The 12 Best Swim Caps of 2021

Focus on your stroke, not your hair, as you swim laps

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Our Top Picks
"The cap has an inner micro-grid texture that's designed to provide a snug fit on your head, keeping it in place while you swim."
"Affordable without compromising quality, it's designed to fit your head comfortably, no matter the size or style of your hair."
"If comfort is a priority for you, this pick is well worth the cost due to a technology that helps it mold to fit your head shape."
Best for Competitions:
Speedo Aqua V Silicone Cap at Amazon
"Ideal for races, its 3-D Zone shape ensures that it stays snug on your head, while also reducing drag to improve your speed."
"A solid pick if you swim recreationally, it features an interior layer of soft fabric to offer a more comfortable fit."
Best for Natural Hair:
Dsane Extra Large Swim Cap at Amazon
"A top pick for those with natural hair, its extra space accommodates a variety of hair styles, from braids to extensions."
"Its asymmetrical shape and extra space accommodates long and thick hair, making it a top fit for competitive or leisure swimmers."
"Its Lycra material makes it especially good for low-impact activities, like water aerobics or water therapy."
"The latex cap features an anti-roll edge to prevent it from slipping off, while its thin material prevents overheating."
"Featuring thick ear pockets for extra protection, they also dip at the bottom of each side to fully keep water out."

Swim caps might not be the most attractive type of swim gear, but they are indeed one of the most functional and necessary items for swimming. This is true, whether you are swimming recreationally or competitively. Swim caps protect hair from getting too wet and from becoming damaged by chlorine if you are swimming in a pool. A swim cap will also keep your hair out of your face so you can see clearly while you're swimming. 

If you swim competitively, it is highly recommended that you wear a cap, because it reduces drag and allows for a more hydrodynamic performance. This is especially true for swimmers with long hair. Swimming while letting your hair loose is not only uncomfortable and irritating but can also significantly slow you down, which isn't ideal if you are working hard to get your best time!

It is important to keep in mind that no swim cap is perfect, and there is no cap that will completely protect your hair from getting wet. However, if you are looking to purchase a cap that suits you the best, you will want to consider its comfort, elasticity, and the type of material it's made of. 

To provide some guidance on which cap might be the most suitable for you, here are the best swim caps on the market.

Best Overall: Speedo Solid Silicone Cap - Elastomeric Fit

Solid Silicone Cap - Elastomeric Fit
Pros
  • Affordable

  • Comfortable

  • Good for racing

Cons
  • Won't last forever

Speedo is a leading brand in swim gear, and their swim cap collection is no exception. This silicone cap is the most basic cap you can get for an affordable price, without compromising on quality. For most situations, silicone is the ideal material for a swim cap, especially if you are wearing it for swimming laps, training, or racing in a pool. 

This cap has an inner micro-grid texture that is designed to provide a snug and comfortable fit on your head, keeping it in place while you swim. The contoured shape is also ideal for racing, as it is hydrodynamic and reduces drag in the water. For a simple and quality swim cap that will do its job, the Speedo Solid Silicone Cap is your best bet.

Best Budget: Aegend Silicone Swim Caps for Long Hair

Pros
  • Affordable

  • Also good for kids

  • Works with any hairstyle

Cons
  • May not keep hair completely dry

While Speedo has a strong handle on the swim gear market, Aegend is also a leading brand that is generally more affordable, which scored them a spot in our "best budget" category. Aegend’s products are cheaper without compromising too much of their quality. While the title suggests that this particular swim cap by Aegend is designed for long hair, it is also designed to fit your head comfortably, no matter the size or style of your hair. 

As one of the cheapest non-Latex swim cap options out there, this Aegend model is a top seller and boasts great reviews from users. With two caps in one pack, it is available at the same price as a typical latex cap but with much higher quality and versatility.

