Arcteryx Venta SV Jacket Review

June 15, 2012
Arcteryx Venta SV Jacket
GEAR INSTITUTE RATINGS
90
Mobility/Comfort
9
Weather Protection
10
Quality of Construction (fabric, zippers, attention to detail, etc)
10
Versatility (changing conditions, seasons)
7
Features
10
Value
4

The Good

  • Exceptional, athletic fit
  • Incredibly smooth zippers
  • Water- and wind-resistance is excellent
  • Hood is very comfortable and adjustable
  • Features and finish are best in the category

The Bad

  • Expensive
  • Not as breathable as some other soft-shells
THE VERDICT

The Venta SV works really well as a shell for alpine climbing in full-on conditions. While it lacks the elasticity and breathability of many soft-shells, the Venta SV offers a combination of fit, mobility, and good looks that is unmatched for jackets meant to balance aerobic exertion and weather protection—though it’s about as pricey as a softshell hybrid gets.

ITEM DESCRIPTION

The Arcteryx Venta SV is a windproof, lightly insulated hooded soft-shell designed for alpine and expedition climbing use. It has many similarities to a hard-shell—low-stretch fabrics, full pit-zips, an adjustable helmet-compatible hood—but is not fully waterproof.

FULL REVIEW

The Venta SV utilizes some of the best fabrics, zippers and construction technologies available. It’s safe to assume a jacket like this will prove highly mobile, durably weather-resistant and ergonomically superior; even so, I found its performance to be quite impressive. It even earned a couple of bonus points by shrugging off ice-screw incursions and remaining totally adjustable while I was wearing thick belay gloves.

The Venta SV seems to blur the line between hard-shell and soft-shell—it features three different weights of Gore Windstopper fabric, and mostly-taped seams. I tested it in a variety of conditions to discover exactly what it could and couldn’t do:

Rain
Impressive wet-weather performance for a soft-shell: After two hours of continuous exposure in steady rain, the Venta SV leaked slightly at the embroidered and un-taped logos on the left breast and shoulder; the jacket seemed otherwise functionally waterproof.

Snow and Wind
Serious alpine-armor for hard knocks in full conditions: This jacket was my primary shell on a January ice-climbing trip to Lee Vining Canyon in the eastern Sierra. I waded through deep snow for over 2 hours on the approach, climbed pitches of near-vertical ice coated with rime while being blasted by spindrift, hooked an elbow around a dripping ice-pillar, and lived constantly in the Venta SV over a couple of windy days in the mid 20s (F). In combination with a mid-weight merino wool baselayer, and with an occasional opening of pit-zips, the Venta SV kept me warm, dry and comfortable.

Breathability
Complete weather protection still comes at a certain price:  The Venta SV is only slightly more breathable than a thin modern hard-shell jacket, and is much less breathable than non-windproof soft-shells I have worn.

Detailing

Arcteryx is famous for its attention to detail, and this jacket is no different. (3 bonus points for  for perfecting the little stuff you only notice over time.)

 


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WHERE TO BUY
MSRP
$400.00
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