The North Face Verto Wind Jacket

It has taken me a while to finally give in and give wind jackets a try, but I finally did. The way I have viewed them is, why would I need a wind jacket when my hard shell already does what a wind jacket does, plus it will actually keep me dry too! But, in the end, the fact that a wind shirt is so much lighter than a hard shell, and the fact that a wind shirt should breathe better than a hard shell is what finally got me to give them a try…

This past summer I finally was able to put together a pack weight which would dip down into the “UL” status. And to be quite honest, that made me want to see if I can push the limits closer to “SUL” status. This is yet another reason I decided to give a wind jacket a try.

My goal is to try to see if I will be happy to replace my hard shell, a 10.8 oz GoLite Tumalo jacket (which has everything that I want in a rain jacket) with a lighter weight wind jacket. I am thinking that during the middle of summer for sure, and maybe even late spring and early fall I can leave the heavier hard shell behind and lighten my pack with a less than perfect, but capable enough wind jacket. I do understand that a wind jacket will not keep me dry in the rain, I have already experienced this, but it will keep me partially dry and considering the temperatures should be warm enough, being wet shouldn’t kill me. Saying this though, I will base whether or not I carry this in place of the hard shell based on the trip and conditions I expect. However, considering the super lightweight of the wind jacket, I don’t think it would necessarily hurt me to carry it along to try out, but have my hard shell as a back up… we’ll see.)

So, when I decided I would give it a go, I narrowed it down to 3 different wind jackets.

  1. Stoic Wraith (MSRP: $69 /Listed weight: 2.5 oz)
  2. The North Face Verto (MSRP: $99 / Listed Weight: 3.2 oz)
  3. Patagonia Houdini (MSRP: $125 / Listed Weight 4.3 oz)

Just by looking at the list, it seems the obvious winner would be the Stoic Wraith, however, I decided against it mainly due to concerns about fit. I would have to order any of the above jackets off of the net, so trying them on first was out of the question, and it seems that the Stoic has had some issues with fit/sizing. I do have some Stoic clothing (socks and a Merino shirt) but with only one shirt, I am not so sure.

Then there is the Patagonia. This wind shirt probably gets more votes from others than any of the listed 3. Just go to Backpacking Light and post about it and you will find many a happy users… This based on the fact that I love my own Patagonia items is enough to tell me that this jacket is a winner. But my hang up you ask? First off, it was the most expensive (however, any of the above mentioned jackets can be found for cheaper quite easily) but it is also the heaviest. I can get a silnylon rain jacket that only weighs 0.5 oz more than this and it is also water proof (granted not as breathable though).

So, as evidenced by the title of this post, I went with the middle guy, the North Face Verto. Now, I will say that I know a lot of backpackers cannot stand TNF items, but hey, that is fine with me. As far as I am concerned, all of TNF clothing that I have had and used/still use, I have been happy with it. The fact that most everyone walking around town wears TNF doesn’t change this fact for me. So, now that that is out…

Based on the price as well as my past experiences with TNF items, I felt comfortable in going with this wind jacket. Also, I liked the fact that this jacket was listed at a full 1+ oz lighter than the Houdini (which was my 2nd choice). Now all I had to do was figure out which size and color I wanted… then, I placed my order through Zappos.com (because they have a free return policy). Then a few days later, the wind jacket was on my door step…

So, as seen from the video, I went with the size Large, simply because the jacket appeared to have a baggy fit. Most of the time, if a shirt features a baggy fit, the XL will swallow me up (see my ExO Air Strip Light shirt review for an example). And to make matters better, the size large weighs in at 2.9 oz! (For you non-mathematicians out there, that is 0.3 oz lighter than listed.) I was a bit surprised at this since usually most companies list the weight of a medium-sized item, but in this case, it is obviously not so.

