The Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Rain Jacket
– Price: $179
– Weight: 14.1 oz (400 g)
– Waterproofing Fabric: 3-layer H2No Performance Standard|
– Waterproofing Rating: NA
– Number of pockets: 2
– What we like: Bombproof water protection, outstanding build quality, affordable
– What we don’t: Needs more/better pockets, still fabric, little heavy/bulky
The Wise Adventurer’s Verdict
This is The Wise Adventurer’s review of the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L rain jacket, one of the most popular hard shells money can buy.
When it comes to budget-friendly rain jackets, Patagonia’s Torrentshell 3L has been near the front of the pack for as long as we can remember. For less than $200, you’re getting a jacket that is virtually guaranteed to keep you dry whether you’re on a misty morning hike or braving your way through a hurricane, and you’re also getting the outstanding material and build quality Patagonia is known for.
Affordable, protective, and built to last… Is there anything that’s not-to-love about this jacket? That’s exactly the question we set out to answer during our recent field test, and after spending a month hiking, camping, and living day-to-day in the Torrentshell 3L, we’re absolutely sold on this rain shell.
Of course we’d expect no less from the folks at Patagonia, a brand that’s grown both in size and influence over the last two decades to its rightful place at the top of the outdoor gear food chain. Patagonia may have gotten its start some 60+ years ago as a simple climbing gear company working out of a shed, but nowadays the brand is the go-to for fishing, camping, skiing, and biking gear for untold millions of outdoor enthusiasts.
So just how good can budget-friendly rain gear be? Here’s our take after spending a month in the field with the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L.
(Want to learn more about how we evaluate and test our rain gear? You can read all about it here.)
Detailed Evaluation of the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L
We tested the Patagonia Torrenshell alongside a slew of the year’s most popular rain jackets, which ranged from uber-expensive and uber-technical to uber-simplified ultralight shells. As is the case with each jacket we tested, we spent time hiking, backpacking, and even running with the Torrentshell through whatever wet weather we could find to get a first-hand feel for the jacket’s performance, features, and build quality.
Our testers found water resistance and general weather protection to be major highlights of the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L. Patagonia equips this jacket with a high-quality DWR coating and their proprietary H2No Performance Standard three-layer membrane, both of which we found worked fantastic in any and all conditions.
Whether it was a light mist or an outright downpour, the Torrentshell never let us down. From a sheer protection standpoint, we found the Torrentshell went toe-to-toe with even the most expensive GoreTex garments in our testing like the Arcteryx Beta AR hardshell, which is particularly impressive considering its sub-$200 asking price.
The Torrentshell lacks some of the premium features of the competition like waterproof zippers or stash pockets, but Patagonia’s simplified storm flaps at both the main zipper and the two hand pockets kept us completely dry throughout testing. The same goes for the jacket’s adjustable hood, which isn’t designed to accommodate a helmet, but otherwise functions flawlessly with a sizeable brim and three elasticated cinch adjusters.
We wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more substantial storm flap on the main zipper for peace of mind, but we also never actually experienced any leaks or other issues in the field. All things considered, this jacket protects at least as well as some competitors at twice its price, and we found it to be well-suited for extended backpacking duty, casual hiking, or snow days.
In terms of breathability, we found the Torrentshell to be “good not great” which was surprising considering three-layer shells typically rank highly in this metric. We’d still take the Torrentshell over budget-conscious 2.5-layer options like the Marmot Precip Eco we tested it alongside, but differences between the two are negligible at best.
Much of this can likely be chalked up to Patagonia’s choice of exterior fabric, which in the case of the Torrentshell is a burly 50D ripstop nylon. While we appreciate the durability of the jacket’s exterior (more on that below), we believe the heavy fabric sacrifices some heat management, which will be a welcome trade for folks wearing the Torrentshell in more rugged/less-active pursuits like hiking and backpacking
With that being said, we felt Patagonia did a fine job with the Torrentshell’s pit zips, which feature dual-pull zippers for fine-tuning airflow. They weren’t the largest in our testing, falling notably short behind front-runners like the Arcteryx Beta AR, but they did a great job of shedding extra heat on the move and stayed completely dry when not in use thanks to the addition of sizable storm flaps.
Fit and Comfort
Both overall fit and comfort got high praise from our testers, who loved the soft fabric lining of the Torrentshell’s three-layer construction. The jacket felt nice against our skin, even when worn over a simple t-shirt, and because we never managed to wet the jacket out despite our best efforts, there were zero reports of any cold/clammy feeling during extended showers.
In terms of fit, we’re fans of the Torrentshell’s middle-of-the-road sizing, which left room for layers and movement without being overly boxy or bulky. Even with a fairly thick fleece mid layer, we never experienced any restriction of movement when hiking around in this jacket, which makes it a great candidate for year-round use.
Our complaints here are minor, but all of them stem from the jacket’s heavy-duty fabric. Like many hard shells, the Torrentshell is a bit on the noisier/crinklier side, and while the fabric may break in a bit with extended use, it never got any quieter for us over the course of a month or so of testing. We’ll also note that the aforementioned breathability issues can make the jacket a bit steamy for more active pursuits, so we don’t recommend the Torrentshell for trail runners, cyclists, or more aggressive backcountry skiers.
As you might have guessed by this point, durability is a major highlight of the Torrentshell, and our testers all agreed that apart from the uber-tough GoreTex Pro shells we’ve used over the last few years, this jacket was the most robust we’ve had our hands on. The 50D ripstop nylon fabric is the kind of thing you can stuff anywhere and everywhere without worrying about tearing or puncturing, which makes this already affordable jacket an attractive long-term investment.
