Toby Hodges spent a year testing the Red Original EVO Pro Change Dress and Storage Bag which both got a big thumbs up
Whether you’re considering a dressing gown or a dry robe, you now have a growing range to choose from. These waterproof garments are designed to keep you warm when putting on and taking off a wetsuit or swimsuit at the beach, and their popularity has skyrocketed in recent years with the explosion of water sports and wild swimming in particular. .
Perhaps the two most popular labels you will see are Dryrobe and Red Original. In our family we have tried them as well as a Frostfire Moonwrap. I’ve been in the sea several times a week all year round in the UK and have gradually and increasingly begun to succumb to the comfort of a dry dress.
After a season of use, I can safely say that Red’s new EVO Pro Change Dress is the most comfortable I’ve ever tried and I’m impressed with the build quality and detail it has incorporated.
The EVO is the new version of the brand’s Pro Change Robe. It uses a more compressible technical fabric with a thick fur lining that wicks away moisture. And it’s that last feature that does it for me.
It’s all about the stuffed animals
Compared to the competition, the fur lining is incredibly comfortable. It’s like being hugged by a friendly polar bear. In comparison, the nylon interiors of others are stiffer and less comfortable.
Other details that I particularly like are the comfort of the hood, which has an adjustable elastic, the high collar, the buttoned protective flap covering the main zip, the external slanted pockets lined with fleece – and, compared to the dryrobe, the longest and elasticated cutouts at the back.
If you can feel a “but” coming, there is one. And that’s with tight wrists. I just don’t understand them. Why, when you make everything else so loose for easy movement and changing, are they so tight?
Granted, they’re stretchy 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 spoils the experience every time I use it when I’m wet (the point of them), because when you push your arms out, the fur lining pushes along with it. For this reason, I’d go for the slightly cheaper (£129.95) short-sleeved version, which ends at the elbow.
Essentially, other than absolute comfort, there’s not a huge difference between changing a dress and people will likely buy on a style decision – so far, it’s…
What’s the worst thing about Dry Robes, other than people wearing them on the streets like a fashion item? The amount of space they take up. To store a dry robe for each family member in the house would require their own dressing room, so when it comes to using a boat they are too bulky and you end up sharing one between four.
However, Red has now unveiled his game-changing Stash Bag. It’s the equivalent of a compression sleeping bag, where a large, bulky item is quickly reduced to a very manageable and portable size.
The 12 liter bag uses an abrasion resistant ripstop material, sewn and glued, and made from recycled materials. The roll-up design and cinch straps let you pack it down to a small backpack size, which then leaves room for adding extras, like a microfiber towel, a change of clothes, or even another dry bathrobe. And a detachable shoulder strap makes it easy to carry.
Before that, the dry dress would be one of the things I probably would have left en route to the boat if space was tight. Now it’s coming!