On a quest for the perfect hardshell, Kev tests Patagonia’s Torrentshell Stretch Jacket. Read the verdict…
“The Torrentshell Stretch Jacket is a waterproof/breathable, fully featured H2No Performance Standard shell. This 2.5-layer rain jacket with nylon ripstop fabric offers generous stretch through the arms and shoulders for mobility and protection in seriously wet weather.”
The Torrentshell Stretch Jacket is part of Patagonia’s Alpine Climbing range. I try to avoid wearing a hardshell jacket unless I really have to and when I do, I generally opt for something light and minimalist so I can barely tell I’m wearing one at all! When I was given the opportunity to test the Torrentshell Stretch Jacket from Patagonia I was quite excited as it is a sub 400g technical waterproof and I felt it would appeal to all aspects of mountain activity.
So, how was it in practice? Well, Ive used the jacket for a few months now and have taken it on everything from wet walks in the Lake District to ski tours in the alps, ice and mixed climbs and even running. Starting with the cut and fit, I immediately noticed that was a well designed jacket. The sleeves are articulated and the combination of gussetted underarms and the stretch panels on the outer arms and shoulders help to aid movement when climbing. There was no evidence of the jacket riding up when I put my hands above my head and the velcro closure cuff worked well both underneath and over the top of gloves. The tab were also easy to operate and adjust whilst wearing gloves.
The length of the jacket is ideal for climbing, being around about hip length. It sits comfortably under a harness and adjusts easily via an elasticated drawcord with glove friendly zippers. The cut of the body is probably best described as athletic, and my size small test garment fitted me well, accommodating a base layer and mid layer underneath with flapping around or being baggy. Overall I was generally very impressed with the cut of the Torrentshell Stretch Jacket , and it was definitely heading into the ‘couldn’t really tell it was there’ category.
The only thing that let the jacket down for me was the hood. Patagonia describe it as: ‘Helmet-compatible, 2-way-adjustable hood with laminated visor rolls down and stows.’ However I was disappointed to find it small, tight and restrictive when I tried to put it up whilst wearing my climbing helmet. It felt like it was compressing my neck and obscuring my view. The hood needs more volume and the peak needs to come further forward for this jacket to achieve a 5 star rating. Without a helmet the hood worked fine and the adjusters were simple to use, even with gloved hands.
Patagonia use their proprietary H2No® Performance Standard shell: 2.5-layer, 2.4-oz 40-denier 100% nylon ripstop with a waterproof/breathable barrier and a Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish on the main body of the jacket and the stretch panels on the shoulders arms and back utilise a 2.5-layer, 4-oz 40-denier 100% nylon with mechanical stretch, a waterproof/breathable barrier and again, a Deluge DWR finish. I like the H2No fabric, it is quite light and seems plenty breathable enough, easily comparable with other brands out there. There is no mesh inner though and some people may dislike the crinkly, rustling nature of the non-stretch fabric, but personally I did not find this to be an issue. The DWR finish seems very durable and there are still no signs of the garment wetting ot, not even in the high wear areas such as the elbows and shoulders.
The jacket features a one way watertight, coated center-front zipper with internal storm flap. This seems to do a great job of keeping the elements at bay, is smooth and easy to use and works again, whilst wearing gloves.
The pocket configuration on the Torrentshell Strech Jacket provides 2 handwarmer pockets and one chest pocket. These all close with watertight zippers featuring glove friendly tabs. Personally, for an out and out climbing shell, I find the handwarmer pockets a little superfluous to requirements and would be happy enough with just one chest pocket. The 2 handwarmer pockets don’t get in the way though, although may do if they are full and you are wearing a climbing harness.
Other features of note are the brushed fleece area on the collar and chinguard for added comfort, both nice touches. One of the handwarmer pockets turns into a stuff pocket with clip loop, but I found it quite hard to get the jacket in and do the zip up, so this wasn’t a feature I used a lot.
A great all round hill jacket, light and well made, it has a well cut body and I particularly like the stretch fabric. It is however let down by a poor hood which I didn’t feel worked very well whilst wearing a helmet. It was just too small. Perfect without a helmet though. Not quite the best choice for out and out climbing, maybe try the M10 jacket instead, but a good all round rain coat.
- Price: £160
- Find out more and buy this product from the Patagonia website.