We’ve been very lucky with rain these past few months in California – it feels like we’ve had more rainy days and than sunny days this winter! But no complaints, as the rain has been much needed after years of drought across the state. Which is why I began looking into purchasing a proper rain jacket that can be used in the city and for outdoor excursions as well.
Previously, I’ve used UNIQLO’s pocketable parka while running errands in the city. It’s also great for traveling as it’s lightweight and hardly takes up any space when stored. However, as you can imagine, it doesn’t quite hold up well against real rainstorms. For a rainy hike in Big Basin, I used my old trusty North Face triclimate shell – but, it too began absorbing water halfway through the hike. I’ve since re-treated it with Granger’s waterproofing spray to revive the DWR (durable water repellent) layer on the jacket. Though it’s much better now, I was still looking for that perfect rain jacket that was not too heavy and not too light.
Enter the North Face Venture II Women’s Jacket (MSRP $99). I’ve been eyeing this particular jacket over the years, but never pulled the trigger on purchasing since we didn’t have much rain prior to this year. I love that this new iteration of the jacket comes in 14 different neutral and colorful hues. Pictured here is the jacket in Ambrosia Heather Green – I’m a sucker for light green jackets and I like that this is bright without being too neon. I debated for some time between this shade and the more neutral heather grey. My regular wardrobe consists mainly of neutrals, so the grey would have definitely “matched” my outfits more. However, I opted for the safety factor of a brighter color when walking on rainy, San Francisco streets in low visibility weather.
This year, I also took a look at the new North Face Apex Gore-Tex Jacket. It’s a bit pricier than the Venture jacket, coming in at $199 vs $99 MSRP. That price tag comes with a few additional elements – mainly the Gore-Tex 3L shell and a more flexible, stretchier fabric that is great for active wear.
I had high hopes based on the product description – unfortunately, the Apex jacket didn’t fit my frame well. I have a shorter torso and the jacket bunched up around my hips pretty frequently. Normally, this wouldn’t be a huge issue – however, the thicker material made the bunching uncomfortable and awkward. For me, the material actually felt less flexible because of it’s thickness. I sized up in the Venture shell and am able to move around pretty comfortably, even when wearing a light layer underneath. That being said, I’d still recommend checking out the Apex jacket if you’re looking for a heavier duty option, as it may fit you perfectly!
While I technically could fit into an XS, I opted for a size Small so I could wear base layers and/or mid layers underneath. The jacket covers most of my hips and the hood covers my entire head – I can fit a beanie underneath comfortably. Notably, the XS hood did not cover my head, so if you’re trying on jackets and the hood isn’t large enough, try sizing up.
I like that the neck and collar areas have microfiber – a nice touch of comfort 🙂 The rest of the jacket is unlined, which helps keep its weight down (around 10.5oz vs the Apex’s 14.4oz). The DryVent 2.5L allows for some breathability and there are pit zips located under each arm, so I found the jacket still comfortable in moderate temperatures. I haven’t yet tested it in tropical climates – if I do, I’ll update that experience here!
Most importantly, is this jacket waterproof? Yes! As you can see in the photo above, the raindrops beaded up on the jacket and slid right off. I suspect that over time and use, this jacket will also need re-treatment to keep up the waterproof layer. However, this seems to be the case for all rain jackets, Gore-tex or not.