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.
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 outer layer.
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.
The best swim robes 2023
Red Original Long Sleeve Pro Change Robe Evo
- RRP £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.
Dryrobe Advance Long Sleeve
- RRP £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
Find lots of similar options in our guide to the very best Dryrobe alternatives out there.
Zone3 Heat-Tech Robe
- RRP £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.
Vivida All Weather Puffer Changing Robe
- Buy now from Vivida (£240.00)
- RRP £240
Surely, there can’t still be a gap in the changing robe market? We didn’t think so until we were sent this robe from Vivida.
Soft, warm and lightweight, it acts as a coat (if you size down) or a coat/robe if you size up to get more room. It looks subtle and doesn’t scream ‘wild swimmer’, while the warmth and cosiness was second to none, and it even withstood light showers.
It isn’t the easiest to get on when wet due to the clingy fleecy lining, but a quick towel off first (which we would do anyway) and it worked well.
A hood, good selection of pockets, adjustable sleeves and a stash pocket are all included. Admittedly the price is higher than most robes, but we’ve already found it a daily reach-for item.
Verdict: Warm and comfy hybrid item for those that want subtle versatility.
Stolen Goat Change Thingy
- Buy now from Stolen Goat (£100.00)
- RRP £100
At this price the Change Thingy represents good value, but it doesn’t quite have as much finesse as others.
Short sleeves with wide cuffs help with changing, but also let the elements in. The high-pile lining is on par with many of its competitors in terms of warmth and drying capabilities but doesn’t feel quite as soft as some higher-priced options we’ve tested in the past.
Despite getting the largest size, we found changing a little awkward with space limited around the knees (we’re 6ft 1in so less lanky folk will be fine).
There are two deep, cosy pockets on the outside and a zip pocket on the inner, while a lined hood helps keep you warm, though there’s no adjustment.
Weather protection is decent thanks to a waterproof membrane, but the outer material did become heavy in sustained downpours.
Verdict: Does the basics well and offers good value for money, just a tad short for tall folk.
Alpkit Haven Robe
- Buy now from Alpkit (£129.00)
- RRP £129.99
The Haven isn’t going to win any awards for revolutionary design, but what it does do it does well.
Here you get a pretty traditional three-quarter length robe with full-length sleeves and a fuzzy fleece lining. Coming in four sizes, it’s oversized enough to change inside (just!) albeit the long sleeves with relatively narrow arm holes make things a little tricky. The two-way zipper is a nice touch if you want a bit more flexibility to move inside it, though.
On this 5ft 7in tester the length was about right, but taller swimmers may find they need a little more. The robe is windproof and waterproof-coated and 100% polyester throughout.
There’s no recycled materials though, which is surprising as the brand is B-Corp rated. However, there is a three-year guarantee as well as a take-back scheme once you’re done with it. There’s an internal zip pocket and a funky ‘go nice places, do good things’ logo on the back.
Verdict: Good solid, warm robe, if a little snug for changing.
Finisterre Tego Robe
- Buy now from Finisterre (£135.00)
- RRP £135
The Tego might be thinner and lighter weight than the others here, but it really came into its own during a consistently wet and windy test period on the Cornish coast.
Testing multiple items of kit a day and running up and down the beach to swap kit from the car, we welcomed a robe which was long and waterproof (thanks to the DWR coating) but light enough to be able to zip up and move around in. So if you’re a swimmer who likes to get there, get it done and then get moving then this could be a really good option.
The other benefit is it packs up small, so is easy to fold down and carry where space is at a premium. We also found it easily fitted into our dry bag to protect it from mid-swim showers.
The recycled fleece inner dried quickly and was also suitable for drying off with. We would’ve liked a zip pocket, but that’s a minor quibble. Three colours are available at time of writing.
Verdict: Not as snuggly as some, but far more practical, packable and lightweight.
Vivida All Weather Sherpa Changing Robe
- Buy now from Vivida (£165.00)
- RRP £165
One of the first things you notice about this swim robe (apart from the price) is its style. Whether in dark grey, olive green or pale blue, it looks great.
It’s also made from mainly recycled materials, which do a good job of keeping the elements at bay, though rain does start to soak in when heavy. Sizing is based on height and a large worked well for this 6ft 1in tester.
The full-length sleeves have Velcro cuffs and, vitally, it’s easy to pull your arms out of them when changing. The adjustable, lined hood is another highlight, there are two lined exterior pockets and the sherpa lining is also comfortable (though not quite luxurious) and dries you off well, but does moult a little.
The lack of exterior zip pocket and double-sided main zip is a shame, too, though the latter handily has a large pull tab. An internal zip pocket and included stuff sack round out the features.
Score: A decent eco-friendly robe, but at this price we’d want it to be perfect.
Huub Change Robe
- RRP £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.
Sundried Change Robe
- RRP £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.
- RRP £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.
Fohn Adventure Robe
- RRP £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
Verdict: As with the Hydron, this is a great budget option for milder conditions.
Ddipp Sea Monster
- Buy now from Ddipp (£150.00)
- RRP £150
Call us a bunch of old cynics, but when it comes to some products we kinda feel like we’ve seen it all – and changing robes were one of them. Until, that is, the new robe from oddly-named Ddipp landed.
This new British company has taken a product we know and love and made it (whisper it) even better. But how? Well, there are two things you notice first about the Sea Monster.
First, despite being technical (wind and waterproof) it’s also very lightweight, making it far more practical if you like to carry your robe about with you. Not only that, but it packs into an internal zippy pocket, complete with handle, for extra portability.
Second? The plush, soft inner fur which feels unlike any other robe we’ve ever tried on. Many robes can feel a little coarse on the skin, but this was literally like pulling on a teddy bear (only less weird, obviously).
Aside from those two features, other tricks include sleeves that zip on from short to long, Velcro sleeve tabs and a large drawstring hood.
Ddipp are upfront about their eco credentials too, with plastic bottles recycled to make the fabric and the company are aiming to make every element (e.g. parts of the zip) sustainable in the future. Three size options and five colourways are available.
Verdict: In a saturated market, this changing robe brings exciting new ideas.
Nyord PrimaLoft Changing Robe
- RRP £139.95
Nyord (named after a tiny Danish island in the Baltic Sea) was another new brand to the pages of 220 in 2022. Despite the name, though, it is in fact a British brand who focus on making a small range of quality, sustainable products for cold-water surfing, including the robe you see here.
Much like the Ddipp, it’s a very lightweight robe, both these products a world away from some of the much weightier ones on the market. Nyord pride themselves on a no-frills approach, though, which means this robe is a little less feature-packed, with zipped pockets, an adjustable hood and Velcro cuffs.
That said, those features will be plenty enough for many and the robe does feel very warm and cosy thanks to the recycled PrimaLoft lining, which is soft and snuggly against the skin and also dried quickly thanks to its ribbed, rather than fluffy, qualities.
The outer is waterproof and Nyord are keen to stress that where possible they’re aiming to be eco-friendly and sustainable. A ‘bionic-finish’ coating is used here, free from harmful fluorocarbons.
Three colourways and four sizes are available.
Verdict: Another light and eco-friendly changing robe; cosy and waterproof too!
Selkie Robe Recycled
- RRP £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.
Robie Dry-Series Long Sleeve
- RRP £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.
Other swim robes to consider…
Zone3 Fleece Parka Robe
- RRP £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
- RRP £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
- RRP £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
- RRP £144.95
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 hand-warmer 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!
Swim robes can offer privacy while changing, warmth and quick-drying absorbent materials. If you’re looking to pick up some more gear to help with your open water training, check out our list of the best cold water swimming gear.