So you think you know Decathlon?

Now a mainstay of the UK outdoor gear scene, Decathlon have a reputation for vast ranges and great value. But there’s more to this retailer than big stores and low prices – much more…

Men and women in Decathlon hiking gear in the mountains

by Ben Weeks |
Updated on

Decathlon began life in France in 1976. Nearly 50 years later they have over 1700 stores and operate in 70 different countries. Decathlon first set up shop in the UK in 1999 and in the past 25 here years they’ve established a solid reputation based on two key factors:

  1. With the possible exception of Quidditch, there’s almost no sporting activity you won’t find represented in their stores or on their website.

  2. Their own brand products represent fantastic value for money.

But while this reputation is certainly deserved, it perhaps understates just how important Decathlon is to the outdoor enthusiast. To shine a light on that, we need to turn our focus on their hiking, camping, and mountain ranges. When we do, we discover that their famously favourable prices are just part of the Decathlon parcel.

Win a Decathlon camping bundle

  • Quechua Airseconds 4.1 Fresh & Black inflatable tent
    Swiftly inflate this all-in-one tent! Enjoy a spacious living space and patented F&B technology for cooler, darker nights.

  • Quechua Camp Bed Air inflatable camping bed base
    A 70 cm inflatable bed base! It can be combined with another one (sold seperately) to make a double bed.

  • **Quechua Ultim Comfort self-inflating camping mattress
    **An extremely thick, self-inflating 70 cm mattress that is very simple to set up for home comfort when camping.

*Terms and conditions at the bottom of the article

What makes Decathlon different?

Not just good value

There can be no doubt that Decathlon’s outdoor kit – which includes their Quechua, Forclaz, or Simond brands – often represents incredibly good value. For anyone just starting out on their hiking, camping, or mountaineering journey, a Decathlon store should be their first port of call. But there’s more going on here than just good value; quality is just as, if not even more, important.

Decathlon don’t just buy cheap gear from the Far East, rebadge it and sell it as theirs. Oh no. Decathlon’s kit is designed and developed by Decathlon following a specific 5-stage design process:

  1. Identifying a sportsman’s needs and requirements
    Listening to and observing outdoor enthusiasts is where it all begins. Mountain sports product managers identify their needs and observe them in the field.

  2. Eco-designing the product
    Eco-design is integrated from the very early stages of product development. Design teams choose solutions with a lesser impact to create technically advanced and sustainable gear. The repairability aspect of products is also taken into consideration from the very beginning of the design stage to extend their lifespan, and the most common spare parts are easily available should they suffer some sort of breakage.

  3. Testing products in labs and real-life conditions
    Prototypes are assembled to verify the feasibility of the product and to test different assemblies. They are then tested in a lab and out on the field to ensure that the final product meets all the requirements of the sport.

  4. Improving existing products
    Eventually products head up to the mountains with customers. Their feedback is meticulously analyzed by the design teams in order to identify potential improvements. On a global scale, the average customer review rating for hiking, trekking, camping, winter sports, mountain biking, climbing, and mountaineering gear is 4.62/5.

  5. Extending a product’s lifespan in order to improve its impact
    Decathlon’s mountain sports brands support athletes by offering advice on proper use, care, and repair for their gear. Several repair options are available, either in store workshops, or via online tutorials. Used gear can also be returned to stores and be put up for sale in a dedicated Second Life space.

The upshot of this is that every year on average the hiking, camping, winter sports, climbing, mountaineering, and mountain biking teams design 10 innovations, file 15 patents, and dedicate approximately 42,000 hours to their research. When you choose outdoor gear from Quechua, Forclaz, or Simond, as well as getting Decathlon’s great value, you’re also getting great quality. In addition to those looking to start a new hobby without breaking the bank, Decathlon kit should also be on the radar of experienced outdoor enthusiasts looking for kit that will perform flawlessly and last for years.

Products for all levels

Having established that Decathlon kit is for all abilities, how do you know which products are best suited to whom? Well, you may have noticed a common numbering format on the product descriptions consisting of two letters and a three-digit number. For example, there’s the Quechua NH100 20l backpack, or the Quechua MH500 lightweight waterproof jacket, or the Forclaz MT900 trekking trousers.

The first part of these codes, the letters, gives an indication as to the product’s intended use:

  • NH – Nature Hiking,

  • MH – Mountain Hiking

  • FH – Fast Hiking

  • MT – Mountain Trekking.

There’s obviously some crossover in these uses as products may be perfectly suitable for all three, but the number component of the code indicates the performance level and may be more useful when working out if the product is for you:

  • 100 – beginner

  • 500 – intermediate

  • 900 – advanced

Once you know how these codes work and what they mean it become much easier to quickly establish what sort of performance you can expect from a Decathlon product and whether it will meet your needs.

Made in the mountains

To make quality outdoor kit you need to have the right people. Decathlon employs approximately 600 people who live and breathe mountain sports to plough this enthusiasm into designing and creating products that promote the enjoyment of these pursuits. But it also helps to have the right people in the right place, and in this Decathlon have not one but two aces up their sleeves; their two mountain sports design centres are located in the heart of the Alps.

The Mountain Store in Passy, just west of Chamonix, is one of Decathlon’s flagship retail stores and well worth a visit if you’re in the area. But it’s also home to Decathlon’s international design centre for mountain brands such as hiking, trekking, camping, winter sports, and mountain biking. But for their climbing and mountaineering equipment, they’re even closer to the mountains.