Best Splurge: Speedo Fastskin Cap

Speedo Fastskin Cap
Pros
  • High-quality

  • Cap will mold to fit your head shape

  • Great for racing

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Risk of overheating due to thickness

Speedo has developed a cutting-edge technology, IQfit, which is designed to enhance the swimming experience for its customers. Also found in Speedo’s IQfit goggles, Speedo has expanded the use of this technology to its line of swim caps. This Fastskin cap is specifically engineered to provide maximum comfort for swimmers and will mold to fit your head shape.  

This cap is also a bit more expensive than the average swim cap, but if comfort is a priority for you, then it is worth the extra money. If you swim competitively, note that this cap is part of the first “Racing System” in the world, which includes the full set of swim gear built with IQfit technology: a cap, suit, and goggles that work in tandem to optimize your performance in the pool.

Best for Competitions: Speedo Aqua V Silicone Cap

Pros
  • Durable

  • Comfortable

  • Very hydrodynamic

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Prone to overheating due to thick material

  • Only available in two colors

This cap might be on the pricier side, but it is very durable and will last you a long time, so it's a good investment. The 3-D Zone shape ensures it will stay snug on your head while also significantly reducing drag to help you swim through the water with increased speed. 

The material is especially thick, which is good for durability and comfort, but the downside is that it might heat your head up faster than typical silicone caps, which could lead to overheating. However, if you are mainly using the cap when you race, this should not be much of a concern unless you are swimming in very long-distance races.

If you buy Speedo's Acqua V Silicone cap and plan to wear it on race day, it might be a good idea to test it out during practice to make sure you don't feel too overheated while wearing it on race day. It's also important to note that this cap runs a bit small—even Speedo recommends buying it one size larger than your typical head size. 

Best for Comfort: Speedo Stretch Fit Swim Cap

Pros
  • Soft material makes it comfortable

  • Good for long swims

Cons
  • Not good for racing

  • Only available in two colors

If you aren't necessarily training or trying to swim competitively but are on the market for a comfortable cap to swim laps in or for swimming recreationally, this one's for you. The Stretch Fit cap is built with dual-layer technology, which includes an interior layer of soft fabric to offer more comfort inside of the cap and on your head. The cap also easily contours to your head shape, as there is an elastic band within the base for added elasticity.

Thanks to the cap's softer silicone material, it's more comfortable to take off and put back on than a typical swim cap. The Stretch Fit cap is also ideal if you tend to swim long distances or for a long period of time, as it will provide great comfort that will last throughout your entire swim session. 

Best for Natural Hair: Dsane Extra Large Swim Cap

Pros
  • Highly flexible material

  • Lots of extra space

Cons
  • Water more likely to get inside cap if it does not fit tightly

  • Slightly expensive

This cap is designed for people who have natural hair and is a top pick among those who do. As the title suggests, it has extra space to accommodate a wide variety of natural hairstyles—including dreadlocks, braids, weaves, extensions, crochet mambo, and Afro-hair, among others. 

The silicone used to construct this cap is especially strong, which allows it to stretch to twice its size, while simultaneously keeping your hair as dry as possible. It also comes with earplugs and a nose clip to help keep water out of the ears and nose.

BPA-free and available for all genders, the Dsane Extra Large swim cap is a perfect choice for the swimmer who has not had luck with a traditionally-sized cap. 

Best for Long Hair: TYR Sport Long Hair Silicone Swim Cap

Pros
  • Extra space for long hair

  • Very elastic

  • Also good for bigger heads

Cons
  • Prone to sliding off

  • Not as good for natural hair

Built for competitive and recreational swimmers alike, this pick is a top-tier cap for swimmers of any gender who have long hair. Though the build is similar to other generic silicone caps, this TYR model has an asymmetrical shape, with extra space in the back to accommodate long hair. People with thicker hair may also benefit from this long-hair cap.

Because of the extra space and elasticity, this cap is also great for people who might have a bigger-shaped head. As with any cap, comfort is essential, and this one provides a highly comfortable option for people with heads or hair that doesn't fit in a typically-sized cap. 

