The outdoor clothing and outdoor equipment market is massive and it is no surprise. All the best outdoor brands know that we are keen to get outside in nature and explore.
With so many outdoor clothing brands out there for you to choose from – what are the best ones to choose from?
I’ve compiled a handy and informative guide of the best outdoor brands with a brief look at their history, some of the popular items in their range, and why they’re on the list. Oh, and they are in no particular order of preference.
Note that this list will be improved over time to include all the outdoor companies that I have used in reviews on this site. Updated January 2023.
Table of Contents
- Best Outdoor Brands 2023
- Mountain Hardwear
- Black Diamond Equipment
- Columbia Sportswear
- Outdoor Research
- Sea To Summit
- Feathered Friends
- Six Moons Designs
- Z Packs
- Hyperlite Mountain Gear
- Enlightened Equipment
- Big Agnes
- Bedrock Sandals
- Xero Shoes
- BikeHikeSafari Gear Review Process
Best Outdoor Brands 2023
Mountain Hardwear has been going since 1993 and was founded by outdoor enthusiasts and industry visionaries. They understood the need for outdoor gear and clothing in a changing market and understood that customers needed simplified language for their products, rather than industry jargon.
They make high-quality gear and are highly rated. I’ve used many of their items over the years.
Mountain Harwear is owned by Columbia Sportswear which owns other well-known brands such as PrAna and Sorel.
Mountain Hardwear best products are:
Black Diamond Equipment
Salt Lake City, Utah
Black Diamond has been going for quite some time, in fact since 1957! From its humble beginnings, it thrived into a specialist business that prides itself on creating clothing and accessories for sports enthusiasts including skiers and mountain climbers!
It had a crazy start though. The founder of Patagonia (more on them later) started a new specialist company dedicated specifically for climbing gear – this was called Chouinard Equipment. Things didn’t quite pan out and they filed for bankruptcy. The following year, Black Diamond Equipment rose!
The original focus on climbing gear continued but the additional move to skiing was wise and has stayed that way ever since 2013. It seems Black Diamond Equipment are moving with the market demand of outdoor gear and their range of outdoor gear is increasing every year.
Black Diamond is owned by Clarus Corporation which also owns brands such as Rhino Rack.
Black Diamond’s best products are:
Told you there was more on Patagonia! The founder we mentioned, Yvon Chouinard, started climbing as young as 14 as a member of a falconry club. From there, his love of climbing was born.
He taught himself how to blacksmith and before he knew it, was in business! By the 1960s, he and his new partner Tom Frost began redesigning climbing equipment and tools to make them stronger, more durable and overall better.
A decade or so later, they were the biggest climbing hardware supplier in the United States. They continued to move with the times and were always conscious of the environment – which has continued to this day. Reinventing pitons as the originals were damaging rocks and harming the environment.
Their vision for the environment and sustainability is at the heart of Patagonia so they try to source recycled materials and offer a service that repairs customers’ torn climbing clothing. They also sell used clothing to reduce waste by offering a trade-in service.
Patagonia is privately owned.
Patagonia best products are:
North Vancouver, Canada
Founded by Canadian climbers in 1989, they’ve continued using experts in the field to help them move their products along and design them with care and attention to their purpose.
Speaking of which, Arc’teryx’s goal is always to innovate and adapt to create complete environmental immersion, regardless of what the weather conditions are. Their clothing and equipment is designed for all situations, and you can be sure you’re getting the best you can possibly ask for.
They use high quality and premium materials and always have a keen eye for detail to ensure that customers can trust what they’re buying. They go through rigorous quality control to confirm safety and make sure that you’re protected when bearing outdoors.
They are owned by the Chinese Corporation Anta Sports which also owns Salomon and Suunto.
Arc’teryx best products are:
Rohnert Park, California.
Marmot’s origins started with a club. An amalgamation of climbers, campers and skiers from University. Their values have always been centered around the love of the outdoors. From the 1970s, they have gone from prototype gear to the real thing and they’re still going strong today!
They’ve pioneered some of the most recognizable outdoor gear that we’re sure you’ve heard of, and have won awards along the way! They want everybody who loves the outdoors to get the best and most comfortable experience they could hope for – body and soul as one when it comes to heading out there!
They are owned by Fortune 500 company Newell Brands which owns many well-known brands in multiple categories. They own a couple of other outdoor brands including Coleman and Exofficio.
