Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket
Weight: 14.6 oz. (men’s large)
Waterproofing: 3L H2No Performance Standard
What we like: One of the best values on the market: this shell is well-built, highly protective, and looks good.
What we don’t: Fairly crinkly and stiff; not especially light for backcountry pursuits.
See the Men's Patagonia Torrentshell See the Women's Patagonia Torrentshell
Patagonia’s popular Torrentshell got a notable upgrade for 2020, shifting from a 2.5-layer design to a more hardwearing and weather-ready 3-layer construction. We brought the retooled Torrentshell into unforgiving conditions in Canada’s Yukon territory and were impressed by its overall performance: this jacket is highly protective, well-built, and has the clean look and attractive styling that Patagonia is known for. It’s not the most comfortable, breathable, or lightweight shell available, but it’s very well-rounded and an excellent value at $149. Below we outline our full experience with the Torrentshell 3L. To see how it stacks up to the competition, see our article on the best rain jackets.
Table of Contents
- Weather Protection
- Weight and Packability
- Durability and Build Quality
- Fit and Sizing
- What We Like/What We Don't
- Comparison Table
- The Competition
The Yukon backcountry brought heavy onslaughts of sideways rain and constant wind, but the revamped Patagonia Torrentshell 3L proved to be an extremely capable barrier against the elements. The H2No Performance Standard waterproofing and durable water repellent (DWR) finish did an admirable job of fending off rain and blocking strong gusts, and the jacket never once wetted out or soaked through. At only $149, this is truly impressive performance. For reference, the vast majority of competitors utilize a thinner 2.5-layer build, which is more prone to being overwhelmed by heavy moisture. You do pay for the added protection in weight and heft (more on this below), but that tradeoff is worth it for many, and especially those who live in areas with consistent rainfall.
In addition to the quality waterproofing, the Torrentshell has a healthy number of protective features, including Velcro cuffs, a brimmed hood, zipper flaps, and an adjustable hem. The jacket kept me dry and warm while frantically setting up camp and slogging my way up Tombstone Territorial Park's Glissade Pass in a rainstorm—I even wore it as my sole outer layer while hiking in the park and experienced no leakage or moisture creeping in. Wind protection was also superb: despite cool alpine winds along the pass, the Torrentshell kept me cozy and sealed out gusts with ease (the hood, cuff, and hem adjustments are crucial here). All in all, from a protection standpoint, I have very few complaints.
Most shells don’t breathe well enough for me to wear them while exerting, and the Torrentshell was no exception. Three-layer jackets are known to be better breathers than 2.5-layer designs, but this seems to be one area of compromise with the cheaper Torrentshell. Overall, while its wet-weather performance easily beats out 2.5-layer competitors like The North Face Venture 2 and Marmot PreCip Eco, it’s only moderately more breathable. The thick and substantial fabrics may play a role here, and it’s pretty clear to us that Patagonia prioritized durability and protection over breathability for high-output pursuits. In general, the jacket strikes me as a fine piece for hiking and backpacking, but it's worth upgrading to a higher-performing option like the Outdoor Research Interstellar for more strenuous activities like ski touring or biking.
That said, the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L does include pit zips, which are a must for those that run warm. I wore the shell on numerous climbs, including a steep slog up Glissade Pass in the rain, and the openings kept me from overheating. I did grow noticeably warm quickly, but the dual zippers allowed for easy customization to regulate airflow, and the fabric zipper pulls were easy to find and grab (although they’re on the small side for manipulating with gloves on). Patagonia did opt for a fabric flap here for protecting the zippers, which plays a role in the jacket’s heft and larger packed size (many performance-focused designs use coated zippers instead), but this is a very small nitpick and not a major concern for most.
Comfort is a bit of a mixed bag with the updated Torrentshell. On one hand, the 3-layer construction means you get a full lining along the interior, which makes it less plasticky- and slippery-feeling while working up a sweat. However, it’s decidedly one of the stiffest rain jackets I’ve worn to date: the fabric is crinkly and noisy, and it’s noticeably less supple than the older version that used a 2.5-layer construction. In addition, there’s no fleece along the chin to reduce abrasion (a small but helpful feature to prevent rubbing), but the zipper garage does keep my facial hair from snagging on the main zip. And on the bright side, Patagonia did incorporate fleece at the back of the neck to boost comfort. All in all, I wouldn’t call the Torrentshell a standout in this department by any means, but many will find the tradeoff in weather protection worth it.
