Columbia vs Patagonia vs North Face [Comparison Guide]

Ask any outdoor enthusiast you can find to tell you their top picks for the best outdoor gear brand. I can say, without a doubt, that they will mention the names Columbia, Patagonia, and North Face as their top picks. Despite being omnipresent for as long as they have, these brands never seem to tire people or let them down.

That is exactly why they have been at it for as long as possible. These brands offer quality, longevity, protection, and comfort, and all this comes wrapped with a nice bow on top. Who would not want to get all these things from a piece of gear or equipment? Not me!

If you are new to the world of outdoor sports and activities, you have to know more about these brands, how they got started, and what brought them all this fame.

I will cover this and more in this guide, so make sure that you stick around. I do not doubt that learning all this information on these three brands will make you want to buy at least one of their products!

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backpacking hiking

Columbia

Of these three brands, Columbia is the oldest. It was initially created in the 1930s and had been going strong ever since. Who knew that the idea of two German immigrants would turn into such a big company, a global brand that is one of the first choices of outdoor enthusiasts?!

They have many different products that they currently offer on their website. For men and women, they have other jackets, fleece, shirts, tops, pants, shorts, and footwear. They also have water bottles, coolers, backpacks, bags, duffels, and rollers. As for accessories, you can find different hats, ball caps, beanies, neck gaiters, masks, socks, mittens, gloves, wallets, belts, sunglasses, goggles, and undershirts, as well as underwear.

To add to all this, Columbia has some amazing clothing and gear for children, toddlers, and babies. You can turn any adventure into a family adventure with this company. And if you do not have any idea what to do on your next trip, you can check the gear sold by this company. You have ski, snow, hiking, fishing, hunting, trail running, golfing, and camping equipment that is to die for.

What is worth mentioning is that all these products come at quite affordable prices. At the same time, the company often has sales for different types of gear or equipment. You will get amazing quality for half the price you would pay with some of these other companies. I recommend this brand to everyone on a tighter budget or who wants to get their money’s worth.

Patagonia

The second brand I want to talk to you about is Patagonia. The brand appeared on the market for the first time back in the 1950s. The founder of the company is the famous Yvon Chouinard – a rock climber who wanted nothing more than to sell the best gear for mountain climbing.

One of the things I love most about this company is its dedication to creating products that do not harm the environment in any way. They create gear in the most ethical ways, using more sustainable materials than any company. If you are looking to make a positive contribution to our world, you can do that by buying gear from this company.

As for their gear, I have to mention that it comes at a higher price than the other two companies in this guide. Still, the quality and longevity of the gear make the investment worthwhile. You will be able to wear the gear from this company for years after you buy it, and it will not show any signs of aging.

There is a wide range of gear that you can check out on the company’s website. They offer jackets, vests, fleece, sweatshirts, hoodies, sweaters, shirts, T-shirts, pants, leggings, shorts, dresses, skirts, overalls, jumpsuits, swimwear, base layers, and underwear, socks, hats, accessories, and workwear for both men and women.

You can also find special wetsuits, waders, fishing gear, and gear for climbing, skiing, snowboarding, surfing, fly fishing, trail running, and mountain biking. There is a special clothing line for children, toddlers, and babies. You can also get some of the quality bags, water bottles, sleeping bags, and other products you can find on the website.

An interesting addition to the website is the category for books. There, you can find the most interesting literature connected to outdoor activities. Some of these books could change your life or inspire you to take up another hobby. So, do not hesitate to look into the books and get the ones you like best.

North Face

One can argue that North Face is the most popular company for these types of companies. It has been going strong ever since the 1960s, causing a revolution in climbing equipment. They have stayed true to their mantra throughout the years – Never Stop Exploring. You can rely on them to keep coming up with new and exciting pieces of gear.

Like the other companies, they have men's, women's, and children's gear. They offer a wide range of jackets, vests, fleece, tops, bottoms, footwear, and accessories. They also offer many collections, including the advanced mountain kit, summit series, steep series, flight series, tek-ware, and other renewed gear.

As for its equipment offers various types of backpacks, technical packs, luggage, duffels, sleeping bags, and tents. You can also choose to shop by activity and find all the things you need for snow, hiking, trail running, climbing, camping, and regular training. All their gear and equipment have good quality and are quite luxurious.

You can expect to pay a bit more to get some gear or equipment from this company. Many people consider them as one of the more pricey brands, but the quality they offer justifies the price. I do not doubt that you will be able to find all the things you need from this company and looks as styling as possible in them!

hiking with patagonia backpack

Materials, Technologies & Features

The materials used to make outdoor gear are very important and can make all the difference. Instead of getting any gear, you should look for the best gear with the best technologies and features. Luckily for you, you can get all this from all three brands!

Columbia

Starting with Columbia, I have to say that they have made positive changes in the materials they use. They make up to 80% of their gear with recycled materials, while all the materials are also responsibly sourced.

This company also uses the most technologies from all three companies. Their famous Omni-heat reflective and Omni-tech have brought them a lot of fame. Still, the other technologies are also worth mentioning. You have to know about the Omni-freeze, Omni-shade, Omni-wind, Omni-shield, OutDry, and the TurboDown.

Patagonia

Patagonia gear has a bit of a better quality when compared to the other two companies. They use sustainable and certified organic materials when making all their gear and equipment. From these companies, they have to be the most eco-oriented company, and that is something worth remembering.

