Hood and thumb-looped cuffs provided good sun protection
Enormous vents/pockets for extra cooling
Just-right hood fit well with any combination of other headwear
Super-soft fabric felt wonderful against the skin
Zero water repellency
So stretchy that zips could be hard to operate with one hand
Poor defense against alpine abrasives
The Rab Ventus exemplifies the “alpine sun-shell” faction of the softshell category. It offers excellent UPF and light wind-resistance to backcountry travelers whose main conditions-concerns are intense UV and high-country exposure.
Hyper-breathable and nearly useless in the rain, the Rab Ventus doesn’t quite fit the modern softshell model. For users who shun traditional softies in favor of lighter, more permeable garments, however, this gossamer hoody represents a viable softshell option. If you’re usually moving fast enough to overwhelm weather-resistant fabrics with your own humidity, but still desire some defense against sun, wind, or chilly temps, the Rab Ventus Jacket may be your silver bullet.
Weather Protection Though it offers great sun protection and dulls the teeth of alpine winds, the Ventus isn’t built to fend off real weather. This is a top designed to vent and/or wick, rather than to repel, moisture—I’d want a real shell in the pack if dark clouds began rolling over the ridge.
Breathability Just as this piece offered minimal resistance to rain, it released perspiration moisture with ease. In fact, the stretch polyester of the Ventus actively cooled me on strenuous hikes and rides, just as a polyester base layer would. Rab’s Matrix SWS fabric proved exceptionally breathable for its wind-resistance, and the addition of large vents/pockets definitely helped me to blow off some steam on long grinding climbs.
Mobility/Comfort Huge stretch and silky textures yielded rave reviews from testers, regardless of how they wore the Ventus. Whether over or under a helmet, as a light windshell or a next-to-skin layer, on hot days or cool, this piece oozed comfort. Seriously, it did—as awkward and incongruous as that phrase may be, I’m sticking with ‘oozed.’ Deal with it.
Weight Although the Rab Ventus weighs very little for a softshell hoody, its performance is more comparable to hooded base layers and wind-shirts. Anyone seeking truly similar performance at a slightly lower weight should check out Rab’s Boreas Pull-On.
Attention to Detail For those who’ve worn Rab gear, a high score here comes as no surprise. Each seam, zip, and panel on this jacket was well-positioned and expertly specified.
Value This hoody doesn’t have much in the way of direct competition: it’s a fairly unique piece in a niche sub-category of soft/wind-shells. Even so, there are a few comparable tops out there, and the Ventus Jacket is offered at what seems to be the standard price for the category. Given its excellent initial quality, I consider the Ventus to be a slightly above-average value at retail.