Marmot best products are:
Columbia has been trading for over 80 years and has a mission to get across to their customers. They believe in the toughness of clothing and of the people that wear it, competitiveness, outdoor activity, and general fitness, and being open and transparent to their customers.
Their Silver Ridge line of lightweight clothing is very impressive.
Columbia Sportswear also owns several other well know outdoor brands such as Mountain Hardwear, prAna, and Sorel.
Columbia best products are:
Garmin makes products specifically for the outdoors – they really live their life on the outside! Arguably the forefront of GPS technology, you will find that you’ll definitely need a Garmin when making the plunge to go out in the wilderness!
When looking for anything related to outdoor watches, GPS devices or Satellite Messengers than Garmin is usually the go to brand.
Garmin is a large billion-dollar company that owns several other GPS navigation companies.
Garmin best products are:
Coros started in 2016 with a Kickstarter campaign to fund a high tech cycling helmet. In 2018 they released their first GPS watch and now make some of the best GPS Watches on the market.
Coros is privately owned
Coros Best Products:
Kent, Washington USA
Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) has been around since the 1930s. They are one of the largest outdoor retailers in the world and believe in having a life outdoors and the importance of experiencing nature. They cater to newbies in the field and seasoned customers who know what they want!
They sell most of the best outdoor gear in the world but also manufacture their own products which are usually lower cost than the premium brands.
REIs ownership model is member-based. REI Co-Op requires the purchase of a membership to buy anything. The membership also entitles the owner to a vote in board elections and they also may receive a dividend.
REI best products are:
Fjällrävena land is full of potential adventure and outdoor exploration. With huge mountains and strong waves at the sea, Swedish adventurers have been lucky enough to have Fjällräven at their front door.
Fjällräven makes some of the gear that is suited to cold and windy weather. With their pants being world-class. And their Kanken backpacks which come in almost every color are a fashion statement for all the cool people.
Fjällräven is owned by Fenix Outdoor which also owns outdoor brands such as Primus, Royal Robbins, Hanwag, Brunton, and more.
Fjällräven best products are:
With humble beginnings from a garage in California, PrAna has grown into a huge activity and outdoor provider. They’re high quality and look amazing! Great for casual wear and tough hiking.
They make the best shorts and pants in the market which are a personal favorite of mine and many other outdoor lovers.
PrAna is owned by Columbia Sportswear which also owns several other well-known outdoor brands such as Mountain Hardwear and Sorel.
PrAna best products are:
Started by a nuclear physicist who suffered at the unforgiving elements – Ron Gregg began manufacturing clothing that would help others if they were ever stuck in the same position as he was.
Outdoor Research is a privately owned company.
Outdoor Research best products are:
Born in the Wasatch Mountains, Kuhl has evolved right from the wilderness and continues to live like that. Experiencing all of the frightening results that the outdoors can offer – Kuhl understands what the consumer needs if they’re planning to visit these elements!
Kuhl is privately owned.
Kuhl best products are:
Sea To Summit
An Australian company that knows what it’s talking about when it comes to living as one with the outdoors. They’re inspired by the beauty of their surroundings – and who can blame them when they’re living in a backpackers’ paradise!
Sea to Summit is privately owned.
Sea to Summit best products are:
Peter and Carol Hicker started this company in the 1970s in Seattle and fell in love with making handmade outdoor gear. They’ve prided themselves on long-lasting and durable products and have had some amazing reviews and success!
Feathered Friends is privately owned.
Feathered Friends best products are:
Six Moons Designs
Six Moons Designs has a solid philosophy when it comes to outdoor gear. They want lightweight stuff with long lasting durability.
They have a strong customer ethic and want everybody who does business with them to be happy with their products. They specialize more in protection, like shelters and umbrellas – but you can always look and find something you’ll love!
Six Moon Designs is privately owned.
Six Moon Designs best products are:
Started by a keen hiker in 2004 called Joe Valesko – he was about to embark on the famous Appalachian Trail when he realized that the gear he needed and wanted – simply wasn’t available.
Starting to change that from his apartment – the company has grown and expanded to what it is today. Offering quality backpacks with a strong material and great base weight, perfect for any hiker!
Zpacks is privately owned.
ZPacks best products are:
Hyperlite Mountain Gear
Founded in 2010 by Mike St.Pierre in Maine, Hyperlite Mountain Gear started in a similar way to many other niche outdoor sites. A need to make better gear than what was available.
After years of testing and innovating, they produce some of the best lightweight tents and backpacks on the market.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear is privately owned.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Best Products:
Tim Marshall founded the company with the goal to grow. He made high-quality quilts that keep you warm. Warmth is the key!
