Adding to the numbers of surfers and boarders taking to the water, over the last couple of years there has been a rise in the number of people “open water” or “wild” swimming in the UK’s seas, lakes, lochs and rivers. According to Open Swimmers, this has been by as much as 45 per cent.
If you swim, surf, SUP or do any sport outdoors for that matter, chances are you will also need to get changed outdoors. That’s where a good changing robe comes in. A changing robe is your very own portable changing room. It makes going from wet to dry in your very own cosy wrap around space so you can get changed anywhere, anytime, all while protecting you against the elements and preserving your modesty.
Changing robes are essentially large baggy coats, which you wear over your swimwear or clothing with loose sleeves to allow you to bring your arms inside and change without a struggle and in privacy. They come in a waterproof outer material with long or short sleeves, reversible zips, may be fleece, microfiber or towel lined, in winter or summer weight and/or complete with waterproof pockets.
In this review, we are testing the robes to make sure that they do what the name suggests, i.e you can easily get changed inside one. Secondly, we are looking for a changing robe which will stand up to the classic British weather, come rain, wind or shine. Prices range from £78 to £160.
Charlie McLeod Eco Sports Cloak
Material: Waterproof outer fabric
Lining: Thick Sherpa fleece made from recycled plastic bottles
Sleeve Length: Long and short available
Colour: Four Camo shades as well as Red, Black, Blue, and Purple.
Sizes: Unisex, XS, S/M, L/XL & Kids 10-13
Storage/Carry Bag? Yes with a free DryBag
Charlie McLeod changing robe was one of the warmest robes we tried when getting out of the water on a single digit degree day with impressive gusts.
While a bit boxy looking, there is a drawstring on the inside which you can tighten to give the coat a waist. It is also packed with much-welcomed extra features like a hook on both the outside and the inside to hang it up, fitted, elasticated cuffs with thumb holes and for just £5 extra, you can give it the personal touch with your name embroidered on the front or back.
There are big tabs on the reversible zip that make it a breeze to get on and off and the lovely fleece lining helps to keep you dry no matter what the British weather throws at you. It’s also a pockets galore including a poacher’s pocket on the inside that has an additional metal ring inside (for keys perhaps?).
With each changing robe, you will get a free 40L Dry Bag which is entirely waterproof. The changing robe and your valuables will fit inside the bag which comes with shoulder straps and an air release valve to make everything as small as possible. This is great for towing behind swimmers, taking on your board or just packing everything away.
Each coat is made from approximately 110 recycled plastic bottles. The brand is an advocate of social responsibility and spot checks suppliers to ensure all are adhering to ethical standards.
Buy now £99.95, Amazon
dryrobe Advance Long Sleeve
Material: Waterproof and windproof 100 per cent recycled nylon.
Lining: Synthetic lambswool made from 100 per cent recycled polyester.
Sleeve Length: Long and short
Colours: 10 combinations
Sizes: Adults - S, M, L and Kids - 5-9 & 10-13
Carry/Storage Bag? Available at an extra cost with a one year performance guarantee
We tested dryrobe’s new attractive Camo/Pink colourway of their long-sleeved option, which will certainly get you noticed. There are a plethora of pockets including one each side, another outside complete with a zip, and a very handy inside “poacher’s” pocket (a fabric one large enough for your swimsuit or underwear perhaps). Honourable mention goes to the large waterproof inside breast pocket that can zip up your wallet or phone safe and sound with a slot for your headphone cable.
The expert label has crafted this piece with a two-way reversible zip that makes it easy to get in and out of the robe from the inside or outside. The sleeves also have velcro fastening at the wrists so you can keep tight to stay warm when or loosen to get your arms in.
Testing this robe on the coldest day of the year so far, it did a great job of keeping the tester warm when getting straight out of cold water. We were warm and comfortable enough to stand around in the elements while still in swimwear and got in and out of the water and back to the robe, which didn’t feel cold when wet. The hood is also big enough for a bobble hat underneath too.
