Why is Patagonia so expensive? We delve into the premium brand

Label on men's Patagonia jacket
Patagonia stand for quality and sustainability, which has an impact on the monetary cost (Image credit: Hadrian / Shutterstock)

Build the best product. Provide the best service. Protect our home planet. Do it our way. These are just a few snippets from Patagonia’s core values. As one of the world’s leading and most revered outdoor clothing brands, they’re clearly doing something right. However, the price of their products has led some to ask: why is Patagonia so expensive?

Well, it’s the result of a combination of factors. First, there’s the high quality of the finished products and the craft that has gone into their creation. Then, there’s the higher cost of sourcing what are usually recycled materials. There’s the fact that Patagonia’s employees and suppliers are well looked after and paid a fair price for their service. On top of this, there’s in-depth research and development that goes into their products. These all add up to clothing that’s more expensive than the average. So, how did Patagonia end up with this model?

Meet the expert

Alex Foxfield
Alex Foxfield

Alex is a qualified Mountain Leader and the President of the London Mountaineering Club. As one of our gear experts, he's well aware of the importance of quality and sustainability. He's an advocate of the idea that the best hiking gear is what you already own and applauds scheme's like Patagonia's Worn Wear.

Today's best deals

Patagonia's origins

  • Patagonia was founded by Yvon Chouinard in 1973
  • From the start, sustainability and quality have been core values

The brand’s origins can be traced back to the 1950s, when a young Yvon Chouinard discovered a love of rock climbing and also developed his skills as a blacksmith. In 1965, he and Tom Frost founded Chouinard Equipment, which become America’s biggest supplier of climbing gear. When he realised the environmental impact some of their products were having, such as their iron pitons (metal spikes that are inserted into cracks in the rock and hammered into place), he began to think more seriously about creating equipment that was more sustainable.

Patagonia Black Hole duffel

The brand’s origins can be traced back to the 1950s (Image credit: Kieran Cunningham)

He founded Patagonia in 1973 and Chouinard Equipment was sold, becoming another familiar name: Black Diamond Equipment. From the outset, Patagonia’s products have been created with high quality and sustainability in mind, with the idea that clothing that lasts longer is better for the planet, as it doesn’t need to be constantly replaced. So, a waterproof jacket from Patagonia may be expensive, but it should be as durable as they come.

Let’s take a closer look at the details behind why Patagonia gear is so expensive.

Commitment to sustainability

  • Patagonia have pledged 1% of profits to environmental causes since 1985
  • As of 2023, 98% of their clothing was made from recycled materials
  • Sourcing and processing recycled materials is more expensive 

“Earth is now our only shareholder” wrote Chouinard in 2022, summing up Patagonia’s sustainability mission. He’d just announced that the company’s nonvoting stock was being donated to the Holdfast Collective, a non-profit organisation dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis.

Ever since 1985, Patagonia has pledged one per cent of its total sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment – it’s a scheme called 1% for the Planet. One per cent may not sound like a huge amount, but when you consider the size of Patagonia’s business, it adds up to many millions of dollars going to environmental causes. When you buy a Patagonia down jacket, you can rest assured that some of your investment is benefiting our planet.

Patagonia Women’s Dual Aspect Bib

When you buy Patagonia's products, you can rest assured some of your investment is going to fight environmental causes (Image credit: Jessie Leong)

So, that’s some of the cost, what other sustainable initiatives are driving the price up? Well, Patagonia also use recycled materials where they can, which are more expensive to source and manipulate than standard fabrics. In fact, as of Fall 2023, 98% of the items in their clothing line contain recycled content, from cotton and down, to nylon and polyester. This leads to a huge saving in emissions, approximately 13,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide, according to the brand.

Another example of ethical sourcing is the fact that, since 1996, Patagonia have grown all their cotton organically, without the use of harmful chemicals.

