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Essential Kit for Open Water Swimming

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

If you're just getting into Open Water, then here's some of our tried and tested kit, that's been loved and tested in the field with great results and durability. You don't need it all - but the following bits of kit are handy.

Swimsuit or Wetsuit

A very personal choice and totally dependent on where you're swimming, when and how long for. Also depending on your body shape different brands may work better for you.

When swimming in summer, or going for quick dips, I opt for a high neck style swimsuit - I have this speedo one. For colder or longer swims I wear an Orca TRN Thermo Wetsuit with 2-4mm of neoprene. Which keeps me warm, but is super flexible. Regular surf wetsuits will not have the right shoulder flexibility for efficient swimming.

Tow Float

Incredibly useful for many reasons..

1 - increases your visibility in the water

2 - a handy place to store your phone, fuel or a torch for night swims

3 - In an emergency it can be used for extra floatation

I rate the Lomo tow floats personally.

Drybag/Dry Rucksack

These Ortleib dry bags with rucksack straps are awesome! Hardwearing, comfy for long walks in, make a handy place to stand on to get changed and keeps your stuff dry while you swim!


Again a very personal choice. I prefer junior or racing style goggles. I have several pairs of these Dolfin Charger goggles, some clear lenses for pool or murky sea days, and some mirrored for sunny open water days.

Honorable Mentions

Once you start swimming there is all kinds of kit you can buy....the basics are a swimsuit, goggles and a tow float. However the following bits do come in handy:

Swim Hat

Makes you more streamlined, but also great for increasing your visibility to other water users, I always opt for a bright colour so you can be seen and am currently sporting a bright rainbow coloured hat. Again preference, but I find silicone hats warmer and more hard wearing.

Neoprene Swim Hat

I love mine for winter swimming, get one with a simple chin strap and then enjoy not having unbearable brain freeze all winter!

Booties/Socks and Gloves

If you're swimming in OW through the winter, I can highly recommend protecting your extremities with neoprene. I have 3 types of footwear, neoprene socks, ankle boots, and longer booties too - all serve the same purpose of keeping your toes warm, but their also super handy for walking over rocks! For gloves, I use 3mm gloves which I find a good mix of flexibility (which with 5mm I feel a tad restricted) and keeping my hands warm enough.

Good Thermos

Essential for post swim warm ups in winter.

Changing Robe

Really useful for getting changed underneath, but also for popping on straight after your swim to get back to the car without having to take all your clothes to waters edge!


In all my swimming, I have found vaseline just as effective as expensive swimming lube, for a fraction of the price. After a long swim in neoprene...your neck/armpit/shoulder will appreciate some lube

Waterproof Phone Case/Waterproof Camera

Just to capture the fab memories!


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