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Ultimate Guide to Changing for Surfing

After a long day surfing at the beach, it’s now time to head back home and pack your surfing gear. But before all these, there’s just one more thing to do; how do you get out of those board shorts or wetsuits when there are no changing rooms?

If you ever find yourself without the benefit of a public shower or changing room, there are quite a few ingenious ways of switching back to your casual clothes. These include using a surf changing poncho, surf towel, or surf changing robe.

Surf changing

What is a surf poncho?

A poncho is a type of clothing with roots going back to South America. Basically, it’s a piece of clothing that is slipped over the body with a slit in the middle for the head. These are also known as hooded towels or changing ponchos.

A surf poncho combines the benefits of a surf towel and a changing robe. It is designed to help you change clothes in privacy, even in the middle of the beach. It can even keep you warm while getting a breather during those cold surfing months. Some surf changing ponchos are also made out of towel material, making drying much easier. These can often be found under the name towel hoodie or hooded towels.

poncho towel The Leus Renegade Poncho Towel

Things to check when shopping for a surf poncho

When it comes to changing, a surf poncho is your all-in-one portable changing room. When you place high-quality and standard surf robes side by side, you will surely know the difference immediately. You can see it in the stitching, softness of the material, weight of the material and how these are constructed. Once you know what a quality surf changing poncho is, you won’t use something less ever again.


Selecting the best surf poncho starts with quality materials. And when it comes to materials, nothing beats 100 percent cotton. It is best at absorbing moisture, helps you dry faster and easy on the skin. The weight of the material, gsm (Grams per square metre) will also impact how bulky your poncho is and how quick it will dry.


Having the best materials is half of the equation. How these are put together is equally important. A well-crafted surf changing poncho will have solid edging, which prevents unravelling. If you’re going for a colourful poncho, make sure that these are properly dyed. Prolonged exposure to the sun and elements would surely test what your poncho is made of.

The Fit

When it comes to fitting, choose something that gives you more than enough room to change your clothes comfortably. It is especially important when you’re getting in or out of wetsuits. When buying a surf poncho, look for something that makes it easy for you to wiggle yourself out of your clothes without being too big, making you look like a sack of potatoes.

Best Surf Poncho

One of the most common yet simplest problems facing surfers is how to change clothes when there are no available changing rooms near the beach. This could easily be done by strapping a beach towel over your waist for those wearing board shorts, but what about those wearing wetsuits or female surfers. Merely using a beach towel may not do the trick.

Below is a collection of our most recommended surf robes. We have narrowed the list down to some of the best surf changing ponchos available in the market today.

T&C Hooded Towel

Town & Country is a legendary surf brand and their icon yin yang logo is a staple in the surf community. T&C's range of hooded towels are 300gsm to offer quick drying and the colourful patterns will make them a standout in the parking lot. This surf robe is generously sized making it easy to change in and is available in adults and kids sizing.

  • 100 percent cotton (300gsm)
  • T&C embroidered patch on the chest
  • 2 sizes: 89cm x 114cm (Adult) & 65cm x 90cm (Kids)

T & C Honolua Hooded Towel

TLS Hooded Poncho Towel

The Hooded Poncho Towel by TLS (Tools Surf) is a comfortable poncho that is offered in 3 sizes to keep the whole family happy! Adult, Kids (8-16) and even an XS for Kids (2-7) will ensure you find the right fit, not to mention the variety of colours available too.

  • 250g microfibre material
  • Quick drying
  • Available in 3 sizes

Boardsox Changing Poncho

The Changing Poncho by Boardsox is a vibrant changing robe that offers maximum privacy when changing in public. The ponchos are designed in collaboration with different partners and often feature fun, vibrant colours such as the Ozzie Wright Alien Love Changing Poncho and the Bombora Changing Poncho.

The Boardsox poncho are ethically made from recycled polyester and each style is available in two sizes for his and hers.

  • Made from recycled polyester
  • Loose fit with large hood
  • Available in two sizes (Medium & Large)
Boardsox Ozzie Alien Love Changing Poncho size medium Boardsox Ozzie Alien Love Changing Poncho

Surf Turf Towel Poncho

Simple yet functional, the Australian made Surf Turf Towel Poncho is made of 100 percent cotton and comes with a large fit. It is highly absorbent and can keep you warm and dry after your foray into the beach. The Surf Turf Towel Poncho also has a front pocket for storage.

  • Made from 100 percent cotton
  • Come with a hood and front pocket
  • Very absorbent
  • Stylish print designs
Surf Turf Poncho Towel and Surf Turf Tailgate mat

Creatures of Leisure Reliance Poncho

The Reliance Poncho by Creatures of Leisure is a must for all surfers. You will have no more awkward freezing moments in the car park with this comfortable 100% cotton oversized poncho, keeping you protected from all the elements.

