10 Best Outdoor Clothing Brands in 2021
Planning to upgrade your hiking or backpacking wardrobe? We’ve got you, and your clothing needs, covered! In this review, we’re highlighting the Top 10 Best Outdoor Clothing Brands on the market. Helping you determine where and what to spend your money on. We’ve included something for every budget and preference: from high-end brands with innovative outdoor gear to affordable brands for the budget-conscious hiker. There’s a match for every outdoor enthusiast!
From American-based companies like The North Face and Columbia to European names like Fjällräven and Helly Hansen: this overview bundles the globe’s best-selling outdoor clothing brands in one, comprehensive overview. Each brand has its specific appeal and value-proposition, yet all of them share a high-quality standard. Whether you’re looking for natural down jackets to battle the cold, rain jackets to stay dry, or Merino wool base-layers to upgrade your hiking underwear drawer: these brands have a comfy solution!
Our Top 10 ‘Best Outdoor Clothing Brands’ are:
- The North Face
In this Top 10 Best Outdoor Clothing Brands overview, we’ll give you a quick recap on the brand’s history, value-proposition, characteristics, and collections. For each company in this review, we’ve also listed a best-selling product from the brand’s collection to inspire you about the options.
Get reading, get informed, and get the best deal on outdoor clothing by spending your money on one of these Top 10 brands in outdoor gear:
Exploring the Top 10 ‘Best Outdoor Clothing Brands’
The North Face
When it comes to outdoor gear, The North Face has been a leading brand since its launch in 1966. The American brand is based in California and amply named after Yosemite’s Half Dome’s coldest, most unforgiving side of the mountain: the North Face. The brand’s mission has remained unchanged over 50 years: ‘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.’ Fortunately, The North Face’s designs have moved on with the times, with high-end garment construction techniques and innovative materials dominating in the brand’s premium outdoor gear collection.
Founded by two hiking enthusiasts, The North Face started as a small mountaineering shop in outerwear but quickly grew into a go-to retailer for high-performance climbing, backpacking, and hiking apparel. By the early 1980s, The North Face added ski gear, sleeping bags, backpacks, tents, and other outdoor accessories to its line-up: becoming a one-stop-shop for outdoor adventures. In the years since, the brand’s collection has continued to grow, even boasting a range of trekking and trail-running shoes. The North Face now has your complete hiking wardrobe covered: from head to toe!
The North Face is known for its drive for innovation, developing new materials and construction techniques to take your outdoor clothing to the next level. One of the brand’s newest inventions is ThermoBall™: the synthetic alternative to down. ThermoBall™ is developed via a partnership between The North Face and PrimaLoft®, and is presented as ‘a revolution in insulation technology’. This new type of synthetic insulation features high-density fiber clusters that mimic the insulation properties of natural down. Trapping heat within small air pockets, which results in phenomenal warmth, even in cold and wet conditions.
The North Face Men’s ThermoBall Eco Insulated Hooded Jacket
- ECO INSULATION. Made of post-consumer materials, this eco-friendly ThermoBall Eco Hoodie with a non-PFC DWR finish is a must-have insulation piece from The North Face. This light, packable jacket...
Columbia was originally founded in 1937 as a small hat manufacturer: the Columbia Hat Company. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the brand started focusing on sportswear and outdoor gear. In 1970, Gert Boyle – daughter of the founder – took over the company, which signaled a fresh start for the brand. Known for her ‘tough mother’ persona, Boyle strived for perfection in everything she did, which directly translated to Columbia’s premium quality standard. “It’s perfect. Now make it better”, Boyle used to say – which is exactly what Columbia to this day still does.
Whilst Columbia’s outdoor gear is on the more affordable side of the price spectrum, it doesn’t compromise on quality or performance. The brand’s rainjackets, fleece layers, and hiking clothing are a go-to choice for many outdoor enthusiasts.
Columbia is also a brand that keeps innovating. For example, in 2018 the brand launched its Omni-Heat™ 3D clothing. These garments use patented thermal-reflective technology for maximum heat retention, combined with a soft next-to-skin-feel. Ideal for base-layers or mid-layers! Furthermore, in 2017 Columbia launched a line of high-quality, eco-conscious gear builtfor maximum outdoor performance and minimal environmental impact. Innovative, value-for-money, and fashionable enough for both on the trail and off the trail wear: it’s no surprise why Columbia is still going strong after 75 years.
Columbia Men’s Glennaker Sherpa-Lined Rain Jacket, Waterproof
- ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: Columbia Men’s Glennaker Rain Jacket is crafted of a waterproof nylon shell durable enough to withstand anything from drizzle to downpour at a moment's notice.
