It can be hard to figure out which brand is right for you and your needs when it comes to outdoor apparel. You want to make sure you’re purchasing high-quality items that are worth the money because outdoor clothing isn’t cheap. Two of the leading brands in this market are Patagonia and The North Face, but which is better?
If you pride yourself on being an environmentalist, Patagonia is the better brand for you. Their company mission statement has saving the planet in mind, and they promote buying second-hand. However, if you want more gear options, North Face may be the best choice for you.
Ultimately, there’s a lot that goes into deciding which of these two market leaders will be the best option for you. In this article, we’ll be going into all the details you need to enable you to decide whether Patagonia or The North Face is the outerwear brand for you.
Who Are Patagonia?
Patagonia is a california-based outdoor apparel company that has been around since the mid-1970s. Initially, Patagonia made its name by selling custom mountain climbing gear for climbing enthusiasts.
It’s no surprise then that the brand gets its name from a South American mountain range or that the company features a mountain prominently in its logo. In fact, the company’s founder was a life-long mountain climber, which stoked his passion for creating a company that provided the sort of equipment he wanted for other climbers.
However, since California has all sorts of landscapes that allow adventuring types to practice diverse outdoor sports and activities, the company soon expanded its line. Not only do they sell climbing equipment now, but you can also buy gear for hiking, skiing, and surfing.
Even if you don’t participate in outdoor sports, you can purchase all the equipment you need for an outdoor adventure from Patagonia. This includes camping gear and the food you require while in the wilderness.
The company’s mission is to be a sustainable brand, and, thus far, it’s managed to succeed in this quest. Patagonia promotes purchasing their products second-hand, they use recycled material, and sustainable assembly processes.
They even allow their customers to return gently used Patagonia-brand items in exchange for company credit that they can use to purchase new products to reduce waste.
Patagonia is also considered one of the most socially responsible outdoor brands. They ensure safe conditions in their factories and produce many of their products in USA-based factories.
Since outdoorsy people founded Patagonia, it has been considered a leader in this market since its inception. This means that, by purchasing a Patagonia product, you’re guaranteed a high-quality item that has been specifically designed for all-weather, outdoor use.
What Do Patagonia Make?
Patagonia makes a wide range of products. There’s a dizzying array of options on their website to choose from including outdoor apparel for men, women, and children apparel, equipment and gear. You can even shop gently used products directly on their website.
While we could have an entire article dedicated just to breaking down all the products Patagonia makes, we’ll just list a few of their bestselling items.
- Best-Seller in Gear: Patagonia Black Hole Pack
The Patagonia Black Hole Pack is one of the company’s best-selling items. It’s made of recycled material, which supports its goal to be a sustainable brand. It’s a heavy-duty backpack that can fit 25 L (6.6 gallons) worth of supplies.
Made to be ergonomic so you can hike with it, this backpack is a popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts who like to go on more than just short, casual hikes. While this backpack was designed with outdoor adventures in mind, it’s also a perfect everyday backpack for traveling, commuting, or going to school.
- Best-Seller in Women’s Wear: Patagonia Women’s Better Sweater Fleece Jacket
The Patagonia Women’s Better Sweater Fleece Jacket is considered an essential item for all of the brand’s loyal women followers. You could consider it to be sort of a gateway item.
Like most of Patagonia’s products, this sweater is made primarily out of recycled materials, reducing the environmental impact of its production. It’s not an inexpensive product by any means. However, it’s durable and high-quality, making it worth the price tag to many people.
This sweater jacket is the perfect mix of everyday and outdoor wear. You can wear it on a regular cold day and still look cute and stylish while staying warm, or you can wear it on a brisk hike or camping trip.
- Best-Seller in Men’s Wear: Patagonia Men’s Micro Puff Hoody
If the Better Sweater is the gateway item for women to get into Patagonia, the Patagonia Men’s Micro Puff Hoody is the equivalent for men.
This lightweight jacket is perfect for all types of wear, from walking through town to camping out in the mountains. It’s warm and insulated using innovative, synthetic materials which will keep its wearer warm while also giving them the freedom to move around easily.
Again, this product isn’t cheap, but its quality is nearly unbeatable, and the hoody’s reviews speak for themselves.
- Best-Seller in Children’s Wear: Patagonia Kids’ Trucker Hat
This best-seller shows you that not only does Patagonia provide great quality outerwear, but they also create other popular types of apparel.
The Patagonia Kids’ Trucker Hat is a 100% cotton cap that kids love, in part because they’re so durable. Your kid can play in the dirt all day with this cap on without having to worry about wear and tear.
It’s also a less-expensive Patagonia product, plus it’s adjustable. That means kids can wear it for years without the grown-ups in their lives worrying about spending a lot of money on something they might grow out of sooner than later.
Who Are North Face?
The North Face is another California-based outdoor apparel and gear company. Initially founded by a mountain climber in the 1960s, the company started as a supplier for mountain-climbing gear.
Soon after inception, the company was among the first to jump on the rising “backpacking” trend. It started producing quality packs for this type of exploring. In the decades since, The North Face has begun designing and selling apparel for men, women, and children, as well as gear.
Once again, since outdoors people started the company, all their products are designed to withstand being out in nature. The company has, in recent years, also started to make more of an effort to be a sustainable company. They have made the shift to using ethically-sourced materials for their products and making sure their items are produced in such a way as to lower their environmental impact.
