Columbia vs North Face: Which Outdoor Brand is Better?

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The battle for the best outerwear has begun. Based on sheer popularity alone, the final contenders in a broad list of choices usually fall to Columbia vs North Face. What makes it difficult is the quality of Columbia and North Face clothing. No matter what you need a jacket for—be it a windbreaker or winter jacket—both brands excel. So, how do you decide which outdoor brand is better?

To help you, we’ve come up with a comparison for Columbia vs North Face below. Check it out.

History of Columbia Outdoor Clothing Lines and Accessories

Columbia has one of the coolest brand stories around. Everything started in 1938, with two German immigrants who owned a hat shop—Columbia Hat Company. These days, Columbia is still family-owned by Tim Boyle, the nephew of the founders.

From the beginning of the brand to the present day, it has been devoted to innovation and growth. No wonder Columbia’s motto is “It’s perfect, now make it better.” When you think about it, Columbia has been making renowned products for years, simply because they never stop trying to make fantastic products that cost less to the consumer.

Columbia also rigorously tests their products to ensure that your satisfaction is guaranteed. Every item, whether it is their lightweight rain jackets, fleece, hard and soft shell, casual clothing, 3-in-1 jackets, or something else, everything comes backed with a quality guarantee.

In terms of style, Columbia takes a classic approach. The designs are simple, yet practical.

History of The North Face Clothing Lines and Accessories

Developed in 1966, The North Face has been focused on outdoor clothing from the start. The brand takes its name from the coldest, most dangerous mountain face in the Himalayas. Yet, the first storefront for the company was located in San Francisco.

The North Face has long been popular among the sport and adventure communities. Due to the superior quality of the products, also well as the stylish designs and exciting color palette, The North Face has become a staple for many wardrobes.

Like Columbia, The North Face has several style categories that have been tested and guaranteed, such as rainwear, windwear, casual wear, insulation, skiing, and snowboarding jackets, and more. The coats and jackets from North Face are more modern in design than Columbia.

Columbia vs. North Face: Which Brand is Better?

Columbia vs North Face_Camping High Life

Having been introduced to the two brands, it is time to see which one is the better choice. The main differences between Columbia vs. North Face jackets include:

  • Columbia is more affordable, while North Face is considered a luxury.
  • Columbia style is classic, while North Face is modern.
  • Columbia relies on consistent, reliable construction, while North Face utilizes advanced technologies in their products.
  • Columbia is readily available in many department stores, while North Face is more easily obtained online.
  • Columbia has 10 style categories. North Face has 11.

Now, we’re going to break that down further.

Material Comparison


Throughout the years, Columbia has developed some amazing technology for outdoor apparel. Through collaboration with other clothing companies and their own strokes of genius, Columbia has several technologies to consider:

  • OutDry: a waterproof barrier that compares to Gore-Tex and also contains heat-binding capabilities to keep you dryer for longer.
  • Omni-Tech: Columbia’s answer to Gore-Tex. This is a waterproof and windproof materials with breathability.
  • Omni-Wick: Moisture-wicking, breathable material.
  • Omni-Freeze: Helps keep you cool in hotter temperatures.
  • Omni-Shield, Omni-Shade, and Omni-Wind: Special technology that blocks out the elements, including sun and wind. Omni-Shield works against staining.
  • TurboDown: special insulation made by combining Omni-Heat and Omni-Heat Reflective fabrics.

For those who are looking for more sustainable, cruelty-free clothing, you will be pleased to know that any down used for insulation in Columbia products has been RDS certified. That means that the down is sourced from birds that were treated humanely.

The North Face

Similar to Columbia, the North Face has created many types of fabrics and materials to put their outerwear at the top of the line. Here are some examples:

  • ThermoBall: synthetic insulation that was fabricated in collaboration with PrimaLoft. ThermoBall is currently the top down-mimicking insulation type on the market right now.
  • DryVent: Depending on the jacket, the DryVent technology may be waterproofing, windproofing, or there for added breathability (or all three).
  • WindWall: Forms a barrier against cold, damp air, providing wind-resistance or windproofing.
  • FlashDry: A moisture-wicking fabric with high breathability, similar to Omni-Wick, by Columbia.

Gore-Tex has also partnered with North Face, providing jackets that are durable, breathable, waterproof, and windproof.

Do you consider yourself environmentally-friendly? The North Face relies mainly on recycled materials to make its products. Like Columbia, the down for their jackets is sustainably-sourced and RDS certified.

If you’re looking for a waterproof jacket while out hiking then eVent Rain Jackets may be perfect for you.

Product Comparison

Now some of the top products from Columbia and The North Face go head-to-head in the ring. Who will reign supreme?

Columbia vs. North Face Fleece

A cozy fleece jacket can help keep you from shivering throughout the day while maintaining enough breathability that you don’t sweat to death. Fleece pairs well with physical activities since it also has natural anti-odor properties. The North Face and Columbia have comparable fleece options. We are going to look at two jackets: The North Face Denali 2 and the Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0.

The North Face Denali 2

The Denali 2 is slightly heavy—approximately 24.7 oz– and made from recycled Polartec 300 series, which is 100% polyester fleece with a DWR finish and an outer shell of 100% nylon. The chest, forearms, and shoulders are all reinforced, and the wrist cuffs are stretchable, keeping out both wind and moisture. One chest pocket is media-compatible, and the zippered hand pockets are deep.

The Denali 2 is also zip-in compatible with other North Face jackets, so you can tackle whatever Mother Nature throws at you.

