I was many things that morning - hungover, half awake and hungry - but what I wasn't, not even little bit, was cold. It was the second Saturday in October, and the first weekend I felt like it really started to get cold on the coast. There was a northwest wind kicking over the ocean, leaving us with nothing but white capped waves. Shoulda brought some soap and washed my whites ;) But that's beside the point. This is about staying warm when it's windy and well below 40 degrees. When a warm shower and a cold beer go hand in hand. And I'll be damned if my new Patagonia R4, a gift from my ever wonderful wife, didn't keep me nice and cozy that cold morning on the coast.
The R4 is Patagonia's warmest wetsuit. Lined with merino wool, it is admittedly cumbersome, but I'll exert a little extra effort if it means surfing for four hours instead of forty-five minutes. At first glance, the R4 might look a lot like other 5/4 wetsuits you've owned over the years. But then you begin to see the subtleties. The front-zip function is unlike others, with the flap folding flat across your chest - letting little to no water in - assuming you have your hood on. And then there's the single, albeit small, neck opening, into which one must squeeze themselves. But once you've learned to drag one side of the suit down around your elbow, to shrug your shoulders and shake that shit off, the in-and-out stuff becomes simple. Sorta.
At the ankles and wrists you'll notice a thick, tear-resistant material made to withstand the up-and-down action that comes with wearing both boots and gloves in the winter. And then there's the wool - a white fuzzy lining that leaves a waffle pattern on your extremities after a few hours. It might itch a little, or maybe it just feels like a classic Christmas sweater, but again, I'll take patterned imprints and a lil' itch over ice cold arms any day. I'll be damned if the wool ain't warm!
And now I'll talk about the price. Because it's more than most - but not by much. A hundred dollars? One-fifty? But if that's what it takes to stay warm in the winter, you can collect my coin. Spent four or maybe five hours surfing that Saturday. In water that won't get any warmer till June or maybe July. And once you're passed the price and you've sorted out how to slide your self in and out of the suit, you'll never look back. You'll wonder why you owned anything else, why you surfed so many short sessions, why you didn't just spend a little more scratch so you could stay warm.
Click here to pick up your own Patagonia R4 Warmsuit.
This review originally appeared on Stoke Harvester's blog.