If there’s one thing you come to learn when you’re an outdoor enthusiast (and a travel blogger) – it’s which brands produce the best gear.
And this could be anything random from who makes the best tents to use in high winds (follow that link to find out) to who offers the best hiking boots for wide, flat & narrow feet (you might be surprised).
Many times it’s a matter of option and we all have our personal number one. Nevertheless, you just can’t argue with consistent quality.
There are new, up-and-coming brands being developed all the time, and this is truly exciting as it shows people are still keen to get out into the wilderness while creating the highest quality gear possible.
We’ve not quite lost everyone to mind-numbing technology just yet. And when we do venture out on hiking, fishing, kayaking, climbing, trekking, biking adventure – we demand the best gear and equipment possible.
Those fresh and exciting brands will surely have their day in the sun, but right now let’s talk about the stalwarts. The creme de la creme. The cat’s meow. The top dogs. The big kahunas.
The best outdoor clothing brands in the world.
So, here are my top 15 picks of the companies that have achieved such a revered position – in no particular order.
See if I’ve included any of your favorites.
TOP 15 Best Outdoor Clothing Brands 2019
The North Face
Regularly gracing the pages of Independent Wolf (and many other travel blog and review websites) is arguably the world’s most recognizable outdoor gear and apparel brand.
Even if you’ve never set foot into nature your entire life, you will have come across the North Face at some point.
And if you’ve been living under a rock – it’s probably their gear you’ve been wearing.
They have been producing the finest quality clothing, footwear, tents, bags and other kit and outdoor tech since 1966 – and they show no signs of slowing down now.
Check out some of the best sleeping bags for cold weather – you’ll find the North Face always challenging for the number one spot.
They also have some excellent daypacks for hiking, too.
Founded by two outdoor enthusiasts on a beach in San Francisco (about as far from the north face of a mountain you can get), for over 50 years they have expanded and developed their brand into the well-known, loved and trusted market leader it is today.
Founded not all that long ago in 1989 (that’s still 30 years experience), Canadian based Arc’teryx have risen to where they want to be – at the top of the outdoor clothing brand mountain.
They produce some of the highest quality mountaineering gear in the world, the kind of stuff that will last a lifetime – no matter how many times you scale a challenging peak.
They’re certainly not the cheapest brand out there, but they stand head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to the finest quality materials and manufacture. They make some of the best mountaineering and hiking rain jackets (a lot of) money can buy.
Made by mountaineers for mountaineers, they’re named after the first reptile to develop the feather for flight.
No wonder they’re flying high as one of the top outdoor clothing brands on the planet.
Easily one of the most trusted and longest-running outdoor clothing companies, Columbia have been on the go since 1938.
Based out of the Pacific Northwest, they’ve been producing a quite-frankly astonishing portfolio of quality gear and apparel for over 80 years.
Their catalog will give you a selection headache covering just about everything you could possibly wear in the great outdoors. I find they’re particularly good at quality hiking boots for summer – but they don’t just stop there.
But there is another awesome reason why they are consistently one of the most popular outdoor clothing brands in 2019.
They’re always affordable.
And yet they don’t sacrifice quality. They are a tried, tested and trusted, budget-friendly company that caters for whatever outdoor activity you’re into.
If you thought that Columbia was the old boy on the block – think again!
Mammut are a Swiss company that has roots right back to 1862, where they first developed climbing ropes. They are one of the world leaders in this regard.
However, they have since expanded significantly into other outdoor gear and apparel, producing premium, Swiss-engineered clothing for all kinds of situations.
They’re also a company that is extremely passionate about reducing their carbon footprint, ethical production and manufacture and animal welfare.
Not resting on their laurels, they also offer an alpine school in Europe, where you can learn anything from glacier trekking and hiking, mountain climbing and even avalanche awareness courses.
The founder of Cotopaxi grew up in Latin America and for several years explored the Cotopaxi National Park in Ecuador. The name is taken from the famous volcano that dominates the landscape in those parts.
Like Mammut, they are passionate about ethics, particularly the impoverished people of the world. Consequently, every time you purchase a product from Cotopaxi, a percentage of the cost goes to help the company’s charities.
As far as their actual clothing goes, they source quality, sustainable materials to produce some excellent gear – and at prices that won’t break the bank.