The Simond brand began life in a small forge in Chamonix in 1860. Since then, it has equipped climbers and mountaineers on the highest peaks in the world, including Everest. It was acquired by Decathlon in 2008 – one of the few occasions where Decathlon have bought in rather than developing a brand themselves – and its production and development centre is still in the town where it all began: Chamonix, right at the foot of Mont Blanc.

Decathlon logo

To see more of Decathlon’s hiking, trekking, mountaineering and camping products, along with the huge range of other sports on offer, visit or drop into one of their UK stores.

*Terms & Conditions

Entries are restricted to one per person.

Entry to the Competition is available via the following routes:

Online at

There will be one winner of the Competition. All valid entries will be pooled and [the winner/winners will be chosen by electronic random draw on 13.07.24.

Entries must be submitted during the following entry period:

From 9am on 07.06.24 (the “Start Time”) to 11:59pm on 12.07.24 (“End Time”).

Entries received before the Start Time or after the End Time will be invalid.

However if the winner cannot be contacted within 7 days from the date of the initial attempt to contact them then we will re-draw until we draw a winner that we are satisfied (in our sole discretion) fulfils all of the eligibility criteria and is in compliance with these Terms.

  • Open to UK residents aged 18 years or over on date of entry.

  • Our employees (and their family members) or employees of any company involved in the Competition, including any Prize Provider, are not permitted to enter.

  • We reserve the right to disqualify any entrant or winner who does not comply with any of the eligibility criteria and/or is in breach of these Terms. We reserve the right to repeat the competition mechanic or any stage of it in order to draw a winner that fulfils all of the eligibility criteria and is in compliance with these Terms.

1 winner will receive the following prizes (the “Prize”): QUECHUA Inflatable Camping Tent Air Seconds 4.1 F&B 4 Person 1 Bedroom, QUECHUA Inflatable Camping Bed Base - Camp Bed Air 70 cm - 1 Person & QUECHUA self-inflatable camping mattress - ultim comfort 70 cm - 1 person.

The Prize is provided by Decathlon (the “Prize Provider”). We are not responsible for any aspect of the Prize, including unsatisfactory quality or late delivery or a prize winner being unable to take up any aspect, or the entirety of the prize due to their own circumstances or restrictions.

Prizes are non-transferable, non-refundable and no cash alternative will be offered.


Data Protection. Names, email addresses, and /or telephone numbers (which, for all SMS competitions, will be shared with our SMS provider) will be collected and used to process entries. Winner’s details may be given to a Prize Provider to arrange delivery of the prize.  Your details may remain stored after the End Date but will not be used for marketing unless you have ticked an opt-in box on entry. For SMS entries you automatically consent to receive marketing. You may opt out at any time by texting the word STOP to the relevant text shortcode number. If you have opted in to receive marketing communications, then your details will be used in accordance with the information given when you ticked the opt-in box and gave your consent. For more details, see:

Intellectual Property And Consents. By entering this Competition, you are consenting to our use of your entry both to publicise this Competition, the magazine or any other magazines or media platforms which we own or control. This means that we may use all names, images, descriptions, photographs video footage, and other information, which you have submitted on entry, in any media, without paying you any remuneration therefore and without any time restriction. You also agree that we may film, record or photograph you in connection with the competition and /or the Prize if applicable. We will own these films, recordings or photographs and we may use them publicly, including on the internet, in any of our magazines and/or for any promotional purposes. You will also have waived any moral rights or right to payment that you may have had.


  • Entries which do not comply with these Terms or the General Competition Terms and Conditions will not be accepted and any entries may be disqualified if we have any reason to suspect that there is a breach of, or non-compliance with, these Terms.

  • Where a competition mechanic involves the answering of questions, the correct answers to questions must match our answers to win (or be sufficiently close in our sole reasonable opinion) to be acceptable. In the event of any dispute about any answers given and whether they are correct, we reserve the right to amend what we deem a correct answer, however we are not obliged to, and our decision in either case is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

  • We are not responsible if you fail to get through when you call / text to enter, or if you lose signal during a call.

  • You are responsible for all costs of entry and where necessary, obtaining the bill payer’s permission. Please refer to your tariff with your network provider for information about charges you may incur for entry into our competitions via any SMS or phone call entry route.

  • We accept no liability for network, technical or signal errors, issues or failures experienced by entrants when entering the competition or at any stage during the mechanic of the competition.

  • As part of your entry or playing of the Competition you must not make any inappropriate, profane, indecent, harmful or offensive statements. If you do so we reserve the right to  disqualify you from the competition. You may be also disqualified from the competition at any time if you are incomprehensible, inaudible or if you appear to be driving, intoxicated or likely to offend listeners. Any prize already won may be withdrawn and re-awarded to another entrant.

  • As far as it is lawful to do so we exclude our liability for any losses suffered in connection with the Competition or any element of the Prize.

We may cancel, end or suspend the Competition where we are required to do so in circumstances outside our control. We reserve the right to amend these Terms at any stage during the Competition if such amendment is necessary to facilitate the administration of the Competition.

Contact Details. Any concerns? Please email: Correspondence will not be entered into regarding any competition which has closed more than 14 days prior to correspondence being received.

H Bauer Publishing is the promoter of this Competition, see: for details of our registered office and company number.

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