This is a gear review of the Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket for 2023.
I’ve used and tested many lightweight rain jackets over the years. When I had the chance to test the Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket there were a couple of things that immediately impressed me.
This rain jacket is very breathable, very lightweight, and very packable. As a result, I found myself using this jacket not only to protect myself from the heavy rain but it performed brilliantly as an ultralight windbreaker. When that cold wind picks up, the superior breathability of this rain jacket gives it an increased level of versatility.
Keep reading this in-depth review to find out if the Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket is for you.
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In-Depth Review: Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket 2023
Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket
Weight: 5.9 oz / 168 grams with pit zips
Outer fabric: 7Denier 3-layer Ripstop Nylon
Breathability: 56000 g/m2/24-hour
Waterproof rating: 20000mm
Pockets: Chest Pocket
Stuff Sac: Chest Pocket
> Pit Zips
> Very Breathable
> Very small pack size
> Not cheap
As with all rain jackets, there are several features that are important to know and understand.
The jacket weighs in at only 5.9 oz / 168 grams (medium size), including the pit zips. There are few waterproof jackets that can claim to be waterproof and as light as this one.
Zpacks use the Vertice fabric on both their rain jackets and rain pants. The 7 denier ripstop nylon fabric is very thin and lightweight. It appears as though Zpacks is the only company using this waterproof and breathable fabric. And it is unknown if it is known by any other name.
It performed flawlessly during the testing of the product and provides good protection against abrasion despite being extremely thin.
As expected the jacket is waterproof. The jacket is listed as having a rating of 20,000 mm. In reality, anything over 10000 is considered very waterproof. The level of waterproofness (is that even a word) is aided by the decent quality C6 Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish that is applied to the jacket.
Like all DWR coatings, it will not last forever and will need to be reapplied over time. Having used the jacket for several months now, the DWR is still working well and I have not needed to wash the jacket or reapply the DWR.
As you would expect, the jacket is factory seam sealed all on stitching and seam joints.
Zpacks claim the material have a breathability level of 56,000 grams per meter squared. While the number is high and should make the product very breathable, there is no ISO or EN method used to standardize this number.
I tested the Zpacks Rain Jacket in the real world, in the rain, in the heat, and in the cold. I used it hiking, trail running, and cycling and can confirm that it is very breathable. In fact, it worked so well, that in the future I will be using it as a lightweight breathable windbreaker as well as a rain jacket.
When you unzip the pit zips to allow for more internal ventilation the jacket gives you an unrivaled ability to vent heat and moisture.
Overall, the Zpacks Vertice does an exceptional job of venting heat and allowing moisture to transfer from the inside to the outside of the jacket. But make sure the DWR is reapplied when needed to allow the jacket to perform at its best.
Zpacks are setting a new trend in packability for outdoor gear. With most of their gear, the stuff sac or whatever function they use for storing the item is oversized with plenty of room. Their sleeping bags and tents come with stuff sacks that are larger than they need to be which makes it easier to pack them up. And allows you to store extra items inside the stuff sacks if you so choose.
The Zpacks Vertice follows this trend by stuffing it into an oversized chest pocket. Having a large chest pocket makes it a quick and simple process to store. But the real benefit of having such a large stuff sack pocket is the extra room can be used to store the Zpacks Rain Pants and more if you so choose.
When I tested the jacket I also tested the Zpacks Vertice Rain Pants. These rain pants pack up really small but do not have a stuff sack or storage pocket.
In combination with the jacket, it was not an issue, as the rain pants fit inside the Vertice Jacket with enough room to even fit other items such as gloves if needed. And if you don’t bother carrying rain pants the jacket can be squashed and stuffed into any corner of your backpack when not in use.
The Zpacks Vertice comes with one oversized chest pocket. It performs double duty as the stuff sack for the jacket when it is not in use. It is large enough to store large smartphones or snacks. It is located in a comfortable spot that doesn’t cause any interference for most people using the sternum strap.
There are no hand warmer pockets with this minimalist jacket. If this is a deal breaker for you then there are several other lightweight rain jackets that will be better suited to your needs. When hiking and backpacking I rarely find any use for hand pockets as they are usually busy using trekking poles or griping onto the handlebars of my bicycle.
