Figuring out what to wear while surfing during a Southern California summer is often a guessing game. Wear too many millimeters and you’re sweating like a pig the entire session. Too few and you might paddle out after a random upwelling event only to sit and shake between sets.
But when California temps are up and you don’t want to commit to a swimsuit, you might want to try out a long john. I recently tested Patagonia's Women’s R1® Lite Yulex® Long Jane and found that it hit the goldilocks sweet spot of wetsuit warmth for the summer months. Its 1-mill thickness kept my core and legs warm, but my upper body—which is usually the part of the body that scorches during mid-day summer sessions—stayed comfortably cool.
Truth be told, I'm usually not partial to Patagonia suits. Sometimes they can feel constricting and heavy when paddling or duckdiving. But the sleeveless nature of Patagonia's long "jane" was perfectly flexible and light. No part of the suit was constricting in the slightest and the jersey lining material ensured that it stretched and moved in all the right places.
The top half felt a lot like wearing a swimsuit—no zippers, no scratchy Velcro closures that rip all your hair out while getting in and out—just a flexible step-in entryway. There's a key-loop is well, which is handy, and not something I’ve ever found in any bikinis I've tried this far. And, finally, the design has a subtle, feminine floral motif down by the ankles which gives it a touch of style without being too loud.
Another great thing about this long john—and long johns in particular—is the sun protection it provides. You don't need to worry about forcing a friend to awkwardly lather your backside in oily sunscreen before paddling out. The material (which is neoprene-free 85 percent Yulex® natural rubber/15 percent synthetic rubber by the way) kept my backside totally protected from the sun.
The only reason you might not like this suit is if, for some odd reason, you hate the feeling of some water entering the suit. Like all long johns, the swoop-neck, bathing-suit-like entryway does allow for a little flushing through the chest/back areas while duckdiving. But, again, these puppies are made for summertime shredding and I find that a little water helps to keep you the right amount of cool.
You can get one for yourself this summer on their website (click here) for $169–a little more expensive than their competitors’ prices, but Patagonia has a reputation for long-lasting, quality goods, not to mention you’ll sleep a little better knowing you’ve spent all day surfing in something more sustainably built with their Yulex® natural rubber.