If you want to be able to take to the water all-year-round, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got the best cold water swimming gear. Here’s our pick of the best kit…
Choosing the best cold water swimming gear can be an overwhelming experience. With so many options on the market, it’s hard to know what’s essential and what’s overkill.
And if you’re still having doubts about taking the plunge, check out our sister title Practical Boat Owner’s guide to cold water swimming for beginners.
Best cold water swimming wetsuit
Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a region where the water temperature reliably stays above 15C, you’re going to need a wetsuit.
Between 3.2–5.3mm neoprene thickness gives the ideal balance of insulation and flexibility, but make sure to pick a full-body wetsuit instead of a shortie wetsuit to keep the warmth in.
O’Neill is the world’s largest wetsuit manufacturer, and our pick of their cold water wetsuit range is the Epic 4/3mm Back Zip GBS Wetsuit.
PBO editor Alison Wood has been using hers for more than ten years, and reports that it’s excellent value for money.
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Best cold water swim caps
Our resident cold water swimming expert Sian Lewis recommends the Patagonia R3 Yulex cap, which is made from a more environmentally friendly version of neoprene.
Made from sustainable plant-based rubber, the R3 Yulex uses 68% recycled materials and includes a soft thermal lining for added warmth.
Best cold water swimming gloves
Anyone who’s tried to take off a wetsuit with frozen hands will know how important a decent pair of cold water swimming gloves is.
Again, it’s a trade-off between warmth and flexibility here, with 3mm neoprene providing a good compromise.
The Patagonia Yulex range is an option here too, but Sian Lewis’ top pick is the Zone 3 Neoprene Heat Tech Gloves, which are packed with premium features.
Liquid-sealed seams trap in heat, a clever titanium lining further reflects warmth, longer-length wrists fit easily under a wetsuit, while the wrist strap ensures you can get a snug fit.
Best cold water swimming boots
You’ve covered your body, head and hands, so the only thing left (short of a neoprene balaclava) is a top-quality pair of cold water swimming boots.
Not only will these keep your feet warm, but they’ll also protect them against underwater hazards like sharp rocks and sea urchins.
Getting a 5-star review from Sian Lewis, our top pick is the Vibram FiveFingers V-Aqua outdoor swim shoes.
They may look a little unusual, but they give the wearer better balance and feel as close as possible to going barefoot, and are impressively lightweight at just 112g per shoe.
Best tow floats for cold water swimming
Offering safety and convenience in one handy package, tow floats are a brilliant addition to any cold water swimming gear collection.
All the best tow floats for cold water swimming are brightly coloured to make you more visible to rowers, sailors or anyone else who might crash into you.
A fine choice here is the Zone 3 Swim Safety Buoy and Dry Bag, which has separate dry bag and inflation chambers for added buoyancy. This model can carry up to 28L, which is more than enough for your wallet, keys and phone.
Best changing robes for cold water swimming
Once you’re ready to come out, having a post-swim changing robe at the ready is a must. Not only will it help you warm up faster, but it will protect your modesty while changing on the beach or on the deck of an open boat.
Fast becoming the Hoover of changing robes, Dryrobe is the market leader here. Their Advance Long Sleeve Robe is our pick of the bunch, lined with recycled nylon and polyester for a lambswool-soft feel.
It’s not the cheapest option by any means, but it’s a worthwhile investment, as it makes the cold water swimming experience much more enjoyable.
Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Head to Amazon’s dedicated sailing page for more marine products.