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Columbia History

“IT'S PERFECT, NOW MAKE IT BETTER.”

This is the directive given by our very own tough mother, Chairman Gert Boyle. It’s the reason we’re constantly testing our products against every type of terrible, no good, day-ruining condition the skies of the mighty Pacific Northwest can dish out. Sure, it makes life hell for us, but it means great gear for you. So when she finally does use her famous stamp of approval, you know you’re duly equipped to stay outside long after the featherweights have retreated indoors.

Tested Tough Stamp

A TESTED TOUGH HISTORY

Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Columbia Sportswear Company has been making gear so that Pacific Northwesterners can enjoy the outdoors for more than 70 years. At the helm for over 40 years has been our Chairman, Gert Boyle. Her Tough Mother persona has grown Columbia into the global sportswear company that it is today—still based in Portland, still making no-nonsense apparel and footwear to keep you WARM, DRY, COOL and PROTECTED no matter what. Our unique Pacific Northwest heritage and Boyle family irreverence is what sets us apart from the competition.

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We're a family business gone global. Chairman Gert Boyle's parents — German nationals who fled Nazi Germany in 1938 — purchased a small hat company upon their arrival in Portland and named it Columbia Hat Company, after the river that inspired their new home. This humble beginning was of huge significance to the family, marking new found freedom and a fresh start. Her husband later took over, and after he died Gert ran the show, going from housewife to executive overnight. Today, her son Tim Boyle is our longtime president and CEO. The family — like our business — has experienced its ups and downs, but enjoying the outdoors together has always been integral to its success.

Columbia is made up of real people who are as passionate about the outdoors as you are. And, while our products are available around the world, we're based in the great Pacific Northwest, where majestic forests frame volcanic mountains and a rugged coast. This is where we hike, ride, fish, hunt, climb, camp, golf, paddle, run, and just enjoy fresh air with friends. Come join us.

Historical Highlights

A man and woman in backpacks are traveling in the tropics.
2016: Columbia wins TripAdvisor’s audience-voted Travelers’ Choice Award for travel apparel.
Two hikers wearing OutDry Extreme rain shells in a rain forest.
2016: OutDry Extreme flips rainwear inside out for the ultimate in waterproof breathability. It’s the first-ever raingear with a waterproof layer on the outside and a soft, wicking layer inside.
A couple sit stranded on a ski lift at night in the winter.
2015: Columbia Sportswear unveils “Tested Tough,” as its new, global brand platform.
A freestyle skier is in mid-air and is performing tricks.
2014: Proud sponsors of the U.S., Canadian and Russian Freestyle Ski Teams at Sochi.
A red, super-warm, TurboDown jacket.
2014: TurboDown™ technology fuses Omni-Heat™ synthetic insulation with natural down.
A man wearing an Omni-Freeze ZERO shirt is training on a hot, summer day.
2013: Omni-Freeze ZERO wins National Geographic Adventure’s Gear of the year award.
An alpine skier is carving it up on a crisp, bluebird day on the mountain.
2010: Omni-Heat Reflective is introduced, little silver dots that reflect body heat.
Our Chairman, Gert Boyle at her desk, dressed in pink, but still looking tough.
2005: Chairman Gert Boyle publishes her autobiography, One Tough Mother.
Two fisherman fish for bass.
1996: Performance Fishing Gear, or PFG for short, is introduced.
Tim Boyle is pictured holding the first Bugaboo Parka in 1986.
1986: The first Bugaboo™ parka is born, revolutionizing the way alpine skiers dress.
Some of our first employees are pictured making hats back in 1938.
1938: Columbia Hat Company founded in Portland, Oregon.