DOET #12: North Face Venture Rain Jacket

Today I analyze my North Face Venture Rain Jacket:

jacket

[first impression]

Early into my job at REI I noticed that the Venture jacket was one of our bestselling products. I attributed this to three main reasons: it was a high quality jacket from a respectable brand, popular among Seattleites for combating the rain, and had a trendy slim-fitting design. The jacket was one of my first employee purchases because I wanted to experience what consumer behavior so obviously pointed to as a worthwhile investment. From the beginning, I was impressed. It kept me dry in the rain, shielded from the wind despite how thin it was, and allowed me to keep cool with its generous pit vents.

[usability]

The Venture has become one of my most frequently worn jackets. It holds up great against the wind and the rain when I need it and can roll into a compact ball for when I don’t need it. The zippers slide smoothly and effortlessly, a characteristic I’ve enjoyed on every North Face product I own. The hood is uniquely shaped and different from standard hoods: instead of an even oval shape it protrudes above your forehead, providing extra protection from the elements. I consider this to be one of the best features about the jacket: an extra few centimeters of nylon in the hood has allowed me to stay drier in countless situations. Aside from extra protection in the hood, the jacket is also longer than many others. It reaches down past the top of my hips, covering any shirt I’m wearing and keeping the top of my pants dry. It covers enough so that my pockets are protected, a feature I feel I haven’t appreciated enough.

The pockets offer ample storage; I’ve even been able to fit medium-sized water bottles in them. The sleeves easily roll up my forearms and stay near my elbows, and the velcro cuffs have been great for adjusting between wrist and forearm. After a year of use, the waterproof coating has understandably begun to wear off and the jacket doesn’t repel as well as it used to. Otherwise, the jacket is in excellent shape because of its durable construction.

My main complaint is how the inside of the jacket feels against bare skin, like when I wear a t-shirt underneath. If I am absolutely sweat-free, then the jacket is okay. But once I have even a little bit of sweat, the jacket becomes uncomfortable. This can happen while walking across campus or even sitting on a bus that has the heat up high. The nylon sticks to my skin in a strange way, turning any moisture trapped inside into glue. I now try to wear my jacket only when I need it and store it otherwise. Something about the material doesn’t play well with my skin, but I can see how it’s difficult to alter this characteristic because the jacket is meant to be thin, light, and rain-repellant.

[overall analysis]

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this jacket and it has been well worth the money I paid for it. I’ve collected several North Face jackets (guilty as charged for taking advantage of my employee discount) and this is definitely one of my favorite ones to use. Aside from everyday usage of going to class and walking outside, I’ve used it while cycling and even as a makeshift blanket to take a quick nap. Even though the feel of the inside of my skin is an annoyance, this jacket is superbly well designed and nails the primary design priorities/requirements I’d imagine The North Face gave it. It doesn’t take much time with this jacket to understand how it’s meticulously designed for the outdoor adventurer; it begs to be thrown to the test in pounding rain or strong winds and has valiantly conquered everything I’ve thrown at it. With it, I feel empowered to never stop exploring.


[about DOET]

Last year I read Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things. Inspired by Steve Jobs’ biography, I recently began thinking and reflecting on the beauty around me. There is a lot of design coverage and discussion about well-known and extraordinary things, such as a Retina Macbook Pro or a Lamborghini Aventador, but there is little towards better understanding the normal objects around us.

For the next 14 3 days, I will randomly choose an everyday household object and conduct a thorough analysis of its design in what I’m calling my Design Of Everyday Things, or DOET, project. My goal with this is to learn more about design through the careful scrutiny of products I would have otherwise overlooked. This is my refusal to take design for granted. Each analysis has three parts: first impression, usability, and overall analysis. I don’t consider this to be a review, but rather an exploration: there will be no numerical rating, purchasing recommendation, or a pro/con section.

Past DOETs:

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