Patagonia vs Columbia: Which Brand is Better?

Patagonia vs Columbia: Which Brand is Better?

When winter is slowly ending and avid outdoors’ lovers start looking for spring garments to take with them on hikes and adventures, it’s a great time to take a look at two renowned brands that are popular choices among those who spend a lot of time out in nature.

Patagonia and Columbia are two well-known American outdoor brands, which design quality technical garments and gear for having a safe and comfortable time out in the elements.

We have extensively featured Columbia in some of our past selections and reviews, and have also looked at Patagonia. Also, both of these brands have been up against The North Face here and here in past brand comparisons.

Today it’s time to see how these two brands measure up against each other and which of the two is better. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Contents:

1. Patagonia

A short history of the brand

Founded in California in 1973, Patagonia is one of the most raved-about brands in the outdoor sports community.

It was originally part of a company that made climbing gear, which then split and one of its new branches was Patagonia, a brand for outdoor clothing.

As we have mentioned in other comparisons, Patagonia has made serious efforts of reducing its environmental impact, making it a popular choice not solely for the quality of its products but also for its ethics.

Materials and Manufacture

Being a brand that takes great interest in sustainability and preserving the environment, it should come as no surprise that Patagonia’s materials are mostly sourced through recycling.

These include the majority of the fabrics the brand uses in its garments. As for the rest of the materials that cannot be recycled, they are sourced through ethical and sustainable means, which ensure that there was minimal affecting of nature and that the animals were humanely treated.

While, like many other major brands, Patagonia makes use of the Gore-Tex technology for some of its high-performance products, it mostly relies on the H2No technology that was developed by the brand itself.

We have looked at this technology before and it is one of the closest Gore-Tex alternatives due to its high quality and performance.

A majority of garments that are waterproof are helped by DWR products that help them repel water. Oftentimes these products come with PFCs which are very harmful to the environment. Its for that reason that Patagonia has opted to use the Deluge® DWR coating, which is a longer-lasting product and has a considerably lesser environmental impact.

In regards to manufacturing, Patagonia’s jackets and other products are some of the most well-made quality-wise.

Due to the jackets that are made of the H2No technology going through a 24 Killer Wash testing process, which harshly tests the fabrics’ water resistance and durability against extreme simulations, the final products launched in the market are only those that make it through.

This ensures that despite how challenging the weather, your garment will perform flawlessly.

Popular products

For the sake of keeping things fair, we will pick one popular jacket design from each brand which are comparable to each other.

For Patagonia, we have chosen the Nano Puff jacket for men (check it out on Amazon). This is a jacket made out of 100% Recycled Polyester and insulated with PrimaLoft Gold Eco Insulation, a synthetic insulation that is mostly sourced through recycling.

It is a hoodless design, with elasticized sleeve cuffs and an adjustable hem. This is a lightweight jacket, which packs into its own pocket and is suitable for a variety of outdoors activities.

Price

Patagonia is a high-end brand, which is also reflected on the price tags of its products. The Nano Puff jacket above costs more than $200 and it’s a good representative of the average Patagonia jacket.

Are these jackets worth the price?

Yes. That is if you have the money to spare and are really looking for a jacket that will last for several seasons and that performs to expectations.

We have a piece on this topic that gives a more in-depth look at why Patagonia is an expensive brand.

2. Columbia

A short history of the brand

Founded in 1938, Columbia started out as a hat company and has managed to remain a family-owned business, currently run by Tim Boyle, the nephew of Columbia’s founders.

Columbia is a popular brand because it provides a wide range of prices that makes it accessible for everyone. You don’t have to spend an entire paycheck on a Columbia product, although, understandably, there are some products that do cost quite a bit.

Materials and Manufacture

Much like Patagonia, Columbia has also made great strides to reduce its environmental impact and nearly 80% of its Polyester is recycled and the down insulation is RDS certified.

Fabric technologies are also part of the brand’s developed products, which include the Omni-Tech fabric technology range that comes in a number of options. These include the Omni-Tech, Omni-Wick, Omni-Shade and Omni-Freeze.

The OutDry technology is also part of some of the brand’s products, which came as a result of Columbia’s collaboration with OutDry.

Aside from the fabric technologies, Columbia has also developed several special insulations that they use mainly in their jackets. These are the TurboDown and Omni-Heat Reflective.

TurboDown is a combination of down and the Omni-Heat technology, which results in a highly insulating product, while Omni-Heat Reflective is a technology that is able to reflect body heat due to silver dots that are placed on the fabric.

