Compare: The North Face vs Columbia Sportswear Vs Eddie Bauer outerwear

All three of thee vendors, and I am sure many more, sell warm coats, some with zip-out linings that acts as fashionable coats or vests as well.

My impression has been that Columbia, the lowest priced of the trio, seems to offer adequate insulation at a reasonable price and quality. This is based, of course, on trying on a few of them at the store.

Eddie Bauer offers similar stuff, with some upscale linings offered, such as down, which makes the stuff even warmer. They tend to look more upmarket, with a softer fleece linings and use of real down in the linings, etc. However, I tried on one of the coats and the zipper stuck, and there were other ergonomic issues that made it feel like it was as wel thought out as the Columia stuff.

Then we have The North Face. Either this stuff comes with free prostitues (something they should advertise better) or is the ultimate in quality, or they just somehow fool people into paying about 4 times what it’s worth. I mean, seriously, they sell the Denali Fleece jacket (a fleece jacket!!!) for $165. If you want an actual coat, they start at around 3 C-notes and go up from there.

Dopers, do you have opinions on this stuff? Anyone wear The North Face and think the price is justified somehow? Does it have one of those warranties where if you gain 100lbs and it no longer fits so you use it as a snow blanket to get your car unstuck, they give you a new one and a free blow job?

Let’s hear it!

TNF hasn’t been the ultimate in quality in decades. Don’t get me wrong, they make some good gear, but they also make a lot of stuff designed for urban wear that wouldn’t be very useful in the backcountry. They know that you make money by selling a lot of gear, not by making the best gear. They still make some good gear but they cut corners in lots of places.

Arcteryx, Mountain Hardware and others have taken up the mantel of top quality gear.

I have some TNF gear, but for top quality I look elsewhere. And the cost is significantly higher then TNF.

All three you mentioned make some good gear, and Columbia has some very good values. If you’re going to be around town, they’ll all work just fine. You don’t need much in town to stay warm, fleece is fleece, wind/rain proof is the same all over. Now, they may not work as well when it’s -20 at 13,000’ of horizontal snow in Colorado, but most folks use this gear to walk to the 7-11 so who cares?

What are you going to use it for? Without knowing that it’s impossible to evaluate the gear.

What? No love for REI?

Hell, in really cold weather I still wear a Snow Lion parka I bought over 30 years ago.

Never owned anything by EB.

I had some random stuff made by Columbia years ago and I just didn’t think much of it, lousy quality, etc so I choose not to buy their stuff anymore.

Ditto on what Telemark said r.e. TNF. I live right by a North Face factory outlet and once in a while you find a great deal on some good gear (my old NF fleece jacket from over 10 years ago is still in fantastic shape, and I bought a new goretex shell there, it’s very nice and very inexpensive) but in the stores a lot of their stuff is really overpriced. If you want to spend that kind of money you can go for serious stuff (I happen to like Marmot).

If you want nice stuff at a nice price and an iron-clad guarantee I’ll second Johnny L.A. on REI and also throw LL Bean into the mix. I had a Bean goretex jacket that spent many a day in the rain, camping (regular and snow), playing in the snow, etc. Both Bean and REI have a 100% guarantee on their stuff - don’t like it? Bring it back.

Cabela’s does the same thing. Much of their clothing is aimed at the hunting & fishing crowd but they also have more general outdoor sports clothing, their stores are massive and their prices are attractive.

REI has its own brand? I thought they just resold other stuff?

Anyhow, I will mostly be using this stuff for general outdoors stuff in urban areas. Hiking and hunting are not on my list of to-dos, but shovelling driveways is. Occasionally I will need to be outdoors for an extended period of time during the cold, and it helps to have warm stuff.

I’ll check REI and Cabelas and see what they have to offer as well.

Color me unsurprised that there’s other shit even more expensive than TNF. For highly specialized use, I guess it makes sense, but not for everyday stuff like most people do.

Wheer does TNF cut corners?

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Yes, REI has made their own gear for ages. They sell a full line of their own gear and also sell some selected brands.

Good gear by any of those companies will work in this case. Frankly, jackets are pretty basic and you’re not putting them under particularly drastic situations. Look for a good fitting hood, pockets where you need them, and something that leaves enough room to wear other clothes underneath.

Trust me, it makes a difference. Some of us do that stuff on a regular basis.

Materials, design (to make manufacturing cheaper), workmanship. You won’t notice it shoveling the driveway, but you will above treeline in a winter storm. Again, for shoveling the driveway anything will do. Even if you’re out for a couple of hours, any of the jackets by these companies will work fine. Your gloves and hat are probably more important then the jacket.

Yes, REI sells REI branded gear and (I’m biased, I work there) what **Valgard **said is about affordability and guarantee is absolutely right. For example, a few REI softshells are made with Schoeller fabrics, a Swiss textile company known for its innovation and quality. We’re also using eVent for exceptionally breathable waterproof shells. They aren’t just “generic no-name” jackets.

