Surf ponchos towels are worn over beachwear or used as a way to discreetly change from wetsuits into something dry and clean. Everyone loves a good day surfing, but after a hard session when your whole body aches, getting changed out of a wetsuit with just a towel around your waist just seems so difficult!
Whether you’re surfing, or just enjoying a day on the beach or at the lake, having a dedicated garment for keeping dry and covered makes it easier to enjoy yourself. You no longer have to worry about finding a private place to get changed in Newquay or in a cold car park in Scotland. Now you can simply wear a surf poncho. They keep you snug, warm, and confident you can get changed without exposing yourself to the world.
You can purchase a surf poncho designed to look like fashionable outerwear, or you can choose a strictly practical option. Surf ponchos come in all shapes, sizes, and colours.
Get one for every family member with the convenient child and adult-sized ponchos offered by some of the most well-known name brands in outdoor and sports clothing. You can spend a fun day at the lake or beach and then use the surf poncho to quickly and easily change or dry off for the trip home.
It has never been easier to find the best surf poncho for you or your family. We have compiled a comprehensive list of the best features, brands, materials, and styles for you to choose from. No matter where you intend to use your surf poncho, you will find one that is right for you and your lifestyle. These wearable changing rooms double as towels and are perfect for hiking, camping, day trips to the beach, or pool parties in your backyard.
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Surf poncho towel buyers guide
What are surf ponchos for?
Surf ponchos towels have several distinct uses, including as a safe space to privately change into and out of your swimwear or other clothes. They also serve as wearable towels and are made of materials meant to soak up water without dripping it everywhere. If you like to swim, boat, surf, or hike in areas with no convenient place for changing into clean clothes, then these comfortable, multi-purpose ponchos may be precisely what you need. The thick material is also incredibly warm and can be worn over dry clothes as an extra layer of protection against the elements.
Staying warm and drying off
You can stay warm no matter what UK weather you encounter during your trip to the beach, lake, river, backdoor pool, or while out camping in the countryside. Snuggle up in the thick, soft material while it soaks up liquid from your wet clothes and hair, or wear it over dry clothes to get protection from the dampness of rain or ocean spray. You can keep the poncho in your vehicle to use at the end of your day before leaving, or you can bring it with you to get dry and clean at the water’s edge.
If you’re looking for an even warmer way of getting changed, read our blog on the best alternatives to Dryrobe.
Worry-free changing for the whole family
Your entire family can feel safe and confident while changing under a surf poncho. They come in various dimensions, and you can get them for children and adults in small, regular, and plus sizes. Some brands even have one size fits all options, so anyone can use it to get warm and drive for the drive home. Families who are frequent campers can use surf ponchos on their trips as changing rooms if everyone is sharing a tent or there are no nearby public rest areas.
Who are they for?
Anyone can benefit from wearing surf ponchos regardless of whether they spend most of their time in the water, on a boat, or on the beach. As their name implies, surf ponchos are excellent for use before or after recreational water activities. They are lightweight and help you stay comfortable.
Between catching waves, you can shelter under a soft hood of a surf poncho to conserve body heat during cooler morning or evening hours. Dry off when you are done. Change into dry clothes the second you step out of the water so you can enjoy the sunset or sunrise in comfort and style.
If you get caught in a rainstorm or go swimming in the nearby lake, you can use a surf poncho to wipe off the water and change into something dry. You can use them as camping bathrobes, and they also allow you to change out of your sleepwear in private if you are camping with a large group.
Surf ponchos are great whether you are swimming in a community pool, backyard, ocean, or favourite lake. The thick material can be used as a traditional towel or as a way to get changed privately when you are ready to leave. You can also layout a surf poncho on the beach to protect yourself from sand or dampness while enjoying the sun.
Casual beach goers
Surf ponchos are great for casual walks or picnics at the beach. Avoid the sand and sea spray without having to change out of your clothes. Some brands like Passenger design surf ponchos to look like typical beachwear making them both stylish and practical.
What to consider when buying a surf poncho
When looking at the different surf poncho options, there are a few features to consider. Not all ponchos are made equal, and your choice will determine how long you get to enjoy the product you purchase and the quality of the materials.
You want a material capable of withstanding many uses and almost any weather. You can find ponchos made from recycled materials, cotton, and various natural and synthetic microfibers. The ponchos made of 100% cotton tend to absorb the most water, so they are best if you want it simply for drying off after a good swim. Other materials may be better if you want casual wear that doubles as a changing room.
You can buy a quality surf poncho that lasts for years at an affordable price, or you can splurge and get a luxurious poncho made of feather-soft material and featuring extras like lined, internally accessible pockets. Whatever you are looking for, a poncho on our list will fit your requirements and budget.