Their company motto is “do good,” and they’re not doing too badly themselves.
They’ll even send you a free llama sticker if you ask them nicely.
We head over to Germany on our next stop of the world’s best outdoor brands – Jack Wolfskin.
Founded in Frankfurt in 1981, the company has a sweet theme throughout their quality products – “at home outdoors.”
This is reflected in their extensive catalog of mountain and leisure clothing, footwear, rucksacks, sleeping bags, and tents.
For outdoor gear that protects you from the elements, Jack Wolfskin are never too far away from having the best hiking pants for men, as well as a great deal of other high-performance apparel and gear.
They’re generally regarded as a mid-range brand with high-quality and well-made products that are as stylish as they are affordable.
They’re also conscientious of their corporate responsibility and work to improve conditions for staff employed in the garment making industry worldwide.
And they boast the coolest logo out of any of the brands here. But woe betide you if you try to steal it from them. Many have tried and they’ve got their asses kicked as a result!
We drop in on New Zealand on our continuing world tour of the best outdoor clothing brands. Kathmandu have been operating out of these parts since 1987.
They have a particularly strong connection with their heritage here, hailing from a country with a dramatic landscape that demands to be explored. Just ask anyone who is a fan of The Lord of the Rings movies.
They have flagship stores in New Zealand, Australia and the UK.
As such, Kathmandu have been producing top quality outdoor gear for all kinds of activities for over 30 years, while at the same time being very conscious of their environmental impact.
They’ve recently branched out to acquire US footwear brand Oboz, with whom they share similar passions regarding sustainable forestry.
As such, Kathmandu should be properly breaking into the North American market real soon.
Originally hailing from the French Alps, this sportswear company are based in Annecy and were founded back in 1947.
They’re predominantly most famous for their market-leading footwear, but are one of the premiere leaders in outdoor equipment in Europe. This includes top-of-the-range ski and snowboard gear.
However, they also produce apparel covering a vast myriad of outdoor sports, including trail running, hiking and climbing. This they do in over 40 countries across five continents.
They’ll never be too far from inclusion in winter hiking reviews, producing some of the best winter hiking boots anywhere in the world. Check some of them out at that link.
Not bad for a husband, wife and son team that started making ski edges in a tiny workshop in the shadow of the alps.
Named after the beautiful, remote, mountainous and glacial region of southern Argentina and Chile, Patagonia is yet another one of the best outdoor gear brands in the world.
They were founded in 1973 by US rock climber Yvon Chouinard – himself an avid outdoorsman and a passionate environmentalist. Interestingly, their logo is the famous Monte Fitz Roy mountain skyline on the border between these two South American countries.
Today, like many of the outdoor clothing companies here, they are known for their ethical and environmentally conscious focus. They consider themselves to be an “activist” company, using their business and resources to engage in the protection of the world we live in.
Clothing wise, they’ve pretty much got everything covered, offering an enormous selection of quality gear for a wealth of outdoor pursuits.
With a particular emphasis on wet-weather apparel, you’ll find Patagonia offering some of the best hiking pants for winter.
But they don’t just stop there, and they’ll have something for everyone when it comes to the great outdoors.
Like many outdoor clothing suppliers, Berghaus started small when two outdoor enthusiasts were disappointed with the quality of gear and apparel available to them on the market at the time.
Mountaineers Peter Lockey and Gordon Davison from the North East of England founded their outdoor clothing and equipment manufacturing company back in 1966.
In the early days, they were distributing other outdoor brands, and it wasn’t until 1972 that they begin producing their own line of clothing and equipment and selling them in their shop.
They were one of the first companies in the world to incorporate an internal frame in a rucksack.
In 1977, they pioneered the use of Gore-Tex, and as such they still make some of the best waterproof rain pants available. Check out that link if you don’t believe me.
Although named after the German word for “mountain house,” this is a UK company that has grown from strength to strength, with award-winning gear, world-wide distribution and a team of sponsored athletes from all over the globe.
Let’s sail over to Norway next in our continuing world tour of the best outdoor clothing brands. Helly Hansen has been producing some top-quality kit since way back in 1877.
Specializing in waterproof survival gear for extreme conditions, they just might make some of the best hiking rain jackets on the market. Ever. Period.
