Venture 2 Updates
Since we tested the Venture 2, The North Face has added Velcro tabs around the ankles so that you can adjust the openings. The weight of the pant has also been shaved down, now weighing in under 9 ounces, according to TNF's site.
The new pant is shown in the first photo above, followed by the model we tested. We're linking to the updated pant, but as we've not tested that version, the following text only refers to the previous Venture 2.
Hands-On Review of the Venture 2
The North Face Venture 2 half zip pants are designed as rain pants for hiking. They are a bit too thick and not quite breathable enough for the avid hiker, and they are also a bit heavier and bulkier than you might want to carry or wear for extended periods. However, if you find yourself hiking in rain pants often, and you live in a cooler climate, these might be the perfect pair for you. They are soft to the touch and supple, making them feel otherwise very comfortable.
The Venture 2 pants are comfortable and great for wet-weather hiking in cool climates.
The Venture 2 from The North Face is a reliably water-resistant rain shell pant. The material is rugged and thick, providing reliable protection from the elements. The pocket zippers and side zippers (which allow for easy on/off) are not waterproof zippers; instead, The North Face elected to put flaps over the zippers. This is not necessarily our favorite design, because in a real downpour, water can stream into these zippers. This, however, is notably rare and only in extreme conditions. These non-waterproof zippers are smoother and will last longer, so there are clear pros and cons.
Comfort & Mobility
The Venture pants feel almost like a pair of hiking pants. They are relatively spacious, so even if you put them on over pants, they don't feel tight or restrictive. The surface of the pants is very soft to the touch which we like a lot—wet plasticky-feeling fabric is awful, even if it is effective in keeping us dry.
The Venture 2 pants moved with us in a variety of silly directions.
The pants were easy to slip on over shoes with the half zip. Boots were not as easy, but these are not the best pants for backpacking or mountaineering, so that's perhaps a moot point anyway. The inside of the pants, however, does feel quite plasticky. For this reason, we much preferred to wear these in cooler climates when we were most likely to have light hiking or casual pants on underneath. Cotton pants, like jeans, were quite nice under these pants—the cotton slid easily along the inner surface of the fabric.
Breathability & Venting
The Venture pants are pretty thick, and breathability was not their strong suit. The hand zippers have a mesh liner which allows them to act somewhat like vents, but they're pretty small holes. The half zip also does not allow for much venting.
The hand pockets have mesh, and the side zippers go halfway up the legs; neither offer much venting. And the pants are a relatively thick 2.5 layer DryVent fabric, which is not the most breathable we have tested, either. These are not meant for brisk hiking and are best suited to cool climates.
The Venture 2 pants are the heaviest in this review. They are designed as a casual rain pant, and if you're not planning to hike too briskly in them, we might say you could wear them almost as a regular pair of pants. For the lightest pants in this review, Outdoor Research steals the show with their aptly named Helium pants.
The Venture pants are not designed to be your lightweight, packable rain pant for mountaineering, expedition, or backcountry use, and are a casual rain pant. If you're searching for the smallest pair to carry with you in the mountains, there are much better options. The Helium pants are extraordinarily compact, but they are not super durable and less ideal to wear for long distances, for extended periods, or in rugged environments; they are more of an emergency summer storm pant.
The Venture 2 pants pack into their own pocket, but it is a bit difficult to get them to fit.
The Venture pants are simple and streamlined with features that function well. The hand pockets are nice to use and easy to access, while the half-elastic waistband and tightening cord is low profile and functional. The half zip length is adequate for the light hiking and the casual shoes you would likely be wearing with these pants.
The elastic waist band combined with smooth front band and drawstring closure make these pants comfortable and adjustable.
Our favorite pants, features-wise, were the OR Aspire. These have a much longer zipper which allows you to put them on and take them off over a wider variety of footwear.
The Venture Pants pack into one of the hand pockets, but we found the opening of the pocket to be too small, making it too tedious to pack into that pocket.
The Venture pants are made of highly durable 40 and 70 denier nylon ripstop (the more durable 70D is on the outside). These are on par with the other pants in this review, but they stand apart in the soft feel of the outer fabric. These do not feel like plastic rain pants, which is a nice attribute. Otherwise, the zippers and seams and cuffs are all very well made and inspire long-term confidence. As hiking pants, which is what The North Face designed these to be, they will hold up; so long as they're not too warm or muggy for your climate or exertion level.
These pants are an excellent deal. If you're not sure if you'll use them a lot, but you need an entry-level pair of rain pants, this is a great place to start.
The North Face Venture 2 Pants are comfortable, soft, and supple. They are also a little thicker and a little plasticky on the inside, so they are best suited to cool weather hiking when you have leggings or light hiking pants underneath. These are not optimized to be your fast-and-light emergency shell pants on your next backpacking or mountaineering trip, but for the price, these might be a great purchase if you're not sure how often you'll be using a pair of rain pants.
The North Face Venture 2 half zip pants are comfortable and best suited to light hiking or casual use.