Hands-on Gear Review

The North Face Arctic Parka II Review

Best Buy Award
Price:  $299 List | $239.99 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Waterproof, windproof, breathable, warm, faux fur ruff, durable
Cons:  Cold pockets, tight collar, runs small, tight in shoulder, loose elastic waist
Bottom line:  A waterproof, windproof, warm winter jacket that's also budget friendly.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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  • 5
Insulation:  550 fill goose down
Length:  Knee-length
Pockets:  1 internal, 2 external
Manufacturer:   The North Face

Our Verdict

The North Face Arctic Parka II is a dependable winter jacket that won't break the piggy bank. It wasn't the most waterproof jacket we tested or the warmest, but we didn't mind being outside in snowy conditions or on a chilly winter walk. Insulated with 550-fill-goose down and coated with a waterproof DryVent Gore-Tex exterior, this jacket is ready for some sloppy winter weather. It's not the best option if you live somewhere that experiences bone-cold temperatures; for those climates, we would recommend something like the Marmot Montreaux or the Rab Deep Cover. When we tested the Arctic Parka in previous years, we noticed that the jacket ran a bit small. This year, we ordered up a size; there is more room in the shoulders and arms, and it also runs a bit too loose.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Liz Williamson

Last Updated:
Monday
January 22, 2018

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Impenetrable HyVent waterproof fabric compliments the six stylish color options of The North Face Arctic II. The hood is removable and has a fashionable faux fur ruff, giving the parka a classic winter jacket look. It's insulated with thick 550 fill down; while we were warm, this contender weighs in at 2.8 pounds and is one of the heaviest models we tested.

Performance Comparison


A classic winter parka style jacket with a faux-fur ruff around the hood  550-fill down insulation  and a waterproof exterior - all for a reasonable price! The Arctic Parka II did a stand-up job against its contenders  especially when it came to durability.
A classic winter parka style jacket with a faux-fur ruff around the hood, 550-fill down insulation, and a waterproof exterior - all for a reasonable price! The Arctic Parka II did a stand-up job against its contenders, especially when it came to durability.

Warmth


The Arctic II is insulated with an ample amount of 550-fill-goose down, but not as much as the Marmot Montreaux or the Patagonia Down With It Parka.


We were still warm and cozy in temperatures just at freezing; anything below freezing, and we started to feel some cold air in our arms, especially when our hands were in the pockets. There is little to no down insulation on the top of the pockets, so when our hands were in them, we could feel cold air, despite being lined with microfleece. The fact that the pockets had a fleece lining on both sides helped in cold weather, but it was almost distractingly apparent that there wasn't enough down placed above the pockets. The nylon cuffs on the sleeves kept out cold air and precipitation and worked to keep the heat in.

Adding internal nylon cuffs to a winter jacket really makes a difference in cold weather. Jackets that lacked cuffs had a hard time keeping warm air in and cold air out. We also noticed in stormy weather internal cuffs did a great job at keeping precipitation out. Pictured here is the Arctic Parka II from The North Face.
Adding internal nylon cuffs to a winter jacket really makes a difference in cold weather. Jackets that lacked cuffs had a hard time keeping warm air in and cold air out. We also noticed in stormy weather internal cuffs did a great job at keeping precipitation out. Pictured here is the Arctic Parka II from The North Face.

The Arctic II is just a little bit warmer than The North Face Metropolis Parka II, and much warmer than the Patagonia Fiona Down Parka and the Columbia Heavenly. Besides those jackets not having as much insulation as the Arctic Parka II, they also lacked the durable DryVent Gore-tex that the outer layer has. Our testing revealed that a thick, exterior layer does a better job of keeping cold air out in windy or stormy conditions.

The hood has a moderate amount of down insulation. In combination with the faux fur ruff, we noticed a difference in cold weather, compared to a jacket that had little insulation in the hood, like the Patagonia Tres Down Parka or the Arc'teryx Patera. On the other hand, the Arctic II didn't have as much insulation as the Marmot Montreaux or the Canada Goose Kensington Parka. During testing, we started to notice the difference between hoods that had faux/real fur ruff vs. those that don't. Our final thought? Faux or real fur does a great job at trapping warm air in and keeping cold air out.

