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Wetsuit Accessories

Best Accessories in 2020 (for Cold Water Swimming) (updated April 24, 2020)

April 9, 2020

In my last post I gathered information about thermal triathlon wetsuits which are available on the market. Still, swimming in cold water using only thermal triathlon wetsuit can end very fast, because your head, hands and feet will get cold very fast after you start swimming. To be able to swim longer and farther in cold water my suggestion is to use thermal accessories, such as thermal caps, gloves and socks. Some manufacturers of the wetsuits offer also thermal base layers which can be worn under the wetsuit. In this post I will describe in more detail the best thermal accessories of the manufacturers – Blueseventy, Huub, Zone 3, Sailfish, Orca, Roka and Xterra. After the accessories of each brand I gathered the reviews available on the internet.

One more remark before we start. Some manufacturers use the term “thermal” and some use the term “neoprene” in the naming of their accessories. The meaning of it is the same – those accessories are meant for cold water swimming.

BLUESEVENTY ACCESSORIES

Thermal skull cap

The manufacturer description: “The Thermal Skull Cap takes our popular Neoprene Cap to the next level. By incorporating our Zirconium internal jersey we reduce water absorption which helps create an extra boundary layer to protect against heat loss.

Standard manufacturer price €45 ($49). Purchase options by affiliates: Simply Swim, Triathlete Sports

Thermal swim socks

The manufacturer description: “Our Zirconium liner at the foot reduces water absorption on these form fitting neoprene socks and creates an extra insulating layer. We’ve increased the length to reduce water entry. Textured bottom helps prevent injury to feet when walking or running on rocky surfaces. They come in handy on long transition runs too.

Standard manufacturer price €45 ($49). Purchase options by affiliates: Simply Swim, Wiggle, Triathlete Sports.

Thermal swim gloves

The manufacturer description: “The Thermal Swim Gloves provide a natural feel of the water and are made warmer by a metal cell liner that stops water absorption and maximizes warmth. A longer length cuff prevents water entry and increases warmth at the wrists. A great open water specific training tool that will also keep your fingers dry in foul bike riding weather.

Standard manufacturer price €45 ($49). Purchase options by affiliates: Simply Swim.

REVIEWS ABOUT BLUESEVENTY ACCESSORIES

Review on the “Triathlete” website, dated February 21, 2020 (Socks).
Short summary: These socks have a “zirconium” liner to help with warmth and an increased length to prevent water from coming in.

Review on the “220triathlon” website, dated October 23, 2017 (Swim socks).
Short summary: Plush and warm. The best swim socks around 92%.

Review on the “Your Swim Log” website (Skull cap, socks and gloves).
Short summary: The Blueseventy swim socks are fab, they are my new must have open water swimming accessory, so I can finally stop going on about the hooded changing towel now.

Video on the Youtube channel “mokotramp“, dated April 8, 2016

Review on the “Swim the Lakes” website, dated October 29, 2014 (Swim socks).
Short summary: The Blueseventy swim socks are fab, they are my new must have open water swimming accessory, so I can finally stop going on about the hooded changing towel now.

Review on the “Tri Radar” website, dated (socks).
Short summary: First off, the socks are a really snug fit, which helps avoid water pooling and maximizes insulation. Secondly, the fabric is really thin and lightweight, making the socks feel like a second skin rather than an added accessory. Finally, as well as keeping your feet toasty warm, the socks also have a rough sole to them that’s great for walking on stones and in mud, giving protection and grip when entering rivers or lakes.

HUUB ACCESSORIES

Neoprene skull cap

The manufacturer description: “The HUUB Neoprene Skull Swim Cap is a fully adjustable swim hat. It has an adjustable strap for extra comfort when swimming in open water.

Neoprene thickness – 3 mm. Standard manufacturer price €32 (£29.99). Purchase options by affiliates: Simply Swim, Wiggle.

