Do I need Swimming Socks for open water swimming?

Do I need Swimming Socks for open water swimming?

Do I need Swimming Socks for open water swimming?

The average temperature in the waters around Ireland range from 7-10°C in winter and from 13-16°C in summer. Any water temperature below 15°C is considered “cold water”. Cold water causes the blood vessels in the skin to close, starting with the extremities like hands and feet. You lose heat faster in water than air so even on warm days it’s worth wearing some extra protection on your hands and feet. This will enable you to stay in the water longer and be more comfortable the whole time. 

What are open water swimming socks?

Open water swimming socks are neoprene socks that help keep your feet warm. They do this by trapping a thin film of water between your skin and the sock. Body heat then heats this thin film and helps keep you warm, allowing you to stay in the water longer.

What thickness of neoprene is recommended?

0.5mm neoprene? How about 3mm neoprene? Maybe 5mm neoprene? What do these numbers mean and what number is best for you? There are a few factors to consider when picking the correct thickness for your swimming sock. You should ask yourself the following questions

Are you swimming mostly in the summer, winter or all year round? 

A summer swimmer will only need a light sock between 0.5 and 2mm

Someone swimming all year round would be best served with a 2-3mm sock

Winter swimmers will need to go a bit thicker and opt for 4mm sock

Would you consider yourself a cold person? 

If you find you get cold easily you should consider going up a thickness. 

Do you suffer from Raynaud’s Syndrome?

Raynaud's disease causes some areas of your body — such as your fingers and toes — to feel numb and cold in response to cold temperatures or stress. If you do suffer from this or a similar phenomenon you should go for a thicker sock. 

It’s also worth noting that, in general, women tend to have poorer circulation in their extremities. A neoprene sock of any thickness should be considered.

 Neoprene Swim Socks


How should my socks fit?

Your socks should be a neat fit. No need to go too tight as this will feel restricting and uncomfortable. The real problem comes from getting socks that are too big. They won’t perform as well as they can if they are too big. This is due to the fact that they won’t trap that thin film of water we talked about earlier. The water will rush in and straight back out, never getting a chance to heat up. If you are between sizes we recommend that you go for the smaller size. 

Should my socks have a strap?

You will find that some brands, like Zone 3, will have velcro straps on their socks and others, such as Orca, won’t. The main thing to consider when choosing one from the other is the fit of the sock. Zone 3’s socks with the velcro strap allow you to tighten or loosen the opening to fit your needs. Orca offer a larger size range allowing you to pick as neat a fit as possible, forgoing the need for a strap. As long as the fit of the sock is correct, it shouldn’t matter what version you choose.

Extras to consider

There are a lot of options available when it comes to keeping warm during open water and cold water swimming. We will go into greater detail on all the below options over the coming weeks. 

Swim Safety Buoys and Tow Floats

A swim buoy or tow float is an inflatable float that you secure around your waist and tow behind you whilst swimming. They come in bright colours for increased visibility in the water. 

Swim Gloves

Swimming gloves come in the same options as the socks. If you're considering a pair of swim gloves you should ask yourself the same questions as the one listed above for what thickness is best for you. They have all the same benefits as the socks .They will enable you to stay in the water longer and have a more comfortable swim.

Swim Hats

An open water swimming cap will be quite different from the ones you’ve worn in the local swimming pool. An open water swimming hat will be made from neoprene and will act in the same way as a wetsuit. They come in different sizes and thickness. Mainly they will be 2mm or 4mm. A 2mm neoprene hat is best for someone swimming all year round. The 4mm option should be used by someone swimming primarily in winter. Try and go for a brightly coloured hat. You may also want to consider ear plugs as a hat will not prevent water from getting into the ear canal.


Open water swimming goggles should be polarised. This helps protect you from glare coming off the water on sunny days.


There are a huge amount of options when it comes to buying a wetsuit. We will be doing a full in depth look at all the available options in a future blog so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime you can give us a call on 01-2806654 or email us at and we would be happy to go through the different options with you.

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