Weather Resistance


This is a bomber jacket for sloppy weather, especially if you are on a budget. It wasn't as waterproof as our Top Pick for Wet Weather, the Patagonia Tres Down Parka, but we were still impressed.


The exterior layer is coated with DryVent 2L shell that is waterproof, windproof and breathable. When were outside for an extended period in rain and snow, water beaded up and rolled off longer than a model with just a DWR (durable water repellent) finish like the Rab Deep Cover Parka or Patagonia Down With It Parka.

Our Best Buy on a Tight Budget award winner  the Arctic Parka II did a great job in wet weather and is also budget friendly.
Our Best Buy on a Tight Budget award winner, the Arctic Parka II did a great job in wet weather and is also budget friendly.

In prior years when we reviewed the Arctic Parka, it wasn't as waterproof as the Arc'teryx Patera. This year, the Arctic Parka II surpassed the Patera when it came to warmth and waterproofness. When water beaded up on the Patera, it had a faster saturation rate than the Arctic Parka II, which is something to consider if you are torn between the two.

Style


Resting mid-thigh, the Arctic II has the potential to be highly fashionable - and don't get us wrong, it does have a nice look.


The only issue we have is with the sizing of the coat, which in turn messes with the style of the jacket. When we went up a size in the jacket, it became almost boxy looking in our chest and waist. It left us looking shapeless, despite having an elastic band inside at the waist.

We found this jacket to be a stylish winter coat  we were just a bit upset with its sizing and construction. We decided to order up a size from the last time we reviewed this jacket - we were looking for more room in the shoulders and arms  which we got  but now there was too much extra material in the chest and mid-section. The internal elastic waist did an okay job at adding shape to this coat  but we foresee the elastic losing its elasticity over time.
We found this jacket to be a stylish winter coat, we were just a bit upset with its sizing and construction. We decided to order up a size from the last time we reviewed this jacket - we were looking for more room in the shoulders and arms, which we got, but now there was too much extra material in the chest and mid-section. The internal elastic waist did an okay job at adding shape to this coat, but we foresee the elastic losing its elasticity over time.

If form-fitting and flattering is more your style, and you're a fan of The North Face, we recommend the Metropolis Parka II. It's not waterproof but is almost as warm as the Arctic Parka. The Metropolis also offers a more flattering style and extends all the way to the knee. We did like the Arctic II's smooth exterior appearance. The cotton/nylon blend on the exterior has a nice matte finish. Because of the Gore-Tex shell, there isn't much exterior stitching, like the Patagonia Fiona Down Parka or Marmot Montreaux. The faux fur ruff around the hood of the Arctic Parka II also offers extra warmth and even better style. Thumbs up to that!

The hood on the Arctic Parka II was satisfactory at trapping heat and keeping cold air out. Though it wasn't as high quality as the real fur ruffs on the Canada Goose jackets  we were still pleased. It was also quite stylish considering it's faux fur!
The hood on the Arctic Parka II was satisfactory at trapping heat and keeping cold air out. Though it wasn't as high quality as the real fur ruffs on the Canada Goose jackets, we were still pleased. It was also quite stylish considering it's faux fur!

Comfort


Despite the pockets allowing cold air in (due to lake of insulation above the pockets) when we were in cold temperatures, we were still comfortable in this cozy 550-fill-goose down parka.


The microfleece lined pockets provided even more comfort, despite the pockets lacking much insulation.

Insulated with comfortable 550-fill down  the Arctic II kept us warm when temperatures started to drop. The thick and durable outer shell did a great job at blocking cold temps and strong winds.
Insulated with comfortable 550-fill down, the Arctic II kept us warm when temperatures started to drop. The thick and durable outer shell did a great job at blocking cold temps and strong winds.

The Arctic II rested mid-thigh and offered better mobility than that of The North Face Metropolis Down Parka II or the Marmot Montreaux. The collar of this jacket is a bit stiff when we zipped it up all the way - almost to the point of being very uncomfortable. Fortunately, after we wore it more and more, the collar became less stiff.

The material by the chin was quite stiff the first couple times we wore the jacket. We had to break it in a bit before it was comfortable to zip all the way up.
The material by the chin was quite stiff the first couple times we wore the jacket. We had to break it in a bit before it was comfortable to zip all the way up.

