Why use a swim hat?
Whether you’re a recreational swimmer, a competitive swimmer or new to open water swimming, wearing a swim cap is important for you to be safe and comfortable. Swim caps for wild water swimming are usually unisex and high-vis (similar to tow floats and dry bags) so that you are more visible to surrounding watercraft and swimmers. This also means that in an emergency, lifeguards and rescue teams would be able to find you quicker.
Swimming caps also make you more comfortable in the cold open water as they provide a layer of insulation around your head. This layer of material helps you to regulate your body temperature and stay warm while on your swim. Some swim caps also cover your ears, providing some protection against water entering your ears. However, for the best ear protection we recommend using ear plugs which work best when combined with a swim cap.
It’s commonly thought that one of the main purposes of swimming hats is to keep your hair dry. However, swim caps are actually made to keep your hair tucked away, not necessarily dry. Although some swim hats are able to keep your hair somewhat dry, this isn’t their main purpose so should not be relied upon. Instead, your cap will keep your hair out of your face so you can see and breathe easier on your swim. Tucking your hair into a swim cap will also reduce the drag your hair causes in the water, meaning you can swim faster and have a better chance of winning that race.
Best Wild Swimming Caps
Best for Open Water Swimming
Swim Secure Bubble Swim Cap - £9
- Warm insulation layer
- Choose from four high-vis colours
- Designed for open water swimmers
- One size only
The main thing every open water swimming cap needs is good insulation and high visibility. The Swim Secure Bubble Swim Cap has both and so much more. Whether you prefer to swim in the green, yellow, orange or pink hat, being visible in the water won’t be a problem with Swim Secure. The bright bubble air pocket design combined with the flexible and durable silicone material provides the layer of protection you need when swimming in cold water.
The only disadvantage of this swim cap is that it’s only available in one size. However, this one size is designed to be flexible and fit heads of different sizes with different lengths of hair. Therefore, most people find that this cap fits comfortably, doesn’t cause annoying pressure headaches and manages to keep their hair reasonably dry.
Best for Hair with Volume
Soul Cap - £16
- Size options for different volumes and lengths of hair
- Eight colour choices (four bright colour options)
- Comfortable and secure seal
- Can fill with water and become heavy
Our top pick for people with voluminous hair is the Soul Cap. Made from 100% silicone and available in a range of sizes, this cap is designed to fit afro hair, dreadlocks, braids and long hair. All four sizes of the Soul Cap come in eight colour options, four of which are ideal for open water swimming (pink, red, yellow, and bright green).
Although the air in the size of this swim cap allows for some extra insulation, if you haven’t got the perfect fit, the cap can fill with water. This isn’t an issue with smaller swim caps as staying dry isn’t the purpose of swim caps. However, the large size of this swim cap means that when it fills with water, it can get quite heavy, affecting your swim.
Orca Swim Hat - £29
- Adjustable velcro strap
- Orange - visible colour
- Good insulation mechanism
- Not as secure
Made from 2.5mm neoprene, the Orca Swim Hat uses the same body heating mechanism as a wetsuit. A small amount of water will seep into your hat which your body will warm up. This warmer water then stays around your head within the hat creating an extra layer of insulation. Unfortunately, the Orca Hat is only available in orange. Although you don’t have a colour choice, the orange colour available is ideal for open water swimming.
With an adjustable velcro strap behind the hat and a range of sizes including S/M, L/XL and XXL, this hat fits most head sizes. However, neoprene is not as secure a fit as silicone meaning that the hat might slip slightly while you are out on your swim. Therefore, if your priority is warmth instead of the adjustable strap, we recommend saving your money and opting for the Swim Secure Bubble Swim Cap instead.
Swim Secure Silicone Swim Cap - £9
- Two bright and stylish designs
- 100% silicone
- Very comfortable
- Not made for winter water temperatures
The Swim Secure Silicone Swim Cap is our pick for the best cap design. With two designs to choose from, both of which celebrate open water plants and animals, you’ll look both stylish and highly visible on your swim. Grow into the best swimmer you can be with the pink and blue coral design or enjoy gliding through the water with the red and yellow penguin design.
Made from 100% silicone, this cap is strong and durable as well as flexible so you’ll stay comfortable throughout your swim. However, apart from the silicone layer, this cap doesn’t have any extra insulation. This is fine for swimming in the warmer summer water temperatures, as most open water swimmers will be doing. But if you enjoy swimming in the colder water of the winter months (this is more dangerous and should only be done by experienced open water swimmers), we recommend opting for a warmer swim hat like the Swim Secure Bubble Swim Cap.
Best for the Environment
Speedo Recycled Cap - £13.50
- Uses recycled silicone
- One size only
- No high-vis colour options
We all want to keep our oceans clean and protect the beauty of open water around the world. The Speedo Recycled Cap is a durable swim cap that helps protect the environment as it’s made from recycled materials using 30% factory waste silicone. Not only is this cap environmentally friendly, it’s also durable and flexible so you can be comfortable on your open water swim.
However, this cap is only available in one size. Its flexible silicone does allow for some variation in fit but this cap is mainly for people with a standard head size and shorter hair. Another disadvantage of the recycled cap is that it’s only available in light grey or blue. Although this isn’t a problem for swimming in an indoor pool, it’s not as safe for open water swimming as you won’t be visible in the water.
Be safe and make your open water swim more enjoyable with a swim cap. Check out the Swim Secure Bubble Swim Cap (our pick for the best cap for open water swimming) and find the perfect swim cap for you today.