The ZPacks Vertice Rain Jacket is a full-zip, waterproof-breathable, 3-layer hooded shell that weighs 5.6 oz (159 g). - $259 at ZPacks.
- Lots of features for the weight, including pit zips
- Very high level of (claimed) breathability
- Fit issues in upper body may affect sizing for some users
- DWR lacks resiliency but can be refreshed with a better aftermarket solution
The ZPacks Vertice Rain Jacket is a lightweight (5.6-5.9 oz / 158-166 g) full-zip hooded rain jacket made with an ultralight 3-layer fabric. It features a roll-away helmet-compatible hood, a chest pocket that doubles as self-storage, adjustable hood and cuffs, an elasticized hem, and waterproof chest and pit zippers. It's available in a Women's version.
This is a comprehensive, long-term review based on field testing performed by myself and Ryan Jordan in Idaho, Montana, California, and Wyoming during the summer, fall, and winter of 2019.
- fully taped seams
- full-length waterproof front zipper
- waterproof pit zippers and chest pocket zipper
- elastic waist hem
- one-handed elastic shock cord tighteners at hood (aperture) and cuffs
- hood is helmet-compatible and includes a rear volume adjuster (strap and buckle)
- stiffened hood visor
- hood can be rolled away and secured with a buckle when not in use
- reversible chest pocket doubles as storage
- DWR treated face fabric
All specifications here and elsewhere in the article are for a men’s size medium unless otherwise noted.
- weight (claimed): 5.6 oz (160 g)
- weight (measured): 5.9 oz (167 g)
- chest girth: 42 in (107 cm)
- waist hem girth: 42 in (107 cm)
- zipper length: 32 in (81 cm)
- sleeve length: 35 in (89 cm)
- chest pocket dimensions: 8 in x 9.5 in (20 cm x 24 cm)
- Fabric: The ZPacks Vertice line uses three-layer waterproof breathable material that sandwiches its waterproof-breathable membrane between an outside face fabric of 7 denier ripstop nylon and a tricot inner lining. The fabric is treated with a C6 (fluorocarbon) finish for durable water repellency.
- fabric weight: 1.92 oz/yd2 (65 g/m2)
- vapor transfer (JIS L 1099 METHOD B1): 56,000+ g/m2/24hr
- water resistance: >20,000 mmH2O
- DWR treatment: C6
Pricing, Configurations, and Customization
- MSRP: $259
- Made in USA, fabric made in Japan
Description of Field Testing
I evaluated the performance of the ZPacks Vertice Rain Jacket based on the following criteria:
- Waterproofness - how well did the fabric, seams, and zippers resist water entry?
- Breathability - how well did the fabric breathe when using the jacket during high-exertion activity?
- Ventilation - how well did the jacket ventilate excess heat?
- Versatility - could the jacket do double duty as a wind shirt?
- Ease of use - how difficult were adjustment mechanisms to use, i.e., zippers, vents, drawcords, and hood?
- Quality of materials and manufacturing - what was the material quality, sewn seams, taping, etc.?
- Durability - how well did the jacket withstand high-abrasion areas (e.g., from pack straps) and how well did it survive bushwhacking?
- Fit - how did the jacket fit my body type? how was its range of motion?
- Packability - how is the jacket's compressibility?
- Performance-to-Weight Ratio - how much performance does the jacket offer for its weight?
- Value - is the jacket a good value for its price?
Because the weather was so dry through August and into September when I started testing the ZPacks Vertice Rain Jacket, my initial field testing consisted of drenching myself at a water park and running 1.5 to 3 miles (1.6 to 4.8 km) through sprinkler systems at my local park. On these runs, I often wore a backpack weighing up to 13 lbs (5.9 kg) to simulate fastpacking. I also intentionally ran through dew-covered underbrush in the early mornings to test the fabric’s durability and water-shedding capabilities.
In mid-to-late September, I was able to expose the ZPacks Vertice to rain on backpacking trips in the Idaho Sawtooths and Caribou-Targhee National Forest. I hiked about 80 miles (129 km) with the ZPacks Vertice in a variety of fall weather conditions.
