In the past few years I’ve been trying to make an effort to reduce my carbon footprint. Recently, that’s evolved to include my clothing choices. I’m trying to buy less overall but will pay more to ensure the clothing I do buy is ethically made.
My everyday jacket and my business jacket both include materials made from recycled plastics (one from Kathmandu and one from Icebreaker, two New Zealand brands that excelled in the Tear Fund Ethical Fashion report last year). So when it came to choosing a waterproof jacket suitable to carry in my hiking pack, the material and build of that jacket was an important consideration.
After a heap of research of outdoor clothing brands and the clothes that they produce, I finally settled on Patagonia. Unlike some brands that seem to have two levels of product tiers – one for those who care about the environment and those who would prefer to pay less at the expense of the planet – Patagonia’s entire business model is based on a structure of sustainability and ethical employment.
So when it came to choosing an affordable waterproof jacket, Patagonia provided a great option in their Torrentshell range. From what I can tell, the Torrentshell was recently only available in a ‘2.5 layer’ format, but the range now includes the new ‘3 layer’ model. I suspect the 2.5L will be phased out, as reflected in the discount pricing currently available on the Patagonia website (although not all retail stores appear to be reflecting this clearance).
Torrentshell 3L Jacket
Retail Price: $249.99
I paid: $229.99
Outside Sports, NZ
Purchased 7 Sept 2020
“One of the most responsible things we can do as a company is to make high-quality stuff that lasts for years and can be repaired, so you don’t have to buy more of it.”
Why is Patagonia a worthy brand to buy from?
Growing up in an ‘outdoors’ family, I was always familiar with the Patagonia and associated them with quality outdoor clothing. What I didn’t realise was just how awesome this company really is.
I have plans to read the founder’s book, Let My People Go Surfing. Yvon Chouinard’s goal was to bring ‘doing good’ to the heart of his business. His book tells the story of his road to success, but more than this it’s about ‘challenging conventional wisdom, leading a simpler and more examined life, and making a living without losing your soul’. Nice.
Today, Patagonia’s message is that they appreciate that all life on earth is under threat of extinction. Their aim is to use their resources to do something about it. Hell yeah. I love that the four main menu items on their global website are Shop, Sports, Stories, and Activism.
So what does that mean for this jacket?
It’s made with a recycled nylon made from post-industrial waste fiber and discards from waving mills and postconsumer fishing nets.
The dyes and chemicals in its manufacture are under the bluesign program, i.e. safe for the environment.
It’s part of the ‘1% For The Planet’ program, with 1% of all sales going to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment.
On top of this, Patagonia’s products are covered by their Ironclad Guarantee. I’ve been told that – at any point of the clothing item’s life and without the need of a receipt – you can walk into a Patagonia stockist with your damaged gear and they will repair or replace it free of charge. If the item’s been damaged due to your own misuse or simply due to wear and tear, they’ll arrange a repair at a reasonable price.
My colleague experienced this with her own jacket, walking into a store with no receipt to show them a damaged hood. They asked her to choose another from the shelf and she left with a brand new jacket.
What makes the Torrentshell 3L different to the 2.5L?
During my research, I learnt that the 2.5L is an excellent jacket. It’s one real downside was that it could feel clammy against the skin. So on a warm-but-rainy-day, if you’re wearing a t-shirt under your jacket the inner lining can feel like it’s sticking to your skin a little. The 3L appears to have been developed to address this.
2.5L refers to the two material layers of the jacket plus one layer of waterproofing treatment. While both the 2.5L and the 3L use Patagonia’s ‘H2No’ material, the 3L refers to a full three material layers that make-up this new version of the Torrentshell.
The ‘3L’ consists of “a water-repellent shell fabric, a waterproof/breathable membrane bonded with an ultralight knit backer” while the 2.5L consists of “a water-repellent shell fabric with a waterproof/breathable membrane and protective top coat barrier“.
Despite the extra layer, what I’ve read of the 3L suggests that it’s actually more breathable than its predecessor.
3-layer H2No Performance Standard fabrics are completely waterproof, windproof and breathable by virtue of an advanced combination of elements: a water-repellent shell fabric, a waterproof/breathable membrane bonded with an ultralight knit backer. The entire fabric package is highly packable, waterproof, windproof, breathable and built to withstand long term exposure in extreme environments. Garments made with 3-layer H2No Performance Standard fabrics are designed for prolonged use in extreme weather – Patagonia
The Patagonia Torrentshell 3L in Andes Blue, fresh from the courier bag.
The Patagonia Torrentshell 3L in Andes Blue (left) compared to the Torrentshell 2.5L in Balkan Blue.
I’m lucky in that I work alongside someone who has experience in outdoor clothing retail stores. She was delighted that after my research I chose the Patagonia Torrentshell as she came to the same conclusion a number of years ago and has the 2.5L model. Thanks for the reassurance, Ashlyn Oswalt!
There are some other differences to the design between the 2.5L and the 3L; one being that the 2.5L has interior stuff pockets. I’m assuming these were removed from the 3L to help keep it light (it’s such a light jacket) and also perhaps due to the added inner layer meaning that any extra sewn-in details could weaken the waterproofing level.
Other minor differences include items like extra material that covers the toggle on the back of the hood, giving the overall design a sleeker and more minimalist look while retaining the functionality.
Raindrops beading on the waterproof Patagonia Torrentshell 3L jacket, with plenty of sleeve length even for this orangutan.
While buying a new rain jacket I had a few core requirements in mind. The Torrentshell 3L ticks all the boxes. i.e.
