How to Compare Swim Caps

How to Compare Swim Caps
Swim caps are designed both to give swimmers a competitive advantage and to protect their hair. What you seek in a good swim cap depends on why you are buying one. But not every swim cap is made the same. When choosing a swim cap, you should consider the material from which it is manufactured, the purpose for the cap and the fit around your head.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Figure out the purpose of your cap. There is little reason to purchase a swim cap to make you more streamlined if you are not involved in competitive swimming. If getting the extra hundredths of a second off your 50-meter freestyle time is key though, you should look for a cap that provides the snuggest fit. Opinions are also divided on whether a recreational swim cap is designed to keep your head dry or simply to keep the hair out of your eyes. While it is difficult to keep your hair perfectly dry, a good-fitting cap will keep most of it from getting wet and damaged by chlorinated pool water.
Step 2
Decide on a material. Swim caps can be made out of latex, silicone or Lycra. Some professional swimmers like Michael Phelps use a double layer of swim caps, usually latex over their bare heads and then silicone on top of that, according to Another combination used is Lycra on bottom and silicone or latex on top.

Latex is typically thin and provides a tight, streamlined fit. It is more difficult to get over your head and more likely to tear than other materials, but it generally provides you with the fastest material between your head and the water. These caps tend to be cheaper than other materials.

Silicone is thicker and easier to stretch. These caps are easy to take on and off. They are also good for swimmers who have latex allergies or other skin sensitivities related to rubber products. Silicone tends to be the most expensive material.

Lycra is a lightweight, breathable fabric. These caps are very comfortable to keep your hair in place but they are not waterproof.

A few new caps are available that are made out of neoprene rubber, a insulating fabric that is frequently used in wet suits. It is often used in a "skull cap," a version of a swim cap with a chin strap that keeps your head especially warm.

If you are going to be swimming in open water, think about color as well. Wearing a black swim cap isn't recommended in case you get into trouble and need to be spotted, according to
Step 3
Determine quality and fit. The most respected brands of swim caps include Speedo, Nike and Tyr. The cap should fit snugly over your head but should not be so tight that it is uncomfortable. Latex caps from the major manufacturers are pretty much the same one-size-fits-all design. The best silicon swim caps have a multidensity design that is made to better conform around your head. Some caps are also insulated.

Tips & Warnings

Try both a single cap and a double layer of caps to see what works best. Consider an insulated cap if you will be swimming in cold water such as the ocean or a lake.
Try both a single cap and a double layer of caps to see what works best.
Consider an insulated cap if you will be swimming in cold water such as the ocean or a lake.

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