Companies use a wide variety of techniques to convince us to buy their wares, and one of the most confusing is often the warranty—basically a guarantee that a product will work as advertised for a specific period of time. While paying extra for an “extended” warranty is often a waste of money, and warranties can actually restrict how we use something we own, when something goes wrong and we get a product repaired or replaced at no cost, it can be a magical experience.
Most of us don’t think too much about warranties, though, because we suspect companies wouldn’t offer them unless they had good reason to believe most of us won’t ever use them. So it might surprise you to learn that a wide range of products actually come with built-in, automatic lifetime warranties. In other words, you might already own stuff that is backed by a true lifetime warranty and not even know it—which could save you serious cash and trouble if they ever break down.
What is a “lifetime warranty”?
First, a quick dive into what a “lifetime warranty” is and isn’t. The word “lifetime” has no specific, legal meaning—it can mean anything the manufacturer wants as long as they explain it clearly in the small print. Typically, it refers to the life of the product, not your life—but even so, many companies have a specific definition of what a product lifetime actually is, and usually throw in additional restrictions—like defining what “normal use” means. In some cases, “lifetime” warranties are limited to just a few years, because that’s what the company sees as the useful lifetime of the product. As a result, the vast majority of “lifetime” warranties are actually pretty limited and not lifetime at all. Most warranties also stipulate that they don’t cover “wear and tear,” i.e., the normal use of the product—they only cover manufacturing defects.
But a short list of products have true lifetime warranties—if you own one of these products, you’re pretty set for (actual) life.
Products with true lifetime warranties
Here’s a list of things you might already own that are backed by a real lifetime warranty—meaning you can get your product replaced or repaired no matter how old it is, and for any reason.
- Cutco knives. Own a knife from Cutco? No matter how long you’ve owned that knife, they’ll replace or repair it at no charge as long as the damage doesn’t stem from “unconventional use”—and even if you did break your knife trying to pick a lock or something, they’ll still replace it at half-cost. They also offer free sharpening for the lifetime of your knife.
- Zippo Windproof Lighters. Zippo will repair or replace a Windproof Lighter, no questions asked, whether its “5 years, 25 years, or 50 years old.” Note that this only applies to the Windproof model—other lighters have separate warranties.
- Briggs and Riley luggage. The company will repair your luggage to the best of its ability, no questions asked, forever. They don’t even require that you prove you bought the luggage. The only stipulation is that if your luggage is so old it’s been discontinued, they might have to use materials that don’t match the original.
- Craftsman and Stanley tools. Stanley offers a true lifetime warranty on its mechanics tools, and Craftsman offers one for its hand tools, most mechanics tools, and a selection of other tools. This means they’ll replace any of those tools at any time without even asking for proof of purchase. Other tools typically have a limited “lifetime” warranty, so be sure to check before assuming you can mail those rusty wrenches back for a fresh set.
- Darn Tough and Feetures socks. Darn Tough will replace your socks if they’re not “the longest-lasting socks you’ve ever owned,” which is a pretty broad requirement. They don’t require proof of purchase—just wash them, mail ‘em back, and get a new pair at any time. Similarly, Feetures will replace any pair of socks that wear out.
- Osprey packs. If you own a backpack from Osprey, they will repair it or replace it for free at any time—no questions asked.
- Patagonia. Unsurprisingly for a company whose founder just gave it away to fund efforts to fight climate change, Patagonia will repair, replace, or refund any product at any time (though after a year, your refund will come in the form of store credit). If the product is damaged due to “wear and tear” they’ll still repair it for you, but at a “reasonable charge,” so be sure to check before you send it in.
- Vermont Teddy Bears. If you bought one of these adorable stuffed toys and it gets damaged—in any way, at any time—you can send it to their “hospital” for a free repair. This doesn’t apply to the bear clothes or accessories, just the bear itself. If your bear is so old its materials are no longer available, they’ll send you a new one.
- Calphalon cookware. As long as you use your Calphalon pots and pans according to instructions, they’ll replace them at any time. Note that the company states it will examine the returned item and if it can’t see the defect, it will send it back to you with a letter of explanation, so you can’t just swap out old pans for new.
- Jostens rings. If you have a class ring made by Jostens, you can get it resized, repaired, cleaned, or even replaced for free at any time. They’ll replace simulated birthstones, but not real gemstones.
- Vortex Optics and Leupold scopes. Vortex will replace any of its binoculars, gun scopes, or other optical gear at no charge, at any time. They exclude intentional and purely cosmetic damage, but otherwise “it doesn’t matter how it happened, whose fault it was, or where you purchased it.” Similarly, Leupold will repair or replace any of its riflescopes, mounts, binoculars, or spotting scopes, no questions asked.
- Manduka yoga mats. The company will replace many of its yoga mats even if they wear out through normal use.
- Davek umbrellas. The company will replace your umbrella if it stops working properly for any reason, at any time. You just pay shipping costs.
- Red Oxx travel bags. Red Oxx will repair or replace your bag at any time, no questions asked. It’s that simple.
There are a lot of “limited” lifetime warranties out there, too—many of which are pretty robust and extremely valuable. But there aren’t many truly unlimited ones, so if you own something on this list, rejoice! Because you’re probably going to own it for a long, long time.