This spring, Patagonia replaced the face fabric of their Torrentshell rain gear with a new 100% recycled nylon fabric that is bluesign approved. Inherently harder to recycle than polyester, Patagonia finally found recycled nylon fibers that live up to its H2No Performance Standard–basically a benchmark for waterproofness, breathability and durability.
Like polyester, nylon fiber is made from petroleum. Although the company has been substituting non-recycled polyester for recycled versions for the past 20 years, only in the last five have they begun swapping out non-recycled nylon for its recycled replacement. For some reason locked deep in polymer chemistry, nylon is more difficult to recycle than polyester. Cut after years of research, development, and testing, Patagonia finally found some recycled nylon fibers that are suitable for use in apparel.
Some of the recycled nylon comes from post-industrial waste fiber, yarn collected from a spinning factory, and waste from the weaving mills that can be processed into reusable nylon fiber. Another recycled nylon fiber is re-created from discarded industrial fishing nets. As the new fabric is bluesign approved, it means it’s manufactured with methods and materials that help to conserve resources and minimize impacts on people and the environment.
By incorporating as much recycled nylon as possible, Patagonia aims to lessen their dependence on petroleum as a raw material source going forward. The Torrentshell rain gear line now exclusively uses a face fabric made from 100% recycled nylon.
My favorite Torrentshell piece has to be the Poncho ($199) with its retro 80s styling. The men’s and women’s Torrentshell Jacket ($129) is a 2.5-layer rain jacket (meaning DWR treated, 100% recycled nylon face fabric, membrane, and protective top coat barrier in lieu of a lining fabric) which stuffs into one of two zippered hand pockets (with a carabiner clip-in loop). The 2-way-adjustable hood has a laminated visor, rolls down and stows away with a simplified cord-and-hook design, while the center zipper has a minimal-welt exterior and interior storm flaps. The ventilating pit-zips have storm flaps and DWR-treated zippers and the neck is microfleece-lined for extra comfort.