Walking, Hiking & Trail Running

Introducing | Why The New North Face Ventrix Jacket Is Great for Hiking

We took The North Face's new Ventrix jacket hiking in Chamonix and filmed it with a thermal camera

Staying warm when you’re hiking can be a tricky business, especially if you’re doing anything high energy that involves scrambling or steep climbs. More often than not it’s cold when you get out in the morning, but walk ten minutes from your tent, bothy or refuge and you’ll quickly start to heat up. By the time you’ve been going half an hour you’re usually sweating like a champion at a chilli-eating contest.

Of course as soon as you stop to have a snack, take a drink or admire the view, you cool down again. Which means that if you’re anything like Mpora, you spend a large proportion of your time on any hike taking layers off and stashing them in your backpack, only to put them back on again a few minutes later.

“In any normal jacket by the time you’ve been hiking half an hour you’re usually sweating like a champion at a chilli-eating contest.”

Thankfully, this seriously clever bit of kit, a brand new jacket from The North Face called the Ventrix, has been made to solve this precise problem.

What It Does

The more you exert yourself, the more the Ventrix dumps heat.

The North Face Ventrix Jacket is designed to regulate your body temperature. It keeps you cool when you’re working hard and would otherwise be sweating, and warm when you’re standing still, as the video above shows. We took it out on a hike around the Chamonix valley in France earlier this month and used a thermal imaging camera to compare it to a standard jacket from another brand.

We had the same athlete dressed in both, climbing the same sections of trail and working equally hard (we made sure we allowed cooling down time between each shot). Of course it’s near-impossible to create completely controlled conditions in the mountains, so we’re not claiming that the it’s a 100% scientifically rigorous test, but it gives you a good idea of the way the Ventrix works.

How It Works

The Ventrix can be worn as an outer layer, as here, or underneath a waterproof shell.

The principal feature of the Ventrix Jacket (and the thing that won it the Gold Award at ISPO, the massive outdoor industry tradeshow, earlier this year) is its dynamic insulation – insulation that responds to movement. The North Face’s designers have taken 80 gram synthetic stretch insulation and made perforations – or micro-vents – in it.

When you’re standing still the micro-vents are closed, trapping heat and warmth in. As you start to move the vents open, allowing heat out. The more pronounced and rapid your movements, the wider and more frequently the vents open. Essentially what this means is that the more you exert yourself, the more heat escapes. The micro-vents on the Ventrix are clustered in key areas like the underarms where you’re most likely to sweat.

Why It Works

The micro vents are body mapped to key areas on the jacket where you’re most likely to sweat, like under the arms.

So why is this great for hiking? Well, by keeping your armpits, back and torso as a whole cool, you can minimise the amount you sweat and prevent the buildup of moisture that will become clammy and cool when you stop.

The rest of the jacket is well thought out too. There’s a pocket on the chest and two on the left and right that are mounted higher than normal, so they’ll sit above your backpack’s waist strap. The exterior fabric is reinforced with higher denier material around the forearms so if it snags on a rock while you’re scrambling it won’t rip. The whole outer layer is coated with a DWR water-resistant finish too so you can wear it as an outer-layer (like the athlete in our video) or a mid-layer underneath a breathable shell.

All in all, this is a great product. It’s particularly useful when you’re walking in winter and your core temperature is most variable, but it’s versatile enough to be used all year round. And let’s be honest, anything that minimises the number of times you have to un-shoulder your pack to take layers on or off is basically a godsend.

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