This all came about when veteran sea captain Helly Juell Hansen and his wife Maren Margarethe started making jackets and other garments soaked in linseed oil.
Today they are one of the most popular outdoor brands in the world, making high-end gear that is trusted by the pros. HH are particularly well known and used by professions that are at home on the sea or in the mountains.
Their stuff doesn’t come cheap, but you know you’re getting the very best quality from Helly Hansen. They’ve been at the forefront of innovative design and outdoor style for over 140 years.
A trend that is thankfully set to continue well into the future. For their target market, Helly Hansen are up there with the best of the best.
A stalwart of the British countryside, Barbour have been making outstanding quality outdoor clothing since 1894.
Beginning in a market place in South Shields, they’re still hand-making their products in a factory in the area, and are now a 5th generation family-owned business.
Barbour are the very definition of luxury outdoor wear that is fit for Royalty. Indeed, the company holds three warrants to supply waterproof and protective clothing to the British Royal family since 1974.
Their most famous and flagship item of clothing has to be the iconic green Barbour jacket, a beautiful, award-winning waxed cotton garment. However, they also produce sweaters, shirts, moleskin and corduroy outdoor clothing – all to their meticulous standards.
You’ll find their products grace the most upmarket department stores around the world – having a retail presence in over forty countries across six continents.
But they sure don’t come cheap and expect to pay a king’s ransom if you want this sort of quality.
I have to say that Marmot has one of the most fun and unique start-up stories of them all. They began back in 1974, when two university students decided that to become a “Marmot” you had to climb a glaciated peak with another Marmot.
A sort of bizarre club was formed, taking their moniker from a large, sociable ground squirrel.
But aside from these youthful shenanigans, they also had a desire to create their own outdoor clothing brand, and Marmot Mountain Works was born.
They struck gold when the producers of a Clint Eastwood film requested they provide 108 “very puffy” jackets, to which they dutifully obliged, in spite of barely having gotten off the ground as a company at the time.
Today, Marmot has grown into a much loved and respected outdoor brand with a commitment to the highest quality gear and apparel. They’re particularly adept at making some of the best camping tents available.
While not known as being part of the best hiking clothing brands, when it comes to climbing and skiing, Black Diamond are hard to beat.
They certainly make some of the best winter gloves to keep your hands nice and toasty.
They began life back in the 1950s, but they weren’t officially founded until 1989. Now they have branched out worldwide, operating as the go-to mountain company of choice for a great many professional climbers, skiers and enthusiasts of other mountain-based and winter sports.
They moved to their Salt Lake City base in 1991, but have far-reaching distribution in both Europe and Asia from Austria and China respectively.
In addition to their eclectic range of quality apparel, they’re also famous for their mountain hardware, such as just about everything to do with rock climbing you can think of, as well as world-class tents and shelters, lighting, trekking poles and backpacks.
Based out of Seattle, what Outdoor Research don’t know about the wilderness isn’t worth knowing.
They cover just about everything, including alpine pursuits, paddling, rock and ice climbing, backcountry skiing and snowboarding, backpacking…the list goes on.
They were founded in 1981 by Ron Gregg, a nuclear physicist no less. During an expedition up North America’s highest peak, Denali, Gregg’s climbing partner suffered frostbitten feet in extreme conditions and had to be airlifted to safety.
Gregg was inspired to leave his science career behind with a mission to discover the best possible solutions for preventing such an occurrence from happening again.
Since then, they have grown rapidly into becoming one of the most trusted outdoor brands in the world today. Their initial X-Gaiter product led the company to producing some of the best cold-weather hiking gaiters you’ll find anywhere.
But whatever your sport or activity – if it’s in the great outdoors, you can bet your bottom dollar that Outdoor Research will have clothing for it.
While this list is by no means exhaustive (and I apologize if I have left out your favorite) I genuinely feel that these are the best outdoor clothing brands in the world.
However, you can tell me off and have your say in the comments below on who you think I’ve missed and why.
Or, just let me know which brand you think is number one.
In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for more articles on the best outdoor gear, equipment and apparel money can buy.
Because getting outdoors is life.
Get 50 Solo Travel Safety Tips eBook for FREE
No more reading loads of posts about solo traveler safety. Get your 50 point safety list in one eBook. Be ready, stay safe!