Whether you’re splashing about with the kids in the sea, or plunging into wild waters, long-sleeved swimwear has a lot to offer. Here’s our pick of the best long sleeve swimsuits for women in the UK, perfect for all your wild swimming adventures…
Thinking about going wild swimming in the nippy British waters? Or maybe you’re going abroad and wondering what to pack for a full day of sun-laden activity. From sporty two-pieces, to full costumes, rash vests and wetsuits, there’s a lot of swimwear on the market right now. So, where can you find the best long sleeve swimsuits?
When to use long sleeve swimsuits
Long sleeve swimsuits are one of the best options for water sports and other water-based activities such as snorkelling – they keep arms and shoulders covered, plus protect skin from sunlight. They’re also the ideal option for swimming and splashing about in slightly colder waters, whether that’s a chilly sea dip (in the summer, British waters tend to range from a nippy 15 degrees C to a more balmy 20 degrees C) or playing abroad in an unheated outdoor pool.
Indeed, experience teaches us that long-sleeved one-pieces are even the perfect product for when you’re ‘hanging around’ in normal-temperature indoor pools while keeping an eye on the kids.
Is neoprene essential for wild swimming swimsuits?
Neoprene and similar thick fabrics add another layer of complexity to your choice when looking for the best long sleeve swimsuits. With the neoprene and neoprene equivalent costumes we tested offering between 1mm and 2mm thickness, these long-sleeve swimming costumes clearly are not warm enough for very cold swims (most brands we came across recommended them for between 19 and 23 degrees C water temperatures) but they will take the chill out of tepid water and keep you warmer than your average long-sleeved suit.
‘The main purpose of neoprene is to keep you warm, with better wind protection than classical swimwear fabrics,’ say the experts at Roxy. ‘Also, the added thickness neoprene boasts will make impact with the water a little less uncomfortable should you fall [eg from a surf board] at full-speed, plus they can sometimes limit skin rubbing on a harness or other water sport equipment.’
The main thing to remember is that an insulated one-piece is not an alternative to a full wetsuit and you should, therefore, check the appropriateness of one before you take a dip. As the experts state: ‘They can certainly be used when air and water temperatures are warmer, but be aware that neoprene swimsuits will always be “swimsuits”.’
Finding the best fit for a long sleeve swimsuit
A well-fitting costume should be your priority when it comes to making a selection. Check that yours fits comfortably – it’s not too compressive around the torso or too tight around the neckline, and, if it is supposed to offer full coverage around the bottom or support around the bust, that it’s fit for purpose. Longer sleeves, possibly with thumbholes, can be a nifty way of keeping your hands covered and are worth considering if you’re going for a swim in cold water.
Experts suggest that you also consider the material your cossie is made from. ‘You can go for a classical swimsuit that has specialist fabrics and design – look for those with added support, higher coverage, durability and UV protection,’ says the Roxy product team. ‘Or you can go for a neoprene option, which will offer stronger support, comfort and durability.’ Whichever suit you choose, extend its life by rinsing it out with fresh-water after use and avoiding drying it in direct sunlight. Here’s our pick of the latest costumes…
Best long sleeve swimsuits for wild swimming UK
- Finisterre Nieuwland 2e Yulex Long Sleeve Swimsuit ($175 / £125, finisterre.com)
- Davy J The Long Sleeve Suit ($169 / £160, davyj.com)
- Speedo Long Sleeve Women’s Paddlesuit (£50 / amazon.co.uk – currently unavailable in the US)
- Roxy Pro The Overhead Long Sleeve One-Piece Swimsuit ($100 / £75, roxy.com)
- Fourth Element Thermocline Long Sleeve Swimsuit (£159.50, fourthelement.com – international shipping available)
- Vivida Linda Reversible Shortie Wetsuit ($199 / £169 / vividalifestyle.com)
Keep reading for full reviews.
Finisterre Nieuwland 2e Yulex Long Sleeve Swimsuit
BUY IT NOW:
$175 / £125, finisterre.com
Designed for swimming and surfing, we took this 2mm-thick suit to our local lake in June for a cool-water dip, and we were really impressed with how it performed – it boasted the flexibility needed for front crawl while offering a comfortable amount of coverage. It’s made from a planet-friendly Yulex natural rubber – which boasts a four-way stretch and is said to produce 80 per cent less CO2 than traditional neoprene – that provided the warmth and freedom of movement we needed all swim-long.
The suit had a great fit around the bottom, too, offering more coverage than other options on test and using material that stayed put while we paddled, plus it offers a long-length fit along the arms that kept our hands toasty. We love that it boasts flat-lock seams that minimised chafing against skin, and a shape that moves as we did. It’s a costume we’ll return to time and time again, and we can’t recommend it enough.
Davy J The Long Sleeve Suit
BUY IT NOW:
$169 / £160, davyj.com
If you want to feel super chic as you step out of the sea, this is the suit to go for. Available in this cool Ocean Green/Black colour, it is stylish with a capital ’s’. We tried it in a Spanish lagoon where the water was warm-ish and found that the 1mm no-neoprene (it’s made from a bonded, recycled nylon material) thickness offered the perfect amount of warmth. It’s easy to get on and off, plus is the only suit on test that boasts thumb holes for keeping hands cosy.