The North Face Men’s Denali 2


The North Face Denali 2 Jacket – Women’s Vintage White



Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0

Compared to the North Face fleece jacket, Columbia’s Steens Mountain 2.0 is much lighter—16.79 oz. It is made of 100% polyester MTR filament fleece. It’s a soft but rugged jacket that will keep you warm in the fall and winter. Though it lacks a lot of features, the classic fit, zippered pockets, and internal security pocket are all pluses.

Columbia Men’s Big & Tall Extended Steens Mountain Full Zip 2.0 Fleece Jacket


Columbia vs. North Face Rain Jacket

Staying warm and dry never looked so cool with these two options. Both use technologies to keep the rain at bay, but will it be Columbia or North Face that protects you the best?

**If you want to keep warm on a hike or trek then you may want to look at a pair of the best thing gloves for winter, these are light and breathable while keeping your hands warm.**

Columbia Watertight II Jacket

Weighing around 16 oz, the Watertight II jacket by Columbia has everything you need to stay dry on even the wettest days. Even with waterproofing and fully sealed seams, you still stay comfortable throughout the day. There is also an abrasion-resistant chin guard built into the adjustable hood to keep you happy in the cold and a drop tail.

The rain jacket can also pack down into a hand pocket, making it highly portable. Unfortunately, the Watertight II is only available for men. The Arcadia II rain jacket is available for women but lacks some features.

Columbia Men’s Watertight II Jacket


The North Face Venture 2 Jacket

The Venture 2 jacket looks nearly identical to the Columbia Watertight II jacket in the overall design. What separates Venture 2 from its competitor, however, would be the construction and weight. Coming in at only 11.6 oz, the North Face rain jacket is composed of 40D 85g/m2 DryVent material, 62% DryVent ripstop nylon, and 38% polyester.

The jacket comes in 11 colors, 7 sizes for both men and women, and has plenty of features, like the pit-zip vents for added breathability; 2 covered hand pockets; and Velcro storm flaps to keep water from leaking through the zipper.

The North Face Men’s Venture 2 Waterproof Hooded Rain Jacket


The North Face Women’s Venture 2 Waterproof Hooded Rain Jacket


The North Face Women’s Plus Size Venture 2 Waterproof Hooded Rain Jacket


Columbia vs. North Face Windbreaker

Windbreakers are not meant for extreme cold, but they do cut down the wind, which is why they are often used for spring, summer, and fall. The Apex Bionic 2 by The North Face is the most popular version of their windbreakers, though they have several types available. Columbia’s Flashback is the contender and has plenty of varieties to suit your needs.

The North Face Apex Bionic 2 Jacket

A polyester soft-shell, mid-weight windbreaker with a loose, relaxed fit. You will have more than enough room for all kinds of activities. On the inside, you get a fleece backer for additional warmth. Aside from blocking wind, the Apex Bionic 2 is also water-resistant. A cinch-cord around the hem keeps out cool air, and you get 3 zippered pockets (1 chest, 2 hands).

The ladies’ version has a slimmer fit and an inner cuff on the arms for added warmth. Both versions lack a hood.

The North Face Men’s Apex Bionic 2 Jacket


The North Face Apex Bionic 2 Women’s Soft Shell Jacket


Columbia Flashback Windbreaker

The Flashback is cheaper than North Face’s model, but the quality closely compares. Columbia’s Flashback has a polyester shell and mesh lining, giving both wind and water-resistance. There is a drawcord around the hem, and the wrist cuffs have elastic.

The women’s version is identical to the men’s, but it lacks a hood. Both versions have 2 hand pockets.

Columbia Men’s Flashback Windbreaker


Columbia Women’s Flashback Windbreaker


Product Comparison Verdict

As you can see with the Columbia vs North Face jackets comparison, North Face uses higher-end materials and incorporates features that make hiking, traveling, and sports more enjoyable. Meanwhile, Columbia has jackets that are packable enough for travel and casual wear. Both brands have excellent quality, so it comes down to which features you want and how much you want to spend.

Price Comparison

Whenever you are shopping around for clothing, you obviously consider the price. You want something within your budget range, most of the time. If you plan to give yourself a gift, then you can obviously overlook the price tag and aim to get a coat that will satisfy all your needs.

Do not forget, though, that you will get what you pay for. Having features and exceptional construction are two reasons to pay a little more for The North Face. The price tag may be higher than other competitors, but you know you are getting outerwear that will last you for years. Were that not the case, North Face would not have been in business for as long as it have been.

So, then, is it worth spending far less on Columbia coats and jackets? Columbia is cheaper than North Face. Some jackets that compare to North Face in style are usually a quarter of the price. Though the Columbia jackets and coats may not have exactly the same features, you get the same level of quality.

Warranty Comparison

Peace of mind is always nice to have, right? North Face has a decent warranty that will cover all defects in materials and workmanship for the entire lifetime of the item, even with extended use. That is pretty awesome. Plus, North Face will opt to repair or replace any defective product at their discretion. Although the warranty will not cover regular wear and breakdown, damage from accidents, negligence, or improper maintenance, they stick by their quality guarantee.

On the other side of the ring, Columbia also has a limited lifetime warranty for outerwear. However, while North Face gives this warranty for every product, there are a handful of Columbia products only covered for 1 year. Be sure to check the warranty on the items you wish to buy.


There are literally thousands of jackets to choose from, so finding the perfect one can be a challenge. You can start by narrowing the options down to Columbia and North Face jackets, since both brands are known for quality, durability, and additional features. Depending on your needs, one brand might do better than the other, however.

For instance, we have learned that Columbia is more geared towards recreational outdoor sports or casual outings. Meanwhile, if you want a jacket that is designed for specific activities and has decent weather-resistance for the cost, go with North Face.

Which brand you choose comes down to personal preference. Consider the materials, how often you will be using the jacket, and the overall cost. That will help you make a selection that doesn’t give you buyer’s remorse.


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