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
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).
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.
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
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 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 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.
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.
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 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.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.