Patagonia Changes The Wetsuit

posted by / News / August 29, 2007

For years, Patagonia has been known as an eco-friendly company that supported all sorts of projects within the surf industry. With their sponsorship of the Malloy brothers a few years ago, it became evident that the company was looking to break into the surfwear industry in a big way. And with the release of Patagonia’s Regulator Series wetsuits, they have just begun to delve into the hardgoods market.SurfingMagazine.com recently sat down with Patagonia’s Jon Peck to find out what makes these wetsuits so special.SURFING: So what exactly is so different about the Patagonia Regulator wetsuits from conventional suits that are currently available?

Jon Peck: The Patagonia Regulator series wetsuits are special due to the new approach Patagonia has taken in building them. First, in teaming with Yamamoto rubber in Japan, we have come up with a neoprene that has more closed cellular structure and that is not totally derived from Petroleum. Our Neoprene instead is 83% limestone derived. This is our solution to move us away from petroleum and towards more earth conscious materials. Limestone is not a perfect solution though as it still needs to be excavated from the Earth, but is the best material available for neoprene as far as a balance between Enviro Friendliness and Quality go. Secondly, you have the Wool lining on our R2 and R3 full suits. This lining consists of small tufts of wool that are attached to the suit using Recycled polyester fibers. The wool tufts allow for less neoprene to be needed as they work to insulate the wearer. Wool does this as it is hydrophobic and is continually moving water across its surface and into the outer neoprene layer. Those are the major features that make our suits special. There seems to be a bit of an added cost to these suits. Is there any specific reason for this?The price of our suits does sit on the higher end of the spectrum but for good reason. This higher price comes from our use of materials that are not as easy to come by as the components used by other wetsuit manufacturers.What makes these suits more environmentally friendly than other suits? As with everything Patagonia does we strive to find a balance between using Environmentally friendly materials and the quality of the product. This is important so that the suit can hold up to the rigorous movements of surfing and not end up in a landfill after only a few months of use. So by using Limestone, wool, and recycled elements in our suits we do believe we have softened the impact of our product on the environment.Currently they are a little tough to find. Are there any plans to sell them outside of your store in Cardiff? We are currently getting the suits into a few of the already existing stores along the west coast such as Ventura, Santa Monica, and San Francisco with more to come.What kind of research and design went into the production of these wetsuits? Our surf ambassadors have been our greatest asset in the research and development of our wetsuit program. The Malloy’s especially have given the greatest feedback as they have tested the suits in varying locals across the globe.Have you found that with the different materials that improved flexibility, performance or warmth are a result? Right now most of the bigger wetsuit manufacturers are pushing their super stretch materials really hard. These suits do come out being more flexible than ours by a small margin but they are not as warm over the duration of a session. Our suits use a tighter cellular structure which does two things to help insulate the wearer. First it causes water to evaporate faster out of the suit and second it creates a wind block that keeps you from being chilled. The wool on the inside is also keeping you drier and thus warmer on the interior of the suit as well as insulating the water trapped in the neoprene. For us it doesn’t matter how stretchy your suit is if it isn’t keeping you warm and loose for you whole session.To learn more about Patagonia’s Regulator wetsuit line and where you can purchase them, visit www.Patagonia.com

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