The Verto Jacket from TNF – ultralight emergency shell where less is definitely more
Value for money ***
The Verto Jacket from The North Face packs down to next to nothing and weighs even less. My first impression when I got it out of the box was there is absolutely nothing to it…but that’s exactly the point. It’s not a jacket you’re going to wear everyday. It’s the sort of thing that’ll live in the bottom of your pack and you won’t even know it’s there. I mean it only weighs 93g! And yes you did read that correctly! It also packs down to little more than the size of a Mars bar too. Clip it to the back of your rock climbing harness for multipitch routes to give you that added piece of mind in case the weather turns nasty, but it certainly won’t hinder upward progress either.
The Verto Jacket is part of TNF’s Summit Series range of products. It is designed as a wind and water resistant (definitely NOT waterproof though) shell to take along with you on those days when you are out rock climbing, hiking or running and you want to go lightweight. Minimal kit for maximum speed. But some protection should the shit hit the proverbial fan. For this, the Verto Jacket is perfect!
So how is it so light without falling apart? Well, firstly it is constructed from 7D 24 g/m2 Pertex Quantum-100% nylon micro-ripstop, which is windproof, super-light and actually quite tough. It also repels the odd heavy shower too. TNF keep the weight down further by using simple elastic closures on the hem, cuffs and hood (yes 93g and it has a hood too!!) as well as a simple reverse coil, full length zip. Pockets are kept to a minimum also and consist of one on the chest, zippered and reversible, doubling as a stash pocket with clipper loop so you can attach it your rock climbing harness or the back of your pack. I just wonder how light this could be if the zips were dispensed with altogether? Obviously this would reduce the functionality a little but it’s just a thought.
So as it’s an emergency, stash-it-in-the-bag type of jacket, have I actually used it very much? And if so, what for? Well, so far I’ve used it for windy runs on the moors as well as for rock climbing. It’s saved me from misery whilst bouldering on blustery evenings and I’ve been glad to have it clipped to the back of my harness on multi-pitch trad outings too. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not going to be tackling grit or granite chimneys and coming off as the winner, but then you’re not going to be wearing it on this type of ground, often or even at all.
In terms of the fit, The North Face describe it as athletic. They say that this is a neater cut and is designed to suit a more athletic frame! The fit of my Verto Jacket was the main gripe that I had with it but I think this is down to the fact it was the wrong size. I normally take size small and my sample Verto is a medium. I actually checked this out in a local store and this confirmed things. It’s a shame as I didn’t quite get to see it in all it’s glory because of the sizing. It was perfectly fine when climbing (although there was definitely some superfluous fabric, particularly on the arms), but flapped about intolerably when I was running, to the point that I actually took it off! Having tried the small size, I’m sure it wouldn’t have been the case with that. This isn’t a TNF criticism but one that applies to a number of big companies who seem to make all of their test samples in size medium! Take note please!
“At 93g for a medium, it is ridiculously light and packable so you’ve no excuse for leaving it behind.”
The hood is superb though and fitted brilliantly on the medium as well as the small. Simple elastic is used to give it shape and keep it on your head and whilst it is definitely a “under the helmet” design, it works perfectly like this. It doesn’t have any fixing point to stop it flapping about when it is down though, but this would add to the weight and didn’t cause me any problems. You can actually turn it down into the neck which was sufficient, forming a collar of sorts and minimising any flapping.
So in conclusion, The Verto Jacket is a minimalist hooded windproof and water resistant shell and it does this job very well. Carry it when hiking, running and rock climbing on those days when you want to keep weight to a minimum but might just get caught out by the weather too. At 93g for a medium, it is ridiculously light and packable so you’ve no excuse for leaving it behind. The downside is that it isn’t going to be hugely durable and at £110, less is most definitely more!