Varme Thermal Balaclava

The manufacturer description: “The HUUB Varme Thermal Balaclava offers full head and neck coverage for warmth and extra comfort when swimming in very cold open water. Tried, tested and approved by Norseman winner Allan Hovda. High-grade neoprene for added warmth.

Standard manufacturer price €40 (£34.99). Purchase options by affiliates: Simply Swim.

Neoprene Swim Socks

The manufacturer description: “The HUUB Neoprene Swim Socks or Booties as some people like to call it, has a protective reinforced sole which provides ‘non-slip’ protection and abrasion resistance, and a split-toe design to avoid ‘rolling’ on the foot. It also has adjustable Velcro closures to make this neoprene sock suitable to be worn either over or under your wetsuit.

Neoprene thickness – 3 mm. Standard manufacturer price €40 (£34.99). Purchase options by affiliates: Simply Swim, Wiggle.

Neoprene Gloves

The manufacturer description: “The HUUB Neoprene Swim Gloves are designed to keep your hands warm during those cold water swims. These gloves are also perfect for those long cold weather bike rides.

Neoprene thickness – 3 mm. Standard manufacturer price €32 (£29.99). Purchase options by affiliates: Simply Swim,
Wiggle.

REVIEWS ABOUT HUUB ACCESSORIES

Review on the “220triathlon” website, dated November 19, 2019 (Balaclava and Socks).
Short summary: Cutting-edge design makes this a warm winner (Balaclava). Well-crafted and warm but we’re not sold on the split toe design 75% (Socks).

Video on the Youtube channel “Simply Swim“, dated July 28, 2017

Review on the “Southwest Swim” website, dated January 8, 2015 (Gloves and Socks).
Short summary: The whole thing feels like a quality product that will last many seasons. Now I can see why my customers have been giving such good feedback on them. A great glove with a focus on swimming, rather than general waters ports. That said I could imagine these gloves also being quite a good performer on a bike or a run, toasty hands!

ZONE 3 ACCESSORIES

Neoprene Swim Cap

The manufacturer description: “The ultimate thermal protection for open water swimming, the premium Zone3 Neoprene Skull Cap provides warmth while maintaining good hydrodynamics through the water. The design is focused on making this cap the best fit possible and has a Velcro strap which joins under the chin to cater for different head sizes.

Neoprene thickness – 4 mm. Standard manufacturer price €28 (£25). Purchase options by affiliates:Triathlete Sports, Wiggle.

Neoprene Strapless Swim Cap

The manufacturer description: “The strapless neoprene cap has been carefully designed to ensure that it does not slip off the head too easily and this has been done by ensuring the optimum size and fit of the cap. Also, adding a Smoothskin closure system to give extra grip around the inside rim of the cap to grip against the head. Included with each order is also a free white silicone swim cap which can be worn over the top of the neoprene cap.

Neoprene thickness – 4 mm. Standard manufacturer price €28 (£25). Purchase options by affiliates: Triathlete Sports, Wiggle.

Neoprene Heat-Tech Warmth Swim Socks

The manufacturer description: “These innovative swimming socks are some of the warmest available on the market, perfect for those who suffer from cold feet or swim through the spring, autumn or winter. These booties are 3.5mm so slightly thicker than Zone3’s standard socks and come complete with a titanium lining to reflect the body’s heat and improve warmth. The Zone3 socks also have a unique Smoothskin Waterblock system at the top to help keep water ingress to a minimum as well as a Velcro strap to help minimize any water entry. They also feature a durable gripped sole to enable walking to and from the water.

Neoprene thickness – 3.5 mm. Standard manufacturer price €40 (£35). Purchase options by affiliates: Simply Swim, Wiggle.

Neoprene Swim Socks

The manufacturer description: “They are designed to be tight-fitting to ensure minimal water entry and also to help maintain a strong leg-kick whilst swimming. A design solution was found by increasing the length of the sock, so it could be tucked into the wetsuit to ensure no exposed skin and also adding a Velcro strap around the top to keep the sock in place. A simple solution but an industry first!

