How to Choose a Swim Cap

How to Choose a Swim Cap

With a little help, choosing a swim cap is an easy task. Ultimately, your swim cap selection should complement your swimming activities feel great when you’re wearing it.

3 Basic Types of Swim Caps – How To Choose

There are three basic types of swim caps on the market. Kiefer carries a variety of colored and patterned caps, made by Kiefer, Speedo, and TYR, but there is not much variety across brands. Swim cap material is the biggest decision – they do not all have the same intended use, so let’s get talking!

Lycra Swim Caps

Are you an aquaciser? If you like to do water aerobics, aquatic therapy, or work against the current in the lazy river, a Lycra cap might be perfect for you. Lycra swimming caps are made of a soft, breathable fabric so you won’t get a ‘hot head’ doing your swim workout. They are strong enough to keep your hair in place and out of your face, but stretchy enough to be comfortable. Try out the Kiefer Lycra Swim Cap or a Speedo Lycra Swim Cap.

Latex Swim Caps

Lap swimmers, you are looking for something different and more streamlined. One option is a latex cap. Latex is a stretchy and durable rubber (if cared for). Latex caps are more widely available and are also the least expensive. Latex caps are available in solids, patterns, and team prints. These caps are often included in race bags for triathlons or open water swimming competitions. They are easily customized to give a team or event a unified look. Kiefer offers a huge variety of latex caps:

You can race in them, train in them, and if you accidentally rip one or lose one – the inexpensive price won’t break the bank.

Silicone Swim Caps

Option number two, also recommended for lap swimmers, is a molded silicone cap. Silicone caps are more expensive than latex caps, but outlast them without fail. Soft silicone doesn’t grab your hair like latex and  will stretch to accommodate different amounts of hair. Silicone swimming caps are for everyone, and Kiefer has an excellent selection to choose from:

Because silicone bathing caps are more user friendly, have a longer life, and offer a soft grip around your head, I put them at the front of the field.

Specialty Silicone Caps

Silicone swimming caps have more mold varieties then latex, and additional specialty styles are available for smaller audiences:

  • Silicone Racing Caps: the Speedo Aqua-V Swim Cap is designed to reduce drag and have a seamless fit over the head.
  • Junior Fun Caps: Younger swimmers will appreciate fun print caps like Kiefer’s KittyDoggy, and Fishy caps. TYR’s CharacTYR swim caps that feature whales, sharks, and fish with protruding fins! .

Ultimately, swimmers should go with what they like. Try different bathing cap materials and different brands until you find your favorite. Just because you don’t swim laps doesn’t mean you won’t prefer latex or silicone over Lycra.

The important thing is you get yourself in the water and just keep swimming!

Kiefer Customer Service is happy to help you select bathing caps for swimming.

PS. Looking for more advice? Check out our swimsuit material selection guide.

About Emily Milak

Emily Milak is a lifetime competitive swimmer living in Southeastern Wisconsin. Emily is a US National Team champion, NCAA champion, and USMS champion with extensive coaching experience. She is a product development consultant at Kiefer.

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I've been a swimmer my whole life. My parents started me with lessons as a three year old and by five I had joined my first team. I started swimming year round at eight and by thirteen I was qualified for Junior Nationals. By fifteen I was a member of the US National Junior Team (National 'B' Team) and a Senior National Qualifier. I attened my first Olympic Trials in 2000 and finished third in the 200 butterfly. I am a US National Champion, three time NCAA Champion, NCAA record holder, and was a memeber of the US National 'A' Team for five years. I've competed in two World Championships, two Duel in the Pools, a Pan Pacific Championship where I earned a bronze medal in the 200 fly, and competitor in the Goodwill Games. I love to swim and love to coach. I have been working with 12 & Unders for the past ten years including a lengthy stint as the head age group coach in Houston, TX with the toughest bunch of little swimmers I have ever had the privilege of working with. Now I am a mom who swims! I substitute coach and swim master's. I have only competed at one Master's Nationals but walked away a two time champion.

  • Michelle says:

    I am beginning to swim laps and also plan to join aqua-cize classes. My hair is very fine and shoulder length. What will work best for me? Would you recommend different caps for different activities? What life expectancy do these caps have?

    • Emily Milak says:

      Hi Michelle! Caps are primarily a preference thing. Me personally, silicone is my go to, it lasts longer and to me is more comfortable. I’ve been wearing the same silicone cap over a year now. Latex have a shorter life but are equally comfortable to most people, they can last as short as a month but can last longer if dried and stored properly.

  • Rosee Swain says:

    My 10 year old twins swim competitively and I was looking for a cap that might give them an edge against the competition. I wanted a bright colored cap so I can keep track of them in the water, but was wondering if the bright color would go against them if the swimmer next to them noticed it and added a little extra kick to pass them.?Im just a m,om trying to help them be their best. I dodnt have a lot of money to spend on caps, but was wanting your opinion. I usually get them from Walmart, but this year I want to try to get something better for them. Thank you

    • Emily Milak says:

      Hi Rosee, a swim cap is unlikely to give a noticeable ‘edge’ to youngsters, but if they like it and it makes them feel good that will make a difference. If they are on a team they may be required to wear a team cap at competitions, but often times you can get their names printed on them to be able to pick them out of a crowd. Buying a silicone cap will be more upfront cost than others, but they should last at least twice as long if cared for properly and they come in cool colors too.

  • Thank you. I am getting a soft swim cap for my aqua aerobics training. The information you provided was good for me!

  • Emily Milak says:

    Glad to hear it Jessica!

  • Jessica Davis says:

    Thank you for the information! I’m often more selective with certain types of items due to having some sensory issues and being highly sensitive. Comfort and functionality are important for me. I found your information most helpful in determining which cap may be preferable to purchase.

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