In the premium outdoor gear scene, perhaps no two brands are as celebrated as Arc’teryx and Canada Goose. In many ways, each of them shares a common history: Both were born in Canada; both have risen to international acclaim; both straddle the frontier of style and performance.
Similarities aside, what differentiates one brand from the other? Which brand promises greater value? And, most importantly, which brand should be your next wardrobe staple? In this Battle of the Brands, we take an in-depth look to help you decide which is right for you.
Canada Goose Overview
A Brief History
An Icon Is Born
Founded in 1957 by Sam Tick in a small Toronto warehouse, Canada Goose began its life as Metro Sportswear. From the beginning, Metro Sportswear was committed to the design and manufacture of rugged Arctic gear. Though today Canada Goose is known for their steep price tags, the brand was first engineered for the Canadian working class; specifically, the labourers and mountaineers of the Far North.
In fact, by the 1980’s, the infamous Expedition Parka had quite literally become the uniform worn by workers of Antarctica’s McMurdo Station. The standard-issue jacket was affectionately referred to as “Big Red” for its striking colorway. Then, in 1982, the first Canada Goose jacket summited Mt. Everest on the back of the first Canadian to do the same.
From the Mountains to the Runway
Fast-forward to 2001 and Dani Reiss—son of David Reiss and grandson of Sam Tick—steps in as CEO and third family heir of Canada Goose. Under his guidance, the brand pivots from simply being a leader in rugged outerwear to becoming a leader in luxury outerwear. But what factors led to this paradigm shift?
Under Reiss, the brand finally hopped across the pond from Toronto to Stockholm. It wasn’t long before the rest of the continent jumped on the bandwagon. With strongholds in both Canada and Europe, Reiss set their sights on the American market.
By 2004, the brand had become the uniform of a new demographic: film crews. From here the transition from behind the lens to in front of it was only a matter of time. Canada Goose made its true Hollywood debut on the back of Nicholas Cage in the laughable cult classic, National Treasure.
The brand strategically sponsored cold-weather film festivals, including Sundance and the Berlin Film Festival. In 2013, model Kate Upton appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, draped in a Canada Goose Parka (and not much else).
Canada Goose has had its fair share of good market timing. In the early-2000s, the nouveau riche had begun to redefine luxury in a way that elevated function over form. Canada Goose wasn’t just a fancy name; it was a promise of exceptional craftsmanship and lifestyle enhancement.
As the company continued to scale rapidly, they needed a capital injection. That’s when Reiss sold the majority of his shares to the American private investment firm, Bain Capital. This enabled Canada Goose to boost production across Toronto and Winnipeg.
In 2016, still riding their tidal wave of mainstream success, Canada Goose opened its flagship store in Toronto, in addition to a second location in New York City. A year later, they went public.
Today, the company is still recovering from market losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, they’re still going strong. And, if the past is any indicator of the future, we can expect new and exciting things from the iconic brand just beyond the horizon.
Social Responsibility & Sustainability
Good business savvy and meteoric success aside, what does the ethical landscape at Canada Goose look like?
For over 20 years, the Conservation Alliance has been defending natural areas across North America, donating millions of dollars to various environmental movements. Already backed by the support of over 170 companies, Canada Goose became the first Canadian outerwear brand to join the Alliance.
Polar Bear International
Canada Goose is a Platinum supporter of Polar Bears International (PBI). PBI is a non-profit organization devoted to the conservation of polar bears and their habitats across the globe. They also sponsor research and education initiatives on the subject.
Down Transparency Standard and PETA Controversy
One ethical issue to plague the outdoor gear industry is the lack of third-party watch dogs. As a result, much of what we’re told concerning animal welfare must be taken on faith. This set the stage for the controversy which erupted over Canada Goose’s Down Transparency Standard (DTS)—an in-house protocol with no external oversight.
Without going into detail, PETA had uncovered evidence to suggest ethical violations at the facility of one of CG’s down providers. Similar allegations have been made against the brand regarding the notoriously lenient coyote trapping practices of Wyoming and Alaska, which is how they obtain the fur for their ruffs.
Nevertheless, the brand seems to have taken these accusations seriously. In 2019, Canada Goose began their transition from their proprietary DTS to the independent and internationally recognized Responsible Down Standard (RDS). RDS is the same watchdog that certifies the down in Arc’teryx garments.
Flagship Product: Expedition Parka
Brand Name | Product Type
Without a doubt, the Expedition Parka is the most iconic garment in the Canada Goose lineup. It is the jacket worn by scientists working in Antarctica’s McMurdo Station. Boasting a Thermal Experience Index Rating (TEI) of 5, it’s certified for temperatures of -30° and below. For that reason, it goes beyond the call of duty for all your urban day-to-day needs.
The Expedition Parka reaches about mid-thigh and has a relaxed fit. This provides you with plenty of room to layer without feeling restricted. Inside, you get 625 fill-power white duck down. A removable ruff of wild coyote fur encircles the hood; the uneven fibre lengths provide your face with a barrier against biting winds. A fleece-lined chin guard offers protection from chaffing.
This Parka is particularly generous with pockets: 4 large hand-warmer pockets can be found on the outside of the jacket, with an additional utility pocket on the left sleeve and flap pocket on the right sleeve. Internally, one zip pocket and one drop-in pocket both invite you to keep your essentials close and toasty.
