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Wetsuit Review Series - Patagonia R3



As an avid fan of Patagonia, my anticipation for the R3 wetsuit was high. The R3, carrying the same name as its predecessors, sets itself apart with notable improvements, making it the best R3 Patagonia has released to date. After a full season of use, here's my comprehensive review of the Patagonia R3 Wetsuit.


Product Description:

  • Material Composition: A neoprene-free 4.5mm/3.5mm wetsuit made of 85% Yulex® natural rubber and 15% synthetic rubber, featuring a recycled nylon lining.

  • Thermal Lining: Torso/thighs boast a solution-dyed, fast-drying lining made of 51% recycled nylon, 44% recycled polyester, and 5% recycled spandex, offering excellent warmth and flexibility.

  • Zipper Design: Asymmetrical front-zip with a replaceable, corrosion-proof Salmi® zipper for a better seal and extended suit lifespan; includes an easy-access key loop on the inside.

  • Durability: Supratex kneepads and cuffs are durable, flexible, and snug to the body, enhancing overall comfort without restricting movement.

  • Recommended Temperatures: Suitable for water temperatures ranging from 48°–55° F/9°–13° C.


Review


The Good:

  • Unrivaled Warmth: After a full season of use, the R3 stands out as the warmest wetsuit I've ever owned, providing excellent insulation during even the coldest sessions.

  • Comfortable Hood Design: The R3's hood is not only comfortable but also effectively prevents leaks and flushing during duck dives, contributing to an overall pleasant surfing experience.

  • Eco-Friendly Construction: Patagonia's commitment to environmental sustainability is evident in the R3, with its neoprene-free Yulex material and a recycled polyester liner. The wetsuit line is also Fairtrade certified, ensuring fair wages and environmentally sound production processes.

  • Lifetime 'Ironclad' Guarantee: The R3 comes with Patagonia's lifetime guarantee, reinforcing their commitment to customer satisfaction by repairing or replacing any part of the wetsuit damaged from normal use. I used this twice after the leg, crotch, and shoulder seams ripped. Patagonia repaired it for free, which took about ~6 weeks.

The Bad:

  • Limited Flexibility: Despite its durability, the Yulex material makes the R3 one of the least flexible wetsuits I've worn, particularly noticeable during constant paddling at spots like Ocean Beach.

  • Seam Strength vs. Flexibility: The slim external seal seam, while providing extra strength, seemed to contribute to blown-out seams on the leg, crotch, and shoulder after continuous use, highlighting a potential trade-off between seam strength and overall flexibility. I had issues with seams ripping (see above).

  • Higher Price Tag: At $579, the Patagonia R3 is positioned at the top of the price range for comparable wetsuits. The R3's premium price is a consideration for budget-conscious surfers. While the eco-friendly and lifetime guarantee aspects contribute to its value, the pricing places it at a higher tier within the market. Here are the alternatives:

    • Xcel's 4.5​/3.5 Comp X Hooded Wetsuit ($469.95),

    • XCEL's 4​/3 Drylock Hooded Wetsuit ($494.95),

    • O'Neill's 4.5​/3.5 Mutant Legend Chest Zip Hooded Wetsuit ($479.95),

    • O'Neill's 4​/3​+ Hyperfreak Chest Zip Hooded Wetsuit ($409.95),

    • Dakine 4​/3 Mission Chest Zip Hooded Wetsuit ($430.00),

    • Rip Curl's E7 E-Bomb 4/3 Hooded Zip Free Fullsuit Wetsuit ($369.95),

    • FERAL's Hooded 3mm+ ($435),

    • Vissla's NEW SEAS 4-3 HOODED V-ZIP WETSUIT ($459.95), and

    • Billabong's 4/3 Furnace Comp Hooded Chest Zip Full Wetsuit ($439.95),


Environmental Impact:

Patagonia's dedication to environmental conservation is reflected in the R3's production, utilizing Yulex as a sustainable alternative to traditional neoprene. The eco-friendly approach extends to the wetsuit line's Fairtrade certification and the 'Ironclad' lifetime guarantee.


Pricing and Ratings:


Conclusion:

The Patagonia R3 Wetsuit is a testament to Patagonia's commitment to innovation, warmth, and environmental responsibility. While it excels in insulation, comfort, and sustainability, the trade-off between flexibility and seam strength may be a consideration for some surfers. With a lifetime guarantee and positive reviews, the R3 stands as a strong contender for those seeking a top-tier wetsuit with a conscience.

The big question is would I buy it again? I so want to say yes. I’m a big fan of Patagonia & I really wanted to love this wetsuit. Patagonia’s commitment to the environment and equitable business is, in my opinion, the gold standard by which all other companies should be judged. However, the technology seems to lag behind in achieving the seamless fusion of Yulex's durability with the flexibility I crave. I earnestly look forward to the day when Patagonia conquers these challenges, and at that point, I would gladly consider purchasing it again.


Wetsuit reviews coming soon:

  • O'Neill 4.5​/3.5 Mutant Legend Chest Zip Hooded Wetsuit ($479.95)

  • O'Neill 4​/3​+ Hyperfreak Chest Zip Hooded Wetsuit ($409.95)

  • Rip Curl E7 E-Bomb 4/3 Hooded Zip Free Fullsuit Wetsuit ($369.95

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