The North Face Summit L3 Ventrix 2.0 Hoodie - Women's Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The new Ventrix 2 has been redone with key differences to its insulation and denier of fabric, rendering the new jacket about three ounces lighter than the previous version. The latest incarnation is allover 20D fabric with 60G of insulation in the body and 80G in the hood, compared to the previous Ventrix's combination of 20, 30, 40, and 50D fabrics and 80G of insulation throughout. This new version is more breathable but less warmth overall.
This active-wear jacket offers an amazing balance of warmth and breathability on the trail. It has many comfort features and a style that many of our testers absolutely love. It is our favorite softshell jacket, even though it doesn't receive an official award. Wear this lightweight jacket on its own while hiking or backcountry skiing, or layer it under a shell for additional warmth in the deep cold of winter.
This jacket offers some of the best warmth of the softshell jackets tested simply because it is thicker and loaded with insulation. The newest version of this jacket actually decreased the amount of insulation by 20 g/m^3, so it's not as warm as it once way. Now it has 60 g/m^3 of 100% polyester material, ensuring that you keep warm when both wet and dry. That said, it does offer more breathability. As a midweight jacket, it offers the warmth you'd expect on cold days worn over a base layer and fleece. However, when it's gusty of the temperatures dip really low, it's best to wear this as a mid-layer.
Weight & Compression
Weighing in at just 12.65 ounces for a size small, we really appreciate its lightweight feel. This is one that you can wear under another jacket, and hardly know that it's there. While it's not the lightest or most compressive out there, it'll do for practically any application.
In terms of compression, it does not come with its own stuff sack or pocket that it'll pack down into. You can roll it away into its hood and use the cinch cord on the hood to make it small. Or you can put it away into a stuff sack. When looking at overall compression comparatively, it doesn't pack down as small as other lightweight contenders. It hardly compares to the continuous shell jackets or the lighter options out there. That said, it's still light and packable. Not our top choice for ultralight missions, but certainly will function for day hiking, climbing, or other activities where packability isn't the most crucial factor.
Comfort & Coziness
We love the fit and feel of this jacket. It has much in terms of features that make it super functional and versatile. To start, the soft fabrics on both the inside and outside of the jacket makes it quite easy to layer. The two external chest and hand-warming pockets are also very functional. Since they are on both sides, you can use either hand to get inside, and they are quite voluminous! We used them with gloves and found them to be perfect for our needs.
While the handwarmer pockets are covered up when wearing a harness, you still have access to storage with the chest pockets. A brilliant design that we appreciate, that no other jacket has. We also love the comfortable jacket cuffs that are tapered and cozy.
While it doesn't have any thumb loops, we didn't find them especially necessary as it layers easily. The cinch cord at the hood and hem makes it more adjustable, offering an excellent fit for all women.
While hiking, running, skiing, and climbing, we learned this jacket offers decent weather resistance. The DWR treated fabric is infused with Nylon and Elastane (of varying denier values, consult spec chart), which does a great job cutting the wind. The thicker construction makes it more windproof than lighter models, while the insulation offers great warmth.
In snow, the materials did a good job simply beading up on the fabric. Over time though, the fabric did this less, so it's important to treat this jacket to retain that DWR finishes as it wears out with cleaning and use. In our shower tests, where we wore each under a stream of water for two minutes, the water didn't penetrate through to the inner fabrics of the jacket. The water beaded for about 40 seconds before saturating. The material then absorbed and held water in "pockets" between the inner and outer layers, similar to many other soft-shelled jackets.
As a result, this jacket is quite water-resistant, but far from waterproof. It does well to protect in the wind, but wearing a shell on a high-wind day isn't a bad idea.
The Ventrix is built to breathe. With its lower amount of insulation, it feels more breathable than it has in the past. We wore it while backcountry skiing in warmer temperatures and running during early mornings. We found that of the breathable soft-shelled jackets, this is actually one of the least breathable tested (even though it earns a comparatively high score to other less breathable products) given its higher level of thickness and warmth.
It does offer many points for ventilation, but on warmer days, were temperatures hovered around 35 degrees Fahrenheit, we took this jacket off promptly after hiking uphill for just a little bit, in both sun and shade. Other jackets with a thinner design, like our award winners, off-loaded heat a little bit better.
That said, this is an incredibly critical comparison, and of all the jackets tested, it offers breathability that is perfect for the rock climber, hiker, or backpacker. It makes for an awesome mid-layer because of that, or a wonderful jacket to wear on its own.
Style & Fit
If outdoor fashion is your dig, this jacket will fit right in! Commented to be quite 'suave', feminine, with a more flattering cut than otherss, we think it looks pretty good! The black jacket that we tested doesn't have any color complements but is bi-patterned.
There are two different types of fabric used, and North Face takes the time to make this look flattering. This jacket offers a slim fit, with enough length in the arms for both the short and long-limbed. We also appreciate the coverage throughout the torso. Fit is true to size and quite versatile with a bit of a stretch. If you dig the outdoorsy look, you'll like this jacket. We just wish there were more color options available.
The wonderful performance of this jacket makes it one of our favorites. While the initial price might seem high, it provides a good value who wants a relatively warm but breathable jacket. The materials are quite durable, and it's a jacket that we'd expect would last for many years and many adventures. There are other lower-priced options available with a similar design but don't offer the same amount of warmth.
The North Face Ventrix 2 is seen as a light update that we love. This jacket is relatively warm and breathable, making it a good choice for hiking, backpacking, or backcountry skiing. It makes for a wonderfully warm mid-layer or a good jacket to wear on its own.
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