If there is one thing that could be improved on the Zpacks Vertice, it is the hood. Firstly, it comes with a fairly poor sun visor. Most people, myself included, prefer to hike with a baseball cap or hiking sun hat under the rain jacket. Using this method helps keep the waterproof visor in place much better and is the recommended way to use the hood on this jacket.
The rear of the hood comes with a strap to adjust the height of the visor. While Zpacks claim there is sufficient room to use over a cycling helmet, when I used this method I tend to disagree. I always use the bike helmet over the top of my rain jacket which is what most people do, so it is not really an issue.
Zipper and Pit Zips
As expected the Zpacks Rain Jacket uses a full-length waterproof zip system with an oversized internal flap. All this means is you don’t need to be concerned about water leaking through the zips. They are waterproof and work as you would expect.
The Jacket also comes with Pit Zips. If it is raining and you want to vent heat when climbing or in hot weather then pit zips are the best option. Pit zips are located under the arms of the Zpacks Rain jacket and are not only quite long but have a high-quality zip.
When I first tried the Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket I noticed that it had a large-sized fit and was quite long. Both these features are a welcome addition to any rain jacket.
The large cut of the jacket allowed me to have a lot of room to move. But more importantly, when the temperatures dropped, I had enough room to fit several layers under the jacket. So if you find yourself in temperatures well below freezing, you can rest assured that you will have enough room for a mid-layer and down jacket underneath the rain jacket.
Another cool feature is the length of the jacket. It reaches over your hips and covers a large amount of your backside. This feature is missing from many ultralight rain jackets and is a welcome addition to the Zpacks jacket. It is even long enough to keep your butt dry when you pull it down and sit on it. And to keep everything in place there are handy cinch cords on the arm cuffs and the waist which work well and as expected.
Overall, it is a comfortable jacket that has been improved by the oversized fit and longer than usual length.
If there is one thing that I wish was better it would be the price. At $299 it is priced at the high end of the market and is enough to prevent most people from buying this jacket. But for this price, you get best-in-class breathability, a jacket that is one of the lightest on the market, packs to a very small size, and can be worn all day as a windbreaker or a rain jacket.
Ultralight minimalist thru-hikers and backpackers will consider the features of the Zpacks Vertice to be worth the price. And they have a good point. Despite the price tag, this is the first jacket I would consider buying right now if I was heading off on a thru-hike and wanted nothing but the best and lightest rain jacket on the market.
Zpacks Vertice VS Other Rain Jackets
How does the Zpacks Vertice Rain Jacket compare to other lightweight and ultralight rain jackets. First off, it is very breathable. Few rain jackets can compete with this combination of lightweight, breathability, and packability.
The Enlightened Equipment Visp is the closest competition but at the time of writing the jacket is sold out while they await delivery of their newer updated model.
The Outdoor Research Helium is not quite as light or breathable as the Zpacks jacket, but it is significantly cheaper.
Most other rain jackets on the market are a bit heavier and fall into a different category of backpacking rain jackets. To get a better understanding of how they all compare, take a look at the roundup review of all the Best Ultralight Backpacking Rain Jackets.
The Zpacks Vertice is a top-tier ultralight rain jacket that is firmly targeted at ultralight thru-hikers who want the best in class weight, breathability, and packability. Forget about buying a windbreaker as this can perform double duties and both a rain jacket and windbreaker that is breathable enough to complement any backpacking layering system.
Overall, if you are a thru-hiker or ultralight backpacker and want the best, then this is for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
The high price of the Zpacks Vertice puts it at the high end of the market. But this top-tier rain jacket has best-in-class breathability, combined with being ultra lightweight and very packable. Not to mention it is very waterproof.
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BikeHikeSafari Gear Review Process
The author, Brad McCartney from BikeHikeSafari is a small independent adventurer and outdoor gear tester who owns and runs BikeHikeSafari.com.
BikeHikeSafari is not part of a large blog network and is proudly independent. All reviews on this site are independent and honest gear reviews of outdoor products by the author.
The author, Brad McCartney is a very experienced triple crown thru-hiker, adventurer, and bike tourer having spent 1000s of nights sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag (Read more). He was a manager of an outdoor retail store and is very experienced in what is important when using and testing gear for reviews like this.
BikeHikeSafari will never receive any money for reviews and they do not accept sponsored reviews on this website. All the comments about the gear reviews are from the author based on his years of experience. Hope this independent review was helpful for you.