Columbia vs The North Face: Which Jacket Is The Best?

Hiking has seen an increase of a stunning 34% in the last 5 years in the US alone.

Also, after the pandemic, there was an increase in overall outdoor activities. I’m glad a lot more people are taking their kids to the parks, nearby woods, and mountains.

Now, you don’t want to get caught in the bad weather in the middle of nowhere and end up soaking wet.

That’s why you have to think well about your apparel for outdoor activities.

Columbia and The North Face are, for sure, one of the most popular brands in this niche.

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Columbia’s Story

Two German immigrants founded Columbia Hat Company in the late 1930s.

By the late 1950s, the company had begun selling a few outerwear items such as skiwear in addition to hats. It became known as Columbia Sportswear in 1960.

Columbia’s motto “It’s perfect, now make it better” speaks for itself.

Have a look at how Columbia tests its products (and you’ll get to know Tim and Ma Boyle).

The North Face’s Story

The North Face developed around the same time as Columbia Sportswear (in 1966 to be exact) and the idea for the name comes from the harshest face of Mount Everest – the North face.

In the past 10-15 years, The North Face has actively worked on eco-friendly programs. They’ve set an ambitious goal to ensure all products they make are made with recycled, regenerative, or responsibly-sourced renewable fabrics by 2025.

The North Face VS Columbia Brand Comparison

Columbia vs The North Face Comparison
Founded1960 – Columbia Sportswear1966
MaterialsRecycled polyester NylonRecycled Polyester Cotton
Price range$$$$$$$
StyleClassicModern
Fabric technologyOmniTechGore-Tex
Website:

Main Differences

Before we scrutinize each brand let’s have a look at some main differences.

  • Columbia is a reasonably priced brand, whereas The North Face is a more expensive and even considered luxurious brand.
  • The North Face offers a more modern style, that folks, under, 35 let’s say, would prefer. On the other hand, Columbia offers a classic style with natural, neutral shades and practical appeal.
  • Columbia is proud of the great construction of their jackets, whereas The North Face invests a lot in the technology of their fabrics.

Columbia Review

Columbia’s products are made from high-quality materials. They are durable, breathable, windproof, and waterproof.

What’s Columbia’s secret?

Collaboration. Columbia joined forces with other companies focusing solely on fabric technology and they’ve developed outstanding outdoor clothing and footwear.

They’ve come with OmniTech, a technology that makes Columbia jackets windproof, waterproof, and breathable at the same time.

Also, there’s OutDry, an ultimate waterproof barrier.

Speaking of the materials, Columbia uses polyester, and around 80% of the polyester they use is recycled. Moreover, it uses nylon, mostly in waterproof jackets.

All the materials are RDS (Responsible Down Standard) certified meaning that Columbia supports ethical manufacturing processes and the welfare of the animals related to their products.

PROS

  • Reasonably Priced
  • Breathable
  • Waterproof
  • Windproof
  • Classic Style
  • RDS Certified
  • Family-Owned

CONS

  • Some Jackets lack mobility like Ascender
  • Some jackets lack breathability like Glennaker Lake Rain Jacket

Columbia’s Best-Selling Products at a Glance

For the sake of this article, I’ve chosen some of Columbia’s best-selling jackets – Ascender Softshell Jacket, Powder Lite Hooded Insulated Jacket, and Glennaker Lake Rain Jacket.

Ascender Softshell

Ascender Softshell is versatile, waterproof, and windproof, made from 100% polyester.

It looks great, it’s simple and durable. It’s perfect for light day hikes and walking around the town on windy days in spring and fall.

It has backing fleece making it cozy and warm and it goes great with jeans and similar casual wear.

On the other hand, due to water and wind resisting features this jacket is not quite mobile, therefore if you’re up to some high-demanding outdoor activities, this jacket is not such a great choice.

Lastly, this jacket is sooo affordable! The price of Ascender Softshell goes around $60 and I find it a great deal!

Powder Lite Hooded Insulated Jacket

Powder Lite Hooded Insulated Jacket is a piece of clothing you’re going to fall in love with.

It’s a great coat for the fall and winter months. Needless to say, it’s waterproof and lightweight.

I find this jacket ideal for weekend walks, walking up the hill, etc. but I wouldn’t use it for some extreme activities.

This insulated jacket is made using Omni-Heat we talked about. The material is thermally reflective meaning it uses your body heat and throws it back at you. Also, it let’s water vapor out, making it super breathable.

Well done!

