The FORLOH Expedition Series Parka steps up as the 100% U.S.-sourced answer to the parkas of the north.
When it comes to American-made outdoor products, FORLOH is going all out. The Expedition Series Parka is no exception. The company prides itself on being “All-American,” and so far, it seems to have stood up to the challenge. It isn’t easy to source and produce everything domestically — and it certainly isn’t the cheap way to do it.
If you’ve ever searched for a parka for extreme outdoor conditions, up to this point, you’ve likely been directed toward a Canadian or Nordic-made product. Your options have now come stateside.
But does this new extreme jacket live up to the long-established competition to the north?
In short: I was initially skeptical of this parka, but my skepticism quickly shifted into praise. This hardcore jacket performs, and I was glad to eat some crow. I found myself grateful to have the Expedition Series Parka on my back when temps dropped and the world turned cold.
FORLOH Expedition Series Parka Review
FORLOH Expedition Parka
- Fully Seam Sealed, Waterproof, and Breathable 3-Layer Outer Shell
- 800+ fill U.S. white duck down 90/10 baffle-lined interior
- “Through-and-through” ventilation zipper design for active cooling
- RECCO Search & Rescue Technology
- Zippered (removable) interior powder skirt
- Micro-fit hood adjustment expandable for climbing/ski helmets or snug for beanies
- Roomy exterior hand (2) and interior chest pockets (2)
- 800+ 90/10 Down Insulation sourced from U.S. farms in Indiana and Pennsylvania
- Completely traceable U.S. supply chain and manufacturing
Expedition Series Parka Overview
The opening line on FORLOH’s website description of the Expedition Series Parka pretty much sums it up: “Built for Greenland, designed for everyone.”
Essentially, this parka is the 100% U.S.-sourced and made answer to the ever-popular Canada Goose parka. At $1,195, it’s no cheap buy, but it is less expensive than many of its competitors, which isn’t an easy feat.
It’s a waterproof, seam-sealed, three-layer, 800+ fill white duck-down beast. It is designed for the harshest environments. The down is sourced from Amish farms in Indiana and Pennsylvania. The rest of the materials are designed, sourced, manufactured, and put together domestically as well.
Available in both men’s and women’s sizes, these parkas are patterned to either blend in or stand out from your surroundings. With colors ranging from Snowfall (white camo pattern) to FORLOH Red (a true cherry red), there’s a look that will likely fit your style.
For those who enjoy an adventure in hardcore environments, the Expedition Series Parkas are fitted with RECCO technology, meaning if you get lost, if search and rescue come looking for you, if the unthinkable happens — as long as you’re still in your parka, you’ll likely be warm and be found.
The FORLOH Expedition Series Parka Test
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. When I first opened the package, I chuckled. The pattern reminded me a bit of something you might see in a ’90s-era hip-hop video. It was clearly too cool for me, for I am not hip. But — with the intent being snow camo, it works.
The other thing I noticed immediately comes from the standpoint of the hunter in me. It isn’t quiet. This parka has quite a bit of swish-swish, reminiscent of the parachute pants of my youth. Why am I stuck in the ’80s and ’90s for this review?
When it comes to weight, this parka has some heft. It feels substantial. When I first put it on, I felt a bit marshmallow-man-ish.
That’s all to say that I was judging it harshly right out of the gate. I feel that is only fair when you start looking at a piece of outerwear that comes in well over the $1,000 price point.
But my initial critiques quickly became null and void when I took the parka into the field.
That dang thing performs.
In the Field
What a year to test cold weather gear, am I right? I was fortunate enough to get my hands on this jacket before it was available to the public, and it happened to be during some record-breaking cold and Montana’s mountain lion season.
With the mercury hovering at what I’ve come to lovingly refer to as Cold AF and my ride being a snowmobile in the pursuit of meat, I fully expected the Expedition Parka to let me down. Cold becomes a whole lot colder when you integrate movement, and we certainly don’t like to move slowly in our pursuit.
After loading dogs on sleds and heading into the white, I quickly began to swallow the bulk of my doubts about the parka.
Fit and Function
Listen — after having low expectations, I found myself in what most people would consider unbearably cold temps feeling absolutely comfortable. The FORLOH Expedition Series Parka essentially created its own little environment of warmth and comfort. I did not feel the wind or the cold — one dang iota. Even with bluebird skies, doing 20 mph on a snow machine in sub-0 Fahrenheit temps is never pleasant. This trip was shockingly cozy.
The bulkiness of my first impression felt far less so in the real world. It actually fits relatively slim and doesn’t restrict in ways I thought it would. Even with the long cut, the side snaps allow for unrestricted movement at the waist if needed and can be buttoned back up to retain more heat around the backside and hips.
After ripping around on a sled and then having the dogs tree a cat, I did attempt to do some pretty vertical trekking through the snow in the parka — and abandoned it a few hundred yards into the hike. It’s too much parka for intense hiking, regardless of temp. It spent part of the hunt adorning a tree marked by a pin for later retrieval. Yes, it can be opened up — but the insulation is just too hardcore, and sweating in temps this low borders on dangerous.
When it comes to the noise of the material, I stopped noticing once I was surrounded by the brap of a snow machine and the crunch of ice. Sure, it’s too noisy to elk hunt in, but that isn’t what it’s designed to do.
I often find myself in the middle of nowhere, and I tend to put myself in situations that might not be considered the safest by the average person’s standard. Even with all the new tech that I typically have in my pocket, there is serious peace of mind knowing that I’m traceable if the unthinkable happens.
If I dump my snowmobile (which I often do) and can’t get it going or am just stuck in the wilderness for whatever reason, a flyover can find me without spotting me visually. An avalanche is a constant concern, and knowing that a piece of apparel I’m wearing drastically increases my odds of bring found is one of those perks that sits in the back of my mind when I head into the cold. We don’t like to think about recovery, but it’s a reality in the backcountry.
I hope I never need it — but dangit, I’m glad I have it.
Every piece of gear has benefits and drawbacks. This parka is no exception. The cons started out as serious doubts of mine and then waned. Aside from the cost, the parka is exactly what the company says it is.
- Insanely warm
- Comfortable, Great fit
- Does what it says it does
- Expensive (though understandable when considering the domestic sourcing and higher-priced competition)
- Noisy (which no longer feels all that intrusive)
- Might just be too warm for some activities, regardless of outdoor temps
Is it worth it?
I mean — the FORLOH Expedition Series Parka costs more than my first two cars combined, though it’s still more reasonably priced than its Canadian counterpart. This isn’t a purchase you make on a whim.
If you only plan to wear it a few times a year, it’s probably not worth your dime…
However: If you’re going to be out in the brutal cold for a good chunk of the winter; you’re a winter predator hunter or an ice fisherman; if you’re a backcountry winter hiker/skier/wanderer/snowmobiler; you call yourself an arctic adventurer; or if you just have the scratch and want to not experience an ounce of cold around you — this parka does the job, and it does it well.
This isn’t an investment to take lightly, but if you’re a person that needs gear that can stand up to brutal conditions, this is an option I don’t think you’ll regret.