If you seek an insulated jacket that will keep you warm and dry when you're hiking uphill or down, The North Face Ventrix is one great choice. Constructed with a mobile face fabric that is both protective and breathable, it has the affinity to offload heat quickly and retain it when needed. The North Face has constructed the body of this jacket with tiny perforations that contract and expand. While we couldn't observe this technology directly (and we tried!), we certainly felt the breathability and warmth on the trail, testing it while hiking, climbing, and generally exploring.
The North Face tweaked the Ventrix Hoody since our last test cycle. See a comparison between the two below.
Our Analysis and Test Results
A refreshed version of the Ventrix is currently available. The North Face tells us the key differences are to the 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. The updated Ventrix is also lacking the outer chest pocket of the previous version. Compare the two below; the new Ventrix is pictured first, followed up by the model we tested.
Take note that because we haven't tested the newest model yet, the review below is still our account of the previous model.
Hands-On Review of the Ventrix
The Ventrix offers excellent ventilation and a solid balance of warmth on the trail. It is a superb activewear choice for all sorts of outdoor adventures. Take it with you while tackling cold morning runs or backcountry terrain for days on end.
We are surprised by the level of warmth offered in this ultra-breathable jacket; it features three different layers of construction, including an outer shell, an insulative layer, and inner liner. The outer shell uses 30-Denier X 20-Denier fabric with a water-resistant finish. The insulative layer uses 80-grams of polyester stretch synthetic insulation that retains warmth when wet, and the smooth inner liner holds the jacket together and functions well with base layers and thinner sweaters. Overall, this construction, plus its plentiful features, makes for a surprisingly warm jacket that can balance bold breathability.
While this jacket lacks many features, it does have a few essential ones. The hemline has a draw-string pull to retain warmth from escaping the body of the jacket on cold days. Also, while the pockets aren't the warmest, they have some insulation on the outer layer, making it functional for stuffing your hands into on a cold day.
One caveat that could make it a little warmer is overall fit. It does not come with a drawstring cord to cinch the hood around the face on super cold days (this would be a nice addition for hunkering down in cold weather). It provides sufficient warmth for cold weather. If you stack it alongside a base layer and/or shell, you can extend its functionality. With appropriate layers, it can act as a great winter layer, keeping you warm when the mercury dips into the double negative digits.
Weight & Compression
For a continuous softshell jacket, it is fairly compressible and lightweight, offering a comfortable experience on the trail. Weighing in at 13.10 ounces, it's fairly lightweight, but certainly not the lightest option out there. When taking it rock climbing on a cool Fall day, we found it easily stuffed away into our backpack. It doesn't come with its stuff sack, but it can easily be rolled into its hood and compressed to the size of a small football.
Given that it isn't the most compressible or lightweight option on the market, we can't recommend it for super ultralightweight adventures, unless you intend on wearing it the entire time. For example, it'd be perfect for ski touring in winter weather, but not the best for a fastpacking mission that requires super lightweight and compressible gear.
Man alive! We are surprised by the level of weather resistance that the Ventrix offers! While no insulated jacket is completely waterproof (in this review), the performance differences come in the form of its ability to keep water off your skin in a potential downpour or snow-storm. For a mobile face jacket, we are super impressed by its performance in the field and our shower tests. Constructed with a water-resistant finish and a combination of a 92% Nylon & 8% Ripstop fabric in the shell, it does a great job wicking away moisture in all sorts of precipitation. The fabric will saturate after just a few seconds in super heavy and stormy weather, but it will keep the moisture off the skin. Its Nylon fabric composition does a wonderful job of keeping the wind off the body, offering superior weather resistance to other mobile-fabric jacket contenders.
In our shower tests, we stood under a blasting nozzle for roughly five minutes. After about one minute, the fabric was completely saturated, and water began to pool between the layers.
