They’re known as rashes in Australia, and divers all around the world use them to help put on tight wetsuits. Swimmers adore them for their UV protection.

The basic rash guard (or rash vest) is a must-have piece of water-sports equipment that will keep you safe no matter what you do in the water.

We’ve produced a list of the best rash guards to assist you in your search. 

They’re all from well-known manufacturers that are known for producing high-quality goods.

Roxy Women’s Whole Hearted Long Sleeve Rash Guard

Roxy Women's Whole Hearted Long Sleeve UPF 50 Rashguard, Anthracite, XS
  • Long sleeve rash guard
  • Soft, resistant stretch fabric
  • Snug
  • UV protection with UPF 50 sun protection
  • Large collar binding

Polyester and elastane combine to create this highly stretchy rash guard. We adore the fit of this rashie, which runs a little small, so go up a size if you’re in between sizes. The front of the shirt also has a simple Roxy heart emblem, which we like. This is the ideal pick for a day in the sun, with 50+ UPF sun protection. 

Specs & Features:

  • Material: 92% Polyester 8% Elastane
  • Thermal protection? No
  • Sun protection? 50+ UPF
  • Long sleeves
  • Designed specifically for women

Plus, with around 12 colors to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice!

Hurley Men’s Nike Dri-fit Long Sleeve

This men’s rash guard and swim shirt is made of sweat-wicking, four-way stretch material that keeps you cool in and out of the water. Because of the hood, this rash guard resembles a shirt, and because it dries so quickly thanks to Nike’s Dri-Fit fabric, it’s entirely appropriate to head straight from the beach for a late afternoon beer. 

Specs & Features:

  • Material: 100% Polyester
  • Thermal protection? No
  • Sun protection? 50+ UPF
  • Quick-dry material
  • Long sleeves
  • Hood
  • Pocket

Hurley’s reputation for long-lasting sportswear is appealing to us, as is the casual fit. 

Quiksilver Men’s Always There Rash Guard

Quiksilver Always There Long Sleeve Rashguard Light Grey Heather 2XL
  • 92% Polyester, 8% Elastane
  • Type: Rashguard
  • Fit: Snug
  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Chlorine resistant

Quicksilver’s long-sleeve rashie consists of a stretch polyester blend material that provides plenty of flexibility for any sport you’re doing. It’s also a moisture-wicking fabric, which means sweat moves quickly from the inside to the outside of the vest. The rash guard’s snug-fit design looks nice, but it can make it feel a little too tight, so you might want to size up. 

Specs & Features:

  • Material: 92% Polyester 8% Elastane
  • Thermal protection? No
  • Sun protection? 50+ UPF
  • Long sleeves
  • Moisture-wicking material
  • Snug-fit design
  • Designed specifically for men

You know you’re getting a good product when Quiksilver is the market leader in surfwear.

Scubapro Women’s EverFlex Jacket

Scubapro Everflex 1.5 Womens Long Sleeve- Black - S
  • Neoprene is lightweight, durable, water repellant and a highly efficient insulator for heat retention.
  • Assembled using solvent-free glue, a 100% green process.
  • High-tech plush and fleece lining reduces water flow and provides both comfort and extra warmth.
  • Design helps block water intrusion to reduce convection.
  • Provides effective insulation under water as well as at the surface.

With their Everflex jacket, Scubapro has knocked it out of the park, and in our opinion, this diving brand has defeated some stiff competition from specialized surf manufacturers. This rash guard is composed of neoprene and has a zip-up design for added warmth. The material is highly elastic, as the name implies, and will not restrict arm movement, which is crucial for surfers. 

Specs & Features:

  • Material: Neoprene and fleece interior
  • Thermal protection? 1.5 mm
  • Sun protection? Yes
  • Quick-dry material
  • Long sleeves
  • Thumb hooks
  • Extra-stretchy material, an excellent range of motion

The interior of this jacket is soft and fleecy, and it dries rapidly. We only wish the rash guard had board short connectors at the bottom, but that is the only criticism we have. However, because this is a heavier jacket, it will not roll up as easily as thin rash guards.