The origins of Marmot are slightly different from that of most outdoor brands. Its story does not start with a factory or design, but with a social club. In 1971, outdoor enthusiasts Eric Reynolds and Dave Huntley founded the Marmot Club: a social club that combined mountain climbing with an oddball spirit of community and inclusion. To become part of the club, you had to conquer a mountain peak with another Marmot member, testing your spirit for adventure.
In 1973, Reynolds and Huntley, founders of Marmot Club, began making their scrappy parkas and sleeping bags at home. Only a year later, the pair got their big break when they received an order of their Golden Mantle Park for the Clint Eastwood movie The Eiger Sanction. The brand expanded its collection with more product categories, opened more stores, and decided to relocate to California. In 1976, Marmot truly makes its mark on the outdoor gear industry. It becomes part of the GORE-TEX® Revolution, and the first outdoor apparel company to use GORE-TEX in its gear. Reynolds and Huntley even slept in a commercial meat locker to ensure this new waterproof and insulation materials met their standards. Because they did not want to compromise on quality, and neither does Marmot today.
Marmot made a big impact in the 1980s when its color blocking fleeces were all the rage. In the early 2000s, Marmot kinda disappeared off our radars, still producing high-quality outdoor gear, but not pushing boundaries as much as it did in the ‘old days’. However, the brand is now coming back onto the outdoor fashion scene with a bang.
The brand stunted in 2018 with the Opening Ceremony x Marmot collab. For this collaboration, some of the Marmot’s classic items were reworked with Opening Ceremony’s design details, like contrast panels on the durant pants, branding on the rugged fleece Wrangell jacket, and more. The collab’s most covetable piece was the reworked Mammoth Parka with a GORE-TEX shell in black, cherry tomato, and turf green colorways. Though these pieces have sold out, you can get similar style Marmot jackets via Amazon.
High-quality, born from passion, designed for ultimate exploration and pushing boundaries: Marmot is a great choice for hikers and mountaineering enthusiasts, with high-quality clothing and gear designed to keep up with you, every step of the climb.
Marmot Minimalist Lightweight Waterproof Rain Jacket
- Lightweight men's rain jacket is perfect for hiking, backpacking, cycling, and other activities where light travel and harsh weather are your top concerns
When it comes to technical climbing gear and mountaineering outerwear, Canadian brand Arc’teryx is one of the leading names. This high-quality, Vancouver-based brand was founded by climbers in 1989 and has been producing innovative, state-of-the-art outdoor clothing and accessories ever since. Arc’teryx is known for its superb attention to detail, durable garment construction, and constant introduction of new, high-end techniques and materials.
Arc’teryx is not a cheap brand, but it’s more than worth the pricey investment. Its high-end garments are designed to last you a lifetime with proper care. Sleek, streamlined silhouettes have taken the traditional bulky down-fill jacket and transformed it into an agile design that gives you a maximum range of movement. Gone are the oversized and cumbersome silhouettes, replaced by fast and light climbing gear that offers superior protection without the bulk.
Arc’teryx is also committed to sustainability and has various on-going programs and initiatives to lower its carbon footprint. Furthermore, the company tries to be as animal-friendly as possible, which is why it only uses natural down with RDS (Responsabile Down Standard) certification. This means the down used in Arc’teryx down jackets and outerwear is responsibly sourced. Without a negative impact on animal welfare or the planet. Which is exactly as we think it should be!
From base-layers to shell jackets and snowboard apparel:: Arc’teryx has all layers in your outdoor wardrobe covered. One of our personal favorites from the brand’s collection is the best-selling Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody. A staple in your wardrobe that’s so comfy, you won’t want to take it off when you return home from your backpacking adventure.
Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody Men’s
- CERIUM LT HOODY - Streamlined in its design, and with an exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio, the Cerium LT hoody works as a mid layer or a standalone piece in cool, dry conditions.
Founded in Annecy, the heart of the French Alps in 1947, Salomon is an outdoor brand mostly known for its premium hiking boots and shoes. However, this French company is just as skilled in the production of high-tech ski gear, outdoor gear, and other premium outerwear.
That said, Salomon is synonymous with high-quality hiking, trail-running, and alpine footwear. The brand’s first pair of alpine boots, launched in 1979, became an instant success – selling more than 10 million units in the period that followed. In 1992, the brand expanded its lineup with summer sports shoes and launched its hiking and trail-running collections. Today, Salomon boasts a diverse range of products, which enable outdoor enthusiasts to play outside, 365 days per year…
Salomon is big on innovation and sustainability, introducing state-of-the-art concepts that minimize its impact on the planet. For example, the brand announced a special Play Minded Program for sustainability in 2019 and presented a concept for a new running shoe that can be fully recycled into a ski boot shell.
We’re big fans of Salomons lightweight trail-running shoes and high-traction hiking boots, but are equally enthusiastic about the brand’s fantastic collection of outerwear. Made of premium materials with heavy-duty durability, yet lightweight and comfy to wear, Salomon makes moving around a breeze, even in tough and challenging terrains.