Neoprene thickness – 2 mm. Standard manufacturer price €28 (£25).

Neoprene Heat-Tech Warmth Swim Gloves

The manufacturer description: “These innovative swimming gloves are some of the warmest available on the market, perfect for those who suffer from cold hands or swim through the spring, autumn or winter. They are 3.5mm thick so slightly thicker than Zone3’s standard gloves and come complete with a titanium lining to reflect the body’s heat and improve warmth. The Zone3 Heat Tech Gloves also have a unique Smoothskin Waterblock system at the top to help keep water ingress to a minimum as well as a Velcro strap to help minimize any water entry. They also feature a durable 3D printed palm to help with grip and catch in the water.

Neoprene thickness – 3.5 mm. Standard manufacturer price €40 (£35). Purchase options by affiliates: Wiggle.

Neoprene Swim Gloves

The manufacturer description: “The primary function of the Zone3 open water Swimming Gloves is to keep your hands insulated from the cold. The body’s extremities such as hands and feet always feel the cold the most so these gloves are designed to allow swimming in cold water be more manageable. Zone3 have also removed the webbing between the fingers, which other brands tend to use, to make swimming feel much more natural and less fatiguing.

Neoprene thickness – 2 mm. Standard manufacturer price €28 (£25). Purchase options by affiliates: Simply Swim, Wiggle, Triathlete Sports.

Neoprene Long Sleeve under Wetsuit Baselayer

The manufacturer description: “The base layer is made from Yamamoto Smoothskin neoprene with a 1.5mm thickness which offers a high level of flexibility and movement. The top is designed with a lower cut hem and has an internal smoothskin finish which helps to keep the base layer in place and the high neck helps provide extra warmth whilst still being very comfortable. The zip is made by world leading manufacturer YKK and the product is designed to be put on normally but then taken off through the legs. This baselayer has a locking zip – please ensure the zip is pushed down flush (pointing downwards) to prevent zip opening during use.

Neoprene thickness – 1.5 mm. Standard manufacturer price €67 (£59).

Neoprene Warmth Vest – Baselayer

The manufacturer description: “This neoprene vest is designed as a thermal baselayer to be worn underneath a wetsuit to give extra warmth during cold water swim training or for any other water sports where an extra layer of warmth is needed. There is a titanium coating applied to the internal material to help maintain the body’s warmth.

Neoprene thickness – 2 mm. Standard manufacturer price €51 (£45). Purchase options by affiliates: Wiggle.

REVIEWS ABOUT ZONE 3 ACCESSORIES

Review on the “Zone3” website, dated April 14, 2020.

Review on the “Your Swim Log” website (socks).
Short summary: The Zone3 Swim Socks look more like a pair of boots the first time you glance at them, but make no mistakes, these bad boys are as light and agile as it gets.

Review on the “220triathlon” website, dated November 19, 2019 (Swim Cap and Neoprene Gloves).
Short summary: Neat variation on the classic skull cap for autumn and spring swimming 83% (Swim Cap). Some of the warmest neoprene swim gloves around, and impressively supple too 91% (Gloves)

Review on the “Tri Girl” website, dated May 1, 2019 (Warmth Vest).
Short summary: I wore the top (under my wetsuit) for one hour in a 14-degree lake. Normally, I would have lasted about 10 mins at this temperature so this definitely made a huge difference! Keeping up my core temp allowed me to train for longer and generally enjoy the whole open water experience a great deal more.

Video on the Youtube channel “Mark Durnford“, dated July 27, 2016

Review on the “Lose Weight Swimming” website.
Short summary: Although they are designed for swimming in cold water, I thought they could be also used to protect my feet from infections in the swimming pool.

Video on the Youtube channel “The Endurance Store“, dated May 3, 2016

ORCA ACCESSORIES

High Visibility Neoprene Swimcap

High Visibility Neoprene Swimcap manufacturer description: “Pair with your wetsuit for extra warmth in colder than usual waters.

