Arc’teryx vs Columbia: Which Brand is Better?

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Arcteryx vs Columbia outdoor gear comparison

Two industry-leading brands for venturing into the great outdoors are Arc’teryx and Columbia.

Both offer high-performing apparel and equipment, but which one is better for your needs?

Arc’teryx, founded in North Vancouver in 1989, is revered for its innovative, durable designs perfected for the most demanding climates and activities.

Columbia Sportswear, around since 1938, offers more affordable, versatile equipment. As an outdoor heritage brand, its focus is functionality combined with style.

In this comparison, we’ll break down the key differences between these two outdoor giants by exploring their quality, performance, and prices.

In the end, you’ll have a clearer idea of which one is best for you!


1. Arc’teryx Outdoor Gear

History of the Brand

Arcteryx official website
Arc’teryx official website

Founded in 1989 by Dave Lane, Arc’teryx is a famous brand from Canada specializing in outdoor apparel and gear. Originally known as Rock Solid, the company initially concentrated on crafting climbing equipment.

In 1991, Dave Lane collaborated with Blair Murdoch and Tim Duholke, leading to the official adoption of the name Arc’teryx. The brand’s name is inspired by the Archaeopteryx, the earliest known bird, symbolizing progress and originality.

Arc’teryx is celebrated for pioneering products such as the groundbreaking early versions of the Bora backpack and the Vapor harness.

Following the acquisition of the Gore-Tex fabric license, the company broadened its product line to include outdoor clothing, with many of its top-performing pieces still incorporating Gore-Tex fabrics.

While its initial focus was on climbing gear, Arc’teryx now serves hikers, climbers, and snowsport enthusiasts, offering some of the finest snowsport apparel on the market.

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Materials, Fabrics, and Production Process

Arc’teryx is well-known for its utilization of premium, sustainably, and ethically sourced materials. These materials hold Bluesign® certification and undergo thorough evaluation via Life Cycle Assessment protocols to gauge their impact throughout the product life stages.

The brand employs a mix of natural and synthetic materials, tailored to each design, to ensure the highest standard for all final products. The natural down insulation utilized in jackets adheres to the Responsible Down Standard, guaranteeing the humane treatment of ducks and geese.

Coreloft is used for synthetic insulation blends, while Gore-Tex is the go-to for fabric technologies in their apparel. In the case of backpacks, Arc’teryx implements its proprietary AC2 technology.

The company places a strong focus on ethical production and raw material sourcing, a factor that has contributed to its enduring appeal.

Arc'teryx Presents - Who We Are: A Design Company

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Is Arc’teryx Sustainable? A Look at their Environmental Practices
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Where is Arc’teryx outdoor gear made?

Arc’teryx produces in various countries, including Canada. The Canadian facility, called ARC’One, is based in Vancouver, BC, making 10% of the brand’s equipment.

The majority of Arc’teryx gear (90%) is manufactured in Asia, in China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, etc., but also in Romania and El Salvador. (source)

Recommended Products

Arc’teryx Atom Women’s Hoody

Arcteryx Womens Atom Hoody
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The Women’s Atom Hoody produced by Arc’teryx is a lightweight and practical jacket equipped with synthetic insulation, suitable for use as an intermediate layer or on its own, depending on the conditions.

It’s a member of the Atom Series, incorporates Coreloft Compact insulation, and is available in multiple colors and sizes. This garment is engineered for optimal performance and represents a superb option for outdoor enthusiasts in search of resilient and adaptable equipment for pursuits like hiking, rock climbing, or backpacking.

Arc’teryx Bora 65 Backpack for Men

Arcteryx Bora 65 Mens Backpack
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The Bora 65 Men’s Backpack is an exceptional selection for those who enjoy outdoor activities and are preparing for a long adventure. It boasts a comfortable design that facilitates the exploration of new territories. The RotoGlide™ hipbelt moves in tandem with the body, enhancing equilibrium and offering additional steadiness.

The GridLock™ harness adjustability ensures a precise and customized fit. Crafted from high-tenacity Cordura® pack cloth, this backpack is resilient and well-suited for backcountry usage. The lid is equipped with a Weather Vault that delivers waterproof storage, while the main compartment can be easily accessed from the top or side.

This backpack is a dependable choice for outdoor enthusiasts in search of a functional solution for extended backcountry trips.


Arc’teryx is commonly seen as a premium label in the outdoor sphere, offering jackets priced from $150 to $1000 and backpacks ranging from $50 to $350.

Are Arc’teryx products worth the price?

Arc’teryx items, despite their premium pricing, are a worthy investment in our opinion, due to their exceptional performance and long-lasting nature. For those deeply committed to mountain pursuits or winter sports, Arc’teryx gear represents a great purchase, even though the high prices may pose a barrier for some buyers.

However, the superior quality and durability of the products justify their cost.

Learn more: Why is Arc’teryx so Expensive and Popular? Is It Worth It?

2. Columbia Outdoor Gear

History of the Brand

Columbia official website.jpg
Columbia official website

Columbia, a well-known outdoor gear label, presents a comprehensive range of clothing suitable for various outdoor activities such as skiing, fishing, and trekking.

