You won’t know what you are missing until you add a Vivida All Weather Robe to your pre & post session changing routine. Having always relied on a careful towel change, shielded by the wind-block offered by my truck, once I tried the changing robe approach, it quickly became a staple of every beach mission. Doubling as both a privacy shield for a quicker transition into my wetsuit, the robe is also very handy for staying warm in between sessions and crossing the finish line at the end of a long day. Wetsuits work great when you’re moving around and being active in and out of the water, but when you stop moving and the wind blows on a damp wetsuit you start to lose heat very quickly, and that is where the All Weather Sherpa Changing Robe really delivers.
While Vivida makes two very capable changing robes, the Sherpa is the more moderate temperature robe with the sherpa fleece liner providing warmth on the inside and the recycle polyester shell delivering wind protection on the outside. Some of my favorite features on the Sherpa are the soft fleece lining on the inside and the perfectly sized hood that fits well over your head and cinches tight with drawstrings. The main zipper is quite beefy with a large pull tab that makes zipping up easy even when your hands are freezing and barely working. The Sherpa changing robe has spacious pockets on either side of the coat to keep your hands warm or store bits and pieces, and on the inside left breast, there’s a zipper pocket for storing more important items, like car keys, SD camera cards and other things you don’t want to lose. There’s a bungee tether inside the pocket for tying in your car keys, or a fin key, which may come in handy.
The overall fit is fairly baggy through your hips, which gives you extra room to get in and out of wetsuits or boardshorts. The Sherpa is sized to be baggy, so it’s best to choose a size that matches your normal apparel size, or if you like a tighter fit for instance, if you are on the small side of large, then you could shift down to medium. I found the arms to be on the the shorter side in the large size which helps keep the robe from getting in the way of rigging tasks and they come with Velcro cuffs to make sure no wind seeps inside your sleeves when hanging out on the beach. While the robe itself extends down below your knees, the fleece only goes to about your knees which allows water from a damp wetsuit or boardshorts to bounce off the bottom portion of the robe and keep it drier. The front panels also split just below your knees, which allows the robe to give you extra wind protection at the bottom without inhibiting mobility. If you’re climbing steep stairs or putting equipment up on your roof, the split to knee level on the front of the robe will ensure the robe won’t trip you up.
Vivida’s Sherpa robe comes with a stuff bag that stores nicely in a large inside pocket on the right side and when the changing robe is completely packed away in its stuff bag it compacts to a neat 12 x 12-inch ball that doesn’t take up a bunch of space in your car. While the utility of the robe at the beach is unbeatable, the fact that it wads up into a stuff sack makes it an easy accessory to keep with you for every beach adventure.
The Sherpa is great for changing in windy, exposed places; it makes the in and out easier, but it also ensures you will stay warm for as long as possible before braving the elements. For instructors that spend long days in the wind, the Sherpa is a great accessory to throw on between sessions and ideal for photographers who spend long hours on the beach in the wind. While the Sherpa does a great job of offering warmth that will fit most kiteboarding beach scenarios, if you’re dealing with super cold conditions it might be worth checking out Vivida’s All Weather Puffer Changing Robe with its extra warmth from the harshest beach situations.