Best North Face Jacket for Men

Since 1966, The North Face has been making some of the finest jackets around, both for casual use and for more specialized activities like climbing, cycling, and backpacking. Their dedication to high-quality construction and high-performance output has earned them a reputation amongst our staffers as being the best outdoor manufacturer around.

Now it’s up to us to test that theory. That’s why we’re taking a deep dive into the best north face jackets for men, breaking it down by the activities that each one is best for. Then we are going to spend some time talking about what exactly makes these jackets stand out from their competitors.

Best Extreme Weather Jacket (1/2)

McMurdo Parka III

COLOR:  Bownie brown, new taupe, TNF black, urban navy, asphalt grey         

SHELL:  DryVent 2L (nylon, polyurethane)

LINING: Polyester, faux fur      

FILL: 550-fill goose down       

WATERPROOF:    Yes           

We’re giving our list a grand kick-off with the warmest and most weatherproof jackets that The North Face produces: the MCMURDO PARKA III. This is the newest incarnation of one of the company’s signature products, so it is perhaps not all that surprising that it has sold as well as it has in the short few months that it’s been on the shelves.

The McMurdo III is a heavy-duty cold weather jacket designed to protect against the harshest aspects of sudden or severe weather. Fully waterproof and windproof, it is unlikely that you are going to feel cold with this thing on.

The key to the jacket’s performance is in its fabric design. The alternating layers of synthetic and down materials provides a bit of the best of both worlds, so to speak, offering reliable wind and rain protection without sacrificing anything in the way of insulation.

The hood is fully removable, though we are not sure why you would ever want to remove it. The faux fur lining is comfortable and warm against a brisk winter wind, and it’s stylish to boot. Of course the McMurdo III is not without its faults. The biggest one we found was in the zipper design. As it stands, the pull tab is too small to operate effectively with gloves on. And let’s face it: if you find yourself wearing this jacket, you will most likely have a pair of gloves on.

Pros
  • Fully rainproof & windproof
  • Very warm 500-fill goose down insulation
Cons
  • Zipper is a bit too small and can be hard to operate with gloves
  • On the slightly more expensive side

Best Extreme Weather Jacket (2/2)

GOTHAM Jacket III

COLOR:  Brownie brown, new taupe, TNF black, urban navy, asphalt grey         

SHELL:  DryVent 2L (nylon, polyurethane)

LINING: Polyester, faux fur      

FILL: 550-fill goose down       

WATERPROOF:    Yes           

While the GOTHAM Jacket has a lot of things in common with the McMurdo Parka III that we reviewed above (namely, great weatherproofing, style, & comfort) there are a few key differences that set it apart. Because there is also a slight price difference between the two coats, we wanted to take a closer look at exactly what these differences were in order to make it easier to choose.

Firstly, the GOTHAM doesn’t seem to have quite the same level of down fill as the McMurdo, meaning that it probably couldn’t hold up to the same kind of sustained low temperatures. You can tell simply by comparing the ‘bulk’ of the two jackets. As opposed to the McMurdo, the Gotham seems a bit more concerned with trying to not make you look like the marshmallow man.

But we’ve got to say: this jacket is nothing if not warm. One of the reasons for this is no doubt the coat’s utilization of truly waterproof materials for the outer shell. Many down fill jackets, for instance, will spray their coats with a chemical waterproofing spray. While this can be effective at repelling certain amounts of moisture, it does very little in terms of additional insulation.

This shell, however, is made of 100% waterproof and windproof materials from the get go, meaning that more body warmth stays inside of the jacket, where it belongs. But we sure would like to ask The North Face: what’s with the lack of interior stash pockets? The overall pocket game is a little lacking here, if we’re being honest.

Pros
  • Not as bulky as the McMurdo
  • Real waterproof shell (as opposed to a spray-on coating)
Cons
  • No interior pockets
  • Not quite as insulating as the McMurdo Parka III

Best Rainwear (1/2)

VENTURE II Jacket

COLOR:  Over 25 different color combinations

SHELL:  Nylon, Polyester, Twill

LINING: Polyester, faux fur      

FILL: N/A (Waterproof shell only)       

WATERPROOF:    Yes           

A good rain jacket is hard to find. While it might stand to reason that they are all pretty much the same, our experience is quite the opposite. There is a confounding amount of variance in quality between the different manufacturers out there, and the result is that some jackets keep you dryer than others, and similarly, some keep you a bit warmer.