As for the features and technologies, you should know that most Patagonia gear comes with a Bluesign certificate. Up to 56% of all materials they use come with this type of certificate. Aside from this, they also use the unique H2No technology when making most of their gear.

North Face

North Face tries to be as eco-focused as possible with all its gear. They have pledged to use responsibly-sourced materials and recycled materials as much as they can. At the same time, they use many other technologies when they make their gear.

Before buying some of the gear that this company offers, you should read up on what PrimaLoft insulation is and DryVent. Then, there is the amazing FlashDry as well as the WindWall fabric. All these things contribute to the gear and equipment being one-of-a-kind. Also, do not forget to check out their collection called the ThermoBall Eco – it is the best thing ever!

Durability

Durability is very important for these types of gear and equipment. Especially if you decide to get a more expensive piece of gear, you will want to be able to use it for as long as possible. So, let’s look into these three companies and see what you can expect from their gear and equipment as connected to longevity and quality!

Columbia

As mentioned before, Columbia has products of great quality. Still, their level of quality might not be the same as the one of Patagonia and North Face. This means that you can expect the durability of these products to be a bit worse than the one of the other two companies.

Still, Columbia products are quite durable. Some of their gear and equipment come with a lifetime warranty that you can rely on in case of a problem. Other pieces of gear come with a 1-year warranty, so make sure that you check the warranty on a product before purchasing it.

Patagonia

Patagonia is very thorough when creating all its gear and equipment. Each piece they create goes through extensive testing, hoping to produce only the best products. This means that you can expect the gear and equipment from this company to be long-lasting and of great quality.

As far as I am aware, the company does not offer warranties on many products. But, this does not mean that the products are not long-lasting; they are! The company offers a Worn Wear program where you can share clothing that you no longer want to keep. That way, nothing goes to waste!

North Face

With North Face, all products have become quite durable even in the worst weather conditions. This goes especially for the specialty gear used by extreme hikers or campers. The brand never ceases to amaze!

You can expect most of the company’s garments to come with a lifetime warranty. Still, some garments do not come with a warranty, so you need to be careful about that.

Style

Style is crucial when selecting a piece of clothing or gear. For many people, the style can influence the decision whether to get that product or not. If you are one of those people, you need to check out this quick style guide to determine which company would be the best fit for you and your style.

Columbia

The major setback to Columbia’s products is that they all have a very traditional look. If you are looking for something modern or innovative, you will have to go with another company.

Still, this company offers amazing clothing with classic lines and a slightly more relaxed fit. All their pieces come in various sizes and colors, so you can find the perfect one for you.

Patagonia

With Patagonia, you can expect to find gear and equipment that is modern and innovative but not that fashionable. This is okay because people will wear most of these pieces when doing outdoor activities and not when going to clubs and restaurants.

Patagonia’s clothing has simple designs and a bit more of a comfortable fit. Most pieces are meant to be functional, so they are more technically oriented. Use this information to determine whether this company will be a good fit for you.

North Face

North Face is the most stylish company among these three. You can find a ton of pieces with flattering forms. Most designs are form-fitting, and while they are sporty, many people choose to wear them on casual outings.

Garments from this company come in various sizes and colors, but they are all high-performance garments. You are bound to find something that will fit your body and style perfectly because this company has an extensive number of garments, gear, and equipment.

Everyday Use

Many serious outdoor enthusiasts like to use their specialized gear and equipment only for certain situations. In contrast, some people like to buy this type of gear and wear it every day, no matter what they do. Suppose you happen to fall into the second category. In that case, you need to read more about the everyday use of the gear and equipment from these companies.

Columbia

Columbia is the least pricey brand of the three, which means that you should be able to get any type of garment you want, whenever you want or need it. When it comes to everyday use, you should be aware that their gear is leisure gear. You should not expect any form-flattering, body-fitting garments from them.

Still, the garments from this company are great for everyday use because they are very comfortable, allow the body to breathe at all times, not stain or adopt smells easily, and have a ton of other great features. This is why I recommend that you look into them more.

Patagonia            

Next up, you have Patagonia – the company with the most expensive gear among these three companies. Since you will be spending a lot of money on their gear, you might not want to wear it as regular clothing. You might want to preserve it for special outdoor trips.

Still, you can wear their clothes every day if you choose to. You should expect the clothes to feel great on your body as they are all high-quality clothes made with the best materials. This is an all-around better brand than the others, and they offer great comfort, breathability, and protection.

North Face

Finally, let’s talk about North Face. Even though most of their clothes are leisure clothes, they have many garments that look quite professional. Since the brand is quite popular and considered mainstream, you can expect to see people often wearing all their clothes as everyday clothes.

Still, keep in mind that this is a pricey brand. If you can afford their clothes, I do not doubt that you will feel amazing while wearing them. You can accentuate your body in North Face’s clothes better than in the clothes of the other two brands. This is because of their form-flattering, body-fitting designs that can make anyone look like a rockstar!

group of hikers with hiking gear

Wrap-Up

You will not go wrong no matter which one of these brands you go with when choosing your outdoor gear. Columbia, Patagonia, and North Face have some of the best outdoor gear and equipment. The first brand is more affordable than the other two. In contrast, all the brands offer quality products that will last for years without any problem.

Let me know in the comments below if you have had any experience with any of these companies thus far. I would love to know more about it and whether you would recommend any of these companies to the other readers. If you know any other great outdoor brands, do not hesitate to tell me about them!

Andrew Mullen
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