Tried & Tested

Is this the best dry robe for swimmers, surfers and snugglers?

Gilly Ferguson,-Contributing Editor

Too cool for pool: sales of changing robes are skyrocketing, but are they worth the faff?

What is a swim robe and what is it used for?

Swim robes are a towelling-poncho-cuddly-coat hybrid. Put simply, if you look at any all-weather wild swimmers, winter beach-goers or wet-day dog walkers, chances are they’ll have one of these fleece-hooded cloaks. Like a Harry Potter convention, but cosier.

The best dry robes are designed to keep you toasty pre and post-swim – and any open-water devotee will tell you that arriving feeling warm is vital to a successful swim. Walk there in your robe and clothes if possible and acclimatise slowly, particularly on windy days when you’ll lose body heat faster. 

Dry robes double as changing robes too, allowing you to whip your kit on and off in privacy and comfort – making them ideal for surfers, campers, paddleboarders, kayakers and spontaneous swimmers alike.

Is this £119.95 poncho worth the price tag?

Passenger’s Escapism Unisex Changing Robe is lined with irresistibly strokable, supersoft and snug sherpa fleece, with a zip fastening to keep every gust of wind out. It features two front pockets with a hand-warming tricot lining, an internal patch pocket with Velcro seal and a back neck-hanging loop.

Available in black, Larkspur blue and rust, in sizes XS to XL, Escapism has been made with 100% recycled single-use plastic (in fact, the recycled material in each robe is equivalent to 85 plastic bottles). And with a PFC-free water-resistant coating, it’s perfect for those of us looking to shop more sustainably.

So far, so sensible – but how does it measure up against the competition?

What makes Escapism special?

Passenger’s poncho ticks off all the tradish needs you’d have from a dry robe (cosy, practical, way more sensible than a normal coat) but it’s also:

  • Designed with environmental impact in mind Shout out to all those recycled bottles
  • Surprisingly lightweight… with a better fit than many competitor robes, so you feel warm but not weighed down, plus it’s portable when not being worn as it packs down small
  • Looks cooler than your average And it’s not often that we say that about cold-weather clothes

Do dry robes work?

Honestly? I stubbornly refused to invest in a dry robe for a while. Yes,  I enjoy wild swimming but I wasn’t ready to splash out on the entire kit because: cost of living crisis.

How wrong I was. Not only is a comfortable cossie a wise buy (anything but bodycon), the difference a dry robe makes is also undeniable. This one warms me up far more quickly than my bulkiest winter coat ever did, and thanks to the two-way zip and side slits for easy changing, it puts me at far less risk of flashing any locals. Everyone’s a winner.

It’s also proved very useful for UK wet-weather walks, of which, I have many.

The metrics that matter
PracticalityLightweight, waterproof and warm – this is layering at its very best. I’d probably live in if I could.
Value for moneyChanging robes are costly, but Passenger comes in at a fair price when compared to many of its competitors.
Extra featuresFrom its plastic bottle beginnings to the clever pockets, Escapism’s added benefits go above and beyond.

What do you need to buy for wild swimming?

This robe. And, if you're a more dedicated dipper than I am, perhaps some of this too.

Are dry robes worth the money?

The best changing robes are versatile and warm, ideal for outdoorsy types and anyone who’s looking to keep cosy without donning heaps of layers.

Yes, Escapism does come with a princely price tag, but let’s party like it’s £119.95* – it’s worth every penny.

(*with apologies for the tenuous Prince reference)

Image of people swimming in a lake

Advice and tips: wild swimming for beginners

  • Arrive feeling warm Walk to the water, and layer up the warm clothes
  • Acclimatise slowly You’ll lose body heat more quickly on windy days
  • Persevere Once you’re in, it’ll take a few minutes for the ‘oof!’ feeling to pass
  • How long should you stay in the water? I live in southern England so at this time of year I get out and warm up after 20 minutes, max
  • Remove damp swimwear Obvs
  • Stand on something (ie towel or mat) afterwards to avoid losing more heat from your feet
  • Sip a hot drink It’ll help warm your body gently from the inside
  • Shower But wait until you’ve warmed up a bit first

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