Ever heard of the high performance fabric, Ventile? I hadn’t until recently and there were a few reasons why it caught my eye. Ventile claims to be ‘the world’s most effective, natural, all-weather cotton textile’ and most importantly the cotton used in the fabric is grown sustainably. Although it’s new to me, Ventile has quite an interesting history – it was originally created to save the lives of Air Force personnel flying over the Atlantic in wartime. Pilots needed a garment that was cool and comfortable in the cockpit, but warm and impenetrable if it came into contact with water. It provided to be such a reliable weatherproof product for the RAF that outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers began using it for outdoor clothing and equipment. Ventile was used in the first summit of Everest in 1953 and by Sir Ranulph Fiennes when he crossed the Arctic from 1979 – 1982.
So does Ventile stand up against modern fabrics?
My simple answer is yes, but in different ways. The fabric feels and behaves differently to modern waterproof fabrics, and like anything, it has it’s pros and cons. So really, it depends what you want to use it for. Ventile feels soft in hand, but is actually very durable and tough – you wouldn’t find it ripping or tearing against rocks which is a big positive; especially if you’ve ever experienced the heartbreak of tearing a new £300 jacket on scramble like I have! The fabric is very very windproof, which makes you think it would be pretty stuffy inside but i’ve found it to be more breathable than other waterproofs I have. In my opinion Ventile is for cold dry and windy conditions (including snow) – it effectively blocks windchill without creating a sweaty mess inside.
However, I would find myself reaching for something else if it was bucketing down. I’ve found Ventile becomes pretty heavy when it’s totally drenched, and then challenging to dry (totally fine if your heading straight home) but I wouldn’t be keen to put it straight back on the next day if it was still wet.
This is my Ventile jacket, custom made by Hilltrek in a workshop in Aboyne, Scotland. There aren’t many products being made right here on our doorstep, so I thought this was pretty cool. Ventile also partner with many other high end brands; it’s likely most of us have come across it at some point in Barbour, Ralph Lauren, Peak Performance, Pretty Green, Ted Baker and so on.
If a new weatherproof jacket is on your Christmas list, Ventile products are defiantly worth checking out. As I said, there are pros and cons to any fabric designed for the outdoors – and its unlikely that one jacket is fit for every purpose but I am glad to have this addition to my kit bag.
See www.ventile.co.uk for more information!