Best Lycra: TYR Lycra Fiber Swim Cap

TYR Lycra Fiber Swim Cap
Pros
  • Very comfortable

  • Offers UPF 50+ sun protection

  • Pulls on hair less

Cons
  • Not good for racing

  • Tends to slip off head more

Swim caps built with Lycra material are generally best for recreational swimming, though they can also be used for lap swimming or even swim practice and training. Lycra is especially good for lower-impact water activities such as water aerobics or water therapy. They are superior in terms of comfort, as the material is much softer than latex or silicone—it's the same material that swimsuits are typically made out of.  

These TYR Lycra caps are not only extremely comfortable but also include UPF 50+ sun protection, which makes them great for outdoor swimming. However, it is important to note that while Lycra is a thicker and softer material, it does not necessarily keep your head warmer if you are swimming in cold water.

If a Lycra cap sounds like it's the best fit for you, TYR offers a quality one at a low price. 

Best Latex: Speedo Solid Latex Swim Cap

Speedo Solid Latex Swim Cap
Pros
  • Affordable

  • Does not overheat head

Cons
  • Can rip easily

  • Prone to slipping off head during a race

Latex caps are the cheapest option for swim caps since latex is a thin and low-cost material. But, since the material is thinner, they do tend to rip more easily and they may feel less comfortable than other types of caps. This will be true no matter the brand. However, Speedo’s durable latex cap is designed with an anti-roll edge to prevent the cap from slipping off. This also creates a tight fit that keeps hair dry and keeps water from seeping into the ears. 

Additionally, the thin latex material comes in handy when you're swimming in warm water, as it's less likely to cause overheating. The thin material can also be good for competitions because it won't work against your speed in the water—but note that latex caps are more likely to slip off after diving in the water than silicone caps.

Despite the cons of latex caps, Speedo’s model is the best option if that is the type of cap you need.

Best for Ear Protection: Aegend Unisex Swim Caps with Ear Pockets

Pros
  • Comfortable

  • Elastic

  • Keeps water from getting in ears

  • Affordable

Cons
  • May not keep hair completely dry

  • Not very stylish

These Aegend caps might seem similar to every other silicone cap at first glance, but if you take a closer look, you will see that they include thick ear pockets for extra ear protection. They also dip at the bottom of each side of the cap where the ears are to ensure no water trickles in. Swimmer’s ear is no joke, and Aegend is here to help prevent you from contracting it. This cap’s features will protect your ears from chlorine, bacteria, and even sand.

As an added benefit, this cap is also extremely elastic, allowing for a comfortable, stretched fit for all genders, head sizes, and hairstyles. Like most Aegend products, these caps are a great bang for your buck as they are available in a two-pack at an affordable price.

Best for Open-Water Swimming: Zone3 Neoprene Swim Cap

Pros
  • Maintains warmth

  • Adjustable

  • Good for racing

  • Available in bright orange for safety purposes

Cons
  • Only available in three sizes

  • Only available in three colors

Neoprene caps are typically worn for open water swimming or triathlons. The neoprene material is extremely thick, which is perfect for keeping your head warm if you are swimming in cold, open waters.

The Zone3 cap is the top pick because of its adjustable, velcro chin strap that other neoprene caps do not necessarily have. This strap allows for a less tight and more comfortable fit for the swimmer, especially in the chin area.

Designed for optimal thermal protection while being hydrodynamic for racing, this cap is made out of a 0.1-inch Super-Stretch material. It comes in three colors, though two are mostly black and the other is bright orange. Bright-colored caps are highly recommended for open water swimming as they make it easier for lifeguards or medical personnel to spot you in an emergency.

Best for Toddlers and Kids: Aegend Silicone Swim Cap 2-Pack

Pros
  • Comfortable

  • Affordable

  • Available in fun designs for kids

Cons
  • May not fully protect hair from getting wet

When purchasing a swim cap for your child, it should go without saying that comfort and fit are important considerations. For this reason, silicone caps, rather than latex, are preferable. With the 3-D ergonomic fit, this is a comfortable cap that will stay on your child’s head. It also provides good ear protection to keep water and bacteria from seeping into the ears. 

