Reviews You Can Rely On

The North Face Outer Boroughs Parka - Women's Review

A warm and protective option for anyone with narrow shoulders
The North Face Outer Boroughs Parka - Women's
Photo: Backcountry
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $450 List | $420.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Warm, waterproof, windproof, breathable, faux-fur ruff
Cons:  Tight shoulders and tricky fit, gaps between the hood and ruff
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Clark Tate ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 18, 2021
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 15
  • Warmth - 30% 9
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 8
  • Comfort - 25% 4
  • Style - 10% 5
  • Durability - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The The North Face Outer Boroughs Parka blocks out cold and windy weather with 550 fill goose down. An insulated hood and generous faux-fur ruff help fight off the chill. The jacket also breathes well. Its fabric is durable and pliable, but the cut is tight in the shoulders and wide in the hips. So, while we should size up for our shoulders, we don't want that much jacket flaring around our hips. If you can nail the sizing and are okay with the style, this weatherproof jacket will serve you well.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award  
Price $420.00 at Amazon$499.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$294.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
71
83
76
74
71
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Warm, waterproof, windproof, breathable, faux-fur ruffComfortable, durable fabric, awesome pockets, weather-proof and breathableWarm, flattering, cozy, double-sided zipper, functional pocketsWaterproof, windproof, breathable, warm, durableStylish, incredibly warm, lightweight to down ratio, detachable fur hood
Cons Tight shoulders and tricky fit, gaps between the hood and ruffOn the bulky side, face fabric holds onto waterNo front snaps, not as warm when compressed, not waterproofCold pockets, slightly tight shoulders, and collarSomewhat bulky, not waterproof, some feather & down loss
Bottom Line A warm and protective option for anyone with narrow shouldersAn extremely warm, comfortable, stylish, and durable parka with lots of pocketsSerious warmth is packed into this lightweight, flattering, and reasonably priced parkaA warm and waterproof winter jacket that is available at a reasonable priceA stylish winter jacket that will keep you warm when temperatures start to drop
Rating Categories The North Face Oute... Fjallraven Nuuk - W... Marmot Montreaux The North Face Arct... Rab Deep Cover Parka
Warmth (30%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
Weather Resistance (25%)
8.0
7.0
5.0
8.0
3.0
Comfort (25%)
4.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
9.0
Style (10%)
5.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
Durability (10%)
9.0
9.0
5.0
8.0
5.0
Specs The North Face Oute... Fjallraven Nuuk - W... Marmot Montreaux The North Face Arct... Rab Deep Cover Parka
Insulation and Fill Power 550 fill goose down Supreme microloft (100% polyester) 700 fill power duck down with water resistant Down Defender 550 fill goose down and recycled polyester insultation 650 fill RDS Certified Hydrophobic European duck down
Fill Weight Unavailable 250 g 221 g Down - unavailable, Synthetic - 150 g 340 g
Hood Adjustable, insulated with removable faux fur trim Insulated with detachable faux fur trim Insulated, removable, detachable faux fur trim Adjustable, insulated with removable faux fur trim Insulated, detachable hood with faux fur trim
Pockets 2 zippered chest, 2 zippered hand, 1 sleeve 2 internal, 2 bellows, 2 hand, 1 sleeve, 2 chest 2 zippered handwarmer, 2 internal chest (1 zippered) 1 internal, 2 external 1 internal, 2 external
Weight (size small) 3.1 lbs 3.7 lbs 2.3 lbs 2.8 lbs 1.9 lbs
2-way zipper Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Weather Resistant Features Waterproof, windproof, breathable (DryVent) Waterproof, windproof Water resistant down, DWR treatment Waterproof, windproof, breathable (DryVent), DWR DWR treatment
Sizes Available XS to XXL XXS to XXL XS to XXL XS to 3XL 6 to 18
Social or Environmental Certifications Responsible Down Standard Fluorocarbon-free impregnation Lining 100% recycled polyester, Responsible Down Standard 650 RDS - (responsble down standards) certified hydrophobic European Duck Down, fluorocarbon-free Hydrophobic Down

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Outer Boroughs Parka is windproof and waterproof with enough warmth to shrug off winter. Weighing 3.1 pounds, it's also one of the heavier jackets we tested. It has five external pockets, including one on the left wrist for credit cards, which is cool. But it doesn't offer any insulated or internal pockets to keep our phones (or hands) out of the cold.

Performance Comparison


The Outer Boroughs Parka has a lot going for it, the fit just didn't...
The Outer Boroughs Parka has a lot going for it, the fit just didn't work that well for us.
Photo: Clark Tate

Warmth


The Outer Boroughs Parka encases 550-fill goose down in a thick and durable fabric, a mix of nylon, polyester, and cotton canvas. The combination holds in heat and blocks wind. It also seems to breathe well, making it appropriate for a range of temperatures.

We didn't overheat on a mellow walk in 36-degree weather, and our baselayers weren't soaking at the end of a sweaty snowshoe in temperatures hovering around freezing. It also keeps us comfy when standing around on blustery days in the teens and warmed us up quickly after a long, cold day of skiing. Soft wrist gaskets hold in heat and have a handy thumb hole to keep them snug around your hands.

