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. But if those holes come from poor manufacturing? That’s not nearly as cool.
The thing is, we don’t all have an extra $400 laying around to replace a rain jacket that busts a seam too soon. Plenty of 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.
This is the kind of warranty that’s going the way of the dodo. Many brands used to have honest-to-god lifetime warranties, where it didn’t matter what happened or how, they’d replace or repair your boots, jackets, tents, sleeping bags, anything really. L.L. Bean was the legendary brand here, but people took advantage, returned things they had and loved for years once they wore out, and demanded free replacements. Fewer brands do this now, but the following warranty programs are pretty close. There is room for interpretation on a brand’s warranty page, so we’re including brands here that either explicitly say they’ll replace whatever, for whatever reason, or brands that hint that that’s the case. Your experience may vary.
Osprey sets the gold standard for warranties with their All Mighty Guarantee, providing replacement parts, doing repairs, and, when necessary, replacing gear, no questions asked.
Outdoor Research has a seemingly limitless guarantee–called the “Infinite Guarantee”–that provides for replacement anytime your gear doesn’t perform like it should.
Vortex Optics doesn’t care what happened or how it happened. If you buy binoculars from them, and something ever goes wrong or gets damaged, they’ll fix ir or replace ’em.
Tenkara Rod Co. makes awesome tenkara rods, and will repair or replace them for life should they fail.
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.
Eddie Bauer keeps it simple, happily refunding any unsatisfied customer the cost of their gear, as long as you have the proof of purchase. If you don’t, you get a gift card for 50% of the product’s value.
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.
Tilley Hats guarantees select hats for life, and will repair or replace them for a small fee 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.
Kryptonite guarantees their bike locks for life, including normal wear-and-tear.
Snow Peak is a bit murky here, but their lifetime guarantee on hard goods appears to include wear and tear, likely because camp stoves and the like don’t have much that can break, really, no matter how many times you use them.
Limited Lifetime Warranties
This is the most common warranty category out there. Basically, a brand below will warranty something if it has a manufacturing defect, for the most part, regardless of how long you have it before that defect pops up. It’s extremely tricky sometimes to know whether or not that tent pole snapped because it was made with a crack in it, or you sat on it that one time and stressed it out, so oftentimes you’ll send in the gear and the brand will go over it with a magnifying glass to determine cause. Or, they’ll just stoke you out and send you a new one.
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. But, their legendary policy of accepting all returns, no matter when the gear was purchased changed in 2018. Now, you have a year to return it. After that, the brand will repair and replace products only if they have a manufacturing defect.
Sea to Summit has your back if any of their products ever display a legit manufacturing defect, for life.
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.
NEMO makes great stuff, but if they screwed up in the manufacturing process, they will repair or replace the product. If you screw it up, that’s on you.
Hilleberg will replace any tent if it has an defect, for the life of the product, and will repair issues caused by normal use, “for a nominal fee.”
Camelbak will repair or replace your gear—all bags, reservoirs, and accessories included—if it fails because of a manufacturing defect, for the lifetime of a product.
Klymit guarantees its products against defects for the life of the product, though they at least try to define “life”: “While Klymit uses the very best materials and components for its products, all materials and components eventually wear out with use and exposure over time. A Covered Product’s life is therefore measured by how much use it gets and how well it is cared for — not its overall age.”
Gregory has a lifetime guarantee against any defects for their backpacks, though they point out packs made from textiles can’t last forever when actually out there and used, so normal wear and tear isn’t covered.
Sierra Designs will fix or replace manufacturing defects for the life of the product — not your life.
PEARL iZUMi will repair or replace anything that appears to have a defect, even after you’ve used it a bunch.
Jansport will replace or repair their stuff for the life of the product, but not from normal wear and tear — legit manufacturing defects only.
The Outdoor Research Infinite Guarantee does not last for infinity, but rather the useful life of their gear. If it breaks, and it’s not some dumb thing you did, they got you.
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.
Duluth Trading Company makes refunds available for customers for the first year, then will warranty gear with manufacturing defects indefinitely after that.
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. 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.
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.
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.
If you don’t see your fave brand here, look below in the comments, plenty of good suggestions for good warranties there.
Photo: Ali Kazal