When it comes to choosing Columbia vs North Face, it’s a tough choice. Both brands are known for making some of the best outdoor gear, so read up on the product comparisons below to find the right jacket or fleece.

One jacket for the whole year just won’t do. Any buying a jacket for any season can be difficult with so many brands to choose from.

You need a different jacket for every time of year and every type of weather, or you’ll be too cold, too warm, or soaked to the skin.

Thankfully, both The North Face and Columbia have models to suit every possible need. To find out which brand is best, check out Columbia vs North Face jacket comparison below.

Columbia vs North Face

Lightweight Insulated Jacket

The North Face Thermoball JacketColumbia Omni Heat Jacket
Weight (Size Med)12.3 ozN/A
Best ForCasual wear, Hiking, Boating/Sailing, Wet WeatherCasual wear

Rain Jacket

The North Face Venture 2 Jacket

Columbia Watertight II Jacket

Material40D 85 g/m2 DryVent 2.5L - 62% nylon, 38% polyester100% Nylon 2L Full Dull plain weave
Weight (Size Med)11.6 oz16 oz
HoodYes (adjustable)Yes (adjustable)
Best ForHiking, TravelHiking, Casual wear, Travel

Windbreaker

The North Face Apex Bionic 2 Jacket

The North Face Apex Bionic 2 Jacket

Material351 g/m2 Windwall - 96% polyester, 4% elastane soft shell with DWR finish100% polyester shell, 100% polyester mesh lining
Weight (Size Med)23.9 ozN/A
Hem Drawcord (yes/no)YesYes
Best ForCasual wear, hiking, runningHiking

Fleece

The North Face Denali 2 JacketColumbia Steens Mountain 2.0 Fleece Jacket
MaterialRecycled Polartec 300 Series-100% polyester classic fleece with DWR finish, 100% nylon overlay100% polyester MTR filiament fleece
Weight (Size Med)24.7 oz16.79 oz
Best ForCasual wear, hiking, campingCasual wear, hiking, camping, winter sports

3-in-1 Jacket

The North Face Carto Triclimate JacketColumbia Bugaboo Interchange Jacket
Shell Material/Waterproofing140 g/m2 DryVent 100% NylonOnmi Tech 100% nylon
Jacket Liner50D 73 g/m2 100% recycled polyesterOnmi-Shield 100% polyester
Weight (Size Med)37.36 oz37.74 oz
Best ForCold weather, Casual wear, Hiking, CyclingSkiing, Snow sports, Hiking

Product Comparisons

Whether you need an insulated jacket, a rain jacket, a windbreaker, a 3-in-1, or a warm fleece jacket, both The North Face and Columbia make great models at decent prices.

But which is the best model in each category? Check out our reviews below to find out.

the-north-face-vs-columbia-down-jacket

Lightweight Insulated Jacket

An insulated jacket is great for those cooler days when you need a bit of warmth without sacrificing your mobility on the trail or the slopes.

They are lightweight and usually packable, thanks to their unique compressible insulation.

When you compare Columbia vs North Face brands, you’ll notice each one has a few insulated jackets to choose from, but the two models below are the best each one has to offer.

The North Face Thermoball Jacket

The North Face Thermoball Jacket is a lightweight insulated jacket, with a durable nylon ripstop shell and their unique PrimaLoft ThermoBall synthetic insulation.

Together, they trap the heat in, while locking out the cold. There is also a DWR coating to keep you dry in damp weather.

Other handy features of the men’s Thermoball jacket are the high collar, the durable YKK Vislon center front zipper, elastic cuffs, and a hem cinch-cord.

There are 2 hand pockets, one of which doubles as a stuff sack for easy packing. There is also a media compatible chest pocket on the inside.

The North Face Women’s Thermoball Jacket has all the same features, but with a more flattering design and fit.

Columbia Omni Heat Jacket

If you want the best insulated jacket by Columbia, the Crested Butte Omni-Heat Hooded Jacket is a great choice.

The shell is nylon ripstop, with their Omni-Heat thermal insulation in the middle, and Omni Heat Reflective Microtex Light lining on the inside.

Columbia’s Omni-Heat technology reflects your body heat back to you while the shell blocks out the cold, giving you a warm, yet lightweight, jacket for even the coldest temperatures.

Other handy features include water-resistance, zippered hand pockets, an internal chest pocket, and an adjustable hem to lock out the cold that could seep in through a wider opening.

