GEAR | The Great Debate – Should Dryrobes Be Worn As Coats & Why Do People Care So Much?

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Whilst there are plenty of reasons not to wear a Dryrobe or any of the many alternative versions available on the market as a coat, that’s not stopping an increasing number of people from doing so. We jump in on the debate and discuss Dryrobes worn as coats in our latest blog…

Dryrobe debate

If you’re hoping for damning judgement and a post full of derision aimed at the folks that choose to wear their Dryrobe as a coat, reading on might disappoint you.

Whilst I’m going to firmly avoid going down the route of condemnation and remain resolutely on the fence, what I will do is lay out some pretty compelling reasons why Dryrobes and similar, although brilliant for swimming and waterports, don’t make great coats.

The original Dryrobe

Dryrobe is the original, most easily recognised brand of changing robe, a practical garment, designed as oversized wearable towels with a waterproof outer layer.

When people refer to Dryrobes, they are generally referring to this style of sports changing robe, similar to the way some people refer to vacuum cleaners as Hoovers, even when they aren’t Hoover brand appliances.

The rise of the Dryrobe

Designed primarily for swimming and watersports, changing robes have increased in popularity over the last couple of years, possibly thanks to the rise in those of us who have discovered the joys of outdoor swimming who understand just how fantastic a product they are (read our detailed Dryrobe review here).

Their oversized and roomy nature means you can easily pull your hands inside and get changed in privacy, reducing the fear of flashing, while the towelling/fleecy lining is intended to dry a wet body and keep you warm and this they do brilliantly well.

However, their inherent warmth and ability to keep the wearer dry means they have increasingly been adopted by dog walkers as well as mums and dads standing on the sidelines waiting for kids to finish rainy football sessions.

Whilst these uses alone garner debate and split opinions, it’s their everyday urban use, seen everywhere from supermarkets to theatres, that seems to really make people mad.

Passenger changing robe
Post swim, there’s nothing better!

Dryrobes in an urban setting – the great debate!

So if the wearing of changing robes is ‘acceptable’ in some circumstances, like standing beside a football pitch in winter whilst your kids are training, or flinging them on at the campsite, why do people have a problem with them being worn by folks doing the weekly shop? Can we really be so sure that the person being smirked at, hasn’t come straight from an open-water swim and just needed to grab a few groceries on the way home? Does it even matter?

Negative opinions abound, but if we’re getting salty about an item of clothing being used outside of its strictly intended purpose, by that logic we should only be wearing trainers in the gym.

Maybe the problem lies with individuals who have never engaged in, nor have any plans to engage in, open water swimming or watersports, yet choose to wear Dryrobes in an effort to mimic a sporty, relaxed aesthetic? Perhaps this lack of authenticity could be what’s fueling the frustration for some.

We all have our own opinions, and like it or not, Dryrobes now find themselves on a list previously reserved solely for UGG boots and Crocs. Mention either, and people will generally have a Marmite reaction.

Does their use in a broader setting really legitimise the existence of Facebook groups dedicated to mocking those who choose to wear them outside of their intended use though? Of course not, but that doesn’t stop it from happening.

The underlying argument is that despite people wearing them as coats, that’s not what they are designed to be. But honestly, does it matter?!

Do Dryrobes make good coats?

That said, there are some good reasons why changing robes generally make a poor coat choice.

First and foremost changing robes are huge. You could easily wear 7 of your thickest jumpers underneath and still have room for an oversized fleece or 3. This makes them extremely cumbersome, and arguably, entirely impractical for everyday tasks like visiting the supermarket.

They aren’t designed to wick sweat or regulate your temperature, they are designed to keep you warm, and so once you heat up, there’s little to nowhere for that heat to go, which can make them extremely unpleasant to wear over clothes whilst being active.

I do strongly believe that any camping trip can be significantly improved with the addition of a Dryrobe.

Their oversized fit also means they are heavy – much heavier to wear than your typical waterproof outdoor coat, again, this makes them pretty awkward to move around in and I wouldn’t consider doing anything in a Dryrobe that requires any kind of precision or dexterity.

Wearing my Passenger changing robe after a swim
Wearing my Passenger changing robe after a swim

Perfect for camping

With the downside of all of their bulk and weight however, their warmth and practical features make them extremely versatile and I do strongly believe that any camping trip can be significantly improved with the addition of a changing robe.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve sat outside nattering of an evening and no number of extra layers or blankets have adequately warmed me, but my Dryrobe has kept me toasty and they’re also great to pop on top of a sleeping bag on a cold night too!

I don’t care how clean the showers are, shared facilities give me the ick, and so being in and out as fast as possible is a huge bonus to me, and whilst still dripping wet and naked, wearing my changing robe to walk back from the showers and get dry and dressed in privacy, makes it less of a sensory ordeal for me.

My favourite changing robe lives in my outdoor swimming bag, and that’s where it will stay. I’ll continue using it for open water swims and camping and I’ll favour my much more practical waterproof outdoor coat for everything else, but y’know, you do you.

Really, who cares?

I think it’s time people stopped looking down their noses at Dryrobe wearing dog walkers and people out and about in them.

In terms of aesthetics and functionality, a waterproof changing robe isn’t all that different to wearing an oversized rain mac or poncho. Sure they are shapeless and aren’t generally designed to look flattering or pretty, but really, who cares?

For those who want to be dry and warm, why does it matter what they choose to put on, so how about we let others wear their Dryobes in peace, free of mockery and in whatever setting they choose? A bit less judgment and a lot more kindness can never be a bad thing.

Where to next?

Shell Robshaw-Bryan
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