Hands-on Gear Review

The North Face Gotham III Jacket Review

The North Face Gotham III
Price:  $299 List | $179.37 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, heavily featured, stylish
Cons:  Not very warm, marginally weather resistant
Bottom line:  A solid, inexpensive, all-around winter parka with just minor fit issues and limited wet weather performance.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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  • 5
Baffle Type:  Sewn-through under an outer shell fabric
Total Weight:  3.86 lbs
Down Fill Power:  550
Manufacturer:   The North Face

Our Verdict

The North Face Gotham III jacket is a reliable performer at a lower-than-most price tag. A proprietary material, DryVent (previously named HyVent), provides waterproofing and breathability throughout the shell, which is insulated with 550-fill goose down for winter warmth. Snow and rain stay out without creating a build-up of moisture inside the down insulation. For a casual jacket not geared toward athletic performance, it has a decent weight under three pounds. This jacket has some useful features with five external pockets, one internal for media, and a removable faux fur trim on the hood. Best of all is an integrated neck gaiter, which our testers loved as an extra layer of neck, chin, and nose protection.

Product Update
The Gotham III, pictured above, replaces the Gotham II in The North Face lineup this winter. The updates, detailed below, do not appear significant. With the "II" all but disappeared from major retailers, the retailer links on this page will direct you to the latest version.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Winter Jackets for Men of 2018

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Jed Porter

Last Updated:
Tuesday
November 7, 2017

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The Gotham III vs. the Gotham II


For winter 2017, The North Face released the successor to the Gotham II. It's now the Gotham III, and the updates in design are minor. Check out a comparative photo of both models below, with the latest version on the left.
The North Face Gotham III
The North Face Gotham II Parka
Here's a summary of the key updates:
  • Shell Fabric — The Gotham III has different weave techniques (Herringbone and Bobby weaves) implemented in the shell from its predecessor. The manufacturer did not clarify why this switch was made.
  • Pockets — A pocket was added to the left bicep of this jacket, bringing the total of external pockets to five. The other four external pockets were slightly redesigned as well.
  • Storm Flap — The storm flap that covers the center zipper now stops just below the neckline, whereas the previous version continued all the way up to the chin.

As we have yet to test how the new Gotham III stands up to winter weather, the analyses in the text below still reflect the previous Gotham II. We do not expect performance to radically change in the latest iteration.

Hands-On Review of the Gotham II


The Gotham II has a sleek and stylish look. This versatile jacket works just as well for winter mornings chopping wood as it does for everyday wear.
The Gotham II has a sleek and stylish look. This versatile jacket works just as well for winter mornings chopping wood as it does for everyday wear.

Warmth


The Gotham II is a basic design laden with cool features, none of which add much warmth. The 550-fill goose down insulation is not too light and not too efficient compared to the 800-fill that has become the norm in high-end coats. However, for the intended uses, the fill choice feels appropriate. The waterproof/breathable HyVent two-layer fabric traps warm air while still remaining breathable in cold conditions.

We really liked the ribbed sleeves and hem and appreciated the snug fit that keeps cold air out, even in strong winds. The tight-fitting cuffs also allow for the use of gauntlet style gloves without having to tuck them underneath. However, the cut keeps the fit shorter and less like a traditional parka, which reduces the warmth factor. The exterior pockets are fleece lined but not insulated, and overall this jacket felt about as warm as the Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 or Top Pick Arc'teryx Fission SV but not nearly as warm as the Editors' Choice-winning Arc'teryx Camosun Parka.

The bottom hem keeps cool drafts from rising up  and the fleece-lined pockets help keep your hands warm when the wind is howling.
The bottom hem keeps cool drafts from rising up, and the fleece-lined pockets help keep your hands warm when the wind is howling.

Weather Resistance


North Face uses their own two-layer waterproof/breathable material called HyVent on this model. It does a good job of keeping snow and rain out, while also trapping body heat in. While the shell material is waterproof, the knit cuffs and hems are not, meaning that though this jacket can withstand cold temperatures and a certain amount of wet weather, it is not a jacket we would want to weather a prolonged storm in. Look to the Arc'teryx Fission SV or The North Face McMurdo for a jacket that will really hold up to the elements in a long storm. While small storm flaps conceal the hand warmer pockets, the closure is only a single button. In wet weather, we would rather have a fully zippered pocket to keep out rain or snow.

Comfort


The Gotham II Jacket has a burly outside, but a soft and comfortable inside lining. We enjoyed wearing this jacket for a lot of reasons, but the smooth nylon lining and the snug knit cuffs on the wrists topped the list for some. Other testers thought the dampness-prone knit cuffs took away from the comfort. The HyVent shell is durable without feeling like coated canvas. It did not bunch up in the front or feel like sandpaper when our face rubbed up against it. With such a supple outer fabric, the jacket did not bunch up while seated. Users with shorter torsos may not experience the problem of the elastic hem riding up, but our taller testers needed to constantly pull the hem back down.

