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The North Face Summit L3 Ventrix 2.0 Hoody Review

A hyper mobile and comfortable mid-layer that is slightly heavier and warmer than most similar jackets.
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Price:  $280 List | $179.95 at Backcountry
Pros:  Very breathable, super comfortable and mobile fit, stylish
Cons:  Doesn’t stuff into pocket, not the lightest, relatively expensive
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 4, 2019
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67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 13
  • Warmth - 25% 6
  • Weight - 20% 6
  • Comfort - 20% 9
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 4
  • Breathability - 15% 8
  • Style - 5% 8

Our Verdict

The North Face Summit L3 Ventrix 2.0 Hoodie is an updated version of this jacket that uses groundbreaking Ventrix technology. Ventrix insulation actually has holes cut into it that open up, allowing hot air to escape, as they are stretched during movement, and stay closed, trapping warm air, when not moving. This jacket has many of the same attributes as competing active insulating mid-layers, although we thought it was a bit warmer and slightly more wind resistant than most, while also retaining its highly touted breathability. This is an ideal layer for active days when you are working up a sweat and effectively compliments any layering system.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $179.95 at Backcountry$194.95 at Backcountry
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$299.00 at REI
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$235.88 at Amazon
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$215.00 at Amazon
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Pros Very breathable, super comfortable and mobile fit, stylishLightweight, warm, great wind protection, sheds water well, affordableWarm, good water resistance, comfortable, excellent mobility, stylish, durableComfortable, very breathable, light, stylishWarm, affordable, good wind resistance
Cons Doesn’t stuff into pocket, not the lightest, relatively expensiveDoesn’t breathe well, fit isn’t very athleticExpensive, annoying hem cinching buckles, not the lightestHard to get the proper fit, expensive, poor weather resistance, thinHeavy, not very breathable
Bottom Line A hyper mobile and comfortable mid-layer that is slightly heavier and warmer than most similar jackets.The best lightweight insulated outer layer is highly wind resistant and impressively warm.The top overall performer among the active insulating jackets.The most iconic active insulated mid-layer offers great breathability.A synthetic filled version of a down jacket, designed to optimize warmth.
Rating Categories Summit L3 Ventrix 2.0 Hoody Rab Xenon Hoodie Arc'teryx Proton LT Hoody Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody Rab Nimbus
Warmth (25%)
10
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6
10
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7
10
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6
10
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5
10
0
10
Weight (20%)
10
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6
10
0
9
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0
6
10
0
8
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6
Comfort (20%)
10
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9
10
0
6
10
0
9
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8
10
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5
Weather Resistance (15%)
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4
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8
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6
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4
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7
Breathability (15%)
10
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8
10
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5
10
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7
10
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9
10
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4
Style (5%)
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8
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6
Specs Summit L3 Ventrix... Rab Xenon Hoodie Arc'teryx Proton... Patagonia Nano-Air... Rab Nimbus
Measured Weight (size) 15.5 oz. (L) 11.0 oz. (L) 14.5 oz (L) 12.5 oz (M) 17.0 oz. (L)
Manufacturer Stated Weight (size) 15.16 oz. (L) 12.7 oz. (L) 13.2 oz. (M) 12.2 oz. (M) 17.8 oz. (L)
Insulation 60 G Ventrix - 100% Polyester Stretch Synthetic Insulation 60g Stratus Coreloft Compact 80 60g FullRange insulation Cirrus insulation w/ 3M featherless fibre
Outer Fabric 40D x 30D + 20D 92 g/m² 94% nylon, 6% elastane Atmos ripstop Fortius Air 20 (84% nylon, 16% elastane) 100% nylon ripstop Pertex Quantum
Stuffs Into Itself? No Yes, clip loop No Yes, clip loop Yes, barely, clip loop
Hood Option? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of Pockets 2 zippered hand, 2 zippered chest pockets 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Summit L3 Ventrix 2.0 Hoodie is unique because of its use of The North Face's Ventrix insulation, which has movement modulated holes that open or close to either trap or release heat depending on the amount of stretch incurred by movement. Check out this interesting interview about the design process. This technology makes sense to us because it's movement that triggers the extra breathability. When we move, we are more likely to be generating heat, which needs to be released if we are to be able to continue wearing our insulated jacket. Conversely, when standing still, we usually become colder and want to trap the heat we generate, and the Ventrix's vents do not open up when we are not stretching the fibers with our movement.

