The North Face has a men’s and Women’s top Parka with the same name but I chose a slightly different one for women than men. I did so for one feature that no other coat in this entire series has. The top parka for women is the Women’s Cryos GTX Triclimate. For men they have the Men’s Cryos Expedition GTX Parka. Links are to the North Face site where you can see them. The runner up for women is the Women’s Cryos Expedition Parka.
- 1 How I Learned About Parkas And What to Look For
- 2 Photos
- 3 Scoring
- 4 See How North Face Stacks Up Against the Other Survival Parkas
- 5 Final Thoughts
- 6 A lighter option
- 7 Related
How I Learned About Parkas And What to Look For
I wrote an entire article on this topic. It’s companion article, that is linked to all of the parka reviews in this series. It is called Why Everyone Needs A Survival Parka and What You Should Look For. There I talk about how I came to be passionate about a good quality parka and what a learned from my experience. From it, you can tell why certain features are important and what the best designs are for each of them.
Reviewing products that are sold under a store brand makes for a real challenge in getting photos without copyright entanglements. Normally, I can get them from manufacturer’s but in these cases, we don’t know who the manufacture is. Photos can be seen on the North face website, linked to at the top of the article.
I rated each of the parkas, in this series, based on how their design matches the best features to keep people warm, dry, and alive. I also threw one in for aesthetics. At first this may seem like it’s just for looks but there is more there than that. In the companion article, I talk about how even aesthetics can help with survival. The scores are all out of ten, but I gave a bonus to the women’s parka, in one category. It was for it’s one of a kind feature that should not be one of a kind.
The shell of both parkas is made out of Gore-Tex. Gore-Tex is the pioneer of waterproof, windproof fabrics that allow water vapor to pass through them. This means you can stay dry from rain and melting snow and your sweat can evaporate.
Both shells are a separate layer from the down envelope.
The men’s parka earned a 10 for shell design.
Women’s Zip-Out Liner
The women’s parka has something I very much wanted to see in all of these parkas. It has a liner that can be zipped out. This allows you to wash the shell without washing the down. I mentioned in the companion article, that I have owned a down parka for over 20 years. You can see it’s even a light color.
One of the reasons this parka has lasted so long is because it has a zip out liner. Several times, over it’s life, I have removed that liner and washed it. I put soap directly on stains and scrub it with a brush before washing. For the most part, down is considered dry clean only, although North Face says you can wash the men’s parka. I’m skeptical about what would happen to the down after several washings. This means you become dependent on a 3rd party to take care of your stains and they don’t have the scrub method at their disposal.
The women’s parka is called a “Triclimate” because theoretically, you could wear each of the parts of the parka separately. I can’t see much advantage to wearing the liner without the shell. It won’t be much cooler, you’ll get it dirty, and it looks ridiculous. You can see images of it on the North Face site. You could wear the shell alone, as a rain coat. It would function very well as that. I have a parka I could do this with but I never do because I bought a separate rain parka.
Finally, you could wear a heavy fleece jacket under the shell, to make the parka less hot, in warmer weather. I have a parka with a fleece liner. It’s basically the same as having a fleece jacket on under it. I wear the parka in weather this is 20-40 degrees. It is bulkier though, than a fleece jacket would be alone. Adding a shell to a fleece jacket makes it windproof and waterproof.
If you were traveling, you could save space and prepare for a wider range of weather by bringing your Triclimate parka and a fleece jacket. Then you’d be covered from -40 to 65 degrees. If it was raining, you’d be covered up to 80 degrees or more.
This feature earned the women’s parka a bonus point for shell design, giving it the only 11 in the entire article series.
The men’s parka has an adjustable and removable wind-skirt. I’m not sure why you’d want to remove it but you can. The wind skirt is near but not at the bottom of the parka, like a hem cord would be. It does not have draw cords in the middle of the coat, for those men with thinner waists. Not having a waist cord means the coat could have lung action, pumping warm air out and cold air in.
The wind skirt has separate snaps on it. This means it’s not a set-it-and-forget-it feature, like an actual hem cord or waist draw cord can be. You have to consciously employ the wind skirt, every time you put on the parka. If you don’t, it’s useless. The snaps are going to be fast though. It’s just something you have to remember, in an emergency. It’s an extra step to putting the parka on.
The skirt earned it an 8 for giving the ability to block wind low on the parka though not all they way at the bottom. Men with larger waists won’t miss the waist cord. Men with smaller waists will.
The Women’s parka has no adjustable draw cords at all. The coat earned an 8 here, anyway, because they did something else. The liner of the coat is filled with elasticated baffles and the parka is cut to the shape of a woman. It does not have a straight cut but rather has an hourglass shape, without the need to draw on cords to do it. The elasticated baffles are also located all throughout the liner, giving it a snug fit all thorough the body.
Both parkas have cuffs that will keep the wind out. Neither of them have long long elasticized inner cuffs that overlap gloves. A gauntlet would have to be worn to achieve this. Nobody wants snow or wind on their wrist.
Zipper / Closing the Coat
As I’ve said in the other posts, all the parkas did well here. There are coats that don’t but none were selected for this series. The zippers go from the very bottom, all the way to the top and are protected from wind.
Insulation and Insulation Coverage.
Both of these coats have 800 fill down insulation. These are some of the heaviest insulated parkas I found. I think you reach diminishing returns though, so I didn’t give them a bonus for having more. Canada Goose would have included more than 650 down if it was needed or helped to keep people alive in Antarctica. The insulation goes pretty close to the zipper, not leaving large a gap, uncovered. 10s all around. The Hood and neck are insulated too. More on that below.
One thing about having more down though. More down means the parka becomes more flexible to people of different shapes. As stated in the companion article, down stuffed coats tend to fit close to the body. Having more down means you get more of this effect.
This is down’s major window closing anti-lung action feature that puts it above Thinsulate. I suspect this is why Thinsulate has not been used in coats much lately and is mostly used for cloves, where thinness is very important.
Hood and Neck Design
Both the men’s and women’s parkas have good survival hood and neck designs. These components are down insulated. The necks are high, covering part of the face. The hoods have Set-it-and-forget-it draw cord. They have a 2nd adjustment in the back to help keep it out of your eyes, as you draw the cords down. This allows the hood to cover as much of the face as possible, with it’s superior wind blocking and insulation vs hats and masks.
The parkas earned 9s here because the Canada Goose, standard bearer for this series, has something more to offer. Their hoods offer a wire infused real fur ruff. The wire gives you better control over the head shape. They also have fleece on the part of the neck that comes into contact with your face.
In my experience, 50% of the warmth in a parka comes from the hood and neck. 50%. There is no scarf, mask, hat, or anything else on the market that can do what a well designed hood and neck on your parka can do. So the more of you it that it covers, the better the results.
Like all Parkas in this series, they are big and bulky. The black color they are both available in, looks nice. It gives them a bit of a sleek look. I like that the women’s is cut like a woman’s hourglass shape. It doesn’t rely on a draw cord or waist belt to give it that shape. Other parkas do. They both eared 8s. It’s a subjective score.
Both of these parkas would be great to have if you were stuck on the side of the road in winter. That’s kind of the go-to image I have when I write all of these reviews. I think about that story of my mom, in her van, unable to go anywhere, in the dead of winter. In these guys, you’d be, not just alive, but quite comfortable. I would be happy sending a loved one out on an intercity drive, if they had one with them. They look pretty decent and wouldn’t’ mind having one myself
A lighter option
The Outer Boroughs parkas for both men and women offer similar design features but they have a 550 fill down. These could be a good option for more every day wear and could be augmented with a down vest for the rare absolute bitter cold day.