Today’s comparison will be all about two of the most popular brands of clothing and equipment for outdoor sports and activities.
We are talking about Marmot and Columbia! Two brands that have been extensively featured here on our site.
You will read about how these two companies were born, the materials used in their production, their prices and some of their best-selling products.
This way you can compare the two brands, understand the differences, and decide which one is better than the other based on the outdoor activity that you will be doing.
At the end, we will also give our opinion as to which one we think is better.
So, let’s begin!
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A Short History of the Brand
Marmot is an American brand born in the 1970s (1974), specialized in technical clothing and hiking, climbing and outdoor equipment.
Two students from the University of California, Eric Reynolds and Dave Huntly, were in Alaska for a school project and there they came up with the idea of the Club Marmot.
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The two friends started out by creating the first technical products and later with the help of Tom Boyce, they transformed an old building into a retail store of accessories and clothing for outdoor activities.
This is when the “Marmot Mountain Works” brand was born and it quickly became known worldwide.
From that moment Marmot was engaged in the sale of high quality products for trekking, climbing and outdoor enthusiasts.
Their products are designed for men, women and children who love outdoor adventures, and among them you will find jackets, sleeping bags, tents, backpacks, and other accessories.
Alpine guides and top athletes test Marmot products directly in the field, thus contributing to the innovation of the brand.
Materials and Manufacture
Marmot uses quality products, both in their clothing and equipment. The main materials are Nylon and Polyester, just like many outdoor brands as we have previously seen.
When it comes to technologies they use, Gore-Tex certainly stands out.
As we have explained in other articles, Gore-Tex prevents water from entering the garment while letting the water vapor produced by the body during physical activity, pass through the pores of the membrane, thus making the fabric breathable.
Marmot uses Gore-Tex for high performance clothing and equipment, as it’s ideal for extreme activities, ensuring the resistance of the fabric to water.
Next, for insulation Marmot uses materials with high insulating capacity and a high fill power, capable of separating cold air from hot air.
Read next: Marmot vs Arc’teryx: Which Brand is Better?
The brand doesn’t only focus on the comfort of their clothing, but is also attentive to the real challenges faced outdoors.
For this reason it has never stopped developing new materials and technologies, like for example Marmot MemBrain®, a high performance, breathable and waterproof membrane. Another technology is NanoPro™.
When it comes to sustainability, Marmot focuses on ensuring that their production and manufacturing processes have a small environmental impact.
They have also created and/or use eco-friendly materials such as EvoDry and Eco Featherless, the latter being a substitute to down insulation.
That said, to conclude this paragraph, here are some questions that we see people ask frequently about this brand:
Where are Marmot’s products made?
A big part of Marmot’s products are made in China, Vietnam, Costa Rica, etc., while some of their high end technical mountain gear is made locally.
Is Marmot a good brand?
Marmot is a very good brand and their products are raved about by many customers and outdoor enthusiasts, experts and beginners alike. We have also heard good words about their customer support.
Now let’s see some popular products by Marmot, as we usually do in these comparisons:
Marmot Women’s Graviton 36 Lightweight Hiking Backpack
The Graviton 36 backpack for women comes with characteristics that make it comfortable and practical. The wrap-around zipper allows you to have everything always at hand.
This backpack has been designed to ensure comfort when worn and to protect your belongings. Among its main features you will find: a ventilated suspension system, adjustable compression straps, and a padded waist belt with mesh pockets.
A backpack made specifically for women that comes with a price which is in line with the quality offered.
Marmot Men’s Guides Down Winter Jacket
The Guides winter jacket for men comes with 700 fill power down insulation and Polyester shell. A warm hooded jacket, it has been treated with Down Defender so that the down maintains warmth even in humid conditions.
Suitable for winter activities, its zipper pockets provide additional warmth and can also be used for small belongings.
The Velcro cuffs and the hem are adjustable, allowing temperature control. The price / quality ratio is good and it comes in various colors.
Don’t miss: 700 Fill-Power Down Jackets: Our Top Picks
Marmot’s prices are in line with the quality they offer. Being dedicated to the outdoor world, they focus on guaranteeing certain performance levels and so the quality of the materials used is usually above average.
It is possible to buy one of their hiking or rain jackets for less than $200, while for the equipment the cost varies depending on the type of product.
For around $300 – $400 you can get one of their high-quality sleeping bags, while $400 will get you an excellent tent with features that will let you spend a few days out in nature.
For $100 – $150 you will take home a large backpack with all the required technical functions.
Are Marmot’s Products Worth the Price?
