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Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket Review

Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket Review

The Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket is an ultralight 3-layer waterproof/breathable rain jacket with a two-way adjustable hood, adjustable wrist cuffs, pit zips, waterproof zippers, and a large chest pocket. It’s cut longer in the torso and arms than most lightweight rain jackets, extending down to the upper thigh. The two-way adjustable hood is oversized for helmet compatibility, but you need to wear it with a billed cap to keep it out of your eyes. The factory C6 DWR coating is effective at shedding rain but like all waterproof/breathable jackets must be reproofed frequently for best performance.  If low weight is paramount, the Zpacks Vertice Rain jacket is definitely a contender alongside the Enlighted Equipment Visp and the Montbell Versalite Rain Jacket, although the quality of manufacture isn’t nearly as good.

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight: 6.8 oz in a men’s size XL (5.6 oz in a men’s medium)
  • Gender Men’s (Women’s sizes are available)
  • Type: 3-layer, with an unspecified waterproof/breathable membrane
  • Material: ripstop 7D nylon outer layer with DWR coating and a soft tricot lining
  • Water resistance: >20,000 mmH?O
  • Moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR):  56,000+ g/m^2/24hr
  • DWR: C6 repellent
  • Seam-taped: Yes
  • “Waterproof” zippers: Yes
  • Pit zips: Yes, 13″ in length
  • Helmet-compatible hood: Yes
  • Hem adjustment: No
  • Center-back length (men’s XL): 31″
  • Sizing: Runs a bit large for layering

Waterproof/Breathable Construction

The Vertice Rain Jacket is a three-layer rain jacket with an outer 7D ripstop nylon fabric coated with DWR, an internal waterproof breathable membrane, and an internal tricot lining that protects the membrane from dirt and abrasion. The inside of the jacket is factory seam-taped and the jacket is coated with a C6 DWR, which holds up well to rain but must be frequently reproofed to ensure that rain doesn’t soak into the exterior fabric. This isn’t any different than any other waterproof/breathable jacket on the market, but worth repeating because most people don’t restore the DWR and replace their rain jackets when it wears off, even though their jackets are expected to fail this way (See Hiking Clothes for Hikers: Rethinking Rain Jackets).

The jacket length is longer to provide more coverage below the hip belt.
The jacket length is longer to provide more coverage below the hip belt.

Three-layer rain jackets are more breathable than two-layer or two-point-five-layer jackets and that’s certainly the case with the Vertice, at least on paper, with a 56,000+ g/m^2/24hr moisture vapor transmission rate. The outer 7D nylon ripstop has a nice textured feel to it and isn’t shiny like some rain jackets. Plus, the internal tricot lining makes the jacket considerably more comfortable to wear and protects the waterproof/breathable membrane from dirt and grime so it works more effectively. Zpacks doesn’t disclose the source of the Vertice jacket’s membrane, not that matters that much, since the specs are documented.

The interior of the Vertice is seam-taped to prevent leaks, but the tape on my jacket is beginning to peel slightly and show air pockets after several months of use, probably the result of frequent folding and stuffing. I own several other three-layer jackets that have seen considerably more use and their seam taping is still going strong, but they’re also made with thicker fabrics and much heavier tape. This could be a durability concern over a longer period of time.

The seam taping has started to peel slightly could be neater
The seam taping has started to peel slightly at the corners and could be neater.

While the Vertice looks great on paper, I wasn’t particularly blown away by the jacket’s breathability in use and found myself repeatedly moist from perspiration and condensation build-up, in rain, and in clearer weather when wearing the jacket for warmth. Water vapor is clearly passing through the jacket, only not fast enough to prevent the accumulation of moisture inside. Still, the tricot lining makes the jacket considerably more comfortable to wear and the feature set helps compensate for any deficiencies in the jacket’s breathability performance.

Like all waterproof/breathable jackets, the Vertice is prone to wet-out when the external DWR coating rubs off. I experienced some of this under the shoulder straps which are usually a high abrasion point. That’s to be expected. The jacket is still waterproof when this happens, but the breathability suffers because water vapor can’t evaporate through the affected surface.

The Vertice comes with waterproof zippers that have fabric guards in front or behind them, for extra weather protection. Unfortunately, all of the YKK zippers on the jacket are tiny and consistently jam if you try to open or close them with one hand.

Two-way Adjustable Hood

You need to wear a billed cap with the Vertice to keep the front bill from falling over your eyes.
You need to wear a billed cap with the Vertice to keep the front bill from falling over your eyes.

The hood has elastic neck cordlocks to adjust the size of the face opening. There’s also an adjustable rear strap to raise or lower the front brim, but no volume adjustment for smaller heads. That rear strap can also be used to roll up and secure the hood to keep it out of the way, but there’s no pocket or flap to stuff the extra fabric into. The hood is oversized for helmet compatibility. It has a front bill but you’ll want to use it with a billed cap to keep it from falling over your eyes.

The chest pocket is huge and can fit a hat, gloves, and snacks with ease.
The chest pocket is huge and can fit a hat, gloves, and snacks with ease…all at the same time!


The Vertice has a single large chest pocket with a waterproof zipper. It’s a big pocket that can hold light gloves and a fleece hat, a Smartphone, snacks, or all three at once! The jacket also stuffs into the chest pocket. There are no other internal drop pockets or hand warmer pockets.

Pit Zips

Pit zips give you the ability to vent the excess body heat that causes the water vapor and moisture that’s generated when you sweat. While you can achieve much the same effect by unzipping the center zipper to vent heat, you can’t do that when it’s pouring rain without getting soaked. Pit zips, which are located under your armpits, prevent water from getting inside the jacket because your arms and shoulders cover the openings.

