I start most mornings with a three-mile hike. It clears my head, awakens my body, makes it possible to sit behind a desk for a bit. So when I woke up a few morning’s back to light rain and a temperature in the upper 40s, you might think I was bummed. Quite the opposite. I was ecstatic, for two reasons. One, I knew I would have my favorite trail to myself. And two, I new I would stay warm and dry, thanks to my new Patagonia Torrentshell 3L jacket.
Yes, that sounds like a cheesy product description from Seinfeld’s J. Peterman catalog. But it’s true.
I’ve been a fan of Patagonia’s Torrentshell line for years. Like The Ronnettes, I love Walking in the Rain. There’s an intimacy about being in nature during a light rain. For starters, it’s often just you when it’s wet; the allure of wet-weather seems to have eluded the masses. Rather than long views from a mountaintop or into a naked winter woods, you’re focused on the world immediately around you. You notice things you don’t otherwise: the glistening Christmas tree ferns, the intricate structure of chicken of the woods climbing the base of a tree trunk, the moody light.
I also don’t like being wet, which is why, over the years, I’ve made friends with the Torrentshell. And why I was especially excited when I heard there was a new generation of Torrentshell arriving this month: the Torrentshell 3L.
The 3L is short for 3 layer H2No® Performance Standard technology. Whereas most waterproof rain jackets consist of two laters to help keep water out and prevent sweat buildup, the Torrentshell 3L employs three. According to norwaygeographical.com, “3-layer N2No fabrics … uses a laminated scrim which helps disperse the water vapor build-up by reducing drying time and minimizing the risk of water leaking through. Apart from that, it also helps from abrasions by maximizing the durability and tear-resistance of the fabric.” I’m not entirely sure what that means, but basically, it sounds like a third layer helps prevent sweat from building up and also makes the coat more resistant to tearing. Especially good news in the Southeast, where mountain hikes often involve passage through car-wash-like runs of rhododendron, mountain laurel and heath.
That third layer may give pause to weight weanies, weighing in as it does at 13.9 ounces. You can find waterproof rain jackets for half that weight, but you sacrifice in terms of durability. Frankly, I’m not that careful when I hike through a heath bald, and I’d just as soon not fret over tearing a $300 jacket.
That’s another reason I’ve stuck with the Torrentshell. Protection from the rain isn’t cheap. But the Torrentshell 3L costs just $149, which for the peace of mind of staying dry, is a bargain. I also like the adjustable hood (with lamented visor) which moves with your head (as opposed to staying put when you look to either side, and thus, into the inside of your hood); the ample pit zips to regulate sweat buildup; and that it stuffs into its own left pocket when the sun comes out to minimize its footprint in your pack. It’s also made of 100 percent recycled waterproof/breathable face fabric, and is Fair Trade Certified™ sewn.
I’ve had the chance to wear the Torrentshell 3L three times so far. First, in a drenching rain while dashing across a huge mall parking lot: my jeans were soaked, my shirt nice and dry. Then, in a wet snow that ended up dropping two inches. (Maybe you don’t like walking in the rain, but who doesn’t love walking in the snow!) And finally, on my beloved morning walk in a light-but-steady rain.
The Torrentshell 3L has served me well for practical purposes (the mall parking lot), for being a kid again (walking in a snow storm) and for my sanity-saving morning hike.
Rain in the forecast? Bring it on. I’m well equipped.
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