The North Face Venture 2 Rain Jacket is a value-priced but fully-featured waterproof/breathable rain jacket that can be used year-round for hiking and backpacking. The Venture 2 has a fully adjustable hood, 8″ long pit zips, velcro wrist cuffs, two side pockets, and an elastic hem adjustment which I consider must-have features on rain jackets intended for hiking and backpacking use. Priced at $99 but often on sale for less, it’s comparable to other popular and low cost 2.5 layer rain jackets like the Marmot Precip ECO and REI Rainier Rain Jackets.
Specs at a Glance
- Gender: Men’s Fit (11.8 oz size XL)
- Type: 2.5L Waterproof/Breathable
- Center Back Length: 29″ – men’s
- Center and pit zippers: YKK, all one-way
- External Fabric: 50D ripstop nylon
- Membrane: DryVent (The North Face W/B Proprietary Laminate)
- Fit: Runs a half-size large
While the Venture 2 is made with The North Face’s proprietary 2.5 layer DryVent waterproof/breathable laminate, I wouldn’t get too excited about the breathability of this jacket. Most Gore-tex knock-offs like it have pretty poor breathability performance. Companies use them to reduce the cost of jackets and because a breathable layer is considered a check-box feature with consumers, regardless of its effectiveness. The important thing is that the jacket is waterproof by virtue of its being made with a waterproof layer.
What’s the mean exactly? This jacket is waterproof and seam-taped, so rain isn’t going to leak into it and make you wet and cold. However, it is likely that you will feel some perspiration buildup resulting in internal condensation that can make your clothing damp. All so-called breathable jackets suffer from this, no matter how breathable they are or how much you pay for them. If you’re active, you’ll perspire, and eventually overwhelm the jacket’s ability to expel water vapor.
That’s why I always recommend getting a jacket, like the TNF Venture 2, which has pit-zips, even though it has a breathable membrane. That seems like the best of both worlds. Active venting, after all, is the most effective way to dump the excess body heat and the moisture generated from perspiration. All of the rain jackets and winter shells I use have pit zips or even longer side torso-zips for that reason.
Fully Adjustable Hood
The Venture 2 Jacket has a fully adjustable hood with a rear volume reducer and side neck toggles, so you can adjust the hood to fit closely around your head. The volume reducer is an elastic cord, with a cord lock attached, that you pull to shrink the hood volume. It’s covered with a flap of fabric so rain doesn’t leak back into the hood through the cord opening.
The Venture 2 also has neck toggles that let you adjust the size of the opening around your face, so you can. I avoid jackets that don’t have this feature and can’t prevent the wind from whistling in. That’s not something I can tolerate in cold weather and neither should you. Also, beware of rain jackets that are designed to cover ski helmets and have enormous hoods. The Venture 2 is sized for a person’s head, which is another “Like” in its column.
A high collar helps protect your face from wind and rain, while a strip of soft fabric behind the zipper cushions your chin and face for greater comfort. However, the Venture 2 hood doesn’t have a wire brim to help keep the rain out of your eyes and off your glasses, which means you might need to wear the hood with a billed hat to keep the rain off your face. This isn’t terribly surprising on a jacket at this price point, because a shapeable wire brim is one of those features that differentiate value-priced jackets from those at the high end.
The Venture 2 has 8″ long pit zips under the arms with zipper pulls and one-way zippers with storm flaps covering them. They’re easy to unzip while wearing the jacket and do a good job at dumping excess heat. As I state above, I consider them a must-have for hiking and backpacking since you generate a lot more heat when you carry a backpack (as opposed to sitting on a chair lift.)
Hook and Loop Wrist cuffs
The Venture 2’s arms have velcro wrist cuffs that you can cinch closed to prevent heat loss or cold rain from dripping down your sleeves. The wrist cuffs are wide enough that you can pull the sleeves up your arms to vent excess heat while securing the sleeves with the velcro so that don’t “fall down.” This is a nice thermoregulation feature that will help you stay comfortable across a wider range of temperatures.
The TNF Venture 2 Jacket has two zippered side pockets, both lined with nylon. Some manufacturers line their rain jacket pockets with mesh as a venting feature, but I like the durability of solid nylon more myself. Both pockets are enormous and can hold lots of gloves, hats, or snacks. The side pockets are not hip belt compatible, however, and will be covered if you’re wearing a backpack. More expensive jackets have hip belt compatible side pockets or an additional chest pocket for a phone or GPS unit.
There are also two pockets on the interior of the Venture 2 behind the external pockets. They’re quite long and large enough to hold puffy mittens, spare gloves, or snacks that you want to keep warm when hiking. I view my rain jacket pockets as an extension of my “backpacking packing system”, at least in terms of easily accessible storage, so having pockets like these is a real win. You can also stuff the entire jacket into one of these pockets to store it if you like.
Material and Fit
The North Face Venture 2 Rain jacket is made with a 40 denier nylon ripstop, which is slightly thinner than the Marmot Precip or the Patagonia Torrentshell Jackets which are made with a 50 denier nylon ripstop, and heavier than the OR Helium II, made with a 30 denier fabric. All of these fabrics are reasonably durable, especially in comparison to the 7 denier fabrics in use today by ultralight clothing manufacturers.
Fit-wise, the North Face Venture 2 runs about a half to a full size large, which is good if you plan to layer under it for winter and the colder months, but can be awkward in warmer weather.
Popular Hiking and Backpacking Rain Jackets
|Make / Model||Adj Hood||Pit Zips||WP/BR||Avg Weight||Price|
|Marmot Precip ECO||Yes||Yes||Yes||13.1 oz||$100|
|Outdoor Research Helium II||Yes||No||Yes||6.4 oz||$159|
|Frogg Toggs UL2 Rain Jacket||Yes||No||No||5.5 oz||$20|
|Patagonia Torrentshell||Yes||Yes||Yes||12.1 oz||$129|
|Frogg Toggs Xtreme Lite||Yes||No||No||7.6 oz||$45|
|Lightheart Gear Rain Jacket||Yes||Yes||No||7.2 oz||$99|
|Columbia Outdry EX Eco||Yes||No||Yes||13.0 oz||$199|
|The North Face Venture 2||Yes||Yes||Yes||11.5 oz||$99|
The North Face Venture 2 is a comfortable and well-featured rain jacket that can serve double duty as a winter shell. It is well featured with all of the capabilities that you’d expect in a technical shell, but at a fraction of the price because it uses The North Face’s proprietary breathable layer and not more expensive Gore-tex. If all you need is an affordable and well-featured rain jacket for hiking and backpacking, I rate the Venture 2 as a good value and then some. You can spend a LOT more and get a lot less. The sizing runs about a half size large, which is good for layering.
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