Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Affordable, packable, waterproof.
Cons: Poor fit, not as comfortable.
Best Uses: Everyday rain jacket, backpacking, any rainy day activity.
While we might not recommend the North Face Venture for the demanding trekker or climber, it is a good product in terms of price and features for someone just getting outside, or for the occasional rainy activity. It's waterproof, ventilates fairly well, and has all the necessary features to make it convenient to have with you in case it starts to pour. As a jacket for the random around-town rainstorm, the Venture is hard to beat, though we don't love the fit. The Venture has the ability to pack inside one of its pockets, allowing it to cross-over into backcountry use. All in all, the North Face Venture is an okay option for the budget-conscious consumer. If you're looking for the lightest rain shell possib;e, check out the Outdoor Research Helium 2- Women's. Or for a jacket that performs slightly better for the same price, we recommend the Marmot Precip Jacket - Women's.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
An inexpensive rain shell for everyday use, the Venture is a middle-of-the-road performer with mid-range weight.
The Women's Venture is completely waterproof, and as North Face promotes, 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 rain shower rates about 2-3 psi. This healthy rating proves particularly useful when wearing a heavy pack, since the added pressure of the pack can sometimes squeeze water through a jacket's fabric, leaving you soaked. All the seams are fully taped and the zippers all have nice storm flaps to keep water out.
No fabric that construct this jacket is not especially breathable. Thankfully, like many of our test jackets, the North Face's Venture Jacket has mesh lined pockets in the front that can be left open, in addition to pit-zips to help with ventilation. While the jacket wasn't very breathable with the vents closed, once we opened the pit-zips zippers and the pockets, there was decent airflow with minimal interference in rain protection.
Comfort & Mobility
The North Face Women's Venture is the epitome of a lifestyle piece of gear. With a slightly tailored form, it fits a woman's body well. Cut slightly shorter than other shells tested, the Venture embodies the slicker we'd throw on to dash from the car to the store and back again. Unfortunately, when arms are raised, the jackets rides up, exposing the belly and back to draft and rain.
As climbers, and women, we are known as pretty dexterous, but when faced with the hood drawstrings of the Venture we were at a loss. They are buried in the liner and are completely unmanageable. That said, the jacket has two large, mesh-lined hand pockets, allowing for storage of belongings and additional ventilation. This jacket packs down inside the left pocket for easy packing and hauling, if needed. It even has a loop, making it possible to clip the jacket on your harness or the outside of your pack. We also like the fuzzy lining along the collar, which prevents chin chafe. The hood is comfortable, the waist is easy to tighten, and the cuffs adjust with a straightforward Velcro strap. All the jacket's zippers move smoothly, armpit vents included.
Weight & Bulk
At 11.9 ounces it is a mid-range jacket in terms of weight. It weighs less than the Oracle, only slightly more than the Editor's Choice winner, the Patagonia Torrentshell- Women's, and much more than the OR Helium 2. If you need the lightest jacket available pony up for the Helium 2, and if you want a more plush rain shell, go for the highly featured Marmot Oracle.
The women's North Face Venture is disappointing on the appearance front. On the hanger it had the slick, urban outdoors-y look that the company is known for. Once on our bodies it transformed us into an amorphous blob. The jacket has an unflattering, puffy shape to it, and on top of that it just isn't as comfortable as other jackets that we tested.
Testers all agreed that this jacket is well suited to around town use. Theoretically it can also cross over as a shell for skiing or other winter activities, but we would prefer a sturdier, heavier option. We recommend the Venture for most 3-season wet weather and rainy-day uses.
At $100 this is one of the least expensive jackets we tested. Though, for the price we prefer the Marmot PreCip - Women's, or for even less money, the Columbia Arcadia Rain - Women's. HyVent® DT EC is a new material derived from natural castor oil from beans, making it an eco-friendly-er option, though it is such a new material, we can't really speak to how it will age.
Video Gear Review
— Erisa Coppernoll, Robert Beno and McKenzie Long
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Most recent review: December 8, 2013
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