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February 2018 Issue
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The North Face Ventrix

Price:

$390

Our Rating:

At a glance

Plusses: Lightweight (420g -m / 400g -w) and warm. Stretch fabric, cut and breathability make it ideal for exercising in cool conditions.
Minusses: With forearm patches and sporty-aesthetic, the look may put-off some people. More features would help justify the price.

Features: The Ventrix uses TNF’s breathable synthetic insulation with perforations on the outside that open as the wearer moves and overlap with the underlying layer when the wearer is still. This is said to boost ventilation during movement, and warmth when at a standstill. I am unconvinced, but the Ventrix undeniably performs well both in its impressive warmth-to-weight and ventilation. I used the jacket on my daily cycle commute and was impressed by how breathable it is. For a technical jacket, it is surprisingly minimalistic. Reinforced forearms, zippered chest and hand pockets and a cinch cord hem complete the features list. 

Fit: Despite claims of an athletic cut, I found it to be loose fitting. This isn’t a bad thing, though. It makes it an ideal mid-temperature outer layer, and the extra space helped with airflow. The stretch fabric helps make the jacket suitable for exertion and aerobic activity, never feeling restrictive and remaining comfortable in a wide temperature range.

Thumb loops would have been a nice addition for activities that involve a lot of arm movement.

Comfort: The Ventrix is extremely comfortable to wear. As well as sitting and moving nicely, it is lined with a soft nylon interior that feels pleasant against bare skin. A full-length baffle and chin guard keep the zipper clear of the chin.

In use: Packability is always a downside to synthetic insulation layers, which tend to be bulkier than their down equivalent, and the Ventrix is no exception.

I was impressed by the quality construction and the toughness of the outer. I wore it on tramping trips and while climbing, and it stood up without any visible wear. I like the fact that you can thrash the jacket without compromising its performance.

I would use it as my outer on tramping trips from late spring through to early autumn, when evening temperatures remain above zero. The synthetic insulation, water repellent outer and quick-dry fabric make it well suited to damp conditions. I’ve worn it hill-running on cold damp days and was impressed by how it broke the wind while still being breathable. 

Value: At nearly $400, the Ventrix isn’t exactly a steal. That said, its performance and durability justify the price. It’s well suited to a diverse range of activities and conditions. I would probably choose to pay a little more and get the hooded version so that I had a more versatile jacket.

Verdict: The Ventrix is a high-performance synthetic thermal layer for active use in cool and damp conditions.

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