I bought the Venta AR to replace my old worn out Gamma MX (which I loved). I thought about just getting another Gamma MX, but decided to go with something a bit warmer.
It's got a little bit of stretchiness to it, but nothing compared to the Gamma MX fabric, although on the flip side, the exterior is a bit burlier, and I wouldn't worry about it snagging on anything. The breathability is also noticeably less, which conversely means the wind blocking ability is noticeably more. This is great when you're not doing something really vigorous in the cold/wind, but not so great when doing something like trail running in the cold (which is where the Gamma MX would shine, keeping you warm, but generally not overly hot and clammy). As such, it can function well as a warmer insulation layer beneath a hard shell. The temperature comfort range between the two jackets has a large overlapping mid-range with a difference of about 10*F at either end, with the Gamma MX slightly better suited towards warmer conditions, and the Venta AR slightly better for colder conditions.
Also worth noting is that despite being made in China, and all the negative connotations with that, it's still very well built, with no noticeable quality differences to my older Canadian made pieces.
I think the one downside is that the cuffs aren't adjustable/stretchy. When zipped up, and I move my arms about, I can feel warm air being pushed out and lost through the gap between the cuffs and my wrists. An adjustable strap or stretchier material there would help greatly.
Saw this in a store one time unlabeled, and asked how much it was. I thought he was joking when he said about forty bucks. Got one later via gift card, and it actually works really well at restoring my dinged up scrapers. Sure, scrapers are usually under $10, but with this, you can get a fresh edge every time.
The volume of this bag is more than the shoulder/hip straps can really carry comfortably unless you're stuffing it with light weight bulky gear like a insulated jacket. As is, the shoulder straps can dig in to you with a moderate load. If you're not planning on filling up the volume, the smaller version of this bag may be better suited.
I really wanted to like this pack, being well built and full of weight saving features, but it just didn't fit my needs as a travel carryon/daypack.
I'd been looking for the right travel backpack off and on for ages - something a bit more than your usual school/work daypack, but smaller than a full on backpacking bag, such that it'll fit under most airplane seats (since overhead space is a rare commodity nowadays). Once I saw this bag, I had a hunch I'd finally found something to fit the bill. As long as you don't stuff it completely full, it fits perfectly, leaving easy access to your small knickknacks stored in the top compartments without having to pull out the entire bag.
On the plus side, it doesn't have a dozen niche-use pockets just for the sake of having pockets (and corresponding zippers). The main compartment interior has sleeve pockets on all four sides - perfect for papers/magazines, laptop power bricks, shoes/sandals, etc. If you don't happen to need them, they take up no space. External side zip access to the laptop makes nice easy access at airport security and elsewhere. Ample padding on the shoulder straps. Plenty of usable storage volume (often not the case with other much larger volume packs I've tried). The ninja black and modest-sized logo make for a nice nondescript bag from a distance as well.
On the down side, I don't know why the external side pockets aren't elastic. They won't hold short/small things well, so make sure you secure them down well with the straps (which goes against them being easy access for things like a water bottle). Even stuffing a rain cover in there, I was a bit concerned it may fall out.
There's already a gazillion reviews on how great this bag is, so I don't need to say how it's lasted and performed great in my trips here and there.
I wanted to just add some info for the common sizing question. The XL is HUGE. Sure, you could always cinch it down, but that just flattens it - it's still pretty long. If you're not particularly tall (I'm 5'8"), when carrying the XL as a backpack, it can awkwardly hit the back of your thighs when walking. Having a full bag helps, but 9000 cubic inches is A LOT.
Another thing to consider is color, especially with the bigger bags. I'm not referring to aesthetics and sticking out from the train of bags at baggage claim, but how well you can see/find stuff inside your bag. I was comparing an XL black with a large TNF yellow side by side, and it was much easier to locate stuff in the yellow one, as it let some light in. The black one was just a giant black hole. Also useful in spotting creepy crawlies in/on your bag more easily if your destination has them. Sure you could use a flashlight/headlamp/etc to peer around, but do you really wanna do that each time you open your bag outside of a brightly lit area?
Had these for about half a season - wanted to put them through some use before writing a review.
First off, yes they're crazy pricey (unless you get them on sale). However, a perfect pair of gloves are worth their weight in gold, especially if most snow gloves don't fit stubby fingers (like mine) well (I wear a cadet medium golf glove if that helps), and I've been looking (and settling) for quite a while.
Sizing, they are shorter than average in the finger length, which works great for me. However, the rough edges of the stitching on the inner glove can dig in to the webbing between your fingers if they're a tad small for you. Also the fingers of the shell are pretty wide in diameter, though I suppose that may have something to do with articulation and/or warmth.
Durability wise, they've held up fine. The leather color seems to have faded slightly (not really a big deal IMO - probably from the Spring sun), and the shell material shows no wear after deflecting a few branches at head level. The leather is _very_ supple, and I was a bit cautious about not holding my skis by the edges too firmly, but I haven't had any cuts in them so far.
Design - Sounds like I'm in the minority in liking that there's no idiot strap/leash, since I never used them on any of my previous gloves (I did a bit initially, but they just got annoying). Stays in line with Arc's minimalist design philosophy. The wrist cinch works, but could use a little bit more development - the strap's excess slack can flap around a bit when you're at speed - fairly minor though. The one-handed cinch and release at the cuff work wonderfully. The stiff cuff of the inner glove makes it easier to don the glove (never liked the fidgety cuff to cuff velcro solution of other gloves with removable liners). One thing that would be a nice improvement would be including something to hook the gloves together when you're not wearing them (like the little plastic clips every other glove has). I used a small carabiner on my pack through the cinch loops on the gloves as a fix, but a plastic thing only weighs a gram or two (and could be easily removed by the hardcore minimalists).
Dexterity and warmth - They are indeed very dextrous, though I do have trouble literally picking up a dime from a flat surface with them. Though with just the shell (and optionally a thin liner), yup - able to pick up a dime off my desk. I didn't find them super toasty in the mid-high teens (Fahrenheit), but it could've been due to other factors - will need to see next season. You do need to cinch down the cuffs well to maintain warmth, otherwise the warm air goes right out the back of the gloves. Windproofness worked well too - no gaps of cold felt when it was gusting at the peaks.
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