Columbia vs Patagonia: Outdoor Jacket Giants Compared

Patagonia makes better outdoor clothing and has better sustainability credentials, but Columbia is better value for many types of product

Opting for Columbia vs Patagonia is a common (and very challenging) decision that outdoor enthusiasts have to make when shopping for outdoor jackets.

While we lean to Patagonia, in part because of its environmental sustainability credentials, both of these outdoor brands make some of the best outdoor-related products you will find.

Patagonia and Columbia also have some very innovative products in their catalog that can make your outdoor adventures even more comfortable and enjoyable.

In this article, we take a close look at Patagonia vs Columbia to see if we can make your decision-making process a little bit easier when trying to pick between these two hugely popular brands.

Quick summary: While Patagonia is a premium brand, Columbia is a significantly more affordable brand. Patagonia offers better technology, a lifetime warranty and other premium feautures, but Columbia makes some great outdoor clothing and offers cheaper prices.

Patagonia and Columbia Reviewed

When it comes to outdoor clothing, Patagonia and Columbia are both renowned for making some of the best pieces of kit you could ever ask for.

There are actually quite a lot of similarities between the two brands but there are also a few differences.

Understanding the differences between Patagonia and Columbia is key to knowing which brand you ultimately want your outdoor gear to come from.


Patagonia has become a global leader in sustainability. 

Patagonia Manufacturing Details

It is common knowledge that Patagonia is a hugely ethical and responsible brand when it comes to sustainability.

With that in mind, it makes complete sense that a large amount of recycled materials are used in manufacturing their products. Certain aspects of Patagonia’s products require materials that simply can’t be recycled right now. Patagonia put a lot of effort into making sure they ethically source these materials to keep their impact on the environment as small as possible.

Many outdoor brands use Gore-Tex in their products and Patagonia are no exception. Gore-Tex is an extremely lightweight, breathable, and waterproof material that is perfectly suited to any outdoor adventure.

Patagonia does not rely on Gore-Tex as much as other brands though as they have developed their own fabric technology in the form of H2No. This stands up extremely well when compared against Gore-Tex and performs to high standards out in the wild.

Waterproof outdoor clothing tends to be coated in DWR (durable water repellent) to ensure suitable protection is provided to the wearer. Most DWR products contain chemicals that are not particularly kind to the environment.

As Patagonia manufactures outdoor gear, they want to make sure good levels of water resistance are offered. However, as an environmentally-conscious brand, they also don’t want to use a lot of chemicals that cause damage to our planet. To overcome this, Patagonia uses Deluge DWR coating. This is longer-lasting so requires less application and it is also much less harmful to the environment.

As well as being famous for its commitment to nature and ethical processes, The Patagonia brand is known for testing all of its products to extremes.

Tests such as the 24-hour killer wash where products are soaked in water for 24 hours to replicate years of use help give outdoor enthusiasts a lot of confidence that their new products will last a long time.

There aren’t many brands out there that put as much effort into testing their products as Patagonia does and this is why all Patagonia gear is made to such a high level of quality and performance.

Types of Jackets

Patagonia Nano Puff works well as a warm mid-layer for cold days or a water-resistant top-layer in milder conditions.

One of the most popular Patagonia jackets is the Patagonia Nano Puff (click here for the best deal).

The outer shell of the Nano Puff is made from recycled polyester and the insulation used is PrimaLoft Gold Eco Insulation. This type of insulation is synthetic and made from predominantly recycled materials.

The Nano Puff is a very lightweight Patagonia jacket and has good levels of water resistance and breathability.

Two deep zippered hand pockets on either side provide a warm place to put your cold hands as well as offering enough space to carry some extra outdoor gear with you. Patagonia have added an extra layer of practicality and convenience by making the Nano Puff fold down into its own pocket. This makes carrying it around and storing it when not in use nice and easy.

The Nano Puff is extremely comfortable and made to a high-quality finish. It has elasticized cuffs and a drawstring waistband so you can adjust it to fit you comfortably.

If you’re looking for a Patagonia Jacket that works well as a warm mid-layer for cold days or a water-resistant top-layer in milder conditions, the Nano Puff is well worth looking at.

Other Gear

Patagonia jackets are just one part of the Patagonia catalog. While the brand may be well-known for their jackets, you can find a wide range of outdoor gear from Patagonia.

