GEAR REVIEW: PATAGONIA R1 YULEX FULL SUIT – WARM NEVER FELT SO GOOD
GEAR REVIEW: Patagonia R1 Yulex Front-Zip Full Suit
All wetsuit companies claim superiority based on warmth and flexibility — often times both. All good. In my opinion, there aren’t any full suits on the market that make you cold and stiff. Therefore it makes sense to each and every one of us that buying a wetsuit really comes down to brand loyalty, fit, and price – not necessarily in that order.
I recently bought a R1 Yulex Front-Zip Full Suit from Patagonia. Patagonia seems to do everything right and it starts at the top. I’ve met Yvonne Chouinard. I’ve read his book. Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman. I’m a fan – although perhaps a tad bit reluctant. I admire Chouinard’s conviction. His uber-progressive political stances, let’s just say that I prefer to pick and choose. One I will choose is the use of neoprene-free Yulex rubber — sourced and certified by the Rainforest Alliance — for Patagonia’s 2016 wetsuit offering. Patagonia’s use of Yulex rubber warms my body and my conscience. BRAND LOYALTY: CHECK!
My wetsuit arrived. Stoked internal grom that I am, I immediately had to go surfing. The waves were crap, but I had a new wetsuit. It doesn’t make sense, I know. Neither does my obsession with surfing, which sometimes has me head-to-toe in a wetsuit, in the dark, staring at the black ocean, hoping there will be swell when the light appears.
As I pulled the new full suit over my foot I immediately noticed it’s soft lining. Nice. Like pajamas. The suit was tight. The front zip closure had me flummoxed for a few seconds. Arms constricted, somebody could have rolled me, taken my Allman Brothers’ CD collection (yeah I still use CDs – go ahead, roll your eyes) and the end would be near. The front-zip is not what I would describe as easy-in, easy-out.
A strategy needed to be employed, especially getting my shoulders liberated whilst taking the suit off. I recommend a rash guard underneath for slipping on and off. Next time I’ll consider the back-zip.
The fit. First time out, brand new suit, it felt a tad bit restrictive. I figured the suit would loosen up as I stretched it a bit and it did. And now with a few more sessions in the suit that is certainly the case. Today I’m paddling around warm, relaxed, free and easy. FIT: SNUG. COMFORTABLE. CHECK!
Pricing is in-line with the other high-end suits on the market which all range from $460-$410. The R1 Yulex Front-Zip from Patagonia costs $429. I intend on having this Patagonia full suit for MORE than one season. Sadly, that has not been my experience with other top brands out there. With that price I get an industry leading customer service department and the feel good knowledge that Mr. Chouinard is applying ethics in all his affairs – a tip ‘o the cap to the principled, like-able leader of Patagonia. PRICE: A TAD BELOW INDUSTRY STANDARD AND VALUE WELL ABOVE INDUSTRY STANDARD. CHECK!
Brand loyalty, fit, and price have all been met. If your thinking about a Patagonia 2016 full suit with the new Yulex rubber you won’t be disappointed. If your old like me go with the back zip.
ON A SCALE OF 1 to 5 = 4.5
Features (from the Patagonia website)
- Made with neoprene-free 85% Yulex® natural rubber/15% synthetic rubber that meets our rigorous standards for performance, durability, warmth and sustainability
- Natural rubber is derived from sources that are Forest Stewardship Council™ certified by the Rainforest Alliance; synthetic rubber is chlorine-free
- Torso/thighs have 51% recycled polyester/44% polyester/5% spandex inverted microgrid thermal lining that minimizes weight, dries fast and offers excellent flexibility
- High-stretch 100% recycled polyester jersey lining in the arms/legs improves flexibility and dry time; exterior face fabric made with 85% recycled polyester/15% spandex is durable, stretchy and water-resistant
- 100% external seam sealing; all seams are triple glued and 100% internally taped
- Supratex kneepads and ankle cuffs for maximum durability and anatomic fit
- Floating front-zip with corrosion-proof Salmi® zipper provides extra room to get in/out and extends suit’s lifespan. Easy-access key loop
- Torso/thighs: 3mm 85% Yulex® natural rubber/15% synthetic rubber by polymer content, lined with 51% recycled polyester/44% polyester/5% spandex inverted microgrid
- Arms/legs: 2.5mm 85% Yulex natural rubber/15% synthetic rubber by polymer content, lined with high-stretch 100% recycled polyester jersey
- Exterior face fabric: 85% recycled polyester/15% spandex
- 1020 g (36 oz)