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The North Face Outer Boroughs Parka - Women's Review

A classic winter parka that is warm, waterproof, windproof and breathable
The North Face Outer Boroughs Parka - Women's
Photo: The North Face
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $420 List | $314.96 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Warm, waterproof, windproof, faux-fur ruff, adjustable waist, seven pockets
Cons:  Heavy, tight shoulders and tricky fit, awkward collar and hood
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Clark Tate ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 30, 2020
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 15
  • Warmth - 30% 9
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 9
  • Comfort - 25% 5
  • Style - 10% 7
  • Durability - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The North Face Outer Boroughs Parka is a winter workhorse. Insulated with 550 fill goose down, the jacket has a heavy-duty waterproof exterior that hits just above the knee. It's bombproof. From wind to sleet to deep cold, nothing gets through. The downside is that you feel like you're walking around in a tank. It's heavy, feels tight in the shoulders, and the hood is uncomfortable when the faux fur ruff is attached. That said, for the weather protection and warmth that it offers, it's reasonably priced. It also has cuffs that convert to mittens and plenty of pockets. An adjustable waist helps to combat the jacket's bulky appearance. It offers the best weather protection to price ratio of any jacket we tested, winning it our Best Buy for Serious Weather award.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Warm, waterproof, windproof, faux-fur ruff, adjustable waist, seven pocketsSeriously warm, flattering, removable faux fur ruff, double sided zipper, functional pocketsFlattering, waterproof, durable, three jackets in one, recycled down and polyesterWarm, light, largely comfortableStylish, comfortable, easy to wear
Cons Heavy, tight shoulders and tricky fit, awkward collar and hoodNo front snaps, not as warm when compressed, not waterproofUninsulated hood, tight shoulders, no two-way zipper on down jacket, tricky pocketsSomewhat awkward collar, small hoodNot as warm, awkward pockets
Bottom Line We stayed warm and dry in wet snowy weather in this heavy-duty winter parkaAn insanely warm and cute jacket that won't break the bankThis parka is a versatile option that shines in wet winter conditionsThis warm and trim parka is sophisticated and can handle itself in rough weatherWhile it's not the warmest jacket it is comfortable, cute, and easy to wear
Rating Categories Outer Boroughs Parka Marmot Montreaux Tres 3-in-1 Parka Jackson Glacier Columbia Suttle Mountain Long
Warmth (30%)
9
10
7
9
7
Weather Resistance (25%)
9
6
10
7
7
Comfort (25%)
5
10
8
8
9
Style (10%)
7
10
8
7
9
Durability (10%)
9
6
9
9
8
Specs Outer Boroughs Parka Marmot Montreaux Tres 3-in-1 Parka Jackson Glacier Columbia Suttle...
Insulation and Fill Power 550 fill RDS goose down 700 fill power duck down with water resistant Down Defender 700 fill recycled duck and goose down 700 fill recycled duck and goose down 100% polyester synthetic down and thermal-reflective lining
Fill Weight Unavailable 221 g 150 g 170 g Not available
Hood Insulated, detachable faux fur trim Insulated, removable, detachable faux fur trim Uninsulated, removable Insulated Insulated, detachable faux fur trim
Length Mid-thigh Knee-length Mid-thigh Knee-length Mid-thigh
Pockets 2 high handwarmer, 2 side-entry front, 1 internal (all zipped), 2 top-entry front 2 zippered handwarmer, 2 internal chest (1 zippered) 2 zippered handwarmer in shell, 2 zippered handwarmer and 1 internal chest in down liner jacket 2 zippered handwarmer, 1 internal chest (zippered) 2 snap handwarmer, 1 external zipped chest
Weight (size small) 3.5 lbs 2.25 lbs 2.9 lbs 2.0 lbs 2.4 lbs
2-way zipper Yes Yes Yes and No Yes Yes
Main Fabric 49% nylon, 33% polyester, 18% cotton canvas 100% polyester 100% polyester, H2No 100% recycled polyester 100% polyester
Weather Resistant Features Waterproof, windproof, breathable Water resistant down, DWR treatment Waterproof, windproof, and breathable barrier, DWR finish DWR treatment Water resistant fabric
Sizes Available XS to XXL XS to XXL XS to XXL XS to XL XS to 3X
Top Features Durable outer shell, storm cuffs turn into mittens Plush fleece lined torso, micro fleece pockets and cuffs Zip-out two layer design, removable hood, fleece-lined pockets No stitch bonded quilting Fleece-lined hood, thermal reflective lining
Social or Environmental Certifications Lining 100% recycled polyester, Responsible Down Standard 100% recycled down, 50% recycled polyester shell, 100% recycled polyester jacket, Fair Trade Certified sewn 100% recylced down, 100% recycled polyester shell, 100% recycled polyester lining, Fair Trade Certified sewn

