Protection from the elements, roomy enough to change into warm clothes and easy to pack away in your kit bag: read our expert reviews to help you invest in the right changing robe for you.
Over the past few years, changing robes have become a ‘must-have’ for many in the outdoor swimming community. They keep you warm whilst changing outside, protect against the elements and provide modesty in the absence of changing rooms. There are now a huge number on the market currently, offering varying degrees of warmth and protection. Our experts tested a selection, to help you make an informed decision before investing in one.
Which changing robe to choose?
With so many changing robes now on the market, think about what kind of swimming you do and in what conditions. The more expensive the robe, generally the more technical the features and the warmer the garment. The kind of warmth you need after swimming in a mountain tarn, a remote windswept beach or recovering from an ice mile is going to be different to what you need if you love a dip quick and then drive home with the heaters on full blast. Eco credentials are also important to most of us, so check the fabrics ands sustainability of your choices.
dryrobe Advance Long Sleeve
Perhaps the most well-known brand of all the changing robes, and for good reason too. In terms of warmth, this coat, with its recycled, synthetic lambswool lining is pretty unbeatable, and it provides incredible protection from the elements too. The lining of the robe draws water away from the skin, drying you somewhat before you use a towel.
The robe is bulky though, taking up a lot of space, so it’s perhaps best used on the coldest days. This isn’t a robe you can stuff in a daypack and still have room for your swimkit and flask. Quality two-way YKK zip and good selection of internal and external pockets – including huge ‘poacher’ pocket. Famously durable, this is the Land Rover of changing robes – tough, dependable and capable of dealing with the worst of UK weather. Available in wide range of colours and patterns.
Red Long Sleeve Pro Change Robe EVO
The new Evo robe from Red is a top-quality technical addition to the robe market. We love its understated styling and choice of colourways, in particular the green and orange model. The Evo’s durable outer shell is waterproof and breathable with a soft fleece lining – softer than the dryrobe.
Compared to the bulkier dryrobe and Coucon, this robe is a more lightweight option and is capable of packing down into a 10l drybag. We liked the magnetic closures on the pockets and snap fasteners over the YKK zip – easy for numb fingers to close and providing extra protection from the cold.
Good selection of internal and external pockets, including a waterproof chest pocket for your phone and an underwear pocket. Toggle hood is adjustable to protect you from the elements. Side stretch panels make getting changed easier. Our 6’3” tester was thankful for the longer robe design.
Coucon long sleeve robe
Irish brand Coucon isn’t one we were familiar with, but we were impressed with their take on the changing robe. Tough, waterproof and durable, with taped seams and a YKK zip, this is a top quality robe comparable to dryrobe and Red. The big difference is the lining, which is a soft, thick fleece – very cozy and warm, perfect for icy winter swims. It is like wearing a big hug.
The downside of all that fleece? It is huge! This is obviously a robe designed to cope with Irish winters, but it is bulky. If you are going to be swimming in very cold temperatures then all that fleece is a godsend, but it isn’t the most compact of garments.
Pockets include inner zip pocket for clothes, zipped and fleece-lined outer pockets, and inner mobile phone pocket. We tested a baby blue colourway, other colours and patterns are available.
Selkie Recycled Robe
Selkie’s changing robe is made from recycled polyester and lined with fleece. For one of the cheaper robes on the list, it is a great option. What makes this robe great is its design – the full-length sleeves are adjustable, with the ability to fold back and make shorter sleeved if you wish.
There’s also a cord hood adjuster, to keep the wind out and offer that extra protection. Similar to the other changing robes on this list, there’s a long double-ended zip that allows for ease of zipping even with colder fingers and less dexterity.
Sundried Swimming Changing Robe
Waterproof outer and fleece lining – a slightly rougher fleece than the soft fleece of Red, Zone3 and Coucon etc. Zipped external fleece-lined pockets to keep your hands warm and a zipped internal pocket for your phone, plus an underwear pocket.
Available in black with a red lining and Sundried logo on the back.
Finisterre Tego Robe
Finisterre’s Tego Robe is impressively lightweight and compact, so whilst not suited for the coldest of days, is a great robe to offer protection from the elements without taking up much space in your kit bag.
The robe is made with a 2 layer recycled Nylon outer and a 100% recycled fleece inner. It does have roomy pockets, and an adjustable hood draw cord also. There’s plenty of space to get changed in this robe, and it’s long zip makes it easy to use when you need to get changed in a hurry. Short sleeves make it easy to get changed but aren’t the warmest option.
