Today’s high-performance super-stretch wetsuits may be toasty warm and kid-glove comfortable, but most of them lack durability. Step on one of those wetties while changing in the parking lot and – wham! – you’ve torn yourself a handy butt vent. Not so with the Regulator. Instead of petroleum-based super stretch, Patagonia opted for a neoprene made from limestone. Yep folks, limestone! While it isn’t much more earth-friendly, limestone rubber is decidedly sturdier.
Inside the suit you’ll find a unique lining of chlorine-free Merino wool – remember wool provides warmth even when wet – that’s been de-scaled so it’s not itchy. Also in the lining, there’s a small percentage of recycled polyester made from old plastic drinks bottles and such. The end result is a really warm wetsuit. Though it’s just 3mm thick, it’ll keep you as warm as any 4/3 on the market. Seriously. I’ve worn the suit a bunch in water down to 55ºF (12.7ºC) and I’ve never once felt a chill. After surfing in it for a couple weeks I noticed the neoprene was smelling a little ripe and rubbery. Doesn’t bother me but if you happen to be sensitive to stink, just slap on some of that cologne Laird Hamilton has been hawking lately.
Comfort-wise, the suit is plenty flexible and though I noticed some flushing in the neck, overall the Regulator is solid. It is expensive, but if this suit holds up as well as we expect, you won’t be needing another wettie for many years to come.