The Bag in Winter

As a seagull did something less than appropriate on my swimming bag when I left it on the beach earlier it needed a wash so I tipped the contents out.  Of course what an individual carries in their swim bag is personal to each of us, some carry more, whereas I try to travel light.  It is however now decidedly chilly both in and out of the water so I am stepping up to the challenge of a mile a day by carrying a little extra:

Fleece hat, neck buff and gloves,
Foam changing mat,
Bags for wet swimwear,
Swimwear, back-up swimwear, extra back-up swimwear,
Karabiner and hair bands
Hoody sweatshirt,
Goggles, noseclip, ear plugs,
No more tears (for anti-misting goggles),
Tiger balm.

Wild Swimming
Wild Swimming

Wild Swimming Map: Devon & Cornwall



‘Hydrasuit’ by Speedo

I should point out up front that this is a review quite independent of the Speedo brand.  If however they’d like me to try out any of their swimming kit then that would be great.

I bought my first one of this design about 10 years ago and it is still going strong, which is surely a testament to the quality.  Though I don’t use it every day it has been used a lot.  Part of the reason it is not in daily use was that I bought a second one soon after (also still in constant use).

As I swim almost exclusively outdoors in both sea, rivers and lakes the singular appeal was in the high neck and full back design.  That extra cover acts in some respects like a wetsuit trapping in some warmer water to an extent that you would not immediately credit to a thin covering.  In addition the full cover has also afforded protection during jellyfish collisions and contact with other hazards and the suits have proved far more resilient to barnacle scrapes than bare skin.

Whilst some outdoor swimmer purists maintain that the best experience is achieved only from full contact with the water the freedom of movement in the Hydrasuit in no way detracts from the feel of the water in my opinion and I would also say that part of the joy of open water swimming is to return warm and undamaged to your towel.

I have also found the Hydrasuit to be ideal for wearing under a wetsuit.  Enter my 3rd a few years ago whilst I was preparing for and participating in the River Dart 10km event.  Many outdoor swimmers, experienced or otherwise, at some time or another experience wetsuit chafing and as often as not this is across the back of the neck.  The reasons for this warrant a separate blog post but the Hydrasuits are sufficiently high at the back of the neck to provide protection against chaffing and the wear in my suits is clear testament to the fact that I would otherwise have suffered.

In recent weeks as autumn has come along my Hydrasuits are being used more once again, though the oldest is experiencing an end of life moment.  I have just taken delivery today of two new ones.  These like the last were ordered directly from the Speedo on-line store, which was blissfully simple, though the search function does not return all the Hydrasuit options and worse the predictive form filling suggestion returns no items! 

Prices vary from £25 to £36 depending on offers and plain colours vs printed styles.  Black is still available as a standard but the purple I bought last time has been replaced by ‘royal’ blue with contrasting piping.  At the time I was buying there were 3 over printed designs, though the design I most liked is perhaps being phased out as it was available only in limited sizes.

My first impression is that though the material is the same 80% polyester, 20% elastane (lycra) mix it has a slicker feel than my previous ones, whilst being of the same fabric weight and thickness.  The designs are bold and an exact match for the on-line store images.  I particularly like the addition of the small tags to the zip fasteners and will be adding my own to my existing ones.

If there is one area where the Hydrasuits I have owned have been a slight let down it is the zips.  The zip on my first suit, whilst still serviceable does stick when being undone after swimming and obviously with chilly, wet fingers this has led to some unkind words.  It may well be that a tag on the zip would have helped, but I am convinced that the problem has come about from washing and hanging without first zipping the suit all the way up.  Doing that with my more recent suits has prevented a similar problem and largely fixed the zip of my first suit.

Having trialed both suits in the River Dart this evening they are both of course a pleasing fit and though I do prefer the feel of the high cut leg of the one over the other that I’m sure is as much down to body shape as it is personal preference.  Overall I simply cannot fault these swimsuits.

If you are considering these then there is an offer in the on-line Speedo Store which gets you a free rucksack style bag for your wet swim kit and I have to say that is very good too.

Wild Swimming Map: Devon & Cornwall