  • Internal pocket to store your wet gear

Rip Curl Changing Poncho

One of the biggest names in surfing apparel, the Rip Curl Changing Poncho is made of 100 percent cotton making it one of the most absorbent and comfortable ponchos on our list. This easy to slip on surf robe comes with an oversized hood and armholes, and a front pocket. It comes in one size and is perfect for keeping you dry and warm while changing outdoors.

  • 100 percent cotton
  • Velour fabric
  • Large adjustable hood with shoelace
  • Kangaroo pocket
  • It comes with integrated bag for easy storage

Besta Surf Poncho Wetsuit Changing Robe

The Surf Poncho by Besta is a changing robe that offers maximum privacy when changing in public. The poncho is made from a plush microfibre material that is great for keeping you warm. It also comes with a hood and front pocket for storing small items or keeping your hands warm. However, it comes short in terms of water absorption when compared to 100 percent cotton ponchos.

  • Made from plush microfibre, warm and absorbent material
  • It comes with a front pocket
  • 105 cm (41 inches) long
  • Enough room for changing wetsuits
Dryrobe Advance Adult Changing Robe

The Dryrobe Advance Adult Changing Robe is a versatile surf changing poncho that works as a towel, changing room, and all-weather protector. However, it is quite bulky and heavy and is more suited for rainy or less than perfect weather conditions. These are perfect for keeping you dry and warm but may not be the best idea for sunny conditions because of their weight and poor ventilation.

  • Waterproof
  • One of the heaviest in the market at 2kg (4.5 lbs)
  • Multiple pockets
  • Two styles (long and short sleeve)
  • Made from synthetic lambswool and nylon

Surf Change Mats

Sand tends to stick and find its way into every nook and cranny, especially when dealing with wet clothing. This is why we must have something at least on our feet that works as a barrier when we’re changing. And here is where a surf-changing mat comes in.

Surf change mats prevent your wetsuit from coming in direct contact with the surface (sand, ground, tarmac) and protects it from coming in contact with sharp objects, which can damage your wetsuit. Most of the best surf change mats also double as bags, so all you have to do is drop your wetsuit, change your mat into a bag, and you’re good to go.

Best Surf Change Mats

We give you our top recommendations for surf-changing mats. These change mats are designed to prevent your wetsuits from getting damaged and even turn into a bag for better convenience.

Surf Turf Change Mat

The change mat from Surf Turf Co are Australian Made and ethically sourced, featuring comfortable artificial grass with variations of coloured trim. The Surf Turf change mats are offered in a variety of sizes and can be easily rolled up and secured for storage when not in use. The available sizes are:

Surf Turf Tailgate Mat

Toygogo Surfing Diving Wetsuit Change Mat

The Toygogo change mat is made from waterproof Oxford cloth, which is not entirely leak proof but does a great job of preventing your car from getting soaked by seawater from your surfing gear. It doubles as a bag allowing you to carry your surf changing poncho or towels to the beach. It also has a shoulder strap which makes it easier to carry rather than having flimsy cords.

Opening the bag turns it into a surfing change mat with an 85 cm diameter that is more than enough surface area when you get out of your wetsuit. It also has a small internal pocket for keeping your keys while you’re surfing.

Sportlite Surf Change Mat

This self-draining, non-slip surf change mat has 60 by 90 cm surface area. It is made from a Phthalate-free material and is highly durable and versatile. The Sportlite change mat folds for easy storage and cleaning can be done by simply flicking it. The surfing mat has a waffle pattern for easy draining.

Creatures of Leisure Multi Purpose Surf Bucket

A strong, waterproof bucket made of TPU material. It's 44 litres when opened up and folds flat when you need to pack it away. Not only does this bucket help with rinsing wetsuits, it can be used to stand in so that you change easily.

Cor Surf Change Mat

Perfect for the budget-conscious surfer but don’t want to miss out on the best features of a surf change mat. This mat is ideal for use by people across different water activities. This mat can be used for any sport that involves sand and water. The Cor Surf Change Mat is constructed from PVC poly fabric, both durable and easy to clean. This also doubles as a bag making it a piece of versatile surf equipment.

Osprey Wetsuit Beach Change Mat

Tough, easy to carry, and with its 100 cm diameter, the Osprey Wetsuit Beach Change Mat is sure to keep your wetsuit protected. The change mat also doubles as a bag for additional carrying convenience. Keep your wet stuff safely stored and away from all your dry gear.

Guide to Changing for Surfing – Final Thoughts

The best surfing locations are often found in isolated locations away from popular beach destinations. Making it difficult, if not impossible, to find any nearby establishments or changing rooms in the area. In cases like this, a surf poncho and surf change mat give you all the privacy and protection you will ever need.

Surfing ponchos are more than portable changing rooms. If you’re the adventurous surfer who finds themself in some of the most remote destinations searching for the perfect wave, then a surfing poncho is one piece of equipment you should consider. It will keep you dry, warm and give you the privacy you need when changing.

Conner Coffin and his signature poncho towel from Leus

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