What to Pack for an Open Water Swimming Holiday

What to Pack for an Open Water Swimming Holiday

Packing for my trip to the USA I found it hard to choose what to take and what to leave.  Considering I was going to be swimming in everything from mountain lakes filled with fresh snow melt, desert swimming holes and the Pacific Ocean.  

Being early spring, I knew I would face changeable weather before and after my dips.  

Wetsuit or Skins

At first I considered going only skins (without a wetsuit).  Knowing that I had a few days with double (one ended up being triple) dips planned, I decided I would bring my wetsuit.   

Zone 3 - Men's Agile Wetsuit


I own two wetsuits:  One I save for racing, but my go to workhorse is my Zone 3 Men’s Agile.   Its affordable, has great buoyancy and plenty warm enough in sub 10c water temperatures. 

One bit of advice is to pack your wetsuit inside out. The outer skins are delicate and so this will help avoiding any snags on it. 

Huub Luub - Anti-Chaffing Lube 66g

After a very bad experience from when I first started to swim in a wetsuit, I always pack some lube to apply to my neck.  Swimming in a wetsuit will rub your neck, especially when in salty water.   Its also great to apply some to your wrists and your ankles to help put on and remove your wetsuit.  

 Zone 3 - Neoprene Heat-Tech Warmth Swim SocksZone 3 - Neoprene Heat-Tech Warmth Swim Gloves

Next, even when swimming in warmer waters, I will almost always wear wetsuit boots.   They just give you extra protection, and help with that squelchy mud that sits on many a river bed.  My go to pair are the Zone 3 Heat Tech boots.  These are great for longer swims as they fit snug, not letting too much water in that make you feel like you’re swimming with a parachute behind you. 

I also brought my Zone 3 Heat Tech gloves.  I don’t often wear gloves, but they are so small it was worth bringing in case. 

open water swimming male swimwear 

I of course packed a couple of swim trunks (I LOVE my Navy Cayman shorts by Fourth Element), but then it was decision time on goggles. 

 Attack Goggles - Photochromatic

I was going to be away for 3 weeks, where I would be both dipping and swim training in pools as I went.   A broken pair of goggles was possible, so I packed two pairs.  My Zone 3 Attack are my go to:  The photochromatic lenses adjust to the lighting conditions, darkening in bright sunlight and clear on an overcast day.   Perfect for when you are swimming across such a range of locations.  

 swim secure wild swimming tow float backpack

The key piece that I packed was my Swim Secure Wild Swimming Backpack.  This trip was to be the biggest test of it (it was such a joy to use) as I had planned to cycle, hike and run to various swim spots.  


You can fit 30 litres of swimming equipment inside whilst using it as a backpack.   Then when you get to your destination, you can get changed, put you dry kit inside, inflate and swim to your destination, not having to worry about leaving your valuables on the shore ( or having to walk back in your swim wear). 

 Bright Red Open Water Swimming Hat with the Wild Swim Store Logo

I of course would be representing the Wild Swim Store as I went, so I packed two hats incase of a breakage ( doubling up on swim hats can also keep you extra cosy in those very cold days.) 

Then it was time for the Aprés-Swim packing. This is as, if not more, important when cold water swimming.  The after drop is a real threat, and can catch out even the most experienced swimmers.   

orange bobble hat for cold open water swimming

Ensuring I had multiple warm layers packed, I focused on making sure I had decent headwear:  Kusan’s bobble hats are extremely warm, and look great. 

 I also packed my pair of Ebb & Flow Alpaca wool socks.  I wanted to bring my Smidge Bottle for keeping a warm drink to hand after my swims,  but I didn’t have space.  

Ebb Flow Cornwall - The Bryher Quick Dry Hammam Towel - Pink

 Then of course, I needed a towel, which naturally was an Ebb & Flow of the Pink variety. 

That was it:  I managed to fit it all into one half of a carry on suitcase, except for the Huub Luub which I put in my check-in.  

The main takeaway is, you can never be over prepared when packing for an open water swimming trip, and as always pack with safety in mind, especially for after your swim. 

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