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Great suit, a few improvements needed
Being more exact, I'd give this a 3.75/5. I build surfboards for a living and have used just about every brand of wetsuit out there. The R4 has a lot going for it and with a few improvements it could be an absolute top contender. First the positives: Overall the fit is pretty good and comfort is pretty great. The material is soft and comforta... Read Moreble, haven't experienced any chaffing or any areas of discomfort. The suit goes on and off very easily, both over the shoulders and on/off the knees/feet which can be an annoying area in many other companies suits I've worn. The suit is VERY warm; possibly the warmest 5mm I've worn. It does feel slightly heavy in hand, but in the water it's unnoticeable. I LOVE the textured ankles, it really keeps the leash in place and makes all the difference. The suit did feel a bit tight particularly in the shoulders at first but after just a couple surfs it loosened up a bit and is more comfortable. It's quite stretchy and maneuverable which is, to me, of even more importance than warmth most of the time. Onto the areas that could be improved: (1) Fit. I have broader shoulders/chest and a narrower torso/waist, and I'm still waiting on a wetsuit manufacturer to accommodate my build in a wetsuit. I really need a Large or XL for my chest/shoulders, but a size smaller for my torso/waist. The Large is a little snugger than I'd like in the shoulders yet a little looser than I'd like in the torso. It's not horrible, I've worn suits with much worse fits, but it's not quite not perfect. Tough to design suits to fit every body shape though understandably. (2) Flushing issues. I'd prefer donut wrist cuffs and a slightly snugger ankle cuff. There can also be quite a bit of flushing through the hood or chest. If those issues could be addressed while keeping the ease of getting the suit on and off, that would be ideal. (3) The face synch. It's elastic, so even when it's loosened all the way, it's still wants to "tighten" on you, so on warmer days or when I'm simply overheating and want to pull my hood down around my neck, it's less comfortable around my neck than other suits that have a non-elastic/no-stretch drawstring. It is slightly more comfortable around the face when worn with the hood up since the elastic can move and stretch, but it's minimal and I think I'd prefer a non-elastic drawstring for the neck comfort when worn down and the ability to take pressure off my face on days I'm not too concerned about flushing. Also the mechanism that attaches the cord to the hood is too difficult to adjust with gloves on and could use a redesign for sure. I see a lot of people complaining about the non-permanently-attached zipper, but this isn't too big of a deal to me personally. I think the fact that the zipper disengages and doesn't have to be parked in the "up" position by the shoulder helps in the ease of getting the suit off. I can't speak to the durability of the suit yet as I've only worn it through one winter so far, but so far so good. Comfort is great from the neck down, super warm, nice and stretchy, easy on and off. If the areas of concern could be improved, this could be the best winter suit I've ever worn.
Major Flush Issues
I have purchases about a dozen winter wetsuits over the past 28 years of winter surfing in New England and this suit has the worst flush issue at the neck of any suit I've owned, granted the old style suits were front zip, but for the past 15 years or so I've owned neck entry suits. I purchased for the fair trade and env. benefits, but ha... Read Moreve doubts when I'm getting flushed!
Great Suit Overall
This suit is a huge improvement from the original Yulex. Some comments: Fit: I'm 6'3" x 175lbs, I wear a medium or large in most things Patagonia, and the Large Tall fits great. No problem getting the suit over my shoulders like previous versions of Yulex. The suit does take a couple wears to break in. After about 5 sessions it star... Read Moreted feeling more snug and stretchy. Pretty easy on and off for a winter chest zip. Warmth: This suit is pretty ideal for winter surfing in New England. Water temps in the high 30's/low 40's (Fahrenheit), air temps typically range from 20's to 40's. Very warm for a suit that's basically a 5/4. Definitely can see how an R5 might be better when the temps drop below 20, but it still provides enough insulation for me in most situations. Other: I've noticed the suit dries pretty fast, which is much appreciated when surfing consecutive days. It has all the features I'd expect in a premium suit, and I so far its proven very well built. No seam leaks, no threads popped. Why not 5 stars: Two things about this suit I'm not stoked on. First, the key loop placement is fine but the loop needs to be longer. It's incredibly hard to secure/thread my car key given how short the loop is, especially with cold hands. Second, the suit has a minor flushing problem. I've noticed the suit tends to flush around the chest zip and hood when I first get in the water. This seems to stop once I've been in the water for a bit and the suit gets saturated, but even the occasional flush of winter water is not fun. A suit of this caliber and price should not flush like this. These issues aren't enough to make turn away from Patagonia, but they are clear areas that need improvement.
