Why use a swim cap?
Whether you’re new to open water swimming or you’ve been enjoying wild swimming for years, you need a swimming cap that is ideally suited for open water. One of the main features that makes a swim cap ideal for open water is its bright colour. Being visible is essential when sharing the water with other swimmers and watercraft or if you need help from lifeguards or rescue teams in an emergency.
Open water swimming caps also provide some level of insulation to help retain the heat in your head and regulate your body temperature. As wild swimming can often involve being submerged in quite cold water, any extra warmth or insulation is vital for your health and to make your swim more enjoyable.
Other benefits of wearing a swimming cap is in relation to your hair. It is important to note that keeping your hair dry is not the purpose of a swim cap. Some swim caps may keep your hair relatively dry, but this shouldn’t be relied upon or expected from all caps. Instead, swim hats keep your hair out of your face so you can see and breathe without your hair getting in the way. Tucking your hair away also makes you more streamlined, vital for competitive swimmers who are looking to achieve their best possible swim speed.
The majority of swim hats are unisex (including the 5 caps on this list) and are great for combining with a tow float or dry bag to increase your visibility in the water. Swim caps also provide some level of ear protection. However, to best protect your ears, ear plugs are recommended which can be used with a swim cap, helping them to stay in place.
Best Wild Swimming Caps
Best for Open Water Swimming
Swim Secure Bubble Swim Cap - £9
- Good insulation
- Available in four bright colours
- Specifically designed for open water swimming
- Only comes in one size
The Swim Secure Bubble Swim Cap is our pick for best cap for open water swimming as it was designed and made specifically for open water swimmers. With a choice of bright, visible colours that’ll make you seen in the water, whether you choose orange, green, yellow or pink, the bubble cap will make you safer in the water. Swim Secure’s Bubble Cap also provides that all important insulation due to its flexible and durable silicone and the bubble air pockets.
This swim cap is only available in one size. However, the bubble design and flexible silicone means that this one size fits a wide range of head sizes and hair lengths, while also keeping hair somewhat dry. Comfortable to wear for a quick dip, an all day swim or anything in between, this bubble cap is also a good option for you if other swim caps have caused you pressure headaches in the past.
Best for Hair with Volume
Soul Cap - £16
- Different sizes for different hair volumes and lengths
- Good colour options for open water swimming
- Seals securely and comfortably
- Heavy if it fills with water
If you’re looking for a swim cap to fit dreadlocks, braids, afro hair or long hair, the Soul Cap might be the one for you. It comes in sizes M, L, XL and XXL to fit different volumes of hair with each size available in eight colours. However, for the purposes of open water swimming, we recommend choosing either the bright green, red, pink or yellow cap as these will be most visible in the water.
The size of this swim cap is its greatest feature, but is also its biggest downfall. If you manage to find the perfect fit for your head and hair, the Soul Cap creates a good seal around your head, meaning little water gets in and the air trapped in the cap creates some extra insulation. However, if your cap is slightly too big, water might fill the hat. In other caps this wouldn’t be a problem. But due to the size of the Soul Cap, if it fills with water, it can get quite heavy which can affect your swim.
Orca Swim Hat - £29
- Adjustable velcro strap
- Visible orange colour
- Creates a layer of warmer water in the hat
- Slides off slightly in the water
The Orca Swim Hat is the only pick on this list that is made from neoprene instead of silicone. Neoprene is good for swimming in cold water as it lets in a small amount of water that heats up between the hat material and the head, similar to how a wetsuit works. However, using neoprene as a hat means that it isn’t as secure as silicone and may slip slightly while you’re out swimming. Although the only colour this hat comes in is orange, orange is an ideal visible colour for open water swimming.
The main benefit of this hat is the adjustable velcro strap at the back of the cap. This strap combined with the choice of sizes (S/M, L/XL, XXL) means that the Orca Hat fits a wide range of head sizes. However, if the adjustable strap isn’t important to you, and instead you just want a warm swim cap, we recommend looking at the Swim Secure Bubble Swim Cap as it’s cheaper and also has good head insulation.
Swim Secure Silicone Swim Cap - £9
- Choice of two bright and stylish designs
- 100% silicone
- Very comfortable
- Less insulation around head
Chosen due to its two ocean designs, the Swim Secure Silicone Swim Cap is designed to be both aesthetically pleasing and visible for safety. Be part of the nature of the ocean with the blue and pink coral design or fly through the water with the red and yellow penguin design. Whether you opt for the coral design, penguin design or get one of each, on your next swim you’ll be more streamline, more visible and more stylish.
The Swim Cap is strong, flexible and durable due to its 100% silicone material, making it comfortable to wear for a quick dip to a swimming marathon. However, as the only insulation with this hat is the silicone layer, it’s only practical for open water swimming during the warmer summer months. This won’t be a problem for most open water swimmers as this is the safest time to swim in open water. However, if you are an experienced open water swimmer who takes the risk of swimming in the colder water of the winter months, we recommend a swim cap with more insulation (the Swim Secure Bubble Swim Cap would work well).
Best for the Environment
Speedo Recycled Cap - £13.50
- Recycled silicone
- Only comes in one size
- Colour options aren’t visible in open water
If you’re looking for a swim cap that’s environmentally friendly as well as durable and flexible, you could consider the Speedo Recycled Cap. Made from recycled silicone that would otherwise have gone to waste (and maybe ended up in the ocean), this cap helps to protect our oceans and other bodies of open water that we love to swim in.
However, if you are considering this cap, you need to be aware that it doesn’t provide you with as much safety as the other caps on this list. This is because it’s only available in grey and blue, both of which aren’t visible in the water. This means surrounding watercraft, rescue teams and lifeguards are less likely to be able to spot you in the water. This cap is also only available in one size, making it less likely to fit a wide range of head sizes and hair lengths.
Swim easier, faster and safer by using a swim cap from this list. Whichever cap you choose, we know you’re going to love it. Want to know which one we would pick? For open water swimming, we love the Swim Secure Bubble Swim Cap. Get yours today.