I have been a fan of Patagonia for a long time. I like their environmental stance and general integrity. I love their catalogs but all the good publicity and green work is pointless unless the merchandise is good. I purchased some Capilene shirts back in 1987 that I can still wear regularly and a fleece hat that remains in constant use about the same time. Patagonia gear is expensive but easily a good value in the cost per wearing and per use equation.
About 5 years ago, my in-laws gave me a Critical Mass bag for a Christmas gift. I used it daily on my commute, on trips. It held at least 2 grocery bags full of stuff, beer, books, dog food, what have you. I liked it because it rested on my backside for bike rides, not on my shoulders or my back.
Tossing it in my car one day, I neglected to buckle the buckles on the thing. (Yet another reason to avoid driving.) The plastic buckles were slightly cracked but still worked. When they finally gave out, I contacted Patagonia via chat about getting replacement buckles. They offered to ship them to me but when I considered trying to restitch the straps and so forth, I decided to mail the bag back and have their repair department handle it. I emptied my bag and put my daily needs into my Lowe Alpine daypack, which I love for hiking but was too small for riding and uncomfortable when biking.
I printed and completed the repair form and packed it up at the UPS store.3 weeks later, I got a call from Patagonia that they had received my bag with only the UPS label on the package, no instructions, no idea what to with it. I called them and explained that I sent it in to have the buckles replaced.
A few days later, it occurred to me that, if they didn't have the form, they didn't have my payment method. So I made another call to them.
They told me that the record showed they were sending a new bag out Monday at no cost to me. It wasn't my old bag or a new old stock version of my bag, but a brand-new updated bag. My old bag had a small pocket in the back so that objects inserted in there would sit at my back. It didn't have pen slots so that pens floated around the bag. There was no place for my phone. It had a built-in laptop pouch.
The new bag has a phone pouch attached to the shoulder strap. It has slots for 3 pens. The small zipped pocket is in the front of the bag. The new bag has a detachable, padded laptop pouch.
Despite constant improvements in bags, I was committed, in my mind, to using the old bag until it wore out. I'm thrilled, though, to have a newer, nicer bag and where I'm making a choice, I'll buy Patagonia.