If you are the type of person who enjoys a hike, then there is no doubt that you rate what you wear highly on the ‘important things to include before a walk’ list. And we’re including those who scales a mountain trail as a good day out.
While outdoor clothing isn’t seen as a top priority for those who want style over substance, it can be difficult to know where to begin when it comes to choosing best down jackets. That isn’t to say you don’t care about the color or the fit – it just means you usually get what you are given.
It isn’t a secret that there are far fewer outdoor clothing companies than those in the sports apparel industry. Having said that, there are some top and highly rated clothing companies that specialize in great outdoor wear.
Columbia and The North Face are two of them. So, if you’re looking for the perfect jacket but have no idea which one to go for, fortunately for you, we have put together this ultimate guide.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at both companies and the differences between their jackets.
What Are the Obvious Differences Between a Columbia and North Face Jacket?
The obvious difference you will notice right away is the price. A North Face jacket will cost more than a Columbia jacket.
The reason behind this is simple: North Face have a luxurious label attached to them, and this only intensified when they partnered up with Gucci to release some very expensive outdoor wear.
The North Face also offers a wider range of products than Columbia does. In fact, North Face has around 11 different style categories compared to that of Columbia who only has 10.
While not wildly different, it does mean that one has more choice and options over the other brand.
If you want traditional outdoor wear, then Columbia is the way to go. Their style is more classic compared to that of North Face which try to be a bit bolder. They are also modern in comparison, for example, teaming up with Gucci helped them to go outside the box on design.
This meant they could target a different market – those with money – and perhaps those who are fashion conscious too. While the North Face are experts in the field of the outdoors, they also understand that more and more people want to look good at the same time.
This isn’t to say that Columbia does not think about style. They are very committed to functionality, with modern style coming second (or perhaps third). For those who don’t rate edgier outdoor wear, and rely on tried and tested styles, then Columbia is a fantastic choice.
Lastly, let’s talk about construction. Both are great options when it comes to being practical. Columbia has a plethora of choices if you want something that is well constructed. On the other hand, North Face uses some of the most up-to-date and innovative technology.
This includes the fabric that includes ThermoBall insulation, and the fabric that includes a WindWall. Each one makes the clothing more expensive, but may be better suited to those who prefer harsher climates.
Let’s Narrow That Down: Differences Of Columbia And North Face
Now that you know the main differences, let’s take a look at that again quickly – or for those who want to know the main points:
- Different Prices Points – the North Face is more expensive compared to Columbia
- Premium Wear – North Face is also considered a premium and more luxurious brand compared to Columbia
- More Choice – North Face has more categories to choose from than Columbia
- Style vs Substance – Columbia has tried and tested styles, while North Face is best suited for those who want something different and modern
- Construction – again, Columbia uses tried and tested construction methods, while North Face tries to be innovative. This might explain their different price points.
The Beginning Of North Face
Compared to Columbia, The North Face is a baby. Having been launched over twenty years later, they decided to focus entirely on outdoor clothing right from the start.
The name comes from having the harshest face in the very cold Himalayan mountains. While you might hope that they were founded around those parts too, it isn’t true. In fact, the North Face began in the very sunny area of San Francisco.
While Columbia began much earlier than the North Face, the latter have only gotten bigger and better through intense and clever marketing, having innovative designs and fabrics, and sponsoring a number of elite athletes and events.
Their name has become attached to premium names and places, giving them the ability to have a much higher price tag, as well as be relied upon to give the wearer exceptional clothing during the most difficult terrains.
Despite the North Face having a humble beginning, they have proven to be a force to be reckoned with within the outdoor clothing market.
North Face Jackets
They have a number of different categories which are:
- Insulated and Down
- 3-in-1 Jackets
- Casual Wear
- Skiing and Snowboarding
- Running and Training
Example Of Jackets
Here are some highly rated jackets to choose from:
North Face Breakdown
The North Face has a high number of people who purchase from the website, and this shows when it comes to the number of product reviews they have. Compared to Columbia’s few hundred, the North Face have reviews that reach over 1k.
This is always a good sign, because as a buyer you know that there are many others who are investing their well-earned cash into the brand. You can also take a look at what they say, and make your own mind up whether you want to buy their products or not.
One of the biggest differences between the North Face and Columbia is the fact that the former has eye-catching and visually striking garments that immediately attract the eye. It’s one of many reasons why The North Face hoodies and jackets sell out.
However, to some, this might be a tick when it comes to wanting something heavily designed, to others it might be a turn-off. If you aren’t a fan of neutral or plain clothing, then The North Face is a better choice if you would like something that makes you stand out in a crowd of hikers.
Having appealing outdoor wear may also make you want to wear it more, as well as get you out and active. If you want to see bright colors and cool designs, then a jacket from North Face might encourage you to hike more.
Also, there are plenty of innovative fabrics that you may choose over something like a simple jacket from Columbia. While they aren’t the be-all and end-all, a ‘technology’ such as the ThermoBall insulation can keep you extra toasty and warm during a particularly cold hike.
Due to The North Face having a premium price tag, you will rarely find their clothes discounted. In fact, you may not even be able to find any North Face clothing at discount retailers.
It is no wonder that they have so many online orders then, however, there are The North Face brick-and-mortar stores, and you should be able to find their products in outdoor clothing stores.
The Beginning Of Columbia
Having launched as a hat company, Columbia started out in 1938 as a family run business. Originally they were known as the Columbia Hat Company, named due to them being located near the Columbia River in Portland, and distributing hats.
