As I am writing this review I am actually wearing the Ventrix Jacket by the North Face. I’m at home, Christmas tree inside. We do not burn our central heating high; we always prefer putting on an extra layer to keep us warm. And the Ventrix Jacket has become one of my go-to warm layers. Of course, the jacket was not made for use in and around the house, but for active vertical tours in cold weather. Ski touring, splitboarding, and other alpine use.
As we have explained in the Art of Layering, choosing and matching the right layers is extremely important to keep warm, dry and safe on the mountain. The colder the weather or the more intensive the activity is, the more important good layering is. The mid layer in the holy trinity of layering (base layer, mid layer and outer shell.) is an essential layer that needs to be able to transport excess heat and transpiration moisture away from your body and the base layer, towards the outer shell, that needs to be able to breathe the same to the outside air. So breathability in each layer is essential.
The North Face looked to solve this in a very unique way. The isolating layer is perforated throughout with laser-cut micro vents body-mapped into areas where transpiration is highest. If you are static, the vents are closed, holding the warmth inside where you want it. As you move during your activity, the jacket expands and contracts as it follows your movements, with the micro vents opening and closing, releasing heat from the inside to the outside.This dynamic venting is further reinforced by perforations in the outer fabric of the jacket under the armpits.
One of the Ventrix product, the Summit L3 Ventrix Hoodie was actually and ISPO Gold Winner in 2017. An important trade award in outdoor apparel. So that should be good.
So the question is, does this new approach work? And we have to conclude that it does. I Wore it during a two-day alpine adventure in Chamonix, and during a three-day intensive Snowboard Review Session in Stubai. In both cases, I wore outer layers with also high breathability, (in Stubai under the The North Face Fuse Brigandine Jacket – review coming up soon). And in both cases, I did not notice I was wearing the Ventrix. And for this kind of gear that is the greatest compliment. It is supposed to work so well that you never feel too cold or too warm.
And that is exactly what happened. I did sweat, of course; you actually should sweat, it’s the way your body cools down. But you shouldn’t sweat excessively, and the moisture should be transported as quickly as possible. And that is what happened, through the mid layer so that neither my base layer or the Ventrix itself got too wet. It delivered what you would want from a good Midlayer.
The synthetic outer fabric is soft, so it is comfortable to wear. It feels thin, but I have not had any scrapes or tears, so I think it is safe to wear it as an outer layer when the weather is not wet. Along the outside of the lower arms, there is a stronger ripstop like fabric that will protect even better against abrasions from rocks as you climb.
There are two side/hip pockets and one Napoleon pocket wide enough to store your phone and other stuff, but not deep enough to prevent stuff falling out if you bend over with the zipper open. So be sure to zip up.
The fit is quite straight, not too wide nor too tightly tailored or tapered. Comfortable and well fitting.
I was very impressed by the Ventrix, it’s performance during activities for which it is made, and it’s versatility as a day to day piece.That makes the retail price of €220,- euro more acceptable and actually quite on par.