Initially, I will admit, the very wispy and light weight 7D Pertex Quantum almost feels like those cheap, thin, trash bags. (And trust me, my non-backpacking friends have pointed this out.) So, I was pretty careful to handle it, and I will look forward to seeing how it will hold up in the field, especially under a pack. I wouldn’t dare take this on any hint of a serious bushwhacking trip, but for the trails I am typically on, this jacket should be safe to use. But, concerning durability, only time will tell…

The jacket does block wind, which doesn’t really come as a surprise. I have worn it in some fairly strong winds and from what I can tell, I could not feel any wind blowing through the material. However, the shell is so wispy, if I am not wearing a long sleeve shirt under the jacket, then it can feel cool when the jacket is blown against my bare skin. In this case, I am thinking that my Patagonia Capilene 2 long sleeve crew shirt will make the perfect match to this jacket…

The first time rain fell from the sky once this jacket was here, I quickly threw it on and then went and simply walked around the yard in the rain. People thought I was nuts…  🙂  But, what I found is that what they say is true! Wind jackets are not water proof, and TNF site nails it when they mention that it is only water resistant. But don’t get me wrong here, even though I never owned a wind jacket before, I understood this aspect.

So, after walking around in a fair amount of rain for about 15 minutes I came in and pulled the jacket off. I could instantly tell that I was wet under the jacket, in a few places considerably more than others. These wetter than other areas just so happened to fall where the seams are sewn on the jacket. Being that this is not a hard shell, the seams are not taped/sealed. These areas are the areas that let water in, but in respect as to what this piece is, these seams probably also play a small role in the jackets ability to breathe…maybe…

As far as the actual shell, I found nothing that made me believe that water was actually passing through the material. Although, after about 5 minutes in the rain, the jacket did feel like it had wet-out and being that it is so light, it did cling to my skin. As well, this also made me feel slightly cooler too.

Drying it out/off was not too difficult. After removing I gave it a few moderately hard shakes/flicks and much of the water came off. Although, since it felt like it wet out, it still held some. I draped it over the back of a chair and about an hour later when I came back around to it I found it entirely dry to the touch.

So, all in all I am still not 100% sure that I am sold on the idea of a wind jacket, but I am happy to finally have my hands on one to try out (and just so ya know, I paid for this wind jacket with my own monies from my own wallet…it was not donated nor discounted to me and I am writing this “review” because I want to share my thoughts so far with anyone who wants to read it.) I will admit, I can see how it will come in handy and depending on trip and conditions, it could replace my hard shell. But, at the same time, I am not completely gung-ho about it. So, I will see…

Until then, thanks for taking your time and reading this review. Please leave any questions or comments below and I will get back with ya. Until then…

~Stick~

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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20 Responses to The North Face Verto Wind Jacket

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  3. Josh camp says:

    Any updates? I’ve been thinking of buying a windshirt lately and wondered what your more recent thoughts might be…

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Josh,

      Not really any updates, but I have been using it a lot, and really like it. I also have a Houdini, but typically finding myself reaching for the Verto more often than the Houdini.

      In comparison of the 2, the Houdini breathes a bit better (although, both breathes better than any rain shell I have worn), and the hood is better, however, it is heavier by 1.6 oz too. But, I have found that I personally like the slightly less breathable material the Verto is made from over the Houdini’s slightly more breathable material, and a ball cap takes care of the hood on the Verto. Then again, of course it weighs less too… So the Verto has been the winner for me.

      I will say though, I am real curious about the new ZPacks wind shirt. It looks like it may be pretty much on par with the Verto, but only at about 0.9 oz lighter! I can’t really justify getting another wind shirt now though, and don’t want to spend another $115 to save an oz, but it would be the one I would buy if I didn’t have one at all…

      Hope this helps!

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • Josh camp says:

      Thanks for all your insight. I’m at a point where I need to replace my puffy layer and my rain shell, and trying to put together a versatile lightweight system has got my head spinning. I’m thinking about a windshirt because my old Goretex OR Foray jacket was kind of on the heavy side and wetted out easily. So far I’ve got the Houdini, the Mont bell tachyon, and the new zpacks on my shortlist. I also saw an arcteryx that had mesh panels on the sides from the pits to waist, but I’m not sure what features (other than lightweight, hooded, with no pockets) would be considered valuable. Do you value breathability or wind/waterproofness more for the windshirt? It sounds like you and Abela rely on it to keep your down dry. Does that mean I can forgo a hard shell all together? What conditions or situations make you decide to use the windshirt vs a rain shell? Help me Obi Wan.

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    • Stick says:

      Josh,

      As I mentioned, the Houdini is little more breathable than the Verto, however, I have found that I prefer the Verto to the Houdini. Admittedly, my wind jacket is taken along on all but the hottest of hikes… Around the end of May thru August is usually too hot for me to carry it here in the SE (although, there are still exceptions, which I make at the time of my hike).

