Yukon Parka

About:

Carhartt Yukon Extremes gear is engineered for ultimate performance in the coldest conditions. This parka packs a serious punch of warmth with a whopping 390 grams of 3M™ Thinsulate insulation, and it s CORDURA® shell adds an extra layer of battle-tested toughness for incredible durability.
  • 6.5-ounce, 500-denier Cordura® nylon shell
  • 390g 3M™ Thinsulate™ 700-fill featherless down insulation
  • 3M™ Scotchlite™ Carbon Black reflective taping on center back, front pockets, and back of cuffs
  • Wind Fighter® technology tames the wind
  • Rain Defender® durable water repellent (DWR) keeps you dry and moving in light rain
  • Carhartt-strong, triple-stitched main seams
  • Full two-way front zip with snap button storm flap; Detachable faux fur hood
  • Internal rib-knit storm cuffs with hook-and-loop adjustable closure help keep out the cold
  • 3M™ reflective Carhartt patch
  • Left-chest zip map pocket; Right-chest snap-button pocket; Hook-and-loop sleeve pocket
  • Two lower-front hook-and-loop pockets with side zips; Back zip pocket; Inner zip and hook-and-loop pockets

my thoughts:

A couple months back I did a complete overview of the Carhartt Yukon Extremes and compared the old models to the new. And in that group was one piece which stood out called the Yukon Extremes Insulated Parka.
This parka was just about the most amazing Carhartt item I’ve ever worn, and since December I’ve been wearing it in the harsh New England winter. The months of January and February rarely get above 30 degrees, with cold snaps of single digits for weeks. For my testing I spent 8 hours or more at work out on the railroad where the wind seems to be exaggerated, snow shoeing some of my favorite trails, and snowblowing my driveway. Lets have a closer look at the construction first.
Made from 6.5oz 500-denier Cordura nylon with a water resistant DWR finish, you can’t mistake this parka for anything but workwear. It’s apparent that this material is meant to take abuse and abrasion the likes of which working people are exposed to daily. It’s definitely several notches above my old North Face parka in terms of outer shell toughness.
Of course, being Carhartt all the main seams are triple-stitched and durability is clearly the main focus. most of the closures are hook and loop with the exception of the left chest pocket and main zipper which is a two-way. This is a bit of a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many brands neglect this important detail. If you have to sit, whether in the cab of a truck, or on a bucket while ice fishing, the ability to unzip the lower half of a long coat like this makes it much more comfortable. There’s also a storm flap you can secure if you really need to batten down the hatches to keep the elements out.
Along the parka you’ll find little sections of retroreflective 3M Scotchlite tape in key areas. For workwear this is a great idea since your ability to be seen can quite literally mean life or death. I actually have to wear a reflective vest over the parka most days to comply with jobsite safety rules. Just a tip if you have to do this, put the vest onto the jacket before you put it on. It’s MUCH easier.
There is no lack of pockets on this parka, with large handwarmer/dump pockets, a vertical flap chest pocket, a zippered side access pocket, sleeve pocket big enough for a smartphone, and a huge pocket on the back. Some refer to this as a map pocket, but I’ve been using it as a place to keep my hat and gloves.
Those sleeves conceal internal rib-knit storm cuffs which help keep the draft out, or snow when you’re working overhead. If you’ve ever had snow fall down into your sleeves, you know how important this is.
Lets talk about that hood. It’s adjustable. So using that little strap, you can get the fit just right. On the front of the hood is a removable faux fur trim. I always wondered about these and whether they were actually functional. Turns out the fur isn’t just for looks but it actually prevents heat loss by creating a dead zone around your face by changing the dynamics of wind flow. Put simply, it keeps wind off your mug.
Inside you’ll find a top opening pocket on your right and a zipper pocket on your left along with a drawstring around the midsection. This is another thoughtful feature and allows you to cinch it up, keeping drafts out and trapping warm air in.
 
In use the parka feels a lot like wearing a sleeping bag. You feel enveloped in the thick insulation and somewhat removed from the elements thanks to a pillowy 390 grams of 700 fill featherless down. Most Carhartt jackets have a sensation of donning fabric armor about them, but this is the first I’ve tried with this level of drama to it. You feel insulated in a bubble of warmth. Sitting in a car you get the sense of being wrapped in a down blanket, which might be cozy but somewhat inhibits your movement. I’ve gotten in the habit of removing the jacket before getting into a vehicle for an extended period of time.
 
Testing this jacket meant wearing it in as many circumstances as I could. The first was surveying a 27 mile section of railroad in 10-15 degree weather with some windy days. wearing a base layer and a heavy wool shirt underneath I was quite comfortable, and even unzipped the top a bit when we’d walk for a decent stretch. The storage was fantastic and being able to stow my notepad, phone, and a small water bottle meant that I didn’t have to carry a bag in addition to all the survey equipment.
 
When working on a site I found the hood to be bothersome at times since it tends to flip up when you lean over. Other times I appreciated the coverage it gave me against my neck while wearing a hard hat. Working with tools in a parka isn’t ideal, and in the cold almost everything is a compromise. You can’t easily wear a tool belt, and the longer hem means that it sometimes feels cumbersome. Again, this is very much the case with any insulated gear from boots to gloves. You just accept that things are going to move a bit slower. But if your job requires you to wear a tool belt, this isn’t the coat for you unless you plan on strapping it on top or wearing some kind of shoulder rig.
 
Finally I took this parka on a couple winter hikes. The cordura fabric really worked well against thorns and bramble, meaning if you go off trail, your shell wont be torn to shreds. The huge pockets came in handy yet again by allowing me to bring a few camera lenses with me. I was even able to stow away the monster 70-200 without an issue, eliminating the need for a backpack or camera bag. This particular outing was about 20 degrees and it felt like the coat was almost too warm. I wound up wearing it open for good part of the hike. This is where I really appreciated the water resistant finish, the water just rolls off. Snow brushes off easily before you get back in your vehicle and the parka will be dry by the time you get back home.

the competition:

At $300 this parka is simultaneously the most expensive jacket Carhartt makes and one of the least expensive parkas in its class. So, lets have a look at some competitive options:
 
 
    1. The Duluth Trading Co Ice Fog Down Parka is a good option, also using 700-fill down insulation, reflective sections, and sections of cordura reinforcements, but it’s also $100 more at $399
    2. Refrigerwear has a parka which looks to be promising, and I bought their Extreme Jacket two years ago which was very decent. This uses a synthetic insulation rather than down, and it looks a bit technical for my taste, but not a bad option for $225
    3. Just for fun, a serious mountaineering parka from Mountain Hardware gives you an idea of how extreme these things can get. At $900 though, it’s unlikely you’ll wear it on the job.
    4. Canada Goose

the verdict:

So as you can see, things can get crazy pretty quickly and depending on your work environment maybe there’s a better option for you. To me, this parka is truly one of the most well thought-out and perfectly executed Carhartt items I’ve ever owned. They’re masters of balancing value with quality and usability. You could get warmer parkas, sure, but you’ll pay two or three times the price.