Yes. We think that each of their products is worth it, and many online reviewers think so, too. The materials are robust and last over time.
A Short History of the Brand
It all began in 1937, when Gert Boyle and her parents went away from Germany and settled in Portland, Oregon, where they ran a small hat factory that they named the “Columbia Hat Company“.
In the following years, the company changed hands, from her father, to her husband, and to Gert herself, who inherited the family business and later became a successful entrepreneur.
Columbia, founded by Gert’s parents Paul and Marie Lamfrom, started by making only hats, and later the company began to produce clothes for skiing, fishing, camping and outdoor gear, changing its name to “Columbia Sportswear Company” in 1960.
Today the company is lead by Gert’s son, Tim Boyle.
Read also: Columbia vs Eddie Bauer: A Comparison
What have always characterized the brand are the continuous search for perfection and the high standards that Gert set for both the company and herself, with her famous motto “It’s perfect. Now make it better!“.
Having its headquarters in the Pacific Northwest, the company has been influenced by the territory with its forests and mountains, and has become one of the best known brands in the world for clothing and equipment dedicated to outdoor enthusiasts.
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Columbia’s logo that has been used since 1978, represents a stylized woven fabric.
Along with the “Columbia” brand, today Columbia Sportswear Company also owns the “Sorel”, “Mountain Hardwear” and “prAna” brands.
Materials and Manufacture
Each material has been chosen with great care and attention by Columbia. Their waterproof jackets provide protection against unexpected weather changes, and are windproof and breathable.
Their hiking shoes are cushioned, absorb the shock of uneven terrain, and are waterproof both inside and outside to always keep your feet dry. They also offer great stability and good grip.
Columbia uses fabric technologies such as Omni-Tech and OutDry, and special insulations like TurboDown and Omni-Heat Reflective.
When it comes to DWR products, they try to use less harmful DWR coatings.
In addition, as a way to reduce its environmental impact, the company uses recycled Polyester in many of its products, and the down insulation is RDS certified.
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions as we did for Marmot before:
Where are Columbia’s products made?
Columbia products, including those of the other brands they own (Mountain Hardwear, Sorel, prAna) are made mainly in China, Vietnam, Bangladesh and India, but they also have some factories in the USA. For more information, check out this useful map.
Is Columbia a good brand?
Yes, Columbia offers a wide range of good products for various activities at affordable prices, which they test extensively.
By Columbia, we have picked:
Columbia Men’s Delta Ridge Down Jacket
Delta Ridge for men is a water resistant jacket with Omni-Heat reflective technology, 650 fill power down insulation and Polyester shell and lining.
The hand pockets have zipper closures to maintain warmth. It’s a comfortable jacket, ideal for many types of outdoor activities.
Columbia Northport Day Pack
Northport is a unisex backpack for your trips. It comes with a padded compartment that can hold a tablet or a 15″ laptop, side pockets for water bottles and an internal organizer compartment with numerous pockets.
It is ideal for travel, short hikes or use in the city, and the price is lower when compared to many products with similar features.
Read also: 8 Columbia Jackets for Outdoor Enthusiasts
The prices of Columbia products reflect the quality of the materials and the functionality of each piece of clothing and accessory.
Their down jackets, for example, cost on average from $150 to $250, and the price varies according to the characteristics of the product.
For their backpacks you can remain under $100 in many cases, while their technical and waterproof hiking shoes start at around $100.
Are Columbia’s Products Worth the Price?
Usually their products don’t disappoint. The prices are affordable and for every kind of budget.
We think that the quality / price ratio is high, considering that we are talking about one of the most famous brands in this industry.
3. Which Brand is Better?
This is a question where the answer depends very much on the product you are looking for.
It is not possible to easily say whether one brand is better than the other because we are talking about two excellent brands in the outdoor industry.
Columbia, along with producing technical clothing and equipment, focuses also on fashion trends by putting great attention to products’ aesthetics and not only to performance and functionality.
Their clothing has lines designed for those who don’t want to give up on style even when doing sports and outdoor activities.
Generally speaking, Columbia’s prices are lower than Marmot’s.
On the other hand, if we were looking for higher level technical equipment and clothing, we would choose Marmot, as the brand also offers sleeping bags and tents. Columbia’s range of products is more limited in that market.
Both brands offer great products, that can withstand the cold and adverse weather conditions.
Marmot focuses more on the medium-high price range, while Columbia focuses on a slightly cheaper one.
Overall, whatever your final choice will be, you will take home a quality product.
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Readers, have you tried any of these brands? What has your experience been like? Let us know in the comments below.