O’Neill Men’s Premium Skins Rash Guard

O'Neill Men's Premium Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard, Slate/Slate/Slate, XS
  • Skin Cancer Foundation Recommended Product; UPF 50+ Ultraviolet Protection
  • Perfect For Surfing, Swimming, Paddle Sports, Boating, And Beach Days
  • Minimal Seam Placement For Maximum Rash Protection
  • Premium 6oz Nylon/Spandex Incorporates 4-Way Stretch And Quick Dry Properties
  • Performance Fit: Form-Fitting Tight Layers Fits Like A Second Skin

O’Neill used a four-way substance that helps you stay cool by evaporating moisture from its surface. The cloth appears to be extremely thin, yet it provides adequate protection. Flatlock stitching reduces chafing, and seamless paddle zones provide more freedom of motion than competing rashers. The lack of board short connectors is once again a disadvantage.

Specs & Features:

  • Material: 91% Nylon 9% Elastane
  • Thermal protection? No
  • Sun protection? 50+ UPF
  • Four-way quick-dry stretch material
  • Long sleeves
  • Flatlock stitching
  • Seamless paddle zones

However, this is a terrific value rash guard that will keep you cool, especially if you’re surfing in a tropical location.

Kanu Surf Women’s Keri Long-Sleeve UPF 50+ Rashguard

Kanu Surf Women's Keri Long-Sleeve UPF 50+ Rashguard, Aqua, X-Small
  • Long raglan seam-sleeve rashguard featuring banded crew neckline and contrast logo screenprint
  • UPF 50+ rating to block sun's harmful rays

Although this Sanabul rash guard was originally developed for martial arts and crosstraining, we think it’s perfect for surfers and as an all-around swim shirt. The material is anti-odor and anti-bacterial, and it provides for a lot of flexibility. The underarm vented mesh, which allows perspiration to escape, is one of our favorites. Its purpose as a compression vest is to boost muscle performance by improving blood flow throughout the body.

Specs & Features:

  • Material: 86% Polyester 14% Spandex
  • Thermal protection? No
  • Sun protection? 50+ UPF
  • Long sleeves
  • Available in a wide range of colors
  • Loose-fitting
  • Designed specifically for women

We’re not sure it will tone your muscles, but the Sanabul rash guard will give you protection from the sun without restricting your movements.

Scubapro Men’s UPF 50 Long Sleeve Rash Guard

Scubapro Men's UPF 50 Long Sleeve Rash Guard
  • UPF 50 rating blocks 98% of UV radiation.
  • Polyester is comfortable yet durable
  • abrasion-resistant
  • and it does a good job of retaining its shape after repeated use.
  • Flattering color panels and cut keep you looking good while enjoying excellent UV protection.

Scubapro’s offering provides UV protection for snorkelers as well as increased warmth for divers wearing it under a wetsuit. The polyester material is soft against the skin and extremely robust and abrasion-resistant. This rashie maintained its shape even after several years of use. 

Specs & Features:

  • Material: 100% Polyester
  • Thermal protection? No
  • Sun protection? 50+ UPF
  • Quick-dry material
  • Durable
  • Long sleeves
  • High neckline

For diving, we enjoy the high neckline since it keeps your wetsuit from the friction. 

Mares Womens Trilastic Rash Guard Shirt

Mares Women's She Dives Trilastic Rash Guard Shirt Long Sleeve - Black/Pink - 6
  • Mares Women's She Dives Trilastic Rash Guard Shirt Long Sleeve
  • Characterized by Mares Trilastic Look
  • UV Protection of 30+
  • Flat-Lock Stitching Won't Leave Marks on Skin

This Mares Trilastic rash guard is a fantastic choice for female divers. When worn under a wetsuit, the flatlock seams don’t scrape into your skin, and we were able to tuck the shirt well enough inside the suit so it didn’t ride up when diving.