There is no women’s version of this coat, but a similar model is the Columbia Women’s Mighty Lite III Jacket.

Or, if you prefer a hood, the Columbia Women’s Mighty Lite Hooded Jacket is a great option with similar features as the Columbia Crested Butte Omni-Heat Hooded Jacket.

The Main Differences?

When you compare the above Columbia vs North Face winter jackets, you’ll see a lot of similarities, but a few differences as well.

The Columbia model is hooded, which the Thermoball lacks. The Crested Butte jacket also uses the Omni-Heat Reflective technology, which keeps you warmer on colder days. But the Thermoball is more packable, with a pocket/stuff sack to create a smaller package to carry with you.

 
The North Face Thermoball JacketColumbia Omni Heat Jacket
Shell Material15D 33 g/m2 nylon ripstop with DWR finishShadow Ripstop 100% nylon
Insulation10 g/ft2, 11 g/ft2 and 13 g/ft2 PrimaLoft Thermoball synthetic insulation80g Omni-Heat Thermal Insulation, 50% polyester, 50% recycled polyester
Weight (Size Med)12.3 ozN/A
Pockets2 zippered hand pockets, internal chest pocket2 zippered hand pockets, internal chest pocket
Water ResistantYesYes
Hem DrawcordYesYes
Best ForCasual wear, Hiking, Boating/Sailing, Wet WeatherCasual wear

columbia-vs-north-face-rain-jacket-comparison

Lightweight Rain Jacket

When the weather turns wet, you need a decent jacket that will keep you from getting soaked. Lightweight rain jackets like the North Face or Columbia jackets are great options for even the heaviest rains.

There are a dozen rain jackets to choose from with either of these companies, all with features that make them a great choice for a variety of uses.

But for those who need a casual jacket, or one they can use for a damp hike, The North Face Venture 2 and the Columbia Watertight II jackets are both great choices.

The North Face Venture 2 Jacket

The North Face Venture 2 men’s jacket comes in 7 sizes and 11 colors. It is made using waterproof, seam-sealed Dryvent nylon ripstop, which keeps you dry and protects you from the wind.

This material is also breathable, but also comes with pit-zip vents in case you get a bit warm.

The hood, hem, and cuffs are all adjustable for the perfect fit in every area. A Velcro storm flap protects the zipper, reducing leaks, as do the fully sealed seams.

There are 2 covered hand pockets with secure zips. You can use one of the pockets as a stuff sack as well if needed.

The North Face Women’s Venture 2 Jacket is also available, giving the ladies the same protection and features as the men’s model.

Columbia Watertight II Jacket

The best Columbia rain jacket will keep you dry on the inside and the outside.

The Columbia Watertight II Jacket meets these needs, with its Omni-Tech protection that is waterproof and fully seam sealed, but still breathable to keep you from overheating underneath the nylon shell.

For added convenience, the hem and hood are both adjustable. There is an abrasion-resistant chin guard to prevent pinching and a drop tail at the back for an extra bit of protection from the cold and damp weather.

This rain jacket also packs into one of the hand pockets, making it a contender for the best travel rain jacket around.

Though there isn’t a women’s version of the Watertight II Rain Jacket, the Women’s Arcadia II Rain Jacket is a great option. It also uses the Omni-Tech technology and has many of the same features as the men’s Watertight II.

The Main Differences?

There are a few obvious difference when comparing Columbia vs North Face rain jackets.

The Venture 2 has adjustable cuffs and the pit-zip vents, which the Columbia model lacks. It also comes in a few more colors and sizes.

But the Watertight II has the chin guard and the drop tail for extra protection.

The North Face Venture 2 Jacket

Columbia Watertight II Jacket

Material40D 85 g/m2 DryVent 2.5L - 62% nylon, 38% polyester100% Nylon 2L Full Dull plain weave
InsulationNoneNone
Weight (Size Med)11.6 oz16 oz
Pockets2 zippered hand pockets2 zippered hand pockets
HoodYes (adjustable)Yes (adjustable)
VentsYesNo
PackableYesYes
Hem DrawcordYesYes
Best ForHiking, TravelHiking, Casual wear, Travel

Windbreaker

Windbreakers are breathable, while still blocking out those winds that could chill you when you’re outside on a breezy day.

They are also some of the most versatile and portable jackets around, making them great choices for spring, summer, and fall.