Standard manufacturer price €35 ($38). Purchase options by affiliates:

Thermal Neoprene Swimcap

Thermal Neoprene Swimcap manufacturer description: “Using 3mm 100% Neoprene, our Thermal Neoprene Swim Cap can be paired with your wetsuit for extra warmth in colder than usual waters. An adjustable chin piece provides a better fit and the increased warmth offered by covering your head allows you to stay in the water for longer.

Neoprene thickness – 3 mm. Standard manufacturer price €45 ($49).

Swimcap

Swimcap manufacturer description: “Swim Hat is perfect for reducing heat loss from your head so you can stay comfortable in the water with no chin strap. The hat is held in place via a velcro strap at the back of the hat means you can adjust it for the perfect fit without any potential discomfort under the chin.

Neoprene thickness – 2,5 mm. Standard manufacturer price €29 ($32).

Neoprene Headband

Neoprene Headband manufacturer description: “Our Neoprene Headband is the perfect accessory to protect your ears and forehead from the elements so you can stay warmer for longer. Made of 2.5mm neoprene with a curved rim design to fully cover the ears, a velcro strap at the back of the headband means you can adjust for the perfect fit.

Neoprene thickness – 2,5 mm. Standard manufacturer price €12 ($13). Purchase options by affiliates: Triathlete Sports

Swim Socks

Swim Socks manufacturer description: “Pair with your wetsuit for extra warmth, as well as providing non-slip protection when you’re first walking into the water.

Neoprene thickness – 2 mm. Standard manufacturer price €39 ($42).

Hydro Booties

Hydro Booties manufacturer description: “Pair with your wetsuit for extra warmth, as well as providing non-slip protection when you’re first walking into the water.

Neoprene thickness – 3 mm. Standard manufacturer price €49 ($53). Purchase options by affiliates: Triathlete Sports

Swimming Gloves

Swimming Gloves manufacturer description: “These neoprene Swim Gloves are fully glued and blindstitched and have a comfortable 3D cut to provide the perfect hand position in the swim. As well as an extra long sleeve to provide maximum protection from the cold.

Neoprene thickness – 3 mm. Standard manufacturer price €49 ($53). Purchase options by affiliates: Triathlete Sports

Wetsuit Base Layer

Wetsuit Base Layer manufacturer description: “If you’re looking for a flexible wetsuit base layer that is going to give you added warmth while you’re out in the water – whether on its own or under a wetsuit.

Neoprene thickness – 0,5 mm. Standard manufacturer price €55 ($60). Purchase options by affiliates: Triathlete Sports

Heatseeker Vest

Heatseeker Vest manufacturer description: “The latest generation Orca Heatseeker Vest is a thermal base layer designed to be worn under a wetsuit in cold water to increase your warmth in the water. It can provide an additional barrier against wind chill in any type of outdoor water sports. The Orca Heatseeker Vest will be a valuable addition to any water enthusiasts’ gear bag.

Neoprene thickness – 2 mm. Standard manufacturer price €65 ($71). Purchase options by affiliates: Triathlete Sports

REVIEWS ABOUT ORCA ACCESSORIES

Review on the “Triathlete” website, dated February 21, 2020 (Cap).
Short summary: Nothing too fancy here, but a good neoprene swim cap can oftentimes be even more important than a thermal wetsuit. Orca’s version has an adjustable chin piece to help keep the cap on (neoprene doesn’t stay put as well as latex or silicone), and 3mm of thickness to help create some great “meat” for your cap sandwich.

Review on the “
Independent” website, dated January 30, 2020.
Short summary: We found it kept our head really warm, and it was comfy to wear, though we did need to mess around with the chin strap to get the tightness right initially (Thermal Swimcap).

Review on the “220triathlon” website, dated October 23, 2017 (Swim gloves and baselayer).
Short summary: A winning creation of warmth and flexibility 84% (gloves). Comfy and warm, and good for use on its own 85% (Baselayer).