It could have fitted more tightly around our shoulders/chest, but this may vary depending on the person and didn’t impact on our swim. Available is sizes XS (approx a 6) to XXL (approx an 18-20), this cossie is two suits in one, as you can reverse the costume to wear it as a black swimsuit. Clever stuff.
Speedo Long Sleeve Women’s Paddlesuit
£50 / amazon.co.uk (currently unavailable in the US)
Trusted swimwear brand Speedo boasts a really good line in long-sleeved swimwear that we’ve long used for chilly pool-time. This costume is easy to get on, thanks to the front zip which stays in place all activity-long. It’s not made from neoprene or a similar thick material, but is perfect for swimming in cooler indoor pools.
We love that it’s made from a chlorine-resistant fabric that keeps it in shape use after use, plus you can team it with the ¾ Sun Protection Leggings, £40, for top-to-calf coverage. It doesn’t offer UV protection (if you want that, go for the Printed Long Sleeved Sun Protection top, from £34, which uses UPF40+ fabric) but does look super stylish. Plus, it can be a great option for holiday sea dips, during which the water might be more tepid than cold.
Roxy Pro The Overhead Long Sleeve One-Piece Swimsuit
BUY IT NOW:
$100 / £75, roxy.com
Compliments were aplenty when wearing this suit, which boasts a super-cool print. It has great eco credentials, having been designed and made with a planet-friendly recycled polyamide elastane blend fabric. The fully lined design keeps you warm and comfortable in cooler waters, plus the UV, chlorine and sun-cream resistant properties will keep the swimsuit looking fresh summer after summer.
It has a slightly cheekier cut around the bottom compared to other cossies on test, but still offers the coverage needed for activity. We didn’t do any surfing in it but its bold print would definitely look pretty eye-catching on someone catching waves!
Fourth Element Thermocline Long Sleeve Swimsuit
£159.50, fourthelement.com (international shipping available)
Equivalent to 2mm neoprene, this thermocline wild swimming suit is lightweight, breathable and hypoallergenic. We loved the fleece lining, which not only keeps you warm (by trapping a thin layer of water next to your body and preventing cold water flowing over your skin) but is also sweat wicking.
The fabric dries really quickly (a swift towel rub and you can happily don your drying robe without it getting soaked) and is sustainable, too, with 78 per cent of the outer layer being made from ghost fishing nets. On test, temperatures that would have otherwise been prohibitive became bearable. Plus, the sleeves are very welcome on blustery days, when the wind feels colder than the water. The suit comes up small – even going up a size it was tight on my arms and around my shoulders, and I struggled to get it off alone, despite the deep front zip.
Vivida Linda Reversible Shortie Wetsuit
BUY IT NOW:
$199 / £169 / vividalifestyle.com
Created with Eco CarbonBlack neoprene, this wetsuit is leading the way in sustainable swim and adventure wear – upcycled car tyres and earth-mined limestone forming the key ingredients of the flexible yet supportive neoprene. This long sleeved, reversible wetsuit really does feel as heavenly as it performs.
With 25 recycled plastic bottles in each wetsuit, it provides 2mm of insulation with a flattering fit that will make you feel at one with the wild. Plus, thanks to it’s reversible design with two suits in one, you can enjoy the freedom of choosing a style to match your mood – express a worldly, artistic vibe with the unique Map of Dreams print or opt for a minimal, low key shade of graphite.
Other essential wild swimming kit
Alongside the best long sleeve swimsuits, you’ll need a few other bits of kit to keep you warm and safe on your wild swimming adventures…
Dryrobe Advance Long Sleeve
BUY IT NOW:
£160 / amazon.co.uk
Waterproof, windproof and oh-so-snug, you won’t want to be without this piece of kit post cold-water swim. Let’s face it: changing in or out of a wetsuit or long-sleeved costume isn’t exactly easy – especially when trying to do it on the down-low. Luckily, this oversized changing robe, which is made using 100 per cent recycled materials, is designed to keep you warm and dry while you change, thanks to the waterproof outer, treated with eco-friendly BIONIC-FINISH ECO water-repellent technology.
The cherry on top has to be the super-cosy fleece interior. Chances are, you won’t want to take it off again after you’ve finished changing! We suppose it could double up as school-run chic…
Not ready for a full wetsuit? This trisuit has temperature control, supports muscles and reduces lactic acid build-up. Ideal for wild swimming, cycling or running (or all three, if you’re a triathlete!) features water-repellent Aquaflo fabric to reduce drag and speed up drying times, plus flexible and breathable mesh to keep you high and dry. There are also handy storage pockets for stashing essentials.
If you’re out swimming on the open water, we recommend teaming this suit with the matching Swim Safety Buoy and Dry Bag from Zone 3. Not only will this provide extra storage for keeping valuables safe and dry while out on the water, but it also doubles up as an inflatable safety buoy. Plus, it offers high visibility thanks to its bright colour.
Above Below RuckRaft
BUY IT NOW:
£164 (or £20 for 2 weeks’ rental), abovebelow.sc (not available in the US)
For walk-swim adventures, this inflatable raft has a giant dry bag to store everything from your towel and walking boots, to rucksack, food, clothing and even a tent! This simple two-piece kit features a streamline design and superior buoyancy. This means it can glide across the water effortlessly, even when fully loaded with over 15kg of gear!
Words: Sarah Sellens & Eve Boggenpoel | Lead image: Finisterre