The Patagonia Torrentshell is this year's winner of our Best Buy Award. This budget-friendly, pedigree rain layer performs on par with many products donning a much higher price tag, while performing well for a wide range of activities. It is very similar in design and construction to the Marmot PreCip which was the former winner, and still the closest competition for our Best Buy Award. The Torrentshell is high-performance enough for hiking and backpacking and is also a fantastic around-town option. With its generous cut, it's easy to layer underneath for cold weather. Because the hood can work with a helmet, this is our favorite wallet-friendly rain jacket for climbing and mountaineering.
Patagonia Torrentshell Review
Cons: Ventilation, small zipper pulls and cord locks, coated membrane isn't as long-lasting as laminated options
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|Pros||Stormworthy, decent breathability and lightweight, durable, great hood in general||Top-tier storm-worthiness, mobility and range of motion, hood design, long-lasting DWR, exceptional breathability, harness and hip-belt friendly pockets||The most breathable material in our review, lightweight and compressible, stretchy fabric, top-tier hood design, extremely stormworthy||Stretchiest fabric in our review, cozy interior feel, breathability, robust, pleasant low-profile wrist closures, hood design is comfortable and maintains good peripheral vision||Awesome hood, fantastic fit, very durable, exceptionally versatile, good breathability and ventilation, waterproof pockets|
|Cons||Ventilation, small zipper pulls and cord locks, coated membrane isn't as long-lasting as laminated options||No ventilation options, expensive, no easy way to clip to a harness||Cut is slightly on the boxy side, not as durable as other models||No chest pocket, hood doesn't fit over a helmet, size up this model to accommodate layering||Heavy for a "minimalist" design, slightly more expensive than non Gore-Tex jackets|
|Bottom Line||Great for those on a budget, this model marries performance with thoughtful design.||Excelling across the board, this jacket is versatile enough for outdoor activities and is lightweight and storm worthy.||Offers top-tier weather resistance and breathability, coupled with low weight and minimal packed volume, proving to be one of the most versatile jackets we tested.||This slim-fitting model boasts the stretchiest fabric and best range of motion of any model in our review; it's also incredibly breathable and features an innovative hood design.||Just nearly missing out on an award, this is an awesome do-anything piece and one of our favorites.|
|Rating Categories||Patagonia Torrentshell||Arc'teryx Zeta SL||REI Co-op Drypoint GTX||Rab Kinetic Plus||Marmot Minimalist|
|Water Resistance (30%)|
|Breathability & Venting (25%)|
|Comfort & Mobility (20%)|
|Packed Size (5%)|
|Specs||Patagonia...||Arc'teryx Zeta SL||REI Co-op Drypoint...||Rab Kinetic Plus||Marmot Minimalist|
|Measured Weight (Medium)||12.5 oz||11 oz||10.5 oz||10 oz||15 oz|
|Waterproof Fabric Material||2.5-layer H2No||2-layer GORE-TEX PACLITE Plus waterproof breathable laminate||3-layer Gore-Tex Active||Proflex™ 3-layer||GORE-TEX with PacLite technology|
|Face Fabric and Layer Construction||2.5L 100% recycled nylon||40-denier ripstop (N40r) GORE-TEX PACLITE Plus||20D ripstop nylon||Propriety Proflex waterproof membrane 2.5L||100% recycled polyester|
|Pockets||2 zip hand||2 hand||2 zip hand||2 hand||2 zip hand, 1 chest|
|Are lower pockets hipbelt friendly||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Helmet Compatible Hood (not only fits but not too tight)||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Stows Into Pocket?||Yes||No||No||No (but included stuff sack)||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
If you're trying to get away with as light of a jacket as possible, there are lighter options. At only six ounces, the Patagonia Storm Racer is half the weight and offers comparable weather-resistance (and a much higher price tag). Other super 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 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.
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 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.
— Ian Nicholson