Mad about being in or on the water? Equally passionate about being warm? Show me the Robe……

Probably the most frequently asked questions received by our customer service department at the Outdoor Swimmer Shop concern the humble Changing Robe. And as there is quite a bit of information to share, we decided it best to put pen to paper and write a little overview, hopefully encapsulating most of these questions and providing you with a comprehensive overview…

What is a Changing Robe and what are they used for ?

Changing Robes effectively perform a dual function. They’re something warm and cosy to climb into when getting out of cold water, they protect you against the elements, and their oversized nature gives you enough room to allow you to change underneath, without losing body heat and while maintaining a degree of privacy. They also provide an extra layer on your way to your swim in the mornings (or evenings) and they are great for making a quick getaway after being in the water…. throw it on and hit the road.

‘Do I need a Changing Robe’?

Well…. how long is a piece of string? As I think all of us know, is that there is an actual art to changing before and after swimming. Changing under a large towel might seem entirely satisfactory but I guess a majority of open water swimmers and water enthusiasts are keen to avoid revealing parts that society deems inappropriate to display in public. And then there is the obvious…. Open water swimming is COLD! Yep, living in the gorgeous UK, open waters are notoriously freezing, and swimming during winter only makes it even more frosty.

Staying warm and avoiding after drop is crucial to swim safety, and a robe is a great piece of equipment to help you do this. 

What should I look for in a Changing Robe?

When choosing a Robe there might be numerous considerations to take into account. First of all you’ll obviously need enough room for changing, but additional features are entirely down to the individual. If you’re a fair weather swimmer of summer outdoor enthusiast your needs might be totally different to those looking for something more robust to withstand the seasons. You might be all about style…. You might be looking for additional pockets. …  You might be planning on swimming throughout the colder months so extra warmth might be a key consideration, as is an ability to withstand wind or rain. You might be looking for a Robe that stashes away and doesn’t take up too much room or you might be looking for a multi-purpose Robe that doesn’t just suit your swimming needs but would rock spending time in your garden, on a boat, camping or living your best life at a music festival under the stars. From its humble origins as a surfer’s towel poncho, the Changing Robe has boomed in popularity and many brands now produce Changing Robes which wouldn’t look amiss on a catwalk. For example, a newcomer to the changing robe scene is the 3-in-1 Change Parka from Red Original. A new hybrid coat, the outer shell forms a sleek and fully rainproof parka, the detachable and stylish fleece inner jacket can be worn on it’s own and put together they form an extremely warm winter coat, designed for bold adventures on the water, on the slopes or anywhere in between. Another great robe which screams versatility is the All Weather Puffer Changing Robe from Vivida. Designed to shelter you from any weather condition, this robe looks as good in the city as it does on the coast, as does their All Weather Sherpa Changing Robe.

Are there environmentally friendly Changing Robes?

Our followers, made up of wild swimmers, dippers, open water lovers, paddlers, water sport enthusiasts, explorers, adventurers and those of you who just enjoy getting lost in nature tend to be an environmentally conscious bunch, aware of the damage that consumerism can do to their favourite spots. This is reflected by a large number of manufacturers making at least part of their robes from recycled materials. We, at the Outdoor Swimmer Shop,  champion small, unique British brands which not only share the same strong environmental and ethical values but also our love of the water and the ‘outdoors’. Therefore many of the Changing Robes on the Outdoor Swimmer Shop are made from recycled or renewable materials

And finally, we often get asked What is the best type of Changing Robe for outdoor swimming?

Well, a Towelling Changing Robe is the simplest and cheapest option. Easy to slip on and off over your head. No fuss! Neither waterproof or windproof, these are great for summer swims or water based activities in good weather, days at the beach and they provide some post-swim comfort and modesty.

A great alternative to the towelling robe is the Microfibre Changing Robe. Still much more affordable than the ‘all singing, all dancing’ type of Changing Robe, the microfibre option is lightweight, portable, super absorbent and fast drying.

And there’s even an all cotton alternative. A Cotton Changing Robe is a colourful gorgeous, lightweight changing robe perfect for easy-going outdoor living. Their generous size means they are perfect for throwing on as a beach cover-up and for using to change before a swim.

But as we know, many of you are now looking for a robe to withstand all seasons. Open water swimming or wild swimming is hugely popular in the UK and more and more people are swimming throughout the seasons. We’re all aware of the benefits, both physical and mental…..  

So the next level Changing Robe consists of a waterproof/windproof shell and a quick drying lining. They are warm and windproof and many have hoods and multiple pockets and open completely at the front. A Long Sleeve Changing Robe adds extra warmth, while the Short Sleeve Changing Robe is perfectly suited for the warmer months, the short sleeve length making changing hassle free. Many robes feature long sleeves with a velcro strap to shorten long sleeves and the ddipp Sea Monster even comes with zip-off lower sleeves, offering the best of both worlds!

And there are plenty of options available for each member of the family. Looking for a Kids Changing Robe? There is an equal variety of the coolest swim robes on the market for your little outdoor swimming heroes.


There you have it! A summary of Changing Robes. Given their popularity there is now a huge range of brands on the market and while the core features remain the same – oversized to allow for changing, weather proof and warm – there is a great variety out there to suit every need. The perfect accessory for open water swimmers, water sports enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers, the number of uses are only limited by your imagination.