Kitesurfing with the R4 wetsuit
The R4 suit is a great cold water wetsuit for kiting in New England. I have used it a couple times now and have not felt cold at all while kiting in 35 F degree temperatures with 35mph winds (so probably low-mid 20s with wind chill). My previous suit was a bit larger and back zip and would get water in it all the time, but not this one. I will say ... Read Morethat it is a struggle to get on and off, more than I am used to, but that's likely due to be used to a XL vs L size suit. Overall it's a great suit, super comfy once it's on and feels like the right size fit.
Good but not great
The good: The suit is very stiff when you put on on land but gets very flexible in the water and feels more like a 4/3mm, it's very warm, it's made of sustainable materials, and it dries out very quickly after use. The not-so-good: the material around the ankles is a thinner, more flimsy material and I don't know how long that will ... Read Morelast. The knee pads seem a bit flimsy. The bad: -The chest zip is a terrible design and will come unzipped on a heavy wipeout. Patagonia needs to implement a zipper snap to stop the zipper from coming undone. -The hood is very uncomfortable due to the drawstring. The string is a very thin material and pinches around your entire face. -It runs very small. I'm a LS in most other brands and the XLS is tight around the shoulders.
Warm and comfortable
I think it's safe to say that Patagonia has fixed some of the weird sizing issues and chest zip issues from the model or two before this one. I have been very happy with the warmth, comfort, and flexibility this suit has... By far the best cold water/weather suit I've owned (including another Patagonia suit and two Xcel suits). Only recom... Read Moremendation I would give is to be sure you order the correct size as the sizing of these suits is tricky.
No cinch cord adjustment for chest zip flap unlike every other suit I've worn in the last 15 years. Water intrudes through the chest area each time I duckdive a wave or wipeout. Leg cuffs are made of a thinner feeling, extra stretchy rubber so they also allow water to flush in. There are other small details that could use improvement such as r... Read Moreunning the chest zip the other way so it can be opened and closed one handed without having to lineup the two parts each time and changing the hood cinch to something more substantial that could be manipulated while wearing gloves. Also the bill on the hood seems very chintzy and pointless. The Yulex rubber seems decent although it's not a stretchy suit by todays standards. The seams look good and the main part of the suit appears well built and sturdy. The fit is improved over the old suits which I couldn't even get over my chest and shoulders. It's definitely a little more restrictive in the shoulders and back than my usual 5/4 suit but whether that is the lack of stretch or the fit I am not sure. The slightly more restrictive feel would be worth it if the suit offered more warmth but due to the lack of anti-flushing details I find myself getting cold before the end of a two hour session and the water hasn't even dropped below 50F. Overall I think this is nearly a good suit but is really let down by some puzzling omissions that are surprising given the premium price point.
Flushes at neck gasket
I bought this R4 in the spring of 2018, it's now approaching winter 2018. I surf in New England. The suit is warm enough and the quality is great, no leaks yet. It's a little stiffer than my old Xcel. The only draw back and it's pretty major is that it flushes at the chest zip occasionally when either duck diving or eating it. Not t... Read Morehat it happens every time. If I could return it I would. My Xcels never flushed... but they did break down in the seams quickly. Maybe the flushing issue has been fixed?
Warm, toasty and flexible for the Oregon Coast!
Took this suit to use for a week along the Oregon coast. Surfed first two days in and around Seaside and was completely stoked! The warmth was off the Richter scale and I didn't need to use the hood. I've never been in water this cold and was not looking forward to getting into and out of such a thick suit. Those concerns were put to bed ... Read Moreas soon as I slipped on the suit. Fit like a glove and came off with ease, especially with cold hands. A few days later found myself in Pacific City with much colder water. Tested the hood and loved the ability to tighten and loosen hood with one hand! Paired with booties, without gloves and I was comfortable for as long as my arms could paddle, which was a while with the flexibility of this suit. Impressed with fit and flexibility for such a warm suit. And now these new suits are Fair Trade Certified?! Stoked on this suit and what Patagonia is doing.
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