Nobody calls Patagonia “Patagucci” any more. Oh, sure, somebody somewhere probably clings to the idea that the Ventura company’s apparel and gear is extraordinarily pricey relative to all the other apparel and gear out there. But the fact is there are plenty of brands making far more expensive clothes, whether large (Arc’teryx) or small (Outlier). And as the decades have unfolded and Patagonia’s gear has proven durable, and as the company has continued to assert itself as a leader in environmental initiatives, you have to question exactly what that word, expensive, means.
This isn’t a defense of Patagonia’s prices. The groundbreaking new waterproof down Encapsil Down Belay Parka is 700 bucks. Rather, it’s to shed a light on how we think about the value of gear. Yep, $700 is among the more expensive down jackets anywhere in the world. But with a dramatically improved method of preventing water from killing down’s insulating ability, which results in more loft and the warmest for its weight parka, it just might be worth it. To some people.
The spearpoint of technology is always going to pierce the outside of the price envelope, but the outdoor world has more than its share of opportunities to empty your wallet. The clothes, the gear, the cost of a lift ticket…and the gulf between “entry level” and the top shelf is vast. It doesn’t seem that long ago that the most expensive mountain bikes went for $3,000, but now a brand manager can say “$10,000” with no sense of shame.
But back to definitions. I would posit that there are three basic types of expensive. One, there’s expensive that proves itself worth it over time through durability and quality. Two, there’s expensive that might not hold value but that satisfies something inside you – for example, how shaving grams off your bike makes you feel better and ride harder. Finally, there’s expensive that just isn’t worth it. Which is which? That’s up to you to decide.
WIN SMITH SUNGLASSES JUST BY VOTING!
This week, one poll participant will receive Smith Optic’s blingy Soundcheck shades. We’ll pick the winner via random number generator (and announce it here) – all you have to do to enter is vote and leave a comment so we have your email to contact you. Must have a U.S. or Canadian address. Contest ends Sunday, March 17, at midnight PST.