Glennaker Lake Rain Jacket

Glennaker Lake Rain Jacket is a super handy jacket since it fits in your pocket! (Yes, you’ve read it right!).

This is a perfect jacket to wear when you go for walks and the weather forecast app warns you about possible showers.

Simply toss your Glennaker Lake Rain Jacket into your backpack and it won’t take up more space than your water bottle.


It’s waterproof, windproof, and super light. The hood hides in the collar which I find pretty great. The Omni-Shield technology does a great job of keeping you warm.

The only downside is the absence of some vent zippers under the armpits. Yeah, during warm but rainy weather it can get a bit wet under.

The North Face Review

The North Face offers modernly designed jackets compared to Columbia’s classic ones.

They care about the environment… a lot! All of their products are made from recycled materials, mainly polyester and cotton, meeting the RDS requirements.

Moreover, The North Face offers a lifetime warranty and they’re pretty quick when it comes to repairing your damaged apparel.


Why are they doing this? It’s eco-friendly, and fewer resources are used to repair instead of making new items.

I’ve mentioned that The North Face invests in fiber technology a lot, right?

ThermoBall is one of the most popular fabrics and insulation technologies.

Teamed up with PrimaLoft the insulation in The North Face jackets is one of the closest down-mimicking insulations currently on the market, and that says a lot.

Similar to Columbia’s OmniTech, The North Faces uses DryVent technology making its jackets fully waterproof, windproof, and breathable.

FlashDry keeps your body dry by wicking out the moisture, just like OmniWick does.

Last but not least, Gore-Tex is one of the key fabric technology partnerships. Gore-Tex fabric is used in the majority of The North Face jackets making them extremely durable, windproof, waterproof, and breathable.

PROS

  • Latest Fiber Technology
  • Breathable
  • Waterproof
  • Windproof
  • Modern Style
  • RDS Certified
  • Excellent Comfort and Mobility
  • Lifetime Warranty

CONS

  • A Bit Pricey

The North Face’s Best-Selling Products at a Glance

Now let’s have a look at The North Face softshell, an insulated jacket, and a waterproof one.

Apex Bionic Jacket

Apex Bionic Jacket is made from polyester and it’s windproof, breathable, and waterproof. The fabric it is made of is WindWall, The North Face’s own creation.

It’s a great choice for chilly fall or spring days. It looks a bit more sporty, therefore it’s not a great match for other occasions.

What makes it different from Columbia Ascender is the mobility. Apex Bionic Jacket allows you much more mobility, and that’s something I value a lot.

It contains fleece lining as well, which provides warmth therefore you can wear it even in near-winter weather conditions.

However, bear in mind that Apex Bionic Jacket is nearly double the price compared to Columbia Ascender.

Arctic Parka

Arctic Parka is one of the best-selling insulated jackets. It’s stylish and it will keep you warm and dry from the harshest city weather.

Speaking of the inside, 550 fill goose down with 150 grams of recycled polyester makes it perfect in cold weather conditions. There’s also a quite large hood that can fold out and provide excellent wind protection.

The DryVent layer makes it waterproof and breathable at the same time.

I’d like to add that the handwarmer pockets aren’t insulated therefore they do quite a little to keep your hands warm.

Resolve

Resolve is my waterproof jacket of choice. Made of DryVent 2L it’s waterproof and highly breathable. Also, I’d like to add its mobility, making it great for hiking and casual use.

Even though it’s not quite practical as Glennaker Lake Rain Jacket, it can be rolled in its own hood.

The North Face uses its Hyvent two-layer coating for this waterproof jacket. This is not an advanced technology but still, it breathes better than Glennaker Lake Rain Jacket.

The Verdict

Gert Boyle – Founder Of Columbia Sportswear

Both brands make high-quality, forecasts-ignoring products. Both brands use recycled materials and they do their best to minimize the impact on the environment.

Columbia is a reasonably priced brand offering great value for the price. They have developed OmniTech fibers making their products breathable, waterproof, and windproof.

On the other hand, The North Face is a bit more expensive but they have the latest Gore-Tex fiber technology making their jackets and outdoor products state-of-the-art.

The North Face jackets have proven more comfortable and provide more mobility. Also, they look modern which will younger folks prefer.

Columbia is a family-owned business, founded by Ma Boyle and her son Tim run the business is absolutely impressive.

Well, let me put it this way if you don’t have any high expectations regarding performance, go for Columbia. You will definitely get the best value for money.

However, if you want a jacket that’s slightly better designed and built, and you’re ready to pay extra then The North Face is the right choice for you.

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