Besides its interesting Ventrix insulation, we found this jacket to perform very similarly to other active insulated mid-layers made by other companies. It felt a bit warmer to us than most, and was also slightly more wind resistant than we have come to expect from these types of highly breathable layers, but also weighs a bit more. It has two drawcords to help with cinching down the fit: one on the back of the hood and another on the hem, which are both easy to manipulate and work effectively. It also features four zippered pockets: the standard double hand pockets, as well as dual Napolean-style chest pockets.

Performance Comparison


The Summit L3 Ventrix 2.0 uses very cool ventrix technology to breathe better when you are moving and thus stretching the jacket  while trapping warm air more effectively when you are standing still. Here on a fall hike in the Three Sisters Wilderness  OR.
The Summit L3 Ventrix 2.0 uses very cool ventrix technology to breathe better when you are moving and thus stretching the jacket, while trapping warm air more effectively when you are standing still. Here on a fall hike in the Three Sisters Wilderness, OR.

Warmth


The Ventrix insulation used inside this jacket has a density of 60 g/m2, which is right in line with the majority of other similar jackets. However, this jacket is heavier overall than many, leading us to believe that there is perhaps a bit more insulation used, especially in comparison to the very thinnest and lightest mid-layer designs. The net effect is that it feels relatively warm for the type of jacket that it is. The hem and hood are well designed to be tightened down to keep out the cold if need be, but we noticed that the inside of the hand pockets are not lined, so this is one area we could feel the cold seeping in. It is more than warm enough when using it while staying active, and we think that on mildly chilly days, it's decently warm enough for use even when not too active or for using as an outer layer.

Standing still outside playing with Rishi during the first major snowstorm of the winter in Oregon  testing the Summit L3 Ventrix 2.0 for warmth compared to its competition. We found it to be relatively warm for a thin  breathable active layer  although of course nowhere near as warm as fatter puffy jackets.
Standing still outside playing with Rishi during the first major snowstorm of the winter in Oregon, testing the Summit L3 Ventrix 2.0 for warmth compared to its competition. We found it to be relatively warm for a thin, breathable active layer, although of course nowhere near as warm as fatter puffy jackets.

A single pull cord with easy to use buckle on the hem helps seal up this lower opening if the wind is blowing and aids in keeping you warm.
A single pull cord with easy to use buckle on the hem helps seal up this lower opening if the wind is blowing and aids in keeping you warm.

The pull cord on the back of the hood is easy to manipulate with the hood on  and is effective at cinching up the opening of the hood for keeping out cold winds  or to improve the fit.
The pull cord on the back of the hood is easy to manipulate with the hood on, and is effective at cinching up the opening of the hood for keeping out cold winds, or to improve the fit.

Weight and Compressibility


We tested a men's size large and found that it weighed 15.5 ounces on our independent scale. The North Face's website claims that this jacket will weigh an extremely precise 15.16 ounces for the same size large, so our figures were pretty darn close. While not exactly what we would term heavy, this jacket is indeed one of the heavier of its type.

15.5 ounces on our independent scale is right about in line with what TNF advertises. This is not one of the lightest active layers you can choose  but doesn't feel overly heavy while wearing it.
15.5 ounces on our independent scale is right about in line with what TNF advertises. This is not one of the lightest active layers you can choose, but doesn't feel overly heavy while wearing it.

We chose to knock a point off for this metric, however, because despite having four different pockets, there is no capability of stuffing it into itself for easier and more compact carrying on a climb or in a pack. While compressing synthetic insulation too frequently will induce it to break down faster, we still like having the option of an ultra-compact jacket that we can take on a climb.

Comfort


This is easily one of the most comfortable jackets you can buy. The interior liner fabric is really soft against the skin and lacks any sort of slippery, artificial feel that quickly becomes sticky once some body oils have soaked in. The fabrics used throughout are heavy on elastane content, making them very stretchy and mobile.

The interior fabric is stretchy and very soft  as well as breathable. We think it feels great against the skin  and also integrates well with clothes you have on underneath without too much catching or friction.
The interior fabric is stretchy and very soft, as well as breathable. We think it feels great against the skin, and also integrates well with clothes you have on underneath without too much catching or friction.

We love the fit, which is close to the body to be easy to layer over, while also providing plenty of length in the arms and hemline so that they never ride up when we move about. Moving our arms overhead, as we would when climbing, reveals no tightness or restrictions, and we would have to agree with the marketing videos of Alex Honnold climbing in this jacket — it makes for an excellent climbing jacket!