Our Analysis and Test Results

What this jacket lacks in finesse, it makes up for in brute force. Some of our testers loved its style and tough-on-winter attitude. Others did not. Its fit is a little finicky, and it feels cumbersome. What none of us can argue about is that it is a fortress against the wind, rain, and cold.

Performance Comparison


With a thick waterproof and windproof shell, 550 fill goose down...
With a thick waterproof and windproof shell, 550 fill goose down insulation, and a collar that zips up to your eyes - the Outer Boroughs Parka has you covered in winter weather.
Photo: Austin Trigg

Warmth


The Outer Boroughs Parka's 550-fill goose down is encased in a thick and durable fabric, a mix of nylon, polyester, and cotton canvas. The combination does a great job of holding in heat and blocking wind. We were comfy in this jacket on cold morning walks, and it warmed us up quickly after a long, cold day of skiing. Many online reviewers from Montana and Minnesota agree that this jacket can take on bitter northern winters.


The insulated hood fits snuggly. With its faux fur ruff, it does a great job of fending off frigid and windy weather. The tall and thick collar zips up to your nose. It's lined in fleece and insulated with down, creating an impenetrable wall between the weather and the lower half of your face. All you need is a pair of goggles to complete the cocoon.

Weather has a hard time finding an opening to sneak into this parka.
Weather has a hard time finding an opening to sneak into this parka.
Photo: Austin Trigg

The jacket has fleece cuffs that extend a couple of inches beyond the sleeves. They help hold the cold at bay and convert to mittens. This thoughtful detail is handy in a pinch, but they aren't waterproof and can work against warmth when they get wet. And there isn't a great place to keep your hands dry. The handwarmer pockets are tucked in by your rib cage. They are narrow, quickly running into the zipper, and deep. To tuck your hands in, you have to turn your wrist at an uncomfortable angle to shove them straight down along the zipper.

The thick waterproof keeps you dry and blocks wind. The fur ruff...
The thick waterproof keeps you dry and blocks wind. The fur ruff keeps the snowflakes out of your eyelashes.
Photo: Austin Trigg

Weather Resistance


Waterproof and windproof, the Outer Boroughs brushed off all the rain, snow, and wind mother nature threw at us. A storm flap snaps across the zipper, keeping every drop of moisture out. Only a few issues showed up in our shower test that kept it from earning top marks in weather resistance.


First, the fleece cuffs wet through. You can cut them off or tuck them in to avoid the issue, but neither is an elegant solution. And second, the fur ruff acted as a funnel, dumping water into our collar. It would create a pool that would then douse our lead tester's shirt. She got soaked. If you take the ruff off, this isn't an issue. So remember to remove it in the rain, when it's not that useful anyway.

After four minutes in the shower, the Outer Boroughs Parka looks...
After four minutes in the shower, the Outer Boroughs Parka looks like we just splashed it a bit.
Photo: Clark Tate

The fabric is also breathable, according to North Face. We don't have any reason to doubt that it breathes, and we didn't notice excessive moisture buildup. But it's so thick that it blows our minds that anything could escape, including air. That said, we never caught a chill because of interior moisture buildup.

Photo: Sierra Purcell

Comfort


Weighing in at 3.5 lbs, this is one of the heaviest options we tested, and we could tell. It's also stiff and feels like a lot of jacket. It's not that much fun to carry around in a store or restaurant. The fit is also hard to nail. Our regular size small is tight in the shoulders, especially with a fleece-weight layer, but the bell bottom is large enough that we wouldn't want to size up. The overall effect is cumbersome, and one tester compared it to wearing a straight jacket (which is a little harsh). On its own, we get used to it. When we compare it to the other jackets in the test, we don't.