The North Face has a number of windbreakers available, but despite the quality of their other jackets, their Apex Bionic 2 is their top rated model.

Columbia also has a few different windbreakers to choose from, depending on the extra features you need and the style you’re looking for.

Their Flashback is one of the best models, with Collegiate Flashback options available for those who want to show their school pride.

The North Face Apex Bionic 2 Jacket

The best outdoor gear gives you great protection without sacrificing comfort. The North Face Apex Bionic 2 Jacket is a midweight, soft-shell jacket with a relaxed fit to give you freedom of movement during your favorite activities.

It is made of polyester, with a bit of elastane thrown in for some stretch, increasing your mobility. Inside is a fleece backer, which adds some warmth on those chilly days. As well as blocking the wind, the Apex Bionic 2 also has a DWR coating for a bit of weather protection, though it won’t keep you dry in a downpour.

There is a cinch-cord on the hem to block out the wind from the bottom. There are also 2 zippered hand pockets and a zippered chest pocket. For a bit of style, the Apex Bionic 2 has raised logos on the chest.

This windbreaker comes in 7 sizes, with 5 colors to choose from. For the ladies, The North Face Women’s Apex Bionic 2 jacket similar features, except it has an active fit and curved cuffs with an inner stretch cuff for a bit of extra comfort and warmth.

Columbia Flashback Windbreaker

Columbia has some of the best value outdoor gear around, and the Flashback windbreaker is no exception. But the great low price doesn’t mean its cheaply made.

The Flashback uses polyester for the shell and mesh lining. This fabric is water-resistant as well as windproof to keep you a bit more protected from the elements.

It also has elastic cuffs and a drawcord around the hem to block out even more of the wind and cold.

The lightweight design also makes one of the best packable windbreaker models around, though it doesn’t have a stuff sack or fit into its own pocket.

The Flashback hooded windbreaker also has hand pockets to keep your fingers toasty warm. Columbia’s Flashback comes in 5 sizes and 6 colors.

There is also a Columbia Women’s Flashback Windbreaker available, with identical features as the men’s model, minus the hood.

The Main Differences?

There are a few differences when comparing Columbia vs North Face windbreakers.

The Apex Bionic 2 has a bit more weight to it, making it less transportable than the Flashback. But it has a few extra sizes, so can accommodate more people.

The Flashback comes with a hood for extra protection, though it lacks the extra chest pocket and the DWR finish found on The North Face jacket.

The North Face Apex Bionic 2 Jacket

Columbia Flashback Windbreaker

Material351 g/m2 Windwall - 96% polyester, 4% elastane soft shell with DWR finish100% polyester shell, 100% polyester mesh lining
Weight (Size Med)23.9 ozN/A
Pockets2 zippered hand pockets, zippered chest pocket2 zippered hand pockets
HoodNoYes
VentsNoNo
PackableNoYes
Hem DrawcordYesYes
Best ForCasual wear, hiking, runningHiking

the-north-face-vs-columbia-outdoor-gear

3-in-1 Jacket

A 3-in-1 jacket uses two jacket layers that you can wear zipped together, or split apart and worn separately.

They give you a heavy layer for those chilly days, plus lighter layers for when the weather warms up.

Both The North Face and Columbia have a few different options to choose from, but the two models below are high-quality and worth a look.

The North Face Carto Triclimate Jacket

The Carto Triclimate jacket uses DryVent technology in the shell, which combines waterproofing and breathability by using a multi-layer PU coating. This also helps increase the shells durability for a longer lasting jacket.

The shell of The North Face 3-in-1 jacket has a center front zipper with snap closures and a stormflap to block out the cold. It has Velcro cuffs for easy adjustment. The hood is also adjustable at the front and the back for the perfect fit.

There are covered hand pockets, plus a media compatible chest pocket to keep your electronics secure but still accessible.

The inner jacket is made of recycled polyester with Heatseeker insulation for extra warmth. It also has a couple of hand pockets to keep your fingers toasty on those chilly days.

The North Face Women’s Carto Triclimate Jacket uses the same material for the shell and inner jacket as the men’s model. The features are also identical.

Columbia Bugaboo Interchange Jacket

The Columbia 3-in-1 jacket has an Omni-Tech outer shell, which is 100% nylon with critically sealed seams. This shell is waterproof to keep you dry on the outside, but breathable to reduce sweating on the inside.