Commitment to quality

  • Patagonia's products are designed to be long-lasting, which doesn't come cheap
  • Patagonia pay the likes of Gore-Tex and PrimaLoft for their materials, which comes at a cost

Inextricably linked to Patagonia’s sustainability drive is the commitment to quality. Every product is designed to be as durable as possible. One of their five core values, Patagonia strive to create clothing that’s versatile, long-lasting, repairable and recyclable. The brand have set themselves up as the antithesis of fast fashion. In a world where consumers buy 60% more items of clothing – but keep them for just half as long – as they did 20 years ago, Patagonia strive to fight this trend.

Quality materials aren’t cheap and this goes some way to explaining why Patagonia’s kit is so pricey. However, in the long term, an investment in a Patagonia product may turn out to be better value if it gives you more years of faithful service than a product made from cheaper fabrics would.

Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Sleeping Bag

An investment in a Patagonia product may turn out to be better value if it gives you more years of use than a product made from cheaper fabrics would. (Image credit: Kim Fuller)

Patagonia collaborate with providers of premium materials and technologies, such as Gore-Tex and PrimaLoft, to ensure their products are equipped to cope with the often harsh backcountry elements. However, these collaborations come at a price for Patagonia, who have to pay to use them. This cost is then passed on to us, the customer. This is why any Gore-Tex jacket is generally pricier than a jacket that uses a membrane a brand has developed themselves.

Such is the confidence Patagonia have in the quality of their clothing, all items come with the brand’s Ironclad Guarantee, which means they’ll repair, replace or refund anything that their customers find doesn’t meet the required standards. Patagonia have also pioneered Worn Wear, a scheme for keeping gear in play. This allows customers to trade in their old clothing for store credit, creating a market of pre-owned, repaired apparel than can be bought from the website.

Commitment to people

  • Patagonia put resources into making sure their supply chain is ethical
  • Patagonia's staff and suppliers are paid well

As well as their commitment to the environment, Patagonia strive to do the right thing by all their stakeholders, from employees and suppliers to customers. They’re a certified B Corp, an accolade only bestowed upon businesses that demonstrate high social and environmental performance, make a legal commitment to all stakeholders and exhibit transparency when it comes to their operations.

Patagonia vs Columbia: Patagonia Women’s Dual Aspect Bib

Patagonia strive to do the right thing by all their stakeholders (Image credit: Jessie Leong)

Patagonia have a firm grip on their supply chain, so they know and can share exactly where and how their products are made, as well as who makes them and how much they are paid. This enables them to be sure that the people involved at every stage in the creation of their products is getting a fair deal and that they are in no way supporting abhorrent practices like modern slavery. Patagonia say that over 85% of their product line was made in Fair Trade Certified factories.

This also feeds back into the brand’s commitment to quality, as they are able to maintain high standards because they know exactly who is making their clothes. Good pay for all their employees and suppliers means a product that’s more expensive to produce in terms of labor costs. Once again, this cost has to be passed on to the customer. At the end of the day, I’m sure most of us would rather pay a little more and know that the people responsible for making the clothing we wear got a fair deal.


When it comes to money, Patagonia’s clothing is expensive. However, it’s terrific value in terms of the planet and the quality of gear you end up with. Think of any purchase as an investment in gear that will last you many years and one that can be repaired even when it does begin to fray. By wearing Patagonia’s clothing, you’re also aligning yourself with a brand that seeks to be a force for good in the world, so you can wear the logo with pride.

Alex Foxfield

Alex is a freelance adventure writer and mountain leader with an insatiable passion for the mountains. A Cumbrian born and bred, his native English Lake District has a special place in his heart, though he is at least equally happy in North Wales, the Scottish Highlands or the European Alps. Through his hiking, mountaineering, climbing and trail running adventures, Alex aims to inspire others to get outdoors. He's the former President of the London Mountaineering Club, is training to become a winter mountain leader, looking to finally finish bagging all the Wainwright fells of the Lake District and is always keen to head to the 4,000-meter peaks of the Alps. www.alexfoxfield.com