In terms of the eco credentials, this robe is made from recycled plastic and the company is Carbon Neutral, using only plastic-free packaging, trusted supply chains, and environmentally-friendly fabric finishing.
dryrobe also do non-waterproof towelling changing robes (£50) and there are mini ones for your dog in matching colours!
Buy now £160.00, Camping World
FrostFire Moonwrap Robe
Material: 100 per cent waterproof outer shell
Sleeve Length: Long & short
Colours: Black, Red, Light Blue, Dark Blue, and Camo
Sizes: Adult - S, M, L and Kids - 5-9 and 9-15
Carry/Storage Bag? Good storage but less good for carrying
We tried the short-sleeved version of this changing robe and it had all the qualities you’d hope for; a waterproof outer shell, warm fleecy lining, reversible zips, not one but two fleece-lined outside pockets and an inside breast pocket for your valuables.
While this robe kept us warm when we came out of very cold water on a cold day, the short sleeves did leave our lower arms a little exposed. Still, you could stand around comfortably. We went in and out of water and back to the robe and it still felt dry and welcoming. It has good sustainability points too - there’s the ethical sourcing through the Better Cotton Initiative and Community Support Schemes.
Our only gripe? There was no big pocket or “poacher pocket” for valuables on the inside of the robe.
The Frostfire Moonwrap changing robe comes with a 1 year guarantee and the brand also does non-waterproof towelling changing robes (£16.99).
Buy now £94.99, Amazon
Northcore Beach Basha PRO – 4 Season Changing Robe
Material: Water resistant and breathable polyester
Lining: 100 per cent cotton
Sleeve Length: Long only
Colour: Red, Black and Blue
Sizes: Adults - one Size fits all and Kids - 6-12
Carry/Storage Bag? Yes
We tested the Northcore Beach Basha 4 season changing robe. For this robe, Northcore quote water-resistance rates of 5000mm and a breathability or Moisture Vapour Transmission Rate of 5000g. Sounds very technical, but does it work?
Well, the outer shell is definitely wind and water resistant. However, despite the thickness of the inner lining, we found this 100 per cent cotton lining not as warm as some of the other robes we tried during one classically English winter’s day. It also felt wetter when going in and out of the water and back to the robe.
On a plus note, the inner lining zips out of the robe completely so you can use just the lining in summer without the outer shell or simply as a beach towel. We tried the inner towelling robe on its own and it did a great job as the latter.
The Beach Basha does have a very bulky, block appearance and there are only two outside pockets on the outer shell and none on the inner lining. It comes in plastic-free packaging and the brand practices both recycling and carbon offsetting.
Northcore also do non-waterproof towelling changing robes (£31.95).
Buy now £129.99, Northcore
Robie Dry Series Recycled Long Sleeved Changing Robe
Material: Waterproof and windproof recycled nylon
Lining: Recycled heavyweight shearling fleece
Sleeve Length: Long and short
Colour: Black and grey and two-tone blue
Size: Adult S, M, L, XL and Junior Kids
Carry/Storage Bag? Yes
Our tester headed to their local outdoor pool on a frosty day to try this changing robe out and was very pleasantly warm post-swim. Feeling warm and dry, we were happy to stand around and chat without the cold setting in. The changing robe still cosy even after multiple trips in and out of the water.
There are plenty of pockets for your shore essentials including a headphone port on the inside zipped pocket and that very useful “poacher’s” pocket for your valuables on the inside. The changing robe comes in its own drawstring storage/carrying bag which was a great backpack that could also house plenty of other bits too.
Can’t decide? Maybe this will sway you. Robie Robes are guaranteed or your money back. The brand also use recycled and responsibly sourced PFC Free materials that has been certified by the Global Recycled Standard and entirely recyclable FSC certified packaging.
They also do non-waterproof towelling changing robes in a range of colours.
Buy now £137.71, Amazon
Palm Poncho Grande
Material: Polyester and micro towel lining
Sleeve Length: Sleeveless
Colour: Jet grey with Blue lining
Size: One Size
Storage/Carry Bag? No
The Palm Poncho Grande was the only poncho-style changing robe we tried and the most purse-friendly. It has a waterproof outer shell with a towelling inner lining and just one big kangaroo pocket on the outside with the same soft lining to keep your hands toasty.
