Wooly Mammoths - Patagonia wetsuit review
You can get some pretty funny reactions when you mention your wetsuit is lined with merino wool. It’s like saying your leg rope is made out of lama fur – it’s a little too exotic for some people to get a handle on. The quickest way to convince people is to add that it’s made by outdoor adventure/surf company Patagonia.
If you know even a little bit about Patagonia, you will know a wool-lined wetsuit is right up their alternative, eco-conscious, function-over-fashion alley. Among the companies many environmental policies is a self-imposed earth tax, which has raised over 20 million dollars for grass roots enviro campaigns around the globe.
Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard chose wool to cut down the amount of oil-based neoprene used in the suit, but also because of its functionality. It insulates even when wet and Patagonia say it is more durable, less smelly, and quicker drying than neoprene.
On a recent mid-winter trip to Victoria I swung by the Patty store in Torquay and asked to take a wooly mammoth for a test drive. Store manager, Glen Case hooked me up with his own R3 suit, and assured me it would we ample insulation for the Southern Ocean.
Pic: Kirky testing the R3 in Vico.
I assured him I wouldn’t piss in it.
Here’s what I found. Firstly it was super warm. I’m a mid-north coaster and I was fine in a three mm suit in the 13 degree water, without hood or booties. Secondly, it felt a little less flexi and marginally heavier than a modern super-flexi suit. Thirdly, it definitely dried out quicker than a pure neoprene suit and made a second surf a much more attractive proposition.
I couldn’t decide if it smelt better or not.
Durability? You’ll be happy to know that I took this apsect very seriously and asked Patagonia to provide me with a R2 suit for further testing (anything for the readers).
A fairly common complaint with some premium modern wetsuits is that they tend to fall apart after a season or two. Patagonia’s wetsuits are expensive ($795 for the R2) but if they can last three or four seasons that might be their biggest advantage – for the planet and for your wallet.
I’ll keep you posted.
- Kirk Owers