A swim cap is an essential part of your swimming gear. It not only keeps your hair out of your face while you are swimming, but it can also protect your hair from the damaging effects of chlorine, sun, and salt. A swim cap can also reduce resistance from water flow around your hair and create a streamlined effect around your head to help you swim faster and perform better in the water.
Now you might think, well, a swim cap is a swim cap, but there are some brands and designs that are better for leisure swimming and others that are designed specifically for competitive swimming.
A swim cap is an essential part of your swimming gear.
Buying Guide for Swim Caps
There are a few important factors you need to take into consideration when shopping for the best swim cap. You will want a swim cap that efficiently protects your hair from chlorine, sun, or salt, depending on what type of environment you are swimming in; a swim cap that fits well and doesn’t slip off while you are swimming; and one that is designed to create a streamlined effect in the water.
A swim cap should keep your hair out of your face while swimming.
Type of Material
There are four types of swim caps on the market: silicone, latex, nylon, and thermal caps. Each swim cap material has its character and uniqueness and is ideal for a specific type of swimming environment.
Latex Swim Caps
Latex swim caps are comfortable and cheap and perfect for casual swimmers where the primary concern is comfort. Latex swim caps do not have a long lifespan, so they aren’t a good bet for people doing a lot of swimming or training on a competitive level.
Nylon Swim Caps
Nylon swim caps are also comfortable and inexpensive but are quite thin, so don’t protect your hair very well. They are the best swim caps for casual swimming in the open water as they offer better protection from the sun and salt than from chlorine.
Silicone Swim Caps
Silicone swim caps are the preferred choice for most swimmers, although some people might find them quite a tight fit. Silicone is thicker than nylon and latex and therefore lasts much longer. It also offers better protection against chlorine, salt, and the sun, and its thickness creates good streamlining in the water.
Thermal Swim Caps
Thermal swim caps are designed from silicone materials but have their thickest consistency of all the swim caps to keep swimmers warm in cold water temperatures. Thermal caps are also great for protecting your hair against any damage from the sun, salt, or chlorine.
There are different types of swim caps on the market.
The size of a swim cap is a crucial factor when buying a swim cap to ensure you are comfortable in the water. There are three sizes for swim caps:
Ø Small (20 ½ to 21 5/8 inches)
Ø Medium (20 ½ to 21 5/8 inches)
Ø Large (22 ¾ to 23 1/8 inches)
Silicone and thermal swim caps tend to be slightly tighter than nylon or latex caps as they are thicker, so it may be best to buy a size larger than normal if you are a casual or leisure swimmer.
Swim caps come in a wide array of funky colors and designs so if you want to stand out in the pool then you’ll have a wealth of options to choose from.
Oddly enough, another thing to keep in mind when buying a swim cap is the weather. If you are an outdoor swimmer, silicone swim caps tend to warm up quite quickly and get very hot, so the latex swim cap is a better option for open water swimming.
Latex swim caps are better for open water swimming.
Taking Care of Your Swim Cap
It is important to take care of your swim cap, no matter what material they are made from to ensure they last as long as possible. The best way to look after your swim cap is to rinse it off with fresh water and let it air dry after your swim. Once dry, rub some baby powder into the cap – this maintains the elasticity of the cap and makes it easier to put on.
Best Swim Caps Reviewed
I tried and tested a host of swim caps on the market, ranging from latex and nylon to silicone and thermal caps. Here is a list of some of the best swim caps reviewed.
Speedo Elastomeric Solid Silicone Swim Cap – Best Overall Swim Cap
A long-standing brand leader in the swimming world, Speedo is world-renowned for its comfortable, durable, and reliable products. The Speedo Elastomeric Solid Silicone Swim Cap is an inexpensive, long-lasting swim cap that is ideal for both leisure and high-performance swimming.
Made from 100% silicone and latex-free, this cap is designed to fit snugly on your head, and although it is fairly thick, it is very comfortable. It also has a lot of stretch, so it’s a good buy if you have thick locks and its soft, micro-inner texture ensures your hair doesn’t pull while swimming.
