Review: the Best Surf Ponchos

After a board, a poncho towel is a surfer's best friend. It's a cosy hug after each session, and ensures you're kept warm and dry as you change into and out of your wetsuit or swimwear. But what makes a surf poncho so good? And how do you decide which one is right for you? Continue reading our handy guide to find out...


  1. What is a surf poncho?
  2. Who would need a surf poncho?
  3. How do you use a surf poncho?
  4. Which are the best surf ponchos?
  5. The Vivida Essential Surf Poncho
  6. The Vivida Original Surf Poncho
  7. The Vivida Premium Surf Poncho

What is a surf poncho?

A surf poncho, a poncho towel, a towelling robe - whatever you want to call it, it's a simple but effective piece of kit. A surf poncho is essentially towelling material styled in a long t-shirt shape. It is designed to be a wearable towel hoodie and is an essential item to help you dry off and get changed easily for all your outdoor adventure activities.

Shaped to cover the entire body for ease of changing, towel ponchos can shelter you from the elements in a way a regular towel can not (and let you use both hands to get changed). They often have drawstring hoods, pockets and sometimes zips for storing valuables. On the whole, surf ponchos make getting in and out of wetsuits and swimwear in the great outdoors a much more pleasant experience. 

Who would need a surf poncho?

Surfers, open water swimmers, kitesurfers, windsurfers, divers, campers, beach goers, outdoor pursuit enthusiasts and all other adventurers alike! 

How do you use a surf poncho?

Your surf poncho towel is a vital item to pack in your water sports bag. 

Getting changed using a surf poncho instead of a regular shaped towel is revolutionary. No more dropping your towel and exposing yourself to the entire beach or getting another few degrees colder pre or post surf. The surf poncho means you can undress with total ease, stay warm and look dope when you are on the beach. 

There is nothing that screams “carefree beach attitude” more than the bare feet, soaking salty hair, and brightly coloured surf poncho look. 

We dig it, you should too. 

Which are the best surf ponchos?

The best surf ponchos don’t have to be full of gizmos and widgets, they just need to fulfil the needs of the adventurer. 

The best surf ponchos feature super warm towelling materials, well shaped and lined hoods, pockets to store valuables, and the more premium products will have higher tech materials, a softer feel, and boast a more impressive design. 

Adventurers seek ease and don’t need to be wasting time with tricky zips or complicated head entrances into beach garments, when they could be utilising that precious time living the dream on the water. 

Vivida has an expansive range of beautiful poncho towels, we’re going to review all three of their styles. The Essential, the Original, and the Premium. Strap in. 

The Vivida Poncho Towel Range 

Endlessly versatile and always ready for action, the Vivida poncho towel range was designed to turn heads. All ultra absorbent, fast drying and travel friendly, the Vivida poncho range is ideal for life by the water. 

All of Vividas ponchos protect you from the elements efficiently. They are all made of quick dry microfiber which dries you 4 times quicker than regular cotton towels and absorbs 7 times its weight in water. Brilliant! 

The Essential Poncho Towel

Vivida's entry level poncho protects you from the elements and feels amazing on the body. 

Simple in design, using minimality to its advantage, the Essential Poncho has a tapered, less boxy fit than the other ponchos from Vivida with dropped shoulder sleeves for a spacious fit. This benefits the traveller when wanting to pack the robe as it's slightly less bulky than the other robes on offer. 

That being said, it's the least warm poncho of the trio, but still toastier than any soggy towel you’ve ever been subjected to post water session.

It has reinforced side slits to enable free movement, meaning post surf beach yoga in your towel, is always on the cards. 

It features a big kangaroo pocket on the front, nice and roomy to pop cold and sandy hands into, to shelter from the wind.

The wide, full coverage drawstring hood is universally cosy and spacious, keeping your head and face warm and protected.

This is definitely the surf poncho towel you'd want with you in warmer climes.

It comes in S/M, M/L, and L/XL and a range of earthy block colours.

Price = £50

Shop the Essential Poncho Towel


The Original Poncho Towel

The design of the original has stayed with the Vivida since 2015, making it the most popular poncho in the range. The Original Towel Poncho from Vivida prices a £65, a little more than the Essential option. If you're looking to balance warmth, features and affordability, this is the poncho towel for you.

It boasts more advanced features than the Essential poncho and is beautifully eye-catching with its two toned design. This two tone design blends seamlessly into the hood and the front pocket, meaning you’ll stand out on any beach for all the right reasons.

The fit of the Original is flattering on all body shapes and sizes, with its ¾ length sleeves and bonus side slits for moving freely and adventuring. It is also marginally thicker than the Essential meaning the insulation properties are higher. 

The Original has underarm slits for changing. This is a super cool feature that most ponchos on the market don’t have. It means you can slip your hands in the side and pull garments up and down without lifting the material of the poncho up to expose you whilst you’re towelling or changing. 

The Original has a wide drawstring, full coverage, reinforced, double lined hood. A level up in the insulation department from The Essential poncho. It also has a large kangaroo pocket, with a discreet zip on the inner side, meaning valuables, earrings and keys aren’t at risk of falling out. 

This design also comes in S/M, M/L and L/XL.

Price = £65

Shop the Original Poncho Towel


The Premium Poncho Towel

Man wears Vivida Lifestyle Premium Poncho Towel Map of Dreams

The Vivida Premium poncho towel is the crème de la crème of the towel ponchos. In my opinion, there is nothing out there that will make you dry quicker, warm up faster, feel as cosy, or look as good as the Premium poncho towel. It's crafted from premium 100% cotton and has a waffle lined hood for maximum comfort and warmth. 

Like the Original, it features the underarm slits for subtle changing, ¾ length sleeves for ease, ultra reinforced side slits for movement and is easily packable. It has the largest kangaroo pocket with the discreet inner lined zip, safeguards your phone, cash, keys and snacks. 

Available in 3 colour options, it's the Map of Dreams print that truly encompasses the inspiring ethos of the Vivida brand. The print is a custom art creation, depicting the unique and diverse corners of the earth our community adventures have travelled. The design process is a continual art piece that has spanned several months and is updated with the ever changing flow of the globe and community. Where will your Map of Dreams take you?

Available in S/M, M/L and L/XL.

Price = £70

Shop the Premium Poncho Towel


So there you have it!

Get poncho-ing people!

Indie Bornhoft is a personal trainer and watersports coach, who encourages her clients to make movement their mantra. She has coached every ability in wakeboarding, paddleboarding, SUP fitness, and windsurfing for over ten years, and is highly qualified in all disciplines. Discover more about her drive to just keep moving and be inspired to connect to the raw power of body & spirit through fitness.