This photo shows both the shorter waist of the Gotham (note the testers belt-line revealed with upraised arms) and the integrated neck gaiter.
This photo shows both the shorter waist of the Gotham (note the testers belt-line revealed with upraised arms) and the integrated neck gaiter.

We closely compared the Gotham (a former Best Buy award winner) to the new Best Buy Marmot Fordham. At similar price points and with similar construction, the Fordham took the lead mainly in comfort. The fleecy cuffs and a cut that gently hugs the wearer edges the Fordham ahead of the Gotham. The Gotham is, in terms of comfort, more like the Arc'Teryx Camosun. Both are comfortable enough, but both have some sort of Achilles heel. The Camosun has a scratchy shell fabric while the Gotham has a high-riding waist. The Fordham has virtually no comfort compromises.

Style


While style is ultimately a personal choice; cut and fit are quantifiable. A good winter coat should cover the backside and allow for proper mobility and range of motion while providing protection and warmth. The Gotham II made sacrifices in warmth and weather resistance in order to achieve a certain look. The cut is more trim and athletic than the other products we reviewed. The Canada Goose Expedition Parka and the Rab Neutrino Endurance are bulky jackets, while the Greenland Fjallraven and Helly Hansen Dubliner fit more closely. On the continuum between these extremes, the Gotham leans closer to the trim fitting.

While many reviewers loved the design, others may not appreciate the aggressive outer pockets. The faux fur hood trim can be removed, which we think is a good idea because it had a tendency to tickle the face and obstruct vision when used in anything but the coldest of conditions. Other reviewers liked the athletic cut of the jacket, but we felt that the rib knit hem is too short and did not fit tall skinny users as well. If this describes you, try looking at one of the longer coats in this review, like the Mountain Hardwear Therminator.

The hearty fur hood ruff and knit waist and cuffs of this jacket present a bit of a throwback look.
The hearty fur hood ruff and knit waist and cuffs of this jacket present a bit of a throwback look.


Features


What Gotham II Jacket lacks in warmth it makes up for in cool features that are stylish as well as functional. Two chest pockets provide ample space for keys, a phone, gloves, goggles, and more. There is also an internal Napoleon pocket with a headphone channel to keep your electronics dry and protected.

The Gotham II moves the media pocket to the inside  with a slot for your headphones.
The Gotham II moves the media pocket to the inside, with a slot for your headphones.

While the pockets are awesome, we would have preferred full zipper closures rather than a single button, like those on the Patagonia Isthmus or Helly Hansen. The faux fur hood trim can be removed and the hood can be cinched tightly around the head. Our favorite single feature of this whole review is the stowable neck gaiter that adds warmth and protection. Featured only on this and the Best Buy The North Face McMurdo II, we would like to see this feature used on more jackets! And although the faux fur is removable, the hood itself is not — a feature that could give the wearer more options in controlling warmth and style.

Durability


The North Face used strong nylon in the construction of this jacket. We had no issues with the product failing and feel that the first things to go might be the elastic sleeves stretching out due to pulling them over gloves. While we like the removable hood trim, anything that can be removed can be lost, so care should be taken to keep track of it. Despite aggressive use, the buttons appear to be solid and did not pull through the fabric. Just like the down insulation and thick shell of the Marmot Fordham, Arc'Teryx Camosun, and Patagonia Tres 3-in-1, we anticipate few durability problems with the Gotham.

The highly durable nylon shell on the Gotham II held up against rough rock  snow  ice  water  and lap dogs. This makes the jacket function in a wide variety of situations.
The highly durable nylon shell on the Gotham II held up against rough rock, snow, ice, water, and lap dogs. This makes the jacket function in a wide variety of situations.

Best Applications


This is not a jacket friendly to the extremes, but those looking to enjoy the outdoors in a coat that looks and feels amazing will come to appreciate the features and style of this coat. It works well for everyday urban wear and apres-ski events.

Value


The sticker price is surprisingly low for a waterproof/breathable down jacket, and at $299 the value was such that it was a candidate our Best Buy Award. In the end, at a slightly higher cost but greater warmth and comfort, we granted the Best Bang for the Buck Award to the Marmot Fordham. Despite the lack of warmth and weather resistant features, the Gotham II Jacket is easily worth the cost for anyone needing a winter coat.

The range of motion of the Gotham isn't ideal  but its nimble enough for some basic yard tasks.
The range of motion of the Gotham isn't ideal, but its nimble enough for some basic yard tasks.

Conclusion


People who live in colder climates looking for a coat to do it all, from commuting to sightseeing to light outdoor winter use, will come to love this product and may find themselves wearing it just about every day they can. There are warmer and more weather resistant jackets out there, but The North Face Gotham II Jacket has solid construction at an unbeatable price.
Jed Porter

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Most recent review: November 7, 2017
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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