At 14.6 ounces for a men’s size large (the listed weight is 13.9 oz.), the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L won’t be mistaken for a minimalist backcountry shell, but it’s perfectly serviceable for most outdoor use and daily wear. For comparison, Marmot’s popular PreCip Eco clocks in a few ounces lighter at 10.1 ounces, and The North Face’s Venture 2 also undercuts it at 11.6 ounces. Stepping up to more premium and burlier Gore-Tex models, Marmot’s Minimalist (14.9 oz.) and Outdoor Research’s Foray (16.3 oz.) are similar, although both are 2.5-layer designs that cost more ($189 and $215 respectively). There aren’t many 3-layer options in this price range, but stepping up to a more performance-oriented jacket like the REI Co-op Drypoint GTX will save you significant weight (10.5 oz.) for backcountry pursuits. In the end, the Torrentshell isn’t a class leader and does feel a bit thick and rigid, but it packs down surprisingly well into the left pocket and does the trick for most outdoor adventures when weight isn’t a primary focus.
Patagonia rarely disappoints from a build quality standpoint, and this held true with the Torrentshell. Overall, this jacket is well-made with a classy look, tidy seams, and clean lines. Throughout testing, I’ve had no issues with tearing or snags, there are no visible signs of wear, and all zippers and other features are holding up well and working flawlessly. In addition, the 3-layer construction and 50-denier face fabric are confidence-inspiring and noticeably tough—all the materials feel substantial and almost hardshell-like. Given my experience thus far, I expect the Torrentshell to last a long time without issue.
In terms of features, the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket comes decently equipped with a functional hood and generously sized pockets. Starting with the former, you get a good amount of adjustability with drawcords at the back and front. And unlike many budget-oriented designs, the cinch cord secures all the way around the head, including the bill. As a result, you get a snug fit that stays securely in place, even in blustery conditions. And the bill itself is large and does a nice job keeping moisture from dripping down onto your forehead or face. Size-wise, the hood is large, but it’s easy to tighten and fits well over a hat or beanie (although it’s not helmet-compatible).
As far as storage goes, the Torrentshell sticks to the basics with only two handwarmer pockets. The good news is that these are nicely sized, protected by fabric flaps to seal out moisture, and comfortably fit gloves, a hat, or cold hands. That said, I did find myself wishing for more storage in the form of a chest pocket to stash items like my phone or map (stowing these items in the lower pockets means they can fall out with your hands inside). Some won’t be bothered by the minimalist layout, and zippers do add weight, but expect to be slightly inconvenienced if you're used to more storage.
Patagonia bills the Torrentshell as a “regular fit,” which we think is a fair designation. All in all, the jacket fit true to size with enough room to comfortably layer underneath without ever feeling overly restrictive or baggy. I’ve found that the armpit area of fitted shells can sometimes be uncomfortably tight with a midlayer jacket underneath, but that wasn’t the case with the Torrentshell. The neck area can be a little constricting if your midlayer has a hood, but this isn’t too surprising, as doubling up on hoods almost always feels awkward and bulky. And some might not love the slightly boxy cut, but again, this was great for layering and provided a versatile and accommodating all-around fit.
Sustainability: Recycled, Bluesign-Approved Fabrics and Fair Trade Certification
Patagonia has been a long-time leader in sustainability practices among outdoor brands. In the case of the Torrentshell 3L Jacket, they use a 100-percent-recycled nylon ripstop face fabric, and all materials are bluesign-approved, meaning that they are safe for the environment, workers, and customers. Finally, the Torrentshell is Fair Trade Certified sewn, which indicates that Patagonia put extra money into the jacket’s production to ensure that workers are compensated fairly and can fund community projects, healthcare programs, and more. There are areas for improvement—the DWR coating still utilizes PFCs, for example—but we appreciate Patagonia’s transparency in their supply chain.
Other Versions of the Patagonia Torrentshell
We tested the men’s version of the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket for this review, and there are a number of other variations in the lineup. For starters, the jacket is also available in a women’s version for the same price. The women’s Torrentshell 3L Jacket is lighter at 12.5 ounces and offered in different colorways, but otherwise, the two models have identical feature sets and overall constructions. In addition, Patagonia sells the Torrentshell in a men’s-specific pullover style ($129), as well as men’s and women’s pants ($119), insulated jackets ($299), and a women’s-specific, parka-length City Coat ($229). All versions share the H2No Performance Standard waterproofing, although the insulated Torrentshell jacket uses a 2-layer construction that’s a step down in waterproofing compared to the 3L models.
- The Torrentshell is a superb value at $149: you get excellent weatherproofing from a quality 3-layer build, great looks and clean styling, and typical Patagonia build quality.
- Versatile fit that can easily accommodate layers underneath but doesn’t feel overly restrictive or bulky.
- Sustainability focus is a big plus, including recycled, bluesign-approved fabrics and Fair Trade Certification.
- Extensive selection of colorways (11 options for both men and women at time of publishing).
What We Don’t
- This shell is noticeably stiff and crinkly, especially compared to the past-generation Torrentshell.
- Fairly heavy for backcountry use at 13.9 ounces.
