patagucci... man I want one. I supposedly have an "in" with the rep to get one at employee purchase, but I'm almost done holding my breath. I've been surfing forever and every other season I go through this same internal struggle, but I almost guarantee that I'll save myself another $300 and buy another xcel chesty. They work, they are warm, fit me like a condom, and last at lest 2 winters of constant use, changing in gravel parking lots, forgetting to hang it up, etc. I understand the value of money all too well to buy a damn $600 wetsuit.
Plan ahead you guys! I got an R4 25% off this spring and an R3 @ 1/2 price in July. I'd say the R4 is a bit stiff, but patagonia says (and I believe them) their suits are more durable and will last longer. Also got a pair of R4 gloves and they fit really well and seem to be constructed better than any gloves I've every had.
Sorry to bump again, but I wanted to thank everyone for the great advice. I also reached out to Josh, at Cleanline Surf Shop, for some additional information. He is super knowledgeable and I highly recommend giving him a call if you have any question about wetsuits, regardless of brand. Great customer service too!
Anyway, I'm going with the Patagonia R2 and I'm not looking back. I'll post a review after a month or two of use, since you can't find much online.
It's fall - go out and have a pumpkin ale on me. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale is my current steez. Have a great day!
I've always had flash bombs and they lasted a long time (taking full advantage of warranty repairs and my own proficiency with aquaseal). Rip Curls are a bit thicker than other suits, but I think they're also warmer.
This year, I'm trying an O'neill psycho 3. It was a lot more expensive than rip curl. It's super thin, but still surprisingly warm (not as warm as rip curl in equal mm). Unfortunately, the neoprene is prematurely cracking, so I don't think it's going to last as long either. Other than the weight, I don't think it was worth the extra $$$.
Neoprene is perishable, no matter what the brand. It starts degrading at about a year (even unused), so the smartest purchase is a lower end suit that still gets the job done. When it starts to crack, you can just toss it and buy another.