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Hands-on Gear Review
The North Face Venture Half Zip Review
Cons: Breathability, packability, average comfort
Bottom line: A versatile pant that excels at everything from day hikes to downhill skiing and doesn't give up much in the way of weight and packability.
This is easily one of the most versatile rain pants in our review, particularly when you take into account its price. The Venture is light and compact enough for backpacking and hiking but also durable enough for skiing and snowboarding. Its half-length zippers and slightly wider than average legs make pulling the pants on over approach shoes or low volume hiking boots an easy task. Their only downside? They are slightly on the heavier side and proved to be on the less packable size of the spectrum, though not by heaps overall. If we had a Best Buy award for the most fully featured rain pant for $80 and under, these would win it.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Venture proved to be water resistant, taking home a 7 out of 10. They were above average in our side-by-side hose and shower tests, as well as in real world use. We were impressed by how well these pants held their water resistance over time, especially considering their $80 price tag. These pants are equally as water resistant as the REI Talusphere Full Zip, the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic and the Best Buy winning Marmot PreCip Full Zip.
Comfort and Mobility
The Venture pants offered decent mobility; due to satisfactory articulation and wider than average pant leg width, this contender performed slightly above average overall. They didn't offer the same freedom of movement as the REI Talusphere Full Zip or the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic, but were more than adequate for scrambling up rocky sections of trail or battling downed logs. Overall, we thought they offered comparable mobility to the Marmot PreCip Full Zip and the Columbia Rebel Roamer.
The Venture's wide elastic waist band features two drawstrings, that when utilized, performed okay, as these pants slid down marginally less than other models. While the elastic waist band was wider than other models, it remained comfortable under a heavily weight pack's hip belt. In fact, after several weeks of field testing, our review team ended up liking the comfort of the Venture over other models like the REI Talusphere Full Zip which features bulkier Velcro closures on its waist; in the long run, these were less comfortable while backpacking.
Breathability & Ventilation
This competitor offered some of the poorest breathability among pants we tested, coming in with a 6 out of 10. These pants breathed better than the Columbia Rebel Roamer, but not quite as well as the Outdoor Research Helium Pants, REI Talusphere Full Zip, or Marmot Precip Pant. The Venture Pants feature half-length zippers but even then, these weren't able to offer much in the way of ventilation while it was raining. If our testers tried to unzip them on rainy day hikes, water drained into our boots, subsequently soaking our feet.
This pair of rain pants features a Velcro piece, which helps to tightly and securely seal the cuff around a boot when used for snowier adventures. These Velcro flaps were occasionally annoying when worn with lower profile footwear, like trail runners, where they tended to come undone and flap around. They offered the best performance when worn over higher volume hiking boots or ski boots.
The Venture offer a slightly larger than average packed size among options in our review but are only slightly less compact than a majority of options we tested. They are not as packable as the Marmot PreCip Full Zip or the Columbia Rebel Roamer, and are comparable in packed volume to the REI Talusphere Full Zip.
The Venture's durability does come at a price and that price is weight. At 14.5 ounces, (OutdoorGearLab's measured weight), it is nearly the heaviest in the review, with only the REI Talusphere Full Zip (at nearly 19.5 ounces) being heavier. In exchange for the weight penalty, solid durability and a fairly robust exterior, which is durable enough for downhill or backcountry skiing or snowboarding, is included. The Venture* is looser fitting than many pants we tested, with the extra fabric adding a slight amount of weight. While this contender is on the heavier side, it's only 2-4 ounces heavier than a majority of pants we tested. If low weight is what you're after, we'd recommend taking a peek at the Outdoor Research Helium Pant, which weighs a low 6.5 ounces.
These pants are easily one of the more durable contenders we tested. They would be among our top picks for off-trail travel or downhill skiing. We determined that they are slightly tougher than the Columbia Rebel Roamer, though not quite as tough as the Outdoor Research Foray Pants or Marmot Minimalist Pant, which both took home 9 out of 10s.
Ease of Use
Our testing team found these to be one of the easiest to pull on without having to remove nearly any lower to mid volume footwear like trail running shoes or light hiking boots. The half-length zipper and wide pant legs made this maneuver among the easiest of any model we tested.
This pant is versatile. It's light and packable enough for hiking, backpacking, and climbing, but also durable enough for occasional downhill skiing or snowboarding and equally at home while snowshoeing.
At $80, this pair of rain pants is an incredible value. In fact, we think they are the best rain pant on the market in the $80 and under range. We like the slightly lighter, more compressible full-side zipped Marmot PreCip Pant a bit more in exchange for an extra $20 ($100 total), but think the Venture is more versatile overall and a better option for snow sports.
The Venture is a solid do everything pant at a great price. This pair of rain pants is durable and storm worthy yet still respectable in weight and compressibility. You can spend a little more and get a lighter and more compressible pair of pants, but most options are only slightly lighter and slightly more compressible and may not be as versatile for as large a range of activities.
— Ian Nicholson
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Most recent review: March 15, 2017
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