Helly Hansen vs Columbia Outdoor Gear: Which Brand is Better?

Helly Hansen vs Columbia Outdoor Gear: Which Brand is Better?Pin

Helly Hansen and Columbia are two of the main names in the outdoor gear market. Whether you are looking for a light rain jacket, a heavy winter jacket, or a hiking backpack you will find what you need among these brands’ product collections.

You have probably heard of these two as they are very popular among outdoor enthusiasts.

While Helly Hansen is a Norwegian company founded more than 100 years ago and mostly known in Europe, Columbia is an American brand founded in 1937.

So, today we will compare Helly Hansen’s and Columbia’s outdoor gear to try to find out which of the two would be the better choice for different activities.

These brands have been extensively featured here on our site, so let’s see!


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* Note: The availability of products on this page may change at any time. Please check the materials, features, colors, and sizes on the various shops (linked on this page) before buying, because sometimes our articles may contain errors. The product images you see here are for illustration purposes.

1. Helly Hansen

A Short History of the Brand

Before launching the popular outdoor gear brand “Helly Hansen“, Helly Juell Hansen was a ship captain out of Moss, Norway (further reading: 9 Norwegian Outdoor Brands that You’ll Love).

Hansen knew how rigorous the work can be when operating out of the North Sea so, in 1877, he started making waterproof garments.

Hansen’s idea was to incorporate linseed oil into a cotton canvas to create a fabric that can resist water yet is still sufficiently supple to be suitable for workers.

Don’t miss: Helly Hansen vs The North Face: A Comparison

This creation became so popular in his hometown that Hansen and his wife started producing oilskin jackets and pants.

Today, the Helly Hansen brand still incorporates waterproof technology into their outdoor gear and apparel.

sailor wearing a yellow rain jacketPin

Materials and Manufacture

One of the primary waterproof and breathable fabric technologies used by Helly Hansen is Helly Tech®. This state-of-the-art technology provides the brand’s products the best protection from the elements.

The technology makes use of an external DWR-treated fabric together with an inner mesh or lining that is also very breathable.

Experts have rated the waterproofness and breathability of Helly Tech® and it reaches around 20.000mm water column and 20.000 g/m2/24h respectively.

We have reviewed Helly Tech here and compared it to Gore-Tex here.

The brand uses many other materials, of course, some of which are: Fleece, Polyester, Wool, responsible RDS-certified Down, and recycled materials.

Helly Tech® Explained

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Some frequently asked questions:

Is Helly Hansen a good brand?

Helly Hansen is one of the best brands when it comes to quality outdoor gear. Their ski jackets and sailing gear are some of the best that you can purchase for protection and comfort.

We think you can’t go wrong when you decide to buy a Helly Hansen jacket for your outdoor adventures.

Where is Helly Hansen’s outdoor gear made?

The jackets of Helly Hansen are mainly made in China, Bangladesh, and Vietnam while sourcing the materials and fabrics from factories based in Asia and Europe. (source)

Read next: Helly Hansen vs Patagonia Jackets: Which Brand is Better?

Popular Designs

Below are two of the products sold by Helly Hansen that we have picked this time.

Helly Hansen Men’s Steilhang Ski Jacket

Helly Hansen Mens Steilhang Ski JacketPin

Image: hellyhansen.com

Check out Steilhang jacket on HellyHansen.com

The Steilhang Jacket comes with all of the features you’ll need for mountain weather.

It utilizes Helly Tech® technology and it is fully seam-sealed and waterproof for the best protection even in harsh conditions. For insulation, it uses Primaloft® Black Eco. (further reading: PrimaLoft vs Down Insulation)

Some of the main features of the jacket include thumbhole wrist gaiters, a powder skirt, an adjustable helmet-compatible hood, and a 4-way stretch fabric for optimal mobility.

This jacket is available in three colors: red, black, and green.

Helly Hansen Women’s Motionista Ski Jacket

Helly Hansen Womens Motionista Ski JacketPin

Image: hellyhansen.com

Check out Motionista jacket on HellyHansen.com

The Motionista Lifaloft Jacket for women offers all the needed features while taking style into account at the same time.

The jacket is designed for the coldest days on ski trails. It comes with lightweight insulation and stretchy fabric for easier movement.

Similar to the Steilhang Jacket, the Motionista also uses a Helly Tech® membrane, for windy, wet, and cold conditions adding to its comfortability.

Its LifaLoft insulation is another factor that adds warmth. Motionista is available in turquoise, wild rose, black, and white colors.


The prices of Helly Hansen’s outdoor gear are quite expensive for many, but you can also find reasonable price tags on some of their jackets and products.

These products are designed to provide you with what you need to withstand various weather conditions, from dry cold weather to rainy humid conditions.

In general, most of their jackets can cost more than $300.

Is Helly Hansen’s Equipment Worth the Price?

Helly Hansen is known for providing top-quality outdoor gear for winter, skiing, sailing, etc. and in our opinion, the brand is a good option to consider on your next purchase.

