If you’re the outdoorsy type, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Rab and Patagonia. Both companies are at the top of their game for outdoor gear and clothing, and their products are beloved by many outdoor enthusiasts who need the right equipment for their adventures.
Rab is the better brand in terms of specialized gear at affordable prices. Both Rab and Patagonia are environmentally and socially responsible companies that sell top-quality outdoor clothing and gear, so whichever one is the better brand depends on your specific needs and priorities.
Since Rab caters for those with a specialized interest in climbing, if you’re an experienced climber looking for specific gear, you’ll be better off with their products. Rab makes high-performance mountain clothing and gear that is comfortable and protective. It uses recycled materials that perform to the highest level and only source wool, leather, and fur through partners that meet standards for animal welfare.
In terms of a wider range of products, Patagonia comes out on top. Additionally, they have products for children, who Rab does not currently cater for. Additionally, Patagonia accepts used Patagonia clothing and offers a Worn Wear Merchandise Credit, valued at up to $100, in return.
However, Patagonia does not stop there. Patagonia offers many products that Rab does not currently offer, including underwear, swimsuits, dresses, skirts, books, provisions, and children’s clothing and accessories. Since their products reach a wider range of people, not just climbing enthusiasts, you may find this brand is more popular among consumers.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these companies and their histories, products, and social practices to help you determine which brand is better for you and your loved ones. So, if the mountains are calling to you, keep reading for a better understanding of Rab and Patagonia.
Who Are Rab?
Rab is a mountain clothing and equipment company that makes climbing gear. The company is committed to producing quality clothing and equipment, reducing its carbon footprint, and improving outdoor access for underrepresented communities.
Rab began in 1981 when mountain climber Rab Carrington designed and hand-stitched a sleeping bag. When the local climbing community took notice of his successful designs, demand grew, and eventually, Rab was creating sleeping bags and jackets in an attic in Sheffield.
Rab is a climate-neutral company, and it is committed to reducing its carbon footprint. They’re working towards this goal in various ways, including:
- Switching their fleet cars from Diesel to electric or hybrid vehicles.
- Encouraging employees to cycle to work or carpool through an employee benefits programme.
- Providing cycle storage, shower facilities, and a discounted cycle scheme to their employees.
- Using renewable electricity in their headquarters, warehouse, factory shop, and sales office.
- Recycling cardboard packaging.
- Shipping online orders in cardboard and paper instead of plastic.
- Using filtered water in the office to discourage single-use plastic bottles.
Rab supports organizations that remove barriers and encourage new participants in outdoor activities, such as Outward Bound Trust, Dukes Barn Outdoor Education Centre, and It’s Great Out There Coalition.
What Does Rab Make?
Rab makes men’s and women’s outdoor clothing, including jackets, tops, pants, shorts, baselayers, and other outdoor accessories. Rab also makes sleeping bags, shelters, and backpacks.
Most of Rab’s products are made with recycled materials. They also are aiming to eradicate all fluorocarbons from their products by 2024.
Examples of some of their products include:
- Jackets: Rab makes a variety of jackets for men and women, including insulated, down, synthetic, waterproof, lightweight, softshell, and GORE-TEX jackets. Rab understands that jackets have to cope with the terrain and weather and repeated packing and unpacking.
- Tops: Rab offers fleece and mid-layer tops, hoodies, and tees for any outdoor activity. Not only are their tops functional, but they’re also stylish enough that they can be worn out and about during a relaxing day in town and on difficult hikes.
- Legwear: With waterproof trousers, leggings, thermal baselayers, and shorts, Rab offers a range of outdoor legwear that is durable and able to take on any outdoor conditions for various mountain activities.
- Baselayers: Rab’s range of baselayers provides options to get the best baselayer to build upon. Whether you want something breathable for warmer weather or insulating for the cold, Rab has got you covered.
- Accessories: Rab makes hats, caps, gloves, gaiters, belts, kitbags, and footwear.
- Sleeping bags: Rab has the perfect sleeping bag for any trip. They have lightweight, packable sleeping bags perfect for mountaineering trips and winter conditions, as well as sleeping bags designed for basecamp use or high-altitude alpinism. They also make sleeping bag liners.
- Shelters: Rab makes tents, bivis, and tarps that offer protection from the elements and provide a good night’s sleep in any condition. They make individual and group shelters.
- Backpacks: Rab makes backpacks for day hiking, multi-day trekking, long-distance trekking, mountaineering, travel and commuting, ski mountaineering, and trail running.
Who Are Patagonia?
Patagonia is a retailer of outdoor clothing with hundreds of stores in more than ten countries and across five continents. Additionally, Patagonia is an activist company that is committed to environmental activism.
Patagonia has built environmental responsibility, animal welfare programs, and robust social responsibility programs. Patagonia partners with companies around the globe to mitigate the harm that clothing manufacturing creates:
- Partnership with fair trade USA. Patagonia pays a premium for every time it has a Fair Trade Certified label, and the extra money goes directly to workers in the factory.
- Membership in the fair labor association. Patagonia is a member of the Fair Labor Association, which was established to hold clothing companies accountable for responsible labor practices.
- Founded the regenerative organic alliance and owns the regenerative organic certified pilot. Patagonia is growing food and fiber on farms working towards high organic standards. These programs work to rehabilitate soil, protect animal welfare, and improve farmers’ lives.
- Developed migrant worker employment standards. These standards explain Patagonia’s ethical recruitment and employment practices for migrant workers.
Patagonia also has Worn Wear, a set of tools that help extend its product’s lifetime. This program provides resources for responsible care, repair, reuse, resale, and recycling garments.
What Do Patagonia Do?