No zips to fuss with, the on/off process here just consists of a simple over the head. We thought this poncho would be the quickest changing robe to get in and out of, however, when you are wet, it was actually a bit more of a faff than the changing robes with zips.
The design only comes in short sleeves and is much lighter than the coat-style robes. This does mean it is not as warm and so we would recommend for use in milder weather. It does fold up to a handy size if you wanted to put in a tow bag or take on-the-go.
Buy now £70.00, Amazon
Red Original Pro Change Robe EVO
Material: Treated with a durable water repellence
Inner lining: Microfibre towel which absorbs 4 times it’s weight in water
Sleeve Length: Long and short
Sizes: S, M, L and Kids – one size
Storage/Carry Bag? No. Will fold into a 10L dry bag (sold separately)
The Red Original changing robe was the least “boxy” shape of all the robes we tested and one of the longest length. It has a little less room to change in than some of the larger options but it is still perfectly easy to do so. The longer length keeps your lower body cosy and warm and it actually looks more like a casual coat so you won’t look out of place as you head to your adventuring destination.
There are lots of pockets for valuables, headphones, undies and most importantly, cold hands. There’s the added bonus of toggles on the hood to tighten up come windy days and the reversible zip has a stud covering for extra warmth if you are standing around. We found this changing robe so easy to get on and off, as well as super warm and toasty.
The company puts a big emphasis on sustainability by using less packaging, avoiding toxic materials, and supporting socially-responsible activities and campaigners.
Buy now £149.95, Wiggle
Zone3 Oversized Heat-Tech Parka
Material: Breathable waterproof shell with heat tech
Lining: Polar fleece
Sleeve Length: Long
Colour: Black & Orange Trim
Sizes: Unisex, XS, S, M, L, and XL
Storage/Carry Bag? The former
The Zone3 changing robe we tried was a medium and one of the largest fit robes we tested. On our tester’s 5ft 5in frame, the medium size was perhaps too big. So be wary of this when ordering. Size down if you are looking for something more fitted but for those hoping for plenty of room to change inside it, this may be the robe for you.
Zone3 claim the “heat-tech polar fleece lining” will absorb water and improve warmth - and we would definitely agree. This was one of the warmest changing robes we tried and was a dream to slip into after a cold swim. The long design also meant we were covered from head to (almost) toes.
The features keep on coming; lots of pockets, big tags on the reversible zips, a sizeable hood, velcro sleeves and the zip complete with a studded flap to further protect you from the wind.
Sadly, the Zone3 Parka changing robe only comes in the black/orange trim but this can easily pass as a winter parka coat. And if you don’t like this robe, Zone3 promise no quibbles returns.
Buy now £139.00, Zone3
Finisterre Adelie Robe
Material: Waterproof and breathable outer shell made from 100% recycled polyester.
Lining: fleece also made from recycled material.
Sleeve Length: Short
Sizes: One Size
Storage/Carry Bag? Available at additional cost
The Finisterre Adelie only comes in one unisex size with short three-quarter length sleeves and in just one shades, navy blue. While the sleeves did cover most of the arm, the shorter length does mean your lower arms are exposed to the elements.
Otherwise, the changing robe is snug, stays dry and offers plenty of room to change. We tested on a windy day and the toggles to tighten the hood helped keep it firmly in place up and our head warm.
There is but one small pocket on the inside of the robe so not a lot of room for your undies or valuables but luckily, you hands will stay cosy with the two exterior pockets that have a fleecy lining.
The piece has a reversible zip but the small tag makes it less easy to use from the inside. It is made from 100 per cent recycled nylon.
Buy now £150.00, Finisterre
The Charlie McLeod Eco Sports Clock ticks all the boxes - stays dry, keeps you warm and has tons of pockets - but gives a little bit extra. It was definitely easy to change in, waterproof and comes in a range of colours to choose. But it also had that drawstring waist, cuffs to keep your hands warm, comes with a free dry bag and was mid price at £129.95. We liked the idea of personalising the changing robe with our own name and that it is made from 110 recycled plastic bottles.