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Hands-on Gear Review
The North Face Venture 2 Review
Cons: Short waist coverage, leaky pockets, good mobility, hood doesn't fit over a helmet
Bottom line: A respectable preforming jacket especially considering the price. The Venture is one of the better jackets in the $100 price range that is slightly more durable than the PreCip but not as breathable nor cut as nicely.
The North Face Venture 2 Jacket is a budget friendly 2.5 layer rain shell; it is similar to the Best Buy Award winning Marmot PreCip and the Patagonia Torrentshell. While the Venture doesn't breathe as well as several of the other models we tested, it has larger than average pit-zips and mesh-lined pockets that help increase ventilation; these features result in decent performance during aerobic activities. We thought the Venture's DWR held up well over time, especially when compared to similar priced models on what is otherwise a pretty basic few-frills jacket. Overall, the Venture is a very reasonably priced rain jacket for folks who will occasionally take a hiking, backpacking, or bike trip, but mostly need a rain jacket for around-town use.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Venture Jacket was an average performer in most of our metrics. It's a functional and reasonably priced entry-level 2.5 layer jacket that offers good ventilation options and stuffs into its hand pocket.
The North Face uses their own 2.5 layer propitiatory Dryvent fabric for weather resistance. This face fabric's DWR held up decently well after several weeks of field use and several more days of rainy around-town action. However, long term, we didn't think its DWR held up quite as well as that of the Patagonia Torrentshell.
Overall, this rain jacket performed well at the task of keeping us dry, especially considering its $100 price tag. There's nothing particularly special about its' hood; it doesn't have a stiffened brim, but the elastic around the face and at the back of the hood allow for a decent amount of of adjustment. It also helps keep a respectable amount of peripheral vision, even when cinched down.
This is one of the very few jackets in which we got a little wet in the shower while wearing it, as a bit of water seeped into the hand pockets. However, the DWR treatment on the fabric beaded water well and kept up during our tests. Overall, we thought the Venture jacket performed very comparably to the Marmot PreCip Jacket.
Breathability & Ventilation
We found that the proprietary DryVent 2.5 layer coating used for this rain jacket was not as breathable as other fabrics; it was slightly below average among coated waterproof-breathable options. While the Venture didn't breathe quite as well as the Marmot PreCip, it performed better than the Columbia Watertight II.
What the Venture does bring to the table is a good set of ventilation features for a budget-friendly rain jacket. The Venture features larger-than-average pit zips that provide good air exchange, while the hand pockets are lined with mesh, making for two more vents when open. The pit zips are moved slightly forward when compared to most contenders we tested; our testers found this placement not only created more effective ventilation, but was also more comfortable across the board.
Although the Venture isn't as breathable as its competitors, it does provide good ventilation with its large pit zips and mesh-lined hand pockets.
Comfort & Mobility
This model is something of a mixed bag here. The hood fits reasonably well, and a micro-fleece patch on the chin is quite comfortable. The zipper pulls are easy enough to use, but the cord locks for hood and hem adjustment are small. Overall, while these features are not the easiest to operate with gloves on, they weren't terrible, either. This jacket moves with you pretty well, but its waist hem is shorter than most and can leave you exposed with arms overhead.
The Venture's overall mobility is slightly below average; its not that we felt it was restrictive, but when compared side-by-side to other models like the Marmot PreCip or Patagonia Torrentshell, the Venture bunched up or exposed our wrists slightly more at the maximum ranges of mobility.
The North Face has improved the Venture's hood and we now we think it's among the nicest in its price range. We like it slightly better than the Marmot PreCip, primarily because of a cinching elastic drawstring at the back of the hood. This allows the hood to move with us more effectively when we turned side to side. That said, the Venture's hood is NOT an over the top helmet design and climbers may want to look elsewhere. It fits great over a beanie or a baseball cap, but it will have to be worn under a helmet unlike the Torrentshell or the Outdoor Research Helium II, which both fit respectably well over a climbing or big helmet.
Our size medium test model weighed in at 14 ounces, slightly heavier than its closest $100-range competition the PreCip (13 ounces), Torrentshell (12 ounces), and Columbia Watertight II (13 ounces). We think the 1-2 once weight increase likely comes from the Venture's longer than average pit zips. When comparing these three jackets, the weight is close enough that it shouldn't be a major factor. If you are really looking for a lighter and more packable jacket, we recommend you take a look at the 6.5 ounce Outdoor Research Helium II.
This jacket's 40D ripstop nylon should stand up to some wear and tear, and it earned a middle of the pack durability score. We feel the Patagonia Torrentshell is the most durable of the similar models we tested, but these jackets are quite as tough as the Marmot Minimalist, Outdoor Research Foray, or Arc'teryx Beta SL.
This model compresses slightly smaller than average among comparable jackets on the market. A nice, though increasing common feature is that the Venture stuffs into its left hand pocket and features a clip-in loop when stuffed. Its packed size is smaller than the Patagonia Torrentshell, but not as small as the Marmot PreCip or Outdoor Research Helium II.
This rain jacket has a nice hood with a medium-sized brim, as well as two elastic cinch cords. The cord locks are external on the sides and at the rear of the hood. The cord that runs across the brow goes through a unique sleeve, which creates a little comfy air space above it. There's a comfy micro-fleece chin flap and a hang loop at the back of the collar. This jacket has pit zips with strings on the zipper pull tabs and storm flaps cover the zippers. It also has large mesh-lined hand pockets that add even more ventilation. The jacket stuffs into the left front pocket. The wrist cuffs tighten down with a Velcro tab and the elastic hem cinch has cord locks on both hips.
This is an entry-level 2.5 layer shell. It will keep you dry around town, and even though the breathability isn't quite there, the ventilation features extend its usefulness to light hiking and backpacking. Its lightweight and durable enough that we'd also recommend it for some climbing and mountaineering or even the occasional downhill ski day. That said, for $50-$100 more, you can find something that offers lighter weight, as well as better packability, durability, and breathability.
At $99, this is one of the least expensive 2.5 layer rain jackets we tested. For the truly budget conscious, it will get the job done. But the added performance and small details of the award winning Marmot PreCip and the climbing-specific Patagonia Torrentshell are a better value for most.
Conclusion and The Bottom Line
As one of the most affordable 2.5 layer shell we tested, the Venture is a good entry-level shell for the budget sensitive or occasional hiker or backpacker that will impress more urban focused users.
North Face Venture - Women's
— Ian Nicholson
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