(The Gear Loop) - With the rise of stand-up paddle boarding, wild swimming, surfing and a host of other fun water sports has come an influx of change robes. You may have seen folk walking around in these warm and waterproof ponchos in all manner of unsuitable situations (in Asda, for example).
Granted, they look a bit daft but they serve a multitude of purposes, from conserving one’s dignity when awkwardly stumbling in or out of a wetsuit to providing post-swim warmth and protection from the elements.
Dryrobe was arguably the first big name in the market and to this day, it still produces mighty fine changing robes that are loved by professional athletes and complete novices alike.
However, there are a number of new faces in town, including camping and outdoor specialists Voited, which offers everything from funky camping blankets to lightweight slippers for mooching around the beachfront.
Its outdoor change robes and ponchos are also rather good and here, we’ve been putting the 100 per cent recycled Outdoor Poncho through its paces, taking it to the beach, local swimming pools and generally testing its abilities to keep out the worst of British springtime weather.
Priced keenly and packing some subtle but neat design touches, the Voited Outdoor Poncho is a great option for those requiring some additional protection from the elements while enjoying the outdoors, or a convenient way to change before and after swimming, surfing or anything else where the possibility of getting cold and wet is high.
There are arguably warmer change robes out there, especially those that cover a little more skin, but you’ll pay a bit more and they are generally more bulky and cumbersome to carry around.
This hits the sweet spot for us, proving not so cheap that it is a hunk of junk but performing well enough when a trip to the beach, outdoor pool or campsite still requires some warmth and protection from the elements.
Voited Outdoor Poncho
- Neat styling details
- Quick drying
- Fit short at the front
- Only available with short sleeves
- Lining isn't the plushest
Design and styling
A poncho is never going to represent the height of fashion (or maybe it will, what do we know?), as its functional, throw-it-over-the-head design is there mainly for ease of use.
Unlike some other change robes, which have a full length zip that runs along the front, the Voited model is a more traditional poncho style, with a large hole for your head, a hood and short sleeves.
The exterior is made from 100 per cent recycled 50D Ripstop fabric, laminated with 2500 mm waterproofness on the inside, and an EcoElite coating on the outside, which ensures it keeps out the worst of the rain, while an additional absorbent microfibre fleece lining soaks up water from a wetsuit or acts as a giant towel.
Other features include an ingenious kangaroo pocket at the front, which also doubles-up as the poncho’s storage bag. Simply stuff the garment inside this pocket and the reversible zip then ensures it all stores away in a convenient 36x21x21cm (14.2x8.2x8.2inch) package that can also be used as a pillow if you need.
There’s a pair of neat heavy duty popper buttons that fasten the neck area closed and elasticated toggles for pulling the hood tight around the face - to keep out biting winds - while two fleece-lined hand-warmer pockets flank the main kangaroo pocket.
Fit and performance
The first thing to note is that Voited keeps the fit fairly short with its Poncho, as unlike Dryrobe et al, it generally doesn’t sit below the knee at the front. This is great for freedom of movement when walking around, but can lead to a bit of impromptu flashing when getting changed.
That said, Voited does offer a dedicated outdoor change robe, which comes up longer and features the full front zip.
Available in a number of colours, the Poncho also looks a bit cooler than the bulkier change robes, and the rear of the garment is deliberately cut longer, so bums don’t get wet when sitting on the ground.
We found the Poncho to be extremely warm on colder days, although the short sleeves leave a lot of arm exposed to the elements. Even with hands buried in the deep pockets, there’s enough exposure to feel a chill.
The microfibre lining isn’t as plush nor as comfortable as some rival’s deep-pile fleece, but it does a mighty fine job of soaking up the water. In fact, it’s possible to ditch the towel after a surf session, slip out of a sopping wetsuit and throw this on. After a few minutes, we found the Poncho did most of the hard work and we were largely dry.
That large front kangaroo pocket is also really handy for stowing keys or a phone and the deep hand pockets aren’t affected by whatever goods you might be carrying around, allowing for plenty of room to bury freezing cold fists.
Water-proofing on the exterior is fantastic too, as we found the Voited Poncho did a great job of keeping out the drizzle, while cold winds are also successfully kept at bay.
The fact it packs down into its own pocket is also a cinch, as we often find stuffing the larger rival change robes into a dry bag or rucksack a right pain. This option packs down small and neatly, even doubling up as a comfortable pillow for a post-swim nap on the beach.
Offering a discreet way of getting changed before and after water sports, the Voited Outdoor Poncho is both warm and waterproof. Plus, it sports some nice design touches that stand it out from some of the garish competition out there. That said, we found the fit comes up bit short at the front and cold weather enthusiasts might want to look towards the long-sleeved change robe offered by Voited... and others.