We found the same degree of quality throughout the jacket’s other features, from its exceptionally well-protected seams to its durable YKK zippers. We also noted that the stitching quality of the Torrentshell was excellent, and found zero concerns or potential weak points throughout the jacket’s design.
Again, the jacket has a distinct hardshell feel to it, albeit one that’s even louder and crinklier than your typical three-layer jacket, but at the end of the day, we felt it was a small price to pay for such a tough coat. We haven’t managed to put a single scrape or tear on the Torrentshell over the last month and believe this jacket will serve us well for years to come.
Weight and Packability
The Torrentshell was by no means the smallest or lightest jacket in our testing, but considering its combination of toughness and affordability, we can’t really knock it on this metric. At 14.1 oz in a size medium, the jacket slots right in with your typical hardcore hardshell, and packs down to an acceptable size as well.
Taken alongside other jackets in our testing, we found the Patagonia to be smaller than some (like the Arcteryx Beta LT) but larger than others (like the minimalist Marmot Precip Eco). It’s definitely a bit heavy for the ultralight crowd and long-haul backpackers and thru-hikers will likely want to shell out a few dollars more for something lighter and more compact, but we feel the Torrentshell will get just about any job done when called upon, and is completely serviceable as a backcountry hardshell.
We found the Torrentshell’s dual-use stash pocket (it packs into the left side hand pocket) worked well for keeping the jacket reasonably compressed when not in use. It’s still a bit larger than a Nalgene bottle and doesn’t come anywhere close to weight-weenies like the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic, but considering the protection on offer here, it’s still a solid option for most users.
Our testers felt the Torrentshell was average in terms of added features and premium touches. It lacks the flair of some more premium options, of course, but for the money, it’s a great all-round package.
Adjustments on the jacket come courtesy of a mixture of elastic cinches and velcro closures, and they all work well and feel particularly durable. The three-way hood adjustment is a nice touch considering the price point, and while it isn’t designed to work with a helmet, it’s still easy to dial in and we were able to batten it down effectively whenever the rain turned sideways.
Our testers were particularly fond of the jacket’s hand pockets, both of which have a soft-touch hand-warmer lining for added comfort on chilly days. Unfortunately we would also name the pockets as the main drawback here, both in terms of position and quantity.
Location-wise, the Torrentshell’s pockets are well placed for casual use but are split right down the middle by the hip belts of larger packs. This is a feature we’ve come to appreciate in more premium offerings, and while it’s by no means a deal breaker, it seems like an easy fix for future iterations of the jacket. We’ll also note that we’d love to see at least one chest pocket on the Torrentshell in the future, whether that’s a simple exterior pocket or a fully-waterproof napoleon pocket on the interior.
Clearly the Torrentshell is a strong performer from a value standpoint, and when it comes to sub-$200 options, we’re of the opinion this is hands-down the best deal going. There are certainly some strong contenders out there like REI’s Gore-Tex-equipped XeroDry shell, but none of them can match the Torrentshell’s build quality, performance, or feature set for the money.
We’ll also note that despite the Torrentshell’s wallet-friendly asking price, we have no doubts that this jacket will outlive some alternatives at twice its price. It’s not often you find a high-performance piece of gear that’s this good for this cheap, and the fact that the Torrentshell is built to last for several years rather than a few seasons adds major value in our opinion.
What We Like
Our testers all lauded the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L for its impressive combination of performance, durability, and affordability. It may not be the flashiest or most technical shell out there, but it’ll go head-on with Gore-Tex heavyweights from brands like Arc’teryx for a fraction of the price when it comes to weather protection, and that’s high praise indeed.
In addition to the outstanding bang for your buck, we’re also pretty floored by how tough this jacket is. Aside from uber-expensive GoreTex Pro three-layer shells, we’ve yet to find anything that looks or feels quite as durable as the Torrentshell, which, again, is pretty wild considering its price.
Another perk worth mentioning here is the Torrentshell’s highly-functional feature set. Between the outstanding hood adjustments, integrated stash pocket, and cozy hand-warmer pocket liners, there’s no denying this jacket punches well above its weight class and delivers most of the important features outdoor lovers are looking for.
What We Don’t Like
As is the case with any jacket that’s built to a budget, the Torrentshell wasn’t without its shortcomings. The biggest drawback we noted during testing was the jacket’s breathability, which is serviceable for most outdoor pursuits but falls short of more expensive three-layer options.
Apart from that, our complaints are minimal. The material is thick and crunchy, the jacket is a bit heavier/bulkier than some when packed down, and lacks a third pocket. We’d also love to see Patagonia move the Torrentshell’s two hand pockets just a few inches higher so they’ll work with the hip belts of hiking packs, but again, these are small complaints considering the jacket’s outstanding price point.
- REI XeroDry GTX: Similar price, but relies on a simpler 2-layer waterproofing in exchange for less weight and bulk. Read our full test and review…
- Rab Downpour Plus 2.0: Another affordable option, albeit with a 2.5-layer Pertex membrane and a helmet-compatible hood. Read our full test and review…
- Arc’teryx Beta LT: Reliable 3L GoreTex weatherproofing meets low weight and good packability, but costs more money. Read our full test and review…
The Bottom Line…
At the end of the day, we’re huge fans of the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L. No other jacket on the market can match its combination of affordability and performance, and the fact that this jacket is built to last adds a ton of value for us as well.
Out in the field our testers felt it could use a few key refinements between the crunchy fabric, basic pockets, and extra bulk, but these are small complaints for an otherwise outstanding jacket. If you’re shopping on a budget but still want a high-quality piece of rain gear, the Torrentshell is simply the best deal going for under $200, and one we expect to hold up to years of abuse.