The most common sleeve length is three-quarters, but sleeveless and short-sleeved ponchos are also excellent for quick changing. The thicker the sleeve, the easier it will be to get changed and fit bulkier clothes underneath.
Hoods and extra features
Some ponchos come with very convenient extra features like large sealed pockets, kangaroo pockets, or hoods. If all you want is something to use when changing from wet to dry clothes, then you can buy any minimalistic changing robe, but if you spend a lot of time near the water and want a versatile garment you can use for multiple purposes, then paying a little more for a surf poncho can get you extra space for bringing along supplies and a hood for drying your hair or keeping you out of the elements.
Long side slits, extra wide sleeves, and a loose body fit make changing much easier, especially if you need to get in and out of wetsuits or other close-fitting swimwear. More stylish designs might be closer-fitting but must leave enough room so you can easily slip your arms in and out while discarding and putting on clothes.
Some of the best surf poncho brands use eco-friendly materials from renewable sources. Check their brand site to ensure you are getting a good product for you and the environment.
What size surf poncho should I get?
I was given a poncho a few years ago that was slightly too short, and for some reason, any gust of wind would reveal everything to the world which kind of defeated its purpose.
So ideally, you want a surf poncho that falls way below your knees with enough space in the sleeves for you to easily pull your arms in.
You want to make sure the size you get gives you enough room to manoeuvre when you change out of your wetsuit.
UK surf poncho towel reviews
We all know the weather in the UK can change dramatically between morning and afternoon. A sunny brunch on the beach can quickly turn into a downpour. Be ready for whatever weather you encounter during your day at your favourite beach, river, or lake by taking along a surf poncho.
We have found the best surf ponchos on the market, so you can quickly and easily find one that has the features you need. Find the best surf poncho’s the UK has to offer listed below.
Gorilla Robes Eco Robe
Best Eco Changing Poncho
£32.99 – View website
Forward-thinking, leading brands should be eco-friendly and always try to make their product more sustainable. This is what I love about Gorilla Robes, they are producing high-quality gear, but now go above and beyond to provide their customers with environmentally friendly and beautiful beachwear.
If you want a surf poncho towel that is all about sustainability and style, then you will enjoy the five eco-friendly surf ponchos that Gorilla Robes has to offer.
They come in various colours and prints, and all have black sleeves, kangaroo pockets, and a hood. The complimenting colours are charcoal, pink, orange, teal, and a fun floral print.
Each robe is made of 100% recycled polyester plastics.
With one-day shipping and 1-year warranty, you can rely on Gorilla Robes to quickly send you a top-quality surf poncho.
Vivida Premium Poncho
Best Premium Surf Poncho
£69.00 – View on Website
Vivida came out of nowhere a few years ago and has quickly become a leader in quality active waterwear. Their surf poncho is thick, feels heavy duty and features ¾ length arms so will keep you warm whilst getting changed most of the year-round. It feels like Vivida has really gone for it with the premium style, and this poncho has a lot of great features.
Vivida designs premium sportswear for the adventurous soul. Their women’s surf poncho is teal and olive-grey with multiple sizes, including S-M and M-L. The poncho comes with a drawstring hood, kangaroo pocket, and reinforced side slits for better mobility. The sleeves are wide and short, making them ideal for changing, and the hemline falls at or below the knee.
Made with quick-drying microfibre Terry cloth, this poncho is 85% Polyester 15% Polyamide. Vivida claims it can absorb up to seven times its weight in water. The hood is lined with 100% cotton for keeping your hair dry.
Dryrobe Organic Towelling Robe
The most popular surf poncho
Check price on Amazon
Dryrobe have been in the robe scene for years and are well known for their waterproof changing robes. Their surf ponchos aren’t the most stylish around, but you know you’ll get a quality garment that should last for years, for a fair price.
Dryrobe has adult M and L sizes and ones for children 5-9 and 10-13 years old. If you have a family with children, then this is a great product. You can buy this poncho in a wide range of sizes and colors, making it extremely popular.
This surf poncho comes in slate grey, navy, pink, red, black, and royal blue.
The sleeves are a little longer than most changing ponchos, falling well below the elbow. Children’s sizes have a hemline that falls a little below the knee, while the adult sizes are much longer, with the hemline approaching ankle length for most men and women of average height. A large Dryrobe logo is visible on the chest.
The cotton material is quick-drying and super soft, so you can feel good while staying dry. The manufacturer has strict machine wash instructions to keep the material from shrinking. There are no pockets, but it has a hood for drying your hair.
