What to Look for When Buying a Rash Guard

Different materials, thicknesses, and styles are available depending on the intended use of a rash guard. Surfing is the most common sport where rash guards are used. Rash guards come in a variety of styles, and this guide explains how to pick the right one for your needs.

The Purpose of Wearing a Rash Guard


Providing warmth, sun protection, and rash protection are the three primary functions of a rash guard. As an extra layer of warmth and protection from sunburn, they can be worn over a wetsuit or, in milder climates, on their own (without one).


They can also be worn as an extra layer of coverage or with modest swimwear. Spandex, nylon, polyester, or neoprene are the most common materials.
At the very least, every rash guard offers some level of UV protection (even if not specifically stated).  Look for rashguards with 40+ SPF protection.

what are rashguards for?

Rash Guard Sun Suits


For men, women, and children, there are a variety of rash guards to choose from. Sun suits, which are simply rash guard sets for children, are a common method of providing shade for those who need it. Swimming and other water activities frequently necessitate the use of rash guards. As a result, you should have no trouble finding the perfect rash guard for your needs, whether you're seeking warmth, sun protection, rash protection, or sport-specific protection.

Thermal Rash Guards

In frigid water, thermal rash guards can be a lifesaver. Choose a thermal rash guard if you plan on spending a long period of time in the water in a cold climate.

Aqua aerobics and ocean sports frequently make use of thermal rash guards (in water that is too warm for a wetsuit, but too cold for bare skin).
Look for the word "thermo" in the product's title in addition to "thermal." Thick, insulating fabric is what these terms denote.


The term "thermal" refers to the fact that the rash guard is designed to keep you warm. The most common material used to keep people warm is neoprene. Thickness of the material is indicated in millimeters. To get more warmth, go for a thicker layer. 

Rash Guards for Sun Protection


Select an SPF rash guard to protect yourself from the sun or while surfing. The rash guard can be worn over or under a wetsuit while surfing to prevent skin irritation from a surfboard rash (to protect skin from wetsuit irritation). Here's some general information about rash guards:

  • Lightweight and designed to fit snugly, regular rash guards are a common choice for surfers, paddleboarders, kayakers and swimmers. Size up or buy a surf shirt if you prefer looser-fitting garments.
  • There are two basic cuts for rash guards: short sleeves and long sleeves. With shorter sleeves, you'll be able to move more freely, while longer sleeves will give you more support and protection.
  • Some rash guards can be attached to board short connectors to keep them from riding up. If you require this, look for a rashguard with this  design feature.


SPF Surf Shirts and Tees

Sun protection is the primary function of surf tees and surf shirts. Unlike traditional rash guards, these are loose-fitting and lightweight. Surf tees are usually too loose for surfing; wearing them as a regular shirt is best.


Protective Vests


When participating in water sports, consider donning a vest for added warmth. A wetsuit is not required to wear these. It's obvious that the lack of sleeves makes it easier to move your shoulders during athletic activities.

For the core, vests provide an additional layer of warmth (but not enough warm for cold-water use). Vests can be used for a variety of purposes depending on the material they are made of:

  • Rash guard vests are similar in design (but without sleeves).
  • If the rash guard vest is designed to keep the wearer warm, the label will include "mm"

Full Body Rash Guards 

The materials and fit of a rash guard are used in full-body rash guards, which are similar in appearance to full-body wetsuits. They can be worn alone or under a wetsuit for a variety of ocean sports. Full-body rash guards are commonly used in canoeing, kayaking, wake boarding, water skiing, windsurfing, kite surfing, and surfing. There is a downside to these suits in that they may limit mobility.





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