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The North Face Venture 2 Rain Jacket Review

The North Face Venture 2 Rain Jacket

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

Waterproof/Breathability

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 has a rear volume adjuster that lets you size the hood

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.

Pit Zips

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.)

Demonstration of rain jacket wrist cuffs
Wrist cuffs let you roll up your sleeves to vent excess heat

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.

Side Pockets

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.

Interior pockets
The Venture 2 has two long internal pockets that are good for storing extra gloves or snacks, particularly in winter.

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 / ModelAdj HoodPit ZipsWP/BRAvg WeightPrice
Marmot Precip ECOYesYesYes13.1 oz$100
Outdoor Research Helium IIYesNoYes6.4 oz$159
Frogg Toggs UL2 Rain JacketYesNoNo5.5 oz$20
Patagonia TorrentshellYesYesYes12.1 oz$129
Frogg Toggs Xtreme LiteYesNoNo7.6 oz$45
Lightheart Gear Rain JacketYesYesNo7.2 oz$99
Columbia Outdry EX EcoYesNoYes13.0 oz$199
The North Face Venture 2YesYesYes11.5 oz$99

Recommendation

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.

Disclosure: The author purchased this product.

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6 comments

  1. Great review. I have been searching for a good rain jacket for a long time. My problem is that I build up heat too quickly and end up just as wet as if I let the rain fall on me. On my AT thru-hike last year, I just brought a Frogg Togg poncho and even that made me too warm so I just opted to get wet anytime it rained.

    In your experience, what is the best feature for shedding heat, pit zips, chest zips, or high end Gore-Tex membrane? Thank you.

    • I’d take a look at the torso zips that OR puts on some of their rain jackets. They’re even longer than jackets with pit zips since the run from the armpit to the hem. The only thing that will shed heat is an opening. A membrane is not designed for that function.
      https://www.outdoorresearch.com/us/mens-foray-jacket-268080?cat=45,10,4
      Other than that, pitzips are the other option.
      Also when choosing a rain jacket, you want the thinnest fabric available. Thicker fabrics hold more heat and are better for winter.

      • Thank you. I just read your review on that one. Looks very interesting. Will have to see if REI has one in stock to try on. I have been getting into MYOG making my own hiking backpack, fly fishing sling pack, and waiting on supplies to make my quilt (going to model it off of the Katabatic Flex after liking what I saw in your review). Whenever I get some more skills under my belt, I was thinking about trying to make a jacket similar to Foray but with a half zip front and kangaroo pocket instead of the full zip and have the same side zipper concept.

  2. Eventually won’t this type of rain jacket “wet out”? Other than a Lightheart Gear style rain jacket that has no “breathability” other than the pit zips, seems like all the 2.5 layer rain jackets have this issue. Really, how would you compare functionality of this rain jacket vs. the Lightheart rain jacket?

    • Yes, it will wet out as soon as the DWR wears off. But that’s not just limited to 2.5 layer jackets, but all waterproof/breathable rain jackets include 2 and 3-layers ones that are coated with DWR.

      What’s the difference between this and a non-breathable lightheart jacket? Not picking an ax to grind…just stating the facts. The North Face jacket is less expensive as it’s almost always on sale, it has better pockets, it’s sewn much better and has better components, and the seams are taped, which can make a big difference when it comes to seam leakage. Like I said in the text. Some people think they must have a waterproof/breathable jacket, even though it quickly degrades in performance unless you reapply the DWR frequently when it shows signs of wear.

  3. Great review but I’d like to add my experience as well. I bought this online and am super happy with the performance but not so much with the fit. I don’t think it is accurate to just say it runs big because my medium (I am 5′-11″ and 165 lb) is snug around my chest – similar to the typical fit of a small – while the sleeves are sized like an XL. With my arms in wingspan position (straight out to both sides) the end of the sleeves reach to the last knuckle on both hands, as in, just the fingertips sticking out. I would have returned it if not for the velcro around the cuff that allows me to keep it from going over my palm/hand and the great deal I got it for.

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