CityComfort Changing Towel
Best Budget Surf Poncho
Check price on Amazon
I could have chosen a number of basic poncho towels on Amazon. These aren’t the coolest or best quality ponchos by any stretch of the imagination but do a good enough job.
CityComfort has an adult unisex hooded towel poncho that comes in multiple colours, including blue, charcoal, navy, grey camo, and khaki camo. You can choose from sizes S-M and L-XL. The 100% cotton surf poncho is machine washable and features both a hood and a kangaroo pocket so you can free up your hands while carrying your sunscreen, phone, or other items.
The sleeves are short, and the hemline falls at or below the knees, making it perfect for changing quickly and privately out of your wet clothes. If you want an excellent surf poncho at budget prices, the CityComfort is a great choice. Always check the dimensions before buying to make sure the length is what you prefer. The sizing makes it easy to get a good fit for men and women.
If you don’t care about brands or having a super comfortable poncho, these will do fine.
Rapanui Organic Surf Towel
All round ethical UK company
£40 – View website
I wanted to include Rapanui in this list because I really like the ethos driving the brand, and they create decent-looking gear. The cut is pretty basic and the poncho has short sleeves so it’s not the most practical, but it still looks great and perfect for those summer days.
Rapanui has surf ponchos made from extra-thick cotton. Their men’s organic surf shirt has black highlights with various colour combinations, including green, yellow, blue, and pink. A large Rapanui logo is visible on the chest of most colours, but some feature an ocean wave.
Each knee-length poncho features a hood, kangaroo pocket, and wide short sleeves for easier changing.
Unlike most ponchos, the Rapanui options look nearly square and are extremely oversized. They are quite practical and extra-absorbent, and if you want a poncho to look extra stylish on the beach, these robes are a great choice. The extra size gives you plenty of room for changing, making it great for divers and surfers who wear wetsuits.
Gorilla Robes Travel Robe
Best surf poncho for travelling
£24.99 – View website
I love using my surf poncho and I wish I could take it everywhere with me. However, these thick towels aren’t travel friendly and they won’t easily fit in your suitcase or day bag if you’re going on an adventure. Thankfully, Gorilla Robes have come up with a great solution.
Here is another excellent Gorilla Robes product. If you do a lot of travelling for work or recreation, then this travel surf poncho is perfect. It comes in S-XL sizes in a charcoal black colour. The armholes and overall design are much roomier than most other towel ponchos, making it perfect for changing out of tricky swimwear.
The unique travel fabric can be folded up much smaller than traditional thick cotton microfiber giving you more room in your pack. This poncho is ideal for campers or anyone who has to hike into their favourite lake, bay, or river location. The manufacturer claims the super-soft, durable material takes up 25% less space than comparable products.
Slowtide OSO Changing Poncho
Most stylish surf poncho
£69.95 – Visit website
My personal favourite is the stylish and comfortable surf poncho sold by Slowtide.
It looks like a long beach shirt with a button-down front, drawstring hood, kangaroo pocket, and wide short sleeves. Slowtide offers it in one size fits most dimensions with a variety of attractive fabric patterns. Look good and stay dry with these 100% sustainably sourced surf ponchos.
The long, wide design gives you extra room for changing without looking too bulky. It also features internal access dual pockets so you can get to your things quickly while staying warm and dry. They are great for swimmers, surfers, and casual beachgoers. Unfortunately, the larger size means it does not travel as well in a small pack, so you may want to choose a different option if you intend to use it for hiking or camping.
Are poncho towels worth it?
The affordable low prices and wide range of designs make surf ponchos accessible for anyone, no matter their size or budget. Enjoy your time on the water without having to worry about how you are going to get home warm and dry. You can take your changing room with you anywhere.
The travel surf ponchos make it easy to fit large ponchos into small packs without taking up too much precious space. Thicker, softer materials are great for children or older adults, and eco-friendly brands like Passenger and Gorilla Robes give you ponchos made from sustainably sourced materials.
Ponchos are worth the money, and you are essentially getting three or more unique products in one, including a towel, outwear to protect you against the elements, and a way to change discreetly. Most come with large pockets that give you a way to store smaller items while you are out having fun. These ponchos are well worth the cost, and everyone who regularly enjoys having fun at the beach or lake should have one with their gear. You now know what features to look for and which brands can give you a superior quality product. What are you waiting for? Get a cosy and casual surf poncho today.
About the author
Watersports Pro is managed by Ollie, who has been in the industry since 2007. A paddleboard and advanced windsurfing instructor, Ollie has travelled the world teaching these sports.
Now based on the South Coast of England, he shares his experience and knowledge on watersportspro.co.uk.