The North Face Venture 2 Jacket
This jacket is breathable, ventable, and cut for a more relaxed fit making it the rain jacket for folks who hate rain gear. Waterproof ripstop fabric, huge pit zips, and room for layers underneath without cramping your ability to move make this a great rain, snow, and wind barrier while on the go.
- Comfortable relaxed fit
- Huge pit zips
- Well designed and constructed
- Lots of attention to function
- For me there is always fear I will destroy it on a tree or rock
The North Face company may have traded in some of their old reputation for some coffee shop fashion popularity, but this jacket goes back to the days when their gear was mostly about function. Being primarily rain gear to me I have no pictures of it in use last year since I don't take the camera out in the rain :) Rest assured that this jacket was well tested in wet conditions heh.
- 330g/11.6oz claimed weight 323g/11.4oz on my scale
- 40D 85 g/m² DryVent 2.5L—100% nylon ripstop
Fit, Comfort, and Layering :
This hang tag is a good place to start talking about how this jacket fits. Using what TNF calls a Relaxed Fit there is some extra material used in the arms and torso to avoid a snug fit. This has several benefits over a closer fit that would have both arms and torso wrapped tightly.
This isn't to say that there is excessive, loose, flapping material to annoyingly get in the way. There is just enough extra room to allow for fleece or down layers to function underneath. When worn with a single layer inside there is ample room for air to move around helping with moisture movement. That really adds to the comfort factor as it keeps the clammy thing somewhat in check.
The same waterproof qualities that make the Venture 2 a rain jacket allow it to double as a wind shell quite nicely. Using a 40D 85 g/m² DryVent that TNF claims maintains a 25 PSI minimum after 20 washes, the shell material repels rain, snow, sleet and wind very well.
TNF claims 750-800 g/m²/24 hours average for the breathability of the shell material. For those who glow a bit while under load that may be enough to deal with internal moisture. The rest of us will appreciate the huge, 10-inch pit zips. Either way, this is a jacket that understands that internal moisture is yucky and does what it can to move it out.
Features and Function:
This is where you find the value in making an investment in a full featured jacket over a discount version you may pay less for. The Venture 2 doesn't have needless bells and whistles, but each part seems to be well designed to do the job intended.
Starting at the end of the sleeves we find a wide cuff that opens up to about a 3.5-inch diameter. The good sized, Velcro, cuff tabs allow you to set the opening to suit your needs and conditions. Cinched tight it helps keep water from running down your arms when climbing or using poles. Left open they can allow air flow up the arms.
The full sized interior pockets are sealed at the bottom and make a great place for carrying water bottles or gloves in cold weather. This picture also shows one side of the waist cinch with a small clip that holds nicely yet stays out of the way. Note the snap hiding back there as well. It takes helps prevent the shifting load of a backpack or strenuous activity from over stressing the zipper.
If you expand the photo you'll also get a good look at the interior of the shell and its more porous texture than the exterior. While you are there check out the stitching, which is not perfect, but pretty darn good.
As with many TNF products, the Venture 2 has a reversible pocket that acts as a storage pouch. There is a loop inside the pocket that becomes a hang tab when reversed, but can also be a good spot to clip your keys on a day hike. This pic also shows the nicely placed YKK pocket zipper with large storm flap.
The primary zipper is also a YKK with metal hardware and a relatively easy to use pull. Those with larger, thick fingers may find it a bit of a challenge to get started, but that is nothing new for those of us so blessed.
In the middle you can see one side of the cinch cord for the face of the hood. These nifty little clips allow you to pull the loop to tighten and then slide the cord into the clip to hold it. This can be done with gloves if needed.
Finally on the right side you can see the soft fuzzy patch on the inside of the zipper. When fully pulled up this keeps the material from rubbing on your lips if you don't have a fuzzy beard to protect them.
The Venture 2 was packed along on most every trip in the last year. It was used primarily as a rain jacket on backpacking trips in Maine and Vermont. It also found use as a wind shell and was used for day hikes and trips to the bus stop with my daughter.
For most of my life I have preferred getting wet to wearing a rain coat. As a steam engine I generate a lot of heat and moisture so rain jackets become very uncomfortable even in colder weather. Feeling a need to find a safer solution before a small misjudgement led to a hypothermic death I came across this TNF offering on sale online. The site also had something I was able to interest my wife in which resulted in her buying me this jacket as a present. With several longish, multi-week trips planned for last summer and fall I thought I might get some use out of this thing.
Boy was I ever wrong! It was super wet through the spring and early summer. I was getting soaked on most every trip and the jacket saw plenty of use throughout as rain protection. This shot shows the jacket at rest in camp on the last night of a Grafton Loop trip in August. (Second of three trips in this report https://www.trailspace.com/forums/trip-reports/topics/186256.html ) A 15-mile slog in a steady rain that lasted most of the day provided a great testing opportunity.
What I found was that while I wasn't dry by the end of the day, I had been able to wear the jacket while stomping up and down mountains. Some water had followed my arms in, but mostly I had steamed things up in there pretty well. What amazed me was that with the pit zips open I was able to move enough air that I didn't overheat and have to take the jacket off.
Further testing has shown me that by varying the layers used inside, the jacket makes a great wind shell as well. In warmer months I'll use it over a thin wool shirt to block a cold breeze on a ridge. In colder months I can add fleece layers or even something bigger like the Ternua Loughor and let it act as a shell that blocks wind and holds in some heat that a stiff breeze might otherwise steal away.
I have really come to love this jacket. I am sorry that I don't think it is available in this beautiful Himalayan Orange any longer, but they do have a nice variety of colors to choose from. They seem to have another version now as well using a material they call Heather with a nylon/poly blend.
My experience with this jacket has been really good. I have incorporated it into my layering system for both rain and shine. In my distance pack I will have a thin wool base, a zip fleece, the Ternua technical jacket and the Venture 2. I can mix and match those layers to conditions and wearing all of them with the TNF as an outer wind shell is enough in camp deep into Fall.
I listed fear of damage as a con because I needed a con and because it is true. So far it has held up surprisingly well. Given the light and flexible feel of the material I expected it to get snagged and torn on my adventures. So far bouncing off of rocks and trees as I slipped and slid through a few wet trips have done no harm. I even encountered a thorn snag one time that left no visible damage apparent.
For me at least, the Venture 2 was probably the best rain jacket I've ever worn, but it is also about the only one I could keep wearing for very long. I am sure there are better jackets out there to be had, but for a steam engine like me, the huge pit zips combined with the air space of the relaxed fit made this thing a winner.
Source: received it as a personal gift
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