Toby Hodges has spent a year testing the Red Original EVO Pro Change Robe and stash bag both of which get a big thumbs up
If you are considering a changing robe or dry robe, there’s a burgeoning range to choose from now. These waterproof garments are designed to keep you warm when getting in and out of a wetsuit or swimming costume at a beach, and their popularity has soared in recent years with the explosion of watersports and wild swimming in particular.
Perhaps the most popular two labels you will see are from dryrobe and Red Original. In our family we have tried these and a Frostfire Moonwrap too. I am in the sea multiple times a week all year round in the UK and have gradually and increasingly started succumbing to the comfort of a dry robe.
After a season’s use I can safely say that Red’s new EVO Pro Change Robe is the most comfortable I’ve tried yet and I am impressed with the quality of manufacturing and details it has incorporated.
The EVO is the new version of the brand’s Pro Change Robe. It uses a more packable technical fabric with a moisture-wicking deep-pile fur lining. And it’s this latter feature which does it for me.
It’s all about the fluff
In comparison to the competition, the fur lining is addictively comfortable. It’s like being cuddled by a friendly polar bear. In comparison the nylon inners of others feel stiffer and not quite as cosy.
Other details I like in particular are the comfort of the hood, which has adjustable elastic, the high neck, the buttoned protection flap covering the main zip, the angled fleece-lined outer pockets – and, compared to the dryrobe, the longer and elasticated cutaways at the back.
If you can feel a ‘but’ coming on, there is one. And it’s with the tight cuffs. I just don’t get them. Why, when you make everything else so baggy for ease of movement and changing, are these so tight?
Granted they are elasticated and have velcro seals to keep rain and wind out, which I’m sure will be appreciated by some in the depths of winter – but for me it ruins the experience each time I use it when I am wet (the point of them), because, as you push your arms through, the fur lining pushes out with it. For this reason I’d opt for the slightly cheaper short sleeve version (£129.95), which ends at the elbow.
Game changing bag
In essence, other than the sheer comfort, there is not a massive amount of difference between changing robes and people will likely buy on a style decision – until now that is…
What is the worst thing about Dry Robes, other than people wearing them on the high street as a fashion item that is? The sheer amount of room they take up. To store a dry robe for each family member in the house would require its own walk-in closet, so when it comes to boat use they are too space heavy and you end up sharing one between four.
However, Red has now unveiled its Stash Bag, which is a game changer. It is the equivalent of a sleeping bag compression pack, where a cumbersome large item is quickly reduced to a very manageable and portable size.
The 12lt bag uses a rip stock material that is abrasion resistant, stitched and taped, and made from recycled materials. The roll top design and tightening straps allow you to pack it right down to a small rucksack size, which then allows space to add extras in, such as a microfibre towel, spare clothes or even another dry robe. And a detachable strap makes it easy to carry.
Before this, the dry robe would be one of the things I’d probably have left behind en route to the boat if space was tight. Now it’s coming!