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Columbia History

CELEBRATING 80 YEARS OF KEEPING YOU OUTDOORS CELEBRATING 80 YEARS OF KEEPING YOU OUTDOORS
We’ve been creating innovative outdoor gear and technologies since 1938.
It’s a good start.
People sitting on a rock.

Gert Boyle

1924 – 2019

Based in Portland, Oregon, Columbia Sportswear is a global outdoor brand that crafts active lifestyle gear fortified with industry-leading technologies and tested in our own backyard. Our apparel, footwear, and accessories reflect our Pacific Northwest heritage and indomitable spirit.

Image of Founder Gert Boyle with mountains in the background.

It all began in 1937 when Gert's parents fled Nazi Germany and settled in Portland where they purchased a small hat manufacturer, naming it the Columbia Hat Company. Signifying a fresh start for the family, the business eventually passed from Gert's father to her husband Neal and then to Gert herself in 1970 when she went from housewife to executive overnight after Neal's sudden passing.

Our founder Gert Boyle's “Tough Mother” persona lives on in the Columbia brand. Her legendary perfectionism (“It's perfect. Now make it better.”) and the high standards to which she held herself and others still guide us today.

At Columbia, we're as passionate about the outdoors as you are. And while our gear is available around the world, we're proud to be based in the Pacific Northwest where the lush forests, snow-covered mountains, rugged coastline, and wide-open spaces serve as our playground. This is where we hike, fish, hunt, camp, climb, shred, paddle, golf, run, and just enjoy the fresh air with friends.

We hope to see you out there. Way, way out there.

Historical Highlights

Omni-Heat 3D logo
2018: The next dimension of warmth is introduced with Omni-Heat™ 3D, our latest thermal-reflective technology with advanced heat retention and soft next-to-skin feel.
A picture of a skier
2018: Proud outfitter and sponsor of the world’s toughest freestyle ski teams (including the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and Ukraine) at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
OutDry Extreme
2017: Columbia launches a revolutionary line of high-quality, eco-conscious gear built for maximum outdoor performance and minimal environmental impact. .
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 our 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 Founder, Gert Boyle at her desk, dressed in pink, but still looking tough.
2005: Founder 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.