Top Swim Parkas Compared: The Expert Review
2017 Oct | By
by Julie Stupp, NCAA & Olympic Trials Finalist
Winter is coming and for swimmers that means parkas are a necessity! Swim parkas are a staple for keeping warm at swim meets, trekking to morning practice in the early morning cold and leaving the pool when the sun is down and the temperatures outside is cold enough to make your hair freeze. For a parka to be effective, it must have a few key details: 1) a large lined hood to keep your head from losing too much body heat; 2) pockets to stash your cap and goggles; 3) and a comfortable yet absorbent lining to keep you warm after getting in and out of the pool.
While I grew up needing a parka to keep warm in the harsh Midwest winters, parkas provide a variety of uses across the country. They keep lifeguards warm while guarding the windy beach, surfers and open water swimmers use them before and after taking a dip in the ocean, they wick away moisture at an outdoor swim meet or triathlon race and they signify team comradery for swimmers and coaches alike with matching logos and club colors.
SwimOutlet.com has a plethora of parkas to choose from – and the capability to customize and personalize parkas with team logos – and I had the opportunity this month to review six different brands. Obviously, most of these parkas do their jobs well given the construction and materials so it really is some of the little design differences and stylistics that might make the difference for you as the customer.
ADIDAS PARKA ($84-$120)
The Adidas Parka test sample was royal blue jacket with white detailing on the lower edge of the sleeves and under the armpits with a black fleece lining. It also comes in basic red and black. The Adidas Parka has an old school traditional feel to it with minimal high-tech features and a simple design. The Adidas parka has venting across the chest and upper back, which helped to keep me warm and dry after hopping out of the pool.These vents are secured by Velcro and have a simple mesh lining between the inner fleece lining and the outer water resistant shell that helps the jacket to air out by allowing moisture to escape when the swimmer is wet.
The Adidas fleece material was warm and very moisture wicking. The jacket only has one pocket that can be zipped. The pocket on the right side of the outer shell features a zipper while the left side pocket cannot be secured, which for me, means I would lose a pair of goggles or a swim cap.
ARENA PISTONY PARKA ($103.96-$129.95)
The Arena Pistony is a deep navy jacket without any other accent colors on the outer shell, it also has a dark navy fleece lining. It’s also available in all black. The Arena jacket has several unique features including double lined sleeves and a snap close option. The long Arena sleeves are made from three different materials; a soft inner fleece lining, a water resistance outer shell and a ribbed sweatshirt like material that covers the wrist. This ribbed lining allows the jacket to snugly hug the wrists and doesn’t allow any heat to escape through the sleeves.
I liked the feel of it. This is a hardy winter jacket that allows the athlete the option to zip the outer shell closed, to simply snap it closed or both for super cold temperatures. This is a nice feature because if you get too warm you can allow a bit of airflow with the snap system. The soft Arena fleece lining also has a deep Velcro-secured pocket on the left side of the chest that is perfect for an ipod or cellphone.
DRYROBE ADVANCE SHORT SLEEVE PARKA ($129-$159)
The dryrobe Advance Parka (short sleeve) has a black outer shell and a bright neon pink fleece lining on the inside of the jacket. The dryrobe was the most unique parka that I reviewed because it was the widest of the jackets that I tested. The brand specifically develops products to keep you toasty out of the pool including the parka in short and long sleeves and a dryrobe towel. The Advance parka could have easily fit 3 of me inside the jacket while zipped. It has a snug-fitting hood, which is great for keeping warm yet has the shortest sleeves, which allow for some air venting. The short sleeve version has nine different color styles while the long sleeve has just three.
The dryrobe fits large on purpose because it allows for swimmers, surfers and triathletes alike to easily deck change out of their cold wet gear and slip into something warm and dry all while being cloaked in the enormous parka. The short wide sleeves make it easy to tuck your arms inside the jacket at any time. The inner fleece lining reminds me of the very first parka I had, it is thicker wool like material that is very absorbent but not always the softest. The dryrobe has four different pockets allowing for plenty of storage but the only pocket that zips is on the inside of the left chest. This pocket is completely waterproof which is a fantastic feature for any aquatic athlete.
SPEEDO COLOR BLOCK PARKA ($142)
The Speedo Color Block Parka is a two-tone grey jacket with green accents on the zippers and a green fleece lining on the inside. It was nice to see a little creativity with color design on this one. This colorful jacket is the most lightweight of the parkas I reviewed, making it a great option for athletes who live in more temperate climates. It has a cool honeycomb like design on the fleece lined fabric. It is not only very soft, closely rivaling the Sporti material, but it is also super absorbent.
The Speedo Color Block Parka features venting across the upper back but not across the chest. The outer shell is made of a very water repellent yet lightweight material that helped me feel less bogged down compared to some of the bulkier winter swim parkas. The Speedo parka features two deep zipped pockets on the outer shell and one on the inside of the jacket. It also has a large hood that completely covered my head and hair keeping me exceptionally warm after swimming.
SPORTI STRIPED COMFORT FLEECE-LINED SWIM PARKA ($54.99-$69.95)
The Sporti Comfort Parka I tested was navy blue on the outside with two white stripes on each sleeve and a red fleece lining. There are seven color variations with the stripes and another seven basic colors available in the solid color with no sleeve stripes. The Sporti Parka fit very well; it had long sleeves and a big hood that covered all of my head, ensuring that I stay warm after getting out of the pool or the ocean.
The Sporti Parka also had a unique feature that many brands have begun to incorporate, a pocket on the inside of the jacket with a small hole for headphones. This allows for swimmers to listen to music or a podcast to calm their nerves before a race, or to get pumped up all the while staying warm in a cold venue. The best part about the Sporti Parka is the fleece lining! The polyester material felt just like a terry cloth robe, it was actually the softest fleece lining of all the parkas I reviewed. A great value parka.
TYR ALLIANCE TEAM PARKA ($66.54-$110)
The TYR Alliance parka I tested came in a royal blue color with gold detailing on the sleeves and pockets and has a light grey fleece lining. The TYR Alliance Parka has a very retro look with an updated feel and there are four other classic colors to choose from. The jacket has the same venting system as the Adidas parka I tested on the chest and upper back, which helps to keep the swimmer dry.
The TYR Alliance parka touts four different pockets allowing for plenty of storage. Both of the pockets on the outer shell can be zipped, but I didn’t find either of them to be very deep. However, the two pockets on the inner fleece lining are quite deep and can also be zipped. The left inner pocket is also meant for an ipod or music player and has a slot for headphones. These pockets allow for plenty of versatility and are a great option for coaches looking for extra storage for their stopwatches, pens, or cell phones