Founded in 1938, Columbia Sportswear makes apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment that have earned a reputation for innovation, quality and performance. No matter what you’re outdoor adventures or travel plans entail, Columbia offers comfortable, durable styles with innovative technologies to keep you warm, dry, cool and protected. They include: Performance Fishing Gear (PFG), winter jackets and boots, rain jackets, hiking shoes and clothes, baselayers and fleece.
However, Columbia’s reputation as an innovative company with quality products didn’t come overnight—rather, it came from overseas.
Let’s set the scene: The year is 1937, and Paul and Marie Lamfrom have left Germany for Portland, Oregon. In a year’s time they’ll have purchased a small business and transformed it into Columbia Hat Company, named after the river that runs through the city. And like that river, Columbia Sportswear will flow to the far reaches of the United States and beyond, paving the way for an outerwear revolution.
Since their humble beginnings, Columbia has gone through a few changes. But after 70 years, who hasn’t?
As you’ve probably guessed, it didn’t take Columbia long to start selling more than just hats—their extensive catalogue offers apparel, footwear and accessories for a wide variety of outdoor activities. From skiers gliding through fresh powder to anglers fishing down rivers, Columbia has the right gear for all your outdoor adventures.
One of the most innovative decisions the company made was Columbia’s decision to independently develop all their technology. While this choice was initially made following difficulties with their vendors, Columbia’s move to independent manufacturing is what helped spur their future success. They shook up the ski industry with the Bugaboo Parka in 1986, and haven’t stopped creating since.
Gert Boyle and her son Tim took over the company in 1970, serving as the Chairman and CEO, respectively. They still hold these posts today. In fact, in the 80’s, they even starred in their own advertisements for Columbia.
Calling All Explorers
At any given moment, somewhere in the world, there’s an explorer clad in Columbia clothing who is shimmying up an exposed rock face, navigating a tough section of whitewater in a Class V rapid, or traipsing across a wildflower-filled meadow. Columbia gear runs the gamut from heavy-duty insulated down jackets to rain gear, fleeces, hats, duffel bags, durable footwear, and much more.
In 1986, the company released the Bugaboo Parka, featuring the brand’s groundbreaking Interchange System—a patented technique which combines an outershell and inner jacket to create a three-in-one coat. The Bugaboo was a smashing success with downhill skiers. More recently, Columbia pioneered Omni-Dry, Omni-Freeze ZERO, Omni-Heat, and Omni-Shade technologies. Using these innovations, many of their products help the body stay dry, cool off, retain heat, and protect skin from harsh UV rays.
Homemade. From Scratch. Handcrafted. Homegrown.
You get the idea.
From the Bugaboo Parka in 1986 to the Omni-Freeze ZERO in 2013, Columbia’s reputation as an innovator can be experienced through their top-notch products. Here are some of the technologies they use to make it happen.
What is it?
Omni-Heat Reflective provides a breathable, wicking layer that regulates your body temperature by reflecting little silver dots back to your skin.