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Best Rash Guards Reviewed
When the sun is shining and the temperatures have risen, there is nothing better than hitting the water to catch some waves. Whether your jam is surfing, swimming, snorkeling, or sunbathing – the beach is the place to go.
However, seasoned surfers and water sports enthusiasts will tell you that there is nothing worse than trekking out of the sea at the end of a long day on the board, surfboard under arm, and wincing in agony.
When you acquire one of the best rash guards on the market today, you’ll be protected and relieved from these pesky frictions – particularly on the neck, nipples, armpits, and things – can cause chafing and irritation.
In days gone by, people would sit out in their swimsuits, perhaps splashing on the odd bit of sun protection cream to stop them from turning red. However, now we know better, we do better and take better steps to protect our skin from the harmful rays of the sun. Sun protection cream is still a big part of this, but rash guards are also becomingly increasingly popular as a way of looking after our skin, both in and out of the water.
Rash guards, which are also often known as swim shirts are multi-purpose shirts meant for use in and around water. Surfers were the first to make extensive use of them, hence the moniker. Surfers would wear a lycra shirt to shield themselves from rashes caused by friction and the board.
Rash guards today are made to be multifunctional and for use in much more situations than surfing. Children are typically told to put one on to protect their chest and arms from sunburn, swimmers and beachgoers choose to wear one for UV protection, and divers and snorkelers use them in warm water instead of full wetsuits. Rash shirts can be handy in a variety of situations.
Rash guards are primarily constructed of nylon, lycra, spandex, neoprene, and polyester (or a mixture of these materials) and provide heat protection, UV protection, and rash prevention.
The rashes caused by activities such as surfing and swimming, not to mention sitting in the sunshine for too long can cause great discomfort. It can cause itching and irritation and a burning sensation to the skin, particularly on the underside of the arms, armpits, chest, neck, and thighs.
Imagine getting surf rash and then having to get dressed and go to work or school – it is going to be very painful, especially if you throw in sunburn on top of it all. Protecting yourself against all of these things is so simple and can make the whole situation much more enjoyable. Not only that – but rash shirts and vests look incredibly cool as well.
Rash vests can be worn alone with swimwear, or beneath a wetsuit for added warmth in cold weather.
Rash guards suitable for any water sports, including surfing, snorkeling, diving, swimming, dingy sailing, kayaking, and canoeing.
Here, we look at what we think are five of the best men’s and five of the best women’s rash guards and shirts on the market.
Check Out How to Choose a Rash Guard
Top Rash Guard Comparison Chart For Men
Top Rash Guard Comparison Chart For Women
Best Rash Guard for Men
When it comes to all things sun and surf related, O’Neill is one of the brands that we all know, trust, and love and it is not difficult to see why. Their swim garments are designed with comfort and your experiences in mind, and this premium long sleeve rash guard is no different.
The fabric is not going to be going anywhere with this rash guard, which is made from a four-way stretch fabric with carefully placed seams and flat lock stitching. This reduces the risk of chafing and gives the wearer much more flexibility.
The material is thin, yet robust with a UPF 50+ and is quick drying – perfect for when you want to wear it both in the water and out. It also has board short connectors, although, if we are being picky, the lack of thumb holes is the one criticism.
Hurley is a reliable watersport brand that has been making quality clothes and gear for a long time, so you can have peace of mind that this will last for many years!
Is it a standard t-shirt? Is it a rash guard? Just by looking at this great looking short sleeved top, you would never know, but under its cool looks is long lasting UPF 50+ sun protection.
It is not as form fitting as the other rash guards on our list, which might make it less ideal for some activities such as scuba diving or surfing, but that makes it ideal for everyday wear too.
This loose fit long sleeve rash guard surf shirt looks great and is ideal for anyone who does not want anything form fitting. It is closely stitched with careful seaming, offering UPF 50+ for great sun protection, whatever you are doing.
Not only will this rash guard protect you from the sun, but it also has rapid drying times, so weather you get splashed from waves or are completely submerged, your shirt will be dried back to normal in no time!
This Quicksilver rash guard is solid choice from a trusted quality brand that is built to last many years. We recommend this rash guard for those who plan to do activities near the water but that aren’t necessarily planning on going into the water, like boating for instance.
The Arch Mesh Hooded Loose Fit Long Sleeve combines great, retro styling with UV protection.
Mesh side panels give breathability to your moisture-wicking, UPF 50+ surf top while also providing sun protection.
