Enlightened Equipment Torrid Jacket Review

Enlightened Equipment Torrid Rain Jacket Review

The Enlightened Equipment Torrid Jacket (Stock Model) is a very warm and lightweight synthetic insulated jacket that’s optimized for use by hikers and backpackers. It is not much to look at style-wise (if you get the “stock model”) so it’s not going to stand out on a ski slope, but it’s an expertly designed and crafted garment that’s great for 3+ season use on cold mornings, in camp, or as an adjunct to a backpacking sleep system. Its key features include the use of lightweight wind-resistant fabrics, an adjustable-sized hood, zippered pockets, elastic wrist cuffs, and a buried hem adjustment, amongst others, that align it well for people who wear backpacks.

Specs at a glance

  • model: “Stock” Torrid (Custom colors and options are also available)
  • weight: 8.4 oz (size medium)
  • weight tested: 8.7 oz  (size large, stock, men’s 7D fabric)
  • gender: men’s and women’s models available
  • pockets: 2
  • sizing: slightly large to accommodate layers
  • fabric: either 7D or 10D nylon
  • insulation: Climashield Apex 2.0
  • “breathability”: 7D (35 CFM) or 10D (10CFM)
  • DWR coating: Yes

Synthetic Insulation vs Down Insulation

The Enlightened Equipment Torrid is a synthetic insulated jacket that uses Climashield APEX insulation instead of goose or duck down. Climashield APEX is continuous filament insulation consisting of interlocking polyester strands that are highly compressible yet maintain their original shape after use or prolonged storage. Climashield doesn’t pull apart when stretched and doesn’t clump, shift, or separate with repeated use or washings. This makes it good insulation for a frequently used jacket that you plan to use for hiking or sleeping in, and one that’s much better than down when exposed to perspiration and body oils.

The Torrid Jacket is insulated with 2.0 Climashield Apex synthetic insulation (photo courtesy Enlightened Equipment)
The Torrid Jacket is insulated with 2.0 Climashield Apex synthetic insulation (photo courtesy Enlightened Equipment)

Climashield APEX is less expensive than down, resulting in a jacket that is much more affordable than a comparable down jacket. Jackets made with Climashield APEX are also less expensive to manufacture than down and don’t require baffling or complex stitching to capture and loft goose or duck down. In fact, the Torrid Jacket is not sewn through, a common construction method with down jackets in the same warmth range, resulting in a warmer jacket with fewer exposed needle holes.

There are very few seams on the Torrid Jacket and fewer needle holes, making it a warmer jacket
There are very few seams on the Torrid Jacket and few needle holes, making it a warmer jacket.

Stock vs Custom

The Torrid Jacket is available in a lower cost “stock” model in limited colors and with a fixed feature set, and a “custom” model which has a greater range of sizes, colors, fabric options both inside and on the exterior of the jacket, and hoods, including a helmet-compatible hood, which the stock model does not have. These tend to weigh slightly more, they can be more expensive depending on the features you select, and take much longer to manufacture than the stock models which ship out almost immediately. As a reviewer, I like to use the stock model of a product because that’s what most people actually buy.

The hood is human-compatible with external toggles to shrink the face opening.
The hood is human-compatible with external toggles to shrink the face opening.

Fabrics

The Stock Torrid is available in two different grades of nylon: 7-denier on the inside and outside of the jacket or 10-denier on the inside and outside. Being thinner and lighter weight, the 7-denier is less durable and more subject to abrasion than the 10-denier fabric. It’s also more expensive, because you pay more for less weight, as it were.

The 7-denier fabric has a rating of 35 CFM compared to the 10-denier fabric which has a 10 CFM. CFM (Cubic feet per square meter) is a measurement of how much air breathability and air resistance a fabric has. A higher CFM is more breathable, but less wind resistant and a lower CFM is less breathable and more wind resistant. Note, air breathability is not the same as moisture vapor transmission (MVTR) which measures the passage of water vapor through a substance and is usually applied to rain jackets. They’re easily confused.

