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Best swim robes reviewed

Get ready for your open water swim sessions by investing in a swim robe. Here are some of the best on the market

A collection of the best swim robes on a turquoise background

Visit any open-water swimming spot during the winter and you’ll see folk congregating like a strange furry-cloak-clad cult. But dismiss the mighty swim robe at your peril – if you want to protect yourself from the elements (and your modesty) – both pre and post-swim, having one of these is a huge help.

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But with so many on the market now, which are worth the spend? In all of our reviews we judge swim robes on value for money, warmth, extra features, practicality and their environmental impact. Many are now made from recycled materials, but remember that the truly sustainable products will also be recyclable again at their end-of-life.

But with so many swim robes on the market, which is best? On with the testing…

What is a swim robe? 

A swim robe, otherwise referred to as a changing robe or dry robe, is a long towelled robe that is used for changing under and warming-up after an open-water swim. Dryrobe is one of the leading brands in this type of garment, the name of this brand having become synonymous with swim changing robe.

For winter, a changing robe will have a water-resistant shell and thicker towel lining, while for summer, a robe will be more minimal and lightweight, consisting of a thin jersey material.

What is a swim robe used for? 

A changing robe has multiple uses and has boosted to popularity with a recent surge in open water swimming. Winter changing robes can be quite bulky, kitted out with inner and outer pockets for valuables, a hood to keep your head toasty post-swim, thick and cosy inner lining, and a waterproof outerlayer.

Robes can also come with two-way zips and side zips to allow for extra room within for changing. The versatility of such a snug robe for winter activities makes this a popular garment amongst the open water swimmers community.

For warmer climes, a swim robe can look completely different. Made purely from a jersey material, the main aim for this robe will be providing a thin and breathable layer for changing under and towelling yourself dry.

What are the best swim robes?

Red Original Long Sleeve Pro Change Robe Evo

  • £149.95

Just like the Zone3 and Dryrobe options on test, the new Long Sleeve Pro Change Robe Evo from Red Original is incredibly well made. The high-pile lining feels incredibly cosy and wicks moisture away with ease. It also helps keep the chill at bay even on the coldest of days.

Features are top notch, too. Two fleece-lined hand-warmer pockets are well-positioned to keep your hands toasty, while an external zip pocket is ideal for valuables. Inside, you’ll find another zip pocket and a stash pocket. The outer keeps the elements at bay with aplomb, helped by the external and internal zip baffles.

Adjustments at the cuffs and hood help keep the warmth in, too. A wide range of colours to choose from is also welcome.The only negatives we can think of is that it feels a touch restrictive at the bottom when trying to change in and out of clothes, while the lack of sustainable materials was also a surprise.

Verdict: High quality, warm, cosy… honestly, it’s hard to fault this swim robe.
Score: 93%

Dryrobe Advance Long Sleeve

  • £160

The originators in this market, the 220 team have been wearing Dryrobes since their inception in 2010. Since then, a range of colours, sleeve lengths and accessories have become available and on test here is the trendy camo/pink version.

The full-length sleeves can be secured with Velcro and the robe also includes two large outer zipped pockets and a zipped waterproof inner pocket and larger ‘fleece’ pocket. There’s no doubt this robe is bulky, but the benefit there is that it remained the leading choice in our test for pure warmth and cosiness post-swim, which in the British winter has to be the key factor.

This UK12 female tester tried a size small and found it had plenty of room inside to change, but was then still close-fitting enough to feel toasty. Fabrics are 100% recycled. Niftily, Dryrobe has also launched a fleece cover (£20) which the robe can be packed into to turn it into a pillow, or a bag for £10.

Verdict: Not cheap, but you get what you pay for here with the cosiest, best-performing robe
Score: 95%

Zone3 Heat-Tech Robe

  • £139

If you’re looking for a next-level amount of comfort from your changing robe, we may have just found it. Zone3’s submission to this test uses such a soft, cosy lining that we’d wear it all day, every day, if it was socially acceptable.

It soaks up and wicks moisture away really well and is one of the warmest on test thanks to the high-pile nature of the lining. Having said that, pulling the sleeves on when your arms are wet can be a bit of a faff, as the lining is rather loose and occasionally bunches up.