The men’s UV protection shirt blurs the boundary between surf tee and hooded long sleeve rashguard with its loose shape for optimum comfort in and out of the water.
The rashguard has a loose fit, and is a perfect for layering, or wearing it by itself for any water based activity.
Be sure to check the sizing chart to make sure you find the perfect fit for you, and your needs!
Quiksilver has absolutely cornered the market when it comes to surfwear, with clothes and surf gear to keep you safe and comfortable in even the biggest of breaks.This is the best rash guard for surfing and looks incredible.
This iconic rashguard is lightweight, breathable, and available in a number of colors. It is also perfect for snorkeling and swimming.
The springy fabric allows for a great range of motion. However, it loses some of its tightness over time and can get a little baggy.
The form fitting compression material conceals heat, while it simultaneously wicks away sweat.
Best Rash Guard for Women
For something a little cool yet practical whilst surfing in the sun, the O’Neill 365 Eclipse Zip swim shirt is one to take a look at.
You do not need to worry if it appears a little snug or a little loose – the zipper of the shirt allows you to adjust the fit so it fits like a glove.
The zip also makes it easy to get on and off without worrying about pulling your bikini top off and is perfect for nursing mothers.
It also has thumb holes at the end of the super long arms for additional security.
Need somewhere to put your cell phone or other belongings when you are not in the water? There is a handy side media pocket on the swim shirt.
It comes in an attractive striped design which looks great both in and out of the water and it’s both affordable and versatile.
The downsides? It comes up a little on the small size, so order a size or two bigger than your normal size. It also lacks connectors for board shorts and does not come with a hood.
Speedo is a big force in the swimwear industry. Their two-piece swimsuits and sports swimming suits for women are incredibly popular, and their rash guards for women are comfy, quick-drying, and come in a variety of bright colors and patterns.
When it comes to repelling severe pool chemicals, the Speedo Uv Long Sleeve Rash Guard is comprised of incredibly durable polyester, which is the material you really want in a rash guard.
The fabric is pill-resistant and shields you from up to 98 percent of the sun’s rays. This means you will be able to spend more time in the water and less time in the shade.
Again, the full length zip makes it extremely wearable, easy to get on and off, even when wet, and helps to ensure a great fit. The raglan style sleeves make it a little different from the rest, giving it style and class, wherever you are wearing it.
Customers do report that there is a little too much material in the arms and that the material is a little thinner than other rash guards.
Roxy is the female line of Quiksilver, so you know that whatever they churn out is likely to be pretty good.
This super stylish rash guard is ultra-flexible and designed to fit snugly against your body. It feels almost like a second skin, with no restrictions on movement and flat-locked stitching. With a UPF rating of more than 50, you do not have to worry about that side of things either.
The sizing does tend to run on the smaller size, so if you have any doubts, go for the next size up to your normal size. However, the fabric, which is super flattering and comes in a whopping 12 different colors, is resistant to stretch – you never have to worry about it sagging and gaping, even after many months of wearing it.
Unlike the two rash guards above, this does not have any zips, so if you are looking for ease of getting on or opening, it may not be the best choice for you. It also does not come with board short connectors.
If you want a rash guard that does not look like a rash guard, this is the rash guard for you. The Lands’ End woman’s crew neck literally looks like any other trendy top in your closet.
Wear it in the surf or on the beach over your swimsuit or bikini for modest sun and swim protection up to 50 UPF, or wear it with your yoga pants or jeans for running errands and keeping you protected in the sun. It comes in a vast range of colors and patterns, from plain blocked color to polka dot, floral, and everything in between!
It is unlined, machine washable, and is moisture wicking, keeping you cool and dry even when the temperatures in the surf are up. It even comes in longer lengths for those who want a bit more material.
The Body Glove women’s long sleeve rash guard is a budget friendly option.
It comes in a wide range of colors, although some customers have experienced fading with some of the brighter colors – you may want to give it a few rinses first.
It is a hand wash only rash guard, but that does not detract from the fact it has UPF 50+ protection and is completely breathable, as well as looking great.
The designs are created to coordinate with other products from Body Glove, including their swimsuits, swim tops, and bottoms.
Although this is the last on our list, we highly recommend this product for those who priority a form fit while maintaining the full arm coverage. This is perfect for surfing, diving or and other water activity that you are submerged under water.