Established in 1937 by Gert Boyle’s family, who sought refuge in Portland, USA after fleeing Germany, the brand has undergone several transitions in ownership.

Initially known as the Columbia Hat Company in 1938, it was later rebranded as Columbia Sportswear Company in 1960 when it expanded its product line to include outdoor apparel. Presently, the company is under the leadership of Tim Boyle, Gert’s son.

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Materials, Fabrics, and Production Process

Columbia Sportswear employs its own technologies to optimize its outdoor gear for functionality. For instance, the Omni-Tech technology enhances the waterproofness and breathability of Columbia’s jackets, while the Omni-Heat Reflective technology aids in retaining warmth and releasing excess moisture and heat in their apparel.

Additionally, the use of recycled Polyester, RDS-certified down insulation, and a focus on reducing harmful DWR coatings demonstrate the brand’s commitment to sustainability.

The products reflect the perfectionist philosophy of Gert Boyle, ensuring high-quality apparel with a wide range of options at affordable prices.

Omni-Heat Innovation

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Where is Columbia outdoor gear made?

Columbia continues to manufacture outdoor equipment in the United States and Europe, but the majority of its products, including its subsidiary brands such as Sorel, prAna, and Mountain Hardwear, are primarily produced in Vietnam, China, Bangladesh, and India. (source)

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Columbia Men’s Whirlibird IV Interchange Jacket

Columbia Mens Whirlibird IV Interchange Jacket
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The Whirlibird IV Interchange jacket by Columbia is a versatile option for various mountain activities such as skiing and snowboarding. This jacket boasts a waterproof-breathable shell and a thermal-reflective insulated liner that can be worn separately or together, providing warmth.

It’s equipped with practical mountain-ready features, including a ski pass, chest, goggles, security, and hand pockets, underarm vents, adjustable hood, powder skirt, cuffs, and hem, ensuring comfort and readiness on the slopes.

Built with Omni-Tech™ waterproof/breathable material and critically seam-sealed, it effectively prevents water from entering. The incorporation of Omni-Heat™ thermal reflective technology further enhances its insulating properties by reflecting and retaining body heat.

The Thermarator™ insulated liner delivers added warmth without compromising on bulk. This coat seamlessly combines style, comfort, and versatility!

Read also: How To Wash a Columbia Jacket (Omni-Heat, Down, Fleece, Rain)

Columbia Atlas Explorer 26L Backpack

Columbia Atlas Explorer 26L Backpack
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The Atlas Explorer represents a versatile and comfortable backpack suitable for diverse use cases. With a 26-liter capacity, it includes two primary storage sections, a front pocket organizer, dedicated compartments for a laptop and tablet, adjustable sternum and shoulder straps, and dual water bottle pockets.

Additionally, it features adaptable Twin Slot webbing, a padded and fleece-lined laptop sleeve accommodating laptops of up to 15 inches, and distinct tablet storage. The backpack also has two water bottle pockets, reflective zipper pulls, and a padded bottom panel along and a top haul handle.


Compared to Arc’teryx, Columbia Sportswear items are priced more reasonably. Typically, Columbia’s jackets are priced from $50 to $300, their backpacks are under $100, and the hiking shoes begin at around $100.

Are Columbia products worth the price?

For casual and general outdoor pursuits, we believe the brand’s items justify their cost. Their coats, for instance, offer the essential protection you may need.

Should you be an expert or at a higher experience level in a particular sport, you might consider a more specialized brand. But, even then, you can find one or two suitable products from Columbia’s extensive range of gear.

Must read: 8 Best Sustainable Outdoor Clothing Brands: Our Top Picks

3. Which Brand is Better? Arc’teryx or Columbia?

Of course, both are great. Here are a few things to keep in mind when making your final decision:

Arc’teryx: Offering premium options
The Canadian brand, Arc’teryx, has become synonymous with technical, cutting-edge gear. The brand uses only the highest quality materials: Gore-Tex membranes, Coreloft synthetic insulation, RDS-certified natural down, etc. Its products last for years of rugged use.

Arc’teryx gear is perfect for serious climbers, backpackers, and winter sports athletes. Their jackets, pants, and base layers provide unparalleled weather protection and breathability. Their pieces are so durable you rarely need to replace them. But, this quality comes at a cost: most Arc’teryx jackets are priced from $150 to $1,000!

Columbia: Offers versatility for all budgets
The American, Columbia Sportswear has built its reputation on affordability without compromising on performance. While the brand has its proprietary technologies like Omni-Tech and Omni-Heat, products tend to be more basic.

What Columbia lacks in premium products it makes up for in versatile designs. From hiking and skiing to casual weekend use, there is a Columbia option for every activity at an affordable price of $50 to $300. The quality may not match Arc’teryx, but items hold up well to average use.

In the end:
For serious outdoor enthusiasts and professionals, Arc’teryx would be our recommendation. But most casual users will find great value in Columbia’s affordability without too much compromise in performance.

Read next: Cheap Outdoor Clothing: 9 Best Affordable Brands

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