Surfing World's Wetsuit Guide "Paint It Black"- Patagonia
As day turns to darkness and the chill of winter sets in… A collision of art and science meets the philosophies behind making state-of-the-art wetsuits. Welcome to the new Wetsuit guide by Surfing World, “Paint It Black”
HUB HUBBARD – PATAGONIA WETSUIT GURU
At Patagonia we’ve just switched our entire wetsuit range to natural rubber, which from the standpoint of wetsuit technology means we’re in a better place than we’ve ever been. Especially because if I gave you a suit made out of natural rubber and you compared it to a suit that’s made out of neoprene, if I didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t know the difference.
It was about eight years ago the guys at Yulex read a post on our company blog – we have a blog called The Cleanest Line, anyone can get on and check it out – written by Todd Copeland, who’s an employee at Patagonia, called Green Neoprene? and he really dug into how all the companies are kind of touting limestone as being some kind of eco-friendly material, Todd did a bunch of research and found that limestone is actually no better than petroleum. Yulex read that blog and said, “Hey, we might actually have an alternative.” They were making surgical gloves and condoms and other latex-type products at the time so they got in their lab and made a little piece of foam about the size of a Scrabble piece, and they were like, “Yeah, we can do this.” They came to Patagonia and started to develop it. I actually got to surf in the very first suit and I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is the best wetsuit in the world, it finally happened.”
I couldn’t believe it. I came in, I drove back to work and went to Fletcher Chouinard and said, “Hey Fletcher,” I gave one to him, “This is the best wetsuit in the world.”
Our philosophy for wetsuit design is this: Is it functional? Is it multi-functional? Is it simple? Is it durable? We have all these points that we actually grade every single product that we make, wetsuits included, and all these things that Yvon (Chouinard, Patagonia founder) came up with that we actually rate each product on, so wetsuits are no different and we actually have a totally working prototype facility in Ventura in order to be able to run out to the surf, test them right away, and come back and make changes. So, that’s pretty cool.
It’s a beautifully simple wetsuit. It doesn’t have logos all over it. We really simplified the design to have as few seams as possible, and wanted to make something that can be repaired in case something does go wrong.
We do use as much recycled content as possible. We have a new micro-grid, inverted micro-grid lining this year which is mostly recycled polyester.
I would put this suit up against anything else on the market. That was my goal when I came to Patagonia, build a suit that I could hand to any surfer and say, “This is the best wetsuit in the world.”
Patagonia R1 Yulex FZ Full Suit $549.95 available here