Salomon Men’s Drifter Mid Jacket
Helly Hansen is a Norwegian brand in technical outerwear. The brand has been producing high-quality outdoor clothing for over 140 years, making it one of the oldest and most enduring names on the market. The brand was founded in 1877 by a Norwegian sea captain who was determined to create gear that could better withstand the elements. Today, the outdoor technical apparel company has perfected the art of layering within three key areas: skiing, sailing, and mountain wear. Whether it’s snow or sea spray: Helly Hansen’s quality garments will keep you dry and comfy in nearly every outdoor scenario.
That is also a reason the brand has been a go-to favorite for workwear. Though technical and sporty, its jackets and fleeces are just as suitable for everyday wear and outdoor workplaces. The brand’s collection spans many product categories, including clothing, gear, and outdoor accessories.
Helly Hansen is always striving to create the perfect balance between water/wind resistance, breathability, durability, and light-weight protection. That is exactly why the brand upgraded its assortment in 2018 with 2 new techniques: Lifa Loft and high-visibility battery-powered reflective strips. The brand presents Lifa Loft as a cutting-edge alternative to natural down, which exhibits superior thermal properties when wet. The high-visibility battery-powered reflective strips are another fantastic upgrade. These strips ensure the visibility of the wearer up to 0.6 miles away, instead of the standard 320 feet. This latest feature was developed with the safety of children, construction workers, and mountain rescuers in mind, putting the wearer’s protection first.
From soft hoodies and sailing jerseys to high-vis workwear: you’ll find a high-quality match in the Helly Hansen assortment.
Helly-Hansen Verglas Hooded Down Insulator
When it comes to high-quality wool clothing for hiking, mountaineering, and backpacking, Smartwool is one of the leading brands on the market. Founded in 1994 as a sock brand, the aim of the founders was simply: create hosiery that would allow them to ski longer, without getting cold toes. That is exactly why they chose to incorporate Merino wool as a high-performance fabric in their designs.
Smartwool states that Merino wool was softer than any wool they’d ever felt, whilst the material boasts lots of natural properties perfect for use in active clothing. For example, Merino wool is moisture-wicking, thermoregulating (warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s warm), and odor-neutralizing. By using Merino Wool in its socks, the Smartwool team discovered it would keep feet dry, comfortable, and warm for longer than the synthetic socks they were wearing at the time. According to Smartwool, Merino worked so well, they decided to use it in almost every single item in the brand’s collection.
In the past 25 years, Smartwool has grown to a go-to name for wool clothing, in particular Merino wool garments. The brand is built on the desire to be comfortable on an outdoor adventure, allowing people to go farther and experience more. That drive continues to fuel everything the brand does. From Smartwools Merino wool supply chain to the brand’s sustainability program: it wants to help you play, live, and laugh in the great outdoors as often as you would like.
Yes, Smartwool’s high-quality Merino wool clothing is slightly more expensive than synthetic base-layers, but for its second-skin comfort, itch-free appeal, and superb insulating properties, it’s a luxury that every hiker should treat themselves to. When it comes to being comfy on your outdoor activities, it all starts with the basics (a.k.a. base-layers): for which Smartwool is one of the best choices you can make.
Smartwool Merino Wool Sport 250 Long Sleeve 1/4 Zip
You may associate Fjällräven with the brand’s iconic backpack, which has become a firm best-seller worldwide. However, this Swedish outdoor company has a lot more to offer. Its collection spans from outerwear to outdoor accessories, all features a modern, Scandinavian design aesthetic.
The story of Fjällräven starts in 1960 in a small basement in Örnsköldsvik, on the Swedish ‘High Coast’. Founder Åke Nordin, an avid outdoor enthusiast, creates his first product: an aluminum-framed backpack. Nordin has the vision of making nature more accessible to everyone by creating lightweight, yet strong gear that wouldn’t weigh them down on their adventures.
After the success of his backpack, Nordin then develops the Thermo Tent in 1964. This design is the first of many Fjällräven tents and features a special waterproofed two-layer construction to make damp sleeping bags are a thing of the past. The Fjällräven brand continues to grow and sees the introduction of the first item of Fjällräven clothing, the Greenland Wax Jacket, in 1968. Followed by the Expedition Down Jacket in 1974. When Nordin was out on a particularly frigid winter’s night and found himself caught up in a storm, he vowed to never be cold again. This vow resulted in the Expedition Down Jacket, an outerwear garment that was made from two jackets sewn together to minimize heat loss. The design quickly became Fjällräven’s most popular and iconic pieces of outerwear and helped the brand build a worldwide fan-base.