A Brief History
Despite being substantially younger than Canada Goose, Arc’teryx is still old enough to be considered a veteran of the outerwear world. The company was originally founded in 1989 under the name Rock Solid, rebranding to Arc’teryx two years later.
Arc’teryx is a contraction of Archaeopteryx, the oldest known bird fossil. As a name it cements the brand’s two leading ideals: Posterity and ingenuity. Their logo, a stencilled version of the bird, proudly adorns each garment.
Up until the mid-90s Arc’teryx focused on producing gear for rock climbers. All this changed on the heels of their GORE-TEX partnership. This savvy business move sparked an innovative shift in their product line. With the technology to create weather-resistant backpacks and jackets, Arc’teryx widened their demographic scope.
Like Canada Goose, Arc’teryx has managed to straddle the line between performance power and fashion force. Whether you’re braving the high mountain winds or strutting down the boulevard to an after-party, Arc’teryx won’t disappoint.
Social Responsibility & Sustainability
Arc’teryx products are bluesign approved. This means that the environmental, health, and safety impacts due to manufacturing are minimized. Moreover, Arc’teryx has been a long-time supporter of ESG policies. These policies encourage positive change in environmental, social, and governance best practices. In other words, reducing pollutants, empowering the workforce, and keeping the upper crust in check.
Almost all Arc’teryx products are made in Far East countries like Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, and Vietnam. Despite this, the participating factories are held to high standards regarding fair pay and workers’ rights. If any violation is noted during a third-party inspection, the partnership is subject to immediate termination.
The brand’s flagship Alpha SV jacket continues to be made in Canada, at their ARC’One headquarters in New Westminster, British Columbia.
TOP PRODUCT: THE ALPHA SV JACKET
Brand Name | Product Type
Since 1998, the Alpha SV jacket has been the Arc’teryx mascot; it embodies everything fans love about the brand, from function to form. Moreover, it continues to see improvements year-over-year (think posterity and ingenuity!).
In contrast to CG’s Expedition Parka, the Alpha SV is an uninsulated hardshell. In other words, it’s built for breathability, durability, and weather resistance—not for great polar adventures. Nevertheless, it does exactly what it sets out to do.
Interested in learning more about the Alpha SV? Check out our complete Alpha SV Review.
Comparaison de Canada Goose et Arc’teryx
Let’s see how our two brands stack up across the following five categories.
Many Canada Goose garments employ a proprietary face fabric called Arctic Tech. This material is known for its water-resistance, warmth, and impressive durability. Between this, the reinforced stitching, and military buttons, CG products are built for longevity. Of note, their warranty covers all material/manufacturing defects for the product’s lifetime.
Arc’teryx is also known for their impressive durability. A ripstop backing is often used in conjunction with a GORE TEX face. Additionally, each garment is put through some serious R&D—both in the field and in the lab.
Both Canada Goose and Arc’teryx are leaders in technical performance. Each brand employs a useful labelling scheme to assist users in deciding which product is right for their use case.
Canada Goose developed the Thermal Experience Index (TEI) to help buyers decide which insulation level they need. The five-point scale, measured in degrees Celsius, is as follows
1: Lightweight (5°/-5°)
2: Versatile (0°/-15°)
3: Fundamental (-10°/-20°)
4: Enduring (-15°/-25°)
5: Extreme (-30° and below)
If you’re looking for a lightweight shell designed for active pursuits, a 1 is the way to go. Need something that can be trusted in the world’s harshest conditions? Get yourself a 5.
Arc’teryx boasts an even more complex labelling scheme. You can read all about it in our Understanding the Arc’teryx Naming Scheme article.
Let’s not beat around the bush: Arc’teryx and Canada Goose represent two of the most expensive names in outerwear. Nevertheless, you’ll hear few complaints among those who take the plunge.
Indeed, each company delivers on their promises of quality and performance. Unlike the comparatively cheap—and wasteful—fast fashion industry, these garments are built to be lifelong companions on your many adventures.
You’ll have to rely on your own fashion tastes for this one. Even if we model the style debate on celebrity clout alone, we find ourselves at a dead-end: Trendsetters like Drake have been photographed sporting both Arc’teryx and Canada Goose.
Though Canada Goose has weathered their fair share of controversies, they’ve made great strides in aligning their corporate responsibility policies with industry best practices. What’s more, all of their products are 100% made in Canada.
Arc’teryx, on the other hand, has always been a consistent and innovative force in industry ethics. Despite that, the great majority of their garments are manufactured overseas.
Canada Goose is a cultural ubiquity. They’ve traversed the perilous social divide from labour class to fashion elite and survived. How? Because they never compromised on the integrity of their garments. This is the winning formula that has made Canada Goose an outerwear icon over half a century: Their commitment to function over form.
Today, Canada Goose jackets are equally prevalent in Toronto’s Financial District as in isolated Arctic research stations. Meanwhile, the same can also be said about Arc’teryx. Through sheer ingenuity, they remain at the bleeding-edge of fashion, sustainability, and adventure. What they lack in seniority they make up for in the relentless pursuit of ethical business practices.
So, which brand is best for you? The truth is exactly as you’d expect: It depends. For expedition-ready jackets, nothing compares to Canada Goose. For all other pursuits, both brands are sure to exceed your expectations and endure for years to come.