Monday, 15 April 2019 08:44

dryrobe Advance tested and reviewed

Written by Wim Stevenson

Some products, for one reason or another, become synonymous with the activity they are designed for, acting as a banner under which the entire culture marches under.  Think Ferrari and F1, the Hoover and vacuums (no one in their right mind would call it ‘dyson-ing’), or Greggs and vegan sausage rolls.

dryrobe has this talismanic status in open water swimming.   However, the reason for this differs from the others.  Most products that enjoy such an emblematic status represent the crème de la crème, the pinnacle of its cultures aspirations as Ferrari does.  Others become the everyman – a dependable staple that homogenises a community together, binding them together in a shared experience as accessible as a Greggs vegan sausage roll. 

Dryrobe 1

dryrobe, however, have achieved something unusual.  Within the admittedly rarefied environment of open water swimming, they are synonymous with every aspect of the sport; from shivering bodies of all ages and sizes at your local river or beach, to the elite of the elite.  We all know those iconic pictures of Ross Edgley during his incredible Great British Swim, his bearded and bullish head poking out of his Dryrobe Advance awaiting his next plunge into the inky depths, exhausted yet defiantly feral.

What dryrobe say:

Get dry, cover up and stay warm with Dryrobe. You don't know how much you need a Dryrobe until you own one.

If you find yourself hanging around at sporting events, waiting to participate or watching your kids, a Dryrobe Advance Long Sleeve will keep you warm in any climate. 

Features:

-        Completely waterproof and windproof outer shell fabric

-        Super warm lining Synthetic Lambswool lining (51% Acrylic, 49% Polyester)

-        Dryrobe full length 2-way reversible YKK zip

-        Minimal sealed seam construction

-        1.3kg

-        Tailored, fitted sleeve with Velcro fasteners at wrist

-        Deep external fleece warm lined pockets

-        A huge A4 size internal soft lined poacher pocket

-        Internal zip entry phone, iPod, MP3 player or wallet pocket

-        2-way waterproof design inside chest pocket

-        Superlight construction

 

dryrobe Advance On Test:

At face value, the dryrobe style product is nowadays a very familiar sight due to its simplicity.  With all the will in the world, there are only so many iterations of ‘such an apparently simple concept one can arrive at, right?  There are multiple different versions being churned out by competitors which all – at least at face value – LOOK similar.  So what is it about this half-dressing gown, half towel that has managed to unify the hardy open water swimmer, and help gestate a diverse and hardy community?

So, in an effort to answer this initial superficial presumption of ‘in a world of imitations, what makes the best so good?’ in a similarly superficial way we will begin with initial superficial impressions.

The heavy duty waterproof and windproof’s outer face is nicely textured, and feels very premium.  The soft bulk of the synthetic Lambswoold lining juxtaposes satisfyingly against this reassuringly robust fabric, and is remiscent of old fashioned mountaineering smocks.  The lining also seems to have adopted the same water absorption levels as these old smocks, as they keep you dry and stay warm excellently, whilst the outer plays its part in keeping any further water ingress at bay.

Dryrobe 2

The arms are a little bit short compared to conventional garments, and they flair directly out from the wrist to the armpit.  This, coupled with a very roomy midsection makes getting in and out of wetsuits or swimming costumes with modesty intact very easy.  The smorgasbord of pockets are also immensely useful, allowing easy stowage of phones, hats, gloves, chocolate bars or post-swim vegan sausage rolls.  The fleece lined main pockets and hood create a sumptuously cosy experience both before and after a swim in freezing water that makes the transition from aquatic to terrestrial life infinitely easier.

Dryrobe 3

So it definitely looks and feels the part.  However, it is little things easily overlooked that really made the difference.  I have used this model before during my 18months of sea swimming, but only recently appreciated the toggles on the zip pulls were absolutely ginormous – the ones on the main pockets almost identical to the style found on 8000m suits (used for summiting Mt Everest).  For anyone who has not spent 10 minutes fumbling zips with frozen hands, try picking up a pea in boxing gloves.  

Dryrobe 4

With an RRP of £110, the dryrobe Advance Long Sleeve is very much at the top end of the market, so much of these features are to be expected.  However, what strikes me is that for a relatively new company – Dryrobe’s first product was only launched in 2010 – in a still developing market, the Advance already has pedigree in performance as well as reputation.

Dryrobe 5

Whilst I reached this conclusion with no actual evidence other than educated assumptions, it seems to have borrowed answers to questions already answered in other realms of the outdoor recreation ecosystem, and wound them together to create an inherently useable, quality bit of kit.  Its use has transcended just open water swimming – it is now an invaluable mechanism for making the most of my passions.  Whether that be swimming, combatting post ultra marathon shakes, or as an emergency layer when the weather of the Scottish Highlands has prematurely ended yet another mountaineering trip, it always rises to the occasion.  It has even been used for wintery (and on more occasions than I care to admit) VERY hungover trips to the pub.