How to Choose a Swim Cap

Whether you’re an amateur enjoying the aerobic benefits of swimming or a coach looking to give your swim team a uniform appearance, swim caps are a great addition to your swim gear. But how do you know what type of swim cap is best?

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

The Benefits of Wearing a Swim Cap

Swim caps come in a variety of materials, shapes, sizes, and styles. Whether latex or silicone, swim caps offer avid swim fans many important benefits — especially when you spend a lot of time poolside:

  • • Focus: The main purpose of swim caps is to keep your hair out of your face so you can focus on the task at hand.
  • • Speed: With all your hair snugly secured, swim caps improve your overall speed by eliminating drag in the water.
  • • Protection: Swim caps keep your hair dry and protected from chlorine damage.
  • • Safety: If you’re swimming in the ocean or a larger body of water, swim caps keep your head warm and provide visibility to watchful parents or passing boats.

Tips for Choosing a Swim Cap

When it comes to swim caps, there is nearly no end to choices and options. Here are a few factors to help you decide what kind of swim cap is best for you.

Swimming Frequency

If you’re an avid swimmer or someone who works out in the water every day, durability is one of the key characteristics to consider. On the other hand, if your swimming sessions are infrequent, you’ll need a cap that can survive sitting long stretches of time at the bottom of your swim bag. Either way, silicon may be the way to go. When left unused, latex can turn into a sticky mess that gets all over your other swim gear.

Water Temperature

In summer, pool temperatures can creep up to more than 81 degrees. While extra-thick silicone may be durable, it can get toasty on hot days. In these instances, it may be best to opt for latex swim caps, which are relatively thin and will keep you from overheating. Silicone is best on chilly days or in cooler pools.

Workout Intensity

After an intense workout, you’re bound to feel a bit toasty. Latex swim caps may be best for those who regularly get their heart rate up working out in the pool.

Swim Teams

A team logo on your swim caps is a great way to bring some team pride to each competition. If you’re a member of a team, you’ll need to come to a general consensus about which swim cap material is best for the most number of members.

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 Kitty, Doggy and Fishy caps.

Custom Caps for Swim Teams

When uniformity and unity are essential, custom swim caps are a great way to boost your team spirit and morale. Kiefer Aquatics offers a wide range of customizable products for your team, including high-quality swim caps designed for performance. Whether you’re in practice or at meets, custom caps will make you look and feel like a team.

With Kiefer, you can have a free team web page with products chosen specifically by your coach or team manager. You’ll also enjoy special team pricing. Get the swim caps and other gear you need delivered directly to your door.

Finding Your Ideal Swim Cap

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!

With Kiefer Aquatics, you won’t be left wondering how to buy a swim cap. Our awesome selection of high-quality choices ensures you find the right cap for your swim style. Kiefer Customer Service would be happy to help you select bathing caps for swimming.

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

Learn More About Choosing Swim Gear: 

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.

12 Comments on “How to Choose a Swim Cap”

  1. Hi Emily,
    Which type of swim cap will keep my hair the driest? I spend too much money on hair color, and I know what chlorine does to your hair.

    • Oh can I relate to this question. I’m a brunette who appreciates my silver/ash blonde hair. I’ve been told getting my hair wet in the shower first, then wearing a cap will help. Pre saturating the hair so it won’t absorb the chlorine water. I double cap. It isn’t comfortable, not my favorite, but I do it. I layer a silicone cap over a latex one and that seems to help the most. Best of luck!

  2. I hadn’t swum laps since 1972, but we’re spending the winter in an active 50+ community and I swim every morning I can, between 3/4 and a mile. I want to keep my chin length hair out of my eyes, and help keep the water out of my ears. I have started to wear the formable ear plugs, but after about 1/2 mile they start to leak. I do back, breast and free.
    Have you used the ear bands? I don’t thin a silicone or latex cap will reach far enough down on my ears to be much help.

    • Good for you finding your way to the pool! I personally haven’t used ear bands but know several people who have and find them helpful. If nothing else perhaps partnering ear plugs and the ear band will keep your ears water tight!

  3. 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?

    • 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.

  4. 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

    • 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.

  5. 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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