Patagonia makes sustainable outdoor clothing and equipment, always prioritizing its ethical and environmental values. Patagonia makes gear for outdoor activities and a range of general clothing for men, women, and children.
Examples of some of their products are:
- Jackets and vests: Patagonia makes a variety of jackets, parkas, and coats for many different temperatures and activities.
- Tops: Patagonia has a range of shirts, T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, and sweaters for various occasions.
- Legwear: Legwear includes pants and leggings, snow and alpine pants, and shorts.
- Dresses and skirts: Some of Patagonia’s skirts are designed for outdoor activity, and the dresses are functional and practical for backpacking and travel.
- Swimwear and wetsuits: Patagonia makes wetwear for casual swimming, surfing, and kiting.
- Baselayers: The baselayers wick moisture and are quick-drying, so you’re comfortable in various temperatures.
- Underwear: Patagonia offers a range of sports bras for any activity level and in many different designs. They also sell underwear for men and women.
- Accessories: Patagonia’s accessories include socks, hats, scarves, gaiters, gloves, mittens, and belts to keep you warm and prepared for any adventure you seek.
- Bags: Patagonia sells a variety of bags, including backpacks, laptop bags, totes, waist packs, duffel bags, technical packs, and water protective bags.
- Sleeping bags: Patagonia’s sleeping bags are made with virgin down, which means that the geese and ducks that provide the down (feathers and clusters) for the sleeping bag stuffing were not force-fed or live-plucked.
- Books: In addition to all their outdoor gear and clothing, Patagonia sells books about climbing, fly fishing, kiting, and surfing.
- Children’s clothing: If you have a child, baby, or toddler who is just as adventurous as you are, Patagonia has gear for them, too!
- Provisions: Patagonia sells nutritious and responsibly sourced foods, including pastas, seafood, meat, grains, beans, soups, condiments, and snacks designed for on-the-go adventure.
What Is the Difference Between Rab & Patagonia?
Though both companies offer similar products designed for the outdoors and are committed to environmental and social responsibility programs, the companies differ in terms of choice of product, price, and specialty.
Both Rab and Patagonia offer a variety of products, but Patagonia has a wider scope than Rab. Both sell men’s and women’s jackets, tops, and bottoms, and both companies offer gear such as backpacks and sleeping bags. Patagonia takes their product line a bit further than Rab by offering provisions, books, dishware, and more. They also sell bras and underwear, while Rab does not.
Furthermore, while Rab’s clothing is certainly stylish enough to be worn casually, the clothing is designed with outdoor activity in mind. Patagonia has a few products, such as dresses, jumpsuits, overalls, skirts, and sweaters, that are not designed for athletic activity and whose primary purpose is style. If you are more of a casual outdoors lover, Patagonia may be a better fit.
Similarly, all of Rab’s accessories and extras are intended for outdoor use and could be taken on a camping trip. On the other hand, Patagonia has some products, such as books and wine tumblers, that are not necessarily meant to be taken camping but are rather cool products with the Patagonia label on them.
Another area in which the companies differ is the price range. Patagonia is generally less expensive than Rab, though the difference is not much. For example, the Neutrino 400 Down Sleeping Bag from Rab costs £380, whereas a comparable sleeping bag from Patagonia, the Fitz Roy Sleeping Bag, costs approximately £359.
For another example, let’s look at jackets. The cheapest climbing jacket for men from Rab is the Men’s Borealis Jacket, which costs £75. The cheapest climbing jacket for men from Patagonia is the M’s Houdini Jacket, which starts at £51.
Another area of difference is each company’s specialty. Rab is known for the great design and quality of their jackets and the superior climb ability of their clothing. Rab was founded by a climber for climbers, so even though their clothing can be worn during other outside activities, they truly shine in their climbing gear.
Rab’s sleeping bags are also considered top-tier. A sleeping bag was the first thing founder Rab Carrington made, and that original design has only been improved and expanded throughout the years. It makes sense that Rab would specialize in sleeping bags.
On the other hand, Patagonia’s bags are where they shine, and they offer a wide range of them for a variety of purposes. Additionally, Patagonia’s bottoms are more popular than Rab’s bottoms, and they have more bottoms for specific purposes than Rab has, including shorts, snow and alpine pants, trekking pants, fishing waders, and more. Rab is limited to trekking and climbing for their bottoms.
Which Is Better?
Which company is better depends on your needs, priorities, and activity. If you want a wide variety of products for the whole family, Patagonia is better. If you want more specialized climbing gear at lower prices, Rab is better.
Both companies are ethical and environmentally responsible, so you really can’t go wrong, especially because their products are just as exemplary as their business practices. However, there are some things to consider that might make one company better than the other in your opinion.
If you are looking for clothing and gear for children, Patagonia is the better company. They offer a variety of products for children, including clothing, swimwear, and accessories, and Rab does not.
Additionally, if you want to buy more than just clothing and outdoor equipment when you shop at one of these companies, Patagonia is the better choice for you. Not only do they have the gear you need, but they also have clothing like dresses and sweaters for everyday use, and they have books, dishware, and food that go beyond the outdoor niche.
However, Rab is the better bet if you are a climber and seek clothing and gear specialized for this purpose. Rab is also better if you prioritize a good night’s sleep: their sleeping bags are unmatched, even by Patagonia.
The good news is, whichever company you decide to purchase from, they both have programs in place to help you extend the life of your garments and lessen your carbon footprint. This way, if your item gets damaged, you have a way to fix it instead of just buying a new one. This is not only environmentally savvy, but it helps your wallet too.
Furthermore, you can take pride in knowing that you are supporting a company that prioritizes the well-being of workers, communities, animals, and the environment over profit. It seems like a win-win to us!