Top Rash Guard Features To Consider
When it comes to choosing the right rash guard for you, you have to consider what you are intending on using it for. For example, are you using it specifically for water sports such as surfing or snorkeling, or swimming, or are you planning to wear it while you chill on the beach and run errands? Either way, there are certain characteristics and features that you will want to look for in your rash guard.
Fit of the rash guard?
Typically, a rash guard should be form fitting and tight, to stop it from bunching up under your wetsuit and getting in the way when you are out in the water. There will be no superfluous fabric obstructing your movement because the rash guard will move with you. Skin-tight rash guards also provide less resistance in the water, making it much easier to participate in your preferred water sport.
However, if they are too tight, a rash guard might start to roll up at the bottom, which is really irritating. However, many rash guards have connectors for board shorts, which stops this from happening.
As you can see, though, in our guide there are some looser fitting rash guards and even one with hoods. These are ideal for everyday wear or light water wear, or for activities such as paddleboarding.
It is always a good idea to check out the sizing and reviews of different rash guards from different brands to see how they measure up.
Long sleeves or Short sleeves
This is purely a matter of personal preference. Although a long-sleeved rash guard will completely shield your arms from the sun, some people prefer a short, t-shirt version.
Others say that long sleeve alternatives restrict their mobility, although because rash guards are tight-fitting, this is only noticeable with rash vests that are made of thicker material, which are generally the rash vests that provide thermal protection.
How should your rash guard feel?
Long sleeves, of course, should cover your wrists and have enough material to overlap whatever you are wearing on your lower body – this is where those board short connectors can be useful. Rash guards should fit snugly but not loosely on your body. It will not protect you from chafing if it flaps around, and it might even irritate you when you are active.
It should be form-fitting and provide a light amount of compression. The garment will gently squeeze you and modestly enhance blood flow at first, giving you the sensation of a warm hug all over. It is too tight if it irritates or restricts movement at any point; it is not designed to be a bolster or brace.
Even if the manufacturer does not outrightly state it, all rash guards will offer you sun protection to some degree. However, some are much better at providing the sun protection than others.
Some are specially designed for sun protection and offer 50+ UV Protection Factor, otherwise known as UVF. If sun protection is important to you, look for one offering the highest sun protection possible.
If you are intending to go swimming, snorkeling, diving, or surfing in water that is on the cooler side, a rash guard that offers thermal protection is probably your best bet. In most cases, thermal rash guards are made from neoprene.
When it comes to measuring the neoprene and thickness of the material in a rash guard that offers thermal protection, it is always counted in millimeters.
The thickness of rash guards can range from 0.5mm up to 4mm thick. The thicker the material of the rash guard is, the warmer it will keep you. So, if you are going in the cooler seas, go for something thick. For tropical waters, you will want something a lot thinner.
One thing to bear in mind is that neoprene compresses with depth, so look out for this if you are buying a rash guard to go diving in. The neoprene contains tiny air bubbles in the material, which compress the deeper you go in the water, which means that you will lose some buoyancy.
If you are always outside doing a variety of outdoor activities, a rash guard that is not resistant to chlorine should not be an issue.
However, if you want to use your rash guard as much as possible, including at the pool, make sure it is chlorine resistant.
Your rash guard or shirt will be able to survive longer in harsh chlorinated conditions as a result of this.
Seams and Stitching
The whole point of a rash guard is to protect you against scrapes, chafes, and rubbing from your board or other chosen activity, so there is little point in wearing one with protruding stitches and unwieldy seams. Look for ones with careful seaming and flat locked stitches to reduce the chances of it causing any additional chafing.
High quality rash clothing is made up of at least four threads, and the more threads there are, the more secure the garment is. Obviously, there is a limit to how many you can have, but four to five is a good number to aim for.
Flatlock seams refer to the stitching of the fabrics on top of each other so that the seams are parallel and flat on the wearer.
How fast does it dry
When shopping for a new rash guard, keep in mind how long it takes to dry – this is understandable given that most people use rash guards for water sports and activities.
It is critical that the material dries fast so that it does not alter your body temperature and leave you shivering in the cold.
Style and Aesthetics
While a rash guard or shirt is primarily a functional item of clothing, the majority of us want to look good while wearing it as well. Some rash guards come in one choice of color and design, others are available in a whole rainbow of colors and patterns. It might not be the most important element of the rash guard, but it can go a long way towards helping you to make your decision.
Whether you are a surfer, snorkeler, diver, swimmer or just looking for something to give you a little more protection against the sun and the ocean, there is the perfect rash guard out there for you. Check out the ones in our guide and you will find the right one for you.