I always thought changing ponchos were overkill – what’s wrong with a good old-fashioned towel change? That is, until I got tired of cold winter changing in the parking lot in the howling wind. I tried my roommate’s old cheap poncho and I was sold – even though that one was enormously way too big for me.
After that, I got two Slowtide changing ponchos, one made out of the traditional terry material and one made out of their quick-dry material.
These ponchos have changed my surfing life – they make getting in and out of my wetsuit a cozy experience, even when it’s chilly out or the wind is making things uncomfortable. I feel much better about surfing during cold weather when I have these in my car.
Even during the warm summer months, they’re handy – I just drape one over myself, get my wetsuit off, and hop in the car to go home and shower.
What Features Make The Best Surf Poncho?
In terms of choosing a poncho, there are only a few things to look for: quality of materials, and fit. It’s nice to have a poncho made of premium materials – ones that are too thin aren’t as warm as those of a thicker, more premium material. Additionally, they won’t wick as much moisture off your skin.
Sleeve length is another consideration – too short and it won’t protect you from the wind as much. I like slightly longer sleeves to cover the arm holes while I’m changing and prevent wind and air from getting in.
Without further ado, here are our top choices for surf ponchos:
Slowtide has really hit the mark with these changing ponchos. They feel premium, they look great, and they do the job. My favorite part about these changing towels is the material - think ultra thick and soft. Mine has lasted over two years of constant use surfing without fraying or deteriorating.
- Ultra soft and absorbent 100% winter-weight cotton terry
- Kangaroo pocket keeps your hands warm and is built for storage
- Hidden internal access opening so you can change privately in public
- Double layer woven hood
- Easy change short sleeve design
- Vegan Leather label
Local San Diego brand Ho Stevie! has been making their own surf poncho for several years now, and has created a few different colors to choose from. A bit more budget minded than Slowtide, these ponchos are made to fit taller people - the founder Stevie is pictured here and he is 6'2". The poncho itself is 47" from shoulder to the bottom of the robe. Unfortunately, because of the length and one size only, this may not be the best changing robe for shorter people and women.
- Low lint
- OS - 47" from shoulder to bottom
- Multiple colors
- Heavyweight absorbant cotton
The Nomadix changing poncho is a quick dry poncho made from recycled material for a lightweight and absorbent feel. These ponchos come in several different prints which are probably my favorite of the available poncho selection out there. I also like the black hood and pocket for a contrasting look.
- Made With Post-Consumer Recycled Materials
- MicroTerry Fiber construction
- Great selection of prints
The Cor Surf brand changing ponchos are a great value and have a lot of designs available in two sizes - small, medium and large. These ponchos aren't quite as thick and soft as the Slowtide version and don't have quite the longevity but that's the tradeoff for half the price. I really do like all the prints they have available.
- Multiple sizes and prints
- Value pick
- More lightweight thin terry fabric
This poncho from Open Road Goods is a high quality poncho with a different feel than microfiber - it's 100% Cotton Woven Jacquard which is essentially a loopy terry cloth - soft but not smudgy feeling. The sleeves and hood are roomy as well. Open Road Goods is also partnered with SEE Turtles and a portion of proceeds goes towards this nonprofit.
- One Size
- Zippered chest pocket
- Large hood and arms
- Thick and absorbant
What is a surf poncho?
A surf poncho is a large poncho made of terrycloth towel material designed to be pulled over the head and worn in order to easily change in and out of a wetsuit.
What is the best surfing poncho?
This question is a bit personal, so we’ve listed a few of the best ponchos in this article. The best brands are Slowtide, Nomadix, Cor Surf, and Ho Stevie.