Are Drying Robes Worth It and What Are the Alternatives?

September 2022

Author:  Jacqueline Tyburski

If you’ve discovered this article, chances are you’re considering a drying robe or changing robe and attempting to decide if they really are worth the investment.

A piece of ‘kit’ that has become increasingly popular in recent years, drying robes are touted as an essential waterside item that might take you to your local swimming spot, a surf adventure, or a dreamy beachy location.

So what are they really for and do you actually need one? That is what we are here to help you figure out. Below we’ve outlined some helpful information about the uses, purpose, and design of drying robes and some other changing robes options as well.

Armed with this info, we hope you can make an informed decision on whether a changing robe is right for you. 

Table of Contents 

What are drying robes?

Dryrobes, drying robes or changing robes - are useful for these main benefits; 

  • Warmth & insulation
  • A personal changing space, anywhere
  • Inner moisture-wicking technology
  • Waterproof-ness
  • Adding ease to waterside & outdoor activities
  • Storage compartments like fleece lined external pockets
  • Overall cosiness
  • Protection from the elements

Benefits of *some changing robes, such as the Vivida Puffer All-Weather Changing Robe

  • Sustainable materials
  • Versatile design for use anywhere
  • Aesthetic appeal of minimalist branding and muted, natural colours
  • Thoughtful design touches such as adjustable cuffs, full length zip, peaked hood, and tapered long sleeve

note* - as all changing robes are not created equally, be sure to assess what features a change robe includes or doesn’t include if you decide to invest in one. Vivida changing robes do include all of the above features and benefits. 

When are changing robes used & what are they for?

A drying robe is made to do what their name implies - to help get you dry. However, they are also intended to do a number of other things as well. 

Imagine you’re just emerging from a cold body of water - your first need is to get warm and dry. Changing robes generally incorporate an absorbent and/or moisture-wicking inner lining to do just this. 

Secondly, you usually will want to change out of your wet swimwear or wetsuit - but you’re out in the open with prying eyes abound. The changing robe comes in especially helpful here.

A change robe is specially designed to provide enough room to change in with your arms inside while fully zipped. This means you can avoid hiding behind a bush, tree, or escaping to your car - likely parked farther than you’d like to trek simply to change. 

Next on the docket after you have dried off and changed out of your swim gear is to get warm and stay warm for as long as you want/need. Sometimes you just want to enjoy your time outdoors, other times you may be waiting on friends or enjoying a snack or refreshment. It’s during these times that you’ll most likely have a chill after being in the water and your body needs that insulation to warm up and sustain a cosy temp. 

While this is just one waterside scenario, it’s a very common one, and it’s the reason drying robes were invented - to solve for the pain point of the cold, wet environments that water lovers often find themselves in when out enjoying the great outdoors. Change robes are designed to keep you warm, so look for one with several layers of cosy fabric plus a windproof outer shell.

Activities commonly associated with changing robe use

Most water sports enthusiasts will be familiar with a change robe thanks to their versatility. Some examples of activities that are likely to use a change robe are:

  • Open Water Swimming
  • Wild Swimming
  • Cold Water Immersion
  • Surfing
  • Kitesurfing
  • Windsurfing
  • Triathlons
  • Boating
  • Scuba Diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Wing foiling
  • Sport spectator apparel (ie. watching a rugby match in rainy weather

When drying robes are worth it

Drying robes are considered a very ‘worthy’ item to anyone who enjoys the outdoors, especially waterside, and finds themselves cutting their time outside short or avoiding such adventures altogether when faced with the thought of cold and wet conditions.

For many, the simple fact that they’ll be comfortable outdoors is that small mental shift that gets them outside more often, and for longer. We all know that our time outdoors is precious - often a key experience for our mental health and wellbeing, so for many, this reason alone justifies a changing robe. 

In addition to the mindset shift that comes with knowing a drying robe will enable a more enjoyable waterside or outdoor adventure, the materials and craftsmanship *can be a particularly worthy reason for owning a robe. What you get from a changing robe is not the same as layering a jacket over a towel, for example. 

In the case of the Vivida Puffer and Sherpa style All-Weather Changing Robes, premium, eco-friendly fabrics have been utilized to build this high performance piece of waterside ‘gear’.

From an outer soft-peached feel and high-end touches such as adjustability and strategically placed inner and outer pockets, and many other key design features, changing robes have been tested and specifically created for outdoor excursions that require warm, dry, and change-enabling attire.

This is what makes drying robes a bit of an investment item; however, with robes such as Vivida’s, it’s also what allows them to last for many, many years and avoid buying low-quality towels or coats that are repurchased over and over again. 

Here is a great video from swimmer Everyday Athlete Rach on the topic of deciding whether you need a changing robe. She also did a great review of the Vivida changing robe here

When you should seek an alternative to a drying robe

You might seek an alternative to a drying robe if you find yourself consistently in warm weather conditions without a need for warmth or insulation. In these cases, a poncho towel is likely a more appropriate purchase as they still absorb water and often you can find one with long sleeves or short sleeves depending on your preference.

In addition, if you find that you rarely need to change outdoors before or after your waterside activity - perhaps you swim at a local pool with a locker room - you may not need a drying robe for drying, shelter, or changing. 

Alternative options to drying robes

Alternative options to drying robes include poncho towels (often suitable for warmer weather), as well as regular towels. Standard puffer coats can be a nice warm option once you are completely dry, however, we don’t advise using one if you’re at all wet.

Other warm items you can bring waterside that can assist with insulation without a changing robe include a warm hat, gloves, a scarf, or clothing made of wool or thick fabric. You can check out this article that covers some of the must-have gear for cold-water swimming to provide some ideas. 

None of these items will help you with changing, and they certainly won’t help you with the combination of drying/changing/ and keeping warm in one - but something is better than nothing!

In truth, there is no direct alternative to a changing robe - only various items that serve different purposes, separately, which means you’ll be slogging more to your activity than is ideal when compared to just bringing along a change robe. 

The final verdict

As you may have deduced if you’ve gotten this far - changing robes are not just a coat with a different name. They serve a very specific purpose with features, fabrics, and design functionalities made especially for wearing waterside and/or in conditions that warrant a waterproof, insulating, and roomie garment.

While in the end, it’s of course up to you whether you consider a drying robe to be ‘worth it’ - we recommend getting a feel for how a change robe may fit into your lifestyle - how might it enhance your adventures, where might you take it, and if you decide against one for now, what will you use in its place? Maybe even take a friend's for a test run and see how a change robe works for you.

If you’re still in the deliberation process, take a look at the Vivida Puffer and Sherpa All-Weather Changing Robes - they were named GQ Magazine’s ‘most premium change robe’ of 2022, and we think they’re very deserving of this title.


Vivida All Weather Puffer Changing Robe


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Jackie Tyburski dives deep into the stories and true essence of the Vivida Lifestyle brand, ethos, and mission. She believes the right words illuminate our purpose and capture life's moments in pure, imperfect, and poetic form. Travelling, cooking, yoga, and paddle-boarding are a few of Jackie's other favourite things, alongside being a mom and wife to a few awesome humans.