It’s packable – it folds into one of its pockets
It’s light – it weighs just 394 g (13.9 oz)
The hood packs away – you can roll the hood up and clip it away… but my colleagues accused me of looking like Dracula when I did this
It has zippable hand pockets – I’m always losing things like lens caps, so being able to zip the pockets closed is key
It’s breathable – my Icebreaker jacket has a polyester lining (made from recycled plastic bottles) which is great unless you have bare arms. Then it clings to them and feels awful. What I read of the Torrentshell 3L is that it doesn’t do this (this is apparently an improvement over the 2.5L)
It’s waterproof – there are mixed reviews on this. Some people who have been in total downpours for extended periods of time say it’s not truly waterproof in their reviews, but others appear to have no issues. I’ll update here when I find out for myself!
It’s a great fit and can be layered – more on this next
The Torrentshell 3L packs into its own pocket. Here’s an idea of the size. Pen for scale.
I’m 6ft 2 (188cm) and 90kg (plus tax) and the medium was the perfect size for me. I can still fit my Icebreaker jacket underneath if I need to add layering. I definitely wouldn’t go to a large. Note: The creases are because I’d just unfolded it from its packed state. Photo credit to my 5 year old.
How’s the fit?
I’m 6ft 2 and of medium build for my height. My clothing tends to vary from medium to XL depending on who makes it. My old Marmot PreCip jacket was a medium and used to be a touch on the short side, so when it came to the Torrentshell 3L I very nearly ordered it online as a large.
Luckily I visited a store to try one on before making my decision. The large size is very roomy, and the sleeves on all variants are surprisingly long. I changed down to the medium and the size was perfect. For what it’s worth, the Patagonia NZ website calls the fit ‘regular’ while the US website officially calls the fit ‘Kinda large’.
The magic of this jacket is that it’s a great fit with just a t-shirt or a jersey underneath, and I then added my Icebreaker Merinoloft jacket as an under-layer to the Torrentshell 3L and it was still a great fit. This is perfect for me as I can wear my non-waterproof Icebreaker on a walk on a cool day and then throw my Torrentshell 3L over the top if it starts to rain. Cozy and dry. And yet the jacket still looks like a great fit if worn over just a t-shirt.
Having done the research, I’m now delighted in the choice I’ve made. I can wear this jacket in complete confidence that I’ve made the best possible choice.
I’m expecting this jacket to last for years and to provide me with comfort and protection over many hikes to come. It’s cheesy, but I genuinely look forward to one day buying my kids their own Patagonia Torrentshell jackets… or maybe passing down my own one so I can get the latest model!
Where to buy…
Both Microsoft Edge and the Firefox (mobile only) browsers have a feature called ‘Collections’. If you’re comparing products from different sites, you can save each link to your collection for quick access and comparison. This is also particularly good if you want to keep a frequent eye on items to see if they come on sale. Check out my screenshot.
I saved a number of New Zealand sites to this list. All with the requirement that they had stock available in New Zealand (not wanting to wait for overseas delivery right now). I also preferred companies that had a physical store, and weren’t sites that sold ‘on behalf’ (ignore ‘The Market’ in the screenshot!). It’s worth noting that the Patagonia NZ website listed a number of stockists, but most didn’t have the Torrentshell jacket – just their more ‘fashioable’ lines, and others didn’t seem to exist any more.
So here’s my list with info current at time of writing:
Outside Sports – this is where I ended up buying my jacket after receiving their ‘sign-up’ discount code. They have branches in Queenstown and Wanaka.
Coastal Sports – these guys actually have the Torrentshell 3L on sale, and their RRP is already lower than the official RRP. This makes me wonder whether they have the wrong jacket listed, getting the 3L mixed up with the 2.5L, but who knows. Either way, they didn’t have my size and preferred colour in stock. Branch in Kaikoura.
Complete Outdoors – they don’t have the 3L but are currently clearing out the 2.5L so it may follow. They have a branch in Christchurch.
Fallen Front – they have the Torrentshell 2.5L in black only, and the 3L in Roots Red only. Discount code is TAKE10. They give that to you before signing up so I have no issue sharing it here. No physical branch for this one.
Patagonia NZ – obviously the original site for this jacket. This and the US website both have great info on the jacket, and the NZ site could be a good place to buy directly from. They didn’t have the size and colour I was after, however. The site’s also quite tricky to navigate as they have individual listings for every colour, and I think the reviews are spread out across those listings.
Nevada Sports – this is a physical store only. They have a new building in Christchurch’s city mall. They’re in a transition stage and were originally a dedicated Merrell store but now have more brands, including Patagonia. At time of writing they had the 2.5L but not the 3L but I expect that will change. Be sure to say hello to Eirwn if you visit.
Firefox’s ‘Collections’ function is a great way to store a list of sites that sell the product you’re after. In Microsoft Edge’s version you can also add notes and photos.
…and a quick tip to get a discount
On that note, like Apple iPhones and Sigma camera lenses, I’ve been told that Patagonia rarely has sales. Indeed, the Torrentshell 2.5L only appears to be on sale right now as they’re clearing the product so they can focus on the 3L.
BUT! I have a tip. And this is the same trick I used in order to get $20 off the RRP of my jacket (paying $230 instead of $250).
The trick is to check retail websites around the country to find one that offers a discount for email sign-up. If you noticed a pop-up for this but closed it at the time and now can’t get it back, simply clear your browser’s cookies and visit the site again. It’ll assume you’re a first-time visitor and will hopefully show the pop-up again.
Failing this, another – slightly cheekier method – is to go through the process to create an account for online shopping, add the jacket option you want to your shopping cart, go right through to the last step before you get to payment… and then quit. Close the browser and wait a couple of days. There’s a chance that the company will send you an automated ‘You left something in your cart!’ email that will hopefully include a discount code to encourage you to complete your purchase. But don’t tell anyone I told you that.
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