Specs & Features:

  • Material: 85% Polyester 15% Spandex
  • Material: 85% Polyester 15% Spandex
  • Sun protection? 30+ UPF
  • Flatlock seams
  • High neckline
  • Quick-dry fabric
  • Long sleeve

It provides good UV protection despite having a lower UPF than the other rash guards we’ve looked at. It’s a snug fit across the chest, so if you’re a big guy, go up a size or two. 

Quiksilver All Time Long Sleeve Rash Guard

Quiksilver has delivered yet again. The All Time Long Sleeve rash guard is a timeless design available in a variety of colors.

Although Quiksilver is more renowned for their surfwear, this rashie is ideal for snorkelers. It’s lightweight and quite comfortable, which we appreciate.

Specs & Features:

  • Material: 92% Polyester 8% Elastane
  • Thermal protection? No
  • Sun protection? 50+ UPF
  • Snug-fit design
  • Flatlock seams
  • Long sleeves
  • Some color options come with boardshorts connectors

The only drawback is that the material is highly elastic, and over time you lose the snug fit. 

O’Neill Men’s Thermo X Long Sleeve Insulative Top

O'Neill Men's Thermo-X Long Sleeve Crew, Black, XS
  • Skin Cancer Foundation Recommended Product; UPF 50+ Ultraviolet Protection
  • Perfect For Chilly Days When An Extra Layer Of Warmth Under Your Wetsuit Is Needed
  • Thermo-X Layering Fabric Provides Incredible Insulation With Low Bulk And Quik-Dry Properties
  • 220g Nylon/Spandex Includes Water Repellency And Odor Resistance
  • Super Low Neck: No Interference With The Neck Of Your Wetsuit

When it came to designing the Thermo X Insulative Top, O’Neill obviously understood what they were doing. The fabric is a silky, flexible 220g nylon and spandex blend that is low-bulk, quick-drying, water repellent, and odor resistant.

We like that it’s thin enough to wear beneath a wetsuit and has a low neckline that doesn’t interfere with your suit’s neck. There are seamless paddle zones and boardshort connectors for surfers.

The Thermo X is also available in a women’s version, which you can find here. The rash guard in this reviewer’s possession has been heavily used for more than three years and is still in outstanding shape. 

Specs & Features:

  • Material: 220g Nylon/Spandex mix
  • Thermal protection? Yes
  • Sun protection? 50+ UPF
  • Long sleeves
  • Boardshort connectors
  • Quick-dry material
  • Recom

No matter what outdoor or water activities you’re performing, the O’Neill Thermo X is a top choice rashguard and swim shirt. You will not be let down. 

A quick look at UPF protection

Many males reading this are probably baffled by the distinction between UPF and UVA/UVB rays (don’t worry, we were as well when we were looking at rash guards).

Here’s a quick rundown of what it is:

Ultraviolet Protection Factor is the acronym of UPF.

This classification is aimed solely at clothing. A UPF rating indicated by the manufacturer, as many of the rash guards included in this page, denotes that the apparel was created in a way to prevent the sun’s rays from striking your skin.

When the apparel is worn, the rating directly correlates to the ratio of UV radiation that will be blocked.

For example, a UPF 25 rating indicates that 1 out of every 25 sun rays will pass through the clothes (i.e 4%)

As a result, a rash guard with a UPF 50 rating will be able to block out nearly 98% of the sun’s dangerous UV radiation. To put it another way, the higher the UPF rating, the better the sun protection. 

Is overheating a concern?

It must feel like you’re wearing a lead vest if this cloth can block out 98% of the sun’s rays, right? Well, not quite.

In fact, the reverse is true. Rash guards are lightweight and airy, as they are meant for summer use.

Many guys have commented that these rash guards felt extremely lightweight, as evidenced by numerous reviews of the rash guards we linked below.

Don’t worry if you sweat so much that you look like you’ve been hosed after only a few minutes in the sun.

These rash guards’ material will wick sweat away from your skin, leaving you feeling very cool. 

But there’s more…

Almost all of the rash guards we found don’t leave any sweat marks. As a result, as those long summer days at the beach draw to a close, you won’t have to worry about any unseemly rings under your arms, chest, or back.

You will never want to go to the beach without that rash guard after you put it on.

What is a rash guard?

