The North Face Outer Boroughs Parka - Women's Review
Cons: Tight shoulders and tricky fit, gaps between the hood and ruff
Manufacturer: The North Face
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The North Face Outer Boroughs Parka - Women's
|Price||$420.00 at Amazon||$499.95 at Backcountry|
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|$294.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Warm, waterproof, windproof, breathable, faux-fur ruff||Comfortable, durable fabric, awesome pockets, weather-proof and breathable||Warm, flattering, cozy, double-sided zipper, functional pockets||Waterproof, windproof, breathable, warm, durable||Stylish, incredibly warm, lightweight to down ratio, detachable fur hood|
|Cons||Tight shoulders and tricky fit, gaps between the hood and ruff||On the bulky side, face fabric holds onto water||No front snaps, not as warm when compressed, not waterproof||Cold pockets, slightly tight shoulders, and collar||Somewhat bulky, not waterproof, some feather & down loss|
|Bottom Line||A warm and protective option for anyone with narrow shoulders||An extremely warm, comfortable, stylish, and durable parka with lots of pockets||Serious warmth is packed into this lightweight, flattering, and reasonably priced parka||A warm and waterproof winter jacket that is available at a reasonable price||A 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|
|Weather Resistance (25%)|
|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|
|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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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."
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.
— Clark Tate