When the weekend rolls around, it’s unlikely you’ll find me trekking through dense jungle or slaloming down the side of a mountain on a snowboard.
Which is why I was surprised when the Ventrix jacket, the latest creation from The North Face, landed on my desk.
Not wanting to shy away from a challenge, I dutifully strapped it on and set about putting it to the most rigorous testing that Greater London has to offer.
As well as looking pretty swish, the Ventrix is relying on some pretty impressive textile technology to set it apart from other activewear during the autumn season.
But with a steep £200 price tag , I wanted to be sure it can handle the business before advising anyone to plonk down their cash.
From a sartorial standpoint, the Ventrix looks pretty unremarkable. The sleek, utilitarian design has been perfected through years of performance outerwear and it doesn’t re-write the rulebook.
There are three outside pockets and a drawstring hood (a non-hood version is also available) large enough to fit over a beanie or helmet. Elastic cuffs help with insulation and keep water or dirt from getting inside.
Sizing ranges from S to XXL and there are the options of a few different colours. I received the urban-looking grey asphalt variant but there’s also bright orange or yellow if you’re going to use it to hit the slopes and want visibility.
Considering the price, there are a couple of omissions that I would have expected to see. Firstly, a hook loop at the collar so you can hang it up and secondly a few more pockets for increased functionality.
However, at 440g the jacket is nice and light to carry even if you’re not wearing it.
The North Face has implemented a system of micro vents around key “high-perspiration” areas. These vents open and close with motion in an effort to help regulate temperature.
For example, if you’re pumping your arms hard to help trek up a mountainside, the vents will open and push out the heat to keep you cool. But once you summit the cliff and sit down for a breather they’ll close up again to trap heat and stop you from getting too cold.
The North Face tells me it was tested on an 8,000m peak in Tibet – which makes my brisk stroll around Hyde Park seem a tad meagre by comparison. Still, I could appreciate the ventilation around my ribs and underarms and was comfortable wearing the jacket over a t-shirt even as the temperature started to fall.
When I upped the ante and started to use the jacket for running and cycling, I was pleasantly surprised with the freedom of movement it afforded. The vents again proved to be useful but because they require your movement be extra careful about getting the right size. If it’s too big then you won’t get the full effect.
The Ventrix isn’t going to replace a hardcore Gore-Tex overcoat if you get hit with a monsoon, but it does have a lightweight shower resistant outer.
Despite not climbing any mountains during my time with it, I was impressed by the Ventrix jacket.
There were a few things that frustrated me – like not having enough pockets. But also some things I loved, like the hood design and its overall lightness and comfort.
Where it counted though, the Ventrix performed very well. I had a size small, ensuring a snug fit and the best use of the micro vent technology. During exercise, the jacket kept me cool and dealt comfortably with raising a sweat.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test it in a full-on rain shower although I have my reservations about how it would hold up against the onslaught.
Even with the hefty price, I found The North Face quality was on point with the Ventrix jacket. If you’re searching for a light and comfortable jacket to get you through your exercise plan this winter, this is well worth a look.