If you’re planning to keep swimming throughout the winter months, you’ll probably want to invest in some cold water swimming socks. Here, we round up some of the options available to you.
Should I get wetsuit swim socks or booties?
First off, if you’re looking to actually swim then go for neoprene swim socks as opposed to booties. Wetsuit boots are great for when you need to clamber across rocks but are also good at creating extra drag in the water and generally weighing you down. Swim socks are more flexible and will allow more freedom to kick, useful if you need to get going sharpish.
What makes good swim socks?
A decent thickness of neoprene will keep your toes toasty, we’d recommend at least 3mm. It pays to find socks that fit snugly as these will insulate better, look for tight closures or socks that have a secure band above the ankle. Another handy feature is if the wetsuit socks have grippy soles, so you’re not a complete slippy seal sliding over rocks to your wild swim spot.
How can I warm up after cold-water swimming
Best swimming socks for cold water
Below is our list of beat neoprene socks that won’t break the bank but should keep you swimming for longer in that cold water over winter.
Orca hydro booties
The more premium of Orca’s two footwear offerings, the Hydro Booties feature a thermal lining as well as a split-toe design to help them stay in place (and to make wearing with flip-flops easier!).
These did feel very soft and comfortable and we loved how easy they were to pull on and off. A rubberised sole gave good grip on slippy water entries/exits, while also adding longevity to the product.
Orca do note these should be worn under a wetsuit and when we did we didn’t experience any leaks or water ingress – but not one for the hardy swimsuit-only brigade!
Verdict: Warm and comfortable with an appreciated sole.
Zone3 Heat-Tech Swimming Socks
Last year we struggled with the fit of Zone3’s regular swim socks, but thankfully the Heat-Tech version are worlds apart.
The only ones on test not to feature a split-toe design (which some will prefer the aesthetics of) these socks feel snug and comfortable on the feet, yet are fitted enough along the calves not to allow any water ingress – to the point where when worn with a wetsuit on top, our feet stayed pretty well dry through our swim.
This made a huge difference to warmth, and thanks to the extra Velcro strap could be worn by non-wetsuit swimmers as well.
Verdict: Truly great design with no leaks, meaning toasty feet!
Huub Swim Socks
We can voucher for the Huub swim socks, having got through two pairs of these since launch (and being lucky enough to get a new set for Christmas last year, thanks Santa!).
With a split-toe design that helps keep them on and a Velcro closure to adjust the fit to prevent water creeping inside, they’re a good choice for both wetsuit and non-wetsuit swimmers and kept our feet warm even on long swims.
These socks are a solid choice, but compared to the others we noticed the lack of a more grippy/hard-wearing sole. As the least expensive, though, still a good buy.
Verdict: Classic swim sock with handy Velcro adjuster.
Alpkit Swim Socks
Feeling soft and supple, the swim socks from premium outdoor brand Alpkit had a similar construction to the Orcas, pulling on easily and staying in place well thanks to that split-toe design (‘goat feet’, according to one child that saw them at our lake!).
The hexaganol grippy surface on the soles did a good job on slippy surfaces, but Alpkit have discontinued the adjustable Velcro strap on these, so like the Orca boots when worn without a wetsuit on top we did see a little water ingress. The 3mm neoprene did a good job of keeping our feet warm otherwise.
Verdict: Comfy and warm, but seams aren’t as refined as the Orcas.
ZCCO Premium 3mm Swimming Socks
These ZCCO cold-water swimming socks have the standard 3mm thickness, which should keep you adequately warm year-round during open water swim adventures. Designed with a quick-removal cuff along the top of the sock, these should be easy to pull on and off after use.
ZCCO claims that the technology used for the stitching means they are extra durable, strong and long-lasting. The outer sole has non-slip coating, which should help you avid any mishaps getting into the water. They also have a choice of black, gray or pink!
QKURT 3mm neoprene socks
Popular on Amazon, these QKURT 3mm neoprene swim socks should keep you adequately warm in the water. The above-ankle strap aims to securely fasten the socks and help prevent any water ingress, whilst the blind-stitched and glued seams should provide durable and comfortable wearing.
PAWHITS 3mm neoprene socks
Tested by 220’s Kate, these PAWHITS neoprene socks impressed by their snug fit and grippy soles. The non-slip design along the sole and heel worked wonders in keeping us upright when clambering along rocks and river banks. The size small fit our size uk5 tester well, with extra stretch for those with feet a size or two larger.
The blind stitches and glued seams have endured five months of wear with no noticeable affect, so we’re confident these will be fairly long-lasting. We also liked the quick drying capabilities and found them handy at folding away small into our swim bag.
RTDEP 3mm neoprene socks
These RTDEP 3mm neoprene socks come with an elasticated strap along the top to securely fasten in place and help prevent extra water ingress.
The 3mm neoprene has added nylon for stretch and aims to be quick drying after use (no smelly swim socks festing in your bag!). RTDEP claims that the fabric is ‘heavy-duty’ and weatherproof to withstand the elements.
Cressi Ultra Stretch 1.5mm Neoprene Socks
Available in a range of colours, these Cressi unisex neoprene socks are designed to have ultra-stretch capabilities thanks to their thinner 1.5mm neoprene build.
Along the top, the secure-fit cuffs and ‘anatomically shaped’ sock should aid comfort and ease of use. The claimed ‘quick-drying’ material and anti-slip soles should mean they are easy and safe to use.
Lomo Neoprene Open Water Swimming Socks
These LOMO stretchy neoprene socks have both double-blind stitched seams and are liquid-seamed on the outside, which should help prevent water ingress and aid comfort. The fit aims to be tight like a ‘second skin’ and along with the ankle gasket, they should be snug and tri-optimised.
These HUUB booties, or socks, come with a reinforced sole which should prevent slippage when jumping into any wild swim spots. The unique-looking split-toe design aims to prevent the foot from rolling and getting injured. Complete with adjustable Velcro straps to secure the socks to the feet and help prevent water ingress, these can be worn over or under a wetsuit.
Blueseventy Thermal Swim Socks
These Blueseventy thermal swim socks aim to be form fitting and help to prevent injury thanks to reinforced soles protecting you from sharp stones and slippy patches. The thermal lining of the 2mm Yamamoto neoprene material is designed to keep you warm yet remain light-weight and quick-drying after use. Unlike others in the round up, these socks are made from 100% neoprene.
Top image credit: Remy Whiting