Rating: 5 / 5
First of all, this jacket really deserves a four or even a three and a half, but I give it a five for one reason: It is the wind jacket I reach for, take along, and use. Why? The weight and compressibility--it works like a second skin and takes up no room in my backpack, daypack or hydration pack. I use it when backpacking, dayhiking in the sort of exposed places that I love, and biking in cool dry weather.
My search for a new hooded, full-zip windbreaker began soon after I joined BPL when I discovered that my 11-year old "ultralight" windbreaker weighed 11oz. (XL). Based on the reviews here, I bought a Houdini, which I adore, but at 5.3 oz. and not as compressible, I thought I'd check out an alternative.
The fabric on the Verto is gossamer thin and translucent Pertex Quantum. While it seems very fragile and I avoid bushwacking with it on, I have now worn it probably 50 times or more and it doesn't have a tear or abrasion anywhere. My size XL weighs exactly 3 oz. The tiny zipper works the best of any of my now many tiny zippers and the fabric rarely get caught or if it does, it slides right out. The chest pocket is highly usable and doesn't swing around. I use the jacket a lot when I am doing high aerobic activities, like fast hiking, steep ascents in the open, and aggressive biking, and it seems to breath well and the full-zip aids as well. If I am still heating up, the jacket goes into a small waist pocket on my pack or one of the small pockets on my minimalist hydration pack. The cuffs and hem are elasticized without drawcords. The hood works well when the wind is from the rear or rear sides. The thinness of the fabric makes the hood great when wearing a helmet. While it can keep out a light drizzle or very brief shower, and while it dries in 15 or 20 minutes if it does get wet, it certainly isn't a rain jacket and I never count on it to be one. I got mine a bit larger than I needed to accommodate insulation layers and it works perfectly as such. I especially like the way it seems to increase the warmth of my sewn-through down sweater/jacket with almost no weight penalty, as BPL proved shells do in their down sweater review.
Now the downside: I wish the cuffs sealed tighter to keep the cold wind from blowing up my bare arms in certain conditions(in many conditions the wind itself helps the jacket seal up). Similarly the lack of drawstring at the waist occasionally allows the wind to come up, though again in most winds the lightness of the fabric makes the hem seal itself. The lack of drawstring on the hood makes the hood unusable when facing the wind or getting wind from from the front sides. In two of these three regards, the Houdini is much better.
Bottom line: This is a wonderful if imperfect jacket that does the job of a windbreaker and its light weight and tiny packing size make it the one I reach for 90% of the time to wear or to stuff into a corner of a pack. It was a bit pricy, perhaps over-priced at $99, but it now seems to be discounted everywhere, making it a better value.
Update after 8 more months of use: I've worn it a lot and its still in excellent shape. An outstanding UL piece of equipment.