- Latex-free so perfect for swimmers with allergies
- Soft and durable material makes it very comfortable
- Great elasticity and flexibility
- Only comes in one size so might be a tight fit for longer hair
Speedo Silicone Aqua V Swim Cap – Best Swim Cap for Racing
Many competitive swimmers swear by the Speedo Silicone Aqua V Swim Cap for racing. The cap is made from slightly thicker silicone than the Speedo Elastomeric Solid Silicone Swim Cap, so it keeps its shape and form after numerous competitions and meets.
It has a Zoned 3-D dome-shaped design that reduces wrinkles, drag, and resistance in the water and sits comfortably and securely on your head. It does run smaller in sizes so it’s best to size up on this style.
- Zoned 3-D dome-shaped design reduces wrinkles, drag, and resistance
- Comfortable and very secure fit
- Perfect racing swim cap
- Sizes are small so you need to size up
- It may be too tight for training or casual swimming
Blueseventy Thermal Neoprene Skull Cap – Best Thermal Swim Cap for Cold Water
If you are a cold-water swimmer and need a good thermal swim cap to keep you warm, then the Blueseventy Thermal Neoprene Skull Cap is one of the best on the market. This thermal swim cap is made from heat-trapping closed-cell 3 millimeters thick Yamamoto SCS-coated (Super Composite Skin) neoprene on the outside with a full-zirconium wool jersey lining and offers outstanding heat retention.
The swim cap has two distinct panels with waterproof seams. One panel stretches from the front to the back of the head, while the second panel covers the ears and stretches under the chin to provide a super secure fit.
The Blueseventy Thermal Neoprene Skull Cap is available in three standard sizes and can fit swimmers with head circumferences of up to 24 inches. It is not designed to keep hair dry but can be used as a second cap fitted over a nylon or silicone swim cap to reduce water absorption and add extra warmth. This cap is also a popular choice for triathletes and slides on and off with ease.
- The dynamic combination of insulating fabrics offers superb warmth in cold water
- Easy to put on and take off
- The chin strap offers a secure fit
- Non-adjustable chin strap
- The chin strap can be irritating while swimming
TYR Sport Long Hair Silicone Swim Cap – Best Swim Cap for Long Hair
The TYR Sport Long Hair Silicone Swim Cap is a fantastic swim cap for swimmers with long hair. It has an asymmetric design that allows all lengths of hair to fit neatly into the swim cap without pulling. The design of the swim cap has a durable, ribbed edge and a contour cut around the ears for a comfortable and secure fit.
The swim cap is made from 100% silicone offers streamlining and reduces drag in the water. The TYR Sport Long Hair Silicone Swim Cap can be used for both leisure and competitive swimming and is available in a variety of vibrant colors.
- Asymmetric design is ideal for longer hair and reduces drag in the water
- Ribbed edge and a contour cut ensures a comfortable and secure fit
- Soft silicone provides maximum comfort
- Doesn’t keep hair 100% dry
Arena Silicone Unisex Swim Cap – Best Swim Cap for Training
Arena is another long-standing swimming brand that is popular with both casual and competitive swimmers. The Arena Silicone Unisex Swim Cap is a classic swim cap made from PVC-free, flat, molded silicone and offers a soft, smooth, and very comfortable fit.
This cap is not as thick as other silicone caps, which makes it the perfect choice for a training cap, particularly for longer sessions. Ribbed edging gives the swim cap snug and secure fit while swimming and creates an airtight seal around the head without squeezing. The Arena Silicone Unisex Swim Cap range is available in a diverse range of bright and funky colors and patterns.
- Soft, flexible silicone makes for a super comfortable fit while swimming
- Hydrodynamic design
- Ribbed edging provides an airtight seal with squeezing
- Doesn’t keep hair dry on longer sessions
Speedo Unisex-Adult Lycra Solid Swim Cap – Best Lycra Swim Cap
The Speedo Unisex-Adult Lycra Solid Swim Cap is the best lycra swim cap on the market and offers a snug, comfortable fit without pulling your hair. While these types of caps won’t keep your hair dry, they will keep the hair out of your face while you are swimming and protect it from direct sun damage.