Read also: 7 of the Best Helly Hansen Ski Jackets Reviewed

2. Columbia

A Short History of the Brand

Columbia is another outdoor gear brand that offers nearly everything a person could want with regard to clothing.

Whether you are planning to go skiing, fishing, or hiking, the brand can supply you with the apparel you need for your adventure.

The brand was founded by the family of Gert Boyle in 1937, after they fled Nazi Germany and decided to settle in Portland, USA.

Don’t miss: 9 Outdoor Brands like Columbia that We Love and Why

Over the years, the business changed hands from her father to her husband, to Gert herself.

Columbia used to be known as the “Columbia Hat Company” in 1938 and eventually renamed themselves “Columbia Sportswear Company” in 1960 once they began selling outdoor apparel.

Today the company is lead by Tim Boyle, Gert’s son.

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Materials and Manufacture

Similar to Helly Hansen, Columbia Sportswear also utilizes its own technologies to make its outdoor gear as functional as possible.

One example is the Omni-Tech technology that offers Columbia’s jackets the waterproofness and breathability needed.

Another example is the Omni-Heat Reflective technology utilized by some of their apparel. This feature allows Columbia’s apparel to retain warmth efficiently while simultaneously releasing excess moisture and heat.

Read also: Columbia vs Marmot: Which Brand is Better?

Other materials that we can mention are recycled Polyester and RDS-certified down insulation, and also the fact that they are trying to use less harmful DWR coatings.

Columbia Sportswear products are made following the perfectionist philosophy of Gerty Boyle. You can expect to find top-quality apparel crafted with high standards.

woman hiking in forest in autumnPin

Some frequently asked questions:

Is Columbia a good brand?

We think Columbia is an excellent brand that offers a wide range of outdoor gear. Their products are reliable and the prices are affordable. A good quality/price ratio in our opinion.

Where is Columbia’s outdoor gear made?

Although Columbia still produces outdoor gear in the USA, their products, including the brands they own (Sorel, Mountain Hardwear, prAna) are mainly made in China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and India.

Check out this map for more information.

Popular Designs

By Columbia, we have also picked two jackets.

Columbia Men’s Whirlibird™ IV Insulated Interchange Jacket

Columbia Mens Whirlibird IV Insulated Interchange JacketPin

Image: columbia.com

Check out Whirlibird IV Interchange jacket on Amazon.com (#ad)

The Columbia’s Whirlibird IV is a three-in-one jacket that is very versatile for winter use. It offers good weather resistance and warmth so you can be comfortable in cold weather.

Omni-Tech and Omni-Heat are the technologies used that keep out water while protecting you from low temperatures.

The Whirlibird IV features a zip-in interchange system, an adjustable hood, and underarm venting that adds to the breathability of the jacket.

It comes with a ski pass pocket, inner pocket, goggle pocket, and zippered hand pockets.

Columbia Men’s Bugaboo™ II Fleece Interchange Jacket

Columbia Mens Bugaboo II Fleece Interchange JacketPin

Image: columbia.com

Check out Bugaboo II Interchange jacket on Amazon.com (#ad)

The Bugaboo II Fleece Interchange jacket from Columbia is another winter jacket that you can also use for winter sports. It comes with many features and a not-so-high price.

Similar to the Whirlibird IV, this is also a three-in-one jacket and is waterproof and breathable.

Some of the main features include an adjustable and removable storm hood, zippered hand pockets, easily adjustable cuffs, and a zip-in interchange system.

The jacket is available in a wide range of color combinations.

Read also: 8 Columbia Jackets for Outdoor Enthusiasts


Compared to Helly Hansen jackets, Columbia Sportswear products are more affordable.

In general, Columbia’s jackets cost around $150 – $250, their backpacks under $100, and the hiking shoes start at around $100.

Is Columbia’s Equipment Worth the Price?

For casual skiing, mountain climbing, or any other outdoor activity, we think the brand’s products are worth their price. Their jackets, for example, provide the necessary protection you need.

If you are a professional or at an advanced level, maybe you will need to look for a more technical brand, but even in that case, you will be able to pick something you need from Columbia’s wide products collection.

3. Which Brand Is Better?

couple hiking in snowy mountainPin

The choice between Helly Hansen and Columbia will depend on your needs and interests.

For those who plan to go skiing or sailing regularly, and are at a more advanced level in general, you can’t go wrong by choosing the technologies and designs offered by Helly Hansen.

Most of Helly Hansen‘s outdoor gear comes at a higher price level though, as we already saw above.

On the other hand, if you are searching for more “casual” outdoor equipment you can opt for a more affordable alternative, such as Columbia.

Most buyers can find a good product or two from their outdoor gear, that is sufficient in getting the job done. They also have a few pricier products with higher performance and have a very good reputation in the outdoor gear and apparel niche.

Many users have written positive reviews about Columbia in the comments here on our site, for example, this comment, or this.

To conclude, we think we would choose Helly Hansen for more technical gear for specific sports and outdoor activities, and Columbia for more casual outdoor wear.

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That’s all for today’s comparison! Let us know what you think about these two brands in the comments below. We’d love to read about your experience.

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