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.

I am interested to see if I could replace my hard shell (a 10.8 oz GoLite Tumalo jacket), with this (much) lighter weight wind jacket on some hikes, such as during mid-summer. And considering our hot SE conditions, maybe I could even leave the heavier hard shell behind and lighten my pack with (a less than perfect, but still capable enough) wind jacket into late spring or early fall too. Of course, a wind jacket will not keep me dry in the rain, but it could keep me partially dry and considering the temperatures should be warm enough, being wet shouldn’t kill me. Saying this though, I will still carefully consider the specific trip and it’s expected conditions when deciding whether or not I would carry the wind jacket in place of the hard shell. Either way, considering how super lightweight this wind jacket is, I don’t think it will necessarily hurt me to carry it along to try out, along with my hard shell as a back up… but 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~

2 Responses to The North Face Verto Wind Jacket

  1. Barney Lund says:

    Good review. I’ve been considering a wind shirt, but TBH I can’t really see the benefit over a water proof jacket, other than losing a few grams. Do you think wet-out is a safety consideration in unpredictable weather (e.g. dramatic temperature drops/storms)?

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Barney,

      Don’t get me wrong, a wind jacket does not take the place of a rain shell by any means. These are 2 completely different pieces, and no matter what, I highly recommend taking at least a jacket that is indeed water proof.

      The difference between the two is that a wind shirt should be more breathable than a rain shell. So, with this in mind, on those cool mornings when the wind is blowing enough to cause you to be chilled, even while hiking, the wind shirt will be a much better choice to put on. The rain shell will cause you to start sweating since it doesn’t breathe as well, which means you will be wet… A wind shirt will allow you to hike more comfortably by blocking most of the wind, and not sweat so much underneath it.

      Whether or not you choose to carry one is totally up to you though, or any one else… I know some folks won’t, whereas a number of folks do, and swear by them. I like mine for the reasons I stated above, however, I will admit, they don’t make it on all of my hikes. I would say they only make it about 90% of the time…

      Hope this helps.

      ~Stick~

      Like

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