the rear of the neck fleece patch added much. The pit zips are of average size, and the taffeta-lined wrist cuffs tighten with a Velcro tab.

Best Applications


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 raincoat. 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.

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 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.

Value


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 the helmet-clad cyclist, climbers, and mountaineers in mind, it's also a great jacket for hiking and backpacking or just strolling around town.

Ian Nicholson
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