Backpackers.com is a small, independent team that writes unsponsored reviews and outdoor guides. If you're thinking about buying this product please use the links below – that really helps us. Thank you.
Patagonia Torrentshell Overview
Springtime in the mountains is a toss-up. One day, you’re throwing ski gear into storage and wearing a T-shirt. The next, it’s 30 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside and snow is falling from the sky. Where’d you put your puffy and rain jacket, again? Whether or not your weather changes as much as mine, there’s one item that can offer protection against the most common element of a true fall, winter, or spring: a solid rain jacket.
It doesn’t matter if you’re ski touring a sunny mountainside or pedaling through snow-plowed streets, a good rain jacket offers protection from the elements that will, eventually, find you.
The Patagonia Torrentshell is a versatile, durable rain jacket that you can toss in your daypack or casually wear around town during the most variable and inclement days. Featuring Patagonia’s patented H2No membrane, the Torrentshell repels water flawlessly while offering decent breathability and a polished appearance. The price of the Torrentshell is fair, and you get all the necessities of a great rain jacket without any gimmicky features.
Patagonia Torrentshell Star Rating
The Patagonia Torrentshell is a functional, stylish rain jacket that does everything well. It won’t blow you away with anything, but keeps rain off, breathes alright, and will last years.
Continue reading for a full review of the Patagonia Torrentshell, and if you’re interested in the many functional features of rain jackets, check out our comprehensive gear guide.
Update: We tested the Patagonia Torrentshell in 2017, and it has remained roughly the same since. Patagonia continues to work to make its fabrics out of recycled material, so the shell is now 100% recycled. Colors have also changed, but the rest is very similar.
Patagonia Torrentshell Specifications
|Feature Type||Feature Specs||What This Means|
|Weight||10.6 oz. (300 g) Women’s Medium||On the lighter side as far as rain jackets go.|
|Layer||2.5-Layer||2.5-layer shells repel water great, breathe OK, and feel just alright against the skin. Learn more about rain jacket layers in our Guide.|
|Waterproof Membrane||H2No Performance Standard||Patagonia’s proprietary membrane for repelling water. Not as breathable as Gore-tex or E-Vent, but still decent. More information on waterproof membranes in our Guide.|
|Face Fabric||2.7 oz 50D 100% recycled nylon ripstop||Decent face fabric that can take a beating. It’s also fully recycled, and BlueSign approved, which means the fabric minimizes environmental and social impact from beginning to end of the manufacturing process.|
|No. of Pockets||2 hand warming pockets||Pockets are totally watertight when zipped shut. Thumbs up.|
|Pocket Placement||Casual||The hand pockets feel natural, like a hoody, but won’t work under a hip belt or harness. Not as convenient as pockets that sit above a waist-belt, but they have a low-profile zipper style that minimizes bulkiness and discomfort.|
|Pit Zips/Vents||Yes||The two pit zips are complete with weather resistant zippers and storm flaps. Each pit has double zipper for optimal ventilation. Heavy, but functional.|
|Water Resistant Zippers||Kind Of||All zippers on this jacket are DWR-treated, and therefore, decently water-resistant. However they don’t have AquaGuard or a more serious waterproofing technology.|
|Storm Flaps||Yes||Minimal welt exterior and interior storm flaps. Paired with water resistant zippers, ain’t nothing getting through.|
|Packs Into Itself?||Yes||Stuffs into either hand-warmer pocket, the left one flaunts a carabiner clip-in loop.|
|Hood||Adjustable||Full coverage, two-way adjustable hood. Has a laminated visor with stow-away option. Excellently designed.|
|Fit||Standard||Not too tight, not too bulky. Good to throw a fleece underneath, but for any bulkier layers, sizing up is recommended.|
|Seams||Fully Taped||Seams aren’t the smallest, but are fully taped.|
|Manufacturer Warranty||Ironclad Guarantee||For all of Patagonia’s products, a lifetime warranty is offered. If you’re unsatisfied, they can repair, replace, or refund.|
|Retail Price||$129||A super reasonable price for a high-quality jacket.|
Gear Review of the Patagonia Torrentshell
Origins: Easing You In
I recently left the northern Rockies of Montana for Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. Packing, purging, loading, unloading, unpacking — moving has been a drag, to say the least. Beyond the palpable hassle, you’ve got to deal with the whole orienting-to-a-strange-new-area thing.