The robe does a fine job of keeping the wind and rain at bay, and excels where features are concerned, too. There are handy cuff adjustments on the full-length sleeves, a two-way zip that can be opened from inside or out, a storm baffle covering the zip for added weather protection, two luxurious hand-warmer pockets and an external and internal zip pocket. We just wish Zone3 used recycled materials…

Verdict: Luxuriously warm, weatherproof and full of lots of fantastic features.
Score: 90%

Huub Change Robe

  • £149.99

The first changing robe release from Huub, this will be one for triathletes who want to show off their tri credentials when heading to open-water. That aside, the features here are similar to those found in the Dryrobe with long sleeves with Velcro adjuster, two zipped outer pockets, an inner waterproof pocket and ‘stuff’ pocket, and a cosy Sherpa lining.

We like the large hoop zipper pulls, which are easy to operate with cold hands, and the robe offers a similar weighty feel and cosy fleece lining to the Dryrobe. Where they differ is in Dryrobe’s use of 100% recycled materials, while HUUB doesn’t list any eco-credentials in association with this robe which is a shame.

If colour is important to you as well, Huub only offers two fairly staid colour schemes (back/blue and navy/red). You do save a tenner over the Dryrobe though, so it depends what you think is worth the spend!

Verdict: A warm, quality robe that does a great job, though we’d like to see eco materials.
Score: 90%

Sundried Change Robe

  • £130

Sundried’s changing robe comes in at a similar price point as many of the others in this test and has some great features. The fleece-lined inner feels lovely against the skin, though is perhaps not as luxurious as the the Zone3 and Dryrobe options. It soaks up moisture well and is warm, but we did experience some malting of fabric during testing.

The front zip isn’t as long as we’d have liked, either, meaning chilly air can occasionally sneak in and a modesty mishap may be on the cards. Meanwhile, the outer is both water- and wind-repellent.

There’s a selection of handy pockets, including two fleece-lined, zipped ones on the outer, one zipped pocket inside and an internal stash pocket, giving lots of storage options. While we like that the two-way zip can be used from inside or out, it isn’t the smoothest to operate. A reflective logo and adjustable cuffs are welcome additions.

Verdict: Lots of great features, but not quite the complete package.
Score: 84%

Dhb Hydron

  • £90

Along with the Fohn Adventure Robe, the Hydron is the cheapest swim robe on test. It’s only available in black and comes with a large print of the brand’s logo on the back, so it’s fair to say this isn’t one of the most stylish options.

There’s an internal zip pocket and two fleece-lined hand-warmer pockets, but the positioning of these felt slightly too far back for our liking. The two-way zip is easy to use, even with cold hands, though it can’t be used from the inside. With 3/4 length sleeves, it’s easy to slide your arms inside the robe and get changed while protecting your modesty.

Although nice and soft, the Hydron’s lining isn’t the best at absorbing and wicking moisture away or drying quickly after use. Nor is it quite on the same warmth and comfort level as the likes of Zone3, Dryrobe or Red Original options in test. It does, however, offer great protection from the wind and rain.

Verdict: Great value and weather protection, but not the warmest.
Score: 78%

Fohn Adventure Robe

  • £90

The Fohn Adventure Robe is almost identical to the Hydron robe that’s also on test. But then, that shouldn’t really be surprising considering both brands belong to Wiggle. That means you get the same features (including two-way zip, hand-warmer pockets, internal zip pocket, internal storm flap for the zip) for the same price.

What is different is the style. There’s no large logo on the back and it comes in navy, rather than plain old black. As with the Hydron, changing is a breeze thanks to the 3/4 length sleeves and spacious fit, while weather protection is more than adequate, with rain beading up and running off effortlessly.

We’d also echo our sentiments about the lining. It’s not quite as warm as a few others on test, while its ability to move moisture away from the body also leaves a little to be desired. There’s no eco-credentials, either. It comes at a very attractive
price, though.

Verdict: As with the Hydron, this is a great budget option for milder conditions.
Score: 78%

Finisterre Tego Robe

  • £135

Compared to the plushness of the other robes on test, the Tego from sustainable surf and outdoor brand Finisterre initially feels a little thin. Made from a recycled durable water repellent (DWR) nylon outer and recycled fleece lining, it has a simple design including two large pockets, an easy-to-operate two-way zip and a hood with drawcord.

