Gear Review of The North Face Verto Summit Series Jacket

The water-resistant breathable North Face Verto jacket makes a great ultralight rain jacket.  This field test was in a June ice storm in the Adirondacks.
The water-resistant breathable North Face Verto jacket makes a great ultralight rain jacket. This field test was in a June ice storm in the Adirondacks. | Source

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.

Opposed to 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.



The North Face Verto folded up in its pocket pouch is about the size of an energy bar.
The North Face Verto folded up in its pocket pouch is about the size of an energy bar. | Source

A Jacket under 4 ounces?

Yes, boys and girls the Verto jacket tips the scales at a mere 3.2 oz

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


The Verto jacket is a fantastic layering piece for alpine ascents.  Notice how unobtrusive the North Face and Summit series logo is with mountains in the background.
The Verto jacket is a fantastic layering piece for alpine ascents. Notice how unobtrusive the North Face and Summit series logo is with mountains in the background. | Source

Field Testing the Ultralight Verto Jacket

As with all of my outdoor equipment, I torture it 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 farther. 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 whispy fabric once I put it to the test in the backcountry. I wrapped some extra duct tape around my nalgene to 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-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.

From more peak bagging, multi-day backpacking, kayaking, and canoeing I took this little jacket everywhere with me. 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.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Packable
  • Breathable
  • Water and wind resistant

Cons:

  • 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

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Comments 6 comments

John J Gulley profile image

John J Gulley 4 years ago from Wisconsin

Boy that jacket looks flimsy. But the way you describe it, easy to rip is not one of them. Out here in Wisconsin, rain when enjoying outdoor activities comes with the territory. You will get rained on when camping, no need to second guess what to pack. A raincoat or wind breaker is a must. Sounds like yours held up well. I wonder if spraying with Scotch Guard would help to reduce seepage through the seams?


jpkl1021 profile image

jpkl1021 4 years ago

I went to a scratch and dent sale at REI, and got a $200 dollar waterproof REI windbreaker for six bucks, but the zipper is broken, and should be an easy fix. I also bought a twenty dollar nylon fleece as a middle layer, is that a smart choice?


Outbound Dan profile image

Outbound Dan 4 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY Author

@John, I can sympathize we call the Adirondacks the AdiRAINdacks because the constant threat of rain. Generally I don't wear rain gear during the summer while it's raining - I just prefer to get wet, but I like to carry something like this when the mercury drops unexpectedly.

I thought about spraying the jacket with a seam sealer, but decided not too. If it is really raining, I'll wear my Gore-Tex Paclite jacket or my Mountain Hardware Conduit jacket. The nice thing about the Verto, is that it is about a 1/3 of the weight of those jackets - even if it doesn't keep you totally dry.


Outbound Dan profile image

Outbound Dan 4 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY Author

@jpkl 1021, It sounds like you got an outstanding deal at REI. Most companies get pennies on the dollar for defective merchandise, so you can get a great scratch and dent deal.

That is pretty much my system all year around: a wind /rain shell, a fleece for a mid layer, then merino or synthetic baselayers.

Good luck fixing the zipper, it shouldn't be too hard.


CyclingFitness profile image

CyclingFitness 4 years ago from Nottingham UK

Great review. This seems to be a similar jacket to the montane featherlight jackets that my local outdoor store stocks. I have to admit I like to carry an extra full on light waterproof jacket in my rucksack so tend to steer away from something like this usually but you've given me ideas for a summer/ spring emergency jacket.


Outbound Dan profile image

Outbound Dan 4 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY Author

Thanks for this comment too CyclingFitness! Yes, the Verto jacket looks very similar to the Montane jacket as well as the Microlight jacket from Sierra Designs. I wouldn't want to depend on the Verto if I needed to stay dry, but awesome in an emergency.

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