Rohan Ventus Review – a 20000mm HH Waterproof Shell
We were excited to test the Rohan Ventus waterproof jacket in some Welsh wet weather. Could the real-life performance match the unrivaled technical specs?
What we like about the Rohan Ventus: Incredible waterproofness; Incredible breathability; Soft touch fabric (no rustle); Great pockets; Good length shell for hiking.
What we don’t like about the Rohan Ventus: Limited range of colours; Fit is not ideal for climbing; 485g weight is fairly high for a shell.
Rohan are a UK outdoor clothing brand with over 50 stores in the UK and yet are not really talked about in the same way as other brands such as Arc’teryx, Mountain Equipment or The North Face for example.
I’m really not sure why this is because if you study the specifications of Rohan gear (and in particular their Barricade technical fabric – i.e. their Gore-Tex equivalent), you will find it is head and shoulders above their competitors.
We’ve been very keen to check whether this performance “on paper” translates to the real world, and whether the fit and styling of Rohan clothing lends itself to outdoor camping/hiking/climbing activities. I’ve been testing the Rohan Ventus jacket for several months now, taking it for multiple walking trips away in some quite testing wet and windy conditions.
In this Rohan Ventus review, I’ll take you through my thoughts on performance vs price and how it stacks up against the jackets which we see as its main competition. For those who are itching to know…. we loved it!
Rohan Ventus – Key Features
First off, the Ventus is currently only available in a men’s version. Women should check out the Imber jacket which has fairly similar features. The Ventus has two colours available – Slate Grey and Solar Orange. We’ve tested both colours in size XL – I’m 6ft 3 tall (191cm), and the jacket fitted perfectly over a down jacket, but could potentially be a bit large on its own. I encourage you to think about your likely use of the jacket when buying and choose a size relevant to that – for me, the XL was perfect because I see the Ventus as more of an autumn/winter shell to be worn over another coat.
The ‘feel’ of the material
Before we get into the main features of the Ventus, it’s worth pointing out the ‘feel’ of the materials. I was immediately struck by the softness of the fabric used – it has none of the brittleness and rustling that you get from Gore-Tex Pro jackets (e.g. see our Mountain Equipment Lhotse review), and is actually very soft, supple and… yes, quiet! This is very refreshing, because one of my peeves with Gore-Tex is the noise it makes as you walk along.
Barricade Technical Fabric
The Ventus uses Rohan’s proprietary Barricade technical fabric in a 3 layer bonded construction for strength, durability and high performance. The three layers include a moisture-wicking inner layer bonded to a waterproof and breathable membrane, and then on the outside, a polyamide layer which repels water. For good measure the outer is covered with a Durable Water Repellency (DWR) finish which allows water to bead up and run off without wetting out.
A word on the Barricade specifications – these are extremely impressive. From a waterproof point of view, the fabric can withstand a hydrostatic head of 20000mm. This is huge when you consider that the British standard for fabric to be considered waterproof is 1500mm. The Ventus is more than ten times as waterproof.
Breathability is just as important, because many man-made polymer fabrics can be waterproof (e.g. polythene), but if it doesn’t breathe at all then you’re just going to sweat inside and get wet anyway.
The Ventus jacket has a breathability rating of 20000 g/m2/24hrs which again is insanely good, and it offers this breathability at the maximum pressure of incoming water (20000mm).
Hood, Zips and Pockets
In Da Hood
The hood on the Ventus is a pleasure to use, with an excellent wire peak and two point adjustment to get it shaped exactly to your bonce. The rear adjustment allows snug fitting to your skull and then there are two further toggles at the front which draws the hood closer to your face – this can help block out driving rain coming at you from an angle.
As is fairly typical, the hood toggles each have a clamp/switch to hold them in their adjusted position, and this is inside the lining of the jacket. As a result, I did find that they could be quite difficult to clip in place when wearing gloves, but as I say, this is a problem on all waterproof shells I’ve tested. Luckily, hoods tend to only need adjusting a few times on a walk.
Each of the sleeves has cinch-able (is that a word?) cuffs using Velcro tabs to secure the end of the sleeve and make it as tight around your wrist as you require.
There is also a further draw cord and locking mechanism around the bottom hem of the jacket – this allows you to tighten it up against your legs. It’s worth mentioning that the Ventus has a good length, extending beyond the waist by several inches. The rear hem is also dropped to cover your rump nicely.
I really appreciate the length of this jacket compared with some of the more ‘action orientated’ jackets on the market. Admittedly, the Ventus is probably less suited to climbing or jogging than the sportier versions though.
Zip it up!
