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TKB REVIEW: Patagonia R2 Front-Zip Wetsuit

patagonia-r2-wetsuit-review

Features added warmth without added rubber, is fast drying, and is made from post-consumer recycled polyester, merino wool softened without chlorine, and no PVC. $525, www.patagonia.com

We’ve heard about the Patagonia wetsuits for quite some time and see a lot of them on the water in our area, so we were excited to receive a Patagonia R2 Front-Zip wetsuit to test for kitesurfing.

The R2 is made using 2mm neoprene, but it is made to be used in colder water than you think a 2mm suit is suited for. Patagonia uses a unique merino wool lining that covers almost the entire inside of the suit.

Patagonia wetsuit wool lining.

Patagonia wetsuit wool lining.

This wool lining allows Patagonia to make a warmer suit without using additional neoprene and also gives the suit a different kind of feeling while being worn. The best way to describe it is that this suit feels like it slips less on your skin as you move compared to other suits.

Another unique aspect of the Patagonia R2 is the number of panels it is made of. This suit is constructed using fewer panels than most other suits (meaning less seams), especially on the front of the suit, which is mostly made up of one large panel. The seams are blindstitched on the outside of the suit and triple glued with reinforcements in high-load areas.

patagonia-r2-frontzip

Most kiteboarders use back-zip suits, but after testing the front-zip R2 we think front-zip suits would be a better choice for many riders. With a front-zip suit you enter through the top and there is no zipper running down your back under your harness making the back and shoulders area of the suit feel much more comfortable.

The trade off is that a front-zip suit is usually slightly more difficult to put on and take off. While we found this suit very easy to put on (no more difficult than a back-zip suit), it is a little more difficult to get this suit off, especially after a long session.

Our 6′ tall 200 lb. tester used the regular length XL and reported that it was one of the best-fitting suits he’s ever used. This suit was tested in 58°-60° F water.

In the water our tester reported the Patagonia R2 to be very comfortable and flexible and plenty warm enough for the water temperature it was used in. This suit does not have any drains in the ankles, so we did discover that you can end up with water pooling in the legs of the suit, especially when ridden with a twin tip.

patagonia-r2-frontzip-review

A pleasant surprise was the fact that the wool lining of the suit dries almost instantly. This makes the suit much more pleasant to put on if it’s still damp as you have a dry layer between your skin and the wet neoprene.

Pros:

  • Extremely warm for a 2mm suit. Our guess is that it is comparable to a conventional warm 3/2 or maybe even a 4/3.
  • Very comfortable with a lot of flexibility.
  • Wool lining dries very fast, making it much more pleasant to put the suit back on when it is still damp.
  • No zipper between you and your harness. Much more flexible in the back and shoulders than a back-zip suit.

Cons:

  • No water drains at the ankles, so you can get the leg balloons (water pooling in the legs of the suit) when using this suit without booties.
  • Like all front-zip wetsuits this suit takes more effort to get out of compared to a back-zip suit, especially after a long session.

The Verdict:

The Patagonia R2 Front-Zip is a a unique wetsuit that feels a little different on your skin than other suits. The wool lining makes the suit much warmer than other 2mm suits. This suit is very comfortable and flexible, especially in the back and shoulders area. The front-zip entry is easy to get into but slightly more difficult to get out of compared to a back-zip suit. Riders with limited flexibility or more ample frames may want to look at the back-zip version of this suit.

The Patagonia R2 was designed as a surf suit, so it makes a great choice for people who both kitesurf and surf. It’s warm enough for kitesurfing without giving up any flexibility for paddling. It also makes a great choice for those who want a clean-looking suit with minimal graphics that is also backed up by the legendary Patagonia warranty.

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