What better way to get to know your surroundings than a walk with nature? I researched nearby trails and promised to have my first date with the mountains on my next day off, rain or shine. When the day came, I found myself ascending a canyon trail known for its spectacular springtime wildflowers.
A light drizzle started down, which soon turned to heavy drops. I had the Patagonia Torrentshell on in preparation for some rain, so it presented no big issue. As I climbed higher, though, a sloppy snow-rain began blowing sideways through the Cottonwood trees. Imagine a hundred spitballs being chucked at you at once. That’s kind of what hiking in this weather felt like. The wildflowers (which were spectacular by the way) wilted underneath a layer of wet snow.
Revelation: The Moment I Knew
With every step, my thighs brushed against the waterlogged shrubbery lining the trail. After 30 minutes, my leggings were soaked and even underneath my “waterproof” hiking boots, my socks were damp. My fingers turned pink and numb from the cold.
This is when I noticed my head and torso were totally dry. Quite warm, even. I found myself reaching for the Torrentshell’s pit-zips for extra ventilation as I worked my way up the slippery slope.
Back in civilization, I wore this jacket to the office, in the movie theatre, and around a late-night campfire. It has been a convenient heat-trapping, wind-resisting layer through every activity, mountain or city, day or night. But, now, as the earth around me became sodden and frozen, I was protected. This is what this jacket was made for.
Repelling rain should be the standout quality of any rain jacket, and the Patagonia Torrentshell proved that true. But there are a number of specific features that are worth mentioning on this coat.
The hood quickly stood out to me as the all-star feature. The Torrentshell has a deep hood, able to fit over a helmet or a hat, a huge plus for climbers, bikers, and skiers alike. It’s totally adjustable to fit snugly on a bare head, as well.
The hood has three elastic cords to optimize performance: one on either size of the visor to tighten down around the face, and one on the back of the hood to adjust the height of the brow. Together these work to maximize peripheral vision while keeping your noggin nice and dry.
The Torrentshell’s hood also features a nice laminated visor that tucks away when not in use. I was very pleased by its ability to keep the rain out of my eyes while hiking; it enhanced my overall experience trudging through the slush.
The only downside to this hood, in my opinion, is its loudness. Once adjusted to fit snugly around my head, it seemed every outside noise was drowned out by the sound of my hair rubbing against the crisp inner material. That’s, of course, a byproduct of anything covering one’s ears, be it a helmet or a thick hat. Regardless, having compromised senses while hiking alone in new territory isn’t ideal.
Patagonia goes above and beyond to ensure water doesn’t get through the Torrentshell’s zippers. Every zipper on this jacket is DWR treated and features minimal welt exterior and interior storm flaps. The stiffness of the storm flaps combined with the thickness of the zippers can definitely make the zipping process challenging; But, hey, it’s a fair tradeoff for ultimate dryness.
The pit zips are another important feature of the Patagonia Torrentshell. Extending from armpit to mid-rib, these large vents allow ample airflow without letting rain in. In hot, humid climates, the pit zips may not add quite enough ventilation for comfort, but in cooler, wet weather they do wonderfully.
Two hand warming pockets are a nice addition to the Torrentshell. Totally watertight when zipped, they offer a safe place to store a phone, keys or a wallet. The jacket can fold into either pocket, doubling as a stuff sack, complete with a loop to hang on a harness or backpack.
The Torrentshell won’t win any cuddle contests, but it’s not uncomfortably crunchy during daily activities like some rain jackets. It’s light enough to offer decent mobility and quiet enough to not make a scene walking down grocery aisles.
That said, I found the microfleece lined neck didn’t add much. It’s kind of just there, extending barely beyond the tag.
