To us, that means staying true to our mission: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
The best wetsuits, from our point of view, are light and warm, fit right and feel good, and let you perform to your full potential in almost any condition imaginable. But it doesn't end there.
They're made with materials that have less impact on the natural world. They're designed in meticulous detail and rigorously tested in the field. And instead of being built to the lowest common denominator to maximize profits, they're made to live up to the uncompromising standards of our Ironclad Guarantee.
It's a deeper and more detailed approach that sets us apart. Whether it's wetsuits, T-shirts or board shorts, we do things a bit differently at Patagonia. And we aren't afraid to say so.
We constantly strive to minimize the impact of what we do. From a design perspective, that means looking at every aspect of a product and engineering it to cause less environmental harm.
One way we've done this is by sourcing recycled polyester for our wetsuit linings. We use lightweight, high-stretch 100% recycled polyester jersey in R1®s, and the arms and legs of R2s; the hydrophobic microgrid in the body of R2®s and the arms and legs of R3®s and R4®s is 67% recycled polyester; the thermal lining in the body of R3s and R4s is 66% recycled polyester. The exterior face fabric on all our suits is 88% recycled polyester/12% spandex.
the thermal lining in the body of R3s and R4s is 66% recycled polyester. The exterior face fabric on all our suits is 88% recycled polyester/12% spandex.
Recycled polyester offers the same warmth, stretch and dry time as virgin polyester, but it's a less harmful choice. Virgin polyester is a petrochemical derivative, so using as much recycled content as we can lightens our reliance on petroleum as a source of raw materials. And by diverting scrap from the waste stream, we're able to reduce the amount of trash that ends up in incinerators and landfills.
It's simple to design suits that are durable and warm. But balancing those attributes with performance-oriented flex and fit is a more demanding task.
Demanding, sure, but not impossible.
Our new suits are the most flexible and best-fitting we've ever made, and we've evolved their performance by carefully refining the patterns and materials we use.
We start by sourcing the very best neoprene that meets our requirements for strength, warmth and stretch. Then we laminate it with high-stretch interior and exterior linings with high recycled content* for full freedom of movement and minimal environmental impact.
Then we laminate it with high-stretch interior and exterior linings with high recycled content* for full freedom of movement and minimal environmental impact.
And that's just one part of the story. How a suit is cut and patterned is just as important. Working at our in-house production facility, we've fine-tuned our panel and seam placements, allowing our finished wetsuits to hold close to the core while offering natural motion through dynamic areas like the arms, shoulders, waist and legs.
*See wetsuit product pages for full fabric details.
When we introduced wetsuits made from a weed, there were people who thought we'd been smoking something. But then our Yulex®/Nexkin® Front-Zip was named SIMA's Wetsuit of the Year and Environmental Product of the Year for 2014. Now featuring an all-new asymmetrical entry and new patterning for increased flex, our award-winning suit is getting even better.
Made for cargo holds, conveyor belts and undercover campsites, our Black Hole™ duffel easily shrugs off the many sketchy moments you’ll encounter in a lifetime of surf travel. Built from burly polyester ripstop with a weather-shedding laminate and a DWR (durable water repellent) finish, it has removable shoulder straps and reinforced haul handles that won’t blow out when the bag is packed full.
Our field testing program serves as a detailed source of in-water assessment. Before any of our new designs make it to shops, they’re surfed non-stop by our ambassadors and testers in everything from head-high Australian points to maxing Chile and Northern California.
If a prototype suit doesn’t stretch enough, doesn’t stay warm on a trip to colder climes or has a seam placement issue that prevents extended surf or kite sessions, we hear about it right away—and then it’s straight back to the drawing board.
To us, wetsuits should help surfers perform to their highest potential and hold up to the many rigors of all-out use. Field testing is a real-life bullshit filter—a way of checking our suits against our claims and making sure our designs, materials and construction methods are worthy of our Ironclad Guarantee.
Some people think that’s crazy, especially when it comes to wetsuits. There’s no other warranty like it in the surf industry, but it’s the way we’ve always worked.
The reason? Well, we don’t do it to sell more stuff. We do it so the stuff we do sell is the best it can possibly be. If customers can’t tell us a product doesn’t work, and if we aren’t willing to put our money where our mouth is, then there’s nothing holding us to account. Our Ironclad Guarantee keeps us from cutting corners or taking the cheap way out to save a buck—because we know if we screw something up, we’ll see each and every piece of whatever it was back on our doorstep.
It probably comes from when Yvon Chouinard was blacksmithing pitons. Every piece had to work to perfection, as there were life-or-death consequences for their end use. Half-assed simply wasn’t an option. That same philosophy has been instilled in all of us here at Patagonia today.
We do everything we can to build the best product and cause no unnecessary harm. And we think a lot of surfers like knowing we’ve done our homework on everything from materials used in our products to labor conditions in the factories they’re made in. Our approach isn’t for everyone, and not everyone values the same things we do. But to those who share our way of thinking—we’re building for you. And if your wetsuit doesn’t work as intended or meet your expectations for performance, or if something on it fails before its time, we’re always here to listen.
Because when we listen we learn, and when we learn we’re able to keep making our products better. It might not be for everyone, but it’s the only way we’ll ever know.