As Good As Always, the Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T

Another timeless invention from the '80s

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Price: $99

Sizes: XXS-XXL

Weight: 405 g (14.3 oz)

Materials: Solids: 7.5-oz 100% polyester (85% recycled) fleece

Heathers: 7.9-oz 100% polyester (80% recycled) fleece

Prints: 8.35-oz 100% polyester fleece

Placket and pocket flap: 3.4-oz 100% nylon

Solid and heather fabrics are bluesign approved

Features: Made of midweight Synchilla polyester fleece (solids: 85% recycled; heathers: 80% recycled)

Pullover with 4-snap nylon placket, stand-up collar and Y-Joint sleeves for increased mobility

Left-chest pocket has nylon flap and snap closure

Cuffs and hem have spandex trim
Hip length

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The Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T was born in 1985 and remains as timeless, comfortable, and functional as it has always been. And that’s the genius of Patagonia, a company famous for contrarian advertising campaigns and an environmentalist ethos promoting the values of a life rooted in adventure and minimalism.

But this was not always the case. Back in the early 1980s, Patagonia was a pioneer of new technology and innovation, searching for something better than anything on the market at the time. Not satisfied with the cotton, wool, and down used to make the majority of outdoor active apparel, Patagonia partnered with Malden Mills in Los Angeles (now Polartec) to develop a soft, double-faced, synthetic fabric that did not pill. “It took them a while to get it right,” writes Nick Paumgarten, in a profile of Yvon Chouinard that published in The New Yorker last month. “Their first pile jackets were of fabric that had been intended for toilet-seat covers.” Come fall 1985, the first generations of Patagonia’s branded Synchilla fleece and the Snap-T hit the market, where they’ve been a mainstay ever since.

The basic design, function, and purpose of the Synchilla Snap-T haven’t changed. The cut gives room to move around comfortably in the shoulders and arms and spandex lines the wrists and hem—so roll up the sleeves and go climb a rock, chop firewood, set up the tent. I usually wear the Snap-T with the four buttons on the V-neck open, but if it’s extra cold, snap it up and cherish Synchilla’s ability to block light winds and trap heat.

In the 1990s, Patagonia started making their fleece with recycled plastic bottles. Today, they use 80 percent recycled fleece in their print Snap-Ts (85 percent recycled for solid colors). It’s not the most breathable fleece mid-layer I’ve ever worn. I definitely need to wash it if I’ve been sweating, and my Snap-T tends to hold campfire smell pretty well (but so does everything else I’ve ever worn). But the no pilling is legit. I’ve washed mine many times (I try to avoid the dryer and usually hang it up to air dry), and the material is just about as soft, clean, and durable as it was on first wear.

You can wear the Snap-T everywhere. This is the truth. Take it out to dinner in a mountain town, sleep in it on a cold night. I will never again go camping or on an outdoor, overnight adventure without mine. The best part is that I know I will have this thing forever. If it’s made as well as my parents’ Snap-Ts that they bought in the ’80s, then, like I did before I got my own, my kids will be stealing my Snap-T in the (very) distant future. Or maybe they’ll get their own Snap-T. Hopefully it won’t change.

PHOTO: Maggie Kaiserman