The battle between outdoor clothing brands continues over here on our site and today it’s time to look at two of the most popular ones: The North Face vs. Patagonia.
These brands have been around for quite some time and are often the top choice of many avid outdoor lovers. They are renowned for making some of the best outdoor clothing, especially jackets, with many options available, which are stylish and functional.
While they appear to be quite similar in regards to their product range and designs, there are some key differences between the two when it comes to the materials they choose and their business practice. We will discuss this more in depth in this comparison, so let’s get started.
1. The North Face
A short history of the brand
The North Face is one of the most popular American outdoor brands and they have been around since 1966.
At first, their main products were different equipment for backpackers and climbers who were in dire need of high quality, functional gear that would keep them safe and comfortable outdoors.
The brand’s popularity increased over the years as it became a favorite of many sportsmen and outdoor explorers.
While their earlier designs, especially jackets, were very high quality and mainly focused on technical performance, their modern designs are moving a bit away from the technical aspect and focusing more on the style and look.
That is not to say that their jackets don’t perform well, not at all, but if we are to compare it to Patagonia, this is a difference that bears mentioning.
Materials and Manufacture
In regards to materials, The North Face typically uses recycled materials, such as Polyester. Their organic materials, such as cotton or down, are also ethically and responsibly sourced in order to minimize environmental impact.
The use of DWR treatments is common practice in weather-resistant jackets, and while there are still some products that contain harmful chemicals, The North Face is looking to replace the DWR products they use with those that are PFC-free, thus causing less harm to the environment.
Those who are familiar with the brand are also familiar with its specialized fabric technologies and insulations that the brand uses and some of which it has developed itself.
One of the most famous fabric technologies that they use is Gore-Tex, but they have also developed DryVent, a fully windproof, waterproof and considerably breathable fabric, which is available in different variations for different purposes.
If you would like to learn more about DryVent and also see how it compares to Gore-Tex, we have an extended comparison of the two, which you can find here.
Another technology is the FlashDry, which is designed to be highly breathable, and, when it comes to wind protection, WindWall is a fabric that serves as a barrier against cold winds and it can be found in either windproof or wind-resistant options, depending on your requirements.
While their products are typically very well-made, sometimes accidents happen and your jacket might get damaged. In such cases, the brand offers lifetime warranty and also repairing services.
In regards to The North Face’s popular designs, we have picked two options which are comparable to two similar jackets by Patagonia, in order to keep things fair and also get a better look at how similar products differ.
The first one is not only chosen because it is similar to another jacket by Patagonia, but because it is also one of the brand’s most renowned designs. Yes, indeed, it is the ThermoBall jacket (check out the men’s version on Amazon).
Made of 100% nylon ripstop fabric and finished with DWR coating, this jacket comes in a quilted brick pattern and it is hoodless. It is insulated with the ThermoBall synthetic insulation and it comes with two side pockets and an inner chest pocket, too.
To provide a better fit and better protection, its sleeve cuffs are elasticized and its collar is snug and medium-height. For the same purposes, its hem is also adjustable with cords, which completely block cold air from getting through from the bottom.
This is a very warm design, suitable for cold and windy days, and it is also packable in its own pocket, which makes it a great option for those travelling or camping outdoors.
The second pick is Venture (check out men’s version on Amazon), a rain jacket design which comes in options for men and women, too. It is made of nylon fabric and utilizes the DryVent 2.5L fabric technology, making it a waterproof jacket, with sealed seams, and an attached and adjustable hood.
It comes with chin guard and adjustable sleeve cuffs, as well as a storm placket that covers the central zippers. There are two side pockets on this design.
Also included are pit vents, which further help with breathability, making this design not just another rain jacket. As a last feature, it also packs into its own pocket, which is great to take with you on the trail or when travelling.
While it comes with numerous affordable options, some of its more modern styles, or those who are suitable for harsh conditions, can cost upwards of $500, which is a price that does not really categorize The North Face as the most affordable brand out there.
However, it should be kept in mind that technical jackets are always costly, especially when considering that they are usually well-made and, in the case of The North Face, also made out of materials that require extra acquiring steps to ensure that everything is done responsibly.
Are these jackets worth the price?
Overall, yes they are. The North Face is not so beloved without merit, as the brand designs some beautiful jackets in terms of looks and performance.