      As far as how I use mine, as long as there is not rain falling from the sky, if I get cool, I wear it. Once the rain starts, I go with a waterproof rain shell. So, no, I don’t rely on my wind jacket to provide any sort of waterproofness. (Which is a pet peeve of mine… so many “reviews” out there that give wind jackets a low mark because it didn’t keep them dry… really?) So no, don’t forgo a hard shell for a wind jacket to keep you dry. 🙂

      Anyway, I wouldn’t say that my wind jacket is a necessity, as much as it is a nicety. For this reason, low weight is a high priority for me for this piece, which is another reason my Verto wins out over my Houdini, and another reason that I noticed the ZPacks wind jacket (it’s almost another oz lighter, with the features I want).

      Of the ones that you have listed, my choice would be the one from ZPacks, with the Tachyon a very close second. And here’s why: The ZPacks is the lightest option, with a hood and a full zip. The Tachyon with a hood is a pullover, and while I don’t mind pullovers (both my rain shell and my down layer are anoraks), the wind shell gets used more, especially while wearing my pack, so a full zip is easier to use. As well, I like to be able to completely unzip, or zip up, my wind jacket while hiking to really get a wide range of use with the wind jacket, which means less time completely putting it on or taking it off.

      So, it really comes down to what features you want, and are important to you. As you notice, John prefers one without a hood, which clearly puts the Tachyon in the lead by both weight, and cost.

      Hope this helps some!

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • wow has it really been three years… got an email there was activity on this post.

      >>> Do you value breathability or wind/waterproofness more for the windshirt?

      I want my windshirt to be first and foremost, a windshirt. DWR on just about any windshirt out there is so small that about all it does is give you time to put on a dedicated rain jacket.

      >>> It sounds like you and Abela rely on it to keep your down dry. Does that mean I can forgo a hard shell all together?

      By no means. DRW issue, above answer.

      >>> What conditions or situations make you decide to use the windshirt vs a rain shell?

      Ignore most of what I said in my above posts from 3+ years ago. Use a dedicated wind shirt when you need wind protection. Use a dedicated rain jacket when you need a rain jacket.

      (ps: i stopped using down gear, made the switch to synthetic)

      (ps: I now use the montbell tachyon wind jacket, without hood. it has a full zipper, making it easier to put on in really strong wind. use a dedicated high top hat from TNF)

      (ps: Tachyon, Houdini, Verto, Zpacks are all, pretty much the same when it comes down to it… except for zipper, hood, price. while that new one from zpacks might look nice by most numbers, the price tag sure does not make any sense, especially in light of something like the tachyon which can usually be scored for 50% less than the zpacks one, and weighs less)

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    • Stick says:

      John,

      Yep, 3 years already! That’s kinda crazy…

      Also, I really enjoyed the video on the down vs synthetic. I am not ready to make the change myself, but it is all valid points. I will say though that after watching that, I started thinking about something with lightweight shell and Climashield Apex inside, and then say the post from Hendrik that talked about the new insulation layer that the guys from ZPacks are prototyping! I am looking forward to hearing more about that… 🙂

      As for the ZPacks wind jacket, I agree, it would be nice to see it priced a little lower, but it’s still priced less than the Houdini’s (at full cost). It would be nice to see Montbell make a full zip, hooded Tachyon though and see what their pricing and weight would be…

      ~Stick~

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  4. The Loop on the Verto is so you can hook it to the outside of your pack, or even put it on your belt while it’s squashed up. I totally love mine, it’s great for warmer days when it just sort of drizzles a little, if you’re walking or hiking you don’t want a hard shell in that.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Laural,

      Thanks for watching and commenting. Concerning the loop, I am not real fond of having things attached outside my pack or body unless it is absolutely needed. I generally keep everything inside pockets if they are outside my pack, otherwise I pack them inside the pack. Although, I will keep this little jewel in an outside pocket so that I can access it fast if I need too, just like my rain gear. However, I will probably end up cutting it off and save a little more weight… 🙂

      ~Stick~

      Like

  5. Gizmo Joe says:

    Hey Sticks,

    Glad to see your review on the wind jacket, I know you mentioned it in a previous conversation of ours and I was wondering when you would be putting up a formal review on it, and as always it was a good one.