During a mild pre-Christmas test period, though, we found real benefits to this robe – namely its light weight and packability, which means it’s a no-brainer for days when you need a roomy changing layer but don’t want to wear/carry one of the heavier ones on test.

It’s surprisingly warm, too, and did a good job of protecting us from the wind while changing. We’d like to see a zippy pocket for valuables like car keys, though. If you want a thicker Finisterre robe, see the recently launched Adelie (£150) with its thicker, heavier fleece lining.

Verdict: This lightweight robe is a great option for the warmer months or if you’re packing light.
Score: 80%

Selkie Robe Recycled

  • £125

This striking design instantly won the ‘ooh factor’ award at our local swimming lake. The stylish design is backed up by eco-credentials too with the use of recycled nylon made from plastic bottles.

That waterproof outer is lined with plush orange fleece that feels like a big warm hug as soon as you put it on, though it’s less heavy than the Dryrobe or HUUB and more packable, coming with a handy drawstring bag. Extra features abound, too, with Velcro adjusters on the sleeves for closure and length, a drawcord around both the hood and the waist and pockets galore with two outer fleece pockets, then both inner zippy and mesh ones.

We like the adjustability in this one-size robe as it meant plenty of room for changing but the potential to create a more fitted look while wearing it post-swim. It was warm, too, although quite long, so be careful not to trail it in the mud when putting it on or off!

Verdict: Light, snuggly, feature-packed eco-robe with snazzy looks and a good price.
Score: 91%

Robie Dry-Series Long Sleeve

  • £149.99

The ‘Dry-Series’ range of waterproof changing robes is a development of Robie’s original 2007 towel robe. This long-sleeve version is made from recycled nylon for the weatherproof outer shell and recycled shearling fleece lining on the inside.

The waterproof material and taped seams do a stellar job of keeping the rain off after a drizzly early-morning dip, while the electric-blue, moisture-wicking inner kept us toasty and feeling stylish. That said, we found that blue fluff moulted onto our damp skin and clothing. The two-way YKK zip is durable and extremely handy for allowing more space for movement under the robe when getting changed.

However, we did struggle at times to get the zip done up without it jamming, especially with numb fingers. Unlike many changing robes from other brands, the Robie offers plenty of fleece-lined zip pockets for storing valuables and snacks, allowing us to rock up at the lake without a bag and ready to go. We especially liked the internal zip pocket with headphone port.

A big selling point of the new Robie range is the brand’s use of PFC-free durable water repellent coating and recycled materials. For a product centred around swimming and the great outdoors, this eco focus is a must and we’re happy to see more and more brands following suit. The £150 price point is at the top end of average for a waterproof long-sleeve robe like this, and you’ll certainly be glad of the warmth once the post-open water swim shivers start to set in.

Verdict: An investment, but comforting after a cold swim.
Score: 83%

Other swim robes to consider…

Zone3 Fleece Parka Robe

  • £99.00 

The Parka comes with long sleeves for added pre- and post-swim warmth, and there’s also the soft internal fleece for maintaining temperatures. Added features include a water- and wind- resistant outer shell, and both internal and zipped pockets. Two front fleece pockets can keep your hands warm while the two internal pockets, including one smaller zipped pocket, can securely store items.

At 3/4 length, the jacket is designed to regulate your temperature while absorbing and wicking away sweat. Zone3’s fleece parka can be a warm and functional addition to your swimming sessions.

Dryrobe Advance Short Sleeve

  • £130

Dryrobe are the original swimming robe brand, and they now produce a wide range of styles, sleeve lengths and colourways. The SS here is their best seller, and comes with multiple pockets, a lining that draws water away from the skin and two-way zips.

Red Original Pro Change

  • £119.95

Red Original are new to us and here’s their entry into the swimming robe market. It features a triple-layer construction and a soft inner lining. There’s a chest pocket for valuables and a two-way YKK zip with finger pulls for ease of use.

Red Original Pro Change long-sleeved

  • £144.95
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Pick up Red Original’s latest version of their pro robe, this time with long-sleeves to keep you toasty. We tested this robe during icy January swims (water usually 5°C, air around 1°C) and the deep and fleece-lined handwarmer pockets were wonderful. The waterproof chest pocket and outer shell also withstood 2021’s soggy start, while the internal fleece lining is quick to dry, wick water from the body, and maintain warmth. The Hawaiian Blue colour will also stand out from the crowd!