As for TNF, I won’t put down a vendor because that wouldn’t be right, but let’s just say that they are VERY POPULAR with the urban fashionista set. They have The Look, as it were. Regardless, REI typically carries higher end gear, so you’ll see alongside TNF, Mountain Hardwear, Marmot (my favorite) and Arc’Teryx. I would say Arc’Teryx has the best reputation for quality…and you WILL have to shell out big time for that quality. To many it’s well worth the price.

I’ve been very happy with my Eddie Bauer jackets (1 down, 1 waterproof shell + primaloft liner). The price to quality ratio on both items has bben excellent.

I looked at TNF’s offerings when I was shopping for my shell and liner, and I wasn’t impressed. They struck me as overpriced for the construction and quality. Most of their mid-range jackets and shells also seemed gratuitously over-engineered, i.e., tricked out with features that look impressive on the street but serve no real purpose in the field.

I love my new REI Newcastle Travel Coat. (And the 20% discount coupon I got as I walked into the store was nice too.) If anybody asks, I can recommend it.

That’s a great coat! We don’t carry it in our store, but I saw a customer wearing one and it’s sharp-looking. The REI One is another one I like for men. Personally, I’m saving up for a Kulshan jacket. I recently bought a Marmot Gravity and wear it daily.

Thanks. I like the ‘Beech Tree’ green.

The Kulshan is attractive. Incidentally, Koma Kulshan is about 50 miles from my house.

Neat…learn something new everyday. It took me weeks to remember the names of mens/womens versions of this jacket, considering I’ve never been to the Northwest. sigh

Now this kinda cracks me up because just today I was remarking to a co-worker that I discovered my least favorite “creative” color today: Bungee Cord. I can’t even remember what color it was, but really? A customer once corrected me on the color of a jacket I was showing him; it wasn’t Cumin. “In the army we called that Olive Drab.”

Lands End might also be a good place to check - I’ve never bought from them, but my mother has, and she’s appreciated their workmanship. It’s also something that they tout in their catalog and on their website (similar to LL Bean). I believe they have a 100% guarantee as well, but I’m not certain whether it goes as far as LL Bean’s or REI’s.

Since they’ve been bought by Sears, I’ve heard their quality has taken a hit, but I can’t speak to it either way. Their stuff is definitely workmanlike - there’s nothing fancy - but it’ll probably do fine for what you need it for.

I agree about Lands End. I like all the jackets I’ve gotten from them. I haven’t noticed a decline in quality since the Sears acquisition, but it may depend on what you buy, I suppose.

I don’t think their return policy is anything like the extreme of LL Bean. IME they are about average w/r/t returns. I do find them an easy company to do business with online.

Patagonia, North Face, Mountain Hardware and REI all make good stuff. REI has HUGE sales around March. I’m talking over 50% off on a wide variety of clothes.

TNF has changed from serious mountain wear to serious fashion wear. I like some of TNF’s stuff and I have several older pieces from a long time ago that have worn like iron, but I just laugh at some of the new stuff. There’s no way that a simple hoodie is EVER worth $60.

Same deal with Patagonia, although their casual stuff tends to wear very, very well like another company that I used to swear by and now swear at: Abercrombie and Fitch. Back before they became a cologne miasma that also sells shredded jeans I got a ton of things from them that haven’t as much as lost a fricking button in 15 years of regular use. I would kill for them to have to go back to their roots, but disenfecting the stores alone would cost into the billions.

Most of the new gear that I buy I go to Cabela’s because they also have a lifetime warrenty on anything with their name on it, and mostly they’ll take back anything else that fails under normal use with no questions asked.

This is really true, which made me not particularly interested in their stuff, but when I needed a jacket a couple month ago, they were on sale and I ended up with the most generic-looking jacket in the world. I now look like half the people walking around in Ann Arbor. But the jacket is actually pretty awesome. Despite being quite thin, it’s very warm and keeps out the rain, snow, and wind. I have yet to pull out my heavy winter coat. So I’m pleased with my purchase.

If I were actually hiking around somewhere, maybe I’d have a different opinion, though.

I concur with this post. I’d want Marmot or Arc’Teryx if I was stranded on a snowy peak in Nepal. But I can afford neither.

MEC (in Canada) and REI both have dependable goods and are often backed by some serious quality guarantees. My girlfriend took a cycling jacket back to MEC that she’d been wearing for three years. She just wanted to find out if she could get the busted zipper replaced, and they just gave her a new jacket. Again, after three years of heavy-duty wear.

North Face has gotten… “meh.” (IMHO). They seem to be designing and putting they’re goods together for the fashion-wearing crown, which is okay I guess, but now I look at their goods as if it’s designed for ski-bunnies that want to look good, rather than for adventurers who don’t want to die in the cold.

Columbia I still find dependable and a good buy for the price point. I’ve had a pair of winter boots for years that are still going strong despite snowshoeing and winter caving in them.

Never had any Eddie Bauer stuff.