Best Neoprene Caps for Open Water Swimming and Triathlons

Michael Butler
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If you are an open water swimmer or competing in triathlons, you’ll find this list of the best neoprene caps for you.

The options below are the kinds of caps triathletes and open water swimmers use to keep their heads warm when the temperature is low. Even if you are an instructor in these sports, you might want to consider the options above.

ORCA HI VIS Orange Neoprene Swim CapBest OverallORCA HI VIS Orange Neoprene Swim Cap
TYR Hi-Vis Neoprene CapBudget PickTYR Hi-Vis Neoprene Cap

1. ORCA HI VIS Orange Neoprene Swim Cap

Our rating: 9 / 10

ORCA HI VIS Orange Neoprene Swim Cap

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  • Extemely soft and comfortable
  • Excellent for open water swimming


  • Some reports of the caps coming apart at seams
  • Caps may be a little tight for larger swimmers

This lightweight, ORCA orange neoprene swim cap is designed to keep open water swimmers warm and protected from getting burned during long swims. This might not seem like an important feature, but the sun can be quite a harsh advisor, resulting in painful and debilitating sunburn that can take days to heal.

This cap is designed to offer the best protection against the sun, while still being tight enough to keep water out. Many swimmers have found that these caps do not slide around and stay securely in place, reducing the risk of mid-activity hair snagging, often a frustrating experience during open water swims.

Neoprene caps are the best way to prevent your hair from getting tangled in goggles. I would absolutely recommend you using these caps for your open water swims.

2. TYR Hi-Vis Neoprene Cap

Our rating: 7 / 10

TYR Hi-Vis Neoprene Cap

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  • Adjustable fit
  • Seals out water

The TYR Hi-Vis Neoprene Cap comes in one color that should last you through several triathlon training seasons. The one color is high vis yellow which makes it stand out from the rest of the competition on the race course. And it’s not just the cap that stands out, both the cap and the elastic string hearken back to the old school.

The quality of this cap is above and beyond the quality of an average performance swim cap. The nylon/spandex material with lycra feels soft and is very flexible with no seams to irritate the skin.

3. ROKA Neoprene Hood

Our rating: 7 / 10

ROKA Neoprene Hood

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  • Very nice looking
  • Fits perfectly
  • Provides great warmth

This cap definitely drew my attention because of how well shaped it fit to my head. I was really impressed with how warm it kept the top of my head and neck, and how little extra heat I normally feel. The strap held the cap extremely well. I felt no tugging at all; even when I was pulling hard on the paddle.

This hat is made of super fashion design neoprene material with lined with micro fleece. It is very soft and comfortable to wear. It adds no noticeable weight to the head and fits just nicely without any pressure. It is easy to clean. The size is perfect.

4. blueseventy Thermal Neoprene Skull Cap

Our rating: 7 / 10

blueseventy Thermal Neoprene Skull Cap

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If you live in a colder climate you know just how important it is to keep your ears warm while out in the elements. Not all skull caps or swim caps are created equal. Some come with actual neoprene ear pieces, so if you don’t want your ears to get wet and cold, they really aren’t an option. A good swimming cap should do the following: keep your head warm, keep your ears warm, and protect your hair during open water swimming, triathlons, and even in chlorinated pools.

This is the perfect swimming head cap for cold water. It is made out of neoprene, so it does an excellent job of keeping your ears and head warm. It is also made from a high quality durable material that will hold up for many many years.

On top of that, the inside is a soft fleece that also feels great while you’re wearing it. It provides for complete head coverage, making it easier to not only keep your ears warm, but also to protect against the cold.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do I need a neoprene swim cap?

There is no right answer to this question, because for some swimmers, caps are simply a matter of personal preference. If you are particularly prone to ear infections or don’t like the way you feel without a cap, you may want to consider the purchase of a neoprene swim cap.

For others, however, swimming caps are a hotly debated topic. People who aren’t fond of the feel of a cap complain that it is uncomfortable and restricts them. Other swimmers dislike caps because of styling preference or because of hygiene. Since moisture can create a breeding ground for bacteria in caps, swimmers are often leery of how quick and thorough caps are when cleaned.

Others feel the caps’ goal of keeping hair dry is unnecessary and that the cap is a large waste of money due to its price.

What are the best goggles for open water swimming?

There are a lot of different factors to take in account when selecting a pair of goggles for open water swimming, including the type of fabric used, how well they seal to your face, how they isolate water from your eyes, how well they fit into a cap, and whether they are polarized.

The biggest issue with open water swimming goggles is that they leak a lot.

This can be especially troublesome since even the smallest amount of water leaking into your eyes can be incredibly distracting, which can lead to the illusion of drowning.

It’s not always a matter of fit, either. Certain fabric types, and also less expensive goggles, seldom create a perfect seal. While your goggles should very rarely come off during a swim, it’s important that they create a substantial barrier between your eyes and the water, and also fit securely to your face.

What is the best material for a swim cap?

Neoprene swim caps are great for warm water conditions or outdoor pools because they help keep your head warmer and prevent you from overexerting yourself through unnecessarily forceful snorkeling.

Silicone swim caps, on the other hand, are the perfect choice when cooler water and/or indoor pools are the norm. Silicone swim caps are much less likely to slip or shift while in the water, reducing the amount of time and energy you waste re-adjusting.

If you prefer an even more secure fit, you can find swim caps with interior foam padding. These are especially popular with swimmers who wear long hair beneath their cap to hold long locks securely in place.

Stretchy swim caps with adjustable straps are another great and increasingly popular option among competitive swimmers. They can be worn tighter to provide stronger resistance and sturdier protection against the water, or looser for faster, more fluid swimming.

Do I need a swim cap for a triathlon?

You don’t necessarily need a swim cap. The advantage of a cap is it reduces drag in the water and helps keep your hair in place. This will lessen the amount of time you spend fixing your hair after you get out of the water.

If your hair is particularly long and it tends to get in your face while swimming, a cap is a great option. It will keep it out of your way.

A cap is a personal choice. Many people in the triathlon community wear one for professional races or lengthened training. There is no real risk of wearing a cap during the swim portion of your race, so you have a choice.


What is the best neoprene cap? Is there a special brand? There are so many options in the market that it can be really overwhelming. Finding the best solution for you is a matter of understanding what you want from your cap and shopping smartly. This article should help you do exactly that.

Our Recommendation

ORCA HI VIS Orange Neoprene Swim CapBest OverallORCA HI VIS Orange Neoprene Swim Cap
TYR Hi-Vis Neoprene CapBudget PickTYR Hi-Vis Neoprene Cap