There are people out there who, when it comes to race day, just fling an all-in-one in the car and consider themselves ready to go. I am not one of those people. I like to be super-prepared with a lengthy list of essential items to throw in my kit bag. I also need to feel comfortable when I race (and before and afterwards), so having the right kit (and not just my racing strip) is part of that. This is where the dryrobe comes in. You may have seen these amazing changing robes on outdoor swimmers and surfers, but they are so good they are finding their way into different worlds. I’m reliably informed that they’re popular amongst sailors, and I’ve seen them on a film set, keeping the actors toasty in between takes. I’ve now trialled one at rowing events and am completely sold.
If you haven’t come across a dryrobe before, it’s the souped-up and vastly improved version of the two-towels-sewn-together that your nan might have produced on the beach when you were a kid to protect her modesty as she stripped off to go swimming. That description really doesn’t do it justice, though. It’s incredibly cleverly designed so that you can get your arms easily in and out of the sleeves to change underneath it, with a nice, chunky zip up the front that opens from both the inside and out and from both the top and the bottom. It has a lovely big hood that will fit over a hat, huge pockets (yay) and the cosiest lining you can imagine which draws moisture away from the skin to dry you out when you’ve had a soaking.
I trialled it first at the Vets’ Head, where I was coxing. Obviously I didn’t wear it in the boat – it’s way too bulky for that – but wore it when we were standing around in the cold, rigging the boat and afterwards when I was chilly from racing. Lots of people cast an envious eye over it and asked where I’d got it from.
Since then I’ve worn it after my increasingly regular swims in the river Wye – brilliant for changing when you’re freezing and your hands aren’t working properly and for warming up again. Significantly, I met GB ice swimmer, Cath Pendleton, on one of my swims and she was a convert. Hers, brilliantly, was covered in badges from the events she’s competed in.
The only regatta I’ve competed in so far this year was Nottingham Masters a couple of weeks ago. As I reported before, it was crazily hot and sunny that day so the dryrobe wasn’t really needed. It soon went back in the car. I’m sure it won’t be long, though, before I find myself at a wet regatta, and I’m pretty sure it will be invaluable there. You know that feeling when you come off the water after racing, soaked to the skin, shivering, and you need to change out of your wet kit RIGHT NOW, but there’s a queue the length of today and tomorrow for the loos and you don’t want to strip off in front of the world? That’s when the dryrobe will be an absolute godsend.
And to demonstrate quite how easy it is to wriggle in and out of an all-in-one inside your dryrobe, here’s a little video I made to demonstrate.
There are lots of different styles of dryrobe, from the full-on long-sleeved one that I have to the basic towelling model – you can find them all on dryrobe’s website, here. They’re not cheap, I’ll admit – they range in price from £30 for the basic towelling robe to £110 for the long sleeved one, but are worth their weight in gold to keep you feeling warm, dry and comfortable while others are chilled to the bone. They come in lots of funky colours including a cool camo version (I went for navy to go with my club colours – yes, I’m that matchy-matchy!)
You’ll be seeing much more of mine over the summer. I’ll be wearing it this weekend when I go to an outdoor cinema showing and when we go camping in a few weeks’ time. And when the weather turns cold again you can be sure that I’ll be draped in it at any event that involves standing around (parents of sporty kids, take note!)
And no, before you ask, you can’t borrow it. I’m nice but I’m not that nice!
Note: I was given my dryrobe FOC but as always my review is independent and honest.