Gear Review: Patagonia Torrentshell Hardshell

Spend less with this all-around performer from Patagonia.

[all-purpose bargain]

Simply want reliable, affordable weather protection? Choose the Torrentshell, which testers said “performed above its price class” after a season’s worth of hiking, sailing, and cycling under volatile skies. “Washington’s San Juan Islands can go from bright sun to pouring rain in a moment, so I need a weather-worthy shell that packs small—since I always carry it,” says one tester. “This gets the job done.” Water beads like mercury off of Patagonia’s proprietary 2.5-layer H2No Performance Standard fabric. Another tester, after a rainy hike in the Central Cascades, said, “Not a drip penetrated through the zipper’s storm flap, seams, or tight-sealing cuffs.”

Other features are serviceable if not flashy: You get an adjustable hood and hem, plus two generous handwarmer pockets. Fit is medium, with enough room for a layer or two. So where’s the tradeoff? As with most shells at this price, you’ll sacrifice some breathability—testers got sticky during sustained aerobic stretches, even with the pit zips fully opened—making it better for short cloudbursts or lower-intensity activity in constant rain, not hiking hard in an all-day deluge. Another minus: Some testers had trouble comfortably fitting a ponytail or warm hat—never mind a helmet—under the tight rollaway hood. $129; 12.2 oz. (m’s M); patagonia.com