The reason behind this is because the company’s mission statement promotes exploring the world. Thus, to explore the world, they promote doing so responsibly and are making an effort to ensure there will be a world worth exploring for years to come.
What Do North Face Do?
The North Face is most well-known for producing outerwear like jackets and coats. However, you can also purchase other types of clothing for all weather conditions as well as hiking and camping gear.
Once again, there are too many North Face clothing items for us to discuss them all in this article. However, here is a short list of a few of their bestselling items:
- Best-Seller in Gear: Base Camp Duffel – Medium
The Base Camp Duffel is the perfect duffel bag for campers and explorers. It’s larger than a backpack, so if you’re just heading out for the day, it might be too large for your needs.
However, if you’re going to be packing for any sort of trip, this is the sort of lightweight luggage you need. According to reviews, this bag is high-quality and deceptively small, so it’s not bulky to store or carry.
The fabric stretches out to fit everything you need without being too large or too small. It’s not an inexpensive duffel, but it’s sure to last you a long time, so its cost-per-use has the potential to be significantly lowered.
- Best-Seller in Women’s Wear: Women’s Arctic Parka
It’s not hard to see why the Arctic Parka coat is a best-seller. It’s warm and insulated, which makes it perfect for cold winters hence you can wear it while going on cold-weather walks.
However, it is also suitable for everyday use. It might even be better for less active winter days as the jacket is puffy and long, which might limit one’s ability to move around easily.
The parka comes with The North Face’s standard lifetime guarantee, so it’s easily worth the price. Also, it’s been said to stand up to winters in the coldest part of the continental USA.
- Best-Seller in Men’s Wear: Men’s Denali 2 Jacket
The Denali 2 is a lightweight fleece jacket that has become a fast selling item among The North Face’s men’s line. It’s lightweight but warm, which makes it a good layering item for the great outdoors, but it’s also comfortable enough to wear any other day of the year as well.
This fleece jacket is steep in price, but with the company’s guarantee, and its high-quality materials, its fans claim that it’s well worth the cost.
- Best-Seller in Children’s Wear: Toddler Glacier Full Zip Hoodie
You can even get toddlers ready for outdoor adventures with the Glacier Full Zip Hoodie. It’s unisex and available in a variety of colors, so there’s bound to be one that the toddler in your life would like. It’s also made of soft fleece that allows toddlers to run around and be comfortable while playing.
Unfortunately, the material isn’t very flexible. Toddlers won’t get as much wear out of this jacket as they might from some of the other North Face products that can adjust in size.
What Is the Difference Between Patagonia & The North Face?
On a surface level, one might get confused between Patagonia and The North Face. If you remove each company’s logo from their products, it wouldn’t be surprising if the casual consumer might not be able to tell the difference between who designs which products.
That opinion isn’t entirely incorrect. Both companies have a similar history, after all. They were both started in California by mountain climbers in the second half of the 1900s.They both initially started as mountain climbing gear suppliers, then expanded to cover other areas like outerwear and outdoor equipment.
Both companies have a lifetime guarantee on their products. This means they’ll repair any damage or replace your items if they’re unable to fix them. However, the companies are still different.
For one, after expanding from mountain climbing supplies, each brand decided to go in a different direction.
The difference between Patagonia and The North face is that North face capitalizes on the backpacking trend while Patagonia focuses on other outdoor sporting goods.
Also, both have expressed their desire to be sustainable and ecologically responsible but they’re at different points in this mission.
Use of Recycled and Eco-friendly Materials
The North Face has started to push towards using completely eco-friendly and responsible fabric for all its clothing in the next few years. However, it’s not clear how close the company is to reaching this goal.
While using responsibly-sourced fabric is an excellent goal to have, one could argue that Patagonia has outdone The North Face on this front. Patagonia’s products are mostly made of recycled material, which means the company doesn’t need to process its materials as much.
Their buy-back promotion also puts Patagonia on a different level than The North Face, as they’ll allow you to trade in your old Patagonia products for credit.
At the time of writing this article, The North Face had no intention of implementing a similar option for their customers. That means that if you no longer want your North Face gear, you have to donate, sell, or get rid of it.
Range of Products
The two companies also differ in their range of products. While both companies will likely provide you with the gear and apparel you need, they each have their specializations.
The North Face has a wide variety of actual gear to choose from, while they have fewer clothing options. On the other hand, Patagonia has an almost overwhelming amount of choices for its apparel options for men, women, and children.
However, while they do supply some interesting gear options, like camping food, their choices for more general equipment aren’t as exhaustive as The North Face.
Which Is Better?
Choosing between North Face and Patagonia can be tough as it’s challenging to determine which is better. Still, your choice will depend on what you’re looking for. Go for Patagonia if sustainability and environmental issues are important to you and the North Face if looking for more gear options.
Both brands have their merits and are similarly priced, meaning cost isn’t going to be a deciding factor in determining which brand is better for you.
That said, with Patagonia, you can browse through used items directly from their store. You can even say that your products are made of mostly recycled material. According to their website, you’ll even be able to track in what city your items are made.
Patagonia will also likely be the better brand for you if you are looking for a more comprehensive array of clothing options. If you want to purchase clothing that could be appropriate for city or wilderness use, then Patagonia will have you covered.
However, if you’re in the market for a wider variety of gear, The North Face may be a better choice for you. They offer a wider choice of bags and tents so you can be more specific when searching for what you need.
That said, both companies offer a lifetime guarantee on their products and are firm favorites in the outdoor apparel and equipment markets, so you won’t go wrong either way.