- Lack of chest pocket is limiting for stowing valuables and other important items.
- Not a standout in breathability, but it has pit zips and gets the job done for mild outdoor pursuits and daily wear.
|Patagonia Torrentshell 3L||$149||13.9 oz.||Daily use/hiking||3L H2No||Yes||Yes|
|Marmot Minimalist||$189||14.9 oz.||Hiking/daily use||2.5L Gore-Tex||Yes||No|
|REI Co-op XeroDry GTX||$159||12.5 oz.||Hiking/daily use||2L Gore-Tex||No (vents)||No|
|BD StormLine Stretch||$149||9.9 oz.||Hiking/daily use||2.5L BD.dry||Yes||Yes|
|Marmot PreCip Eco||$100||10.1 oz.||Hiking/daily use||2.5L NanoPro||Yes||Yes|
|Patagonia Rainshadow||$199||14 oz.||Hiking/daily use||3L H2No||Yes||Yes|
Patagonia’s Torrentshell 3L is our top-rated rain jacket this year for its quality build and waterproofing at a reasonable $149 price point. In many ways, Marmot’s Minimalist is one of the Torrentshell’s closest competitors. Despite having a 2.5-layer build, the Minimalist is similarly thick and durable, has very solid weatherproofing thanks to the Gore-Tex construction and substantial face fabric, and crosses over really nicely into daily wear. In trying them on back to back, the Minimalist is more comfortable, less crinkly, and includes a chest pocket, but the Torrentshell matches it in just about every other respect while saving you $40. From a value standpoint, the Patagonia gets the edge.
REI Co-op is another leader in bang for buck, and their XeroDry GTX Jacket comes with Gore-Tex waterproofing for a reasonable $159. That said, instead of a 3-layer build, the XeroDry uses a cheaper and more basic 2-layer construction that suffered in sustained, heavy moisture (during our testing, the jacket fended off light showers just fine but got overwhelmed quickly once the rain picked up). The XeroDry also falls short of the Torrentshell in breathability, with mesh-lined hand pockets that don’t dump heat as quickly or effectively as the Patagonia’s pit zips. The REI does get the edge in weight (12.5 oz.) and comfort, but the Torrentshell strikes us as the more well-rounded piece.
At the same price point as the Torrentshell, we also like Black Diamond’s StormLine Stretch. However, right off the bat, we’ll note that the two have very different strengths. First, the BD is noticeably stretchy and lightweight (9.9 oz.), while the Patagonia puts a bigger focus on toughness and all-out protection. The StormLine also lacks the crinkly, stiff feel you get with the Patagonia and includes technical features like a helmet-compatible hood and coated zippers (rather than flaps). In the end, a final decision between the two comes down to priorities: for fast-and-light backcountry missions where weight matters, we’d go with the BD; for heavier rainfall, less intensive outdoor pursuits, and crossing over in casual wear, the Torrentshell is our pick.
Transitioning to a cheaper option, Marmot’s PreCip Eco is our favorite budget rain jacket this year for its impressive all-around performance at a low $100 price point. Stacked up against the Torrentshell, the Marmot is lighter at 10.1 ounces and more packable, but the 2.5-layer build falls notably short of the Patagonia’s 3-layer construction in durability, comfort, and protection. However, you still get a full feature set including pit zips, a stuff pocket, and an adjustable hood, which makes the PreCip Eco a great option for hikers, backpackers, and everyday users alike. Neither are high-end performance pieces—and the Torrentshell does get the edge in rough weather—but the PreCip Eco is a great value for what you get and perfectly serviceable for most mild conditions.
A final option to consider comes from within Patagonia’s own lineup: the Rainshadow Jacket. Like the Torrentshell, the Rainshadow got a recent upgrade from 2.5 layers to a more hardwearing and weather-ready 3-layer construction, which boosted the jacket’s overall performance but brought weight up by around 3 ounces (the Rainshadow clocks in at 14 oz.). The jacket also lost some of its technical appeal with a smaller hood (the previous version’s was helmet-compatible) and flaps rather than coated zippers. Both models feature H2No waterproofing, although the Rainshadow wins out in comfort with a stretchier face fabric (it’s less durable, however, at 30D vs. the Torrentshell’s 50D). All told, given the similarities in performance and $50 jump in cost, we think the Torrentshell is the better choice.
If you’re thinking about buying gear that we’ve reviewed on Switchback Travel, you can help support us in the process. Just click on any of the seller links above, and if you make a purchase, we receive a small percentage of the transaction. The cost of the product is the same to you but this helps us continue to test and write about outdoor gear. Thanks and we appreciate your support!
Depending on the seller, most products ship free in the United States on orders of $50 or more. International shipping availability and rates vary by seller. The pricing information on this page is updated hourly but we are not responsible for inaccuracies.