The North Face’s VENTURE II Jacket is a great piece of rain gear because it offers a reliable waterproof construction with a surprising amount of breathability. While many rain jackets out there can keep the rain out just fine, there are scant few that can actually let your own body’s moisture out.

Our favorite thing about the VENTURE II is its compact nature and lightweight construction. The whole jacket actually can be stuffed into a built-in stash pocket, turning the whole jacket into a small package that is actually smaller than some water bottles.

Yet for all this, the jacket still manages to be about as durable as even the big, bulky extreme weather coats, like the Gotham Jacket III, for instance. If there is any drawback to the jacket, it might be the lack of any kind of internal layer, however, that simply isn’t what rain jackets are all about, so we are hesitant to take away any points for that

Pros
  • Fully waterproof
  • Breathable & comfortable
Cons
  • Not insulated
  • Sizing can run a little large

Best Rainwear (2/2)

RESOLVE II Jacket

COLOR:  Over 30 different color options available online

SHELL:  100% Nylon

LINING: Breathable Mesh (Nylon)

FILL: N/A (Waterproof shell only)       

WATERPROOF:    Yes           

Somewhat lighter than the VENTURE II rain jacket, the RESOLVE II represents one of the most lightweight and stashable jackets in The North Face’s lineup. This one is made of 100% nylon, which is not only responsible for making the coat completely waterproof, but also cuts back on weight and bulk significantly. The result is a light and breezy jacket that will still keep you dry.

But, having said a few words about the jacket’s strengths, we should make a note that this isn’t a winter coat … not by a long shot. The interior lining is 100% nylon mesh, which actually makes this rain jacket quite breathable (at least, if not more breathable than the VENTURE) but it provides no additional insulation. However the RESOLVE II also happens to fit a little bit large, which is standard for rain jackets as it allows for the user to add another sub-layer of insulation, such as a sweatshirt or jumper.

Now we did have a few gripes with the RESOLVE II. Firstly, it seems to us that this jacket suffers from the same issue that most rain jackets in this price range suffer from, which is a feeble zipper that can be difficult to operate. While the small pull-tab can be fixed by adding a key ring or something to it, the zipper mechanism itself has a tendency to get caught in the jacket material, causing frequent jams that can be frustrating if you are out in the wilderness and the rain clouds are opening up for business.

Here’s our other advice for The North Face when it comes time to design the RESOLVE III: add a chest pocket or two. Otherwise, is the

Pros
  • 100% nylon construction = lightweight and compactible
  • Interior mesh lining adds increased breathability
Cons
  • Not very warm in winter temperatures
  • A stubborn zipper that is too small and gets jammed too often

Best Fleece Mid-Layer (1/2)

CAMPSHIRE Pullover Hoodie

COLOR:  Grey & Orange

SHELL:  N/A

LINING: 300-weight fleece

WATERPROOF:    No           

The CAMPSHIRE pullover fleece hoodie represents a return to style for the North Face, utilizing a classic design for a style that is at once nostalgic and contemporary. This looks a lot like some of the pullover jackets that TNF released in the seventies and eighties, and as the style-savvy outdoorspeople that we are, we absolutely love that.

Of course style can be meaningless without function. Fortunately that is not something that needs to be worried about here. The CAMPSHIRE utilizes an ultra-warm 300-weight fleece construction, making it the perfect mid-layer to wear beneath a larger jacket, or to wear alone on a chilly summer evening.

But who are we kidding? Fleece means one thing: comfort. There is simply nothing like a good soft fleece material against the skin to make you feel safe and cozy. The CAMPSHIRE knocks it out of the park on this one, offering one of the softest feels of any fleece pullover in its class.

 Let’s talk pockets. The center-mounted “kangaroo-style” pocket has become a standard of this type of mid-layer fleece, but TNF has upped their game here by including the secondary zip-up pocket at the top of it. This also feels like the remnant of the older pullover ski-jackets of the eighties, but it is perfectly used here. The hood is both comfortable and warm. When fully zipped up, this fleece provides a decent about of wind-block at the neck area, a nice bonus for a mid-layer like this.

