I can think of a few times when a jacket like the Patagonia Torrentshell would have come in handy. Spring and fall are my favorite seasons for hiking. It's never too hot, and you don't run into people. But the fickle weather has gotten me many times, assuming the day would stay dry, only to be soaked by the evening. Or the times I'd layer up in the morning, and sweating like a pig on the mountain in the afternoon.
This is why I love a good 2.5-layer rain shell. They’re so versatile and portable that I don’t mind the changing weather. And they don’t have to be very expensive. The Patagonia Torrentshell is a bargain compared to some of the higher-end shells. But how does it stack up to the competition?
The Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket
The new, upgraded Patagonia Torrentshell is a tough 2.5-layer jacket shell for a variety of settings and situations. It’s for those unpredictable days when you want to hike but can’t be sure what to prepare for.
The Patagonia Torrentshell has many of the features of high-end adventure rain jackets, but a much lower price. Can it compete with more expensive jackets? Yes, though you will sacrifice some of the special gimmicks. But overall this is a great-looking all-purpose shell, with exceptional quality for the price. On top of that, it comes with a lifetime warranty.
The Patagonia Torrentshell isn't as feature-packed as some of the higher-end jackets, but what it does, it does well.
The adjustable full-coverage hood is perhaps the most impressive feature of the Patagonia Torrentshell. It’s spacious enough to fit a helmet or thick padding, but you can make it tight and steady with the pull cords. You can adjust the height and orientation of the opening with a toggle in the back. So it’s a nice fit for every head. Best of all, there’s a laminated visor to keep the rain out of your face, and it can fold away when you don’t need it.
The Patagonia Torrentshell has generous hand-warming pockets. However, they’re the only pockets you get. There are no chest or sleeve pockets, not even a Napoleon pocket. This can be inconvenient for hikers like me who tend to carry a lot of stuff and like to keep it within quick reach at all times. This simple design does help with water resistance and weight reduction though, which is a worthy tradeoff. Just wear a mid-layer with pockets or a carrying belt.
A convenient feature of the Patagonia Torrentshell is the way it packs into its own pocket for easy storage. There’s a carabiner on the left pocket so you can hang the bundle on your backpack.
Materials and hardware
The cords, zippers, and Velcro are all sturdy and reliable. All zippers are DWR-treated and watertight. This jacket doesn't use AquaGuard or similar high-end waterproofing technologies. However, the pits have double zippers with internal and external storm flaps. The shell material offers a balance of high performance and lightweight that’s rare in this price range.
The Patagonia Torrentshell hiking experience
At the end of the day, a softshell is only as good as its ability to keep the rain and wind out. Lightweight, affordable shell jackets don’t always do a great job at this. But the Patagonia Torrentshell does. It will keep you warm and dry on adventures in moderate conditions and shorter voyages in harsher conditions. But that’s not to say it’s completely waterproof.
With longer exposure to heavy rain, the shell will begin absorbing some moisture. The damp material may eventually press against your skin. It wouldn’t be my first choice for a whitewater adventure, a sailing trip, or a long trek through deep, wet snow. But it's still a great choice for all moderate adventures and everyday use in rainy climates.
On the positive side, this jacket is easy to adjust in variable conditions. Tightening or loosening the cuffs, hem, and hood, and folding the visor are almost instantaneous. The pit zips are also easy. When everything’s closed, wind and light rain are no problem whatsoever. One thing that could be better is the main zipper’s storm flap design, which can be somewhat inconvenient.
Fit and comfort
The Patagonia Torrentshell isn't the fluffy, formless sack we’ve come to expect of cheaper shells. While it’s not a tight, form-fitting cut, it’s snug enough to stay firmly in place. It won’t affect your mobility the way a loose or bulky jacket would. And it’s still roomy enough to accommodate a good layer of insulation like a fleece or a light down puffy.
The Patagonia Tortoiseshell is long enough to keep your midsection and upper legs dry and warm, as well as to sit down without worries. But it's not so long that it restricts mobility. There are situations where you’d want a longer jacket, but this one is good enough for practically every condition. Amazon reviewers say it’s good for rainy days, and that it fits great.
The adjustable hood makes it easy to establish a comfortable fit for anyone. It provides great coverage without restricting your peripheral vision much. The cuffs are easy to get right too. One thing to note though, if you have long arms like me, the sleeves may be a bit short.
