Which swim cap to use may not seem like a big decision, but a good swim cap can feel more comfortable and help you swim more quickly.

These caps are designed to hold your hair flat, making you more aerodynamic in the water. In a pool setting, they’re also more hygienic.

The two most popular materials for swim caps are silicone and latex, and each has its pluses and minuses.

Learning more about the materials can help you choose the right one for you.

silicone vs latex swim caps infographic


Key takeaways

  • Silicone caps are more durable.
  • Latex caps stretch easier and are more comfortable.
  • Silicone caps are easier to put on and take off.
  • Silicone caps are warmer than latex caps.
  • Latex caps are more affordable.
  • Silicone is hypoallergenic while latex is not.
  • Silicone and latex caps are available in a variety of colors.

woman in a pool wearing a swim cap and goggles

Durability

If you swim frequently, you’ll probably be putting on and taking off your swim cap frequently, so durability is an important factor. Silicone is a much more durable option than latex.

Silicone caps are resistant to tearing and can be stretched or pulled without damage.

Latex swim caps can last for some time when they’re properly taken care of, but they’re much more prone to tears, and they simply won’t last as long as a silicone cap.

Fit and Comfort

Latex caps tend to be a bit roomier and can stretch easily. This means that latex caps will fit almost anyone, and the fit is generally quite comfortable.

Silicone caps, on the other hand, fit more snuggly and might not be comfortable for everyone.

However, silicone is a softer material with more flexibility. This means that silicone swim caps are less likely to tug at hair.

Swimmers with medium or long hair often prefer silicone caps because they lead to less hair damage, even though the fit is often a bit tighter than that of a latex cap.

This snug fit also keeps hair in place, so a silicone swim cap is less likely to fall off if you have long hair.

A latex cap, however, might loosen and come off while you’re swimming if your hair is long.

man wearing a swim cap and goggles with face in water

Ease of Use

Because they’re less durable and flexible, it can be harder to get latex swim caps on and off. They also tend to catch hair, so you may spend time gently untangling your hair from the cap.

Thanks to their flexibility, silicone caps are relatively easy to put on or take off.

Warmth

Silicone is a thicker material than latex, so it provides more warmth. These caps are favored by people who swim in colder conditions, such as open water swimmers.

Latex caps, on the other hand, don’t offer as much warmth. They’re often better for people who swim in warm indoor pools or tropical settings.

Latex caps are generally better if you’re swimming in the summer.

Shape

Although latex swim caps may be different sizes or come down further on your head or neck, they’re all largely the same shape. Silicone, on the other hand, can be molded.

Some silicone swim caps are specifically shaped to provide a smoother, more aerodynamic surface.

This makes silicone a better choice for swimming activities, such as racing or water polo, that require speed.

man wearing a swim cap during a swimming race

Price

Because they’re so durable, silicone swim caps last much longer, but this also means that they’re more expensive.

An average silicone swim cap generally costs around $20, while an average latex swim cap usually costs about $5.

The price for each type of cap will vary depending on the brand, quality, and what it is designed for.

Molded swim caps, for example, are generally more expensive than regular swim caps.

Allergen Options

Latex is made of rubber. This material can sometimes cause a severe allergic reaction, although many people aren’t bothered by the material at all.

Silicone, on the other hand, is hypoallergenic, so it’s a much better option for people with allergies or sensitive skin.

Color

Both latex and silicone swim caps are available in nearly every color. The most popular colors are dark blue or black.

However, open water swimmers often prefer caps that are a bright color, so they can be seen more easily. For this reason, silicone swim caps are often available in a wider range of colors.

blue, white, and yellow swim caps

Other Swim Cap Material Options

Although they’re the most common options, silicone and latex aren’t the only choices for swim cap materials. Neoprene is another material that many swimmers choose.

Neoprene swim caps are thick and retain heat well, so they will keep your head warmer as you swim. For this reason, they’re a favorite of open-water swimmers.

Keeping your head warm can raise your overall body temperature significantly, so this is particularly important in colder climates.

If you’re a more casual swimmer and aren’t as worried about speed, a lycra or polyester cap is often a good choice.

These caps are made of soft fabric, so they provide a comfortable fit, and they won’t tug at or damage your hair.

However, they also won’t protect your hair from chlorine. Although most swim caps let in some water, lycra and polyester caps are completely porous.

They’re also not as aerodynamic as latex, silicone, or neoprene caps.

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