Wondering what to get the open water swimmer in your life? We’ve got you covered with our roundup of the best gifts for wild swimmers.
Top gifts for wild swimmers
Even if you’ve rolled your eyes at the 50th article in a liberal newspaper lauding the benefits of wild swimming, like us you’re probably an unwilling convert. Wild swimming goes much further than just exercise and swimming in a natural environment rather than a pool has a wealth of physical and mental benefits. Better still, it’s free.
With the days getting longer and warmer, it’s time to (safely!) jump into the nearest body of water. Here are the best gifts for wild swimmers right now – and we won’t tell anyone if the recipient is really you.
Know before you go
Wild swimming comes with inherent risks. Sea swimmers should be aware of the currents at their chosen body of water, and be mindful of conditions on any given day (e.g. offshore winds or big waves). If you’re not used to swimming in cold water, build up slowly and don’t stay in too long. Prolonged exposure can lead to hypothermia.
Joining a group is a great way to get started as a wild swimmer. Women’s group The Bluetits has communities worldwide.
It’s also important to make sure you’re properly kitted out. If you’re swimming in cold water but prefer not to wear a full wetsuit, consider investing in gear to protect your extremities, like neoprene socks or gloves. You could also swim wearing a warm beanie.
Wild swimming friends are some of the hardest to buy for – that’s why we’ve created a guide to buying them gifts that they’d actually want and use. Still not sure what to buy? Play it safe with chocolates and cake – you burn a HUGE amount of calories with water workouts and, well, there’s only one way to replace them!
1. Red Original Pro Change Robe
The days of shivering by the shore post-swim are over. The Red Original Pro Change Robe is long enough to preserve your modesty when changing on the beach, has a soft inner fleecing to keep you toasty warm, and plenty of pockets for valuables. The outer shell is waterproof, meaning you can even wear it to walk to the pub in the rain for that post-swim pint.
Available in ten different colours, the Red Original Pro Change Robe comes in four sizes (S/M/L/XL). The toggled hood and five-popper wind baffle do a great job of protecting chilly swimmers from the elements. For more details, read our full Red Original Changing Robe review.
- Available in S/M/L/XL
- Robe weight: 1.6kg (size M)
2. TRI-FIT RAPID Women’s Swimsuit
This breathable, quick-drying swimsuit from TRI-FIT is for wild swimmers looking to put in some serious miles. The bonded seams on the lower back make it very hydrodynamic, while the V shape upper back straps leave plenty of mobility for your back and arms.
It’s sleek, minimalist and ultra-lightweight, but best of all for beach swimmers, the TRI-FIT RAPID Women’s Swimsuit is both sand and sunscreen-resistant. We loved the flattering high neckline and high leg cut. The branding feels really subtle too.
- Premium Italian Carvico Revolutional™ Energy fabric
- Bonded seams & straps
3. Above Below – RuckRaft
An inflatable raft plus dry bag, the RuckRaft allows you to take your picnic, book and change of clothes with you when you go for a swim and to safely stow it in a waterproof case. It’s so buoyant that you can tow up to 15 kilograms worth of gear with ease thanks to the streamlined, u-shaped rib boat design.
Strong straps keep gear in place and stable even in a swell, and the two-way valve inflates the towboat in 30 seconds. Better still, the dry bag is bright orange, keeping swimmers visible (and safe!) in open water.
- 210cm long leash
- TPU-coated Nylon fabric
- Dry bag dimensions: 70cm x 95cm
- Capacity: 70L
- Welded seams
4. Fuel a lifeboat
The RNLI runs entirely on donations, and in 2022 alone launched their boats more than 9,000 times, and saved almost 400 lives.
Fuelling lifeboats is one of the biggest costs they face, but for a donation of just £10, you’ll help keep these boats at sea, and receive a lifesaving gift card to send to your recipient in the post. Perfect for the person that has everything – and what could be a worthier gift than saving a life?