The breathability is good, but you can tell it’s a budget-oriented shell. Strenuous activity in moderate temperatures can get you sweaty pretty fast, and it gets damp in there after a while. It’s a great choice for colder conditions if you layer right, and it’s not bad in moderate temperatures either if you don’t push yourself too hard. But if you want a waterproof shell that breathes well, you'll have to face higher prices.
Packing and carrying
The Patagonia Torrentshell is easy to remove and pack. Shake it dry, stuff it into its own left pocket, and secure it with the double-sided zipper. The bundle will be the size of a large orange. A strong loop lets you secure it to your backpack, harness, bike, and more for easy carrying. It’s light enough to carry around like this on longer treks. A men's medium weighs in at 11.3oz. There are lighter options available, but the differences are insignificant.
How We Reviewed
How Patagonia Torrentshell Compares
Quality is always relative. How does this jacket stand up against the competition? For comparison, we'll look at the PreCip Marmot, The North Face Venture 2, and Patagonia’s Cloud Ridge.
This is the strongest competitor, a well-received and popular 2.5-layer jacket of this price range. It’s very similar to the Patagonia Torrentshell in most regards and offers the same functions and features.
Let’s start with the advantages. The Marmot is a little lighter and around $30 cheaper. So if price and weight are big concerns for you, it’s the better value. The design is also simpler, with a Velcro stormflap and a relaxed fit.
It provides good protection for everyday use and casual hiking. It also offers a somewhat better airflow. However, it’s not as reliable and versatile as the Patagonia Torrentshell.
The Marmot is not as watertight. Furthermore, the fit isn’t as snug and it’s not as mobile. You’ll also have a harder time using helmets with the PreCip. When it comes to performance in general, Patagonia Torrentshell is the winner. It’s more durable as well, so the extra cost will pay off in the long run, especially if you like rough activities like climbing.
Packing and carrying
It’s about the same weight as the Patagonia Torrentshell and easier to store or hang on your bag. So it’s an ideal option if you need more of a just-in-case rainjacket for backpacking or everyday use.
The North Face Venture 2
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The Venture 2 is another popular rain shell of similar caliber. It's reasonably priced and lightweight, but how does it perform?
This jacket is comparable to both the Patagonia Torrentshell and Marmot PreCip performance-wise. The Venture 2 is durable, and its water resistance is great. It’s pretty much on par with the Patagonia Torrentshell in these regards, surpassing the PreCip. It’s impressive for its modest price, but it’s more suited for occasional hikers or campers who want a good everyday rain jacket.
This jacket doesn’t have the design quality of the Patagonia Torrentshell or Marmot PreCip. The shell material, velcro, and zippers provide what some would call a cheap feel. It’s loose-fitting and formless in comparison, and the hood lacks a stiffened brim. The floppiness can reduce your mobility at times, and the sleeves may bunch up, so you get cold wrists if you’re long-limbed.
It’s not as breathable either, although it’s improved from the original Venture jacket. It doesn’t fall far behind the Patagonia Torrentshell, though.
This is where the Venture 2 has a slight edge. It’s ultra-light and packs down very small. Although not as small as the PreCip.
Patagonia Cloud Ridge
This is, in essence, a high-performance version of the Torrentshell. They’re similar in most regards, but this one is higher quality and more luxurious in general.
First things first, unlike the shells mentioned above, this one has a 3-layer design. So it’s heavier, warmer, and more resistant in general. The fit is similar to the Patagonia Torrentshell, perhaps a bit roomier. Both the trunk and sleeves seem a little longer. Designed for comfort, it comes with fleece padding for your chin and neck.
I don’t recommend it for extended or intense physical exertion in damp weather. It’s meant for colder and wetter situations. This type of jacket isn’t very breathable, but the Cloud Ridge does a decent job. The pockets double as vents unless you fill them up.
It handles heavy rain with ease. The powerful H2No technology makes the water roll off the shell without seeping through. Its zippers have proper waterproofing too.
The pockets sit higher than average, which is great for backpackers. Few things annoy me as much as pockets getting squished by a thick wrist strap. So I would have loved one of these jackets when I was a constant backpacker.
Packing and Carrying
It’s a bit heavier than a Patagonia Torrentshell, but not too heavy. It packs into a light sack for easy storage, so it’s backpack and bike-friendly.
Pros and Cons
With all that information in mind, it’s time to round it up. Here are the strengths and weaknesses of the Patagonia Torrentshell.
Given its nice balance of performance and affordability, it’s hard not to recommend this rain shell. It will cover all your basic needs and make rainy and sleety days much more enjoyable. We give it four stars out of four. It has the same rating on Amazon.