Black Crows Ventus 3L Gore-Tex Light Review
Cons: Heavy, bulky, expensive, zippers aren't water tight, some durability concerns
Manufacturer: Black Crows
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Black Crows Ventus 3L Gore-Tex Light
|Price||$600 List||$437.50 at Backcountry|
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$299.40 at Backcountry
|$375 List||$81.15 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Full-featured, lots of pockets, optimized for skiing, stylish design||Unrivaled weather protection, decent venting options, perfect fit||Lightweight, excellent fit for active uses, solid weather protection, plenty of pockets||Ultralight, less expensive, excellent packability, decent weather protection||Good ventilation, bargain price, lightweight, fully waterproof|
|Cons||Heavy, bulky, expensive, zippers aren't water tight, some durability concerns||Expensive, not ultralight, mediocre breathability||Expensive, DWR treatment wears off quickly, great all-round performance but not outstanding in any specific areas||Limited feature set, questionable durability, high waist hemline, few venting possibilities||Interior fabric is clingy, feels delicate, limited drawcords|
|Bottom Line||A stylish ski hardshell with plenty of features but some extra bulk||Our favorite hardshell for serious adventures, it stands out if you're looking for an option with serious weather protection||A well-designed jacket that offers equally great weather protection, breathability, and mobility in a lightweight package||Our favorite ultralight shell to leave in our packs for unexpected storms||An ultralight waterproof model with underarm vents and and an exceptional price tag|
|Rating Categories||Black Crows Ventus...||Mammut Nordwand Adv...||Patagonia Ascensionist||Arc'teryx Alpha SL...||Marmot Knife Edge|
|Weather Protection (30%)|
|Mobility and Fit (20%)|
|Venting and Breathability (20%)|
|Features and Design (10%)|
|Specs||Black Crows Ventus...||Mammut Nordwand Adv...||Patagonia Ascensionist||Arc'teryx Alpha SL...||Marmot Knife Edge|
|Measured Weight (size large)||20.8 oz||16.0 oz||13.6 oz||7.6 oz||12.4 oz|
|Material||70D polyamide GORE-TEX 3L with C-KNIT backer||3-layer 100% nylon Gore-Tex Pro||GORE-TEX Active with GORE C-KNIT, 30D recycled nylon||3-layer Gore-Tex with Hadron face fabric||Gore-Tex Paclite 2.5L 100% Polyester|
|Pockets||2 chest, 2 internal mesh, 1 arm||2 front, 1 internal||2 zippered handwarmer, 1 zippered chest, 1 internal stretch||1 chest||2 hand, 1 chest|
|Helmet Compatible Hood||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Hood Draw Cords||1||3||3||1||1|
|Two-Way Front Zipper||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Black Crows is an up-and-coming French brand whose skis are increasingly being spotted ripping down North American slopes. Their clothing has yet to gain the same level of popularity, but we chose to test out their trimmed-down backcountry shell known as the Ventus Light to see if the quality matched that of their skis.
The Ventus Light is made utilizing the 3-layer Gore-Tex construction that's seen on many top-rated hardshell jackets. In our tests, this material provided the full waterproofness that we have grown to expect from this technologically advanced and reliable fabric. We were less satisfied, however, with the protection supplied by the zippers on the accessory pockets. These zippers utilize larger teeth than usual and the design, unfortunately, left a small gap near the end of each of these zippers where moisture was able to sneak through.
We were also disappointed with the adjustability of the hood closure which features just a single drawcord clamp. This design limited how well we were able to seal the hood while wearing a variety of helmets or no helmet at all. A final concern was the wrist gaiters that are integrated into each of the sleeves. These gaiters are great for sealing extra body heat in, but if they get wet, they are slow to dry. And as long as they stayed wet they seemed to cause our hands to be cold rather than warm.
Although we tested the "Light" version of the Black Crows Ventus it ended up being one of the heaviest models in our entire hardshell selection. At 20.8 ounces for a size large, it weighed more than twice as much as some of its competitors. It is also one of the bulkiest and largest to pack. These drawbacks make sense when you consider that this jacket is rare among technical hardshells for including metal snaps, large-toothed zippers, and integrated wrist gaiters. The usual advantage to additional weight is added durability and increased functionality, but we found both of these qualities to be lacking compared to other models.
Mobility and Fit
The Ventus Light has a relaxed cut and sober styling that appeals to today's steezier crowd. We found the cut is mobile enough for resort or backcountry skiing, but less than ideal for mountaineering or ice climbing. One issue is the limited stretchiness of the 70-denier polyamide fabric which can reduce your freedom of movement. Another issue is that our long-armed testers found the sleeves to be too short and this made the integrated gaiters painful to wear. Skiers with more standard dimensions, however, will probably get to enjoy better mobility, and the baggier dimensions add the possibility of adding extra layers underneath for cold days.
Venting and Breathability
This jacket includes a nice complement of pit zips and a two-way front zipper to supply adequate venting options. Our testers also found these features to be especially necessary because they notice that the 70-denier polyamide fabric didn't seem to be as breathable as others. This left them much sweatier at the top of a long skin track than they would have been in one of the other shells with lighter or more breathable fabric.
Features and Design
The benefit to the Ventus Light's extra weight is a plethora of nice features. There are two internal stash pockets for storing a pair of gloves or climbing skins. Another pocket on the left arm serves as a great spot to keep your lift pass on resort or sidecountry ski days. Tucked inside one of the two chest pockets is a handy lens cleaning cloth that's tethered to the jacket to prevent losing it This ensures your goggles can stay clear on even the stormiest days.
Although our testers enjoyed many of this jacket's features, they were concerned about the design of a few others. When the waist cord is tightened it leaves a long loop of slack which is prone to snagging on tree branches or carabiners. We were also upset to observe a failure of the main zipper slide. The metal pull tab on the main zipper broke off for no apparent reason, which is a frustrating thing to see on a premium piece of clothing.
The Ventus Light is on the more expensive side of hardshell jackets. For this price, you do get a plethora of features that includes five pockets, integrated wrist gaiters, and a tethered lens cleaning cloth. However, the features come with drawbacks in terms of weight and bulkiness. What's even more concerning, is we have doubts about its durability. Due to these issues, we don't consider it a great value.
The Black Crows Ventus Light's subdued styling attracted the interest of many of our testers, but several design problems disappointed the same testers in the field. We didn't find the 70-denier polyamide fabric to be very breathable or mobile, and the main zipper experienced an inexcusable failure. For these reasons and more, we prefer other jackets for any winter activity away from the ski resort.
— Jack Cramer
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