The True Price of Pants - How to Calculate Cost Per use

"Don't be fooled by the price tag when evaluating a product's value."

When deciding upon a new purchase, it's tempting to just look at the price tag and use that as the sole means of evaluation.


It's quick and easy—you see a number—and then decide if you can either afford the item or not.

In truth, there's more to any purchase than just the upfront cost though. Behind every transaction, products have hidden costs and values. By factoring these into your evaluation, better decisions can then be made.


We all know spending a little extra on a pillow you use every night is a better investment than a massage chair likely to collect dust in the garage a few months.

How to quantify this intuition is by understanding and using a cost per use analysis when deciding upon a purchase.


The initial cost is actually just half the equation. The other often-overlooked factor is estimated uses. With both taken into consideration, every purchase from pants to cars can then be evaluated more accurately.

Two men wearing pants eating and smiles

The basic cost per use breakdown

There's a quick, "cost-per-use" formula that even non-math whizzes can master and use with ease. All you need to do is divide the item cost by total estimated uses.

An item that costs $365 used every day for a year would be $1 per use.


Another costs $365 used once would equal $365 per use.


The same price is paid upfront for both, but one has a far more lasting effect and usage.

It's simple enough in theory, and when it comes to practice for apparel, the main variable consumers need to pin down is the estimated usage.


Honestly, How often do you wear pants?


Most people wear pants daily.


Yet with different weather conditions and rotating lineups, let's estimate most pants see action about 4 out of 7 days per week. 

With this as a baseline, we can begin to estimate the true cost breakdown of buying a standard pair of $60 pants vs. our own which cost $120.

A pair of pants basking in the glorious sun, absorbing energy and power for the trials to come

Let's look at the numbers

Most pants are lucky to last two years before failure. Those produced as quickly and cheaply as possible fall apart in even less time, especially you plan to take them on any outdoor adventures.


For the $60 pants being worn 4/7 days for two years, that's a total estimate of 417 days of use. 


Our cost per use formula of (cost/usage) would then be ($60/417)= .14 cents per use.

Not terrible, but can we do better?


We are confident our pants will last three to five years on average, and with our repair program, several additional years on top of that. We will take a conservative baseline though of four years plus one year with repairs.


That's a grand total of 1040 days of use.

Using the same formula, the cost per use comes out to just .12 cents per use!

What about Shorts?


Ah shorts, the younger and sporty brother of beloved pants. Depending on the climate and seasons where you live, you might use these more than pants or not at all.

The same core concept applies though. If we compare standard $40 shorts vs. our $80 version.

Estimating you wear the shorts 4 out of 7 days in spring and summer, the cost per use for the standard shorts comes out to .19 cents compared to our .15 cents for our own.

Man wearing shorts, or shorts wearing man? You be the judge
The brutal aftermath of a failed pinecone invasion of the earth

Other Factors at play

It's important to keep in mind, these numbers don't even begin to factor in the comfort, utility, and sustainability differences. When something is well crafted, it not only performs better in the field but is more enjoyable to use. Especially something as physically important as clothing. 


Sustainability-wise, there's nothing quite as damaging to the planet as fast fashion consumption. The number of resources it takes to produce and transports goods are shocking. When they must be replaced every few years, this further compounds the problem that affects us all.

Purchasing for quality isn't just more fiscally sound. It's also more physically pleasing, practically useful, and environmentally friendly.

The cost per use perspective

What's fun about this kind of perspective is that you can apply it to any purchase beyond apparel and ultimately end up with less stuff of higher quality, which ends up saving you money.


It's an invaluable tool of evaluation in the modern world, where we are tempted to buy so many things, but wonder if we are truly getting the best return for our investment. It's easy to fall under the sway of advertisements and end up buying things you don't need or use. On the other hand, we can also psych ourselves out when we see a higher price tag, and end up paying more in the long run by going with the bottom-of-the-barrel alternatives that barely function and then break down.


The cost per use perspective values quality and longevity over knee-jerk reactions. When you run the numbers and look at the factors at play behind a purchase, the value quickly becomes apparent and justified.

We think people deserve quality, and that it's more attainable you might initially think. Make the most of the cost per use calculator for your future purchases, and see how it can shift your understanding of value and cost.

While we love pairing people with quality pants and other apparel products, we didn't get into this game to just churn out stuff that ends up sitting on a shelf. We want you to own less so you can do more, and believe that outdoor gear should support and enable adventures.

We hope you found this guide informative. If you have any thoughts on the matter, we welcome your thoughts and feedback in the comments below.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published