The wrist cuffs are snug to prevent drafts up the arms.
The wrist cuffs are snug to prevent drafts up the arms.

You can get all geeky about these fabric selections, but if you choose the 7-denier Stock Torrid and find yourself being chilled because it has less wind resistance, you can put a rain jacket over it. This is less likely to be an issue with the more wind-resistant 10-denier fabric, which will also be more durable.

Features

The Stock Torrid Jacket is pretty bare-bones when it comes to features, but they really are dialed in for hikers. For instance, the hood is human-compatible, not helmet-compatible which I appreciate because oversized hoods aren’t as warm. You can also resize the face opening using cord locks positioned on the outside of the hood alongside the neck and really seal out drafts. It works great and helps seal in the warmth.

The zippered handwarmer pockets have plenty to room for hats and gloves.
The zippered handwarmer pockets have plenty to room for hats and gloves.

The wrist cuffs are simple elastic but provide a snug fit without a lot of slack. This helps prevent cold wind from blowing up your sleeves.

The Torrid has two zippered handwarmer pockets on either side of the jacket. They’re not 100% hipbelt compatible because you can’t open or close the zippers, but if they’re unzipped, there is enough room to sneak your hands into the top of the pockets while wearing a hip belt to keep them warm.

The jacket also has a hem adjustment to seal out cold drafts from running up your legs and chilling your torso. The hem adjustment is controlled by cords located inside the two zippered pockets using the same design that Montbell uses in the down Ex Light Anorak (nearly twice as expensive), which is one of the best competitive alternatives to the Torrid, in terms of weight and warmth.

Finally, the Torrid Jacket has raglan sleeves with a seam that runs from the underarm to the collarbone. This construction technique provides more interior room for layering and better freedom of movement. The entire arm is made from a single piece of fabric, further cutting down on the number of seams and needle holes sewn through the external fabric.

The Torrid jacket has raglan sleeves which provide better freedom of movement and more space for layering.
The Torrid jacket has raglan sleeves which provide better freedom of movement and more space for layering.

Usage

When hiking, I run hot and find the Torrid to be too warm to wear for active use For me, it’s a jacket I can throw on when we stop to take a break and I need more warmth or to wear in camp when eating or hanging out with friends. It’s easy to stuff into a backpack and the synthetic insulation makes it desirable for humid or wet climates. The Torrid is also much easier to wash than a down jacket, which is important if you plan to use it every day on a long trip or thru-hike.

The Torrid Jacket also makes a good adjunct to a quilt or hoodless sleeping bag in colder weather if you want more warmth in your upper torso. The jacket’s hood moves with your head, even if you’re a side sleeper and pockets are a good place to stash your headlamp so you can find it the dark.  When it’s chilly at night, I always sleep in an insulated jacket because it helps prevent heat from escaping up around my neck and upper chest when I move around in my sleep. This works well regardless of the type of sleep insulation you use, be it a quilt, a hoodless sleeping bag, or even a mummy bag.

Raglan sleeves have a seam that runs from the underarm to the collarbone.
Raglan sleeves have a seam that runs from the underarm to the collarbone.

Recommendation

The “Stock” Enlightened Equipment Torrid Jacket is a well-designed and well-sewn synthetic insulated jacket suitable for 3+ season use. Weighing 8 to 9 ounces, it’s remarkably warm for such a lightweight jacket, plus it’s loaded with desirable capabilities including an adjustable hood, zippered handwarmer pockets, raglan sleeves, and buried hem adjustments. I’m also really impressed with the quality of the design and the sewing, which is absolutely top-notch for a smaller company. While the Stock Torrid lacks a few features like a zippered chest pocket and can’t be stuffed into one of its own pockets, I think the features it does include are desirable and will satisfy most hikers.

You’ll also get the Stock Torrid Jacket a lot faster than a Custom Torrid Jacket because they’re held in inventory and don’t have to be manufactured first. That’s something to consider during peak buying seasons like early spring or the winter holidays when Custom Torrid Jackets may be backordered by a month or more.

Highly Recommended!

Disclosure: Enlightened Equipment donated a jacket for this review.

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