Latest offering from Patagonia expands into warm water market
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 25 July, 2012 : - - Ok, so Patagonia is synonymous with cold climes. They are best known as the high-end durable brand to shelter you from the cold, be it in the water or on the mountaintop. But this latest offering from Patagonia expands their reach into warm water frontiers. With the release of their R1 wetsuit line Patagonia is solidifying their name in the warm-day-at-the-beach market. My how times change. The R1 line of wetsuits are produced as fullsuits and vests with all variations of coverage in between (except long johns).
The big departure from their other wetsuits is that instead of their trademarked Merino Wool lining that gives Patagonia R2, R3 and R4 suits their signature interior white grid pattern, Patagonia has opted for recycled polyester. The company prefers recycled polyester to bamboo since, according to their research, the waste product left after processing the bamboo was not so green. The outside of suit is 100% recycled and the interior is 50% recycled polyester and 50% virgin polyester blended with spandex.
The new wetsuit fabric built around recycled polyester still uses their grid technology, but this time it is green in color and limited to the chest and core area of the body. The recycled Regulator grid fleece area works on the philosophy of wicking water off the body and warming a cushion of air between surfer and suit. In test surfs the suit was quite warm for only having 2mm of thickness. They recommend the fullsuit for water 65 degrees and up, but you could wear the fullsuit easily in the low-60s and still be warm.
The arms and legs use a limestone-based neoprene. The limestone-based neoprene has a unique feel to it. Instead of the soft, gooey rubber favored on high-performance suits by other manufacturers, the 2 mm R1 feels more, well, solid. Not to say it’s heavy or doesn’t flex, it just feels denser than other neoprene on the market. In test surfs the suit had a good amount of stretch - again, not that soft, super-performance stretch just an even all-over flexibility.
Patagonia's seam stitching is solid
We were impressed the seam constructions on Patagonia’s R1. It’s top-notch. The outside stitching is solid, and the inside areas of the legs and arms are smooth and glued – no tape, no irritating thread and very comfortable. The result is that neoprene in the arms and legs stretches evenly and isn’t held back by taping or excessive stitching along the seams.
The green grid area of the suit is taped along the crotch and the high pressure points are tacked. One benefit of having a suit that’s 2mm all over is that since the grid fleece and smooth neoprene are the same thickness their seams are smooth. When suits join 5 ml material with 4 or 3 ml material (especially a fleecy material) there tends to be less structural integrity to the seams.
Design-wise the back zip was quite flexible for a backzip. Patagonia uses a stiffer Velcro tab closure for the neck so that the when you pull the wetsuit out of your trunk, the Velcro hasn’t gone and stuck to parts of the suit it wasn’t meant to stick to. Great design.
Things we liked: The ample amount of neoprene on the neck gasket helped prevent flushing during test surfs. The seam construction is a great blend of solid craftsmanship and flexibility, and we felt no leaking. The R1 is a solidly put together suit with a good amount of flexibility. Few wetsuits on the market come as close to being green as the Patagonia line. The brand’s embracing of recycled polyester helps the suit’s durability and insulation.
Patagonia's backzip design
Is it worth the $369 price tag? The only negative we found with the Patagonia R1 is that it’s for warm water. The Patagonia R1 is a well made, well designed suit. But we had reservations that one needs a fullsuit in water 65 degrees and up (for which Patagonia rated the suit). For the temperature this wetsuit is rated, the back-zip short-sleeved and full and spring option would be the way to go.
Should Patagonia depart from their merino wool for whatever reason, we would love to see a thicker version of these materials as it’s an all around well-made, good performing suit.
Exterior face fabrics and insulative liners made with 100% recycled polyester
An internal pullover style neck gasket blocks wind and prevents flushing at the zipper.
All seams are single glued and blindstitched for durability; crotch seams are internally taped.
Neoprene underarm panels are backed by nylon jersey on both sides for better stretch while paddling.
Anatomical, compression molded kneepads are PVC-free for better durability and less environmental harm.
Patagonia's mission statement:
Make the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
Author: SV Editors / Jake Setnicka
Wetsuit Reviews: Surfersvillage