The Pitzips are 13” long and have waterproof zippers.
The Pit zips are 13” long and have waterproof zippers.

I found the pit zips on the Vertice Rain Jacket very effective for heat regulation and used them quite frequently to cool off or stay warm, especially in nasty above-treeline conditions. The Pit Zips are 13 inches long, but unfortunately, they always snagged when I tried to open or close them with one hand.

In addition, the sewing on the Pit Zip zippers isn’t what you’d expect on a $300 rain jacket. The stitching isn’t straight and there are loose and untrimmed threads that are concerning from a quality and durability standpoint.

The pit zips have loose threads and the seam tape is beginning to peel at the corners.
The pit zips have loose threads and the seam tape is beginning to peel at the corners.

Wrist cuffs

Finally, the Vertice has elastic wrist cuffs which are also tightened with a cord lock. This design makes it easy to pull the sleeves up your arms to vent more body heat, but I don’t like how the extra cord dangles ready to catch on objects. I prefer velcro straps for this function. They’re also easy to adjust with one hand but they make it much easier to wrap the end of the sleeves over gloves or rain mitts with gauntlets to keep rain from pouring down your arms and into them.

The jacket has adjustable elastic cuffs control with a cord lock.
The jacket has adjustable elastic cuffs control with a cord lock.


The Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket is an ultralight three-layer waterproof/breathable jacket with impressive breathability specs and a rich set of performance features. It has a two-way adjustable hood, pit zips, elastic wrist cuffs, taped seams, and waterproof zippers with a longer cut that provides more rain protection for the waist and upper thighs. The jacket has a 7D ripstop nylon exterior and a tricot liner which protects the waterproof membrane and makes the jacket much more comfortable to wear when it’s raining and as an external shell above treeline in three-season conditions.

Despite these impressive specs and features, I’d recommend giving the Zpacks Vertice Jacket a pass. The quality of the sewing and seam taping just isn’t there compared to a competitive jacket like the Enlightened Equipment Visp (see our EE Visp Review) or the Montbell Versalite (see our Montbell Versalite Review) which are equally impressive on paper, but are more refined and much better made.

Disclosure: Zpacks donated a jacket for this review.

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  1. This is why your website is the gold standard for gear reviews. You actually use the shit and are willing to point out flaws that others either ignore or hide to make money on the affiliate sales. Thank you for all you do! SectionHiker is a treasure!

    • Sarah – Thank you. I can’t speak to the motivations or practices of others, but my reader’s welfare is my #1 priority. Always has been, even when I don’t profit from it. It all works out in the end.

  2. “And what will become of Philip Werner?”, some long forgotten HR person in your exit interview from the corporate world. I remember this from time to time and it makes me happy. Nice review. Thank you.

  3. Fair review Philip. I’m puzzled Zpacks hasn’t I improved their sewing quality and polish. All of their apparel is so “cottage” like it was sewn in someone’s garage. Cord locks on the wrists? Makes the entire jacket look cheap.

  4. Thank You for the honest review. For $300.00 this should be a much better built Jacket.

  5. Nice honest review, Philip. Love the big smile!

  6. As a regular customer of ZPacks, I am watching the webpage for a practical poncho made with their great waterproof material. To make it practical whilst backpacking, I would like to put it on without taking off my backpack – long sleeves, long torso, space at back to accommodate a backpack and MOST important, a long zipper in front that goes down all the way to bottom. That would be an ideal poncho for backpacking. The current one on the website is not ideal – short sleeves, neck zipper and short torso

  7. One thing overlooked in reviews and marketing of WPB rain jackets is windproof. They entirely focus on water resistance/proofness and breathability, but omit wind resistance/proofness. How is the Vertice in the wind?

    • Rain jackets are windproof. The Vertice is too warm to be used as a wind shirt.

      • There’s probably a definitional difference between wind resistance and windproof like corresponding for rain, although we’d just say air permiability as all encompassing, since there are actual air permiability tests (EN ISO 9237, ASTM D737, GB/T 5453, JIS L 1096:2010-8.26C, BS 3424-16, NWSP 70.1, BS EN ISO 9073-15). Just like rain jackets measure varying degree of static head pressure, there are varying degrees of air permiability in rain jackets that make them wind resistant to wind proof. Plus, WPB tech like eVent markets its Direct Venting technology as air permeable, waterproof technology, as well as Polartec Neoshell and Gore-Tex SHAKEDRY.

  8. I have a Vertice that I bought last year. I have used it 2 time in heavy rain. Both times it wetted out so fast (like in 20 min of use) that I doubted that it been treated with DWR. I am recoating it now with Nikwax. I also agree on the breathability, I find my perspiration building quickly and I am staying wet when using this jacket. So far I have not been impressed.

  9. I’ve been wearing the Vertice for about 4 years. I had a knee injury which stopped me from backpacking for a year in the middle, so I have not used it extensively in the rain, being in New England.
    My perspiration “system” is either off or maximum, unlike those of lucky people who sweat just as much as needed.
    The Vertice is the first rain jacket I’ve been able to wear in days of rain and just get damp, rather than very sweaty. I got it on ebay, so it’s actually a size larger than I need, but that may help with moisure management.
    With bad knees, weight is so important that I don’t mind renewing the DWR.
    The toggles work fine to loosen or tighten the ends of the sleeves. They and the elastic look smaller than in your picture so maybe they changed the hardware.
    I have other jackets with velcro that do a slightly better job when I want a wide opening, but with the pit zips open all the way pretty much all the time, I don’t notice any unwanted heat retention.
    Given the above, it’s the jacket I like best for backpacking.
    When weight is not an issue, I have an OR Foray for when it’s raining cats and dogs.

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