Due to supplier troubles and the frustrations that came with that, they began creating their own products in 1960. This in turn meant that they also changed their name to Columbia Sportswear Company.
Today, it has many different products available, from jackets and shoes, to sweaters and T-shirts. It also moved its headquarters to Washington County, but remains a family run business.
A lot of fans of the brand claim that Columbia still has a family business feel to it.
They have a number of different categories which are:
- Insulated and Down Winter Jackets
- 3-in-1 Interchange
- Soft Shell
- Hard Shell
- Casual Wear
- Ski and Snowboard
Example of Jackets
Here are some highly rated jackets to choose from:
Columbia is a brand that is simple to navigate – from their website user experience to choosing the right jacket for you. There is no difficulty in understanding their fabrics, and their clothes do exactly what it says on the tin.
In fact, due to the simplicity of the website, it is quick to choose different categories depending on what you are looking for. You can either flip through different ones without becoming bogged down in difficult-to-understand ‘tech’ speak.
They have a fantastic range of waterproof jackets, and their high ratings says it all. Whilst they may lack in innovative design, they sure make up for in quality and brand loyalty.
The brand’s best sellers have close to 5-star ratings, including their Steens Mountain Full Zip Fleece which has over 400 reviews.
Whilst they are a classic company, especially when it comes to the designs of their jacket, they are well-made and will do a great job for what you want to wear them for.
If bright silly colors are not your thing, and you would rather go with neutral staples and simple designs, then Columbia is a great choice. Their clothes are practical and are less about looking like you have just stepped off the runway.
Columbia is also easy to buy, with many brick-and-mortar shops stocking their clothes, as well as their own stores. They also feature in a number of discount department stores including Kohls.
This means that if you are looking for quality outdoor clothing at a decent price, then your best bet will be Columbia. You can invest in an easy-to-wear jacket that won’t cost the earth, yet will do its job.
The North Face Or Columbia: Which One Should I Choose?
When it comes to something like North Face or Columbia jackets, ultimately it comes down to personal preference and taste. If you are looking at which one will keep you dry better or warmer, then you may find that one person’s opinion is different from another.
There are so many factors that should be included such as your body shape, overall budget, color, design, pockets, the activity, etc. All of these points determine what you want from a jacket, how it will be used, and whether it is comfortable for you.
Whilst there are many differences and variations in both of the brands jackets, it can be difficult to note which one will work best for you. For example, the Columbia jackets tend to be a relaxed fit, but only by a small margin.
The North Face tends to offer a casual kind of jacket that can sometimes appear quite sporty, and that can fit those who have an athletic body.
Saying that, women tend to find that the North Face jackets do not appear boxy on their frame, and instead are flattering. This is especially true with those who are under 40 and want a contoured and ‘womanly shaped’ fit.
Columbia jackets on the other hand are quite traditional in their shape and cut, appealing to those in the older demographic of hikers. That’s not to say those who are younger do not wear Columbia jackets – far from it – but they will appeal to those who don’t want a jacket to cling to their body shape.
When it comes to activities, both Columbia and the North Face can deal with harsh weather conditions with no problem at all. In fact, whilst the North Face has a lot going for it technology-wise, if you want something simple that still does a great job, then Columbia will still be a good option.
So long as you take care of your jacket, it will be able to tackle extreme weather conditions and last for a long time. Both are likely to stay doing its job without damage if looked after.
When it comes to the price, this is where you will see the biggest difference. The North Face is up near the top when it comes to premium and luxury outdoor clothing. Because they are known for their quality, a lot of people happily pay the price.
Having said that, many people still would rather go for something like Columbia due to it being in a much cheaper price bracket, as well as the quality of the products being minimally different.
This makes Columbia good value for money compared to North Face where you might be paying for a brand name, as well as a quality product.
A jacket may cost you around $30 to $60 at Columbia, while a similar type of jacket might cost you around $85 to $200 at North Face. Ultimately it depends on if you want a more premium brand’s jacket, as well as the overall design.
If design means a lot to you, then you probably will go for the higher priced fashionable jacket as opposed to the neutral cheaper jacket.
However, if the cost vs the value is something you are big on, then Columbia will always win, hands down. As stated above, that’s because you can get a very similar jacket by Columbia for a lot less compared to buying one from the North Face.
There is a good chance that if you held up both jackets with no brand logo on them, you might not be able to tell the difference.
Both are very comparable when it comes to the construction and quality of the jacket. This makes choosing which brand to buy more difficult if you want to purchase one based on its quality alone.
Both brands are known for their second-to-none customer service. In fact, the North Face may ask you to send a jacket back to do free repairs without even asking the customer any questions.
While the cost of a The North Face jacket may be in the higher price range compared to that of Columbia, knowing that they give free repairs may only nudge you into wanting to buy something from them.
Final Thoughts On Columbia Vs North Face
It can be difficult to choose a jacket between two reputable brands. Whilst they are both very similar when it comes to the quality and construction, there are a few differences to keep in mind when deciding on buying either.
If you are wanting a jacket that not only oozes quality and high functionality but also looks modern and stylish without a budget being a concern, then the The North Face is the choice for you.
On the other hand, if the brand isn’t the most important part to the jacket, and you want to purchase a classic design jacket that is high quality, but the price point is cheaper, then Columbia is the best option.
In the end, it really does come down to your own preferences of what you would like when it comes to a jacket, the fit, and your budget.
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