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To Dryrobe or not to Dryrobe? 13 points to consider.

To dryrobe or not to dryrobe. That is the question. Are you thinking about buying a Dryrobe right now? 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? But Dryrobe itself isn’t the only choice. Especially if you want to keep the cost down but the features high.

Dryrobe quality – but there are alternatives

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? Our own McConks change robe, for instance, offers full features at just a snip of the price.

That said, we decided to find out more about wat else is available? 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 four companies, The Dryrobe Advance short sleeve, the Dryrobe Advance (long and short sleeve variants), the Charlie McLeod Sports Cloak (long and short sleeve variants), the Palm Poncho Grande, and the Smoc Smoc change robe.

Dryrobe sports changing robe
Dryrobe advance long sleeve
Dryrobe sports changing robe - Charlie McLeod
Dryrobe advance short sleeve
Dryrobe sports changing robe - Charlie McLeod
Charlie McLeod Sports Cloak short sleeve
Dryrobe sports changing robe - Charlie McLeod
Charlie McLeod Sports Cloak long sleeve
Dryrobe sports changing robe - Charlie McLeod
Palm Poncho Grande
SmocSmoc waterproof changing robe
Smoc Smoc change robe

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. But being push button, it’s either fits your wrist or it doesn’t.

The Palm poncho with no sleeve makes getting changed a little easier (freedom of arms), but this is at the expense of snuggliness.

The Smoc Smoc has the best of all worlds. It’s a long sleeve with lots of space, and with a velcro wrist fastening that allows you keep the wind out of those cold arms once you’ve got dry!

Change robe zips

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 be 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.

SmocSmoc gives you the choice, with either a full length zip or a half zip poncho. Full marks again to Smoc Smoc for listening to the consumer and providing exactly what they want!

Dryrobe shapes.

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! The SmocSmoc also feels and looks natural to wear.

Warmth and weatherproof.

The long sleeve options from both Dryrobe, Charlie McLeod and SmocSmoc 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, although only DryRobe and SmocSmoc have taped seams to keep you totally dry in those truly miserable wet days.

The Smoc Smoc lining deserves an extra shout out here. It’s bamboo rather than plastic, therefore is much more snuggly than any of the other robes.

Getting the Dryrobe on and off.

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.  

Modesty preservation.

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.

Again, Smoc Smoc, providing a half zip gives the best of both worlds. We still prefer the ease of access with a full length zip, with the associated risk of full frontal nudity that entails, but we accept that might not be everyone’s cup of tea 🙂

Dryrobe storage.

Charlie McLeod outer zipped pocket
Outer zip with easy to pull fasteners

The Dryrobe, Charlie McLeod and SmocSmoc products come with a surfeit of pockets. The McLeod and DryRobe 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.

Change robe bags.

We like the fact that the SmocSmoc and Charlie McLeod products come with a sturdy double pull string bag that double up as a standing mat. We also like the additional microfibre towel that is thrown in with the McLeod. 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.

Dryrobe Pricing.

SmocSmoc are a small UK company who make their robes in the UK! This means that they make what they need and limit wastage. They carefully source their materials and support smaller independent suppliers where they can. The smocs are finished off by hand and checked over before putting into their own SCRAP bag. These waterproof bags are made using scrap leftovers from each smoc. You can use your SCRAP bag to collect bits of scrap plastic off the beach too!

  • The SmocSmoc and McLeod long sleeves robes come in at £120
  • The DryRobe advance is available at £140.
  • The Palm Poncho Grande is £70

Sustainability and eco

The SmocSmoc wins hand down in this regard

The bamboo lining is so much more eco friendly than the plastic lining you get inside the other brands. Not only is made of natural materials rather than petrochemicals, but the natural bamboo lining doesn’t shed microplastics all over the beach/lake/river!

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 SmocSmoc 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.

Charlie McLeod changing robe
The adjustable cuff on the short sleeve Charlie McLeod changing robe
SmocSmoc velcro wrist
Flexibility for different size wrists with the Smoc Smoc arms
Charlie McLeod Wind sleeve
Charlie McLeod Wind sleeve

If you want the snuggliest, most weatherproof option, then the SmocSmoc is the best option. 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 or SmocSmoc are the options. With the biggest array of outer colours, and the providing a choice of inner colours, Dryrobe or SmocSmoc are 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.

But if you want affordability with ALL the features the McConks change robe is your best bet. Follow the link below to find out more –

Need more detail? Download our features list and detailed comments for each product.

Who are McConks?

If you’ve arrived at this page and wondering who McConks are then we supply a range of sustainable, ethical and premium stand up paddle boards without the premium price tag. Our SUP gear is comparable to many more expensive brands hence why we have such a loyal following.

Watersports knowledge.

Whilst we certainly know about Dryrobes, and changing robes in general, we know plenty more about watersports as a whole. We may talk mainly stand up paddle boarding but McConks comes from a long history of being immersed – from windsurfing to swimming, surfing and now SUP we know our onions when it comes to H2O. But it doesn’t just stop there…

Freedom unlocked.

If you’re still reading and curious then check out this little Freedom Unlocked video edit which will explain more about us, what we do and what we stand for. For those intrigued even further then check out the McConks webshop by hitting this link where you’ll find lost of stand up paddle boarding goodies. If you have any questions then please get in touch.

Freedom Unlocked – the McConks SUP story.

For further reading take a look at the following –

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