Having spent half my life changing in and out of wetsuits in a dusty wind-swept parking lot in the middle region of Northern California’s red-triangle – the invention of an insulated weather-proof changing robe is nothing short of ground breaking. Like a cold-weather pit jacket for the beach, Vivida’s All Weather Puffer Changing Robe sports a recycled water-resistant shell filled with down-like synthetic fill insulation that provides an insane amount of warmth.
The Puffer comes with an inner fleece liner that has a thinner feel with a stamped honey-comb pattern and between the liner and the shell, QuiltedCloud synthetic down gives the coat some bulkier insulation that provides you with immediate warmth in cold and windy conditions. The arms and other parts use a slightly less substantial filler that finds a good mix between heat generation and mobility. One of the Puffer’s great features is it’s over-sized front zipper with a big pull tab makes zipping yourself in and out easy even with cold hands.
The front panels of the coat have two pockets on each side: one pocket is vertical pouch for storing items and the pocket at the side is a hand warmer/stash pocket with a zipper that provides protection from losing important items and is lined with a smooth fleece to help keep your hands extra warm. The inside left chest features a side pocket with a zipper to keep valuables as well as bungee leash for attaching your keys or important tools.
Much like the Puffer’s lighter brother, the Sherpa, it comes with a stuff bag that stashes in a pouch on the inside bottom of the jacket and when the Puffer is not in use, you can wad it up into its stuff bag for a compact 12×12-inch shape. The hood also features insulation with fleece lining on the inside and a fairly tight cut that helps keep in the heat with bungee drawstrings. Since the Puffer is designed to give you the ultimate warmth and wind protection, the wrist cuff openings on the arms have internal wrist gaters that ensure no wind will sneak up your sleeves, even when you forget to synch the Velcro cuffs down tight.
The overall fit on the Puffer gives you generous room in the body for changing into and out of your wetsuit while the fit in the arms feels a little more bulky because of the ample insulation packed under the recycled-polyester shell. Vivida recommends you size down if you plan on wearing the Puffer as a coat, and since the torso and leg area tends to be generous, there’s no need to size up to help with changing. I tend to fall in the medium to large sizes and I was happy with the medium-sized coat; it had plenty of room for changing and good fit for walking around and staying warm while shooting photos on the beach. Vivida has a helpful sizing chart, but since the length of the arms felt just right, I would not go a size smaller since I am on the upper side of the medium size at 5’9″ and 167 pounds.
If choosing between the Puffer and the Sherpa versions is a consideration, the Puffer, with its heavier insulation, tends to feel a bit bulkier but it is probably my choice for the coldest winter conditions. The Sherpa, with its pile fleece liner still gives you tons of warmth but without the bulk, so for more moderate conditions, the All Weather Sherpa Changing Robe is probably a good choice. Both robes come loaded with the same smart features, albeit with slightly different pocket configurations and liners. With cold water year round and high wind chill conditions, the Puffer will continue to be a key part of my arsenal to stay warm during our coldest kiteboarding days.
More info: https://www.vividalifestyle.com