I’m a Patagoniac!

14 03 2011

20yrs+ old and going strong...=-)

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.

Same jacket - Mont Blanc near Chamonix, France 20yrs ago...

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.

Snowboarding at Lake Louise...

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.

20yr old Patagonia shell pants in action with a 12yr old Burton down jacket...

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…=-)



6 responses

14 03 2011

I used to be a fervent believer in Patagonia. Twenty-plus years ago, they made great stuff. Most of it was simple in design, and not at all “fashionable”. I still regularly use a pile vest that has seen more action than any other single garment I can think of. Incredibly tough, warm, light, and forgiving. That’s a twenty year-old vest (at least, it could be older; I dont remember it’s exact age) that probably cost, at most, $60.00. Three dollars a year ain’t bad.

But I have been very frustrated with Patagonia in the last several years. I think the quality is still there (although they should use brass buttons on all their pants for the prices they charge!). My problem is with fit and sizing. Almost all of the garments I’ve purchased of late have not fit properly because they seem to be made with fashion as the key objective rather than function. Pants which used to fit do not (now too large and baggy). Shirts too big in the chest, etc. I have not purchased “technical wear” in recent years, so I hope those are still top quality in function.

My hope is that Patagonia’s trend toward fashion is making them a lot of money to put towards protection of our Earth. However, I wish they would go back to basics, streamline their product line, and get their fit and sizing right again. If they did, they’d get all my business again. (Patagonia, are you out there reading this? Are you open to change?)

14 03 2011

I don’t fit a lot of Patagonia gear well. Compared to North Face or MEC wear I fit virtually everything perfectly. The issue may not be fashion so much as going to different body types as templates. What doesn’t fit us will fit someone else perfectly.

There jeans and cords fit me great, but a lot of Patagonia’s outdoor pants don’t fit me well. A lot of their jackets are too short in the arms and narrow in the shoulders for me, but one of my favorite hoodies is a current model Patagonia product.

When I’m on the hunt for new gear I just try on a ton of stuff and then pick from what fits great.

14 03 2011
Henrik Van Ryzin

Don’t forget to mention Patagonia’s amazing lifetime guarantee. I spent a painful amount of $$ on one of their rain-shells about 10 years ago, and have replaced it 4 times due to wear and tear – no questions asked. I use them regularly, and after a few years the inner lining begins to peel off. I bring it into the store, and they take a new one off the rack and hand it to me. Amazing.

14 03 2011
doug in seattle

Bought my first Patagonia item a few weeks ago in the Seattle REI bargain basement: a down sweater. Even at the deeply discounted $60 (versus $200 new!) it is the most money I have ever spent on a clothing item, since I typically buy everything in thrift stores. However, it was worth every penny and would be worth 1,400 more if I had bought it full price.

Definitely warmer and lighter than all the Pendleton wool I usually wear, though I am super-paranoid about using it! I have decided to use it camping and to try to not worry about it. It’s hard, though. How do people do it?

ps, I am a noted destroyer of clothes!

14 03 2011

@Doug – sometimes I’m actually happy I damage my gear that first time just so I can use it without worrying!


17 03 2011

Patagonia clothing are worth it. I have only used their Capilene 3 Zip Neck Ts. They are awesome.
Peace 🙂

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