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Best cold water swim hats

Want to keep open-water swimming during the winter, but struggling with putting your head under? Here are some of the best cold water swimming hats on the market...

Swimming with cold water swim hats

If you plan to continue your open-water swimming though the winter then a cold water swimming hat is an absolute essential.

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That’s because a lot of heat escapes from your head, which is something you want to slow down. By wearing a hat or hood, you’ll help maintain your deep body temperature, which will in turn help maintain blood flow to the extremities.

As a result, you may be able to stay in the water a little longer, or your experience might feel nicer for the time that you are in it. That’ll especially be the case if you also invest in cold water swimming gloves and cold water swimming socks.

Below, we’ve tested a selection of the best cold water swimming hats, but first, here’s an explanation of what they actually are…

What is a cold water swimming hat?

Similar to your classic silicone swimming cap, these hats are thicker and made from neoprene material. They will often have a neck loop or hood to ensure it stays on your head and has a snug fit for optimum insulation benefits. A minimum thickness of 3mm is recommended.

Best cold water swimming hats 

Zone3 Heat-Tech Neoprene Swim Cap

With a £10 premium versus Zone3’s regular neoprene swim cap (also available in orange, handily, for visibility) we were keen to try the heat-tech version after a positive experience with the similar gloves and boots in this test. And, happily, this cap did a superb job of keeping our head warm.

The red lining was almost felt-like and immediately felt cosy, plus this hat was slightly larger than the others and offered better coverage of the sensitive forehead area. A chin strap gave adjustability, while logos were on a par with the Huub for visibility.

Verdict: Unbeaten in this test for warmth and pure cosiness.

Score: 90%

Dhb Hydron Thermal Neoprene Swim Cap

This is the thermal version of the Hydron cap, which like the gloves on the previous page features the same soft thermal lining as in the corresponding wetsuit.

The fit and feel was very similar to the Orca (below) but offered a tiny bit more coverage in the size M here against the S/M from Orca.

You don’t get an adjustable chin strap, but we didn’t find that hampered the fit on this cap and it was easy to pull on and off. One thing we did like, though, were the orange stripes. In an activity where safety is key, we’re amazed visibility isn’t considered by all brands.

Verdict: A comfy and warm cap at a good price; plus, there’s safety stripes!

Score: 88%

Orca Thermal Neoprene Swim Cap

Coming in at £7 more than the similar dhb cap in this test, it’s hard not to compare the two. But with the Orca you do get an adjustable Velcro chin strap, so if you sometimes struggle to get a cap to fit or just like to have a strap to put it on/off more easily, then this would be a wise choice.

We’ve sometimes found that caps without Velcro chin straps can tear, too (although we did not experience that with the dhb in this test period). The Orca cap was soft and comfortable, so would be a sound choice for a warm bonce, but we would’ve liked some visibility.

Verdict: Nothing to fault here, but the dhb offers better value.

Score: 80%

Huub Neoprene Skull Cap

With silver Huub branding offering a nod to visibility this is a stylish offering (if there is such a thing in neoprene swim caps).

It gave good head coverage, is available in three sizes and has an adjustable chin strap, although we did find this one had a habit of slipping back on our heads when worn without a normal silicone cap on top.

But it was comfortable and added warmth with 3mm neoprene thickness doing the job, albeit without the thermal lining seen on the others here. At the time of writing it’s on sale, so it could be a real bargain.

Verdict: Stylish cap and if you can get it on sale, a real bargain!

Score: 85%

Also consider…

This 3mm swim cap from C-skins has a sleek and professional look, is complete with a chin strap and comes in a variety of sizes. Buy from the Wetsuit Centre now.

If you’re after a discreet look, without a neck strap, then this Zone3 cap is the hat for you. At only £25, you get a lot of bang for your buck, as this comes with a silicone cap which you tuck under the 4mm Yamamoto Smoothskin strapless hat. Buy from SwimInn now

If you want a cold water swim hat complete with chin strap but can’t stretch your budget enough to purchase one of the options above, consider Lomo’s Smoothskin Neoprene Swim Cap, which is available from just £17 at Amazon at the time of writing.

Looking for ways to keep your fingers and toes warm in the water to keep you swimming for longer? Check out our top affordable neoprene gloves and socks picks below:

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Top image credit: Remy Whiting