Zone3 Oversized Heat-Tech Parka
The big brother to Zone3’s original Parka robe, the new oversized version is more suited to harsher conditions. Easier to sling on and to get changed under, it is lined with soft and cozy Polar Fleece and the waterproof outer shell has technical features such as snap- fastening cover to the YKK zip. Zipped inner pocket for your phone, underwear pocket and fleece-lined outer pockets. We liked the longer length in the body and arms. A versatile and compact robe.
Charlie Mcleod Eco Sports Long Sleeve
This change robe is a move away from Charlie Mcleod’s original ones, this time being made from a more environmentally-friendly recycled PET plastic and a sherpa lining. The robes come with dry bags to transport your robe & additional kit and stand on top when getting changed. There are also several internal zipped pockets including a mesh goggle pocket.
There’s also extra-long zip pulls for cold fingers and V vented side seams for ease of movement. On an aesthetic level, Charlie Mcleod has a range of bright designs for that extra ‘spark’ when you go swimming. Like the dryrobe, however, this robe is very big, so be prepared for it to take up some space when packing for your swim.
Vivida Lifestyle Quilted Puffer
Vivida’s Puffer is seriously warm, filled with QuiltedCloud and lined with a sustainable honeycomb fleece. There’s also an adjustable Velcro cuff fastening and a draft collar for extra protection.
This changing robe is unique in that it is designed in a way that means it could double up as a fashionable coat to wear outside (which, according to the product description, Vivida would recommend sizing down for). The only downside to the robe is that there isn’t as much room to get changed as some of the other brands on this list.
Vivida Lifestyle Sherpa Dry Changing Robe
With a bit more room to change in than its Puffer counterpart, the Sherpa robe has deep external hand pockets and internal zipped pockets for valuables. The sherpa lining facilitates the drying process even before using a towel.
The changing robe includes some features not seen on the other changing robes, such as a large internal stash pocket having a pack-away bag, which is designed to double-up as a sleeping pillow.
Gill Aqua Parka
Something different from marine brand Gill, a robe that is not only waterproof, breathable but also stretchy. The fully waterproof shell has a stitch-free, welded seam construction.
The fabric feels slightly rubbery but definitely keeps the water and wind out. It has a 4-way stretch to help when you are struggling to get changed in the wind! Zipped outer pockets, large internal stow pocket and zipped inner pocket. Quality YKK zipper and soft fleece lining make this a good compact robe choice.
One of only two robes we reviewed under £100, how did this cheaper changing robe fare compared to its more expensive rivals? The sustainable outer shell is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, making this a strong eco-friendly choice. With no zipper, this is designed to be pulled on and got changed under, and the poncho design keeps costs down with no zip or extensive selection of pockets to manufacture. There is however a secret internal pocket for your valuables and a pouch pocket at the front to keep your hands warm.
Quality construction, at the price we cannot fault it. If you don’t need the features of a more expensive robe, this is a great option. Good to use all year round at races and events, as well as trips to the beach in less than clement weather.
Smoc Smoc Full Zip
Smoc Smoc’s changing robe has great environmental credentials, being made from bamboo, which is eco-friendly and hypoallergenic too. Unlike many other changing robes which use synthetic linings, Smoc Smoc’s use of bamboo as a natural fibre means that the coat doesn’t result in added micro waste in oceans and lakes.
The use of bamboo isn’t a detriment to its drying qualities either, and works just as well as the other robes on the list in this regard. The robe also arrives in its own scrap bag, made from cut off pieces of fabric, to stand on when you’re getting changed. The robe itself is very roomy, with an additional big pocket to hold clothing items whilst you change. We loved the toggled hood – great to protect yourself from the wind and rain.
Designed to be “more than just a changing robe”, the Chinook aims to combine a stylish all-weather jacket with the functionality of a changing robe. It is certainly a good looking robe – we love the green and colourway we tested and the big mountain and sea logo on the back is very cool.
The thick grey synthetic fleece was warm – this is a bulky robe rather than a compact option. A waterproof internal pocket and fleece lined external pockets keep hands warm. The robe does however lack some of the more technical features of more expensive robes, such as YKK zipper, adjustable hood and taped seams.
SRF Dry Long Sleeve Waterproof Changing Robe Polar Edition
Designed to keep you warm and dry in even the most extreme weather. Waterproof and windproof, the thick sherpa fleece lining, two way zip and oversized fit allows you to change whilst being protected from the elements. It is a great price and is warm, but not as generous in size as other robes to be able to get changed under. Easy to roll up and put in kit bag!
These changing robes reviews were originally published in Outdoor Swimmer, Jan 2022. Stay tuned for our 2023 review coming soon! If you buy a product through a link on this page we may receive a commission.