As for the use of DWR products, Columbia, too, has opted for less harmful DWR coatings, which are made out of short-chain PFCs.

Lastly, we’d like to refer you to the video below in regards to Columbia’s steps in ensuring that their products perform well:

Popular products

The jacket we chose as a counterpart to the Nano Puff jacket by Patagonia, is the Crested Butte II jacket (check it out on Amazon), which is made of 100% ripstop nylon for the shell and lined with 100% Polyester Omni-Heat Reflective Microtex Light.

This is a jacket insulated with 80g Omni-Heat Thermal Insulation, which is 100% Polyester and makes this jacket suitable for low to mild temperatures.

It comes with elasticized sleeve cuffs and a stand-up, hoodless collar. Crested Butte II is a lightweight jacket that packs small and is a great option for outdoor activities.

Columbia Men's Crested Butte II Omni-Heat Jacket

Image: pinterest.com

Price

As we mentioned previously, Columbia is an affordable brand overall as it provides different products that are quite reasonably priced. The jacket above costs around $100, which is nearly half of what the Patagonia jacket costs.

Are these jackets worth the price?

If we were to go by reviews and online feedback, it will depend on the product of choice. Some products perform better while others perform up to par with their price tag. That is to say that if you are looking for an affordable product that performs like a high-performance technical jacket, you may want to adjust your expectations.

Overall Columbia’s products don’t really disappoint.

3. Which One Is Better?

We won’t beat around the bush much here. Overall, all things considered, Patagonia jackets are higher quality in their build and performance.

But, the price tag might not suit everyone and Columbia is not at all a brand to be written off. Their products are usually durable and those that are made for warmth perform really well. We have seen several of those products in some of our past selections and reviews and were really impressed with them.

Therefore, to summarize, Patagonia has the upper hand when it comes to more technical wear, while Columbia provides good insulating options and much more affordable prices.

2 Comments

  1. I’m too poor to buy cheap. I do not buy Columbia because the stuff falls apart. They use cheap zippers. I have never been able to get a Columbia jacket to last more than a couple of years. I have had problems cleaning Columbia shells. I have had Columbia wind / rain pants and shells fail at very inconvenient times. I had a pair of Columbia expedition mittens, the ones you wear if you are going to be out all day and the high is going to be something like -15 F or lower, tear at the seams. Considering that I paid about 100USD for it, I was pissed. My outdoor shop will sell Columbia, but only to students. They will not sell Columbia to people they know who are true outdoorsmen. They do not carry any Columbia gear that looks like it might be serious gear, because they do not consider Columbia to be appropriate for someone who needs serious gear.

    Columbia is fine for casual use. My outdoor shop sells (and recommends) Columbia gear primarily to college students and teens who are growing like weeds. There’s no sense in paying 1,000USD for a very serious parka for a growing teen. Most college students don’t know if they want to remain living in the New England or other cold climate after graduation. So, going with cheaper gear that might last four winters makes good financial sense. Columbia gear is a reasonable choice for someone who goes from the house to the car, from the car to the store or work and back into the car–someone who the longest amount they’ll be outside is to snow blow out the driveway and shovel pathways and sidewalks. It might be fine for someone who makes an occasional trip to the slopes for some casual skiing.

    Columbia gear IS NOT for someone who is going to be outside in the winter for a long time. It’s not for someone who is a dedicated outdoorsman. It’s not for someone who works outside. It’s not for someone who lives in a city, who relies on public transportation, who will be standing outside in the cold or doing a lot of walking. It’s not for someone who has decided to permanently live in cold / northern climates. For people who fit this category (like me), spend the money and buy hard wearing, quality gear. You won’t regret it.

    I have a Marmot Gore-Tex shell and Gore-Tex rain pants, a Canada Goose Expedition Parka. If I hadn’t been gifted this parka, I probably would have bought a cheaper Anchorage Alaska grade parka–such as the products available for sale on this webpage. Canada Goose is well-made, it’s overpriced. I own many pieces of Mountain Hardwear gear: fleece jackets, mittens of all weights, tent, etc. (before the company got sold). I don’t have experience with Patagonia, because Marmot and Mountain Hardwear fit me better. However, my friends who wear Patagonia say it’s really good, solidly made. I am really happy with my current collection of gear. The Canada Goose parka is the newest addition to my gear collection at 3 years old and looks new and is definitely well-made and deals well with winter time trips to Montreal and kept me really warm no matter how long I’m out.

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