Deciphering Patagonia: The Snap-T (Part 2)

This is an update I’ve been hoping to make for quite some time. My goal for the past few months has been to get my hands on an original model Patagonia Snap-T from 1985, and I’m fairly certain that I have now done so. This could easily have been a hand-me-down from someone’s older brother when I was in high school, but comes my way via a friend who found it in a thrift shop. I gladly forked over some money to get my hands on this piece of history…

What leads me to believe that this is an original is that it matches one of the original colors from the 1985 catalog. I don’t have the catalog, but thanks to The Snap-T Story (, there is a picture of that page from the 1985 Patagonia catalog showing the colors available at the time. The original colors were: Cobalt Blue, Dark Peacock, Purple, Red, and Grey.

The original text from that catalog is quite illuminating as to the story behind the piece as well:

“The four-snap Synchilla Turtle is a clean beast with no bad habits. You can wear it next to your bare skin for animal gratification or layer it over another turtleneck, Patagonia Stretch Capilene underwear, or a light shirt. The snap neck allows easy climatic transitions. Contrasting Lycra tape trims the cuffs and waist to make layering easy. Y-Joint sleeves eliminate ride-up. Because the fabric is Synchilla, the turtleneck won’t pill, wear out or lose its shape. Made in USA.”

So yeah, this thing is pretty cool. I am 100% certain that this is either a 1985 or 1986 model Snap-T, and am still trying to narrow it down. It has the style #25541, which as I discussed in a prior post is the model number for the Snap-T prior to the addition of a chest pocket in 1988. The thing that is missing is the season code. Patagonia started doing this at least in 1988, so this is definitely pre-1988. The reason for thinking this is the original model year is the color. Patagonia doesn’t normally carry colorways over from year to year, so there’s a good chance that this was only made for one year. Gray with a navy blue trim is not a color of Snap-T that I have ever encountered before.

I have a 1986 catalog on the way, so hopefully that will help shed some more light on this subject!

Another note on these 30+ year old Patagonia fleeces… They fit small compared to newer models! This one measures smaller than a modern medium Snap-T!!

Here are the measurements for this size Large model: chest (22 inches across), sleeves (34″), length of back (25.75″). Compare those measurements to a recent (2015 model) lightweight Snap-T (size Medium) I sold on Ebay last week (23″, 35.5″, 28.5″), and you can see that the 1985 model is considerably smaller than its 2015 sibling, and it’s a “larger size”!

Deciphering Patagonia: Regulator Fleeces

This post will be less about how to identify Regulator fleeces, than a bit about why I like them. The jackets has changed routinely in style, cut and colors; making identifying them a bit tougher than the Snap-T. The one consistency has been the “R” logo on the left sleeve. Beyond that, the easiest way to familiarize yourself with the difference is to handle them. a 1999 R2 jacket will be pretty much the same weight as a 2015 version. The R3 jacket though has changed considerably in the past couple of years, moving to a “grid” fabric that I don’t think looks as nice. As always with Patagonia, it’s fairly simple google the style number to find out the style name. As with other jackets, the tag will either be on the inside left side seam; or behind the neck tag.

The Regulator Fleece jackets, introduced in 1999, are perhaps the greatest leap in synthetic fleece fabric. Weight for weight, they will be warmer than Synchilla fleeces, and are generally more durable and abusable. I’ve used mine around the world, and in a variety of conditions, and will say that for active pursuits, these are my goto jackets. I currently have an R2 jacket (purchased in the Fall of 2002 off the clearance rack at REI in Saratoga, CA) that is very worn down, and a relatively new R3 Hi-Loft fleece (purchased in the Fall of 2014 from the Patagonia Outlet in Santa Cruz, CA).

