Is Patagonia Worth The Hype?

Patagonia is one of the most popular outdoor gear companies around. In fact, when compared to other competing brands like North Face, REI Co-op, Columbia, and L.L. Bean, Men's Health Magazine rated Patagonia as the "best overall." If that wasn't enough, this California-based brand is also mentioned all over the internet on outdoor blogs and forums as one of the top options for sportswear. However, the one problem with Patagonia is that while it is very popular, it can be quite expensive. So, are Patagonia clothes really worth all the hype?

The answer to this question is — maybe. It all depends on what you value in outdoor clothing and how often you plan to use it. If you are a seasoned outdoor adventurer and are tired of apparel from other brands wearing out quickly, then you might want to make the switch to a brand that focuses on durable and repairable clothing like Patagonia.

If you are new to the world of outdoor sports, you may want to buy from a more affordable brand until you figure out which clothing items you use the most. Then, later on down the line, you can start replacing your most-used items with higher-quality options. If you've already reached the point where you want to start leveling up your outdoor clothes, here are some other factors to consider when deciding whether or not Patagonia will be worth it for you.

High-quality materials that will last

One of the core values of Patagonia as a company is to make clothing from quality materials that are stitched to last. The reasoning behind this is not only to make the best possible product for customers but also to decrease the environmental impact of fashion and the planned obsolescence of clothing, which is quite rampant in the apparel industry today. Patagonia clothing is not designed to be trendy, but to be more of a timeless addition to your wardrobe that will look just as good today as it will when you are still wearing it in 10 years.

In fact, according to Harvard Business Review, an average Patagonia product is predicted to last as long as three similar items from other brands. This means that, although Patagonia products can be around 37% more expensive than competitors, in the long run, you will save money by going with higher-quality, longer-lasting Patagonia. So, if you don't like shopping all the time or want to buy fewer clothes to help the planet, Patagonia may be worth it for you.

Easy repair options

On top of using high-quality base materials and timeless designs that are tested by athletes around the world, another reason you may want to buy some of your outdoor gear from Patagonia is that your clothing will be guaranteed for life. This means that if something ever breaks and needs repair you can send it back to the company and have it repaired for a low price. This is especially useful for simple fixes like broken zippers, rips or tears, and missing buttons.

According to one Redditor on the male fashion advice forum of the website, they witnessed the extent of the Patagonia return and repair policy firsthand when they were out shopping and another customer came to ask for a quote on a repair for a jacket they needed by the following week. The employee examined the item and then replied that because the repair couldn't be completed in time, the customer could just grab a new jacket off the shelf. The Redditor also noted that the customer didn't appear to have a receipt with them to prove that the jacket was purchased from the same store but was still allowed to replace it, no questions asked.

Proof that good for the environment is good for profit

If you are someone who cares deeply about the environment, it is hard to not get excited about companies like Patagonia that seem to put sustainability and ethical business practices above profit. One of Patagonia's biggest environmentally friendly programs is the "1% for the Planet" initiative — where the company has imposed an ethical self-tax of 1% of all sales to be donated to various nonprofit and grassroots organizations focused on protecting the environment. Patagonia also believes in the freedom of useful information and actively shares details with other organizations on proprietary materials that benefit the environment like the natural bio-rubber used for the brand's wetsuits.

Last but not least, one of the most surprising things that Patagonia does is using its advertising resources to actively discourage overconsumption, including by taking out a large ad in The New York Times on Black Friday with a picture of the brand's best-selling coat and the title, "Don't Buy This Jacket." This campaign was meant to bring awareness to the negative environmental effects of clothing production, which Patagonia works hard to offset. In fact, the apparel brand voluntarily loses money on its clothing recycling program and has invested large sums to help develop organic cotton production.

Contributing to a company with happy employees

As a company that tries to be as ethical as possible, Patagonia has worked to build a strong culture of employee wellness with an emphasis on purpose and activism. Partly because of this, Fortune has consistently rated Patagonia as one of the best places to work in the world. Other reasons for the high rating include Patagonia's fair salary guarantee, impressive employee healthcare and retirement benefits, onsite daycare, and flexible work schedule.

In an interview with Business and Tech, the company's chief human resources officer, Dean Carter, explained that Patagonia employees are even allowed to leave in the middle of the day and finish up their work later if the weather is nice or the waves are good (Patagonia's headquarters is located in a popular surfing area). Carter states that the reason for this level of flexibility is that "It would be cruel to hire people who love to be outside and just keep them captured in these buildings all day." 

The company also offers eight-week-long paid environmental internships around the world along with bail and legal aid for employees arrested while peacefully protesting.

Option to buy used through official channels

To help prevent waste, Patagonia instituted a used clothing collection program in 2013 called Worn Wear in which customers can return lightly used items in exchange for store credit. This way, old customers can easily upgrade to newer styles without breaking the bank. It's also a good way to help the environment by preventing used clothes from ending up in landfills.

The policy benefits budget shoppers who then have a chance to visit the Worn Wear website and purchase Patagonia clothing for much lower prices. While it's true that you can find used Patagonia clothing on many reselling sites across the web, the advantage of Worn Wear is that everything goes through Patagonia so you can be sure that the item you are ordering is in good condition and is not a fake. In general, shopping through Worn Wear is a great option for those who aren't sure if they are ready to commit to expensive full-price Patagonia gear, but still like the clothing and want to try it out for themselves.

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