Patagonia plans to launch its new range of Yulex, bio-rubber wetsuits in Australia next March, meaning you could be in a neoprene-free steamer just in time for autumn and winter next year.
Yulex is a plant-based material that will replace the need for petroleum-based neoprene, which is the traditional material for wetsuits.
Photo: The invisible man models one of Patagonia's bio-rubber wetties
Patagonia has had a limited range of Yulex-blended wetsuits available since 2013, but now plans to expand its range from two to 21 wetsuits for men, women and kids – none of them containing neoprene.
Instead Patagonia will be making their new wetties from a new natural rubber made from the hevea tree, combined with 15% non-neoprene synthetic rubber which adds increased ozone and UV resistance for durability and strength.
Neoprene is a non-renewable, petroleum-based material which requires a lot of energy in the manufacturing process. Patagonia says production of its new range of wetties will reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80% when compared with traditional neoprene suits.
There’s no sacrifice in performance or comfort with Patagonia’s new range of wetsuits either, with the new material said to be extremely flexible as well as durable.
Yulex sources the plant-based material used in Patagonia’s wetsuits from a hevea plantation independently certified to the Forest Stewardship Council standard by the Rainforest Alliance, which means environmentally responsible practices are used.
Being the good people they are, Patagonia and Yulex continue to make this breakthrough in wetsuit materials openly available for sharing with other wetsuit manufacturers.
For more information about Patagonia and other more environmentally friendly wetsuit alternatives, have a look at our Ecostoke wetsuits section at http://www.surfridergct.org/wetsuits