Wild Swimming Essentials: What To Take On A Cold Water Swim

Wild swimming and cold water swimming are growing in popularity with more people getting outdoors and immersing themselves in nature. The truth is, all you really need to take a cold water dip is yourself and your swimming gear. However, if you plan to wild swim regularly then you can start to invest in some key staples for comfort and convenience.

Here are my personal wild swimming essentials:

  • Swimwear. I always opt for a sustainable, flattering and functional one piece. My favourite is the Odyssey One Piece from Stay Wild. It is made from regenerated ocean plastic at a zero waste London factory, plus it keeps everything held in place!
  • Towels & Dry Robes. A simple towel will do the job for a casual dip but I have to admit, Dry Robes are 100% worth the investment. I have two: a cheaper lightweight towelling one which I can easily fit in my backpack and take on hikes, and a large fleece lined dry robe which is a little more bulky and less portable. As well as warming you up and drying you off, they are very convenient to change under. 
  • Water Shoes. Not only do water shoes keep your toes warm, but if you’re swimming somewhere which has sharp rocks or rough pebbles, these make entering and exiting the water much easier. 
  • Wetsuit Gloves. The place that most people feel the cold is in their fingers. So, popping on a pair of 5mm wetsuit gloves can remove a lot of the discomfort. 
  • A Hat. You might notice that a lot of wild swimmers wear beanie hats. That is because a lot of your body heat is lost through your scalp. I like to wear the recycled Stay Wild cosy beanie.
  • A Tow Float. If you’re planning on doing extended swims in busier waterways, a tow float can help you get more easily spotted when you’re in the water. They can also act as a small dry bag to store your essentials.
  • A Changing Mat. If you’re swimming on a muddy river bank or a sandy beach, a changing mat can help keep our feet clean and comfortable.
  • A Bag. You’ll need something to lug all your gear to and from your swim spot. I use the Stay Wild beach bag, but another popular option is large dry bag.
  • Warm Loose Layers. There is nothing worse than trying to pull on tight leggings after a cold dip, so I recommend wearing loose, comfortable and warm clothing to your swims – I usually opt for a tracksuit. Fluffy socks are always a winner too!
  • A Thermos Flask. A hot drink post-swim will help to heat you up from the inside out. I use and love this Ember one. A more affordable alternative is this one from Yeti.
  • A Hot Water Bottle. On the coldest days of the year when it is really challenging, I often take a hot water bottle down to the river with me to cuddle after I swim. It is an absolute game changer, and I would highly recommend it if you’re new to winter swimming.

If you’re ready to get into wild swimming, check out my other guides below:

Safe swimming!

Zanna x