It’s expensive, but the Dryrobe Advance is a versatile and well-made changing robe
- Plenty of pocket space
- Keeps you warm and dry
- Made entirely from recycled materials
- Large and bulky
Once the preserve of open-water swimmers, surfers and endurance athletes, you’ll now see dryrobes in most coastal towns in the UK, such has been the surge in their popularity. And it’s not difficult to see why – a good changing robe solves the problem of getting changed in a public space while keeping you snug and dry at the same time.
Heck, even if you’re not planning to use it to get changed out of cold, wet gear, it’s a great way to keep warm without donning heaps of layers.
Dryrobe Advance Long Sleeve review: What do you get for the money?
The original Dryrobe was the brand’s short-sleeve model but I was sent an Advance Long Sleeve for testing. This comes with the obvious advantage of keeping your upper limbs better protected from the elements, and the opening where its arms meet the robe is still plenty deep enough that you can bring your arms inside for changing your clothes.
Aside from being £20 more expensive, the long-sleeved model is very much the same as its cheaper counterpart and, for the most part, it’s a very simple design. It’s easiest to think of the Dryrobe simply as a large, hooded coat that comes down past your knees and has enough room inside that you can easily get in or out of a pair of swimming trunks or wetsuit (although you’ll want to roll the latter down your torso before getting into your Dryrobe).
Lined with synthetic fleece made from 100% recycled polyester, it’s designed to dry you quickly while keeping you very warm. Not only that, but its windproof outer shell is treated with a water-repellent coating to keep the rain at bay. As for other standout features, the Dryrobe Advance has a two-way reversible zip, so you can control your temperature easily by unzipping it from either direction. And you can access the zip both inside and outside the robe, making it super convenient to get into and out of.
It also has ample pockets, including a waterproof internal zip-entry pocket for your phone or other valuables, a large A4 internal “poacher” pocket, which is big enough to stash underwear or other essentials, and two large, fleece-lined external pockets you can stuff your hands in to stop them getting cold.
When it comes to looking after your Dryrobe, the brand recommends washing the robe as little as possible, and then doing so by hand where necessary. Should it get very dirty, it is possible to machine-wash it at 30˚ and the manufacturer recommends turning the Dryrobe inside out and placing it in a washing bag such as the Guppyfriend washing bag. Like a waterproof jacket, should its water repellency begin to fade, you can treat it using a product such as Nikwax Tech Wash.
And if your Dryrobe fails because of a manufacturing defect within the first year, the brand will repair or replace it free of charge. Naturally, this excludes instances where user negligence or accidental damage are to blame for the damage.
Dryrobe Advance Long Sleeve review: What size should I buy?
Choosing the right size is important with any garment, but especially so with one that you intend to use to help you change into and out of awkward items of clothing such as a wetsuit. Thankfully, Dryrobe has an interactive size guide that will ask you to plug in your vital statistics before recommending a size.
At just shy of 6ft tall and weighing around 70kg, the tool suggested I opt for a medium, which conveniently also fits my wife (who is 5ft 5in). It’s also worth noting that there are different sizing charts depending on whether you plan to get changed in the robe or not.
Dryrobe Advance Long Sleeve review: What does it do well?
During testing, my wife and I found the Dryrobe Advance succeeded in its main aims, which are to dry you quickly and keep you warm as you get changed. After a cold sea swim in October, its windproof shell gave immediate relief from the chill of the cold air and we were very grateful for the robe’s long sleeves, which have velcro cuffs so they can be adjusted to your desired fit.
Changing from a swimsuit was easy enough, too. Crucially, after removing cold, damp clothing, we felt no need to quickly change back into dry clothing because the Dryrobe itself was suitably warm. The one exception to this was the area of exposed skin on our lower legs. It’s definitely a good idea to pack a pair of long, warm socks if you’ll be hanging around outdoors for some time after swimming in cold water.
It might seem obvious, but one other significant perk to using a changing robe compared to drying yourself off with a towel is that there’s no risk of accidentally exposing yourself to unfortunate bystanders. Indeed, it makes the whole process of getting changed infinitely more comfortable and straightforward when you have the luxury of a little privacy and a lot more warmth than a beach towel alone offers.
Dryrobe Advance Long Sleeve review: How can it be improved?
My only complaint about the comfort offered by the Dryrobe Advance is that its synthetic fleece can feel a little scratchy and itchy. Given that it’s synthetic wool, that’s perhaps not surprising, and the Dryrobe was still very new at the time of writing this review, so I’ll update this section should it become noticeably softer to the touch over time.
The main other shortcoming of the Dryrobe is that it’s a big bulky thing. Dryrobe has done a good job of keeping the weight down to around 1.3kg but, even still, the Dryrobe Advance will take up a considerable amount of room wherever you choose to store it. Indeed, it’s so large that unless you want to bring it in a large bag of its own, your best bet is to wear the Dryrobe whenever possible.
Of course, there are cases where that might be a perk – you could wear it to and from the beach and leave your other clothes at home – but it’s something worth being aware of nonetheless. Unless you opt for a more basic changing robe made from towel alone, which won’t offer the same level of warmth or waterproofing, this is likely a problem you’ll find with most changing robes.
Another small gripe is that the Dryrobe has no loop for hanging it on a hook. That means that you’ll have to use a hanger or the hood to hang it up, and the latter results in it hanging much closer to the floor than you might like. That’s quite possibly a deliberate decision because a hanging loop would be an obvious point of failure on such a heavy item of clothing, but again it’s something to keep in mind.
Finally, there’s the thorny issue of price. When buying a decent insulated, waterproof jacket, you’d expect to spend over £100, so the Dryrobe Advance’s £160 asking price doesn’t feel especially ludicrous. Having said that, it’s definitely at the top end of the changing robe price range, with long-sleeve models such as the Osprey adult changing robe available for £80 and Red Original’s long-sleeve robes starting at £145.
READ NEXT: Stay dry with the best waterproof jackets
Dryrobe Advance Long Sleeve review: Should you buy it?
Besides the relatively steep price, however, there’s not much fault I can find in the Dryrobe Advance Long Sleeve, and as such it wins our Recommended award. If you’re looking for a versatile changing robe that will keep you warm and dry wherever you choose to wear it, you can’t go too far wrong with the Dryrobe Advance.
Serious outdoor sports enthusiasts might consider the short-sleeve model, especially if it’s for use during the warmer months of the year. Its design should make it easier to put on and take off quickly, and it’s £20 cheaper too. However, the long-sleeve model is a great option for those looking for maximum warmth and its design makes it just as suitable for those who go on regular camping trips as for water sports enthusiasts.