Duct-taped holes in down jackets, busted-out toes in hiking boots, crampon-slashed pant cuffs—wear and tear can feel like a badge of honor in its own small way, a testament to the good times had and hard work done. It’s a sign that the gear was the perfect companion for all kinds of adventures, good enough to use over and over and over. Damage just happens when you play hard, like holes in the knees of your jeans as a kid.
The thing is, we don’t all have an extra $400 laying around to replace our Arc’teryx rain jacket when we bust a seam. Arc’teryx doesn’t want you to have to shell it out, either. That’s why they–and plenty of other outdoor brands–have either a full or limited lifetime warranty. It may sound like a marketing ploy when you see it on a website, but the warranties offered by the companies below mean they’ll help you–for free or for a small charge–keep your gear in top condition as long as you can play outside in it.
Before you send in your gear, a few things to remember: The brand decides whether that rip in your pants came from “normal” wear-and-tear, misuse, or a manufacturing defect, and the definition of “lifetime” varies. Most brands agree that it doesn’t mean your lifetime, but the expected lifetime of a product. Just a few companies promise their gear will serve you until you’re old and gray.
It’s up to them to decide whether you get a brand-new sleeping bag/tent/water bottle in the mail, so be honest and considerate when returning gear for warranty. Send it in clean. And if you’re not sure you’re covered? Just try. The people behind these brands play hard, too. They get it. We’ve heard countless stories of unexpected, unbelievably great customer service.
Osprey sets the gold standard for warranties, providing replacement parts, doing repairs, and, when necessary, replacing gear, no questions asked.
L.L. Bean leaves it to the customer to decide whether their product didn’t stand up to expectations, and offers refunds or replacements for defective, worn-out, hard-worked gear, no matter when it was purchased.
Outdoor Research has a similarly limitless guarantee–called the “Infinite Guarantee”–that provides for replacement anytime your gear doesn’t perform like it should.
Darn Tough Socks, the coolest sock company in Vermont, dares you to wear out their socks, or find a pair that doesn’t serve you exactly how you need. If you do, they’ll replace them, free of charge.
Zippo’s guarantee is simple: your lighter works or they fix it, free.
Jansport doesn’t tiptoe around “normal wear-and-tear”–that’s what their guarantee protects you from. If they can’t fix it, they’ll replace it.
Black Diamond promises “No charge. No fine print. No debate. Guaranteed.” when it comes to softgoods warranties, and has a limited warranty on hard-goods.
Eddie Bauer keeps it simple, happily refunding any unsatisfied customer the cost of their gear.
Duluth Trading Company does the same, making refunds available for customers for any reason, at any time.
Victorinoix Swiss Army Knives guarantee their knives will function for a lifetime, and will repair or replace any defective tools outside of normal wear-and-tear.
Patagonia‘s Ironclad Guarantee promises 100 percent customer satisfaction, and if, for any reason, the gear isn’t up-to-par, they’ll replace, repair, or refund it for free. They also offer mending from normal wear-and-tear for a small fee. Not loving something like you used to? They’ll buy back your gently used Patagonia gear in exchange for store credit and resell it on WornWear.com.
Kryptonite guarantees their bike locks for life, including normal wear-and-tear.
Tilley Hats guarantees select hats for life, and will repair or replace them if they wear out due to normal wear and tear, poor workmanship, or faulty material.
Stanley thermoses are also under lifetime warranty—even, according to their site, the one your grandpa totes around.
Cotopaxi guarantees their gear for 61 years, the average lifetime of a person in the developing world, under their Gear for Good warranty.
Filson covers their products for the expected lifetime of the item.
Sunski has an awesome warranty that includes free repairs of frames and inexpensive (we’re talking $5) replacement lenses.
Red Oxx’s no bull warranty includes repairs and replacements for any unexpected damage to one of their bags, for life.
Leupold has a no-strings attached lifetime warranty—they’ll take care of any damage to one of their products, no matter what.
Stormy Kromer guarantees their American-made hats for life.
Eagle Creek’s No Matter What guarantee ensures your bags will be in great shape for the lifetime of the product.
Camelbak will repair or replace your gear—all bags, reservoirs, and accessories included—when it fails, as long as you take care of it properly.
Limited Lifetime Warranties
Therm-a-Rest offers a limited lifetime warranty for manufacturing and material defects and promises to repair non-warranty damage whenever possible for a small fee.
Gore-Tex guarantees they’ll keep you dry, and if any product made with their fabric doesn’t perform to your satisfaction, they’ll replace it, repair it, or refund you.
Big Agnes covers defects for a lifetime, and if they deem your damage due to “normal wear-and-tear” they’ve still got you covered, for a small fee.
Arc’teryx readily covers defects in materials or workmanship, and will repair well-loved gear for a small fee.
The North Face offers a similar promise, repairing or replacing gear for free that failed due to manufacturing error. Normal wear-and-tear will be repaired for a small fee.
Kelty has your back if your tent or pack has a manufacturing error–which is more common in products with lots of zippers, buckles, and straps.
REI gives you a year to return any product you’re not satisfied with–even if they’ve been used (I once put in a 26-mile day on a pair of trail runners that destroyed my feet. They took them back, dust and all, no questions asked.) Manufacturing defects they cover for a lifetime.
Dakine will repair or replace defective gear for free, though they keep a close eye on the damage to ensure it’s not due to the customer’s use, but manufacturing.
OnSight, a Canadian brand that uses recycled plastics to make bags, offers a limited lifetime warranty against design, manufacturing, and material defects.
Granite Gear‘s Rock Solid Warranty guarantees their products for the lifetime of the product—but note that anything with wheels has a lifespan of five years.
Smith Optics covers defect or malfunction for the lifetime of their product.
Mountain Hardwear does the same.
Suncloud Optics warranties against defects and will repair damages for a small fee.
Wilderness Systems offers a limited lifetime warranty against hull damage in their kayaks.
Marmot warranties against manufacturing defects and will repair wear-and-tear for a small fee.
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Photo by Ed Dunens