The tall collar is roomy enough to tuck our chin behind and catch a...
The tall collar is roomy enough to tuck our chin behind and catch a little break from the cold.
Photo: Clark Tate

The collar zips up to just under your nose and is roomy enough to tuck your face inside, a rarity in winter jackets. This feature does a lot to keep you safe and warm on brutally cold days. You can snug the generous, insulated hood around your face and flip the large faux-fur ruff out to extend the hood around your face. The ruff is large, holding in warmth even when you roll it back up and over the hood.

The ruff is a great feature but does have a flaw. It's removable, via five easy to use snaps. That makes it easy to pull off and snap-on, but also leaves four large gaps between the ruff and the hood for the wind to funnel through. On a cold and blustery day, the frigid breezes that sneak in can be breathtaking.

Does this look awkward? Cause it feels awkward.
Does this look awkward? Cause it feels awkward.
Photo: Clark Tate

The pockets are all outside the insulating layer, so they don't keep your hands very warm. The upper, outward-facing pockets aren't deep enough for your hands anyway. There are no internal pockets, which is rare. Most winter jackets have one for your phone so it stays in the bubble of warmth, which helps maintain battery power in cold conditions. All told, this jacket does a really good job of keeping the cold out and warmth in.

The extended hood does a great job of protecting your face, but...
The extended hood does a great job of protecting your face, but there are gaps between the ruff and the hood where the wind slips through.
Photo: Clark Tate

Weather Resistance


Armored in two-layer fabric with a waterproof, breathable membrane, with a storm flap that snaps across the zipper, the Outer Boroughs Parka keeps the weather out. You won't need to worry if you're out in wet snow or sloppy wintry mix weather. And the same features that keep your face and hands out of the cold, will keep them out of wind and snow.

You will want to remove that ruff in the rain though. For one, it doesn't look great when wet, and it takes a while to dry. For two, water sneaks through the same snap-gaps that the wind does. When you roll the ruff back over the hood to frame your face, it forms a funnel that directs water into your collar. Once you take it off, the parka works great as a very warm rain jacket.

The shoulders are pretty snug, which really cuts into this jacket's...
The shoulders are pretty snug, which really cuts into this jacket's comfort.
Photo: Clark Tate

Comfort


If you find the right size or have the right build, this jacket is plenty comfortable. As we've mentioned, the shoulders are narrow relative to the rest of the jacket. Most of our testers have quite broad shoulders and would have to go up a size to move their arms comfortably in this coat.

Jacket capes are fun. And make it way easier to cart your big parka...
Jacket capes are fun. And make it way easier to cart your big parka around.
Photo: Clark Tate

Otherwise, the fabric is pliable and moves easily, and you can sit down in relative comfort thanks to the generous cut through your hips. The cozy wrist gaskets, warm hood, and roomy collar also keep you warm without feeling like you are fighting for air or a clear line of sight.

This parka is on the heavy side, but it does provide internal backpack straps so you can walk around hands-free if you pop into a store. Its pockets are lined with soft microfleece but aren't insulated enough to keep your hands very warm.

It feels a little awkward with a lot of room in the middle and not a...
It feels a little awkward with a lot of room in the middle and not a lot up top.
Photo: Clark Tate

Style


While it looks elegant on some, we don't love the bell-shaped look of this parka. It could really transform on someone with the right proportions, we just don't think it should be this hard to size a winter jacket.

We also think the upper, outward-facing pockets look silly, mainly because we don't understand the design choice. They function the same way an internal chest pocket does, but are harder to access, and leave your devices out in the cold. The fabric is high quality though, and we like the hood and large ruff. If this style calls to you, we say go for it.

We found no reason to doubt that this jacket will endure.
We found no reason to doubt that this jacket will endure.
Photo: Clark Tate

Durability


We have every confidence that this parka is built to last. The outer fabric is tough and not prone to snagging. The inner liner seems durable as well. The zippers and snaps seem high-quality and unlikely to fail. We really couldn't find a weak point in over a month of testing.

Again if it fits you well, it offers solid value.
Again if it fits you well, it offers solid value.
Photo: Clark Tate

Value


The Outer Boroughs' price tag seems high, mainly because we couldn't get it to fit well. If this jacket fits you well, and you like the style, this level of warmth and weather protection is in line with the price. If you have to settle for an uncomfortable fit, it definitely isn't.

If you also value sustainability and the ethical treatment of people and animals, the jacket's insulation meets the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) By Control Union. And it's Durable Water-Repellent (DWR) Finish does not contain harmful PFCs (Non-PFC DWR).

The North Face also claims to be, "deeply committed to creating a safe and positive working environment for those men and women who make our products."

Conclusion


Overall we're very impressed with The North Face's Outer Boroughs Parka. It's warm, practical, and waterproof. If you can find a fit that works for you, you can't go wrong with what this jacket has to offer.

The Outer Boroughs in a reliable cold-weather companion.
The Outer Boroughs in a reliable cold-weather companion.
Photo: Clark Tate

Clark Tate