There is also the Omni-Heat thermal reflective material inside, which reflects your body heat back to you for even more warmth.

There are multiple pockets inside and out, giving you room to store your phone, keys, and anything else you may need. The drawcord hem and Velcro sleeves are easy to adjust, giving you the right fit to increase your warmth on those icy days.

The storm hood adds a bit of extra protection but can be removed on those warmer days when you don’t need it.

The liner jacket is 100% polyester Dotswarm fleece, which adds to the warmth, whether you wear the liner or layered with the shell.

The Bugaboo inner jacket also has a couple of hand pockets for warm fingers or a bit of storage space for your essentials.

There is also a Columbia Women’s Bugaboo Interchange Jacket, which also features the Omni-Heat and Omni-Tech technologies, plus has all the same features as the men’s version.

The Main Differences?

Though the Bugaboo standard jacket has fewer sizes than the Carto Triclimate jacket, it also comes in both bigger and taller models, giving you more size options to choose from.

The Bugaboo’s hood is also removable for added convenience. And, most importantly for those on a budget, in our Columbia vs North Face comparison, the Bugaboo is much cheaper to buy.

***comparison table of rain jackets from both brands next to each other***

Fleece Jacket

A fleece jacket is warm enough to repel the chill, but still breathable enough to reduce overheating, even if you’re exerting yourself. For these reasons, fleece is a great choice for any outdoor activity, from chopping wood to camping, to visiting friends on a chilly night.

The North Face has a variety of fleece clothing to choose from, but the redesigned Denali 2 is unmatched in warmth and comfort, not to mention its durability.

Columbia also has a few different fleece options available, but consider the Steens Mountain 2.0 model “the next generation of a Columbia classic.”

The North Face Denali 2

The best outdoor clothing will have great durability to match its features, so it will last as long as you do. The North Face has taken this into account with it redesigned Denali 2 Jacket.

It has been constructed with recycled polyester fleece, with reinforced shoulders, forearms, and chest to resist abrasions. The stretch fabric on the cuffs fits tight to your wrists without pinching, giving you some protection from the cold air that would otherwise seep in. There is also a cinch-cord on the hem to lock it tight against the chill.

Two zippered hand pockets keep your fingers warm. There are also 2 chest pockets, one of which is media compatible, so you can listen to music anywhere you go without dangling cords in your way.

For added convenience, the Denali 2 is zip-in-compatible with many of The North Face’s other garments, so you can mix and match to meet your needs.

There is also a The North Face Women’s Denali 2 available, with all the same materials and features as the men’s models, but designed to complement a woman’s body.

Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0 Fleece Jacket

The filament fleece used in the Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0 Fleece Jacket is soft against your skin but still strong enough to withstand a bit of rugged use. Plus it keeps you extra warm on those cold days when the temperature drops unexpectedly.

The best Columbia fleece jacket also doesn’t need an abundance of features to do its job. This one has a classic fit for easy movement, with elastic sleeves for a comfortable fit and a bit of extra protection. There are zippered hand pockets, plus an internal zippered security pocket for those valuables you want to keep on hand.

Though the men have their choice of standard, bigger, and taller sizes in this model, there is no Steens Mountain 2.0 fleece jacket for ladies. Instead, check out the Columbia Women’s Benton Springs Full-Zip Fleece Jacket. It uses the same material and has all the same features with the exception of the inner security pocket. The Benton Springs jacket also has a slim fit, designed to match a women’s natural curves.

The Main Differences?

When comparing Columbia vs North Face fleece jackets, the main differences lie in the features. The Denali 2 has the reinforced areas, the cinch-cord on the hem, and an extra pocket with media compatibility. It also uses recycled materials, all of which the Steens Mountain 2.0 lacks. But with these extras comes a much higher price tag.

***comparison table of rain jackets from both brands next to each other***

columbia-vs-north-face-rain-jacket-comparison-03

What To Consider When Choosing Columbia vs North Face

Brand

When you’re buying a jacket, you may want to know a bit about the brand you’re buying from to give you an idea as to where they stand on a variety of issues.

The North Face’s mission statement has been the same since the company’s beginnings: “Provide the best gear for our athletes and the modern day explorer, support the preservation of the outdoors, and inspire a global movement of exploration.”

The North Face also works to protect the environment. They have reduced and offset their greenhouse gas emissions, using electricity from renewable sources. They have also co-founded The Conservation Alliance, put on Hot Planet/Cool Athletes presentations for students, and contribute to the Explore Fund.