Pros
  • Stylish 80s-style nostalgic design
  • Dual kangaroo pockets
  • Soft, comfortable, & warm
Cons
  • Somewhat pricey for a mid-layer, but worth it
  • Drawstring at the waist could be tighter

Best Fleece Mid-Layer (2/2)

GORDON LYONS Full Zip Fleece

COLOR:  Caramel Café, Garden Green, Blue Heather, Grey Heather, Black Heather

SHELL:  N/A

LINING: 300-weight fleece (100% Polyester)

WATERPROOF:    No      

While not quite as thick as the CAMPSHIRE fleece pullover, the GORDON LYONS is just as warm, and features the same 100% polyester 300-weight fleece. The real warmth comes from the way the Gordon Lyons fits, which is tighter and more frame-fitting than the Campshire without being tight or constricting. This actually makes it a slightly better option for a mid-layer than the Campshire, as it sits just a little bit more closely to the torso.  

Of course the chief difference between these two jackets is the zipper. The Gordon Lyons is a full-zip as opposed to a pullover, which gives it the ability of acting as a lightweight jacket for summer nights or chilly mornings on the golf course.

So which should you choose? Pullover or full-zip? The difference between the two is mostly aesthetic, so we can confidently recommend that you choose the style that you like best. My personal preference is the pullover, but that’s only because I am a sucker for kangaroo-style pockets. But the zip-up style of the Gordon Lyons in tandem with the dense weave of the exterior layer give it the look of a nice sweater, which makes it appropriate for the workplace as well, classy as it is.

Pros
  • Very stylish (in our humble opinion)
  • 3rd chest pocket for cell phone, keys, etc
Cons
  • Not as thick as the Campshire pullover

Best Windbreaker (1/2)

APEX BIONIC Jacket

COLOR:  Over 30 color styles to choose from  

SHELL:  100% polyester

LINING: 200-weight fleece

WATERPROOF:    No         

The APEX BIONIC is perhaps one of the most iconic jackets in TNF’s lineup. They have been making this jacket for years without any significant design changes, and for good reason. This is a high-performance soft-shell windbreaker that is thick enough to keep the cold out but thin enough to keep you comfortable in slightly warmer temperatures.

As is their style, TNF has made this jacket available in a staggering number of color combinations, with new colors being added ever two years or so. That means that you will likely be able to find the right color to match your current gear-set. For the style-conscious adventurer, there is really no better option.

You might hear some people remark about how the APEX line of jackets, as well as some other TNF windbreakers, run a little long in the sleeve. While this has shown up as a complaint on some people’s reviews, we actually love that the sleeves run a bit long. This makes it possible to pull the sleeve over the cuff of your glove, creating a wind-block at the wrist where a lot of heat can otherwise be lost.

The APEX BIONIC is a tad pricey for a soft-shell windbreaker. Considering that many other manufacturers offer something similar for nearly half the price, we had to take an extended moment to consider whether or not it was worth shelling out the extra cash for the TNF brand name. Surprise, surprise: it turns out that it’s totally worth it. No other manufacturer has truly nailed the soft-shell windbreaker like The North Face has. If you want something warm and reliable, we recommend looking no further.

Pros
  • A classic design that doesn’t need much updating
  • Great fit with extended sleeves for extra warmth-retention
Cons
  • More expensive than other manufacturers

Best Windbreaker (2/2)

FANORAK Windbreaker

COLOR:  11 color styles to choose from  

SHELL:  50D 75 G/m2 (100% Polyester)

FINISH: Durable Water Repellant (DWR)

LINING: Grid-Fleece

WATERPROOF:    NO (Water Resistant)

One of the newer models that TNF has released in recent years, the FANORAK windbreaker represents the company’s desire to offer wind and rain resistance in a package that is style-conscious and versatile. The company name is actually a play off the word ANORAK, which is a type of coat that was invented by the Caribou Inuit. Traditionally, they made them out of seal skin. Fortunately The North Face had the good sense to update the construction materials to something more animal-friendly.

