Changing robes are pretty self-explanatory. They’re designed to make it easy to get changed in and out of your swimming or water sports gear while you’re on the beach, camping, or in the parking lot. With super-soft fleecy linings, waterproof exteriors, and oversize designs for discreet changing, they can keep you warm and dry and protect you from the elements. They make a lot of sense, for both style and convenience, when you’re open-water or wild swimming, taking part in a triathlon, or surfing, paddleboarding, or kayaking. If you’re swimming in cold conditions, drying and covering yourself can help you warm up gradually and avoid the “after-drop” decline in your core body temperature when you get out of the water.
To test these changing robes, WIRED took a dip in the sea on a cold winter’s day. We also asked for the feedback of a group of open-water swimmers varying in age, size, and shape to find out how well the changing robes protected us all after the swimming. We put on the changing robes immediately after coming out of the water and assessed them on design, material, size, choice of color, heat retention, and overall ability to keep us dry, warm, and comfortable.
Update December 2023: We added the Vivida All-Weather Puffer changing robe.
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