Highly functional with a no-compromise approach to practical back-country weather and mountain protection, the 2019 Ventus 3L Jacket attempts to improve on an already highly acclaimed design - in only the second year since Black Crows started making ski touring apparel.
At first glance the Ventus looks and feels like a minimalist mountain top layer - this is, after all just a shell jacket. If you want to stay warm when the mercury drops you'll also need to consider and bring your own insulation separately to wear underneath.
But once you have, you can relax and concentrate on enjoying the mountain to the max, because when it comes to the perfect shell, Black Crows have thought of everything - the Ventus really is meticulously designed and beautifully built.
A perfect example of this attention to detail is on the upper left sleeve, where a V-shaped patch is sewn onto the arm - the reverse side of the fabric is painstakingly taped on the inside of the pocket to eliminate any chance of leaks.
Indeed, look inside the Ventus and you'll see a matrix of Black Crows loggo'd seam tape sealing and strengthening every flawless seam in the tough three-layer Gore-Tex fabric.
Also inside, you'll find two huge elasticated mesh cargo pockets, as well as a big zippered chest pocket.
Last year's Ventus was criticised (by very few) for its lack of hand pockets but on the 2019 model they're back, with the right-hand one also containing a lens wipe on a long elastic cord.
It's a nice touch that Chamonix-based Black Crows have printed a map of their back yard on the wipe, with the Aigle du Midi and the Vallée Blanche at its centre. Check out the key on the back and you'll see some playful humour too, with notes such as 'This is not toilet paper', 'polluting tunnel' for the Mont Blanc tunnel and 'border - unless you're a bird'.
In use, the 3-layer Gore-Tex is a bit noisy but it's worth it for the weather and abrasion protection and there is otherwise excellent freedom of movement. Breathability is good too given the waterproofing and toughness of the fabric but the inner layer is easily comfortable over just a baselayer. Then when the skinning heats you up, you can open up the long, double-zipped pit vents to let some steam out and even undo the bottom of the double front zip.
Other well-designed features include a helmet compatible hood with one-handed three-point adjustment, waterproof zips, a stiff peak and micro-fleece chinguard, gel-taped lycra inner cuffs and robust, glove-friendly sleeve adjustment. There's even the latest low-profile integrated Recco reflector, hidden - we think! - in the hood's peak.