swim pants guide and tips on wearing swim pants

Your Comprehensive Guide to Swim Pants (for Ladies)

You wouldn’t go for a run in your underwear, so why swim in a bikini?

This is for those who hate tiny bathing suits.

Swim pants are the opposite of bikinis

swim pants are the type of the bikini bottom with best coverage

Gone are the days when women have no choice but to wear tenny-tiny bikini bottoms for water activities. Bikini styles are not functional or comfortable for some women, and their dominance in the swimwear market has meant there is little diversity in styles, especially in swim bottoms. 

Swim pants are here to the rescue, they provide a stylish, modest, and practical alternative that is an essential piece for triathlon athletes, people who feel more comfortable in pants, surfers, and those who require more coverage for religious practice. 

Swim pants are designed to cover more skin and are a more comfortable and protective option compared to the bikini.

They look similar to other sporting pants like leggings and bike shorts, but they are made of the same stretchy and quick-drying fabric as other swimwear. 

Swim pants may be confused with swim diapers/pants that are designed for children, but the ones we are talking about in this article are for women wanting more coverage.

Are swim pants and swim leggings the same thing?

While there is a slight difference between swim pants and swim leggings, most references to swim pants will be referring to swim leggings.

Swim pants are usually looser and come in styles like capris, cropped pants, or full-length pants and are designed to be worn for additional coverage and protection against the sun. On the other hand, swim leggings are fitted and are the built-for-water equivalent of exercise legging or bike shorts.

They are great for active days on the beach when you don’t want to worry about being exposed or having wardrobe malfunctions, for athletes competing in triathlons, or simply for those wanting to feel more confident when swimming.

While they are similar to exercise leggings, swim leggings are made from the same fabrics as other swimwear and are designed to be worn in the water.

Five reasons to love swim pants

1. They provide full coverage: 

Swim pants cover your entire butt and legs, providing optimal coverage for a modest look.

They are even better than swim skirts and shorts since they go all the way down to the ankle and are a great option for those wanting to feel comfortable swimming, get cold in the water easily, or require full coverage for religious practice.

2. The fabric is water-friendly: 

As swim pants are made in the same material as other swimwear, they are designed to be stretchy, chlorine-resistant, and water friendly. Even though there is more material to contend with, they are designed to dry easily for convenience and comfort. 

When looking for the right swim pants, you want to avoid materials such as cotton, as this will soak up water, and instead look for pants made of spandex, polyester and nylon.

3. The UV protection is better than sunscreen: 

Sunscreen can only provide so much protection when in the sun for extended periods. Swim pants are the perfect alternative, as they are UV resistant and will provide complete protection against sunburn and damage for those who burn easily or will be in the water for hours at a time. 

Swim pants will have an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), and this rates how well the design and fabric protect against UV.

UPF Ratings from ASTM

A good UPF rating for swim pants is 30+, and some of them can go up to UPF 50+. With swim pants, you can relax and enjoy your swim activities without having to worry about reapplying sunscreen or causing damage to your skin.

4. They are practical for all swimming activities: 

The full coverage and flexible fabric of swim pants make them perfect for outdoor swimming activities like surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming, and kayaking. 

They are lightweight and provide optimal comfort to avoid re-adjusting bikinis or worrying about flashing other beachgoers. You can feel free to engage in all types of swimming activities with the same freedom of movement you have on land.

5. The fabric is breathable and lightweight: 

swim pants usually are made of fabrics just like other swimwear

Even though swim pants are full-length, the fabric is designed to be breathable and lightweight so that they do not feel heavy or super hot, even on a hot day.

If you get a good quality pair, they also won’t get baggy once wet or have a drag when swimming. This gives the perfect balance between comfort and practicality.

Should I wear anything under/with swim pants?

Swim pants can absolutely be worn on their own, as they do not become see-through when wet. However, you may choose to wear bikini bottoms or other lightweight underwear with them for comfort.

 You may choose to wear something under your swim pants if you:

  • Are on your period and need additional protection
  • Are pregnant and want the extra coverage
  • Want to wear a different swim bottom first, like bikinis, and then use the swim pants to cover up later
  • Want to add more coverage or style with a swim skirt over the top 

Since swim pants are just like all other types of swimwear, so they are designed to be worn on their own.

Wearing lightweight underwear or a bikini bottom underneath will be completely dependent on what will make you feel comfortable and what activities you will be engaging in.

The most important thing to remember is that whatever you wear under your swim pants should also be water-friendly, quick-dry and breathable.

Jessica is a freelance writer and editor, with a passion for all things style and fashion. She enjoys sharing tips on how to find clothes that make you feel your best.

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