This company is best known for their quality clothing and their goal to inspire everyone they can to explore the unknown without damaging the planet.

Columbia has been in business for over 70 years. The company is made up of people who love the outdoors as much as their customers do. They pride themselves on no-nonsense apparel and footwear, focusing on keeping their customers warm or cool, depending on the season, as well as dry and protected.

As well as creating products they can be proud of, Columbia believes in responsible sourcing, reducing their environmental impact, and giving back to the community. They even work with various groups and organizations to ensure they are up to date on ethical standards and practices throughout their entire supply chain.

Pricing

Something to consider when buying any type of jacket is the price. The North Face jackets are high quality, with great features.

This alone lets them set their prices a bit higher than the competition. But their brand name has withstood the test of time, giving them the clout they need to be a bit more expensive without losing their customers.

So, how much does a Columbia jacket cost in comparison? Well, they are quite a bit cheaper, sometimes only a quarter of the price of The North Face jackets in similar categories. They may lack a few of the features in some cases, but the quality is still there.

Materials

As you no doubt notices in Columbia vs North Face jacket comparisons above, the most common materials used are nylon and polyester.

This is because nylon and polyester are both durable materials that can withstand a bit of rough treatment.

They are also warm, yet breathable, for more comfortable jackets that won’t wear out after only a few wears.

Fitting

When you spend your hard-earned money on a new jacket, you want one that fits you properly. This shouldn’t be an issue when buying The North Face or Columbia jacket models for any use or season.

Both have been reviewed as true to size by the majority of their customers. There are a few exceptions, of course, with some complaints of baggy bodies and long sleeves, but these are rare.

To be safe, it is still recommended to try on your new jacket before you buy, no matter what brand it is.

Where Are They Made?

The North Face has its headquarters in Alameda, CA. But they source their materials from about 33 different countries and have manufacturing facilities in Mexico, Poland, Central America, the Middle East, and the United States.

Columbia is based in the Pacific Northwest. Though they have a couple factories in their home country, the majority of their manufacturing facilities are located in China and India. They also have factories in Mexico, Japan, Jordan, Cambodia, and Indonesia. If you’re interested, they even have a transparency map, so you can see exactly where your products were made.

Warranty

The North Face warranty covers defects in the materials and the workmanship for the lifetime of the product, even after extended use. They will repair it or replace it at their discretion. The warranty doesn’t cover normal wear and tear, accidental damage, negligence, improper care, or the natural breakdown of the products.

Columbia warranty for outerwear and equipment is also a limited lifetime warranty, which covers defects in the materials and workmanship. But some of their other products are only covered for 1 year, so be sure to check out the warranty for the product you’re buying so you know exactly how long you’re covered for.

Columbia vs North Face – Who Makes the Best Outdoor Clothing?

With so many different types of jackets available, it may be a bit stressful trying to decide which ones you need for any of your outdoor adventures. But each jacket has a different use, and as you can see in our reviews, there are clear winners in each of Columbia vs North Face jacket comparisons.

Insulated jackets are best for winter activities, keeping you warm on those icy days on the slopes or the trails. Though The North Face Thermoball is a great model with decent features, the Columbia Crested Butte Omni Heat Hooded Jacket has that inner reflective technology, plus the hood for some extra protection.

Rain jackets are good for the other 3 seasons when the rain replaces the snow. Though the Columbia Watertight II is a decent model, The North Face Venture 2 has the pit-zips to keep you comfortable in changing temperatures, plus those adjustable cuffs for a tighter fit.

The North Face also wins in the windbreaker category. The North Face Apex Bionic 2 jacket has a bit of stretch to it for mobility, a DWR coating, and an extra chest pocket. Despite the hood on the Columbia Flashback, it just can’t compete.

3-in-1 jackets are great for almost any type of weather due to their versatility. The North Face Carto Triclimate Jacket has a lot of great features that would please anyone. But the Columbia Bugaboo Interchange Jacket has more size options, extra pockets, and a removable hood, not to mention a lower price tag.

And finally, in the fleece category, The North Face comes out on top. Though the Columbia Steens Mountain 2.0 is soft, yet warm, it lacks many of the features found on The North Face Denali 2 Jacket. These include the reinforcements on the high-stress areas, the hem cinch-cord, and the media compatible pocket that is so much in demand in our modern age.