With warm weather finally settling in on most of the planet, outdoor enthusiasts are gearing up for a new season of hiking and other adventures. And to gear up properly, it could be useful to run through a list of the best outdoor gear and clothing companies.
So, who makes the best outdoor clothing for backpackers? And what are the best clothing brands for hiking? These are the questions we will be looking into in this post.
There are quite a few names on our list — and we are going to cover not only clothing but also hiking and backpacking accessories, climbing gear and a bit of tech. So, let’s get started.
What Are the Best Outdoor Brands in 2021?
Let’s start by saying that there are a lot of high-quality gear brands for hikers. And your choice of the top outdoor clothing may be quite different from ours. Our list is by no means exhaustive, and it would be simply impossible to mention all great companies making expert gear. So, in today’s post, we’ve covered some of the best-known names in the industry and their latest products that enjoy the most popularity.
Best known for: sports watches and navigation equipment.
It’s impossible to talk about outdoor gear without mentioning Garmin. While the company doesn’t make apparel or backpacking accessories, it does create exceptional handheld GPS devices and watches for outdoor adventures. The company’s handheld GPS devices use advanced technologies like WAAS and Hotfix and also support the GLONASS satellite system in addition to GPS.
Another area where the company excels is route planning software. In fact, back in 2017, Garmin released the first-ever GPS watch that featured topographic map support — the Garmin Fenix 5.
Garmin’s best-selling devices for hikers and backpackers include the Garmin Fenix 6 GPS watch, Garmin GPSMAP 64st Handheld GPS device and Garmin eTrex 30x Handheld GPS device.
Best known for: insulated clothing, sleeping bags and shelters.
Mountain Hardwear is an American brand operating since 1993. The company makes not only quality clothing for hiking and backpacking adventures but also other outdoor essentials, like sleeping bags and tents.
Mountain Hardwear was founded by a small group of outdoor enthusiasts with a strong focus on high-quality apparel that could withstand tough outdoor conditions and meet all the demands of outdoor sports.
Today, the company uses advanced technology to create lightweight and high-performing products for the outdoors. It is particularly known for developing its own unique insulation materials, which are known as the Thermal.Q Elite and Q.Shield Down and used in its sports jackets and sleeping bags. Products made with these materials feature a superb warmth-to-weight ratio and are capable of retaining warmth even when exposed to moisture. What’s more, Mountain Hardwear’s rain clothing is made using the brand’s signature Dry.Q fabric, which is one of the best waterproof materials around.
Some of the brand’s best-selling items include the Ghost Whisperer down jacket, Monkey Man fleece jacket and the Stretch Ozonic rain jacket.
Best known for: clothing with insulation layers, bivy sacks.
Outdoor Research was founded in 1981 in Washington, USA. The company makes top-notch clothing for those who love outdoor activities and shelter items like bivy sacks.
Unlike Mountain Hardware, Outdoor Research generally doesn’t develop its own insulation materials for its clothing. There is a small line of top-tier products where the brand does use its own waterproof/breathable material (3-layer Ascent Shell) — but it’s not used elsewhere. However, Outdoor Research uses first-class materials from leading manufacturers (like Gore-Tex and Polartec) for most of its apparel.
The brand is best known for high-quality rainwear: its products offer great weather protection while remaining lightweight and very breathable.
The company’s best-selling products include the Helium II rain jacket, Ferrosi softshell jacket, Crocodile gaiters, and Alpine bivy sack.
Best known for: Merino wool clothing, basic apparel.
Icebreaker was founded in New Zealand in 1994 and was the first to introduce Merino wool to outdoor clothing. The material proved to be exceptionally breathable, odor-resistant and comfortable to wear. Since then, Icebreaker has developed a full line of Merino products for outdoor enthusiasts. The company has also found very effective ways to mitigate the disadvantages of using wool in outdoor apparel (lower durability and longer drying times) by adding a small percentage of nylon. The brand is especially known for its extensive collection of base layers like socks and underwear.
Some of Icebreaker’s best-selling items include the Oasis base layer, Tech t-shirt and Anatomica Boxers.
Best known for: clothing, packs, footwear, and technical equipment.
Arc'teryx is a Canadian brand going back to 1991, and it has some of the widest outdoor product ranges out there. The company makes clothing, footwear, packs, and technical equipment, like climbing harnesses and ropes.