They’ve got the style part down. The FANORAK series is available in a ton of different patterns and color combinations, far more than any other in its class. Beyond this, it has been designed to stash into its own kangaroo pocket. This converts it into a fully-functional fanny pack that you can take anywhere, making this one of the most versatile and transportable means of weather protection anywhere around.

While not fully waterproof, the FANORAK does offer a good degree of water resistance. As a city commuter jacket, there is just enough water protection to get you in and out of the rain before becoming soaked, however, it would not stand up to an extended march through a rainy countryside. The real strength here is probably the WINDWALL fleece technology. The North Face developed this system to significantly reduce the effects of wind chill while remaining flexible and breathable. In fact it is this flexibility of fabric that allows for air to escape but warmth to remain. How it works? Even The North Face couldn’t tell us that. Perhaps they’re looking to keep a few trade secrets for themselves. Could you blame them?

Pros
  • WINDWALL technology is best in wind-protection and breathability
  • Jacket stashes into its own kangaroo pocket to become a fanny pack
Cons
  • Some water resistance, but not much
  • Fit can be somewhat tight in the shoulders

Best Vest (1/2)

The North Face THERMOBALL Vest

COLOR:  Terrarium woodland green, Turkish Sea, Citronelle Yellow, Black, Cardinal Red  

SHELL:  15D NYLON ripstop

FINISH: Durable Water Repellant (DWR)

FILL: 11g/ft2 ThemoBall Down Insulation

WATERPROOF:    No (Water Resistant)

Ah, to be young and in vests. While they cannot match the full weatherproofing capabilities of their larger and more widely-covering counterparts, vests are a great way to retain more body heat without the full-on weight and bulk of a winter jacket. They work particularly well as mid-layers, trapping heat against the body’s core where it is needed the most. Alternatively, we can think or no better garment than a vest for those chilly fall camping expeditions.

This durable vest’s most unique feature is the bottleneck quilting pattern and ultralight THERMOBALL fill for one of the best warmth-to-weight ratios that we have found anywhere. This same lightweight fill is also responsible for the vest’s incredible packing ability. The jacket stuffs down into its own pocket and the end result is a light and portable package that can go with you just about anywhere.

Our favorite feature? Probably the fit. Once you have this thing on, it can be easy to forget that you are wearing it. It has just the ideal amount of flex to move when you do, but remains warm and comfortable the whole way through.

It may be helpful for some shoppers to note that when purchasing online, the color style and shade can vary somewhat from the picture that is displayed. It has no bearing on performance, so we are hesitant to even mention it, but hey. Style is important.

Last thing we will mention is the zipper. While it functions much more smoothly than on some of their other products, the shell material of the vest is so lightweight that it can get stuck in the zipper track quite easily, and if you’re not paying attention, could cause a tear in the material.

Pros
  • Comfortable & lightweight
  • Great warmth-to-weight ratio
Cons
  • Color shades may vary by style & year
  • Zipper can get caught in fabric somewhat easily

Best Vest (2/2)

The North Face 1996 RETRO NUPTSE Vest

COLOR:  TNF Black  

SHELL:  15D NYLON ripstop

FINISH: Durable Water Repellant (DWR)

FILL: Oversized down baffles

WATERPROOF:    No (Water Resistant)

Any outdoor gear head who has been around the trail a time or two will surely recognize the iconic style of The North Face’s 1996 RETRO NUPTSE vest, a product that has been designed as a throwback to one of the most successful and recognizable products of the company’s history. The big, boxy, oversized baffles provide a space for a thick down fill, enough to make this nearly as warm as some full-on jackets.

While some people might be happy enough with just the classic retro look, newcomers to the brand will appreciate the fact that TNF has updated this vest in all the right places, swapping out older nylon weaves for a state-of-the-art 15 Ripstop Nylon shell. It’s an outer layer that won’t be damaged without a fight, and it provides enough water resistance to ensure that you aren’t going to get completely soaked if you are caught out in the rain. We have to be honest: we absolutely love the 1996 RETRO NUPTESE vest, enough to recommend it to any one of our readers without hesitation. However we would be remiss to not mention our one and only qualm with the product, which is the price. It is far more expensive than some other copycat vests on the market. With The North Face, at least, you know you are getting something worth the money.

