When Patagonia started making wetsuits in 2006, the aim was simple: build the best possible suits in the least damaging way. The most environmentally harmful aspect of a wetsuit is neoprene, a synthetic, petroleum-derived material with a highly toxic manufacturing process. Patagonia’s search for alternatives led to a partnership with Yulex, a company making plant-based biorubbers derived from the guayule plant. Patagonia is now makings its Yulex wetsuit in a 60/40 blend (60% guayule, 40% neoprene), reducing dependence on conventional neoprene.
Even more importantly: as Patagonia pushes towards making a suit from 100% guayule, eliminating the need for neoprene completely, the company has made this proprietary, game-changing biorubber available to the rest of the surf industry. Reason being: when volume goes up, price goes down, and more surfers can choose to purchase less harmful suits. It’s good, smart business.
In Patagonia surf ambassador Dan Malloy’s words, “We can now grow our wetsuits, instead of drilling for them.”
Product-wise, for Fall 2014, Patagonia will expand its Yulex offering to include both R2 and R3 front-zip styles. These suits will have the added advantage of Nexkin® smoothskin – an ultradurable windproof coating that takes performance to the next level. Patagonia’s Yulex wetsuit with Nexkin technology represents the only environmentally friendly wetsuit on the market with Nexkin technology.