Aegend offers this cap in five different colors and designs, including shark and dog themes to add a little flair to your child’s swim style. The bright colors of these Aegend caps will also help your child stand out and be more noticeable in a crowd for additional safety when they swim, which is especially important for open-water swimming (in lakes or rivers).

At such an affordable price, this two-pack children’s swim cap package is a steal. 

Final Verdict

When comfort and speed are top priorities, you can't go wrong with Speedo's Solid Silicone Cap (view at Speedo), which is ideal for training and racing thanks to its elastomeric fit. If you're more of a recreational swimmer, the Speedo Stretch Fit Cap (view on Amazon) gets the job done with its dual-layer technology for comfort and elasticity.

What to Look for in a Swim Cap 

Material

Latex: This material is thinner and much more likely to rip unless you are careful with it. However, it can be the better option if you are swimming in a pool with warm water because it can prevent you from getting overheated. It can also slightly reduce drag, which is good for racing. 

Silicone: These caps are generally recommended for swimming as the material is thicker and usually more comfortable. These caps also tend to last longer than latex options. 

Lycra: These caps are better for lower-intensity water activities, such as water aerobics or water therapy. The material is softer than latex and silicone, but it's not as good for racing because it adds drag, slowing down your speed in the water. It's also not ideal for training or swimming laps as it is not as good at keeping water out and keeping your hair dry, which can be uncomfortable.

Neoprene: Neoprene caps are typically used for open water swimming and are built with a thicker material to keep your head warm and to protect open water from getting in your ears. 

Elasticity

Elasticity is an important consideration, especially for people with long hair or larger heads. One of the primary functions of a swim cap is to prevent hair from getting wet, tangled, and creating drag, so if a cap is not elastic enough to fit on your head (hair included) then it will lose its functionality. More elasticity also means a stretchier cap, which will also help make it easier to put it on your head before diving into the pool.

Comfort

As with most swim gear, comfort is important—except when racing. Unless you are specifically purchasing caps that will optimize your performance on race day, you will want to make sure the cap is comfortable and fits your head well. A cap that is too tight or tears at your hair will be irritable and uncomfortable. 

FAQs

How do you put a swim cap on?

While there is no right or wrong way to put your cap on, one common method is to actually start from the front of the head and stretch the cap up towards the back of your neck. This is especially helpful if you have long hair. If you have shorter or less hair, you can also try stretching the cap as wide as possible, then lowering it down onto your head. If that doesn’t work, try asking someone to help you put it on—getting your cap on sometimes needs to be a team effort!

If you have long hair, you might want to put it in a bun, braid, or ponytail before putting the cap on to lower the risk of hair falling out of your cap. It is also helpful to wet your hair a bit before putting your cap on to reduce friction and to help it to slide on more smoothly. When possible, try to be gentle when putting your cap on to avoid pulling hair or ripping your cap (especially if it is latex!).

Can swim caps cause hair loss? 

No, swim caps do not directly cause hair loss. While some caps, like latex ones, are more likely to pull at your hair—especially if you are constantly needing to take it off and put it back on—there is no scientifically proven link between wearing a swim cap and chronic hair loss. 

How do you clean swim caps? 

This might depend on the material, but generally speaking, you will want to rinse the cap out with water and let it air dry. You can also dry it with a towel. For extra absorption, you can add a paper towel to the inside of the cap. Sprinkling a bit of talcum or baby powder inside the cap also absorbs moisture and keeps the cap from sticking to itself (especially for latex caps). The extra absorption helps to prevent bacteria from growing in the cap. In any case, be sure to check the cap’s instruction label before cleaning. 

Why Trust Verywell Fit? 

A former competitive swimmer and swim coach, Alex Battaglia understands the value of a quality cap, whether it’s for swimming laps or for race day. Now a health researcher, she’s committed to thoroughly researching the best products for swimmers and athletes, and finding products that are scientifically proven to work.

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