These days, many people are just trying to make a quick buck. While many of us work hard all day and make an honest wage so we can get out and adventure in the great outdoors, there are plenty of companies out there that are trying to trick us into buying fake gear that claims to be from a top brand.
Some companies, such as Patagonia, are particularly susceptible to knockoffs, due to their popularity within and outside of the outdoor industry. Plus, thanks to the increase in online shopping, it’s becoming easier and easier for people to sell you counterfeit gear without you ever suspecting it.
Especially when it comes to technical outdoor gear, you want to know that the gear your paying for is the real deal. That gear keeps you warm and dry, so low-quality counterfeit products can be dangerous.
So how do you avoid buying fake gear from top brands? We’ve put together this guide to help you spot fake Patagonia gear so you can always be sure that you’re getting what you paid for. Let’s get to it!
How to check if your Patagonia Gear is Fake
If you just got that sweet new jacket you ordered in the mail, but it doesn’t quite seem right, you may have accidentally bought a piece of fake Patagonia gear. Here’s how to check:
Make sure it looks like a real Patagonia Jacket
First things first, if you bought a jacket that just doesn’t look like something Patagonia would make, check out their website. If you can’t find any jackets that look like the one you just bought, then that should ring some alarm bells.
But, just because your new jacket doesn’t look exactly like something that’s listed on Patagonia’s website doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a knockoff. Since styles come and go, there’s a chance that you bought something from a previous season that’s just not being made anymore.
So, if you can’t find that jacket you bought on Patagonia’s website, check out some other trusted retailers, like REI, Backcountry.com. Often, these companies will still list older pieces of gear that aren’t being sold anymore as “Out of Stock,” while Patagonia will just remove it from their website. If you still can’t find the jacket you bought on another website (other than the one you bought from), you should be a bit suspicious.
Beyond checking to make sure that the jacket you bought actually exists in the world of Patagonia, you can take a good look at some of the details of your gear to see if it all matches up. Here are some things to look for when comparing your gear to a photo of the jacket on Patagonia’s website:
- The Logo. The logo on your jacket should be in exactly the same spot that it’s in on the jackets in the photos on Patagonia’s website. Often, fake jackets have logos sewn on haphazardly, so this is a dead giveaway.
- Zippers. Sometimes, fake gear dealers use the wrong zipper pulls on their jackets. Zoom in to that photo on Patagonia’s website and have a good look at the zipper pulls. Do they look similar to what’s on your jacket?
- Zipper garages. Zipper garages are the little flaps of fabric that cover your zippers when they’re fully zipped up. Often, counterfeit jackets are missing these little zipper garages, or they’re not sewn on properly.
Check the tag
Although most of us completely ignore a jacket’s tag, it turns out that this piece of fabric can give us a lot of information about the product we just bought. Plus, tags almost always contain the product’s style number, which can help you determine if the jacket you bought is real or fake.
Patagonia’s gear usually has a series of numbers that includes one letter as the second to last figure. For example, you should see a style number like this on your jacket’s tag: 73521F8.
In this number, the first five digits are the item’s SKU, which is the number used to identify the product in the manufacturer’s and retailer’s computer system. The letter refers to the season (F for fall and S for spring), while the final number is the last number of the year of manufacture.
So, this jacket has a SKU of 73521 and was produced in the fall of 2018. More often than not, the counterfeit gear won’t have the correct style number or will be missing it completely. If you really want to be sure, you can go to a store and look up the style number in the jacket you just bought. Or you can look it up at this website, which will tell you if your style number is real or fake.
Check the stitching
Usually, counterfeit gear is poorly made. In an attempt to make money quickly, fake gear manufacturers use low-quality techniques to churn out knockoff gear.
The hardest part about manufacturing any piece of gear is the stitching, which takes years of practice to get right. If you suspect your jacket is fake, take a look at the stitching. Are the thread lines even? Are there loose threads that are pulling apart in a new jacket?
Real Patagonia gear will, of course, wear out over time, but a new piece of gear would never come from the factory with uneven or haphazard stitching. This is a clear sign that you got a knockoff.
There’s an old adage that if something is too good to be true, it probably is. This is almost always true when it comes to major discounts on quality gear, such as what you’d find from Patagonia. The company is known for its high prices, so everyone is always on the lookout for a big sale.
Unfortunately, if the sale is too big, you’re probably walking right into a trap. Even though gear does go on sale, Patagonia stuff rarely goes on sale for more than 30%, so if you’re getting something for 70% off, make sure it’s from a trusted retailer, not someone on eBay.
Of course, if you’re buying used gear, it shouldn’t cost as much as a new alternative, but you also shouldn’t expect to spend less than 30-40%, unless the gear is pretty trashed or you personally know the owner. If you’re considering buying something that’s more than 30% off or that has a crazy low price, take the time to inspect the gear as much as possible before you buy it. Low prices are a major red flag in the world of counterfeit gear.
Check the colors
Patagonia rotates its color selection every season, so this can be a bit tricky to confirm. However, they work with a standard set of colors for their jackets, so if you can’t find any evidence on the internet that the color of jacket you have has ever been sold elsewhere, you should be suspicious.
Do a quick google image search of something like “Patagonia Better Sweater Neon Green” and see what you come up with. Probably not much because Patagonia has never made a Better Sweater in neon green. But, if you search “Patagonia Nano Air Teal,” you’ll get a lot of results because they used to produce that jacket in teal.
The most commonly faked Patagonia gear
As you can imagine, the most commonly faked pieces of Patagonia gear are from their “lifestyle” line, which includes things like their signature Synchilla Snap-T fleece and their Better Sweater. You’re less likely to find a knockoff hardshell or alpine climbing pants because these products don’t have as wide of an audience as the lifestyle products.
That being said, Patagonia is technically considered a “small brand,” so it’s not really as susceptible to knockoffs as a large company, like The North Face or Under Armor might be. So, if someone is going to fake a piece of Patagonia gear, it will be one of their more popular lifestyle line items.
How to avoid designer imposters
If you’re currently shopping around for discounted gear and want to avoid buying knockoff Patagonia, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself. Here are some tips:
- Only buy from trusted retailers. While you might be tempted to buy that jacket that’s 75% off from JoesDiscountGoods.com, perhaps reconsider. While they might have great “deals,” you might just get scammed, and they might steal your credit card info along the way. Usually, huge retailers, like REI or Backcountry.com, are a safe bet, while odd-looking websites with big deals just aren’t.
- Beware of Amazon. People love Amazon because of the benefits of Amazon Prime, but the website is a hotbed for fake gear. Since anyone can sell anything through Amazon, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the real deal. Plus, Patagonia doesn’t directly sell its gear on Amazon, so your chances of buying a fake item are pretty darn high.
- Don’t buy anything that’s more than 25% off unless it’s from a trusted retailer. If that deal is too good to be true, it probably is.
No one likes to spend more money on gear than they have to, but buying a fake piece of Patagonia gear isn’t ideal, either. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid buying counterfeit gear, if you know where to look. Happy trails!