While the fabric is absorbent in comparison to other jackets that are 100% Nylon, the insulation caught the water before permeating to the interior of the liner. In this test, water got into the jacket at the opening of the collar (as there are no drawstring cinches), around the thinner pockets, at the armpits (also where the material is thinner), and around the zipper. After the test, the cotton shirt we wore underneath was only wet in these places and 100% dry on the back (where there was continuous material) and around the hood (wow!).
Comfort & Coziness
If comfort is what you seek, the Ventrix will provide! While it doesn't offer faux fur or super cozy features, the fabric is soft and mobile, moving with you while you carry on your way. The jacket is very stretchy and fits around every curve and bend of your body, encapsulating you in quality fabrics that are soft to the touch and great for all-day wear.
Helmet compatible? Yes! While it offers a lot of room for different climbing helmets and the like, it doesn't feature a cinching system: a caveat that we'd like to challenge The North Face to add in the future. This could contribute to the comfort and add precision for a better fit.
The collar offers ample room to hunker into during cold days in the backcountry, while the garaged zipper keeps the metal off your face on super cold days.
The Ventrix has amazing, yet concealed pockets, for a sleek look. It has two large handwarmer pockets that can accommodate a gloved hand. The single chest pocket is massive, allowing you to store snacks for later or a cell phone for your next Instagram post. All the pockets feature a nice liner, but no additional fleece linings. The pull strings and zippers are burly, offering the ability to use in cold weather.
The Ventrix is a comfortable jacket with great features. While it's not the coziest option out there, it is comfortable, and we'd recommend it for a variety of applications. Wear it while on the move or while hunkering down in warm to cool weather.
The Ventrix features an incredible balance of breathability and warmth. The North Face constructed it with a plethora of perforations that are meant to contract or expand depending on the amount of heat (or cold) present in the immediate area. While we couldn't observe this technology directly (we tried to blow the fabric with a blowdryer to see if the holes would change in size), we experienced this fantastic breathability on the trail while testing in the Summer to Fall seasons.
We took this jacket hiking, climbing, running, and adventuring. While running in the morning, it performed impeccably well, offering an excellent level of weather resistance and warmth, dumping heat sufficiently when charging on the uphills. When hiking to our favorite crag in Boulder, Colorado, we didn't find the need to take this jacket off on the hike, as the fabric dumped heat sufficiently. When hunkering down to eat a sandwich and belay a friend at the local climbing crag, it kept us warm, even when the temperature dipped into the high 30s. We love it for all active-recreational sports for the colder months, as it dumps heat well and keeps us warm in colder weather.
Style & Fit
With a fitted, mobile, and stretchy composition, expect it to move with you while you embark on your next adventure. The fit is true to size and is a fitted jacket; keep that in mind if you have a bigger bust. The arms and torso are long, ensuring a decent fit for those that need it.
The style is attractive and comes in many color options. Currently, The North Face offers a two-toned color scheme that is both slimming and stylish. In mountain towns and outdoor communities, we feel comfortable wearing it out, on the trail, and to work.
However, if you're seeking a super stylish jacket, this may not be your first choice, as the fabric might seem a little techy for some. It has a fitted, mobile design that is generally mountain chic with slimming stitching patterns and color schemes.
With durable face fabrics and seemingly high-quality construction, the retail price isn't so bad. Unlike other competitors, it features a higher denier rating on the forearms of the jacket, a place where a jacket might see a lot more abrasion. The shell is durable and didn't pill after washing; during washing, we didn't note any form of durability issues, leading us to believe that this bomber jacket is worth the money.
If you prefer the jacket option, be sure to check out The North Face Jacket, which sells for less.
This jacket offers a beautiful balance of warmth and breathability. As a mobile soft-shelled insulated jacket, it is best for activewear through the colder days of Fall, Spring, and Winter. Arm it with a base layer and shell to tackle the coldest days of winter. Wear it while you're backpacking through the Rocky Mountains or hanging out around a campfire.
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