North Face Himalayan Parka First Look

Post by blogger | November 16, 2009      

I have to admit that when Jordan White asked me if I’d like to come on the Wildsnow Denali trip, my first thought was of the agonizing, bitter cold. I’m a Colorado boy who likes the mild winters and abundant warmth of our state’s hundreds of sunny days a year. Even my east-coast girlfriend told me to quit being a baby when I whined about being soaked and cold when we were in Ushuaia last summer.

Then I put the Himalayan Parka on and I instantly was unafraid of multiple days of negative forty. I was sweating, not from anxiety, but from the most absolute jacket I’ve ever put on. One could almost substitute this parka for a sleeping bag, though you wouldn’t save much space; the included stuff sack actually fits my zero degree bag.

North Face parka for backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering.

Tyler and Colby trying out their lofty parkas inside a Hilleberg Nammatj 3. A little cozy with three guys, but with the GT vestibule, should be fine. We're still trying to get a handle on what our tent setup will be for Denali.

Tyler’s first impression sums it up well:
“The first thing you notice when slipping this jacket on is that it’s substantial; extremely puffy and warm. While 800 fill down alone inspires confidence, the jacket seems to be filled with a good quantity (weight) of this high loft stuff, as well as using Climashield synthetic in key spots to optimize performance. The parka fits true to size. I’m 5’9” and 165lbs and a medium fit the bill. The cut of the jacket is definitely made for warmth. Plenty of room for layers without being huge (for an expedition parka), long sleeves and cuffs, and a past waist length cut to eliminate cold spots. Overall this jacket is well made for its price point, the exterior seems to be a thicker and more durable (Gore Windstopper fabric), as opposed to some tissue paper thin down parkas that are perhaps slightly lighter in weight, but don’t cut wind as well and can tear easily.”

I’m in a size large at 6’0″ and the same weight and am very happy with the fit of a size large; I can fit many layers on underneath, and can also go with very few. The fit is generous and allows for unrestricted movement. Of note, the insulation in the arms varies in density, more in the back less above, so arm movement is easy. The hood fits a helmet and can be put on and off even with the main zip fully closed. Drawstrings for the opening at the face and one at the back to tighten the crown all work well. There is a thick neck baffle to keep your body totally isolated from the cold.

All the zippers are of the coated water resistant variety, which sounds great in theory, but in practice, the main zip is somewhat small and difficult to operate. I’m not sure this type of zip is necessary for a down jacket, especially since there is also a full length Velcro flap. At the least, a larger toothed zipper would be helpful when trying to zip up with mitts, and might also be more resistant to damage from miss-zips.

Backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering North Face jacket.

The North Face Himalayan Parka: perfect for Denali expeditions and for modeling in the living room. Does my butt look big in this?

There is a drawstring at the waist to cinch it up, but nowhere to put the excess cord. Most of my jackets have something for this, I’m thinking I might have to add it; I don’t want a big loop hanging at my waist to get caught in the harness/pack/camera cluster. To keep things warm at the wrist, the parka has integrated hobo gloves. These seem really cool at first, preventing exposed wrist syndrome; but under a pair of gloves, they feel a little tight and restrictive. No matter, if you don’t like them, they can easily be slipped up under the sleeves.

An excellent feature is the interior water bottle pockets, one on each side. These will be great to keep beverages from freezing and to store other items that need to stay warm or that need to be dried. That being said, Lou pointed out that he’s going to have a large mesh pouch sewn into his parka on at least one side in the front, as a place to dump gloves, hats and so forth. He said he’s had that on most of his extreme jackets over the years, and that it’s an awesome feature that makes life much easier when living in extreme conditions. I’ll be curious how he does that, and perhaps we’ll all duplicate the mod.

There are four exterior pockets on the North Face Himalayan: two hand warmers and two napoleons, all of which have a soft lining. None of the pockets are accessible with a pack on, but the napoleons can be reached by undoing your pack’s sternum strap. There is down insulation on the outside of the pockets and a thin layer of synthetic Climashield Neo between them and the inside. Climashield is also present in key areas such as the shoulders (the combo of synthetic and down is one of the features that makes this jacket exceptional).

North Face Himalayan

Next test: will it fit a bottle of Beam?

All in all, I am totally psyched on this jacket and look forward to matching the Michelin Man bulge for bulge. Denali may be a frigid experience unless we get perfect conditions, but I feel emboldened to take it on.

Shop for the Himalayan Parka.
And check out Hilleberg Tents.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


21 Responses to “North Face Himalayan Parka First Look”

  1. Jordan November 16th, 2009 9:37 am

    Nice Work NIck! I’m stoked on these jackets as well. Glad you are coming dude!

  2. Joe November 16th, 2009 10:30 am

    The puffies look great, thanks TNF! Looking forward to testing them with you guys soon. Sounds like we could cook pizza in those inner pockets.

  3. Nick November 16th, 2009 11:26 am

    Nice write up. Although if I was going to Denali, you can be sure a Feathered Friends Icefall or Rock & Ice Parka would be going with me…..

  4. Jordan November 16th, 2009 4:42 pm

    I think everyone has a preference, and yes Feathered friends make some damn nice jackets, but TNF has really turned my opinion of them around lately with some of the products I have seen from them.

  5. Tyler November 16th, 2009 5:03 pm

    Ditto what Jordan said…..the jackets really seem built for their intended purpose…..tough conditions. Looking forward to really putting them through their paces.

  6. Mark November 16th, 2009 5:11 pm

    The new Climashield insulations from TNF really are pretty amazing. Nice to see them in use along with down in the same item.

