Christmas present advice. To Dryrobe or not to Dryrobe?
PLEASE NOTE: We wrote this article before SMOC SMOC were around. Please make sure you check out SMOC SMOC UK if your are thinking of buying a robe – their ethics and eco-credentials are exemplary, and they have great reviews. We will be reviewing one and adding to this article very shortly.
Are you thinking about buying a Dryrobe this Christmas? Either as a present for yourself or for someone else? Dryrobes are a great gift idea – who wouldn’t want a warm, waterproof and windproof tent to hide in whilst getting changed? Dryrobes have an excellent reputation amongst their customers, and having tried them ourselves, we think it’s a well-deserved reputation. They’re well designed, well thought out and fantastic quality.
But are there alternatives that are just as well designed and thought out, and just as good quality? We decided to find out?
The minimum requirement, in our mind, was a high quality waterproof and windproof outer layer, and very warm high wicking inner fabric. These requirements mean that we’re reviewing five products from just three companies, The Dryrobe Advance short sleeve, the Dryrobe advance (long and short sleeve variants), the Charlie McLeod Sports Cloak (long and short sleeve variants) and the Palm Poncho Grande.
Changing robe sleeve length
Short sleeve or long sleeve depends very much on preference. Some people prefer short sleeve for easier arm movements to make getting your kit off easier. Some prefer a longer sleeve for added snuggliness.
One of the criticisms we have of the Dryrobe short sleeve is that the wind tends to whistle up your arms in cold weather. The Charlie McLeod has a small and simple design advantage in that it has a push button fastening on the sleeve that allows you to make the sleeve narrower and reduce the gap!
The Palm poncho with no sleeve makes getting changed a little easier (freedom of arms), but this is at the expense of snuggliness.
McConks think that having a zip is essential in a change robe. We love the Palm Poncho for its ease of use, but actually, pulling a poncho over a cold, shivering, tired wet body can be surprisingly and frustratingly difficult. A reversible zip that can operated from either the inside or the outside gives the Dryrobe and the Charlie McLeod Sports Cloak the edge over the Palm Poncho in our opinion.
The Dryrobe and the Palm Poncho are a slightly different shape at the shoulders to the Charlie McLeod. The horizontal shoulder line of the Palm Poncho and the Dryrobe are comfortable enough on the poncho style and the short sleeve robe. But this feels slightly odd on the long sleeve version of the robe. The Charlie McLeod had a more natural fitting that felt more comfortable without impacting on ease of getting changed. And it also meant that you don’t look out of place wearing the robe as a coat!
Warmth and weatherproof
The long sleeve options from both Dryrobe and Charlie McLeod are definitely warmer on those really cold days, and even the short sleeve options keep the warmth in more than the Palm Poncho. All of the products stand up well in very wet conditions with no obvious leaks or wet patches.
But it is worth just thinking about what conditions you will really use the changing robe in. Will you really be out in all weathers? And if not, do you really need the maximum warmth that comes with the long sleeve versions, given extra cost and the loss in function that brings with changing being more challenging with a long sleeve.
All of the robes offer enough room inside to make changing safe and secure. Although they differ in length by up to 20%, we didn’t think the length actually affected ease of changing or modesty preservation at all. All of them were long enough, and none of them felt too long. So the other key features here are how easy the robes are to get on, and how easy to get your arms inside. And all of the products have their strengths and weaknesses in this respect. The longer the arm length, the more difficult it is to retract your arms inside, especially if they’re wet. So in this respect the Palm wins. But the lack of a zip makes the Poncho more difficult to get on or off, so the Dryrobe and Charlie McLeod products score for ease of getting on.
Both the Dryrobe and Charlie McLeod products come with a surfeit of pockets. Both have at least one waterproof zipped pocket, and two internal pockets and two external pockets. The exact configuration differs slightly, with only the Dryrobe having zipped external pockets, but only the Charlie McLeod having zipped mesh internal pockets. All of the products have warm lined external pockets to warm up those cold hands. The lack of internal pockets on the Palm Poncho was not really a concern to us, but the lack of any zipped pockets was. Although the absence of zips at all on the poncho mean that there is less that can go wrong or break.
We like the fact that the Charlie McLeod sports cloak comes with a sturdy double pull string bag that doubles up as a standing mat. We also like the additional microfibre towel that is thrown in. If you want a storage bag for your DryRobe compression bag, you’ll need to fork out another £30, and there is no storage option available for the Palm poncho.
The Palm poncho is the lowest cost option coming in at £69.95. If you’re looking for longer sleeves and a zip, then for £10 more, the Dryrobe advance and McLeod short sleeve options are under £80. But only if you’re a small adult. If you need an XL, you’ll need to pay an additional £40 for the Dryrobe. This contrasts unfavbourably in our opinion to the Charlie McLeod sports cloak who charge a fixed £79.95 for all sizes. And the same is true for the long sleeved versions of the Dryrobe and the Sports Cloak. The Dryrobe is only £10 more than the Sports Cloak if you’re a small adult, but there’s a £30 penalty if you’re an extra large adult.
So which is the best changing robe / dry robe in our opinion?
If you’re a taller or larger person, you get better value from Charlie McLeod or Palm. With a £40 or £50 XL penalty for the short sleeve Dryrobe, the Charlie McLeod offers all of the same features, with a few additional ones of its own at 2/3 of the price.
If you want the snuggliest, most weatherproof option, then the Charlie McLeod long sleeve is 100% the best option. With the ability to adjust the hood, sleeve and waistband, the cloak’s ability to keep the weather out far surpasses the Dryrobe’s. Windsurfers and kite surfers used to rigging in icy, rainy, blowy conditions will particularly benefit
If you want maximum colour variety then the Dryrobe advance is the robe for you. With the biggest array of outer colours, and the only option providing a choice of inner colours, Dryrobe is the choice that allows you to match your robe to your style or kit.
If you want the lightest modesty protector that takes the least space in your luggage, then the Palm Poncho Grande is the option for you.
Need more detail? Download our features list and detailed comments for each product.