A short history of the brand
Patagonia is also an American brand, founded in 1973 in California and it was originally known as Chouinard Equipment, which went on to split into two brands due to bankruptcy, one of which is Patagonia.
Patagonia itself, was since the beginning an outdoor clothing brand, but its founder started out as a maker of climbing gear a long time before he went on to establish the brand.
Nowadays, Patagonia is one of the most renowned outdoor brands and it is often a recommended brand for those looking to buy high quality and high performance outdoor clothing.
Just like The North Face, this brand is also very involved in ethical manufacturing and minimization of environmental impact, even more so than the former and many other brands on the market.
It is often part of different organizations and activism movements which aim to protect the environment and strive to move away from using unethical means of production and sourcing.
As of 2014, the brand uses only responsibly-sourced and traceable down for its down products and it also ensures that wool and any other organic products are only sourced in the most ethical and harmless way to the animals and the environment.
You might also like: 8 Patagonia Jackets for Autumn and Winter
Materials and Manufacture
As we mentioned above, their materials are nearly all recycled and sourced in ethical and responsible ways. This brand uses some of the highest quality fabrics on their products, which is also reflected in the price tag they come with.
Just like The North Face, Patagonia is also well-known for using Gore-Tex in some of their garments, but they have developed a fabric technology of their own, the H2No technology, which we have previously compared to Gore-Tex here.
This is a fully waterproof and water-repellent fabric, as well as being renowned for its next-to-skin comfort in wear.
Depending on the layer construction, it comes in the 2L, 2.5L and the 3L options, which vary in durability and breathability.
Another thing that bears mentioning is the DWR treatment that is used in the brand’s water-repellent garments, the Deluge® DWR coating, which has a longer longevity than other DWRs available, thus requiring less reapplications and it also reduces the need for fully waterproof membranes on breathable garments.
In regards to manufacturing, apart from using high quality materials, Patagonia also uses a 24 Killer Wash testing process, where the fabrics go through the harshest conditions that they would out in nature, through a simulation that consists of thrashing and water-testing the fabrics extensively.
This process is done in order to ensure that the fabrics that pass it are indeed fully waterproof and highly durable, and also given the H2No Performance Standard status.
As we mentioned above, in order to compare similar jackets by the two brands, we have picked the Nano Puff jacket (check out men’s version on Amazon), which is a quilted and insulated jacket made of 100% recycled polyester with DWR finish.
It is insulated by PrimaLoft Gold Eco Insulation, which is a 100% Polyester insulation, nearly half of which is sourced through recycling.
This jacket comes with a medium and hoodless collar, two side pockets and an internal chest pocket. Its sleeve cuffs are elasticized and its hem is adjustable, as well as in a drop tail design, which provides better cover for the back.
Just like the ThermoBall jacket, this one, too, packs into its own pocket.
The equivalent jacket, if we would call it so, to the Venture jacket by The North Face, is the Torrentshell (check out men’s version on Amazon). This is also a jacket made of rip stop nylon, which in this case is 100% Recycled, and it is highly durable, windproof, breathable and waterproof.
It comes with an attached and adjustable hood, as well as adjustable sleeve cuffs and pit vents for added breathability. This is a rain jacket that packs into its own pocket and has a fleece-lined collar for added warmth.
Patagonia is a pricey brand, with the average jacket costing around $130 and then going upwards of that. Looking at the options above, for example in the case of Venture and Torrentshell, the price difference between the brands is obvious.
Are these jackets worth the price?
Well, when considering that their jackets are made of really high quality materials, the majority of which are sourced through recycling, the extensive testing process and the highly functional design, the answer is obviously “Yes”.
3. Which Brand Is Better?
Overall, The North Face has a wider product range and their designs are aimed more towards being fashionable. The prices are also slightly lower than Patagonia’s.
Both of these brands’ products are well-made and perform well, however Patagonia has the upper hand in terms of technical performance as their jackets are designed to wear better and also adjust to movement a lot better.
Therefore, it comes down to what you are looking for.
If it’s a quality jacket that will keep you warm and protected, either brand will do. The same goes if you are a casual outdoor adventurer looking for a quality and breathable shell. But, if you are looking for something that will suit your sports requirements a bit better, then Patagonia is the one to go for out of the two.