There are not many products in the world that ARE the name for what they are. The term dry robe I guess is really a changing robe but everyone (whether they have one made by dryrobe or not) seems to refer to them as dryrobes. Incredible then that there are many different flavours and variations out there, from old towels fashioned to be a homemade changing robe to specific arctic suits incorporating the latest technology. One thing is certain though, one of the first to the changing robe drinking fountain was dryrobe and with that comes experience and knowing what works and what does not.
The idea for dryrobe was born out necessity, I don’t know where you surf, but the winter air and water temperature in the small corner of the world I grew up in is something to be reckoned with . The United Kingdom is not a place to surf in the winter if you are even remotely interested retaining a healthy core temperature. Our sport at that time of year, in that country was reserved for the determined, brave and downright bonkers. Wetsuit technology was rubbish comparatively and if you didn't have a car, you found a sheltered spot from the wind and just got changed as quickly as possible. And you got very cold indeed. For those who doubt me, I used to have numb feet through my boots BEFORE I even got in the ocean. I kid you not when I say, getting changed was the most dangerous thing about surfing in the winter then. Hypothermia was an actual issue, the remedy, a warm fire and a cup of heavily sugared tea.
Gideon and his mum Anne came up with the solution in 1983, and little did they know, it would grow into a successful and experience rich company it is today, producing super warm, wind and rainproof changing robes under the name of dryrobe. Presently the guys are on generation four on their way to perfecting the ultimate changing robe.
As I grew up in a similar place, facing similar problems to Gideon, I felt we shared a history and even though I now live in a warmer climate it might be cool to see what all the fuss was about.
We got in touch with dryrobe to see if they were up for putting one of their products through the rigorous testing mill here at Surf Bunker. To my delight, I can report that I have been using that very thing to keep me warm during this infernally changeable spring. What did I think? It’s verdict time.
As I have said before, I have always been from the ‘hard knocks’ of life as far as getting changed is concerned. Speed and organization is key and maybe because of my youth I have previously shunned any kind of assistance in this area. Age catches up to us all and I admit that the idea of remaining warm while getting changed is just hard to ignore. Who better to test than a used-to-be skeptic.
First Impressions of the dryrobe
The first thing we had to decide on was a style and colour, of which there are a few. In the interests exaggerating the full potential of these options we went for the most crazy colour combination available. Camo outer shell with bright pink lining, yep, that’s how we would roll, just because we can.
When the product arrived in the office the crowd gathered, with the frothing excitement that happens every time the postman brings a new test item,. As usual and as one of the only perks of being the boss, I had opening duties. I feel it my duty to report I believe we were all lucky the sun was not shining that morning, the colours of the dryrobe being so bright and of stark contrast to each other, it may have caused irreparable retina damage. I exaggerate not, those are some bright and noticeable colours.
The dryrobe felt light, technical and I had a sneaking suspicion it would be very warm. What I noticed immediately were the extra little touches, gadgets and features embedded in it. The product did the rounds of the office to lots of ooo’s and aaa’s. In short, it is a product that impresses at first touch and look. A ‘wantable’ item.
For those that want to check out the model, the one we received was the DRYROBE ADVANCE CAMO in a Large.
Testing of the Dryrobe
I have learned that as with testing any item of this caliber, you have to wait for the right day. A test is not a test unless its a test (if that makes sense). With the inexplicable sudden variations in temperature this spring, it was going to have to be a matter of waiting for the right day and doing a ‘strike mission’.
It just happened to be a weekend when the fresh off-shores started to blow, bringing with them low cloud and what looked like a chance of rain. The wife and child off work and school respectively so it was a family mission, a quick load up of the van early, throw a coffee at my face and go sort of situation.
On arrival at the beach, the waves were a clean peeling 2ft, brisk off-shore and perfect for family fun. Stoked, I went to start changing which is when I realised I had left all the towels at home. Doh. Not to worry though as we had the dryrobe, this would be a true test.
Taking it in turns to use the brightly coloured robe took some time, especially as my wife had never used one before. To my horror the sun started to come out, instantly changing the temperature, it was getting hot. I was last to get changed being the dad and gentleman I am, and found myself a little warm but, as dedicated as I am to my readers, decided to go for it. The result was a sweaty pile of rubber and human. The thing was warm, maybe too warm.
I can virtually hear your scorn. It’s a technical changing robe, it’s supposed to be warm and I am aware that it might be like complaining the colour black is too black. The point I would like to convey is that is was, for me too warm on that day as the sun came out.
