The North Face Ventrix

If you’ve done pretty much any physically-demanding activity in any combination of layers, you’ve probably ended up peeling them off before the end of the day or the top of the hike. The North Face aims to change that with Ventrix.

The North Face Ventrix line features “active insulation” that moves with, or rather, in response to you. The idea isn’t new, but Ventrix is the closest realization of it that I’ve worn. Basically, the jackets are perforated. When you’re stationary, the perforations are sealed, and when you stretch, so do they, thus opening up and releasing heat... so it’s pretty much the suit from Black Panther.

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I found Ventrix’s synthetic insulation to basically be in line with other jackets in its weight class (not ultralight or packable) in terms of warmth, and light rain beaded off the DWR treatment as well as expected. The Ventrix is certainly more durable and cozy than the ultralight competition, and has an athletic fit that’s more in line with a fleece than a typical puffy jacket, and it stretches well.

So does it work? Yes, but it’s not a game-changer. This is a great travel jacket, and a great jacket for transitioning from freezing city streets to overheated subway cars. It’s also a great jacket for not making a statement at the office the way a traditional puffy does. For a day on the slopes, I’d still take technical merino, and if I wore this on a tough hike, I’d still be soaked by the end, but Ventrix is a welcome addition to the arsenal.