Today, Fjällräven is a high-quality brand with a wide range of outdoor gear, backpacks, apparel, and accessories. The brand continues to produce functional, durable, and timeless outdoor gear with a premium quality standard. Besides being innovative, Fjällräven keeps a strong focus on sustainability, trying to better not just the lives of its wearers, but also the world around it. Its outdoor apparel is streamlined with a Scandi-design twist: making it fashionable both on the slopes and trails – and off.
Fjällräven Abisko Midsummer Jacket
- Material: [hood, shoulders, and outer sleeves] G-1000 Air Stretch (65% recycled polyester, 35% organic cotton) [body] 100% polyester
Mammut may be a slightly lesser-known brand amongst hikers and backpackers, but for climbers and mountaineering enthusiasts, it’s been a firm favorite for outdoor gear for many decades. Mammut dates back to 1862 when Kaspar Tanner – the brand’s founder – started work as a rope-maker in the Swiss town of Dintikon. When Tanner started Mammut, the brand’s focused on high-quality climbing ropes, but the brand quickly grew into a comprehensive outerwear collection.
In the past 150 years, Mammut has continuously expanded its collection of quality outdoor gear. For example, in 1978 Mammut launched its first collection of GORE-TEX waterproof jacket and pants under the label ‘Altitude’. Then, in 1989, the brand took over the Swiss backpack specialists “Fürst”. A few years later, the brands merged and continued under the name Mammut backpacks: now a firm favorite for alpine excursions and hiking.
Today Mammut carefully treads the needle because of fashion and function: providing superb outerwear that scores top marks on performance, but also looks the part. This quality brand in alpine and mountaineering apparel is also branching out on the urban clothing market. Mammut recently launched its Delta X Urbaneering collection: a range of performance-oriented clothing for urban conditions. In this Delta X series, the brand combines technical and functional styles with urban design: with clothing you can take from the mountain to the city/from Mountaineering to Urbaneering.
Swiss craftsmanship and expertise, modern silhouettes, innovative techniques: if you’re not familiar with Mammut yet, you’re in dire need of an introduction!
Mammut Men Broad Peak Light Down-Jacket
Another top-rated choice for Merino wool base-layers and outerwear is Icebreaker: a New Zealand-based brand at the forefront of incorporating Merino into everyday backpacking apparel. Icebreaker is a go-to choice for premium quality base-layers, made of soft Merino wool with outstanding comfort, breathability, and durability.
The brand’s story starts in 1994 when founder Jeremy Moon met a merino sheep farmer who informed him about the technical properties of the animal’s wool. Moisture-wicking, sustainable, non-itching, and superbly insulation: Moon was sold. He instantly saw the potential of Merino wool for usage in outdoor clothing and took out a loan to start ‘Icebreaker’.
The brand started with Merino wool t-shirts, to be worn as a base-layer or mid-layer with other clothing. However, due to its instant success, Icebreaker quickly branched out to other product categories. The New Zealand-based company is now a worldwide known name in premium Merino clothing. From boxers to long-johns, t-shirts to pullovers, scarves to gloves, and even blankets: Icebreaker can keep every part of your body warm and toasty.
For base-layers and Merino wool accessories, Icebreaker continues to dominate the market with its classic designs.
Icebreaker Merino Anatomica Short Sleeve T-Shirt
So, which brand do we rate as ‘The Best’ out of these 10? Well, that completely depends on what kind of outdoor gear you’re looking for. If you’re looking for an apparel brand specialized in climbing and mountaineering clothing, perhaps Mammut is your best match. However, if you want a pair of premium trail-running shoes or climbing shoes, footwear-expert Salomon may be a better fit.
Rest assured: there are no bad choices. Every brand included in this overview is worthy of your time and money. Every company has its unique value proposition and specialty, yet all share a high-quality standard. Whether it’s a pair of gaiters from Mammut, a down-fill jacket by Arc’teryx, or something simple like a water bottle by The North Face: we’re confident you’ll get value-for-money out of your purchase. Plus, all these brands pride themselves on excellent customer service and product warranty. This means that if you do encounter any manufacturing defects, most should issue you with a refund or replacement. That is why we prefer buying from established outdoor brands, like those featured in this overview. It gives you the peace of mind you’re getting an authentic product, designed to live up and exceed expectations. So, what are you waiting for? Explore our favorite products and brand in this overview now, and upgrade your outdoor wardrobe with these superb choices:
Disclaimer: Though the 10 brands included in this Best Outdoor Clothing Brands Overview are rated as top-choices by our experts, they aren’t the only go-to brands on the market. We simply wanted to condense the entire outdoor gear landscape into a small, curated selection – helping navigate you towards top-rated brands worthy of your time and attention. That said, we wanted to include some of our other favorite brands below, as we think these are also worth a mention! Other outdoor gear and clothing brands that get our seal of approval are Osprey, Cotopaxi, Kathmandu, Merrell, KEEN, Mountain Hardwear, Outdoor Research, Black Diamond, Barbour, Prana, Filson, and Patagonia.