This lycra swim cap is super-stretchy and offers swimmers with both short and long hair a comfortable fit that keeps all the hair in the swim cap. It is very lightweight and dries quickly and has good durability. These caps are also great for kids who don’t like tight-fitting caps and are latex-free so a good choice for swimmers with allergies.
- Soft, lycra material offers a comfortable fit
- Ideal for longer hair
- Latex-free so perfect for swimmers with allergies
- Lightweight and quick-drying
- Six-month warranty
- Small fit
- Does not keep hair dry during a swim
- Not suitable for competitive swimming and racing
Nike Flat Latex Swim Cap – Best Latex Swim Cap
One of the best latex swim caps on the market is the Nike Flat Latex Swim Cap. Made from 100% latex, this is a lightweight, soft, and very pliable swim cap and very comfortable to wear. Ribbed edging offers a secure and snug fit, and the cap is a good choice for competitive swimmers.
Latex swim caps are lighter, thinner, and more breathable than silicone caps, which makes them perfect for swimmers who tend to overheat during swim workouts.
- Lightweight, thin, and breathable
- Ribbed edge offers a secure fit
- Ideal for competitive swimming
- Not suitable for swimmers with allergies
- Not as long-lasting as other swim caps
The Friendly Swede Silicone Long Hair Swim Caps – Best Swim Cap for Large Heads
The Friendly Swede Swim Cap is a 100% silicone swim cap with a hydrodynamic, wrinkle-free design that can be stretched to fit any type of head. Suitable for both competitive and leisure swimmers, the Friendly Swede Swim Cap has ergonomic ear pockets that cover the ears and reduces resistance, and offers excellent streamlining in the water.
This swim cap is a good choice if you tend to suffer from ear problems or if you have grommets in your ears as the ear pockets keep the water out. The swim cap has a contour, ribbed edge that provides a comfortable and secure fit around the head. The swim caps come in a pack of two.
- Ergonomic design reduces drag and resistance in the water
- Ribbed edge offers a comfortable and secure fit
- Ear pockets provide streamlining while swimming
- Not 100% waterproof
- Not suitable for competitive swimming or racing
TYR Lycra Swim Cap – Best Swim Cap for Casual Swimming
Made from 80% recycled nylon and 20% Lycra fiber, the TYR Lycra Swim Cap is a comfortable, reasonably priced swim cap that is made specifically for recreational swimmers. It offers great protection from the sun with UPF 50+ protection and is soft and pliable so it doesn’t pull your hair while you are swimming.
- UPF 50+ protection against the sun
- Made from 80% environmentally friendly material
- Comfortable and soft for recreational swimming
- Secure fit that keeps hair out of your face while swimming
- One size only
- Not suitable for racing or competitive swimming
- Does not keep hair dry
Orca High-Visibility Neoprene Swim Cap – Best Swim Cap for High-Visibility in All Weather Swimming
Made from 100% premium neoprene and brightly colored in vibrant orange, the Orca High-Visibility Neoprene Swim Cap is the best swim cap on the market for cold, open water swimming. The swim cap has two panels that stretch over the head and under the chin to provide a secure and comfortable fit.
The Orca’s Smoothskin neoprene construction insulates your head in cold water and keeps the warmth in, allowing you to be comfortable for longer in colder temperatures. The sporty design features black and orange stripes and it is highly visible in the open water, and all types of weather.
Sizes are limited to two sizes only, and they tend to run large, however, it’s a good idea to wear a silicone or latex cap beneath this swim cap to add extra warmth and keep your hair dry.
- Bright orange and black colors are highly visible in open water
- Streamline design
- Smoothskin neoprene construction provides excellent heat insulation
- Neoprene chin strap ensures a snug and secure fit around the head
- Does not keep hair dry
Mia Russell is currently the head swim coach at Aquasharks Swimming Academy in South Africa. She has worked as the head swim guide at SwimQuest Open Water Swimming Holidays in London and was previously a Swim Coach at Cybersmart Aquatics. She has a AIDA International Level 3 Freediving Certification, PADI Open Water Advanced Certificate, SSI Level 1 Free Diver Certificate and RYA Beach Lifeguard Certificate.