Pros
  • Classic retro design
  • Super warm oversized baffles
Cons
  • Quite expensive for a vest

Best TNF Jacket for Climbing

The North Face VENTRIX Hoodie

COLOR:  Hyper Blue, TNF Black, Asphalt Gray, Centennial Red, Conquer Blue

SHELL:  15D NYLON ripstop

FILL: Synthetic

WATERPROOF:    No (Water Resistant)

One of the problems that real outdoor enthusiasts face when they are shopping for a new jacket is finding a product that can simultaneously keep the user warm and cool. While this might sound like a contradiction, a jacket’s ability to regulate the user’s temperature might very well be its most important and telling quality. Especially for hikers and climbers, who are in cold conditions, but whose bodies will most certainly be running a little bit hot.

Enter the VENTRIX. This lightweight jacket has been designed specifically with hikers and climbers in mind. In fact, any highly aerobic activity where the body might be producing an excess amount of heat in variable weather conditions.

How exactly does it do this? Well, for one, this is a lightweight jacket. It’s not going to be as big and bulky as the GOTHAM or the MCMURDO, but can offer more dynamic use than the FANORAK or the APEX BIONIC.

In addition, THF has decided to utilize a 100% synthetic fill with this jacket, keeping it cool and breathable at the same time.  Finally, a specially designed system of stretching interconnected panels allows heat pockets to disperse more quickly, eliminating those pesky sweat spots that can occur with other jackets.

The jacket is not designed for extreme temperatures. Unless you are using it for an active sport like hiking or climbing, you might get cold depending on the weather. Our only other complaint is that there is no drawstring on the hood, meaning that there can be gaps around the face where cold air can get in.

Pros
  • Designed for highly aerobic activity
  • Lightweight and comfortable – the best north face jacket for running, hands down
Cons
  • Not very warm
  • No pull-cord or adjustment bungee on the hood

Best TNF Jacket for Cold Weather Climbing

The North Face HIMALAYAN PARKA

COLOR:  TNF Red, TNF Black

SHELL:  40D GORE WINDSTOPPER

WEIGHT: 3 lbs, 2 oz

FILL: 800 Fill Goose Down

WATERPROOF:    No (Water Resistant)

Normally we don’t like to make big blanket statements, but when you are talking about a jacket as highly revered as The North Face’s signature pro model, the HIMILAYAN PARKA, it is hard not to. That’s because this is simply hands-down no questions asked one of the warmest jackets that anyone has ever made, ever. It is without a doubt the warmest jacket on our list, and if you were to ask some of the world’s most adventurous mountain climbers, they might tell you the same thing.

I mean, check out those stats (listed above). Have you ever seen anything even close to an 800-Fill goose down insulation? That’s warmer than most top of the line sleeping bags. And that’s really what this jacket feels like when you have it on: a big, comfy sleeping bag.

But that’s certainly not what it’s designed for. This is a high-performance jacket for high-performance activities, like climbing some of the tallest and most remote mountains in the world.

It may come of no surprise that this is by a significant margin the most expensive jacket on our list. It is well out of the price range for most casual adventurers, but anyone looking to tackle something more extreme probably already has this very jacket in their sights. We think it’s curious that this is the only TNF jacket that only comes in two colors. What, no camo?

Pros
  • One of the warmest jackets of all time
  • High-performance construction means that it’s super durable
Cons
  • $$$$$$
  • Only comes in red or black

Conclusion

Considering that all of the products we looked at here were grouped by individual purpose, it would be perhaps a fool’s errand to try to select the best men’s The North Face jacket of the lot. So we might have to get a little more specialized in making our selections.

The overall most stylish award is going to the GORDON LYONS FULL ZIP FLEECE.  This is a jacket that has all the warmth of a high-performance TNF jacket without the extra bulk, and it is sure to look just as good in an office meeting as out on the slopes.

But since we’re talking about jackets, warmth is the name of the game. The warmest north face jacket is without a doubt the HIMILAYAN PARKA. People wear this thing on Everest, so there is no reason to doubt that it can keep you comfortable in just about any kind of weather.

What Kind of The North Face Jacket is Best for Me?

When it comes to North Face jackets, there are basically three different kinds, each with their own advantages and drawbacks. To make things easy, we’re going to break it down for you.