Rash guards (sometimes called swim shirts) are multi-purpose garments that are designed to be worn in and around water. Surfers were the first to use them extensively, hence the name. A lycra shirt was worn by surfers to protect themselves from rashes produced by friction and the board.

Rash guards are now designed to serve multiple purposes. Swimmers and beachgoers wear them for UV protection, youngsters should wear them to protect their chest and arms from sunburn, and divers and snorkelers use them instead of wetsuits in warm water. 

Rash guards are primarily constructed of polyester, spandex, nylon, neoprene, and lycra (or a combination of these materials) and provide UV protection, rash prevention, and heat protection.

Why should you wear a rash guard

Rash guards serve a variety of reasons when you’re out on the water in the hot sun. They serve as a barrier against UV radiation, rough water conditions, and chaffing. While it may be tempting to ride the waves without a top, consider the following reasons why you shouldn’t. 

Sun protection

UV rays are stronger in and around water. While flexing those muscles while surfing looks nice, you don’t want to risk unpleasant sunburns. The greatest rash guards contain built-in UV protection, which provides surfers with an extra layer of protection over their swimwear.

Sunscreen and rash guards are essential items to have on hand since they provide the best protection from the sun’s damaging rays. The majority of rash guards are UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rated. This rating indicates how much of the sun’s rays are blocked by the cloth.

Protection from rashes and chafing

Rash guards provide an extra layer of protection for your skin both in and out of the water. Their major function is to protect surfers from scrapes and scratches produced by sand and waxy surfboard residue. Rashes are commonly produced by sliding on and off a rough board, but rash shields also protect kids from their active days on the sand. 

Surfers can have longer and more pleasant rides in the ocean by wearing rashies with flatlock stitching and quick-drying materials. 

An insulation layer

Rash guards are typically worn in hot weather. When it’s too hot to wear a wetsuit, for example. That’s why they’re usually lighter. They aren’t made to keep you warm in general. Rather, to assist in keeping you dry. Rash guards are made of moisture-wicking fabric that wicks away perspiration quickly. They’re also breathable, and they dry rapidly thanks to their moisture-wicking characteristics.

Wearing and taking off your wetsuit

Rash guards are linked to hotter swimming or surfing conditions. Few people are aware that wearing a rash guard makes getting into and out of your wetsuit much easier. When you’re in a rush, this is especially true.

Wetsuits slide right on and easily with a rash guard, as opposed to the usual tugging, pulling, and squeezing. They won’t smell because of their quick-drying properties, which prevent microbial buildup.

Rashies are more practical than you may suppose. They’re more than just something you put on when you want to make a splash in the water. They’ve moved on to other sports and swimwear. Having one, whether long or short sleeves, keep the cold water out and the heat weather out of your surfing. 

Choosing a new rash guard

It will most likely come down to what you want to use a rash guard for. You can go with a sport-specific model or a model that can be used for multiple purposes. In any case, these are a few things to keep in mind. Now, let’s take a look.

Fit

Rash guards are supposed to be snug and tight-fitting. If they’re too loose, they’ll irritate you when swimming or clump up under your wetsuit if you’re diving. Rashes that are excessively tight, on the other hand, may roll up at the bottom, which is inconvenient. For surfers, this is less of a concern because many rash guards feature board short connectors at the bottom to prevent this.

Even at the beach, do you despise wearing tight clothing? Rash guards can also be worn loosely if desired.

In any event, carefully review the manufacturer’s sizing requirements before deciding on a size and/or brand.

Long sleeve or short sleeve rash guard?

This is purely a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer a short, tee-shirt version, although a long-sleeved rash guard will completely shield your arms from the sun. Though this is only noticeable with heavier rash vests that provide thermal protection because rash guards are tight-fitting, others claim that long-sleeved options limit their mobility. 

Sun protection in a rash guard

Even though the manufacturer does not specify it, all rash guards give some level of sun protection. However, some rash vests are built expressly for optimal sun protection and have a UV Protection Factor of 50 or more (UVF).

