Lifetime Warranties

Broken knifeMany outdoor gear companies offer lifetime warranties on their products. When you’re out braving the elements, you need to be able to trust your gear. These companies recognize this, so they strive to make quality gear that you can rely on.

A lifetime warranty is essentially a promise that says you can trust in your gear. If your gear fails, the company failed, so they will take responsibility for a defective product.  However, there seems to be a lot of confusion about what a lifetime warranty actually is.

While each company handles warranties a little differently, most lifetime warranties cover manufacturer defects for the lifetime of the product. A manufacturer defect is something like a seam coming undone or a zipper breaking when it shouldn’t. It’s basically any type of breakage or failure that occurs prematurely through normal use.

Manufacturer defects don’t include misuse of a product, or normal wear and tear. If you’re playing jump rope with your jacket and some stitching comes undone, that’s not the manufacturer’s fault. If the elbows of your jacket have worn through because you haven’t taken it off in the last two decades, it’s because clothing isn’t indestructible, not because the company didn’t sew your jacket properly.

People tend to forget, or just ignore, that lifetime warranties typically cover the lifetime of a product. This is not the same thing as the lifetime of you. Suppose you get fifteen years out of a $150 dollar rain jacket. You payed $10 dollars a year to stay dry, which is well worth it. If the seams start to leak a little, that’s not because the jacket is inadequate, it’s because your jacket is almost old enough to drive.

Many outdoor gear companies will still cover that fifteen year old rain jacket. Some companies are pretty strict with their warranties, but many operate on a sort of honor system. They know that they are making a fine quality product, and if it doesn’t meet expectations they make it their priority to fix that. That’s why you shouldn’t take advantage of a warranty. Companies that offer a lifetime warranty work hard to make great products and trust their customers.

So to recap…

  • Lifetime warranties typically mean the life of the product, not your lifetime.
  • Lifetime warranties cover manufacturer defects, not things like standing too close to the fire.
  • Before you try to send your gear in, think about whether you got your money’s worth.
  • Companies don’t have to offer lifetime warranties. They do it take care of their customers, so don’t take advantage of the system.

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