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Black Crows Ventus 3L Gore-Tex Light Review

A stylish ski hardshell with plenty of features but some extra bulk
black crows ventus 3l gore-tex light hardshell jacket review
Credit: Black Crows
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Price:  $600 List
Pros:  Full-featured, lots of pockets, optimized for skiing, stylish design
Cons:  Heavy, bulky, expensive, zippers aren't water tight, some durability concerns
Manufacturer:   Black Crows
By Jack Cramer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 1, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
61
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 12
  • Weather Protection - 30% 7.0
  • Weight - 20% 3.0
  • Mobility and Fit - 20% 7.0
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 7.0
  • Features and Design - 10% 6.0

Our Verdict

The Black Crows Ventus Light is one of the cooler-looking hardshell jackets we've tested. Its combination of subdued colors and a baggier fit gives off an understated radness that's sure to impress many folks on the slopes. From a performance perspective, however, our testers were far from impressed. At 20.8 ounces for a size large, it was one of the heaviest jackets in the hardshell category. It's also one of the bulkiest which makes it a poor choice when the forecast is good and your jacket is likely to remain in your pack. We were particularly disappointed to see the main zipper break randomly and discover that the large-toothed zippers on the accessory pockets are not fully waterproof. Still, this could be an acceptable jacket for the fashionably-minded resort or side-country skier. We just prefer several other jackets for winter activities that include human-powered uphill travel.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  
Price $600 List$625.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$500 List$375 List$225 List
$219.27 at Amazon
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Pros Full-featured, lots of pockets, optimized for skiing, stylish designUnrivaled weather protection, decent venting options, perfect fitLightweight, excellent fit for active uses, solid weather protection, plenty of pocketsUltralight, less expensive, excellent packability, decent weather protectionGood ventilation, bargain price, lightweight, fully waterproof
Cons Heavy, bulky, expensive, zippers aren't water tight, some durability concernsExpensive, not ultralight, mediocre breathabilityExpensive, DWR treatment wears off quickly, great all-round performance but not outstanding in any specific areasLimited feature set, questionable durability, high waist hemline, few venting possibilitiesInterior fabric is clingy, feels delicate, limited drawcords
Bottom Line A stylish ski hardshell with plenty of features but some extra bulkOur favorite hardshell for serious adventures, it stands out if you're looking for an option with serious weather protectionA well-designed jacket that offers equally great weather protection, breathability, and mobility in a lightweight packageOur favorite ultralight shell to leave in our packs for unexpected stormsAn 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%)
7.0
10.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Weight (20%)
3.0
5.0
7.0
10.0
8.0
Mobility and Fit (20%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Venting and Breathability (20%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Features and Design (10%)
6.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Black Crows Ventus... Mammut Nordwand Adv... Patagonia Ascensionist Arc'teryx Alpha SL... Marmot Knife Edge
Pit Zips Yes Yes Yes No Yes
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
Adjustable Cuffs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
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.

Performance Comparison


black crows ventus 3l gore-tex light hardshell jacket review - a low hemline and a sturdy waist drawcord are essential when the...
A low hemline and a sturdy waist drawcord are essential when the powder starts to fly.
Credit: Jack Cramer

Weather Protection


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.

black crows ventus 3l gore-tex light hardshell jacket review - we struggled to seal the hood tightly with some helmets due to this...
We struggled to seal the hood tightly with some helmets due to this hood's single drawcord closure.
Credit: Jack Cramer

Weight


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.

black crows ventus 3l gore-tex light hardshell jacket review - the baggier fit seemed to help the waist hem and wrist cuffs stay in...
The baggier fit seemed to help the waist hem and wrist cuffs stay in position, but the internal wrist gaiters were uncomfortably short for our long-armed testers, such as this 6'2" tester wearing a size large.
Credit: Jack Cramer

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.

black crows ventus 3l gore-tex light hardshell jacket review - we find the 70-denier polyamide is plenty durable but disappointing...
We find the 70-denier polyamide is plenty durable but disappointing when it comes to breathability.
Credit: Jack Cramer

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.

black crows ventus 3l gore-tex light hardshell jacket review - a long waist drawcord is especially annoying while climbing because...
A long waist drawcord is especially annoying while climbing because it can get tangled in your gear.
Credit: Jack Cramer

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.

Value


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.

black crows ventus 3l gore-tex light hardshell jacket review - the last thing you want to see happen to an expensive jacket is a...
The last thing you want to see happen to an expensive jacket is a broken main zipper. This failure occurred after approximately 15 days of testing.
Credit: Jack Cramer

Conclusion


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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