As you will see from the pictures, my old R2 fleece (a Spring 2001 model in Fire/Asphalt (dark red/gray), has been through a lot. It has seen climbing and hiking action from the Sierra Nevada of California to the Himalayas in Nepal. It’s been to more countries and states than a lot of people have. Lately, it has been retired to lounging around the house duty. I just can’t bring myself to get rid of something that has been part of so many experiences. The Buddha eyes were embroidered by a street vendor in Kathmandu while I enjoyed an Americano at the cafe next door!

The R3 jacket (the color is called “Red Delicious (RDS)) is in the early stages of developing character. It has seen action in the ranges of California, and now that I have moved to Colorado, it has seen some use in the Rockies as well. I wore it today, on a brisk day with a high of 23, with only a t-shirt underneath.

Here are the pictures of my R2 jacket. The catalog images are of the Early Spring 2001 catalog.

Here are the pictures of my R3 Hi-Loft jacket.

So yeah, there’s a bit about my “collection” of Regulator fleece jackets… I do wish I still had the R1 pullover and R4 jackets that I had once upon a time. The windproof R4 would be ideal for Colorado winters…

Deciphering Patagonia -The Snap T

I’ve been meaning to start adding some knowledge to the internet on the subject of what is perhaps my favorite brand.

I discovered Patagonia when I was in high school in the early 1990s when some of my friends had their stuff, but I never did, as it was too pricey for my parents.

One of the most enduring styles offered by Patagonia is the Synchilla Snap-T fleece pullover jacket, which has remained unchanged in style since 1989, and has been around since 1985.

Here’s a look at the three of the variations that exist of this iconic piece. The first is a Fall 1988 model in blue, green and pink. This is the older “Synchilla Snap-T Neck” model, which is the precursor to the newer style, the “Synchilla Snap-T”. Note that the difference in style for the years mentioned only exists in the regular model. The lightweight Snap-T model hung onto the old style for many more years (I believe it disappeared somewhere in the mid 2000s). The second one is a Fall 2002 model Snap-T in a brownish color. The last one is a Fall 2014 model Synchilla Snap-T Hoody (which is different, but is the most recent Patagonia fleece that I have at the moment -it’s my personal favorite fleece jacket). Note that the Hoody model also has hand pockets, while the standard Snap-T does not.

Here’s the difference between the neck tags… Again, the 1988 jacket is shown first, followed by the 2002 and 2014 versions. Note that the later version also has a tab for hanging the jacket from a coat hook.

The easiest way to tell the vintage of a Patagonia fleece is by the tag on the inside. These will have the style number, date code, and newer ones (at least since the late 2000s) will also have a color code which can help you determine the actual name of the color of the jacket in question. On older Snap-T’s this tag is on the inside left side seam, while on newer models, it’s underneath the neck tag.

As for deciphering these…

The 1988 tag has the older style number (25521), and a date code of F8. Some 1990s and 2000s model fleeces would have this date code, but coupled with the style number, I know that this is a 1988 model. This style of Snap-T Neck was only made from 1985 through 1988. Thus, this is from the final production run of this style!

The 2002 tag has the new style number (25450 -which is still used to this day), and a date code of FA02 (Fall 2002).

The 2014 tag has the style code 25461 (Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Hoody), date code of FA14 (Fall 2014) and a color code of CVK (Nickel Gray Heather and Navy (I googled “Patagonia CVK” to find the name of the color -of course, a catalog might show this as well, though this model is shown in the Fall 2014 catalog, this color is only marginally represented.


As for how to tell the weight of the fleece if you have a jacket with the tags cut out? Here’s a picture showing the thickness of the fleece next to a seamsters’ measuring tape. The fleece should be about 1″ thick if folded into four layers and not compressed. Note that this is the 2014 model. Other vintages of Synchilla fleece may vary slightly.


