The Vivida All Weather Puffer Robe is the ultimate changing robe and beach coat for cold water swims and snuggly sundowners
A changing robe is the cold water swimmer’s best friend. Not only do you have a portable changing room but you get a hug with it! It makes the difference between you going home with chattering teeth or hanging out at the beach, drinking hot chocolate and enjoying that tingly, buzzy sensation as endorphins fly around your body.
I have a few changing robes, including the Red Pro Changing Robe and dryrobe (both of which I love when cold water swimming) so I was curious to know how the Vivida All Weather Puffer Changing Robe compared.
The difference is that this is something you’d wear into town, not just to the beach. The Vivida Puffer Robe is long and elegant on the outside and a TARDIS on the inside! It redefines the traditional ‘poncho’ style robe, and successfully doubles as a smart coat.
Vivida Lifestyle is an eco-conscious sportswear company with an emphasis on style and adventure. Their swim and watersports lines are made of recycled materials (for example, their neoprene hoodie is made of scrap rubber tyres), in calming blue, green and grey colourways, some with quirky prints.
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The day my mineral blue Vivida Puffer Robe arrived, I wore it straight down the beach with the kids. It was a cool evening, a bit windy. We didn’t actually go in the sea, but sat on the sand, tearing chunks off a French stick and sipping Spanish beers until the sun went down. The Vivida robe was so warm and cosy I could have slept in it – like wearing a sleeping bag. My daughter thought so, too, as she kept climbing onto my lap and trying to snuggle inside.
The quilted robe is made of three layers of high-tech waterproof fabric, but unlike my sailing oilskins and hiking jacket, it’s soft on the outside as well as the inside. The real surprise, though, is just how smooth and stretchy the honeycomb fleece lining is, allowing for clumsy knee and elbow manoeuvres when you’re trying to get changed inside it.
I tested my Vivida Puffer Robe in the sea at Bournemouth this morning. I put it on over my wetsuit and scooted down the beach on my Decathlon Oxelo scooter. A kick-scooter is seriously the best way for sea swimmers to get around – especially when summer parking fills up. I get to all my favourite beaches on my scooter. No need for an electric one!
As I was also trying out the swim setting on my Garmin Vivoactive 4S watch, I wanted something to keep me warm during multiple sessions in and out of the sea, which at the moment is around 11 degrees centigrade so still fairly cool.
Open water wetsuit
However, as I wanted to stay warm for longer, I wore my thin (2mm) Decathlon open water wetsuit, which is still very flexible and comfy, along with my Arena goggles (an old favourite), swim cap and Decathlon surf socks, which are perfect for swimming (though a little on the thin side when it comes to walking across stones!).
The Vivida Puffer Robe was exactly what I needed, and very easy to get on and off using the large silicone two-way zip, especially as my hands got colder. Bear in mind that in cold water your hands can be shaking by the time you get out the sea, it’s important to have a large, easy zipper. There have been times when I couldn’t tie up my laces or unlock my scooter!
Changing robes need to be good at wicking, as you often climb into them wet. Sometimes I wear a robe over a swimsuit or even a wetsuit and scoot or cycle home in it.
If I’m in a swimsuit, I’ll take a microfibre towel to dry my body first (I love Red Original’s large yet ultra compact towel) – as otherwise the robe can take a while to dry afterwards (I usually hang mine on the washing line, or air in the house for a day before packing away).
As for carrying beach stuff, Red also do a fantastic waterproof kit bag, which comes with a handy beach mat to stand on afterwards.
Good fit changing robe
I’m 5 ft 4in and a size 12. I followed the sizing guide and opted for a medium size Vivida Puffer Robe, which is just right. It goes to below my knees, with the large outside pockets at a comfortable height for warming hands and quickly stashing a swim hat and goggles.
A nice touch is the zip pockets, behind the stash pockets, where you can keep valuables such as car keys and a mobile phone.
Hoods are a tricky thing to get right. Sometimes they’re just too loose and baggy, obscuring vision, but not this one. The hood on the Vivida Puffer Robe is just right. I love the high neck and toggles to keep my mouth and chin warm.
The sleeves are a key feature that differentiate the Vivida Puffer Robe from other changing robes. They’re full-length with wrist-gaiters to keep out water, and velcro-tabbed at the wrist, making it more like a coat than a changing robe. It does make it that little bit harder to get changed inside when wet (as you need to pull your arms inside the robe to use them for peeling off your swimmers). However, the fabric is stretchy so you can ‘punch’ your arms and hands back in once done without too much effort.
I was aware that the Vivida robe came with a packaway bag, but it wasn’t until I wore it that I discovered the bag tucked into a mesh pocket inside the coat!
This is a really great feature because the Vivida Puffer Robe actually squeezes down much smaller than my other changing robes, and once stuffed in the soft rectangular bag, doubles as a pillow which I can take camping or sailing on Maximus, our 28ft Project Boat.
Alternatively, you can turn the bag inside out and it’s then waterproof – perfect for carrying your wet swimmers home.
Handy too for camping, ski-ing and sailing
Whilst I haven’t tried the Vivida Puffer Robe in the rain or winter weather yet, my first impressions are that it’s thoughtfully made and high quality and will not only come in handy for cold water swimming, but camping and apres-sail and ski.
Whilst at £220 the Vivida Puffer Robe is a lot more expensive than the Red Pro Changing Robe (£95) and dryrobe (£140), it’s a very different design with the benefit of doubling as a stylish winter coat.
It’s even smarter than it looks on the website, and very soft and warm. In fact, so nice that I almost don’t want to spoil it by wearing it to the beach and getting it all salty and sandy!
Where to buy…
- Buy the Vivida All Weather Changing Puffer Robe at Vivida Lifestyle
- Buy the Red Pro Changing Robe and dryrobe on Amazon
- Buy the Decathlon 2mm open water swimming wetsuit, surf socks and Oxelo kick-scooter at Decathlon
- Buy the Red Original large microfibre towel and waterproof kit bag from Red Equipment