Review of The North Face Verto Summit Series Jacket
The Verto Jacket Review
Have you ever wanted a versatile wind blocking and water resistant jacket that folded up to fit in the palm of your hand and weighed under four ounces? I know as a lightweight backpacker and a traveler, I've been looking for a long time and found my answer with the Verto jacket from The North Face.
The Verto jacket is made by The North Face as part of their Summit Series - equipment designed for extreme athletes in extreme conditions. At under four-ounces, the lightweight Verto jacket folds into the size of an energy bar and still provides great protection from the elements. Backpackers, hikers, and climbers will appreciate the construction and packability of this jacket.
Unlike other ultralight tops, the Verto has a full-length snagless zipper; it is one of the few luxuries on this wind jacket. The bottom and hood edge are elasticized, but there are no draw strings to save weight. The North Face eliminated the features found on most technical jackets, to deliver this bare bones minimalist shell.
The sole pocket, a napoleon pocket, doubles as the stuff sack for the jacket. The jacket stuffs easily and quickly into the pocket without too much grunting and groaning. A double zipper on the pocket makes closure simple and a loop for attaching the stuffed jacket to a carabiner is provided.
A Jacket Under 4 Ounces? The Verto Jacket Weighs a Mere 3.2
Specifications of the North Face Verto Jacket
- Weight: 3.2 oz
- Center back: 28"
- Fabric: Pertex®H Quantum—100% nylon micro-ripstop
- MSRP: $99
- Hood: Elasticized Hood
- Pockets: 1 Napoleon / storage pocket
See the jacket and its specifications on The North Face's site.
Field Testing the Ultralight Verto Jacket
I torture all my outdoor equipment when it is new to see how far I can push it. When you know how far your equipment will go, you know you can go further. Many times during this testing process, the gear doesn't quite make it and is retired to the recesses of the gear closet or put on eBay.
To be honest, when I saw the thinness of the Verto jacket I expected that this would quickly be a shredded mess of wispy fabric once I put it to the test in the backcountry. I wrapped some extra duct tape around my Nalgene, to keep it handy for making make field repairs, but I haven't had to repair the jacket yet. Sometimes equipment surprises you, and this offering from the North Face has been a very pleasing surprise.
I'll just recount a few of the tests that this jacket has been through.
Peak Bagging in June: Heavy Rain / Wind / Ice
The first test of this jacket was a two-day peak bagging trip in the Adirondack High Peaks in early June. From the forecast I knew it was going to be rainy and colder than usual - the perfect weather for testing the Verto. It didn't start raining till I reached the summit of Big Slide on that first day, so I pulled the jacket out to walk across the summit ridge. It was a cold driving rain, but not very windy. The jacket was surprisingly keeping me dry, even in this downpour. Though eventually rain started soaking in through the seams at the shoulder; however, this jacket is not seam-sealed so I expected no less.
The next day was promising to be drizzly and cold as I started off with the jacket and kept it on all day to test the breathability, I hiked up the bushwhack herd path to Tabletop, descended a little then made the long climb up to Mt Marcy. The summit steward was below tree line and bundled up with a winter jacket. I decided to put my long sleeve baselayer on underneath for warmth. It was an all out ice storm on top of the mountain as ice pellets hurled against me in winds powerful enough to knock you over.
In this extremely high wind, I felt the cold cut through me. This jacket surely wasn't as wind proof as my heavier gore-tex shells or windstopper softshells. Also, the hood kept on catching the wind and popping off my head. The hood is elasticized but there is no drawstring to anchor it down. I didn't have a problem with the hood, till I met these gale force winds on the mountain and have had few problems since. I reached the summit of the mountain, then made the descent back to the lean-to for the night with the lightweight jacket still in tact. Most importantly, I never felt like I was wearing a sauna suit while hiking all day; I found out that the jacket was very breathable.
I took this little jacket everywhere with me for more peak bagging, multi-day backpacking, kayaking, and canoeing. Heck, on one emergency bivy, I stuffed it with leaves for insulation and slept in it to keep me warm at night. Even when I was deployed to help victims of Tropical Storm Lee, I took this jacket with me as a backup jacket in my carry-on luggage.
The only test I didn't put this jacket through was the Search and Rescue mission test. Whenever I go on a search, rest assured that I will be crawling through the nastiest and thickest brush you can find. Though the Verto has held up well, I wouldn't expect it to hold up to that kind of abuse - hardly anything does.
The Verdict on the Verto
If you are looking for an ultralight highly water and wind resistant shell, I recommend trying the North Face Summit Series Verto jacket. I may even pick up an additional Verto jacket in XL to layer over my extra-puffy jacket in winter.
- Water and wind resistant
- Not waterproof or windproof
- Lack of hood drawstring makes it tough to stay on in wind
Suggestions for Redesign:
- Eliminate the full zip and go to a 1/3 zip pullover
- Add adjustments or drawstring in hood to avoid hood flop
Verto Jacket in Action
Join Outbound Dan Human in his climb up the new Snow Princess Cascade slide in the High Adirondacks.