This fit of this jacket is pretty much perfect  with fantastic mobility provided by the stretch fabrics and insulation. As you can see  moving our arms above our heads neither pulls the sleeves down  nor the hem up  making it one of our favorites for active sports like climbing.
This fit of this jacket is pretty much perfect, with fantastic mobility provided by the stretch fabrics and insulation. As you can see, moving our arms above our heads neither pulls the sleeves down, nor the hem up, making it one of our favorites for active sports like climbing.

Weather Resistance


There is a good chance that if this jacket had a more effective DWR treatment, it would have been a top scorer and award winner. As it is, we found in our comparative testing that when sprayed with a hose, the DWR treatment will cause very light amounts of water to bead and not soak in, but any amount even approaching a rain shower will immediately soak through the face fabrics, making it one of the poorest performers in this test. Highly breathable technologies such as the Ventrix used in this jacket are also not the most windproof. Although we felt that it was slightly thicker, and therefore perhaps marginally more wind resistant than its closest competitors, to call this a solid wind layer would be misleading. It is suitable as an outer layer in mild weather and when staying active, but add in some wind or precipitation, and you will certainly need to layer over the top.

Using the spray feature on the garden hose to get an idea of how well the DWR coating and face fabrics perform at resisting water  this one didn't do so great.
Using the spray feature on the garden hose to get an idea of how well the DWR coating and face fabrics perform at resisting water, this one didn't do so great.

As you can see  the DWR coating was not super effective at causing water to bead up and run off  instead it soaked right into the face fabrics  and also stayed put on the outside. This may have been the top scoring jacket if it wasn't for this one flaw.
As you can see, the DWR coating was not super effective at causing water to bead up and run off, instead it soaked right into the face fabrics, and also stayed put on the outside. This may have been the top scoring jacket if it wasn't for this one flaw.

Breathability


There is no question that this is one of the most breathable synthetic insulated jackets that we tested, even more so than many competitors that are also trying to maximize breathability. Since the Ventrix insulation is sandwiched into the middle of the jacket, we weren't able to actually verify how large the modulating openings actually are, but we did notice that while running uphill on a warm day (one of our breathability tests), we were less damp with perspiration afterward than in some other choices.

Testing breathability by running uphill repeats on a 70 degree afternoon in the sun. We wish we could see how large the vent openings are on the inside of this jacket  but felt that the ventrix technology was pretty effective at helping to alleviate an excessive build up of sweat and heat.
Testing breathability by running uphill repeats on a 70 degree afternoon in the sun. We wish we could see how large the vent openings are on the inside of this jacket, but felt that the ventrix technology was pretty effective at helping to alleviate an excessive build up of sweat and heat.

Style


This jacket comes in some interesting color combos — the yellow/black and blue/black versions present some serious throwback retro looks to North Face shells of the '90s. Honestly, we couldn't go there and instead opted for solid red with black accents, which while bright, looks nice and stylish.

We chose this solid red with black trim color  and while bright and noticeable  think it looks pretty stylish. Other color schemes include some epic throwbacks to The North Faces roots in the 90's  with black/blue and black/yellow looks.
We chose this solid red with black trim color, and while bright and noticeable, think it looks pretty stylish. Other color schemes include some epic throwbacks to The North Faces roots in the 90's, with black/blue and black/yellow looks.

Value


While not up there with the absolute most expensive models in the synthetic jacket world, this one is still fairly close. However, we think it is a solid piece of equipment that is well worth owning and more than meets expectations, making it a good value. Budget-conscious shoppers should probably look elsewhere, however.

Stretchy and mobile as a belay jacket if the weather isn't too brutally cold. We like it in the fall in the shade at Smith Rock. It isn't cheap by any means  but since it works so well  we think it presents good value.
Stretchy and mobile as a belay jacket if the weather isn't too brutally cold. We like it in the fall in the shade at Smith Rock. It isn't cheap by any means, but since it works so well, we think it presents good value.

Conclusion


The North Face Summit L3 Ventrix 2.0 Hoodie is an excellent active insulated mid-layer that has some crossover appeal as an outer garment in mellower weather. It uses Ventrix technology as an insulator that makes it highly breathable for hot and sweaty activities, with a fit that is comfortable and mobile, endearing it immediately to our testers.

This jacket is one of our favorites because it is so comfortable and fits great. We love it as a stand alone piece in mild weather  like on this fall hike to the crooked river gorge in central Oregon.
This jacket is one of our favorites because it is so comfortable and fits great. We love it as a stand alone piece in mild weather, like on this fall hike to the crooked river gorge in central Oregon.


Andy Wellman