There were an impressive number of features (get to those later), the zip did not catch at all and everything worked perfectly. The inner material felt smooth, fluffy and like being inside a sheep, if you know what I mean. As with some other changing robes, it didn’t feel too bulky which is an achievement as there is a lot to it, almost as if they had trimmed it down to only and exactly the room you need to get changed inside it.
On getting out of the water, we were all cold, the wind had strengthened and the cloud came back, I could already imagine slipping into the ‘sheep’(I am not Welsh). Again going last, I was super cold standing in my wet wettie. I can honestly, hand on my heart say that I felt warm almost instantly. I will say it again. It is bloody warm, end of.
Product Details I liked
- The main zip. Double ended, for zipping from the normal position, from the top down and easily accessible when your hands are inside the garment. It’s an important part of this product to get correct and they have done. There is also a ‘easygrip’ rubber dryrobe logo on the end of the zip string which makes it super easy to use when you have cold or numb fingers.
Something that sounds simple but is quite often overlooked is the amount of space the guys put in-between the zip and the fleecy inner lining, which is a lot. I figured out that this was so that the lining would never get stuck in the zip which would not be good on a cold day.
- The extra pockets. Now this is quite clever and shows that guys are on the fourth version. Outside pockets are one on either side, deep and come with a numb fingers easy open and close system. Inside they have two pockets, one felt kind of bucket pocket for things like earplugs, wax etc. On the other side a waterproof pocket for your phone or whatever you don’t want to get wet. There is a headphone opening for er, headphones. A well thought out part of the robe.
The lightweight outer shell. A premium feel and (while only tested in light rain) I feel it should be able to withstand moderate rain at least with no problems. While being thin, you feel that it is breathable and adds little weight to the overall garment.
The warmth of the product as a whole. Combined with the inner ‘fleece-like’ material it is super toasty and I do mean toasty. If it’s the cold you are worried about, you don’t need to with this puppy. Does what it says on the tin.
Adjustable cuffs. I have quite big, meaty hands and had no problems getting them through the cuffs, they are adjustable and can be made smaller to fit, stopping the wind and cold air getting inside. Also the sleeves are long enough to keep your hands inside if you decide to get them warm on uber cold days. An important, practical and often overlooked feature.
- The sizing. As I mentioned they have got it just right which must have been from trial and error, it does not feel too bulky and there feels like there is more than enough room to get your bits out while being covered up.
The bits I didn’t like
The warmth. I know this is a bit of a sticky point but personally I am quite a warm guy and found that I got too warm and overheated if the weather was not really cold. If you feel the cold, I guess its great though.
The hood. My dryrobe has a built-in hood which was warm and waterproof, I also have a massive head, (XL motorbike helmet) and I found it a bit too small, part of my face would poke out be exposed to the wind. Cold nose. (nose is also big)
It’s waterproof qualities. While I had no problem with the light rain we had, but would suggest that under super heavy or aggressive precipitation it may not stand up. To be honest I would not expect it to. I am going to get out there when we have heavier rain and will let you know as soon as we get some more wet stuff.
These changing robes are very technical, a lot of thought has gone into the design and manufacturing of them. As I have said, the improvements of the fourth series are obvious. However, when I first saw the price I thought it was a bit expensive.
My one with all the crazy colours and the size being a large comes in at £129.99 not including postage. It was the top of the range price wise.
The thing is, when I received it on that day we nearly blinded ourselves, there was no questioning the quality of the finish, it felt light and technical.
Things I would like to have seen included
If I really were to pick something it would be that it takes up lot of room in a bag or car. There is a lot of well hidden volume to it and there is no convenient way to fold it or stash it due to the slippery nature of the soft shell. I think if the guys upped the price by a tiny bit and included a ‘sleeping bag’-esque kind of sock you could slip it into for travel, that would be a real boon for me.
While there is a tag saying that there are no perfluorinated compounds in the waterproof treatment of this (kudos) we have to mention (in today’s day and age) that the product might benefit by being more eco-streamlined. I raised this with the guys and they said that they are already looking at solutions on how to achieve this.
Okay so dryrobe have been around for a long time, they have a history and are not on their first throw of the dice with this. The product shows maturity and the guys’ willingness to improve via innovation and listening to feedback. They have an awesome returns policy which is cool. The price is kind industry standard for an item of its calibre.
I did love the colour options and if you like to ‘stand out’ from the crowd, trust me get the colours I had, you will never go unnoticed.
If you get cold easily when you are changing, this will do the trick, of that I am sure. It is warmer than the inside of a sheep. Er, I think.
Product: dryrobe advance (camo)
Size : Large
Price: 129.99 Great British Pounds