Patagonia co-founder, Yvon Chouinard, taught himself how to blacksmith so he could make pitons (metal spikes to be driven into the rock to assist in climbing) to explore larger rockwalls in Yosemite Park with his friends. Talk about a bad a**! Word quickly spread around the small climbing community, demand grew, and Yvon sustained himself for a few years selling handmade gear out of his car. As the company grew in popularity it received backlash for the equipment damaging rockwalls due to the design and need for it to be hammered into the walls many times over. This led to the development of aluminum chocks that could be mounted by hand and more importantly, it was the start of their environment-first business decisions as a company.
From there, Patagonia would look to outerwear improvements that could better weather the elements. Starting small and taking the more unconventional route, they would address the needs of climbers. Synthetic sweaters and Polypropylene long underwear would pave the way for more environmentally friendly fabrics such as Sychilla and Capilene along with the switch to organic cotton. In 1986 Patagonia kicked things up a notch by contributing a percentage of annual profits to smaller habitat reformation groups. This act would snowball and inspire Yvon to co-found One Percent for the Planet; a global nonprofit focused on directing business contributions towards environmental organizations dedicated to protecting and preserving the earth.
Patagonia has paved the way for eco-friendly businesses while establishing a reputation for delivering high-quality products. In fact, Patagonia maintains such great confidence in product quality they have their Ironclad guarantee; a virtually limitless return policy. If you are looking to invest in outdoor gear, Patagonia should be at the top of your list.