The North Face Ventrix Hoodie, $220 (pictured), Jacket, $199 (what I tested)
Cold weather meets its match.
Layering has long been my go-to survival method for cold weather pursuits. Yet, it’s possible to reach a point of diminishing returns–there are only so many shirts and jackets you can wear (especially if you don’t vary the size) before movement is restricted and you begin to feel like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Which is why this jacket presented a conundrum for me at first. It’s thicker than most things I would wear for running, but once I realized it was all I had to wear, it started to make sense. I still didn’t trust its uniquely perforated insulation designed to keep you warm when you aren’t moving and dump heat when you are, so I added an extra layer or two and quickly overheated on a 35 degree day. The magic happened when I simply wore the Ventrix with a tech tee underneath. Temperatures were hovering in the high 20s and I was perfectly comfortable from the beginning to end of a 6-mile run. The fabric is soft against your skin, it has perforated venting to dump heat and it’s wind and water resistant (making a shell unnecessary except for truly windy or wet conditions). The fit is slim, and I’m also a fan of the generously sized zip pockets. It still feels odd to simply toss on a jacket and go, but I’m getting used to the convenience and comfort!