Thermal protection

If you’re going to be swimming, diving, snorkeling, or surfing in colder water, a rash guard will keep you warm. The rash guard is frequently (but not always) constructed of neoprene and/or a fleecy material in these circumstances.

The thickness of a rash guard that resembles a wetsuit, as well as neoprene in general, is always measured in millimeters (mm). Rash guards are available in thickness ranging from 0.5mm to 4mm. The warmth of a rash vest is directly proportional to its thickness.

If you’re looking for a rash guard for diving, keep in mind that neoprene compresses as you go deeper. This is due to the material’s numerous small air bubbles. Your suit compresses as you go deeper, and you lose buoyancy.

Features of a rash guard

Unless you want to jingle your way along the beach, we don’t mean real bells and whistles. We’re talking about any extra characteristics that a rash guard possesses. These are some of them:

  • Thumb hooks are great for keeping your rash guard from riding up as you’re putting on your wetsuit.
  • When swimming, the hood keeps hair out of the way and protects the back of your neck from the sun. 
  • Board short connectors, which come in handy when surfing. 
  • It’s especially important for women because our hips 

Let’s have a look at the rash guards now that you know what to look for. Our list of the finest rash guards for 2021 is divided into sports-specific categories, with options for both men and women. But keep in mind that rash guards are extremely versatile and can be worn for a variety of sports or hobbies. 

Features explained:

  • Ultraviolet Protection Factor – for a more detailed explanation, read the Thing to Consider section. 
  • 4-way stretch technology
  • No matter how long you wear it, the fabric will stretch and recover (return to its original shape) both width and longitudinally thanks to 4-way stretch technology
  • Flatlock stitching: a stitching technique that keeps the strands low-profile to avoid chafing.
  • Overlock sewing: A particular stitching technique that produces extremely durable and robust seams.
  • Wicking the moisture
  • The removal of water or sweat from your skin. This helps to reduce chafing while also keeping your body cool.

Fabric

Spandex, lycra, nylon, polyester, neoprene, or elastane are common materials for rash guards. These materials provide the optimum balance of thermal protection, rash prevention, breathability, and quick-drying properties. The most crucial thing to look for in a cloth is that it offers sun protection. The best solution is to wear rash guards with a UPF 50+ rating. This protection might be included into the fabric itself, or it could be applied as a treatment to the finished garment. In either case, these will perform the best job of protecting your skin from the sun’s dangerous UVA AND UVB radiation.

Rash guards for men and rash guards for women

Choose a rash guard that is made exclusively for your sex for the greatest fit. Women’s rash guards, like shirts, are cut in a way that is comfortable over our chests. Any rash guard will suffice for youngsters, and sex-specific models are more about colors and patterns than anything else.

How fast does it dry?

When buying a rash guard, seek for quick-dry fabrics so you don’t have to sit about in wet clothing for hours on end. It can give you a chill, and the damp fabric is more likely to chafe and irritate you. Most polyesters and nylons contain quick-drying properties, as well as moisture-wicking and hydrophobic properties to help you dry quickly.

FAQs

Can you wear a rash guard for swimming?

You can definitely swim while wearing a rash guard. It’s a fantastic way to keep your skin safe from the sun.

What is the best rash guard brand?

O’Neill, Roxy, Quiksilver, TSLA, and Kanu Surf are some of the best rash guard brands.

How tight should a rash guard be?

The fit of your rash guard will be determined by the activities you intend to engage in. If you’re going surfing, a tighter fit is recommended so that no excess fabric gets trapped and it doesn’t ride up. A more loose fit is fine for more laid-back activities like paddleboarding, swimming, and simply relaxing on the beach.

What is the difference between a rash guard and a swim shirt?

A rash guard is a garment that has a tighter fit, such as those used by surfers in the past. A swim shirt, on the other hand, is a looser-fitting rash vest that resembles the shape and fit of a conventional t-shirt. However, the two terms are frequently used interchangeably.

Do you wear anything under a rash guard?

If you wish to wear something under your rash guard, it is a personal choice. The majority of men will not; but, some women, particularly those with large busts, may choose to wear a bikini top for added support. 

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