An excellent hiking jacket that has been thoughtfully designed to meet the needs of those who like to go fast and light in the hills. Durable, relatively lightweight and impressively breathable, it’s perfect for hitting the trails in spring, summer and fall, though it’s suitability for winter remains to be seen. All in all, a great hiking jacket that gets a tick for its recycled materials too.
Lightweight and packable
No way to close the pit vents
No zippered pockets other than the handwarmers
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Cumbrian brand inov-8 unveiled their VentureLite series this summer, with hiking-specific mid-layers, hoodies, tees, trousers and shorts. However, the cherry on the cake of this first foray into hiking apparel didn’t appear until the autumn: the VentureLite Jacket.
inov-8 VentureLite Jacket: first impressions
This light and durable waterproof jacket is designed for fast-paced adventure in the hills and mountains. Forged in the fells of the English Lake District, where it spent two years in development, it should be no stranger to drizzle and the occasional thunderous downpour.
Whenever I ventured out into the rain, I found it an extremely capable and effective barrier against the drink. This is thanks to its 3-layer waterproof fabric, which results in a respectable hydrostatic head rating of 15,000mm. This is more than enough protection for hiking in the mountains in spring, summer and fall. Admirably, the fabric also features recycled yarn content.
Where the VentureLite truly excels is in the breathability stakes, where it boasts an impressive 40,000g moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR), higher than most of the best waterproof jackets. What inov-8 are aiming for here is a jacket that remains comfortable when you’re pushing hard uphill. It’s a jacket that allows moisture given off by your exertions to escape. After all, there’s no point keeping rain out if your drenched in sweat on the inside.
Waterproofing: 15,000mm HH
Breathability: 40,000g MVTR
Fabric: 3L waterproof fabric
Colors: Green / Black / Orange
Another feature that invo-8 have included to keep things cool when ascending or moving at speed is the underarm pit vents, with three on each side. Unlike on many similar jackets, these are not zippered but are instead permanently semi-open, with overlapping fabric to keep the rain out. This makes the Venturelite a well-ventilated jacket from the beginning of a hike to the very end.
This feature underlines the jacket’s suitablility for fast hiking adventures in the warmer months. While I have yet to test the Venturelite during the winter months, the semi-open nature of the pit vents may be less than ideal for gnarly, snowy conditions, so it’s perhaps not a jacket for winter mountaineers.
However, climbers and scramblers will be pleased to hear that there’s a fully adjustable hood large enough to take a helmet. When the conditions really turn against you, the hem can be tightened up with the elasticated drawstring, while the cuffs feature a Velcro tag for tightening around the wrist. The YKK AquaGuard two-way centre front zip gives versatility, though there’s no storm flap, the protection instead coming behind the zip.
There are two main zippered handwarmer pockets that feature internal mesh stash compartments. The oversized right pocket is designed so that you can pack the jacket down into itself for easy transportation, while the left pocket features an elasticated fabric loop. There’s also a large mesh inner pocket for secure storage.
For dawn raiders, night owls or in the event that an outing takes a little longer than anticipated, inov-8 have including reflective logo detailing on the front and back.
On the trails
The VentureLite is a fine companion for strenuous outings under gunmetal grey skies. I found myself reaching for it even when it wasn’t raining thanks to its wind blocking qualities and its unrestrictive fit.
As mentioned, it’s a jacket designed so that uncomfortable, sweaty ascents in warm and wet weather are a distant memory and inov-8 have done a great job at achieving this. While no hard shell will ever let all moisture escape, during long ascents and rocky scrambles I was less clammy in the VentureLite than in almost all the other waterproofs I’ve worn in the past.
Where the open pit vents are concerned, it was admittedly nice not to have to do the usual awkward manoeuvre to unzip the vents every time I felt a little bit too warm. On the flip side, I didn’t really ever notice feeling any colder due to the vents and they didn’t let any water in either.
Let’s get to the deluge. I experienced some properly dreich conditions up in the hills, fending off a sustained downpour while trudging from summit to summit. The VentureLite held its ground throughout, with rainfall satisfyingly beading on its surface. Even after reaching for my gloves, I found adjusting the jacket’s zips and drawcords easy, tightening the hood and waist without undue faff. inov-8 have clearly designed all these elements thoughtfully with chunky pull tags and the like. Even when a gust blew in, the hood stayed nicely in place.
Here's where I tested the inov-8 Venturelite Jacket
To test the new inov8 VentureLite Jacket to its limits, Advnture contributor Alex Foxfield headed up Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons. A questionable forecast proved perfect for testing the jacket's waterproof and wind resistant qualities, as he was treated to a sustained downpour. Just what the doctor ordered.
Alex is a freelance adventure writer and mountain leader with an insatiable passion for the mountains. A Cumbrian born and bred, his native English Lake District has a special place in his heart, though he is at least equally happy in North Wales, the Scottish Highlands or the European Alps. Through his hiking, mountaineering, climbing and trail running adventures, Alex aims to inspire others to get outdoors. He is currently President of the London Mountaineering Club, training to become a winter mountain leader, looking to finally finish bagging all the Wainwright fells of the Lake District and hoping to scale more Alpine 4000ers when circumstances allow. Find out more at www.alexfoxfield.com