The zips are all-round excellent on the Ventus, with a great Aquaguard YKK zip on the front which zips right up to the top of the hood, covering your chin and protecting you from the wind. You can adjust the hood with the zip fully zipped up into a makeshift balaclava which is useful when the weather is bad.
There is a long zip under each armpit (‘pit zips’) which allow further ventilation if you need to let off some steam. When fully undone, these let moisture from your pits to directly vent out – even the most breathable jackets will struggle if you are fully exerting yourself and producing alot of moisture. These pit zips are essential.
The front of the Ventus has two extremely large pockets, both with decent waterproof zips. These pockets can hold your hands as well as a map or two because they stretch right up to your chest. There is also a zipped internal pocket with a key ring. This can hold your mobile or valuables.
Weight and Packing Size
The weight of the jacket is 485g which is on the heavy side for waterproof shells and is mainly due to the large pockets which require an internal lining and thus extra material. The weight might rule it out for ultralight backpackers, but as part of a daypack for hillwalking I don’t see any issue whatsoever.
Similarly, packsize is not as small as some at 1500ml (1.5l), but I personally value the excellent performance and having the pockets. You make your choices in this life!
Wet Weather Testing – the Rohan Ventus in Use
I headed off for Hay on Wye in Powys, Wales to put the Rohan Ventus to test in some pretty appalling conditions – watch the video above to see what happened (and please subscribe to our YouTube channel if you haven’t already!). I was also testing the Rohan Dry Ranger waterproof trousers on the same trip.
The first thing to notice with the Rohan Ventus is the beading of rain into droplets when it hits the surface of the jacket. The DWR finish works superbly, and it can actually be quite hypnotic to watch the little beads blow along the surface of the shell and off into the wind.
I was wearing the Ventus over my trusty Rab Prosar down jacket which does a great job of trapping warmth. With the two working in concert together, it never felt less than reassuring.
There is no escaping the ‘double hood problem’ though when you wear a set-up like this. You have both the hood of the down jacket and the hood of the shell to contend with. You have to wear one on top of the other which can be a struggle to set-up correctly, especially when wearing gloves.
I was grateful for the length of the Ventus shell for the walk up Hay Bluff. Carrying a large rucksack, it felt like a shorter shell would have not been adequate because the shoulder straps of the rucksack do tend to pull up the jacket a bit.
At the end of the gruelling walk in pretty torrential rain and high exertion I checked the surface of the down jacket underneath the Ventus shell. I did find some moisture which I was surprised about after reading the specifications. However, I found that I had done the entire walk with the underarm venting zips closed – rookie mistake!
As I said earlier, you can have the most breathable fabrics on earth but if you’re massively exerting yourself on a wet day then there is just no way the amount of moisture produced by your body can escape.
I did further testing on subsequent days with the pit zips open and found internal moisture much reduced.
The windproof performance of the Barricade technical fabric within the Ventus really lived up to its name. It barricaded my body against a very chilly wind, and in combination with the insulating down jacket underneath the shell, I never had a problem with windchill or cold. This is an excellent shell for hikes and hill walks with perhaps a bit of scrambling thrown in. If you need more freedom of movement with the shell finishing at the waist then check out a more fitted waterproof shell in our Buyer’s Guide.
Summary and Conclusions
I’ve worn the Rohan Ventus waterproof jacket now on over twenty walks and it is my go-to jacket even though I have about 5-10 alternatives in the Camping Secrets wardrobe. I like both colours for different reasons – the slate grey colour can be worn for a post-walk pint in the pub without drawing too much attention to the wearer, whereas the Solar Orange feels much more vibrant.
In terms of performance the Ventus is excellent, but you still have to use common sense. If the walk is highly taxing from a physical point of view then you’re going to sweat quite extensively underneath – if this is going to happen then make sure those large pit zips are fully open. It’s not rocket science, but I still forgot!
Finally, there is the important point about being able to go into a Rohan store to try out or return your clothing. You can safely buy the Rohan Ventus online, but return to a store if it doesn’t fit. They also offer a great guarantee that they will replace, refund or repair any item of clothing which ‘doesn’t live up to your expectations’. This is a good company.
The Rohan Ventus is a top-performing waterproof, windproof and breathable jacket. The Barricade technical membrane inside the lining works extremely well and I love the soft, non-rustle feel of the fabric. I'd like to give it a 10, but the pack size and weight of 1500ml/485g is perhaps a little high for ultralight backpacking. Finally, you can buy the Ventus online with confidence because of the 50+ Rohan stores in the UK. We recommend the Rohan Ventus wholeheartedly.