In addition to my first-hand experiences, I consulted with Backpacking Light Publisher Ryan Jordan, who used the jacket as a wind and snow shell during the sub-freezing days of winter in Wyoming, rainy fall bushwhacking in the Montana Beartooths, and summer talus scrambling in the High Sierra. Ryan and I co-wrote the commentary section at the end of this review.
When looking at a rain jacket for backpacking, I like to employ the principle of doing more with fewer items and less weight. This principle leads me to conclude that a good rain jacket should have more than just good precipitation resistance and breathability. I also want a rain jacket that takes up as little space as possible in my pack (because it gets used less often than I think), and I want it to function as a wind shirt in a pinch, so it should ventilate as much as possible.
Member's Only Content
Login as a Premium or Unlimited Member to read the comprehensive Performance Assessment and Author Commentary sections of this review:
- Performance Assessment:
- Ease of use
- Quality of materials and manufacturing
- Performance-to-Weight Ratio
- Fit Issues
- Durability Issues
- Breathability Issues
- DWR Issues
- Compared To
- Comparison Table
- Consider this product if...
- Don't consider this product if...
- Recommendations for Improvement
Member's only version is 6,100 words and includes 12 photographs.
Review Rating: Recommended
We will admit that we were skeptical that a rain jacket this light would be worth the $259 price tag. In an effort to prove that it wasn’t worth the price, we subjected the ZPacks Vertice Rain Jacket to a wide variety of wet conditions, including dewy brush, rain, snow, and waterparks. The Vertice shrugged it all off. But waterproofness is the minimum expected key performance indicator of a rain jacket - not the measure of its excellence. It's either waterproof or not. So if we are to distinguish the Vertice from other jackets in its weight class, we need to dig deeper.
The Vertice is among the lightest rain jackets available, but it's not without some tradeoffs: a very light fabric, a slim fit, no handwarmer pockets, and tiny adjustment hardware. However, it still offers a very breathable fabric, a full front waterproof zipper, and pit zips. That offers a level of versatility not commonly found in rain jackets at this weight.
The ZPacks Vertice offers versatility, breathability, precipitation protection, and a feature-to-weight ratio that on paper, makes it look like one of the most compelling rain jackets on the market. And for its primary target market - the long-distance hiker who practices ultralight backpacking - it achieves most of what a thru-hiker wants out of a jacket.
The primary problem that should be addressed, because we feel that it will impact the most number of users, is the strange upper body sizing/articulation issues. Solve that, and add a few tenths of an ounce for slightly larger adjustment hardware that can be more easily operated while wearing insulated handwear and the ZPacks Vertice could have the potential to be a category-defining rain jacket.
Where to Buy
- You can purchase the Vertice Rain Jacket from ZPacks:
- The ZPacks Vertice product line also includes:
Recent Ultralight Rain Jacket Reviews:
- Raidlight Hyperlight MP+ Rain Jacket Review
- Hyperlite Mountain Gear The Shell Review
- Montane Minimus 777 Review
- Arc'teryx Zeta FL Jacket Review
- Patagonia M10 Review
- A forum thread about understanding waterproof-breathable fabric technology.
Updated November 7, 2019
- Product(s) discussed in this article may have been purchased by the author(s) from a retailer or direct from a manufacturer, or by Backpacking Light for the author. The purchase price may have been discounted as a result of our industry professional status with the seller. However, these discounts came with no obligation to provide media coverage or a product review. Backpacking Light does not accept compensation or donated/discounted products in exchange for guaranteed media placement or product review coverage.
- Some (but not all) of the links in this article may be “affiliate” links. If you click on one of these links and visit one of our affiliate partners (usually a retailer site), and subsequently place an order with that retailer, we receive a small commission. These commissions help us provide authors with honoraria, fund our editorial projects, podcasts, instructional webinars, and more, and we appreciate it a lot! Thank you for supporting Backpacking Light!
- Read about our approach to journalistic integrity, product reviews, and affiliate marketing here.