  7. Evan Mitchell November 16th, 2009 5:19 pm

    Song Mtn and SU racing represent! Wishing you folks the best of weather

  8. Lou November 16th, 2009 8:22 pm

    Combining down with synthetic is incredibly powerful. For example, for a while Marmot made those sleeping bags that were down on the inside and synthetic insulation on the outside. They were awesome, but never caught on for some reason, probably because most people don’t need a bag that high tech. But they were nonetheless awesome.

    These TNF parkas really are great. They’re more of a “work” parka, in that they’ve got the pockets and shell fabric for something you’d wear as your outer layer for days on end at high altitude. I of course have my Feathered Friends and other 100% down jackets made with lighter fabric, but those coats are a bit fragile in comparison (though some have better zippers), but having the synthetic insulation in the right places is, again, something special.

  9. ron l rash November 16th, 2009 8:53 pm

    Nice article and review.

    I’m looking at the photos and I would suggest an extra large. I would also suggest a parka that covers your butt. Jordan will need an extra, extra large. Not only for layering but also it’s easier to heat air under your layers than having a snug fit.

    On Friday of this week I leave with 16 other folks on a 2 week winter trip in Wyoming off of Togwotee Pass. All of our layers will be roomy and the outer parka for me is an extra large Mountain Hardwear Subzero Parka. I’m 5’10” and 150 lbs. The parka I wear is winter fit perfect. I can also wear the parka in my winter sleeping bag in case the temperature become grim.

    Just some thoughts.

    Lou I hope you don’t mind my suggestions.

    Thanks, Ron

  10. Nick November 17th, 2009 1:25 pm

    I agree that a synthetic/down combo seems like a wise development. As to the fragility of pure down, Lou have you see FF now has an eVent option. I have yet to handle, but I suppose these are super nice.

  11. William Finley November 17th, 2009 2:38 pm

    Not sure where the fragility concerns of FF is coming from. My FF rock and ice parka has seen 10+ years of heavy abuse and only sports a couple pieces of duct tape to cover up scars. North face made some good stuff (I used an old Aerohead on my first Dena trip) — but their stuff has stayed heavy over the years while competitors have gotten lighter (i.e. – NF parka is 43 oz whereas the FF is 22 oz).

    If I was heading to the Khumbu with my own personal porter I’d haul a NF tent / bag / parka — but alas the porters in Talkeetna are either drunk, surly or too expensive.

  12. Lou November 17th, 2009 3:29 pm

    William, I did not intend to say anything was excessively fragile. Different jackets with different outer shell material can stand up to various degrees of abuse. That’s just reality. The TNF has a bit thicker outer shell, which I believe has advantages for heavy use. That being said, saving weight is also important, and we’re definitely working on that issue in many areas. As you know, I’m a fan of Feathered Friends as well, and I’ll be using one of their parkas for my Colorado puffy this winter.

  13. PJ January 28th, 2010 11:02 am

    I just orderd a FF Frontpoint Parka in Event fabric. I am intriqued with the Himalayan, although I oredered the Frontpoint because I wanted something a bit shorter and not a full length parka. The pictures above indicate that maybe the NF Himalayan IS NOT parka lenght…can someone comment on size and length of each. I am 6’2 230lbs…XXL you think?

  14. Lou January 28th, 2010 11:06 am

    The Himalayan is indeed a bit short. It works, but I wouldn’t mind if it was an inch or two longer at the waist.

  15. PJ January 28th, 2010 11:23 am

    thanks for the quick response. My FF Frontpoint will be delivered today and i just want to make sure I am looking at the NF Himalayan as a viable comparable jacket. Although I am not a climber, I do spend a lot of time outside in the winters here in MN where the temp is frequently below 0. In your opinion, are both jackets comparable in warmth and allow good mobility? Which mfg has a looser or fuller cut, NF or FF? Thank you

  16. PJ January 29th, 2010 9:12 pm

    I sent back the FF Frontpoint and ordered the TNF Himalayan. It is longer in the torso and feels great. Not as puffy as the Frontpoint and the fabric is not as durable feeling as the Event, but I do like the look better. Trying it tomorrow while ice fishing on Milacs in N. MN

  17. Richard February 1st, 2010 11:37 am

    Anybody know of shops still having the Himalayan Parka in stock? And at a good price? Currently residing in Scandinavia and the need for this kind of a jacket is very much present, but all the shops seem to be sold out for all but size XS.

    Also I am 5’11 and 160 lbs. I am thinking about the size LARGE, but I don’t want the jacket larger than I have to.

    Any info appreciated.

  18. PJ February 1st, 2010 5:04 pm had a number of sizes available. I bought a XXL last week for $495. Free shipping. Love the jacket, very warm, fits me well at 6’2 245. Zipper is going to be a problem. Will try candle wax on tracks

  19. Richard March 5th, 2010 1:01 am

    Thanks, but I ended up buying the jacket from They’re even discounted to $400 with free shipping to the lower 48…

    I got a friend to purchase one for me and it’s beeing shipped to me as we speak – EXCITED :biggrin:

  20. Pat Kelly March 10th, 2010 8:55 am

    You should take a look at the parka shell and liner from Northern Outfitters. The men and women in the Iditarod and Yukon Quest wear this cold weather gear. They know a safe, dry, comfortable parka, snow pants, boots and mitten system if anybody does.

  21. Joe November 28th, 2011 12:51 am

    Can anyone be of assistants. I am trying to determine what size I should purchase. I am 5’7″ 168lbs. w/ 31″ waist. I’m on the fit body type. Thank you if you have any suggestions.

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