The North Face Summit L3 Hybrid Hoody fills the same niche Patagonia Nano-Air Hybrid Hoody. It combines an insulated torso with breathable Polartec PowerGrid in the arms and sides in an attempt to strike a balance between warmth and breathability. And it does this successfully, depending on who you ask. Hybrid designs are the "jack of all trades" of jackets, but they often fail to perform strongly in any given metric. The Ventrix Hybrid falls on the breathable end of the spectrum, with the Powergrid reminding us an awful lot of one of our favorite fleece, the Patagonia R1 Hoody, with the insulated torso providing extra wind protection.
The North Face Summit L3 Ventrix Hybrid Hoody Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Comfortable, durable, good breathability
Cons: Expensive, doesn't have a very good warmth-to-weight ratio compared to similarly weighted models
Manufacturer: The North Face
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Our Analysis and Test Results
When it comes to lightweight breathable insulators that function very well as mid layers, our review covers three, great choices: the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody, The Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Hoody, and the Ventrix Hybrid. Our tester's feel the Ascendant is the warmest, least breathable of the three, the Nano-Air light is the least warm and the most breathable, while the Ventrix Hybrid sits somewhere in between. The Ventix Hybrid, like other products in the TNF Summit Series, is tooled for climbers, offering some useful features lacking on the Ascendant and the Nano-Air Light Hybrid.
Thin and breathable, this jacket is not very warm compared to heavier, loftier jackets such as the Rab Xenon X and the Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody (Not the Nano-Air Light Hybrid. We know, it's easy to get confused here). For the right applications and conditions, the Ventrix Hybrid nails it, and one of our testers feels this is the perfect mid layer for ski patrol, where sometimes he's moving around a lot, sometimes not at all, but it's usually chilly, and there's always a light breeze. Plus the red/black color scheme goes with the uniform.
Weight & Compressibility
At 13.7 oz for a size small, the Ventrix Hybrid is not one for the ounce-counters. Long distance hikers should look elsewhere for synthetic insulators - the 8.5 oz Patagonia Micro Puff comes to mind. The Arc'teryx Proton Lt is the same weight by our measurements, and it's a warmer, more weather resistant jacket.
Stretchy elastic cuffs, a low hemline, and a well-fitting, hood make this jacket very comfortable in the eyes of our testers. The fit of the Ventrix Hybrid favors folks with long arms and a long torso. It wasn't uncomfortable or too baggy on shorter testers, but if you're long and tall and have trouble finding the right fit, the Ventrix could be perfect. The two very large zippered handwarmer pockets sit high so you can access them while wearing a hip belt or a harness, and there is a small internal chest pocket for your chapstick, lighters, etc. Them hem is snug and elastic and keeps out the cold air even without a cinch cord.
Tailored to fit under a waterproof shell, the Ventrix Hybrid throws all its eggs into the breathability basket, making it a poor terminal layer when wet weather is in the forecast. If it's raining and you're only wearing this jacket, you'll get wet fast, but it's worth noting that it dries faster and soaks up less water than the warmer. The insulated torso takes the bite out of the wind better than a fleece jacket, but our testers had put on a wind layer over this jacket on breezy days in the upper 50s. The Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody, the Best Buy award-winning Black Diamond Access Hoody, and the breathable Arc'teryx Proton LT are much more weather-resistant options.
Due to the Polartec Powergrid arms and sides, this jacket breathes like some of our favorite fleece jackets, which is to say, the Ventrix Hybrid has excellent breathability. However, the insulated back panel can cause sweat to build up if you're wearing a back backpack and slogging up a hill. The Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Hoody is a better breather, since it has a super breathable waffle knit fabric covering the entire posterior.
We like the style of the Ventrix Hybrid, though admittedly, it is a very technical looking jacket. The color options are great, and you can go as bright or as undercover as you like. Besides the red version we tested, there's Black, Inauguration Blue, and a Canary yellow/black combo.
This jacket is a breathable mid-layer, specially designed to be worn while climbing. It has a longish hem and fits well under a harness. We also found it breathable enough to use as a running jacket on colder days (mid-50s and below).
$250 for an insulated jacket that isn't very versatile isn't exactly a steal, especially considering that the water-resistant and packable Black Diamond Access Hoody is $50 less. One of our testers really took to this piece and wore it almost every day during our testing period, so we can comfortably attest to its excellent durability.
Be warned, this hybrid feels more like a fleece jacket than most of the other insulated jackets in our review, and it performs accordingly, scoring low in weather-resistance and packability. That being said, there are many chilly fall daus when our testers feel the Ventrix Hybrid was the perfect leave-it-on-all-day layer.
— Matt Bento