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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
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Price:  $450 List | $246.92 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
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
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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 Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  
Price $246.92 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$500.00 at Amazon$389.40 at Backcountry
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$359.40 at Backcountry$625.00 at Backcountry
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Pros Warm, waterproof, windproof, breathable, faux-fur ruffComfortable, durable fabric, awesome pockets, weather-proof and breathableAthletic fit, comfortable, stylish, temperature regulating, waterproofFlattering, waterproof, durable, three jackets in one, recycled down and polyesterWindproof, warm, super comfortable, lightweight, packs into a pillow
Cons Tight shoulders and tricky fit, gaps between the hood and ruffOn the bulky side, face fabric holds onto waterSleeves and hem are less insulated, tricky hood tightened, expensiveUninsulated hood, tight shoulders, no two-way zipper on down jacket, tricky pocketsNot waterproof, hood doesn’t detach, finicky zipper
Bottom Line If you can find the right fit, it’s a warm and protective winter jacketDurable and waterproof, this jacket is a great option for cold or wet weatherStylish and functional, this jacket will keep you dry and warm when moving around in the winter monthsThis parka is a versatile option that shines in wet winter conditionsThis parka is windproof and warm
Rating Categories Outer Boroughs Parka Fjallraven Nuuk - Women's Arc'teryx Patera Parka Tres 3-in-1 Parka Canada Goose Camp Hooded
Warmth (30%)
9
9
6
7
8
Weather Resistance (25%)
8
7
9
9
6
Comfort (25%)
4
9
9
7
9
Style (10%)
5
7
8
9
8
Durability (10%)
9
9
9
7
7
Specs Outer Boroughs Parka Fjallraven Nuuk -... Arc'teryx Patera... Tres 3-in-1 Parka Canada Goose Camp...
Insulation and Fill Power 550 fill goose down Supreme microloft (100% polyester) 750 fill down 700 fill recycled duck and goose down 750 fill hutterite white duck down
Fill Weight Unavailable 250 g 59 g Down, 100 g Coreloft 150 g Unavailable
Hood Adjustable, insulated with removable faux fur trim Insulated with detachable faux fur trim Insulated hood Uninsulated, removable 2-way adjustable tunnel hood
Pockets 2 zippered chest, 2 zippered hand, 1 sleeve 2 internal, 2 bellows, 2 hand, 1 sleeve, 2 chest 2 handwarmer, 1 internal chest pocket 2 zippered handwarmer in shell, 2 zippered handwarmer and 1 internal chest in down liner jacket 2 external, 1 internal, 1 internal stretch mesh pocket
Weight (size small) 3.1 lbs 3.7 lbs 2.0 lbs 2.9 lbs 1.3 lbs
2-way zipper Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Weather Resistant Features Waterproof, windproof, breathable (DryVent) Waterproof, windproof Waterproof, windproof, and breathable barrier, DWR finish Waterproof, windproof, and breathable barrier, DWR finish Windproof, DWR treatment
Sizes Available XS to XXL XXS to XXL XS to XXL XS to XXL 2XS to 2XL
Social or Environmental Certifications Responsible Down Standard Fluorocarbon-free impregnation Some materials meet bluesign criteria
Responsible Down Standard
100% recycled down, 50% recycled polyester shell, 100% recycled polyester jacket, Fair Trade Certified sewn

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