The hood is snug, which helps combat the cold, but leaves little margin for long necks, big heads, lots of hair, or hats. It's comfortable, though, as long as you remove the ruff and stays out of your face. We like faux fur's function. It does a great job of keeping wind and snow out of our face. But the way this one zips in bunches the fabric along the edge of the hood, making it weirdly stiff and uncomfortable. We take it off whenever we can, which is a shame because the faux fur on the Borough is beautiful.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The tall collar is also stiff and narrow enough to zip a little too tight to your face. Despite the plush fleece liner and soft down insulation, it's not the best. It does its job in a storm, though, and you can always unzip it. After wearing the jacket for a couple of months, the collar did relax a little. That's something to look forward to and probably speaks to the jacket's durability.

The collar was somewhat stiff when we first started to test this...
The collar was somewhat stiff when we first started to test this model. The more we wore the jacket, the less stiff it became.
Photo: Sierra Purcell

The fleece cuffs are cozy when dry. We've already talked about the less than ideal hand warming pockets. They are functional but not comfortable. We do like that the cargo pockets are low enough on the jacket for you to sit down with a phone in them without it jabbing you in the ribs.

Some of our testers love this jacket's style. Others give it a solid...
Some of our testers love this jacket's style. Others give it a solid "meh."
Photo: Clark Tate

Style


The testing team couldn't agree on this jacket's style. Some loved it, and others loathed it. Most were pretty ambivalent — it's a durably looking parka with an uncomfortable but pretty fur ruff. We settled on a bit above average in the scores. Here we'll run through the stye features and leave the ultimate decision up to you.


An adjustable waistband gives the jacket some shape, and it curves out to a bell around the hips. Despite being a think and bulky jacket, it manages a reasonably slim silhouette. The pockets are a defining aspect of the jacket's style, which some like more than others. When the hood is up, the collar flares along with it, bringing some automatic attitude.

Good luck wearing this jacket out.
Good luck wearing this jacket out.
Photo: Austin Trigg

Durability


The Boroughs is a tough, durable jacket that will withstand harsh winter conditions for years to come. Over the months that we tested this jacket, we didn't come across any durability issues. Online reviews don't mention any consistent durability issues, either. The minimal exterior stitching and sturdy fabric make snags or tearing unlikely.


Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Features


The Outer Boroughs Parka doesn't shy away from features. There are the convertible mitten storm cuffs we mentioned, the high collar, and non-detachable hood with its detachable fur ruff. All of these features work to improve your comfort in harsh weather.

The hood isn't detachable, but the faux fur ruff is. We loved how...
The hood isn't detachable, but the faux fur ruff is. We loved how shiny and beautiful the ruff is. For being fake fur, the quality is outstanding.
Photo: Sierra Purcell

The hood isn't detachable, but we didn't mind that as much as we thought we would. The beautiful faux fur ruff is removable. We love that about it since it's so uncomfortable to wear.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

There are lots of pockets, seven of them. Six are on the outside. There are the two hand warmers we've discussed and two cargo pockets with snappable flaps. Tucked into the outside of each cargo pocket is an equally sized zipper pocket. If you need that many storage pouches, this jacket has them. There is also an interior, zipped media pocket that's big enough for most smartphones.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The double-sided zipper lets you lengthen your stride. There's also a storm flap that buttons over the zipper for extra protection in wet and stormy weather. We like that we can just snap a few buttons and go without worrying about the zipper. A cinch at the waist adds shape and style.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Value


This jacket offers protection from the cold, the wind and water for a reasonable price. It's loaded with features like a removable faux fur ruff, adjustable waist, seven pockets, convertible mitten storm cuffs, and a down-insulated inner collar. The fit and comfort issues are most apparent when you try on a lot of lighter, more comfortable options. If you need shelter from the storm, this is an excellent option.

Conclusion


Overall we were 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 as to offer.

A burly jacket that can handle the dark depths of winter, the Outer...
A burly jacket that can handle the dark depths of winter, the Outer Boroughs is in it for the long haul.
Photo: Clark Tate

Clark Tate