They’ve now developed and worked to make products that will help people wherever they go all over the world. A great place to look for a high-quality backpacking quilts!
Enlightened Equipment is privately owned.
Enlightened Equipment best products are:
More than two decades of experience, Big Agnes has strived to create some of the best in outdoor gear. Coming from a ski town in Colorado, they understand the challenges that the outdoorsman faces.
Big Agnes is privately owned.
Big Agnes best products are:
Founded in 2003, Keen have grown exponentially since their inception and have always had their pulse on the shoe market.
With the very first shoe they put into production being the Newport sandal, it’s impressive to still see it being sold after 18 years, even with the revisions and adjustments it’s certain to have gone through.
Their hiking sandals, lightweight hiking boots and lightweight hiking shoe are loved by people with wider feet who return again and again as repeat customers.
Keen is privately owned.
Keen best products are:
The story of this sandal distributor is a strange one, starting in California in 2011. The first pair of Bedrock sandals were handmade by friends when working river conservation jobs.
10 years have passed since and the company has grown immensely with the Cairn sandal forming the bedrock of their operation.
Bedrock Sandals is privately owned.
Bedrock Sandals best products are:
A UK based brand that has had a hand in the shoe market for many years and has always praised a natural approach to footwear and life in general, while maintaining comfort at the highest level.
Xero Shoes are privately owned.
Xero Shoes best products are:
Chaco have championed practical sandals since their inception in 1989 and have been a solid influence on the market ever since.
Chaco is owned by Wolverine Worldwide which is owns brands such as Merrell, Saucony and many more.
Chaco best products are:
Merrell has always been about hiking shoes. Surprisingly though, it was started by two ski company executives and, with the help of a prominent shoemaker, they launched the high performance but affordable ‘Moab’.
Merrell is owned by Wolverine Worldwide which is owns brands such as Chaco, Saucony, and many more.
Merrell best products are:
Vasque has been around since 1965. They make some of the best hiking boots and shoes that you can buy. Whether you are hiking in summer or winter they have a boot that will suit you. I’m a big fan of Vasque Boots and have used and tested about 8 models and styles over the years. I used them on the Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail.
Vasque is owned by the Red Wing Shoe Company.
Vasque Best Products:
Osprey is a well known entity for those experienced with outdoor sports. Having been around since 1974, Osprey has provided quality travel gear and backpacks for generations and continues to do so to this day.
Osprey is owned by Helen of Troy which also owns brands such as Hydroflask, Braun, Honeywell and many more.
Osprey best products are:
Platypus is a company that creates one group of products: hydration and water filtration products.
Platypus is owned by Cascade Designs which also owns MSR, Therm-a-Rest, PackTowl and Seal Line
Platypus best products are:
A company focused on hydration products for competitive athletes, Camelbak has risen since it was started by bicycling enthusiast, Michael Eidson, in 1989.
Known as one of the first proprietors of hydration bladders, they have solid experience and the knowledge to produce high-quality products.
Camelbak is owned by Vista Outdoors which also owns Bushnell, Giro, Fox, Remington, Bell and more.
Camelbak best products are:
Founded in 1973 in Christchurch New Zealand and is still based in New Zealand. They have grown into one of the largest retailers and manufacturers of quality outdoor gear in Australia and New Zealand
Macpac is owned by Super Retail Group which also owns brands such as Rebel, BCF, and Supercheap Auto.
Macpac best products are:
Rab was founded in the early 1980s by a British climber and focuses on producing exceptional clothing and equipment for mountaineering and climbing.
Rab is owned by Equip Outdoor Technologies UK which also owns Lowe Alpine.
RAB best products are:
BikeHikeSafari Gear Review Process
The author, Brad McCartney from BikeHikeSafari is a small independent adventurer and outdoor gear tester who owns and runs BikeHikeSafari.com.
BikeHikeSafari is not part of a large blog network and is proudly independent. All reviews on this site are independent and honest gear reviews of outdoor products by the author.
The author, Brad McCartney is a very experienced triple crown thru-hiker, adventurer, and bike tourer having spent 1000s of nights sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag (Read more). He was a manager of an outdoor retail store and is very experienced in what is important when using and testing gear for reviews like this.
BikeHikeSafari will never receive any money for reviews and they do not accept sponsored reviews on this website. All the comments about the gear reviews are from the author based on his years of experience. Hope this independent review was helpful for you.