Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Light, inexpensive, good water repellancy.
Cons: Not as breathable as multi-layer membranes.
Best Uses: Everyday rain jacket or any application where you want something light and water proof.
This is North Face’s version of a budget rain shell, similar to the Marmot Precip in features and performance, although slightly less preferable in our testers’ minds.
The North Face Venture is an overall decent little jacket. It’s waterproof, ventilates fairly well, and has all the necessary little features that make it convenient to have around and wear. It packs up nice and small into one of its own pockets and though not the lightest jacket we tested, was still far lighter than its main competition, the Marmot Precip.
We didn’t like the fit and look of the jacket, but everyone’s body is different so that’s more a matter of personal preference. Regardless, the shortness of the jacket and its tendency to ride up when we raised our arms did effect the performance and deterred us from grabbing it when we were heading out into the rain.
At $100 it is one of the cheapest jackets we tested. It is comparable in features and value to the Marmot Precip, but overall we prefer the Precip. The Venture is a good option for recreational backpackers and most three-season rainy-day uses. At 12.53 ounces it is the lightest jacket we tested that can pack into one of its own pockets, making it ideal for backpacking. If you need the lightest jacket available, pony up for the Patagonia Rain Shadow, and if you want a more plush rain shell, go for the highly featured Marmot Oracle.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Comfort and Mobility
The main dislikes we had with the Venture were with regard to fit and comfort. The jacket just didn’t fit very well. It was too short, and when we raised our arms the jacket rode up exposing bellies and backs. The jacket had an overall boxy/puffy look, and it wasn’t as comfortable as other jackets that we tested.
When tasked with reachy or awkward movement, the Venture often left parts of our body exposed and wet.
None of the rain jackets that we tested proved to be very breathable. Almost all of the jackets boast a “waterproof breathable technology” of some kind, but please interpret these claims loosely. We found that when we wore the jackets for any kind of high exertion activity (and we took at least one hard one-hour run in each jacket in the rain, in addition to climbing in them, hiking in them, walking in them and biking in them) we found that we were promptly creating our own weather inside the jacket. The only thing that saved us from our self-made monsoon was the fact that many of the jackets we tested had pit zips to let out some moisture.
North Face’s Venture Jacket has mesh lined pockets in the front that can be left open in addition to the pit zips to help with breathability. While the jacket wasn’t very breathable with the vents all closed, once we opened the pit zips and the pockets there was some ventilation to be had with little loss of weather protection.
As with all the jackets we tested, it is completely waterproof, and North Face advertises that their Hyvent Fabric can withstand 60psi on the Mullens Test. This means that the fabric can handle 60psi of water pressure before letting water in. The typical rainstorm generates about 2-3 psi so you should be all good there. Where this will come in particularly handy is when wearing a heavy pack. The added pressure of the pack can often squeeze water through a jacket’s fabric, leaving you soaked. (While we didn’t test this, we think it would be awesome if the jacket worked that way. Post up if you have information about this.) All the seams are fully taped and the zippers all have nice storm flaps to keep water out.
Weight and Bulk
North Face's Venture jacket is about the middle of the pack as far as weight and bulk are concerned. The jacket packs up into one of its own pockets and was neither the heaviest or lightest of all the jackets we tested.
The jacket has two large mesh lined pockets on the front that have ample room for your belongings, and the jacket can pack down nice and small inside the left pocket for easy transport. A loop makes it possible to clip the jacket on your harness or the outside of your pack.
The collar has some fuzzy lining to prevent chin chafe, the hood is comfortable, easy to adjust and bomber, the waist is easy to tighten, and the cuffs adjust with a straightforward Velcro strap. All the zippers are smooth and easy, including the pit zips.
Any activity in wet or rainy conditions and around town use. Can also cross over as a shell for skiing or other winter activities, but layer up. As with all rain jackets, breathability is poor so layer with a synthetic base layer in high intensity adventures or suffer the clammy consequences.
At $100 this was one of the least expensive jackets we tested.
Video Gear Review
— Robert Beno
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Most recent review: November 27, 2012
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