The North Face Gotham III is an insulated parka that uses 550-fill-power goose down. A time-tested North Face material, HyVent, acts as a waterproof/breathable shell to keep out snow and rain. It also keeps moisture from building up inside the down insulation.
The jacket has a number of useful features, like a hood with detachable faux-fur trim, a dedicated internal media pocket, and an integrated neck gaiter. There are five pockets, four external and one internal, providing lots of room for gloves, wallets, and phones.
A shorter, more fashion-oriented piece, the Gotham III is different than the other jackets in our test. It stands out. Performance wise though, it's nothing notable. It does it's winter jacket duty, keeping you warm in moderate cold and shrugging off light weather.
This is a fashionable jacket that keeps you warm. The design prioritizes form over function, but the result works well enough.
The Gotham III jacket is a basic design laden with cool features, none of which add much warmth. The 550-fill goose down insulation is not overly light or efficient compared to the 800-fill that high-end coats use these days. However, for the jacket's intended use the fill choice feels appropriate. The waterproof/breathable HyVent two-layer fabric traps warm air while 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 you to use gauntlet style gloves without having to tuck them underneath. Unfortunately, the cut keeps the fit shorter than a traditional parka, which reduces the warmth factor. The exterior pockets are fleece lined but not insulated.
Overall this jacket feels 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 waist of the Gotham jacket is shorter than other products in our review. For certain looks and wearers, this is a good thing.
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. While the shell material is waterproof, the knit cuffs and hems are not. So while this jacket can withstand cold temperatures and a certain amount of wet weather, we would want to weather a prolonged storm while wearing it. Small storm flaps conceal the hand warmer pockets, but the closure is only a single button. We would rather have a fully zippered pocket to keep out rain or snow.
Look to the Arc Teryx Fission SV or The North Face McMurdo for a jacket that will hold up to the elements in a long storm.
This photo shows both the shorter waist of the Gotham (note the testers belt-line revealed with upraised arms) and the integrated neck gaiter.
The Gotham III is burly on the outside with a soft and comfortable inner lining. We enjoy wearing this jacket for a lot of reasons, but the smooth nylon lining and the snug knit wrist cuffs topped the list for some. Other testers thought the dampness-prone knit cuffs took away from the comfort factor.
The HyVent shell is durable without feeling like coated canvas. It did not bunch up in the front or feel like sandpaper when our faces brushed up against it. With such a supple outer fabric the jacket did not bunch up while seated. On the downside, our taller testers had to pull the ribbed elastic hem down constantly. Users with shorter torsos may not experience this problem.
The Gotham II moves the media pocket to the inside, with a slot for your headphones.
What the Gotham lacks in warmth it makes up for in cool features that are stylish and functional. Two chest pockets provide ample space for keys, a phone, gloves, goggles and more. There is also an internal Napoleon pocket (remember the famous pose?) with a headphone channel to keep your electronics dry and protected.
While the pockets are fantastic, we prefer full zipper closures, like those on the Patagonia Jackson Glacier, over the Gotham's single button. Our favorite single feature of this whole jacket is the stowable neck gaiter that adds warmth and protection. We would like to see this feature used on more jackets! We also like that you can cinch the hood tightly around your head.
The faux fur hood trim is removable, which we think is terrific as it tended to tickle the face and obstruct vision without providing benefit when used in anything but the coldest of conditions. Although the faux fur is removable, the hood itself is not. We wish it was, as it would give the wearer more options to control warmth and style.
This shoulder pocket must be "just for show". We suppose you could keep a credit card or drivers license here, but if you're anything like us, you will completely forget it is there.
While style is ultimately a personal choice, cut and fit are quantifiable. A good winter coat should cover your backside and allow for proper mobility and range of motion while providing protection and warmth.
The Gotham made sacrifices in warmth and weather resistance to achieve a certain look. The cut is trimmer and more athletic than the other products we reviewed. While the faux fur can lend warmth in truly cold conditions, it's also a style choice. It's not for everyone, but you can remove it. While many reviewers love the design and athletic cut, others did not appreciate the aggressive outer pockets. Overall, we felt that the rib knit hem is too short. It did not fit tall, skinny users very well. If this describes you, try looking at one of the longer coats in this review, like the Haglofs Torsang or Arc Teryx Camosun.
The North Face constructed this jacket with a used strong nylon fabric. We had no issues with the product failing. We guess that the elastic sleeves may go first. They could stretch out from being pulled over gloves. While we like the removable hood trim, anything that can be removed can be lost, so take care to keep track of it. Despite repeated and forceful use, the buttons appear to be solid and did not pull through the fabric.
The range of motion of the Gotham isn't ideal, but its nimble enough for some basic yard tasks.
This is not a jacket that holds up to extreme conditions, but those looking for 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.
The sticker price is surprisingly low for a waterproof/breathable down jacket. At $299 the value is high enough that the Gotham III was a candidate for our Best Buy award.
In the end, we awarded the prize to the Marmot Fordham for its superior warmth and comfort at a slightly higher cost. Despite its relative lack of warmth and weather resistant features, the Gotham III is easily worth the cost for anyone looking for a basic winter coat.
Anyone living in colder climates and looking for a coat to do it all, from commuting to sightseeing to light outdoor activities, will likely come to love this jacket. You may find yourself wearing it just about every day you can.