Once more of a novelty item, wetsuit changing ponchos have burst onto the scene and have become a must-have accessory to keep in the trunk. Slowtide, a towel company out of Southern California, have positioned their changing ponchos as the most premium, boasting thicker terrycloth, and alternate versions such as their quick dry and now lightweight Turkish and waterproof ponchos.
Slowtide ponchos were the ones I put on my Christmas list last year, and I ended up receiving two of them (thanks family!). Honestly I don’t mind having two, and I’ll talk about why in a moment. But for now let’s jump into this Slowtide poncho review so you can decide if this is right for you.
How Does The Slowtide Poncho Perform?
In terms of actual performance, these ponchos are legit. The material feels premium and well made – it’s not cheap or thin like some other brands. The extra warm poncho (I got the Oso print) is definitely warm. It feels like the most premium towel you can buy at the store, with soft terry on the outside and the rougher terry on the inside. It definitely makes changing in the cold wind much less daunting.
Typically the wetsuit change is the most difficult part of the session for me. Those moments before you get in and out of your suit can be a bit painful, especially if you’re a bit of a cold temp wimp like I am. It’s worse if the sun’s not out or there’s wind.
I also have to point out that my roommate got herself a cheapie changing poncho off Amazon and…it sucks. It’s unraveling at the seams, is a pilly, linty mess, and is enormous. I used it for a few sessions to make sure using a poncho was right for me, and while it worked I was glad to be rid of it in favor of my Slowtide ponchos.
Internal access pocket
The kangaroo pouch functions as a hand warmer AND lets you access inside the poncho. This makes it really easy to pull up and button your pants without looking ridiculous or having to pull your arms completely back inside the poncho. It’s genius.
After using the Slowtide poncho all winter, I emailed my family saying that it saved my winter surfing career. Would I still be surfing without it? Yeah. But this poncho makes my life SO MUCH better. I’m just being honest here. At the end of a session I’m usually cold, and there’s usually a breeze. In the winter it’s torture. Not anymore – I slip on the poncho and I’m in my own cocoon of warmth.
Quick Dry for summer & travel
For the summer months I opted for the Quick Dry version in Camo. I didn’t think I was going to like the Quick Dry poncho but I was wrong – it’s actually super lightweight and it actually does dry very quickly. I started using it when the temperatures started to warm up and I felt like the extra warm version was going to be too hot. The Quick Dry fabric is cool to the touch and is more thin than the terrycloth version–although it still feels like a premium material. It’s somewhat velvety.
A very cool thing about the Quick Dry material is that it is made from 100% post consumer recycled waste – mostly old water bottles. Pretty sweet.
I’ll usually pop on the quick dry poncho even if I’m not cold at all just to speed up the changing and drying off process.
Another advantage to the Quick Dry poncho is that it folds down and packs much smaller than the extra warm terrycloth version. I can smush it into my backpack for a hike down to Trestles and use it as my towel. Perfect.
You’ll Dry Off Faster
I’m not sure why this happens, but changing using a poncho helps my body dry off faster. I really have no clue why, but towel changing and then putting on pants was always annoying because my skin still felt clammy and my clothes would stick to my skin. For some weird reason this doesn’t seem to happen as much when I use the poncho. My body just dries off. It’s weird but I love it – I can put my clothes on and I don’t feel gross and clammy.
Perfect for the drive home
You can just pop the poncho on and drive home without feeling a bit naked in just a towel. Perfect for when you’re lazy and you’re just gonna shower anyway.
A Few Annoyances
The hood drawstring of my Poncho ended up coming out of the hood in the washing machine which was a bit annoying. They should really just stitch the darn thing in place.
Sometimes getting in and out of your wetsuit in the poncho requires a bit of patience and contortion. I don’t mind it to be honest because I’m not freezing my butt off, but you’re not as free to move your arms when you’re in the poncho.
There’s also a bit of a lint situation at first with the extra warm terrycloth ponchos, but this is just always gonna happen with terrycloth. If you absolutely hate lint, get the Quick Dry material.
Fit And Sizing
I was sent a size S/M (small/medium) poncho as a gift at first by one of my family members. I’m 5’6″ and about 120 lbs for reference. However, the S/M size was just way too narrow for a wetsuit change. You could maybe get in and out of a bikini, but there was absolutely not enough room to move your arms enough to get in and out of a wetsuit. So, unless you’re a very tiny or petite person, I highly recommend going with the large. The large is big but not too big, and the terry does shrink a bit when you wash it.
A big plus to Slowtide is their hassle-free return and exchange process. It was super easy to do, and they are very responsive. They also have free shipping on returns.
Slowtide has really hit the mark with these changing ponchos. They feel premium, they look great, and they do the job. There are cheaper ponchos out there but if you can afford the Slowtide version I honestly recommend going for it. You really do get what you pay for. I love mine and use them all the time. It’s also a great gift for any surfer in your life (check our gift guide for surfers here!).