The Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket is an affordable and fully featured rain jacket with an excellent hood and pit zip ventilation. While nearly twice the weight of minimalist lightweight rain jackets like the OR Helium II, it’s warmer and much more durable, making it good for rough and tumble activities like winter and shoulder season hiking when heat retention is less of an issue than in summertime.
The Torrentshell Rain jacket is a 2.5 layer waterproof, H2NO certified (an internal Patagonia test standard) jacket with a beefy 50 denier exterior water-repellent shell fabric, an internal breathable membrane, and a thin printed interior face (the half layer) that protects the breathable layer from dirt and oils. While a bit on the heavy side at 12.7 ounces in a size men’s XL, the 50 denier outer fabric provides increased durability and heat retention in cold weather.
Like most rain jackets sold today, the Torrentshell has a DWR (Durable Waterproof Repellent) coating which is applied to the jacket to help water bead and roll off when it rains. This coating breaks down when the jacket is exposed to the elements, rubs against your backpack’s shoulder straps, or is frequently stuffed and unstuffed and must be re-applied periodically using Nikwax’s TX.Direct DWR Reproofing Treatment. In conjunction with a waterproof/breathable barrier, the DWR finish keeps the outer fabric from becoming saturated so that the breathable barrier can do its job.
While it’s normal for the DWR coating to wear down over time, I must say I was surprised how quickly the factory DWR coating failed on the Torrentshell Jacket and the jacket wetted out…literally within two hours during the first major storm I hiked in, soaking me to the bone. While I’m willing to reapply a DWR coating once or twice a year, I’m disappointed with this jacket’s performance.
If you’re fed up with the waterproof/breathable claims of most outdoor clothing manufacturers, you should get yourself a rain jacket with pit zips that lets you vent heat even in the rain. Called mechanical venting (see Mechanical Venting, Pit Zips, and Layering), Pits zips augment the breathable fabric in your existing jacket and prevent it from becoming overwhelmed when you really start to sweat. Kudos to Patagonia, for putting pit zips on the Torrentshell Rain Jacket, despite the fact that it’s made using their proprietary waterproof/breathable laminate.
The pit zips on the Torrentshell Rain jacket are quite large and surprising long, but do not allow rain ingress when worn in heavy showers. While they provide limited utility in hot and humid conditions when evaporation is nearly impossible, they are effective in cooler, drier weather for keeping your mid-layer dry.
The Torrentshell Rain Jacket also comes with velcro wrist cuffs, which are best used for heat retention in cooler weather. Velcro wrist cuffs provide a highly personalized fit and are better than the elasticized cuffs found on minimalist jackets, which may or may not provide a tight closure depending on your wrist size.
The Torrentshell’s hood is fully adjustable, with a large front brim that keeps rain off your face and glasses, if you wear them. Oversized for climbing helmet compatibility, the hood has a rear cordlock adjustment that lets you adjust the volume of the hood and make it as tight as you want while front pulls on either side of the face let you further adjust the hood volume around the front of your face.
The Torrentshell Rain jacket has two zippered hand warmer pockets. The jacket can be stuffed into one of the pockets which acts as a stuff sack, complete with a hang loop, convenient for attaching to a climbing harness with a carabiner.
All of the zippers on the Torrentshell have dual storm flaps, with fold over zippers to keep rain off the coils. This provides much more durability than waterproof zippers which are prone to snagging or failure.
There’s a pull cord hem at the base of jacket for locking out winter drafts.
While fully featured, with a fully adjustable hood, wrist cuffs and pit zips, the Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket has many features in common with more technical shells, but at a much lower price. While considerably heavier with thicker fabric than minimal ultralight rain jackets, it is also far more durable, making it a good choice for colder temperature pursuits such mountaineering, climbing, or off-trail hiking where superior abrasion resistance is required. While I had a poor experience with the factory DWR treatment on the Torrentshell Jacket I received, I suspect it was an anomaly and will be remediated when I get around to restoring the coating.
Philip Werner received this jacket as a gift from the Appalachian Mountain Club in recognition for being a volunteer hiking trip leader. This post contains affiliate links.
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