Have you ever stood in a parking lot in the early morning, looked at your towel and asked yourself, “Really? I have to tie this thing around my waist and keep it secure while I yank awkwardly at soggy fistfulls of neoprene? Is this changing method mankind’s greatest failure? Is surfing even really worth it at this point?”

Yeah, I’ve never done that either. I’ve never really given the towel-change method a second thought, and changing ponchos always struck me as a five-star surf luxury, completely unnecessary and therefore silly to throw money at. And I wasn’t wrong. A changing poncho is absolutely not a surf necessity, but, with that said, it is about 10 times better changing in one compared to a towel.

No knot that occasionally comes loose, forcing you to blind innocent bystanders with your never-before-sunned backside. No moistening your sweatshirt as you pull the legs up first, waiting until the last possible moment to fully disrobe on cold winter mornings. Just a perfect, armless chunk of soft, absorbent cloth, giving you an unconditional warm embrace until you’re fully suited.

Doesn’t that sound nice? It is, which is why, as unnecessary as changing ponchos are, I cannot recommend them enough. The one I’m currently using, made by Slowtide, retails for about $70. But there are countless other brands making these, and they’re all pretty similar in terms of form and function. So check them out. Or don’t. They won’t make or break your surfing existence, but they definitely upgrade it.