For a little look back, here are pictures of Snap-T pages from catalogs of the eras I am mentioning in this post. The catalogs represented are from Spring 1988, Fall 2001, and Fall 2014. The photo of Dean Potter slacklining from the 2001 catalog makes me extra nostalgic…

But anyway… Snap-T’s are awesome. Don’t let anyone convince you that these are only worn by frat boys during their drinking binges. These have been the style worn by outdoorsy types for 30 years now…

Change Of Scene

So, my wife and I migrated from California to Colorado just over a month ago. There were many reasons for the move, but the summary is that we wanted a better life than California can provide.

Now, I can be in the mountains in less than ten minutes on my bike. I can run from home, along the foothills of the Rockies, and only be gone for an hour (I did this yesterday evening).

As for what this means for this blog. I’ve been really, really bad at updating this thing. I hope to get better about actually writing here from time to time. I’ve certainly been out thrifting and have come up with lots of good stuff here. I will say though, that the thrifting is not as good here as it is in the Bay Area. But hey, that is what it is. I’m slowly shifting to more and more consignment sales as my source of income, which means that the thrifting is becoming more of a fun activity for (of course, it has always been fun!) finding some gems.

I’ll just dump some pics here of some of my most recent scores… Holubar 60/40 Down Filled Mountain Parka, Sierra Designs 60/40 Mountain Parka, Vintage 1960s/70s Trailwise external frame backpack, Allen Edmonds Plain Toe blucher oxford dress shoes.








Updates and Such…

Many of my readers will know that I’ve been selling on Ebay regularly for some time. The exploding business has seriously drawn away from the time I have to spend updating this blog!

Today, I past the 50% mark of the sales numbers I hit in 2014. We’re only 110 days into this year, and I’m on pace to nearly double my sales from last year, and hopefully my income as well!

I was speaking to a Customer Service rep on the phone yesterday, and he commented that my defect rate is unbelievably low given the volume of sales I process (3 defects on 701 transactions since February 1 -which translates to .43%). The key, as I told him, is that I treat people honestly, with respect, and ship their purchases as quick as possible without going overkill. I specifically state in my listings that I ship daily during the week, and will ship the same day if the order is paid before noon. I tend to go to the Post Office in the early afternoon; so this fits my schedule and keeps people happy.

The other keys of course center around the quality of the goods I’m selling. I tend to obsess over the condition of items before I even take them home. I try to only list things that I would wear if they were my size and style (I don’t pass judgement on what other people might wear). Vintage items are graded a little bit more loosely, but current stuff isn’t worth my time if the condition is subpar.

Thrifting Awesome #5 (It Pays To Look Around)

So, as I was flipping through the shirts at my local GW store, I made an interesting find. And I’m not even talking about the Bill’s Khakis shirt and Paul & Shark Yachting shirts that I picked up. Those were nice, but the better find illustrates one of the key fundamentals of thrifting successfully.

One of the biggest keys to thrifting for profit involves looking around. It involves not just looking at what you’re looking at, but noticing things. Don’t get pigeonholed into thinking, “I’m on the shirt rack, I’m looking for shirts!” to the detriment of seeing what is truly there.

This is how I’ve spotted really cool vintage GoreTex jackets (see the post a few back about vintage outerwear), it’s how I’ve spotted Paradise Found “Magnum PI” shirts from across the store, it’s how I found a brand new in box triathlon wetsuit in the electronics department. Tom Brown, Jr., a survival expert, referred to a concept called scatter vision. You take in everything, not just what’s directly in front of you. This is me in a thrift shop, it’s a survival instinct. I will find the good stuff…

Anyway, back to my local GW store… I was cruising the shirt rack, not finding a whole lot worthwhile, when something catches my eye on the rack above the shirt rack (which is filled mostly with hats). I wasn’t looking at it, but the texture of what was there was what caught my eye. My first thought was, that looks like old school cordura nylon, the sort found on cool vintage outdoors gear. When I looked up, my jaw dropped. It was a pair of expedition down mittens. The same model, in fact, that was used by the first American Expedition to climb Mount Everest back in 1963. As it turns out, the material that caught my eye wasn’t cordura, but aramid (Kevlar is the trade name you likely know this wonderfabric by).

