I was tromping through the bush at work today and it occurred to me the Patagonia shell gear I was wearing was bought over 20yrs ago. It started life as ice/alpine climbing gear and then became snowboarding gear and now is in my arsenal of work clothing. Both pieces have seen many repairs and although they are faded and don’t perform as well as they did two decades ago they still work well enough that I’ll pull them on in challenging conditions. I remember when I bought them I was a student and I thought they were crazy expensive, but I spent a lot of time on mountains and hanging off frozen waterfalls so I figured I should own high quality gear. These pieces fit me really well and have lots of useful features – such that where ever you lay your hand what you are looking for is right where you naturally reach for it.
I’ve owned quite a few low cost shells that either were disappointing performers or wore out in a few years. Ultimately when you look at the cost per year both Patagonia items together cost something like a large pizza each year and they are going strong so I won’t be surprised if I’m wearing them in 10 more years.
I hear people complain about the prices of Patagonia clothing and I can sympathize as there are a few items I’d love to own, but can’t quite throw down my VISA for them at full retail…however the prices might be high, but if you choose carefully the value you’ll get from their gear can make the price seem like a bargain - particularly when you look back 20yrs from now. Obviously the item in question has to fit great and needs to be something that is sensible given your lifestyle. I would also suggest that if you want to wear the same gear for 20yrs+ pick a neutral colour that’s not going to go out of style.
Given the lifespan of quality gear and the fact that when I retire in the not too distant future I’ll have to cut back on purchases so I better make good choices now since it’s likely I’m selecting my outdoor wardrobe for my 60′s right now…=-)