'Paramo's alternative fabric technology works really well in deep winter conditions, but the Ventura's odd cut is a potential issue'
Outdoors Magic: Soft feel, good breathability, extra warmth in cold conditions, pit-zips add venting options, helmet hood.
Outdoors Tragic: Odd cut, heavy, not everyone liked combined pocket/pit-zip, too warm for some.
Outdoors Grabbit? Paramo wearers embrace its alternative technology, but the combination of an oddly unbalanced cut, quirky pockets and increased weight and warmth limit the Ventura's appeal. Great in really cold conditions though.
Women's-specific high mountain jacket / Nikwax Analogy Waterproof fabric / arm vents / stretch panels in shoulders, sleeves and sides / helmet-friendly hood design / chest pocket / internal zipped pocket / internal storm-flap with venting press-stud arrangement / locking zip-pulls throughout / harness-friendly design
Full Review Below
Ventura Jacket - The Tech
Using Paramo is a bit like being a member of a secret society. The fabric called Nikwax Analogy, is quite different from normal waterproofs. It's super soft and rustle free and uses a combination of an outer windproof layer and a thick inner liner, which is designed to repel water outwards.
The upsides are that it's super breathable and comfortable as well as being protective. The downsides are that it's pretty heavy - the Ventura weighs 790g in a medium - and also quite warm, which means for most users, it works best in seriously cold, sub-zero conditions.
As an aside, the jackets are made in Colombia at a social project called the Miquelena Foundation and Paramo, a sister brand to Nikwax, is fully committed to sustainable production and was the first outdoors company to sign up to the Greenpeace Detox agreement.
Paramo ploughs its own furrow in other features too. The chunky, lock-down zip-pulls for example, distinctive press-studded storm-flaps that double as ventilation options. And squirrelled away adjustment cords.
The whole jacket has an oddly retro feel to it as a result. That's not to say it's old fashioned, more just 'different'. One modern touch is the use of stretch panels in the shoulders and under the arms, though there's not actually a huge amount of give in them.
Ventura Jacket - Performance
The first thing everyone noticed about the Ventura was the weight. Paramo's Nikwax Analogy fabric is properly heavy and as a result, the jacket weighed in at a cool 790 grammes.
That means it's very definitely a 'wear all day' option as no-one wants to carry something that heavy and bulky with them. The other downside of the fabric, is that it's seriously warm. That's great in sub-zero conditions, where you want to conserve heat, but for the rest of the year, it's a real disadvantage unless you run properly cold.
Yes, there are pit-zips and you an also use the main zip as a vent thanks to a press-studded storm-flap arrangement, but in milder conditions, it's just too much for many people. It's not all bad news, the unconventional fabric has a soft, quiet feel and it breathes really well. It is, for example, a great deep winter option for Scottish mountaineering.
Where the Ventura really fell down though, was the fit. We tried both a size 10 and a size 12, but found an odd imbalance between the top and bottom halves of the jacket. 'It's as if', said one tester, 'the top is a size 12 and the bottom is a 14'.
The hip section flares out dramatically and even cinched up, there's a lot of excess fabric. Speaking of which, the hood is also large, fine with a helmet, slightly problematic without and it left a lot of excess cord to flap about when snugged up.
Other minor issues were the lack of obvious big, stand-alone pockets, though you can access storage space through the vents and the quirky Velcro-fastened lefthand chest-pocket opening, which froze-up disconcertingly when exposed to a Scottish winter day.
On the plus side, the jacket's warmth and space for extra layers was a bonus in the same environment, something we've found with Paramo in the past.
Ventura Jacket - Verdict
You might not realise it from reading this review, but we're big fans of Paramo's clothing for deep winter use in particular. The men's version of the Ventura, the Enduro Jacket is one of our top choices for UK winter mountaineering and we like the added warmth and breathable performance of the system.
That said, the Ventura, while it shares the Nikwax Analogy fabric technology and basic premise of other Paramo clothing, has a cut which was problematic for all our testers. They simply found it oddly balanced between top and bottom fit.
There were other quibbles about the hood volume and pocket arrangements, but it was the fit that was a real deal-breaker. We still wouldn't dismiss Paramo out of hand, there are other women's-specific jackets in the range, but we'd file the Ventura under 'more questions than answers'.