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The Best Outdoor Clothing Brands of 2023, Tested by Outdoor Experts

Oct 28, 2023Oct 28, 2023

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For backcountry exploring, weekend camping, and everywhere in between.

LITTLE KNOWN fact: the North Face fleece jackets and Patagonia puffer jackets were keeping outdoorsman alive long before they were keeping suburbanites looking posh on their way to soccer practice. Of course good outdoor clothing will do both jobs equally well (which is half the reason we love it to begin with), but with so many outdoor clothing brands to choose from nowadays, it can be tough to separate the good stuff from the Amazon specials and Costco exclusives.

To that end, we've put together a list of our favorite outdoor clothing brands of all time. These are the outfitters we turn to when quality is paramount, be it for backcountry exploration, weekend camping trips, or just walking your dog around the neighborhood. Each of the brands we've listed below is a brand we've had outstanding firsthand experiences with. From uber-premium to budget-friendly, these are the outdoor clothing brands we use, trust, and recommend to friends and family whenever someone we know is looking to get outdoors themselves.

Best Clothing Brands for Men | Best Outdoor Gear | Best Sustainable Clothing Brands | Camping Essentials | Hiking Essentials

Our love affair with Patagonia is two-fold: On the one hand they make some of the best gear out there for just about every discipline from backpacking to fly fishing. On the other hand, they're one of the most environmentally conscious outdoor clothing brands on the planet, having donated 1% of their yearly profits to grassroots environmental nonprofits since 1985. Cozy Synchilla fleece, Baggies swim trunks, and Torrentshell rain jackets are a few of our favorite Patagonia pieces.

Read more: Best Sustainable Clothing Brands

Mountain Hardwear may be best known for their hardcore mountaineering gear like their Phantom sleeping bags and Trango tents, but they're also one of the most innovative outdoor clothing brands out there today. Their Ghostwhisperer series of ultralight down jackets is widely regarded as one of the best in the business, but we're also big fans of their Polartec fleece, bulletproof climbing pants, and buttery-soft sun hoodies.

Outdoor retailer REI Co-op is our brand of choice for value-priced outdoor gear of any description. The Co-op toes the line of durability, technicality, and design better than anyone else on the market, which translates to budget-friendly and high-quality clothing for the rest of us that still gets damn close to the best in the business. They're a great option for basics like hiking socks, base layers, and outerwear for anyone that's new to performance apparel or even those looking for solid technical pieces on a lighter budget. We recommend their Gore-Tex rainwear, Sahara hiking clothes, and Hyperaxis fleece.

Read more: Best Cheap Online Clothing Stores

Few outdoor brands have as much street cred as The North Face, which has been outfitting some of the most hardcore mountaineering expeditions on the planet for longer than most of us have been alive. They're best known for their trademark zippered fleece and stylish puffer jackets, but the brand also makes some of the best ski apparel, trail running shoes, and luggage on the planet.

While the outdoor brands above are known for producing everything from ski jackets to hiking shorts, Darn Tough only sells one product: Damn good merino wool socks. Darn Tough socks are our first choice for everything from hiking to trail running, and every pair comes with the brand's famous lifetime guarantee: If you ever manage to wear a pair out, they'll replace it, free of charge.

While we're on the topic of merino wool, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the folks at SmartWool, who make our favorite base layers out of this naturally moisture-wicking and odor-resistant fabric. There are countless brands out there nowadays making merino tops and bottoms, but we keep coming back to SmartWool for their outstanding fit and second-skin comfort.

Read more: Best Thermal Underwear for Men

If you're shopping for rock climbing gear, headlamps, or ski clothes, chances are a Black Diamond offering is high on your wishlist, but the company also makes all manner of active outdoor clothing. We highly recommend checking out their latest Coefficient LT hybrid hoodie if you're in the market for some active insulation, and we'll also give the nod to their outstanding line of winter gloves and moisture-wicking shirts.

Every Outdoor Research product we've tested over the years has been well-designed, high quality, and highly functional. OR makes everything from winter sports to summer casuals, but we're particularly fond of their Ferrosi line of hiking pants and shorts, their budget-friendly rain shells, and their lightweight and breathable Swift running hats.

