THERE’S GOING to come a time when you just can’t make a waterproof jacket any lighter. That point must be getting close with The North Face Venture Fastpack. Even though it’s made from 2.5-layer DryVent fabric, it weighs just 237g (w: 233g). Not too long ago, wet weather reviews for Wilderness were calling 500g jackets lightweight.
The 15-denier DryVent nylon fabric has an outer face coated in a durable water repellent and the inner facing fabric finished with a dry touch print that raises the fabric from the skin, helping transfer moisture to the outside.
The result is a light, thin – transparent even – but functional jacket designed for those who pack light and move fast.
Our wet spring gave me plenty of opportunity to test the jacket. It withstood light rain and sporadic heavy downpours. But in sustained heavy rain, the jacket took on a ‘wet feel’, as the fabric pressed against my skin. I remained dry, but this demonstrates a weakness of such light rain wear: a traditional hardshell blocks wind and traps warmth much better.
I also used it while riding my bike and though I didn’t over-heat – large mesh-lined pockets with storm flaps help here – I found the jacket didn’t breathe as well as a heavier garment that might also have pitzips.
The jacket has a surprisingly functional hood with side and rear drawcords. These allow a comfortable fit, so it moves with your head, never blocking your view. The peak is almost non-existent though.
It has a roomy enough cut to allow midlayers to be worn beneath.
The 15D fabric resisted the wear and tear of rubbing pack straps with day and overnight loads, but with a heavy multiday pack, expect it to show signs of wear sooner rather than later. Care would also be needed if bush bashing.
It’s cut at the waist, so it won’t keep legs dry, nor can you sit on a ‘tail’ during a lunch break.
But for trampers aiming to get the next FKT, or on day or overnight trips where the weather forecast is not for sustained torrential downpours, I don’t think that will cause too much concern.