"No longer can we assume the Earth's resources are limitless; that there are ranges of unclimbed peaks extending endlessly beyond the horizon. Mountains are finite, and despite their massive appearance, they are fragile."-Chouinard Equipment catalog of Oct. '74
Patagonia was founded by Yvon Chouinard. His story and that of his company is long and romantic. Every rock climber I know worships at the Patagonia altar. Since the early 90's the company has also taken a chunk out the apparel and gear market for surfing.
I know the company helms large environmental initiatives and sponsors sports ambassadors all over the globe. They are a model of corporate consciousness.
A while ago an outdoorsy friend told me something I didn't know:
You can return ANY Patagonia product for repair, replacement, or refund... no questions asked.
Bull-honky, I thought.
--I couldn't imagine getting a refund instead of store credit.
--I couldn't imagine returning something by mail as opposed to waiting in a long, grouchy line and then negotiating with whoever was behind some high counter, receipt in hand.
--I couldn't imagine getting a free replacement for a 10-year-old product that had finally given way.
Well, it appears to be true. Patagonia calls it the Ironclad Guarantee, and they really do stand by their products that fervently. Canadian citizens have a smidge of paperwork to fill out, but it seems like any dissatisfaction will be met with return/replacement/refund whether or not you have an invoice or receipt. A few people I've checked with tell tales of returned chalk bags from the 80's and headlamps that were seamlessly replaced 5 times over. Talk about value (yes, Patagonia is a touch pricier than competitors, but apparently is the everlasting gobstopper of the apparel world). I would like to put this too-good-to-be-trueism to the test, but my few pieces of Patagonia trekking apparel are holding up nicely, 6 years and counting. Looks like I may never get the chance.