Updated: Apr 11, 2019
You know what it's like; you’re stood in the freezing cold in nothing but a tri suit waiting for the race to start. Or you’ve just finished an open water swim and the towel isn’t doing anything to keep you warm. And there’s no way you’re getting changed out of your wetsuit and swimming cossie on the back seat of the car.
dryrobe has an answer for that. It’s marketed primarily as a changing robe, but I think most people who have them use them as much more than that. Put simply, they’re a way to stay warm, whether changing or not!
dryrobe is a proudly British invention that has spawned a number of imitators, but the original was designed by a North Devon surfer as a means to get changed in a cold seaside car park.
Today, the design and construction has changed a little, but the premise is still the same: warmth and privacy.
I’ve been looking jealously at people wearing dryrobes at the beach or lake for a couple of years, so when I got the opportunity to test one, I didn’t need to be asked twice. I opted for the long-sleeve version in a very fetching camo design (cue taunts of “nearly didn’t see you there, Matt!” The old ones are the best…).
The outer is made of a pretty rugged nylon material with a full length zip (that can be opened top and bottom) and a hood. The large size supplied pretty much swamped me, but left plenty of room inside for getting changed. The inside of the garment is a kind of fleece which dryrobe claims can be used several times without feeling wet.
The long sleeves have Velcro at the wrist to keep arms warm and there are generous pockets (plus an internal one for a phone or mp3 player).
It’s not a light garment. In fact it’s pretty hefty, but I guess that’s testament to how much insulation there is. The first time I wore it properly was at a 25-mile TT in South Wales on a freezing March day. With little more than a skinsuit underneath, I was still warm. Job done.
Nor is it compact. It takes up a fair amount of space when just folded up. So much so that you'd be unlikely to include it in your luggage on foreign trips.
But dryrobe has thought of that and there's a clever optional travel compression bag that reduces down to 30cm x 20cm x 10cm, which is pretty impressive. I'll be testing this soon as I'm heading to Mallorca and the dryrobe will be perfect to stay warm before and after morning sea swims.
Until then, the dryrobe has taken up near-permanent residence in the back of my car, where it’s in the perfect place for time trials and open water swims (when I finally man-up and do some, it’s still early in the year!).
At £110 for the long-sleeved version, the dryrobe is a reasonable investment. But if you compete or train regularly and have either found yourself cold or short of changing space, it’s a pretty sound investment. Buy it once and it will last you a long time (providing your wife doesn't steal it for keeping warm at dog agility competitions....).
For more information, take a look at the dryrobe.com website.