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Columbia vs The North Face: Who makes warmer clothing?

columbia jacket

Whether you’re headed for a mountaintop or simply want to keep warm on cool spring nights, you’d do well to look into some quality outdoor clothing. Brands like The North Face and Columbia may immediately come to mind, as they’re two of the most recognized outdoor brands on the market. Each company has a huge lineup of jackets and clothing to shop, and much of it looks similar. In fact, it can be difficult to tell the two brands apart in the wild. We’re here to help set them apart, so grab your skis or your hiking boots and let’s explore whether it’s Columbia or The North Face that should accompany you.

Columbia vs The North Face: Who wins?

Wearing a North Face vest in a field.
The North Face

If you’re looking to get right down to business when it comes to choosing between Columbia and The North Face, we feel you should go with The North Face. While these brands have a lot in common in terms style and functionality, The North Face wins out due to its slightly better quality. The North Face might set you back a little more at checkout, but it’s worth the higher prices to ensure quality and longevity when it comes to keeping warm.


On the surface these brands seem to come in at significantly different price points, though when looking solely at introductory clothing and jackets their pricing is pretty similar. Columbia frequently discounts its products significantly, which makes it the better option if you’re looking to save. But as the outdoor clothing market goes, The North Face is still incredibly competitive with its prices. While Columbia jackets start at around $80, The North Face’s start at around $110. The North Face will max out at much higher prices, but it has a lot of options in the same price range as Columbia’s pre-sale pricing.


Features, as you might expect from two outdoor clothing brands with dozens of different jackets and styles of outdoor clothing to shop, will be all over the place. In general, outdoor clothing has some features to keep an eye out for, and Columbia, more specifically, has a lot of features that will pop up in a number of its jackets and clothing, such as:

  • Waterproof coverage
  • Snap-up collars
  • Elastic cuffs and hems
  • Drawcord adjustable hems
  • Zippered pockets
  • Packable designs

The North Face, too, has a wide range features to look for in its jackets and outdoor clothing. Different styles will be capable of different features, but some of the features you’ll be able to get with The North Face outerwear include:

  • Waterproof coverage
  • Recycled fabrics
  • Lightweight fabrics
  • Detachable hoods
  • Internal pockets
  • Sidewall construction


Almost any outdoor brand you shop is going to come with quality you can count on, as the more rugged nature of the outdoors is what these brands are made for. With The North Face’s slightly higher prices, however, does come a slightly better quality. In most situations, particularly if you’re simply looking to keep warm, you’ll do just fine with Columbia. But quality and durability is where The North Face distinguishes itself, and if you’re looking for something that can withstand a lot of elements and can do so for a long time, The North Face wins.


Design is something that needs to be looked at a little differently when it comes to outdoor clothing. Modern synthetic materials bring with them superior warmth, but clothing technology can sometimes get in the way of outputting great style. But both The North Face and Columbia turn out products that look great within their respective worlds, and if you’re on the side of a mountain or enjoying one of the best hikes in the U.S., you’ll look as stylish as ever sporting Columbia or The North Face.

While The North Face’s lineup wins out in terms of quality, much of its clothing looks like it’s meant to be worn in the wild. Columbia has a number of more casual styles to choose from, which include jackets and vests that will pair well with jeans or chinos.


Quality is something you’re going to get with both of these brands. Columbia stands by it with a pretty decent warranty, offering 1-year of limited coverage on sportswear and accessories. The North Face really stands by its quality, however, and that’s another reason it wins out when standing next to Columbia. The North Face has a limited lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of its products.

Wrapping up with quality

Smiling person in a North Face beanie and winter coat outdoors.
The North Face Renewed

Both Columbia and The North Face are brands worth adding to your warm weather wardrobe. While Columbia may have more to offer in terms of everyday style and affordability, The North Face wins out when it comes to a combination of daily style and durability. We feel the added quality of The North Face is worth the extra money you’ll spend to get it, particularly for clothing you may be planning on utilizing in the tough conditions of colder weather.

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Andrew Morrisey
Andrew Morrisey is an independent writer, photographer and filmmaker. His interest in storytelling and its many mediums led…
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