Review on the “220triathlon” website, dated November , 2019 (Swim gloves and baselayer).
Short summary: A winning creation of warmth and flexibility 84% (gloves). Comfy and warm, and good for use on its own 85% (Baselayer).

SAILFISH ACCESSORIES

Neoprene Cap Adjustable

The manufacturer description: “Ergonomically cut and adjustable neoprene cap. 100% nylon bonded to neoprene.”

Standard manufacturer price €35 ($38). Purchase options by affiliates: Wiggle.

Neoprene Socks

The manufacturer description: “Warming neoprene swim socks with non-skid sole for low water temperatures.”

Standard manufacturer price €29 ($31). Purchase options by affiliates: Wiggle.

Neoprene Gloves

The manufacturer description: “Ergonomically cut. 100% nylon bonded to neoprene.”

Neoprene thickness – 2 mm. Standard manufacturer price €39 ($42).

ROKA ACCESSORIES

Thermal Neoprene Swim Hood (With Strap)

The manufacturer description: “The Neoprene Hood Swim Cap with Strap is the perfect accessory to insulate and warm your head during cold water training or racing. The multi-panel design uses premium Yamamoto neoprene and high performance stretch liners to ensure the hood stretches to the contours of your head. This cap is designed with a built-in chin strap to secure the cap to your head comfortably, and is designed to be worn under a latex or silicone cap, which most people wear anyway in training and have to wear in a race.

Neoprene thickness – 3 mm. Standard manufacturer price €28 ($30).

Thermal Neoprene Swim Hood (Strapless)

The manufacturer description: “The Strapless Neoprene Hood swim cap is the perfect accessory to insulate and warm your head during cold water training or racing. The multi-panel design uses premium Yamamoto neoprene and high performance stretch liners to ensure the hood stretches to the contours of your head. Designed without a strap and with a larger cutout on the back panel above the neck, our hood keeps your head warm without any restriction on your neck and without causing resistance or bunching of fabric on the back of the neck when you lift your head to sight. This cap is designed to be worn under a latex cap (provided) or silicone cap, which most people wear anyway in training and have to wear in a race.

Neoprene thickness – 3 mm. Standard manufacturer price €26 ($28).

REVIEWS ABOUT ROKA ACCESSORIES

Review on the “Tri Gear Lab” website, dated January 6, 2020.
Short summary: Does a great job of insulating a swimmer’s head during intensive competition. Unfortunately, it is not very visible.

Review on the “Your Swim Log” website (Hood (with strap)).

Review on the “Gear Junkie” website, dated July 26, 2019.
Short summary: While it’s not as visible as other neoprene caps, I find the ROKA one to be the most comfortable of the bunch that I’ve tried.

XTERRA ACCESSORIES

Neoprene Swim Cap, Thermal Cap

The manufacturer description: “Increase your cold-water endurance with this comfortable neoprene swim cap that keeps your head and ears up to 3 degrees warmer. We recommend that swimmers begin training with a neoprene cap in the pool and open water 2 weeks before race day.

Neoprene thickness – 3 mm. Standard manufacturer price €32 ($35).

LAVA Booties, Thermal Swim Socks

The manufacturer description: ““Cold feet” is nothing more than a figure of speech when you own a pair of LAVA Booties. Flex panels on the top of the foot and above the heel allow for comfortable movement while durable stitching holds the bootie in place. The ergonomic textured outsole provides stability and traction aboard wet surfaces and helps to protect your feet in rocky waters.

Neoprene thickness – 2 mm. Standard manufacturer price €32 ($35).

LAVA Swim Gloves, Thermal Gloves

The manufacturer description: “Cold hands or fingers? .. , you need a pair of LAVA Swimming GLOVES. Great for cold water swimming. These gloves deliver maximum warmth while being non-water absorbent. Extended cuff provides maximum protection from the cold.

