Types of Swim Caps Compared

With so many types of swim caps to sift through, finding your perfect match can be confusing – not to mention difficult. To help you out, I’ve assembled a quick guide to assist you on your hunt for the perfect fit, function, and form you want in a swim cap.

Silicone Swim Cap

Silicone caps are the most popular among elite swimmers.

Silicone

Great for: Competitive swimmers and those with longer hair

Silicone is the most common material used in modern swim caps. Known for its extreme durability and strength, the material is able to form to the head for a sleek fit and won’t lose its elasticity over time. Silicone also claims not to snag or pull hair like other swim cap materials can, though I’ve had my share of “ow!” moments even in silicone. All in all, it’s a comfortable choice for almost any type of swimmer.

Latex

Great for: Competitive swimmers who like variety

Latex is probably the second most common material used in swim cap production. Many swimmers prefer the fit and feel of latex over silicone. While it’s less durable than other materials, latex is thinner and lighter, which allows it to work nicely in warmer environments. Plus, latex swim caps tend to be cheaper than most others, making them ideal for swimmers who enjoy having options on hand.

Rubber Swim Cap

Rubber and latex caps are made from the same natural materials. Rubber is simply the thicker option.

Rubber

Great for: “Wild” swimmers who enjoy cold water

Rubber, which was one of the first materials ever used in swim cap production, is making a come back in today’s market. The material is thicker than Latex, yet not as pliable. Popular rubber styles include the bubble caps, which are great for colder swimming conditions (or for anyone who chills easily). Many rubber swim caps are also available with a chin strap to help keep the cap perfectly in place.

Lycra/Spandex

Great for: Recreational swimmers looking for comfort

Lycra swim caps are, by far, the most comfortable swim caps to wear. The material is fairly durable and is designed to last a long time. To keep Lycra in prime condition, you’ll have to rinse it with a chlorine-neutralizing solution, or risk losing elasticity. The only draw back of Lycra swim caps is that they are porous and will allow water to flow freely through the cap. Because they don’t streamline the head nearly as well as other, thicker materials, Lycra swim caps are best suited for recreational swimmers.

Neoprene

Great for: Open water swimmers who need protection

Made from the same material as wetsuits, neoprene swim caps prevent heat loss from the head. These types of caps are perfect for people who swim in cold lakes, oceans, or any other chilly body of water. Triathletes and endurance swimmers often rely on these types of swim caps to keep their head as warm as possible in chilly Pacific waters or northern lakes.

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Comments

  • I need a swim cap that just keeps the hair out of my eyes. I do not care if my hair gets wet.
    I usually swim 5 days/week for 30-45 minutes. Can you recommend a cap – it should not be too tight

    Meredith Katzman
    meredithkatzmanrd@gmail.com

    Meredith KatzmanApril 7, 2015
    • Thanks for your question, Meredith. Nearly any cap will keep the hair out of your eyes, as this is one of their explicit purposes. I would recommend against caps made from Lycra as hair will slip out more easily. For a “not-too-tight” option, the Bubble Caps by RhyneMaiden are great because they can be purchased in sizes, rather than a one-size-fits-all model: https://www.aquagear.com/rhynemaiden-bubble-swim-cap-without-strap/

      AdamApril 23, 2015

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