TNF Fleece Jackets

One thing that anyone could tell you is that The North Face makes super-comfortable fleece jackets. But what exactly are they made of?

TNF fleece is made from a proprietary fabric called Thermal Kinetic Advancement (TKA). Basically, it’s an advanced way of processing synthetic microfiber fabric into the thick and comfy fleece that we have come to love. TKA comes in three weights: TKA 100, TKA 200, & TKA 300, each one heavier and warmer than the last.

TNF Soft Shell Jackets

Soft Shell Jackets

The second type of jacket that The North Face does remarkably well is the Soft Shell Jacket. These jackets are designed to offer more wind and water resistance than the fleece jackets, as well as significantly more insulation.

The North Face uses another proprietary fabric for its soft-shell jackets known as APEX fabric. This is the windproof, water resistant, flexible material that serves as the outer layer for almost all the jackets in this class.

Just like TKA, the APEX line of fabrics can be separated into three distinct ‘classes’ of fabric. APEX Aerobic is the lightest and most breathable. APEX Universal is a bit more versatile and used for some slightly heavier jackets. APEX Climateblock is by far the most impermeable to wind, as is utilized on the warmest and thickest soft shell jackets that TNF produces.

TNF Hard Shell Jackets

Made for the serious outdoor enthusiast, hard-shell jackets are designed to handle the most unpredictable weather conditions as well as the wear and tear of a wide range of specialized activities.

These hardshell jackets use Gore-Tex for many of their outer shells, which provides a high degree of windproofing and waterproofing. It’s also extremely tear resistant, which makes it a popular option for ski jackets and climbing jackets.

Hyvent is the name given to the fabric that these coats use to pull moisture away from the body, which is what makes these jackets so comfortable even for high-aerobic activities like rock climbing and backpacking.

THE NORTH FACE: A Quick History of an Iconic Company

Some of you may be wondering why we felt the need to do a deep-dive into a single company, when there are in fact dozens of great coat manufacturers out there these days. The simple answer: The North Face is just that good. They make a huge assortment of coats and jackets for a myriad of different specialized purposes, as well as comfortable and stylish coats that can be worn anytime.

It all began in 1966, when the company set out with a mission to provide the highest level of gear for the American explorer and adventurer. They would dedicate themselves at the same time to preserving the outdoors, as well as inspiring a global following to share these ideals.

NORTH FACE logo

“The North Face” was chosen as the name of the company because it is usually the coldest and most unforgiving side of the mountain. Wanting to inspire outdoor enthusiasts to go farther & faster than they ever have, two young hiking enthusiasts set out to start a small outdoor supply store.

What began as a small project evolved into a global powerhouse in quality outdoor technology. Now, more than 50 years after the company’s founding, they are known by hikers, climbers, and skiers alike for making some of the warmest and most durable outdoor clothing anywhere.

Frequently Asked Questions

• Q: Is this jacket machine washable?

A: It depends on which model you are specifically referring to, but for the most part, all TNF jackets are capable of being machine washed, usually on the gentle cycle.

The most important thing is that you check the tag or product specifications to see exactly what kind of care is recommended.

• Q: Why are so few of these jackets fully waterproof?

A: With the exception of the VENTURE II and the RESOLVE II, almost none of the jackets on our list are completely waterproof. One of the biggest reasons is that many of the jackets we reviewed were designed as mid-layers, as opposed to waterproof jackets.

Waterproof materials are not very breathable, so they are not often used on cold-weather jackets. In addition, cold snow is actually quite dry, and does not usually penetrate the outer shell of a jacket that is only water-resistant.

• Q: Aren’t down jackets bad for animals?

A: For a long time, consumers have advocated for sustainable and responsible methods to be used in the construction of down jackets. As a response, The North Face dedicated themselves to making sure that every one of their down jackets and vests is certified to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) by Control Union.

This ensures that the down feathers do not come from animals that have been poorly treated or exposed to harm like live-plucking or force feeding.

• Q: Is it possible to tell the difference between a fake North Face Jacket and a real North Face Jacket?

A: Because there are a lot of copycats out there, you might need to know how to spot the difference between a knockoff product and the real-deal Check out this video on Original vs. Fake North Face Jacket in EU (YouTube) to learn more.

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