    Also just for kicks I checked out the Stoic Wraith and it is on sale for 48.30 all sizes, if anyone is interested in it.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Joe,

      Yes, the price on the Stoic is very inviting. Also, keep a watch on Steep & Cheap as they sometimes have them for around $32 or $36. Anyway, thanks for checking out the post and commenting.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  6. John Abela says:

    Hey Sticks,

    It took me awhile to buy into the wind jacket idea but since than have become a true believer in them.

    For me it came down to either the “MontBell Tachyon Anorak” or the “North Face Verto” and ended up going with the Montbell, because all of my other gear is (mostly) Montbell and I did not really want a pocket on my wind jacket – especially right where my shoulder strap would be. The MB does not have a full length zipper however.

    John B. Abela
    RedwoodOutdoors.Com

    Like

    • Stick says:

      John,

      I am secretly hoping that I come to the same belief, but I will see. Just curious, when do you take yours, and when you take it do you also take a hard shell? I am just having a hard time figuring out exactly when to use it….

      Thanks,

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • John Abela says:

      Hey Stick,

      It makes it into my pack on almost every trip out.

      At 2.3 ounces, why not.

      It is also my primary shell for my sub 2 pound summer setup.

      To be honest I do not have a “hard shell” anymore.

      Be it in Shoulder Season or in deep winter I take my standard base layer, mid layer, and than I will put on my MontBell UL Down Inner Parka (which I know we both love) and than I will put on the wind jacket to provide protection for the MBULDIP and if I am still cold after all of that, I will slip on my ZPacks CF “CloudCover” Rain Jacket (which acts as a final heat retention layer – what with CF being non-breathable and all.) The combination of those five layers gives me the ideal 5-layering system to maximize and maintain a core temperature.

      As I continuously emphasis over at my blog:

      “Managed Core Temp + Proper Sleep + Proper Food + Proper Gear = A Successful Trip!”

      I am a firm believer that a 5-layer layering system, rather than a three layer layering system is a much greater approach – for those who believe in the whole layering system. There are a lot of ways you can go about it, the above five products are what has made me happy. Would be hard to get much below 10(f) degrees with it though without starting to suffer, but I have gotten down to 18(f) and been comfortable.

      Hope this helps in some way.
      John B. Abela
      http://www.RedwoodOutdoors.Com

      Like

    • Stick says:

      Thanks for the info John. For some reason that makes me feel better about carrying the wind shell along with my hard shell.

      My layering system is similar to yours (but a little heavier). Up until now, I have used a 4 layering system. Cap 2 long sleeve base layer, R1, puffy jacket, and then my hard shell on top. The very end of last year was the first time I got to use my Montbell (I was using an inner synthetic layer from another jacket before this) and it did great when used with the other layers. I have used these 4 layers down to near single digits + wind chill. So, I will start trying to incorporate the wind jacket in with it over my Montbell and under my GoLite Tumalo.

      Like

  7. cmiles says:

    If you look at other options you might add the Montane Slipstream Quantum GL to the list – very light and no hood. If you are considering a shell that is not waterproof I think it makes sense to consider pieces without a hood – especially if you normally have a hat with you since it may be that your hat will keep you just as dry (or not dry…).

    Like

    • Stick says:

      cmiles,

      Unfortunately, a hood was something that I did want on the jacket. I am still going through hats trying to find what works for me. I have been using a visor (for warmer weather) and I am not sure I like it completely. As well, if I do decide to take this with me on any of my cold weather trips I can slide it over my boggin. However, speaking of Montane, a while back I saw some super light weight wind shells that should be coming out soon, I think. I think one was sub 2 oz, without a hood though. I believe another was a smock, maybe with a hood…I cannot remember. I am going to have to go looking for them again.

      Anyway, thanks for stopping and commenting.

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • John Abela says:

      I too for some reason (always) like a hood, even though it can add another 1/3rd of overall weight.

      Checked out those Montane in the link you provided… why oh why do these companies have to keep adding weight to gear by stupid things such as “reflective tape” and hip cordage and pockets. What is so wrong with a pure XUL jacket with no frills. Sigh.

      As we both discovered (me, thanks to you) by pulling the hip cordage out of our MB Parkas, there are some things that jackets just do not need.

      Like

    • Stick says:

      When I got the Verto one of the first things I did was look over it to see if there was anything I could remove, and all I found was the little elastic loop that is on the inside of the pocket. I still haven’t removed it but I will…

      Like

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