Arc'teryx is widely acknowledged as the leader in highly technical outdoors wear, and there's good reason for that: Every single thing they make is uncompromisingly laser-focused on performance. The brand's Beta line of rain shells is hands-down the best in the business, and we're also big fans of their technical running clothing from shoes to ultralight and packable down jackets.

Read more: Best Ski Brands

Sitka is the first name in hunting gear here in the States, and they've earned their place at the top of countless hunter's wish lists. Their no-compromise take on hunting gear has stacked the Sitka catalog with impressively technical options for sportsmen, raising the bar for performance hunting gear with features like PrimaLoft Gold synthetic insulation, Gore-Tex waterproofing, and InsectShield mosquito protection.

Rab is an outdoor brand that often flies under the radar, which is a shame because they're great at what they do. We're particularly fond of their rain jackets and technical down pieces, and will also mention that Rab (along with a few select others like Mountain Hardwear) is one of the few brands taking advantage of Pertex fabric, which is one of the most effective and versatile materials we've ever used. If you're looking to experience the wonder of Pertex, give their competitively priced Downpour Plus 2.0 rainjacket a try on your next wet weather hike or backpacking trip.

Columbia is another favorite of ours for budget-friendly outdoor essentials, and they've got something for pretty much everyone including backpackers, sport fishermen, and snowboarders. We've found pretty much all of Columbia's clothing punches well above its price point in terms of durability and capability, and there's something to be said for outdoor clothing you're not scared to abuse because of the cost. Highlights of Columbia's lineup include their ever-popular sun-blocking Omni-Shade shirts, Silver Ridge convertible hiking pants, and the versatile and affordable Silver Falls insulated jacket.

Most folks know Prana for their premium line of yoga apparel, but we're actually bigger fans of their shirts, pants, and shorts. Prana doesn't make the most technical or lightweight gear on the market, but we've found all their stuff is built to last, which bodes well if you plan on wearing your gear both on and off the trail. We're particularly fond of their stretchy Zion II line of pants and shorts, which are super comfortable but also extremely durable and impressively versatile.

Freeport, Maine's LL Bean is arguably our favorite outdoor brand for casual outdoor gear. You won't find any industry-leading ultralight offerings in the Bean catalog, but between their legendary duck boots, blissfully cozy fleece-lined flannels, and iconic birdseye wool sweaters, they've got no shortage of heirloom quality options that work just as well around town as they do around a campfire.

For the no-nonsense adventurer, Helly Hansen is an eco-friendly pick for weatherproof jackets and pants. Take this rain jacket, which incorporates recycled ocean plastics into a stormproof three-layer design for combating the hardest wind and rain. It's cut to make room for helmets and backpacks, and there's tons of pocket space (with durable YKK zippers) to stash all your essential goods.

You've no doubt seen Fjallraven's trademark arctic fox logo out in the wild winking back at you from one of their popular backpacks. Those are great, but our obsession with the brand actually stems entirely from their unique G-1000 fabric, an utterly bulletproof cotton/polyester blend that's tough enough to last a lifetime and also happens to be impenetrable to UV rays and mosquito bites alike. Fjallraven's Keb Trousers are pound-for-pound the toughest pair of pants we've ever taken hiking, which also makes them a favorite for rough and tumble outdoor pursuits like dual sport motorcycle trips, hunting, and fishing.

Read more: Best Snowboard Brands

Kurt Spurlock is a seasoned outdoor writer with more than a decade of experience covering hiking, camping, and all-things outdoors. He's personally tested all of these brands that we've listed, and he's even gone to the headquarters for some of these labels to see how they're manufactured, so he can attest to their quality.

Kurt Spurlock is a commerce writer who specializes in outdoor gear and motorcycles. His work has been featured in Men's Journal, The Manual, and Bike EXIF.

As Men's Health's Deputy Editor, Commerce, Christian Gollayan oversees all shopping content on He relocated back to New York by way of Portland, where he was the Associate Managing Editor at Christian's work has also been featured in InStyle, Food & Wine, the New York Post, and Tatler Asia.

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LITTLE KNOWN Best Clothing Brands for Men | Best Outdoor Gear | Best Sustainable Clothing Brands | Camping Essentials | Hiking Essentials Read more: Best Sustainable Clothing Brands Read more: Best Cheap Online Clothing Stores Read more: Best Thermal Underwear for Men Read more: Best Ski Brands Read more: Best Snowboard Brands