However, today, the brand is best known for making high-quality athletic clothing for the great outdoors. Arc'teryx has a line of hardshells, all featuring Gore-Tex premium waterproof technologies. The label’s insulated jackets use high-quality Coreloft synthetic insulation or combinations of down insulation and Coreloft insulation. The company also makes quality backpacks, boots and professional climbing gear.
The brand’s best-selling products include the Beta AR rain jacket, Gamma LT softshell jacket and Cerium LT hoody.
Best known for: clothing, backpacks and sleeping bags
Montane is a UK company that has gained popularity by making highly functional and lightweight outdoor clothing. All of the company’s rain jackets are made with either Gore-Tex or Pertex Shield technology. There is also an extensive line of light windshells with good protection that are ideal for hiking. The brand’s fleece jackets are made with Polartec fleece, and its insulated jackets use premium synthetic insulation like Primaloft and Polartec Alpha.
The label also has a nice selection of base layers made with Primino material, which is a mixture of Merino wool and Primaloft. This material has all the advantages of Merino wool but is more durable and also dries faster.
In addition to clothing, Montane also makes quality sleeping bags and simple lightweight packs.
Montane’s best-selling items include the Minimus rain jacket, Featherlite down jacket and Terra pants.
Best known for: backpacks
Osprey is an American brand that has been making quality backpacks since 1974. In over four decades on the market, the company has dedicated a lot of time and research to innovating its materials and designs. The result is the appearance of high-quality backpacks that are loved and appreciated by all types of outdoor enthusiasts, from occasional hikers and backpackers to professional mountaineers.
The brand’s backpacks are renowned for being super durable and exceptionally lightweight. They are also really comfortable to wear and feature very functional designs with strategically placed pockets and zippers. The company has even patented several attachment systems, like the Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole attachment system and the LidLock helmet attachment system.
Osprey backpacks also come with well-thought-out back panels that offer extra wear comfort and good ventilation thanks to the suspended mesh system.
Some of the company’s best-selling backpacks include the Aether line and the Talon line.
Best known for: hiking and mountaineering boots
Lowa is a German brand dating all the way back to 1923. It’s a rather small company that produces one thing and one thing only — footwear — and it does it exceptionally well.
Lowa offers a wide range of footwear, from lightweight hiking shoes to technical boots for professional climbers conquering the highest peaks.
What makes Lowa’s footwear special is that all its shoes and boots are made with signature polyurethane midsoles. This makes the company’s footwear more durable and resistant to harsh outdoor environments. What’s more, Lowa’s boots are made with expert precision and are crafted with sophisticated materials like Gore-Tex and using the latest technological developments in the industry.
Some of the company’s best-selling collections include the Renegade line and the Innox line.
Best known for: technical equipment, shelters and accessories.
Black Diamond was founded in 1989 in Utah, USA and became well-known for making professional climbing equipment. Since then, the brand has expanded its product line to hiking and backpacking gear and is currently one of the most known and respected outdoor brands.
Black Diamond uses high-quality materials for its apparel, like Polartec fleece, Gore-Tex and Schoeller softshell fabric. However, clothing is not the brand’s main specialty. Black Diamond excels at making technical equipment for hiking and backpacking, like shelters and accessories. It also makes expert climbing harnesses, helmets, crampons, ice axes, and via ferrata sets. Headlamps and trekking poles by Black Diamond are well-known among hikers and backpackers, and the brand’s sleeping bags are specifically designed for mountaineering.
Some of Black Diamond’s best-selling items are the Half Dome helmet, Storm headlamp and Trail Ergo trekking poles.
Best known for: climbing and mountaineering equipment, headlamps.
Petzl is a French label launched back in 1975 as a manufacturer of caving equipment. Since then, the company has expanded into making climbing and mountaineering gear, and this is what it is mostly known for today.
These days, you can turn to Petzl for sophisticated helmets, climbing harnesses, ice axes, crampons, and all sorts of other climbing equipment.
The brand is also known for making professional headlamps that employ advanced technologies like reactive and constant lighting.
Some of Petzl’s best-selling products include the Reactik headlamp, Summit EVO ice axe and Leopard FL crampons.
And there you have it. We hope that this post has been useful and that you’ve been able to find a few new ideas for gearing up for this season’s outdoor adventures.