Having worn this jacket over the past few months, I would say the durability is good. It has been shoved to the bottom of my book bag, endured messy camp-eats, and made it through snaggy branches unscathed. I can’t claim to know how it holds up over the course of years, but I would venture to say it would do quite well.
The Torrentshell offers average breathability. During high-output activities, I couldn’t avoid steaming up like a screaming tea kettle. Moderate activity didn’t present much of an issue, though, considering the many added ventilation options.
The Torrentshell does a solid job of keeping water out, unless the wrists are too short (which they were for me), and you get water on your hands. But for most this won’t be an issue.
The best way to describe the fit of the Torrentshell is “Regular”. It’s not form-fitting, but not utterly shapeless. I consider myself to have broad shoulders, and I noticed there still was extra room in the shoulder area. That helps when wearing layers underneath, though I wouldn’t recommend wearing any puffy layers without expecting to feel restricted. Around my hips, the jacket fits snugly. With my hands in the hand-warming pockets, it’s about maxed out in the hip/butt area. One thing I really like about the Torrentshell is the butt coverage: it dips down farther than normal for added protection against the rain, which allows you to sit (or slip…) without getting your bum wet.
I normally wear a size Medium, and tested a Women’s Medium Torrentshell. I can’t speak to the Men’s fit, but Patagonia tends to have slimmer fitting clothes.
The Torrentshell is definitely sleeker looking than many rain jackets I’ve rocked in the past. I never felt self-conscious wearing the Torrentshell anywhere urban, like the movies or the mall. It’s cut simply and the high neck cuff offers a sophisticated, athletic look. The Torrentshell comes in a myriad of colors, both solid and dual, so you should be able to find one that suits your style.
When a product is mass-produced, it’s impossible that it will fit everyone’s needs perfectly. The areas it didn’t suit me, personally, are where my grievances lay.
For starters, I wish it had a breast pocket. The two waterproof pockets are plenty deep for some hand-warming action, but they get crowded quickly when a cell phone, earbuds, snacks, or whatever else is added. A breast pocket would have been useful to store some small items and free up the hand warming pockets to do what they were made to do.
Second, I wish the Patagonia Torrentshell had longer sleeves. For the average person, they might not pose an issue. For long-limbed gals and guys, they’re a tad short. Though the Torrentshell has hook and loop cuffs for adjustability, I found they rode up my arms while hiking. My hands and wrists were left exposed and got cold quickly.
Last but not least, the Torrentshell could have better breathability. I found I had to sacrifice dryness on ascents. As I grew warmer, I loosened the wrist cuffs, neck, and underarm vents in order to increase ventilation through the jacket. This was only an issue when I was outputting a lot of energy. I felt fine on the downhill with all the vents closed back up, despite my underlayers now being wet around the edges.
For most Car Campers and Urban Hikers the Torrentshell should perform fine. If you’re an intense Day Hiker who covers many miles, some of which are uphill, consider a rain jacket that has better breathability. Keep in mind that the Torrentshell is a 2.5-layer rain jacket, and breathability is typically where these types of jackets suffer. More expensive jackets will get you more breathable materials most of the time.
The Torrentshell is a relatively inexpensive jacket that offers the qualities of an expensive jacket. It’s a basic, but highly functional piece perfect for any torrents of water or a light drizzle. In rain, sleet, or spit-ball snow, the Patagonia Torrentshell will make sure you don’t become a wilted springtime wildflower.
Where to Buy Patagonia Torrentshell
A women’s medium Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket was tested for this review. It’s also offered in a Men’s version, which is the exact same except for cut and fit. The Torrentshell Jacket line is offered in many colors, and has a standard fit, which should be comfortable on most people. Order a size up if you’re looking to wear many layers underneath. The Torrentshell line is also offered in a few very different variations — Parka, City Jacket, Pullover, Poncho, etc. — and while we find those to be solid, this Jacket is what most backpackers will want. You can find Men’s and Women’s Patagonia Torrentshell Jackets below.]