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women in a wetsuit holding a surboard

Performance meets sustainability in the Patagonia R2 Yulex Regulator Wetsuit. Photo: Sarah Parsons/The Inertia

The Inertia

Patagonia first released the Yulex natural-rubber wetsuit in 2016 as a more sustainable alternative to traditional neoprene wetsuits. The only problem? Those first Yulex suits were stiffer and not as high-performance as what you’d tend to find in a neoprene wetsuit.

In late 2023, Patagonia released a new line of Yulex suits, complete with environmental and performance upgrades. The new wetsuits claim to be 20% stretchier and 5% lighter than the previous generation of suits, and I was eager to see if Patagonia had finally bridged the gap between performance and sustainability. Last spring, I got my hands on the new Patagonia R2 Yulex Regulator Front-Zip Full Wetsuit for our review of The Best Women’s Wetsuits and am stoked to report things have changed for the better when it comes to Yulex wetsuits.

Pros Cons
Sustainably made Zippers are challenging to get lined up
Flexible and super warm Thickness rating system is confusing
Reinforced kneepads and cuffs Pricey
A significant step up over previous Patagonia Yulex wetsuits

First Impressions of the Patagonia R2 Yulex Wetsuit

Upon first inspection, the R2 Regulator looked similar to the original model of the Yulex suits but upon closer examination, I noticed some key differences. The original suit had seam seals throughout the suit, but with the new R2 Regulator Patagonia nixed those for a more seamless design that will likely be more durable. If you take a close look inside the suit, you can see a low profile tape that’s strategically placed to reduce chafing – a problem I regularly encounter with wetsuits.

When I tried the new R2 Regulator on, I could immediately tell that it was different. And better. For starters, the R2 Regulator was easy to put on and get zipped up. The fit felt true to size and although the suit felt thick and warm, it also felt stretchy, and it was easy to move around it. I was ready to hit the water.

women in a wetsuit on the beach

Getting the chest zip secured. Photo: Sarah Parsons/The Inertia

Notable Features

Thickness: R2 (3.5 mm/3mm)
Suggested Water Temp: 55°–60° F/13°–16° C
Entry: Front-zip
Weight: 40 oz
Materials: 85% Yulex® natural rubber/15% synthetic rubber by polymer content with a recycled nylon lining

When I hit the water, my first thought was that the R2 Yulex Regulator was incredibly warm. The R2 is 3.5/3 mm thick, so it’s a little thicker than your standard 3/2, but a little thinner than a 4/3. I tested this suit during the Southern California spring and winter and found that it felt comparable to a 4/3 and kept me toasty warm in that high 50s temperature range.

While I can’t vouch for the fact that the updated Regulator is precisely 20% stretchier than previous models, I can safely say that it’s stretchy and flexible, much more so than previous generations. The Yulex and synthetic rubber combination performs, feels, and stretches like traditional neoprene. Like most wetsuits, the Yulex continued to get more comfortable with time, but it felt good even on day one.

I have a love-hate relationship with front zip wetsuits. They do wonders to keep you warmer, but I’ve tried so many suits that feel like they’re choking you the entire time. Luckily, this wasn’t the case with the Regulator.

It was easy to get over my head and while the fit was snug, I didn’t feel the need to constantly pull it away from my neck the entire session. There is also a key loop on the inside, which I am always a fan of as I’m still one of the few that still has a classic metal key.

girl on the beach next to surfboard wearing a patagonia wetsuit

The R2 Regulator is super stretchy and comfortable. Photo: Sarah Parsons/The Inertia

I’ve had this suit for nearly a year, and it looks as good as new (save for some wax on the stomach and chest). The Regulator is incredibly well made and durable and has Supratex kneepads and cuffs to add some extra support in traditionally fragile areas. I have no doubt it will last for many years to come. Furthermore, another update Patagonia made with these suits is improving their repairability. These suits are much easier to repair than the previous generation, pointing to Patagonia’s commitment to keeping your suit seaworthy for as long as possible.


Although there is a lot to love about the R2 Regulator, there is still some room for improvement. For starters, the zippers are challenging to line up to get yourself zipped in. I’ve had wetsuits in the past where the zippers are attached so you don’t have to worry about lining them up and it’s much easier. I found myself staring in my car mirror attempting to get these zippers lined up – some of the time I got it easily but other times, it took a few attempts.

Another thing I struggle with with Patagonia wetsuits is their temperature rating system. Where most wetsuits are rated by their thickness 3/2, 4/3, etc, Patagonia uses their own system: R1, R2, R3, etc. Although they do put the recommended temperature for each, I still find it confusing to figure out which suit is best for my needs, being used to going off of the classic thickness ratings. In this case, I had an R2, which at 3.5/3 mm is slightly thinner than a 4/3 but slightly thicker than a 3/2. Because it is such a well-made and warm suit, I felt it compared better to a 4/3.

Wetsuit Thickness Temperature Range
R1 Lite 2 mm 65°–75° F
R1 3/2.5 mm 60°–65° F
R2 3.5/3 mm 48°–55° F
R3 4.5/3.5 mm 65°–75° F
R4 5.5/4 mm 38°–48° F

Finally, it’s worth mentioning the price. At $509, this is one of the priciest wetsuits on the market. Performance wise, it is on par with other top wetsuits like the Xcel Comp 4/3 ($250), O’Neill’s Hyperfreak ($350), and the Rip Curl E7 Flashbomb HeatSeeker ($519), but I wouldn’t say it’s better. So, what you’re paying for here is minimizing your carbon footprint when wearing a wetsuit. Is a more sustainable suit worth shelling out a few extra bucks? We definitely think so, especially when it doesn’t come at the cost of performance.

women in a wetsuit at the beach

Surf check in the Patagonia R2 Yulex Regulator Front-Zip Full Wetsuit. Photo: Sarah Parsons/The Inertia

Final Thoughts

Made from a blend of Yulex natural rubber with recycled nylon and polyester linings, the R2 Regulator is one of, if not the most, sustainable wetsuits on the market. It’s easy to get on and off, it’s stretchy, it’s warm, and it performs well in the lineup. It’s on the pricey side, but it’s well made, will last a while (especially taking into account Patagonia’s repair policy) and you can rest easy knowing you’re doing the environment a solid surfing in this suit.

For colder waters check out the R3 (4.5/3.5mm) and R4 (5.5/4mm).


Editor’s Note: To see how this suit stacks up against the competition, check out our guide to The Best Women’s Wetsuits. Click here for men’s wetsuits, and be sure to check out our guide to The Best Surf Booties as well. For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.

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