Weighing in at 2.8 lbs, the Arctic II isn't a light jacket. We also went up a size this year due to our typical size being too tight last year. It feels like there's a lot of jacket, especially in the chest area. On the plus side, the extra room allowed us to wear an extra layer underneath, though we'd prefer the jacket just fit better.

Features


The Arctic Parka II has a DryVent exterior layer that is waterproof, windproof, and breathable - the main feature of this model. We got outside on sunny, windy days, as well as in stormy weather to test each one of these features. It didn't hold up as well as our Editors' Choice Award Winner the Canada Goose Kensington Parka, but for the price, it performed as expected. Since we last tested this jacket, The North Face added micro lined fleece pockets to both sides of the pockets, instead of only having it on one. This made all the difference, especially since there is thin insulation on the outside of the pockets.

A simple but appreciated feature  microfleece-lined pockets really make a difference in cold weather. Jackets that only had nylon on the inside didn't help keep our hands any warmer in cold weather. These pockets had a soft  cozy lining  but we wish there was down insulation in between the pockets and the front of the jacket.
A simple but appreciated feature, microfleece-lined pockets really make a difference in cold weather. Jackets that only had nylon on the inside didn't help keep our hands any warmer in cold weather. These pockets had a soft, cozy lining, but we wish there was down insulation in between the pockets and the front of the jacket.

There is an interior media pocket with a zipper, perfect for storing keys or a cell phone. The main zipper on the jacket is double sided for access from both ends, which also helped with mobility, even though we didn't find it that necessary since the jacket only reached mid-thigh. The sleeves have nylon cuffs at the wrist, which worked well in cold and wet weather, compared to jackets like The North Face Metropolis Parka II and the Patagonia Down With It Parka, which have no internal cuffs at all. We liked how easy it was to detach the hood and faux fur ruff on the Arctic Parka. Unlike the Patagonia Down With It Parka that uses snaps (which can sometimes be difficult to do in cold weather), the Arctic Parka uses zippers to attach the hood and the ruff. This was easier and quicker, especially when we were in a rush.

Durability


The Arctic IIParka was one of the most durable jackets we tested, falling closely behind the Canada Goose Shelburne Parka and the Editors' Choice Award Winner, the Canada Goose Kensington. The highly durable Gore-Tex DryVent outer shell is a nylon/polyester blend and is waterproof, windproof, and breathable. During the couple of months we tested, we didn't have any issues with rips or snags on the outer fabric. Besides having a thick outer shell, there are also minimal seams. Unlike the Patagonia Fiona Down Parka that has a ton of exterior stitching, the Arctic Parka II doesn't have much at all. On the Patagonia Fiona Down, we noticed feathers escaping at the seams, which wasn't the case with the Arctic.


Best Applications


Not your average winter jacket, The North Face Arctic Parka II can handle cold temperatures and sloppy winter weather. It's a great jacket for shoveling the driveway after a big storm or window shopping in New York City.

Value


For $299, this jacket is a great option for someone looking for a winter coat that can handle cold temperatures, and wet weather - all at the decent price. It wasn't the cheapest jacket we test, but for all that it offers, it's a good deal. Compared to our Editors' Choice Canada Goose Kensington Parka or the Canada Goose Shelburne Parka, the Arctic Parka II is a step below in quality and features, which is entirely feasible when you compare the price tags.

Conclusion


We were impressed with the functionality of The North Face Arctic Parka II, but we weren't completely sold on the style. Before buying this jacket, we recommend looking at the sizing chart or going to a store to try it on. We just couldn't find a size that fit well; otherwise, it was incredibly waterproof and windproof, and we didn't mind being outside in the cold and stormy weather. For the price, this award winner offers a lot of protection from winter weather, while still having a somewhat stylish look. We can't deny how much we love the faux fur ruff around the hood, which gives the jacket a winter parka vibe. If form-fitting and flattering are up your alley and price isn't an issue, check out the Editors' Choice Award Winner the Canada Goose Kensington Parka, which is also highly durable and waterproof. Another option for someone on a tight budget is the Rab Deep Cover Parka. It's super warm and stylish at an affordable price, but it isn't waterproof.

Liz Williamson

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