Patagonia vs The North Face - which outdoor brand is the best?

Patagonia vs The North Face - everything you need to know to make an informed shopping choice

Patagonia vs The North Face - Street style influencers wearing Patagonia and The North Face
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Debating Patagonia vs The North Face? You’re not alone. Both absolute powerhouses when it comes to outdoor gear, it’s hard not to compare the two. If you’re on the hunt for your new cold-weather hero piece and can’t decide where to start, we’ve put the brands head-to-head to see which one comes out on top.

Patagonia and The North Face are both reliable American brands, producing high-quality, practical and stylish cold-weather essentials. From the best North Face jackets popular with the fashion crowd, to stylish Patagonia pieces that are built to last, these two all weather brands have worked hard to create labels that excel at both fashion and function. With some of the best puffer jackets, they're allso some of the best brands for ski clothes, differentiating between the two can be tricky.

Both Patagonia and The North Face also are hugely environmentally conscious too, using recycled materials and championing planet-friendly initiatives so investing in these brands not only means looking good but doing good too. Worthy of a spot in your winter capsule wardrobe, there’s no sign of fast fashion here, their stock is built to last so come at a higher price point but will ultimately stand the test of time. So whether you’re embarking on an adventure in the mountains or just looking for the best winter coat to get you through the daily commute, we've honed in on these two stalwarts to help you determine where to splash your cash.

Patagonia vs The North Face - What is Patagonia?

Founded by avid climber Yvon Chouniard in 1973, Patagonia is not just about producing top-notch outdoor attire but it’s committed to supporting environmentally conscious causes too. A certified B Corporation, the Californian label has donated one per cent of its sales to help fund planet-friendly causes since 1985. More recently, Chouniard donated the company and future profits to fight climate change, making it one of the best sustainable clothing brands

With this in mind, when shopping at Patagonia expect to see organic and recycled fabrics and responsibly sourced down. Its Worn Wear programme allows you to trade in gear in exchange for credit and also buy pre-loved attire at a discounted price. There’s also a Care & Repair service, breathing new life into your well-worn Patagonia purchases.

Patagonia is renowned for its high-tech jackets, filled with Responsible Down Standard (RDS) approved down to keep you delightfully warm during a cold spell as well as some of the best waterproof jacket designs to protect from rain and snow and cosy fleeces. 

Is Patagonia high end?

Patagonia’s price points are at the higher end of the scale but that’s mainly due to the premium and sustainable fabrics used to make the products. These are certainly investment pieces, however they are long-lasting so once you’ve made the splurge, expect to get a lot of wear out of your new purchase.

“Patagonia's down outerwear is like a cosy cuddle in coat form! The insulated fabrics means it will keep you toasty on even the most chilly of days without feeling bulky or restrictive, and the fuss-free designs means it can be thrown over just about any outfit nicely. While it may be a big investment, this classic cover-up will last you for years and you can rest easy knowing that the materials and the down filling are recycled, and it was made in a Certified Fair Trade factory," says style editor and stylist Matilda Stanley.

The best Patagonia pieces to buy

What is The North Face?

If you're looking for brands like Patagonia, then The North Face is a great place to start. What began as a small mountaineering brand in 1966 has since evolved into one of the most reliable and stylish sportswear brands in the world. Founded in San Francisco by two hiking enthusiasts, it excels in creating technical gear to suit all outdoor activities from the best running gear to snowsports. On top of apparel, expect tents, bags and the best hiking boots

As well as mastering functional fashion, more recently The North Face has developed an achingly cool reputation amongst the style set, frequently spotted on celebrities and fashionistas. Designer collaborations with Gucci and streetwear brand Supreme have further cemented The North Face’s cool status, helping the performance-wear label stay relevant year-on-year. 

Much like Patagonia, The North Face prides itself on building an environmentally responsible company, using recycled and responsibly sourced fabrics and its XPLR programme allowing consumers to bring their used The North Face products in for renewal, recycling or donation in exchange for a voucher. These brands are all about the outdoors so it's no surprise they are keen to protect it too.

Is the North Face a high end brand?

Spanning across outdoor gear, streetwear and designer, The North Face has certainly entered the high-end brand market. The Gucci collab was a sell-out success, grabbing the attention of the fashion elite. Whilst The North Face prices reflect its high-end status with some of its snow jackets retailing at £720, there are plenty of affordable pieces too.

Why is North Face so expensive?

Similar to Patagonia, The North Face’s prices reflect the quality and durability of the products. The technical fabrics and sustainable practices are used to ensure the attire is highly durable and able to withstand whatever the weather throws at you, be it rain, snow or wind. With slow fashion at its core, once you’ve invested in a North Face jacket, you’re guaranteed to use it from one winter to the next. It says a lot that its original 90s puffer jacket is still one of its most coveted items to own.

"I love the two-tone design of the North Face 1996 Retro Nuptse Jacket. The high collar and colour combo gives the puffer a more fashion forward appeal, that works across generations. There's lots of shades to choose from too so you can easily make it work with your existing wardrobe." says fashion influencer and style expert Jenee Naylor.

The best North Face gear to buy

Patagonia vs The North Face - verdict

The North Face has a larger product line so perfect if you’re looking to kit yourself out from head to toe as well as stocking up on camping gear and skiwear. Compared to Patagonia, its price points are slightly lower and they have a wider variety of wearable everyday pieces. The North Face could be considered slightly more fashion led than its counterpart whilst Patagonia often feels a lot more technical. If you’re looking for sustainability, both labels have eco-friendly credentials too.

You can’t go wrong with either of these brands so it really comes down to personal preference. If you’re serious about your mountain gear, you might be more inclined to head to Patagonia whereas if you want something that ticks that high-fashion box too, The North Face is the one to go for. However both are reliable outdoor clothing brands that cover both style and substance.

Matilda Stanley
Matilda Stanley

Matilda Stanley is a freelance style editor covering all things fashion, beauty and interiors. She writes and styles for both print and online and covers everything from the latest catwalk trends to bargain skincare buys. With over fifteen years of experience in the industry, Matilda has worked on TV shows including 'Gok's Fashion Fix' and written and styled for publications including Closer, Heat, Bella, Look, Woman, Good Housekeeping, Now, and The Daily Mail.

Jenee Naylor
Jenee Naylor

Jenee is a fashion influencer and style expert, and a regular front row guest at fashion weeks. She has become a regular on US TV, making appearances as a style expert on The Today Show and The Tamron Hall Show. Jenee has large followings on Instagram and YouTube, where she shares her passion for luxury fashion, beauty,  and entrepreneurship. Jenee is a huge proponent of wise spending, and loves sharing her “cost per wear” mentality with her audience.

Charlie Bell

Charlie is the Deputy Fashion Editor at Future plc across multiple women’s magazines including Woman & Home, Woman and Woman's Own.

She bagged her first magazine job in 2009 and has previously written for titles including Stylist, Closer and Dare. Over the years Charlie has embraced anything that was thrown at her from styling celebrities to testing out the best jeans on the high street to writing about must-have beauty buys.

With a weakness for a printed midi dress, Charlie is on a mission to shop more sustainably and loves finding new ethical brands and second-hand buys.