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Columbia is a giant American sportswear company founded way back in 1938 and now based in Oregon. The brand's size, pricing, styling and mass appeal on both the streets, as well as the mountains, make it a similar brand to The North Face. It's probably not as popular in the UK as it is in the States (at the turn of the century it was biggest seller of ski clothing on the other side of the pond) but it's still a big player here, and its pricing makes it an affordable choice if you're looking for a brand that does what it says on the cover.

Columbia Company History

There aren't too many winter sports brands that started out as hat distributors - but Columbia Sportswear are one of them. The company began life as a family-owned hat distributor - started up by a German couple, Paul and Marie Lamfrom, who had fled the troubles of their homeland and emigrated to America. At the time, the company was known as the Columbia Hat Company, named after the nearby Columbia River. Having suffered problems with suppliers the company made the decision to start manufacturing their own products, rather than distributing those of other people and other companies, and this change eventually led to the Columbia Hat Company becoming Columbia Sportswear Company in 1960, as it branched out into other sporting products rather than just hats. Columbia became a publicly listed company on NASDAQ in 1998 and around this time it was considered to have the largest sales of ski clothing in North America. In 2003 Columbia bought the Mountain Hardwear brand.

Columbia Style

Colombia's skiwear is generally quite conservative and solid. You basically know what you're going to get from it - mainly basic colours and styling. I know we've made this comparison several times before, but even the styling of Columbia's gear is quite similar to that of The North Face.

Columbia - Performance

Ok, so the styling of Columbia's gear may not be as cool as Norrona, or as sharp as Peak Performance, but when it comes to performance it's a reasonably solid brand, decent materials and fabrics making a good honest product at an affordable price.

Columbia - Pricing

Given the huge size of the company and the widespread availability of its ski wear, its no surprise to see Columbia coming in the mid-range price bracket for it's snow sports gear. The prices are generally quite comparable to the other massive American outdoor brand The North Face, with many jackets around the 200 GBP mark.

Columbia - Stockists

Columbia clothing is available at the following Ski and Snow-sports Shops:

Columbia - Useful Links

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