How to Choose the Best Surf Changing Poncho

How to Choose the Best Surf Changing Poncho

A person using a Nomadix Changing Poncho to change into their wetsuit to surf.

If you are one of the 35 million surfers worldwide, you need a convenient way to change in and out of your wetsuit or swimsuit before and after paddling out. Enter the surf poncho, the key to staying comfortable while changing.

The surf poncho, or changing poncho, is a hooded towel that allows you to finally be free from the dreaded "wetsuit dance" on the beach. You know, the one where you are trying to remain modest while not falling on the ground.

Invest in something that will make your surfing days easier, like a surf poncho. But how can you choose the best one for your needs?

Check out this guide on how to find the best surf changing poncho. 

Surf Poncho Sizing

The most important factor about your surf poncho should be how large it is. You want your poncho to drape well below your knees to provide you the ease of changing and also preserve your modesty. 

In certain places such as New Jersey, disrobing to change into your wetsuit on the street or beach is illegal. If you use a towel, or too short of a poncho, you may be cited. With a long one, however, you should be in the clear.

Changing Poncho Design Features

Now that you have determined the right size poncho, you can start to think about some important poncho design features. The following are some critical elements to look for.

The Best Hooded Towels

A hood will protect your head and ears during those blustery winter days. When you have your wetsuit halfway on you can still keep your hood up to stay warm and dry. A hood increases the comfort and versatility of your poncho.

Sleeve Length

If your sleeves are too long, they will hinder your changing process. You will need to slip at least one arm out of your sleeve into the interior of your poncho when changing to get your wetsuit on. Short or mid-length sleeves are ideal.

With short or mid-length sleeves your poncho will still fit comfortably. You will also have the maneuverability to work your arm in and out of the poncho during the changing process.


Pockets on your surf poncho are great for stashing fin keys, wax, or other surf paraphernalia. Stashing these in your poncho will keep you from losing them. They’re also a great place to stick cold hands after a session to warm them. 

If you have ever come in for a mid-session snack in a colder climate, you know how great putting on your poncho and shoving your hands into warm pockets can be. A breast pocket and front pockets are common types to find.

Breathability and Washability

You don't want your poncho to be hot unless you live in a very cold climate. If you do, you may want to consider buying an insulated poncho. For everywhere outside of the frozen northern climates, a breathable poncho is best.

You also want to ensure that your poncho is washable. All of that saltwater will make your poncho smell after some time. Make sure you purchase a washable poncho, not one that will get destroyed in the washer.

Weight and Portability

Anyone that has been on a surf trip knows that every inch and pound matters. You don't want to burden yourself with a bunch of extra equipment. Ensure that your poncho rolls up into a tight bundle.

Also, make sure that it is not too heavy for you to put in your backpack or board bag. A lightweight and portable poncho will be your best friend on the road. If it dries quickly as well, you have the ideal poncho for a trip.


Now that you have an idea of some basic design elements your surf poncho should have, you need to consider what type of materials it should be made of. The following attributes are some good things to keep in mind.

No matter what your poncho is made out of, make sure it is washable and comfortable. You also want it to be durable enough to survive the rigors of the beach and surf trips.

The Towel Poncho

A poncho made out of towel materials is one of the most water-resistant and multi-faceted options you can choose. Not only will your poncho dry you off after your session, but it will also be comfortable.

You can find some towel-style ponchos made out of post-consumer recycled materials. These are some of your most sustainable options when it comes to surf ponchos. If you care about the environment, they are an excellent choice.

Lined Ponchos

If you live in a very cold climate and like to surf every day, you may want to think about having a poncho with a liner. Try to pick a liner of wool or synthetic material so that it is water-resistant. Cotton is ok too for more basic liners.

Lined ponchos are not appropriate for anybody that lives outside of a very cold surf climate. If you are rocking a lined poncho in a temperate climate like California or Australia, you will be way too hot on the beach.

Sand-Resistant Ponchos

If you are a surfer you know that sand is a part of your life and it gets everywhere. You also know that changing into a sandy poncho is uncomfortable and can cause major chafing. So how can you fight the inevitable?

The answer is with sand-resistant ponchos. Nowadays, some ponchos are designed in a way to not attract sand particles. Instead of coming home from the beach covered in sand, your poncho can remain sand-free.

Durable Construction

You want to make sure that your poncho is made from durable materials. You should also examine the workmanship and ensure the integrity of the stitching and seams. Seams are one of the first things to go in a surf poncho.

If you buy a cheaper poncho, don't expect much durability. You will have to replace cheaper ponchos more often. It makes more sense to buy a more expensive and durable poncho so you don't have to replace it as often.


You want your poncho to feel good, be functional and look stylish. You may be wearing your poncho around a fire with friends, or driving home from the beach. Some people may prefer cool graphics and vibrant colors.

Others may want a more low-key poncho with a single color to draw less attention. The good news is that you can find a poncho with color and design schemes to fit any taste. From vibrant to basic, you can find it all.

Your Budget

Surf ponchos are much more expensive than your conventional beach towel. Expect to pay upwards of $70 for one of the top surf poncho brands with all of the frills. If you want to spend less, expect to settle for a more basic model.

Features like lightweight water-resistant material will cost extra. So will things like pockets, special designs or other extra features. If you buy a durable poncho it may cost more, but it will last for much longer than one of poor quality

Change in Style and Comfort

A surf poncho is much more than a hooded towel, it is freedom from fumbling with your wetsuit pre and post-surf. Find the best surf changing poncho today before your next session.