Larrywrote a review of Arc'teryx Venta AR Softshell Jacket - Men's on August 1, 2012
If you want a very good looking softshell that protects you from the wind and rain, look no further than this jacket.
Not only is it technologically perfect, it is one of the best looking jackets to wear around town. But like all soft shells, it can only keep you so warm.
If the outdoor temperature range is 32+-50 degrees then this jacket by itself and a knit long sleeve cotton shirt does the trick. Anything colder then a light mid layer fleece is necessary.
So this jacket plus a mid layer fleece is all you need to cope with freezing cold winter to mild spring weather. If you have to sit in the football stands freezing with light drizzle then this jacket + mid layer + hat will keep you as warm as any combination.
In colder weather, a down jacket works equally well, but only if there is no rain. I recommend this jacket for anyone who appreciates quality, functionality, and great looks.
Finally with sizing... I am between a medium and a large (42" chest, 32" waist) Mediums fit my lower torso but they are always a bit tight under the armpits. So the way for me to go with 99% of the jackets is large. No way you want your jacket pinching in the back.
The ONLY exception is Patagonia Brand. Patagonia sizing is slightly larger for all sizes and they are generally cut generously through the mid section. Therefore, a large size in Patagonia makes me look like Santa Claus. It is huge in the mid section. To avoid this, I am forced to buy medium for better fit and so that the jacket captures heat.
Not an ideal solution, because all Patagonia medium jackets are tight in the back and in the armpits. Anyone who is in between sizes will have to choose between ballooning fit, or slightly tighter better insultated fits with Patagonia. Arc'teryx does not have this problem.