If you are looking for durable, waterproof, top-quality apparel for your outdoor adventures, Patagonia will have you covered. From pants suitable for hiking to breathable waterproof shorts, and more, Patagonia are a true outdoor brand that have all the bases covered.

It’s not just clothing either, you can get your hands on some awesome Patagonia bags, sleeping bags, water bottles, and even wet suits.

Patagonia Philosophy & History

Patagonia was originally part of Chouinard Equipment before separating off into its own brand. It was formed in 1973 in California so is an American outdoor brand that has grown into a globally renowned company, known for making some of the best outdoor equipment you can find.

Not only is Patagonia known for its awesome outdoor kit, but the brand also has a strong reputation for being one of the most sustainable brands on the planet.

As well as using recycled materials in the majority of their products, Patagonia also put in a lot of work to source any other materials they need ethically with as little impact on the environment as possible.

If you are an outdoor enthusiast who wants to buy your outdoor gear from a brand that genuinely cares about the planet – Patagonia could very well be the brand for you.


Columbia Manufacturing Details

In a similar way to Patagonia, Columbia does its best to be as sustainable as possible in the brand’s processes. Around 80% of the polyester used in Columbia products is recycled which shows how committed the brand is to minimizing its impact on the environment.

Columbia have also developed some of their own fabric technologies such as Omni-Tech, Omni-Wick, Omni-Shade, and Omni-Freeze. Columbia have also developed their own insulation types such as TurboDown and Omni-Heat Reflective.

These fabrics and insulations make for some awesome insulated jackets that are ideal for adventures in a range of conditions.

In another similar way to Patagonia, Columbia also use DWR products that are considered to be less harmful to the environment while still providing enough protection from rain and water.

When it comes to testing their products, Columbia have a thorough testing process to make sure all of the clothing they offer is made to extremely high standards and will last a long time.

Types of Columbia Jackets

An awesome Columbia jacket is the Labyrinth Loop Down Hooded Jacket (click here for the best deal).

This jacket has been made from synthetic recycled insulation that replicates down without the need for ethically sourcing birds.

It uses Omni-Heat Infinity advanced thermal reflective technology to reflect your body heat back towards you. This does an incredible job of keeping you warm and comfortable, even in pretty cold conditions.

As well as zippered hand pockets, the Labyrinth also has a zippered chest pocket too, which adds a bit more storage space for some small accessories.

Elastic cuffs and the drawcord hem help you find the best and most comfortable fit for you and even the hood is adjustable too.

The Columbia Labyrinth is a great choice of jacket for a day out hiking but it also fits in perfectly with everyday life.

Other Gear

Columbia sell a large range of outdoor gear. In addition to jackets, you can also get Columbia backpacks, gloves, socks, footwear, walking poles, and more.

Like Patagonia, the brand has grown into a true outdoor company that is worth thinking about for any outdoor-related purchase.

Columbia Philosophy & History

Columbia Sportswear began in 1938. At this point, it was a hat company but has since expanded into the outdoor brand it is today.

It has been a family-owned business from the start with the current boss, Tim Boyle, being the nephew of one of the original founders of the company.

One of the main differences Columbia has compared to Patagonia is that the price range is much greater. While Patagonia is pretty much exclusively a high-end brand with high price points, Columbia has some more budget-friendly options as well as more expensive products too.

Columbia is an environmentally-conscious brand, although not to the same level as Patagonia.

If price is your biggest deciding factor when choosing which outdoor brand to buy from, Columbia could be the one for you.

Patagonia vs Columbia: The Best Outdoor Brands Compared

While there are some clear similarities with Patagonia vs Columbia, there are some differences that can ultimately sway your final decision.

There’s no denying that Columbia Sportswear (commonly known as just Columbia but is the same company), is a very well-respected and high-quality outdoor brand. You get much more price choice and can get some great gear for less money.

Even with that in mind, Patagonia is still the winner for us. Patagonia products are some of the best out there and are also some of the most sustainable on the market.

If your budget allows, it is well worth committing to a slightly bigger financial investment in order to get the top-level outdoor gear.

When it comes to Patagonia vs Columbia – Patagonia takes the win for their commitment to sustainability and making very impressive outdoor kit.

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Rob Harvey is an experienced outdoor writer with a passion for using and writing about all the gear that makes camping, hiking and fishing fun. He's been a freelancer writer for more than five years and loves sharing his experiences with readers.
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