The North Face Venture 2 is an inexpensive 2.5-layer raincoat made of 40D DryVent and 100% nylon ripstop material. It has two hand pockets that double as tall, thin interior pockets, and it packs (rather difficultly) into its own left pocket.
The Venture 2 did not impress us, but against some stiff competition, it's also not the worst option out there.
The Venture let us down when it comes to water resistance. At the first start of rain, beads form on the outside of the jacket and roll right off. And if you're only ever experiencing light rain, that might be the end of the story. When we put this jacket through our "puddle of water" test, some water seeped right through, leaving a sort of condensation-like feeling on the inside. This is unlikely to be a huge issue unless you're out in a downpour for a significant length of time, but it doesn't give us a huge amount of trust in this little jacket. We also aren't huge fans of the hood, which is oddly small and has no brim and freely allows rain to hit your face. The double storm flaps on the main zipper do a good job of keeping rain from coming through the teeth, and as long as we kept the pockets closed, we didn't notice any leakage there.
Unfortunately, the Venture 2 does let rain through after too much time spent under drippy skies.
The Venture has a rather crinkly plastic-like feel, which isn't particularly pleasant against your skin, not to mention the noise! It has a reasonably relaxed fit that can be layered over other garments, though, which also helps eliminate that plastic feel. The hem and hood both have two adjustment points to help you more easily find a protective fit. With dual, opposing storm flaps on both the inside and the outside, this jacket is a bit cumbersome to zip up, and the inner flap gets snagged in the zipper pretty easily. It's also not really made for active endeavors with a lot of arm involvement - like climbing or biking - as the sleeves don't really move with your arms and can leave your wrists exposed.
Though still a crinkly jacket, the hood isn't bad to wear - if you can hear anything through the noise.
While this raincoat does have small pit vents (just eight inches long), it's still not an amazing option for breathability. The interior will readily collect condensation from your sweat, which negates the effect of wearing a garment meant to keep you dry. Opening the pit zips helps, but they're incredibly small and can only do so much for the sweat that tends to collect anywhere other than your armpits. It's an okay barrier against most breezes, but a stiff wind does go through this jacket.
Pockets for your hands and pit vents for your sweat. It's not much, but it's more helpful than not having them.
Compared to the many other jackets we tested, this one just isn't very impressive when it comes to durability. Many seam ends were poking out of ours by the end of our testing period, and several seams were already stressed and starting to pull apart. The fact that the waterproofing seemed to already need to be re-done during our couple months of use isn't a great sign. And though we didn't have a problem with it during our testing, the inner lining seems likely to start to peel off after some time.
The velcro strips on the main zipper are narrow and not particularly sticky, making us wonder how long they'll hold up against years of weather and wear.
Weight and Packability
Weighing 9.3 oz, the Venture is on the low-middle end of average among jackets we tested. We're not sure this deserves the "ultralight" label that The North Face claims, but it's certainly not the heaviest raincoat we reviewed. The Venture does pack into its own left pocket, but its an odd shape with a small opening and takes some finagling to get it put away. It also has a ridiculously tiny zipper (with no zipper pull) that's pretty tough to grab and nearly impossible to close around this overstuffed package.
Getting this jacket into its own pocket was a serious chore. Next time we think we'll just cram it in the bag as is.
Though it's on the low end of price points in this review, the Venture does not blow us away with its performance. For the same price, you can get several much better-performing jackets, and for significantly less, you can get a jacket that isn't that much worse. Perhaps if you find it on a big sale, it may be worth it, but we don't think this jacket lives up to its full price tag.
The Venture looks like a good budget option but drops the ball when it comes to those details that actually make it a high-performing raincoat. With a crinkly plastic vibe that feels uncomfortable and tends to collect sweat without moving with you, we think you'd be better off spending your money on one of the many more impressive jackets.
We think there are better-performing jackets for this price, but perhaps you like the color options...