Patagonia R3 Hooded Wetsuit Review
The R3 has been a shop staple since its introduction almost 10 years ago. Since then, the suit has gone through several iterations and major changes, but it’s always retained the same core characteristics. At heart, the R3 is still super durable, as environmentally friendly as it gets, and toasty warm to boot. If you surf colder waters and want to do right by the planet, Patagonia’s R3 is highly recommended.
Patagonia as a brand has always done things differently and as they say, “use business to inspire”. This is evident in everything they do, especially wetsuits. In the past, they broke out of industry conventions of the time with a unique entry, no smooth skin on a high-end wetsuit, and a Merino Wool liner (that’s the same stuff used by fishermen back in the day). All of those features were well received at the time and proved that Patagonia could make a solid, quality wetsuit. The Hooded R3 in particular was a standout and became a popular choice for Nor-Cal, the NW, and the Mid-Atlantic.
The R3 Today
This 2021 R3 carries the same name but differs from the older versions, even the one released in recent years. Without question, this is the best R3 Patagonia has released so far. So what exactly makes this version so special?
To explain it simply, Patagonia uses a rubber called Yulex, which is harvested from the sap of a tree in South America. It’s a renewable resource that flexes and retains heat, similar to the neoprene we’re all used to wearing. While the R3 is a 4.5/3.5mm wetsuit, it’s plenty warm, and if anything, I think this suit runs hot.
It’s not uncommon to hear customers say that their R3 feels even warmer than their last 5/4mm. So while most surfers would probably pick up a 4.5mm for water in the 50’s I think this suit can be comfortably worn well into the 40’s F depending on the day and other gear. That being said, if you’re surfing frigid waters, Patagonia makes a thicker 5.5mm version called the R4 and even a 6.5mm called the R5 for the coldest waters on earth.
In terms of stretch, I would say that this latest batch of Yulex is the best version they’ve had. The initial run of these suits a few years ago was pretty stiff, but the 2021 version is easily the most flexible R3 yet. Part of that has to do with a new cut pattern to the panels. Patagonia has updated the paneling on this suit across the back shoulder that frees up your shoulder blades and allows for greater mobility and easier paddling than past versions.
Unrivaled Longevity & Warranty
Given that this rubber is made from a plant, you might be wondering how strong this material actually is? Well, just like the older Patagonia suits, the current R3 is durable. Like extremely durable. I’m pretty sure this is the most durable suit we sell and rarely ever have these come back for warranty repairs.
To top that off, if something ever does happen to the suit, Patagonia without question has the best warranty in wetsuits. They’ll look after the suit for the full lifetime of the suit (no that doesn’t mean your lifetime), so even 3-4 years down the road, if issues develop you can sleep sound knowing you can have your R3 professionally repaired. The R3 has one of the larger price tags out there but when you factor in that it will outlast most wetsuits and carry a warranty 2-3 years after every other brand it's actually a great deal.
Comfortable Liner - Looking at the inside of the suit you’ll see a liner that runs throughout the body that’s actually recycled polyester. This liner is very comfortable to wear, and I think it provides a little bit of extra warmth too. You'll notice that the liner isn't in the arms or knees, which was a pretty smart choice by Patagonia. Those areas don't typically need as much warmth as your core and by forgoing the liner it helps to keep those areas as light and mobile as possible.
Like the rubber the R3 is made of, the liner is also easy on the environment with dope-dyed fabric and solvent-free glue to hold it all in place. Dope Dyeing the fabric saves a lot of water in production and also makes the liner all-black, which looks cool.
In the past, Patagonia’s sizing has varied quite a bit but I feel like they’ve hit a good middle ground in recent years and the sizing matched the size chart well. If anything, I think the R3 runs a little bit small but not by much. So if you’re truly in between two sizes, I’d lean more towards the larger of the two. As we mentioned earlier, this suit is very comfortable to wear and the liner feels good without being too heavy or thick like some other wetsuits out there.
Strong Seam Seal & Zipper
Finally, I think two noteworthy features on the R3 that aren’t typically highlighted are its seam weld and sturdy zipper. The R3 has a slim external seal seam that runs throughout the suit. This bead of neoprene glue better seals the seam and gives the R3 an extra bit of strength, blocking water from entering the seam.
The chest zipper is great, it threads and moves easily but isn’t dainty or weak like so many other zippers. It sounds like a small detail but a good zipper goes a long way.
For the eco-conscious surfer, or really anyone who values warmth and durability above all else, the Patagonia R3 is an excellent option. While it’s not the most flexible suit ever made it’s at least solid across the board in every category and I think for the right surfer, an awesome wetsuit.
If you have any questions about this model or any other Patagonia model, leave a comment, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call toll-free at 1-888-546-6176. Stay warm!