5. Zone 3 Neoprene Swim Cap
If the idea of wearing a swimming cap has you shuddering remembering snagged hair during school swimming lessons, you’ve never tried the Zone 3 Neoprene Swim Cap. Rather than being designed to simply stop your hair from getting wet, this provides heavy-duty insulation in cold water.
It’s a great present for long-distance open-water swimmers, or people training for triathlons. The chin strap is adjustable and high-vis options are available. An invaluable weapon against the dreaded brain freeze!
- 4mm thick
- Hook and loop adjustable under chin fastening
- High quality neoprene with high-vis options available
6. Subscription to Outdoor Swimmer
Perhaps we’re biased as writers ourselves, but there’s no better gift than the gift of words. The colourful pages of Outdoor Swimmer provide destination inspiration, tips on technique, and even recipe suggestions for post-swim fuel. Find out about the best lidos, natural pools and rivers for your next dip, at home and abroad. Choose from a print or digital subscription.
7. Balmy Fox Muscle Rub
Stayed in the water too long? Made from 80% organic ingredients, the Balmy Fox Muscle Rub is perfect for aching limbs post-swim.
It contains arnica to reduce inflammation, hemp oil as a natural antioxidant, and is super hydrating on dry skin thanks to sunflower seed oil, almond oil, beeswax and cacao seed butter. A little bit of luxury in a jar, and it won’t pollute the environment you’re swimming in.
- No chemicals
- 80% organic ingredients
8. McConks Bamboo/Stainless Steel Drink Mug
The first thing we want when we get out of the water is a hot drink. Roughly 10 minutes after you get out of cold water, your body starts shivering, which uses high amounts of energy. Having a hot drink as soon as you get out will help to keep you warm until you get back home to your shower.
This drink mug from McConks, a SUP company, is made from bamboo and stainless steel. It keeps hot beverages warm for hours, it’s robust and durable, and it looks stylish too. It’s also compact enough to keep in the pocket of your changing robe.
- Weighs 500g
- Dimensions are 20 x 10 x 10cm
Muscles worked when wild swimming
Swimming is a full-body workout. All different strokes work your core, as well as your abdominal muscles, back, arm muscles, glutes and hamstrings. As a low-impact exercise, it doesn’t put a strain on your joints and is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.
The resistance of the water works in a similar way to weight training at the gym, but without putting as much stress on your body (although that’s not to say that you should ditch the gym in favour of swimming, a combination of both works well!).
Other benefits of wild swimming
You can get just the same physical benefits from swimming in a pool as you can swimming al fresco, but the mental benefits of swimming outside, known as ‘wild’ swimming, are incomparable. Have you heard of cold water therapy? Ice baths (now associated with Nordic countries although they actually originated in Ancient Greece) have been used for a range of health benefits for centuries, but a slightly less brutal alternative is a cold water swim.
Swimming in cold water boosts your immune system, improves your circulation and can even help with muscle soreness and stiffness. If you’ve been pushing yourself too hard at the gym, a wild swim could reset you even more than a stretch with a foam roller. It’s even thought that cold water swimming could help prevent degenerative diseases like dementia!
The other huge benefit is your mood. If you’ve ever been wild swimming, you’ll know the feeling of euphoria you experience once you’ve adapted to the cold water (or once you’ve got out again and are warming up with a hot chocolate). The stress that cold water swimming puts on your nervous system spikes your endorphins, which increases your levels of dopamine and serotonin. In short, it’s a natural high.
FAQ – Best gifts for wild swimming
Have a question about the best gifts for wild swimming in the UK? Check out our FAQ below where we aim to answer the most popular queries about the chilly dips.
Any wild water swimmer is sure to love the RuckRaft as a real treat. This will store their gear in an XL dry bag and inflates it into a neon orange raft, working really well as a safety tow.
Still not managed to solve your issue? Don’t be afraid to reach out and send us a message on one of our socials – we’re always happy to help!