So yeah, a pair of expedition weight goose down filled mittens from probably early to mid 1970s! In mint condition, and in my size (like that’s going to keep me from selling these!). And I would have missed them if I wasn’t using my version of scatter vision in the thrift shop tonight…



Ethics and the Art of Thrifting For Profit

Yesterday, a particular user took to the message boards of Styleforum to brag about return something to a retail store that he had purchased at a thrift store. As this sort of thing normally will, this incited a lively discussion of whether or not such a practice is legal and/or ethical.

Since a lot of people who read this blog are thrifting with an eye towards reselling for profit, I thought I’d add my twopence here for posterity’s sake.

Here’s the original post (name of stores involved removed, since I don’t know for certain that this wasn’t an entirely fictional scenario. Also, in an earlier post, this particular user had mentioned buying this coat at “Company A”.

Went to “Company B” and returned that Pal Zileri coat. Love their return policy [$1,087 onto my AmEx, paid $30]

Now, to me, this is a pretty cut and dry case (at least under California law -and I assume most states would have pretty much the same laws in place) of consumer fraud. Buying something from one retailer and returning it to another is consumer fraud. The scale of this particular case could lead to grand theft charges since the amount stolen from “Company B” was greater than $1000.

Much confusion ensued as to whether this action constituted fraud, whether it was ethical, and whether the scale of it made any difference.

To me, again, this is a pretty cut and dry case of consumer fraud/theft. This guy bought an expensive coat that still had a retail price tag on it at a thrift store. He then took it to the store where the retail price tag was from and returned it, representing himself as the original purchaser of the item. He knowingly lied (whether implicitly or explicitly) to that company to get $1000+ from them. Whether he actually told the employee of the retail store that he had bought the item or not should be immaterial to the case.

As to whether or not this action was unethical…

Company B is well known for having a lax return policy. Their mission is to satisfy their customers and they work with customers on a case by case basis rather than having a specific return policy.

Having such a return policy requires that customers have a certain amount of decency in their dealing with Company B. Customer abuse of these sorts of return policies leads to many problems. I’ll use the example of Company C, where I worked while was in college. They also used to have a very lax return policy and were forced to change this practice in the past year because of excessive abuse by customers.

Company C recently change their return policy from lifetime to one year. The reason for this is because too many people were returning items to the store that they had used for years or even decades. While most customers expect wear and tear as part of the life of an item, some people were using it as grounds for returning items that were well used. Even items that were lasting longer than expected were getting returned for a full refund. If you walked 2,000 miles in a pair of boots or ran 500 in a pair of shoes, would you consider that normal? Or would you desire to return them for a full refund?

Also brought up was the scale of the company involved. Would this scenario be different if the company involved was a small mom & pop operation than having been a large nationwide company? To me, the answer is unequivocally no.

In my opinion, too many people in our society feel that getting ahead by any means is perfectly acceptable. These are the same people who are quick to forgive drug cheats in sports, saying that “Everyone else was doing it.” This logic is used by people to justify their own cheating. If everyone in a given profession cheated, the playing field would be level for them. But what about the people who would like to be in that profession but refuse to cheat? Aren’t they hurt by the actions of those who cheated?

Cheating another individual, group, or corporation out of their property, dream, freedom, or whatever is entirely wrong. It doesn’t matter from an ethics standpoint whether we’re talking about $50, $1,000,000, freedom of religion, or anything else under the sun.

A civil society needs rules to be equally enforced across the board. It also requires a certain amount of decorum and decency from everyone in order to function properly and to be sustainable.

Going back to the case at hand. Every time someone cheats a retail store, it hurts everyone. It hurts us all in the form of higher prices, tighter security, etc. Higher prices at one level of the consumer chain leads to higher prices across the board. It mostly likely will lead to inflation. If you don’t see the problem with inflation, consider that starting wages at a particular store I used to work at have not gone up in over 20 years.