IF Carlsberg made walking jackets… they certainly wouldn’t make the North Face Venture.
According to the marketing material this £95 jacket is a “highly technical, rainwear piece, engineered to withstand wilderness storms and styled for everyday use. It is made from Hyvent DT, a waterproof, breathable fabric with an interior tactile microdot print. Separates fabric from skin and channels moisture away”.
I tested this on Ben Lomond on a summer’s afternoon a couple of hours after a rain storm. Leaving the car at Rowardennan Lodge car park the plan was to bag it as quick as possible as I wanted to camp at the top end of Loch Lomond at Beinglass Farm.
Unfortunately, Rowardennan Lodge is pretty much the end of the line for non-forestry vehicles so it meant a right drive around the loch, which is about four times the distance of driving direct – which no-one can do anyway.
My plan was to go up and down Ben Lomond via the shorter but steeper Ptarmigan path. After the storms of the morning the sun was now out, although with a few menacing clouds on the tops.
It wasn’t until around Ptarmigan that the air became damp and I started to get wet, so I put on the jacket which I’d bought to replace a lightweight Mountain Equipment one that I’d had for about nine years.
It didn’t take long to realise that the next couple of hours weren’t going to be a comfortable. I was getting wetter and wetter on the inside from sweating; I opened the pit zips but that didn’t help. I needed the hood up, and I couldn’t really open the jacket too far as I was in the clouds.
Oh, how I longed for my old Mountain Equipment one. It had given me years of good service and there was nothing wrong with it; I’d only bought the North Face jacket as part of a general update.
Sure the Venture jacket was nicely styled and well made, but the Hyvent DT material just wasn’t up to the job, and it also lacked a two-way zip and didn’t have a foldaway hood which meant that when it was windy it flapped increasingly annoyingly around my head.
The jacket is pure style over substance, and should really be targeted at the yummy mummy market and not the serious hill walker.
Within two weeks I’d sold it on eBay, and bought a Montane Atomic jacket.