Neoprene thickness – 2 mm. Standard manufacturer price €32 ($35).

REVIEWS ABOUT XTERRA ACCESSORIES

Review on the “Triathlete” website, dated February 21, 2020 (Gloves).
Short summary: While these are good for very cold swim training, be sure gloves are legal in any tris you might want them for. Either way, these 2mm neoprene gloves should be worn under your wetsuit sleeves for best use.

Review on the “Tri Gear Lab” website, dated January 6, 2020.
Short summary: If you struggle to find a reliable cap in the past and want a risk free option, the Xterra is a great choice.

Hopefully you found enough information to be able to choose some accessories to form a full package together with your thermal wetsuit. Still take into account that it safer to swim with a swim buddy. If you decide to swim alone then at least use a swim buoy.

I would appreciate if you could share your experience with these accessories. Contact me or write a comment!

Stay safe and keep swimming:)

Related sites

Blueseventy official website Blueseventy.com

My post “Blueseventy Brand Review

HUUB official website Huubdesign.com.

My post “HUUB Brand Review”

Zone 3 official website Zone3.com

My post “Zone3 Band Review

Orca official website “Orca.com

My post “Orca Brand Review

Sailfish official website “Sailfish.com

My post “Sailfish Brand Review

Roka official website Roka.com

My post “Roka Brand Review”

Xterra official website “Xterrawetsuits.com

My post “Triathlon Wetsuits – Materials and Technologies

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  1. I’m glad I came across your website at the time that I did. I’m currently taking swimming lessons but due to the lockdown around the world, I’ve had to put my training on hold for a while. 

    One of the things I was really concerned about was getting the perfect swimsuit for myself. 

    I’m bookmarking this page because I’ll definitely be back when all this craziness is over to make a purchase. In the meantime, is there any that you can recommend for a 30-year-old new swimmer?

    1. Thanks for the comment and I am glad you find this site useful!

      Great to hear that you have started to take swimming lessons. My suggestion would be to start with an entry level wetsuit. In this case I would take three things into account – buoyancy, price and appeal (the sequence is up to you). As most of the new swimmers have sinky legs it’s beneficial to look for a wetsuit which has more buoyancy in the legs – e.G. Blueseventy Sprint (I own an older model and like alot), Orca S7 or Huub Axion. Check out for sales to get a best price offer (don’t forget also the shipping cost). Look which one do you like the best visually and is most appealing to you.

      I can suggest you to read the experience of Lars Simonsen who swam around Denmark. He started his journey as a almost mon-swimmer.

  2. Thanks for this in depth article. I used to surf in Cornwall and I can fully understand where you are coming from. My body would be warm but, the majority of body heat would escape through the extremities of the body such as the top of the head and the finger tips. I quickly invested in Neoprene boots which were a complete game change but, as I was a bit of a fair weather surfer, I did not need much equipment. If I am understanding correctly. The neoprene acts a s a water retention layer? the water is then trapped between the skin and the neoprene.  The trapped water then heats to body temperature and keeps you warm. How does the outright Thermal equipment work? I love the array of kit you are showing here as it all seems to be nice and lightweight which will really help in this kind of sport. Thanks Mark

    1. Mark, as you said – the majority of body heat would escape through the extremities of the body such as the top of the head and the finger tips. These thermal accessories hinder it acting as a barrier layer.

      I own and use Blueseventy thermal socks. Like them very much. During the Latvia’s 100th Anniversary Swim in 2018 these swim socks were saving us from the cold. We didn’t foreseen that the water temperature would be 11-12 degrees Celsius during the night.

  3. Wow just wow! This is a very detailed article about the best accessories for cold water swimming. Though I haven’t tried it in cold waters, swimming is one of my family’s summer activities. I really liked the vast products that you included in your article and their benefits and functions.

    1. I am glad you liked it!

      I can suggest you to try cold water swimming. The feel and emotions are fantastic. Of course, you have to get used to the cold water in a slow manner. Start with cold showers.

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