Best Rash Guards
There is nothing that can ruin a day at the beach more than uncomfortable skin. While sunscreen is an excellent tool to keep the sun off of your back, it typically has to be reapplied every 80 minutes to ensure that you are protected. Sometimes, when you are out in the middle of the ocean on a surfboard, or out on the lake in a kayak- you don’t have the time nor the interest to reapply sunblock. That’s where the investment in a good rash guard will come in handy. It is able to keep the sun and the elements off of your back so that you won’t have to worry about gingerly applying aloe to your red skin in the evening after a long day having fun outside.
The material of rash guards typically is lightweight and dries very quickly, so you will eventually not even realize that you are wearing a shirt. Not only does a rash guard protect your skin against sunburn, but it can keep your skin safe from abrasions if you happen to wipe out on the water. There are even some styles out there that offer both protection from the sun as well as compression. Compression helps keep your muscles warm and blood circulating, which can help prevent muscles from fatiguing quickly while on your board, and it can help ward off muscle soreness the following day.
Some users prefer them to fit a little loose, and others prefer them to fit tighter. With so many different styles and brands of rash guards out on the market, it can be overwhelming to find which one is a good fit for you. Below, we have compiled a list of some of the best rash guards currently out there so that you can spend more time out on the water.
- QUIKSILVER RASH GUARD
- Superior sun protection
- HAYABUSA METARU RASH GUARD
- Maximum flexibility
- BALEAF RASH GUARD
- Dries quickly
10 Best Rash Guards
Quiksilver Rash Guard
This shirt is composed of 100 percent cotton and 6.2 ounces of stretch polyester fabric. This fabric provides maximum flexibility and is incredibly soft to the touch. This fabric makes it easy to just throw into the washing machine to clean.
Just like all great rash guards, this shirt proves a UPF of 50+, which is the highest level you can currently buy. The lightweight material and simple seam designs make it feel like you aren’t wearing anything at all, all the while being protected from the sun and abrasions.
The design of this shirt is simple. It has sleeves that end right above the elbow, and the Quicksilver logo on the chest as well as the sleeve. It is available in a myriad of colors such as black, white, blue, red, navy, and grey.
The price of this shirt runs about the middle of the road. It is not the most expensive shirt that is on the market, but it by far the least expensive. This shirt will likely set you back the same amount that you would spend on a nice button-down office shirt.
If you are in the market for a simple rash guard that will protect you from the sun and also keep your skin safe from abrasions from nasty falls, this is an excellent choice for all of your outdoor adventures.
- Mid-length sleeve
- Superior sun protection
- Unreliable sizing
- Some report that fabric doesn’t really stretch
Hayabusa Metaru Rash Guard
This shirt is made from a blend of polyester and elastane. The materials that make up this shirt are also coated with titanium fibers that are also antibacterial. Inner silicone banding keeps the shirt front shifting around while engaging in strenuous activity.
This shirt was designed with those engaging in Jiu Jitsu in mind. It works to keep the temperature of the body evenly maintained while engaging in strenuous activity to help you perform at your very best. The materials that it is made from allows for maximum flexibility for enhanced performance.
The design is the very best feature of this shirt. The exterior has a slash design that comes in various colors such as blue, white, and purple, with a consistent black base.
The price of this shirt runs about double the cost of many of the other rash guards that are currently on the market. However, if you are looking for a shirt that offers maximum compression to keep you constantly performing at your best- this is well worth the padded price tag.
For the athlete that is in the market for a rash guard that not only keep the skin protected from abrasions but also help circulate blood and keep body temperatures regulated (and has the extra cash to spend), this is a great option for all of your needs.
- Maximum protection from abrasions
- Sharp design
- Maximum flexibility
- No proven sun protection
- Some report that it runs a bit small
Baleaf Rash Guard
Made from 100 percent polyester, this shirt is so lightweight it feels as if you are wearing nothing at all, and it dries incredibly fast so that you can transition from the water to the beach without being weighed down with uncomfortable and wet clothes.
Like any great rash guard, this shirt offers maximum protection from the sun: a UPF of 50+, which is the highest level currently available on the market. The seams and loose design keeps skin safe without sacrificing range of motion so that you can perform at your very best.
The simple design fits loosely on the arms as well as the torso. It has a loop at the bottom of the hem to affix to boardshorts to prevent riding up. The flatlock seams also limit friction between the shirt and your skin. It comes in many neural colors such as black, white, grey, blue, and a muted orange.
The best feature about this shirt is the price. It is one of the most affordable products currently out there on the market and costs about the same amount that you would spend on a run of the mill t-shirt.
For surfers that want something simple and light, but it comes with all of the features that you will need to keep your skin safe and comfortable, this is an excellent choice that is offered at a great price.
- Dries quickly
- Loop that affixes shirt to shorts to prevent ride up
- Unreliable sizing
- Some reports that fabric isn’t as stretchy as other shirts
Tesla Rashguard MSZ03
This product is made from durable and thick materials that keep skin protected. It is made from 88 percent polyester and polyurethane. It also has a zipper on the front to make it easy to take on and off.
The heavier weight of this shirt makes it better at protecting skin from harder falls. If you are someone that often takes a beating while engaging in outdoor watersports, you may want to try out this option. It also offers the highest level of protection from the sun- providing a UPF of 50+. It offers two-way ventilation to ensure that your body stays cool and dry.
What makes this design different is that it has a front zipper for easy access on and off. It comes in many neutral tones with thin yellow stripes along the arms and down the sides. The front zipper makes it so that you can layer it with other shirts on colder days out on the water, and it can be easily removed when you start to work up a real sweat.
Given the durability and level of protection that this rash guard provides, it is offered at an extremely reasonable price. The cost of this item will run you about the same price it would cost you to purchase a nice collared shirt that you would wear to lunch.
If you are in the market for a rash guard that is a little bit thick and heavier than some of other shirts out there, this is offered at a great price. The design of this model is perfect for surfers that aren’t afraid to chase those big waves and need a little bit more protection if they happen to wipeout.
- Front zipper
- Heavy material provides superior protection against abrasions
- Sharp design
- Unreliable sizing
- Some reports metal zipper begins to corrode from salt water
Legend Rash Guards
The material that this rash guard is composed of is incredibly lightweight and soft to the touch. After getting wet, it takes this shirt approximately 10 minutes to dry, so you can transition from water sports to picnicking on the beach without the need to change into dry clothes.
This shirt offers great compression so that muscles are constantly warm and flowing with blood, which will help your muscles from becoming overly fatigued and help with soreness the next day. In addition to compression, this shirt also offers the highest sun protection that is available, UPH 50+. That means that 98.8 percent of the sun’s harmful rays will not come into contact with your skin. This company stands behind their product so much that they offer a 100 percent lifetime guarantee if you are not satisfied with its effectiveness
Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to this rash guard. It comes in red, black, white, blue, or grey, and they all have standout white stitching along the breastplate and cuffs.
The price of this item is just a little bit more than some of the other options on this list, but it is still less expensive than some of the name brand options, such as O’Neill. Considering that it comes with a lifetime guarantee, it is well worth the slightly padded price tag.
For surfers that want a rash guard that not only protects them from the sun but also provides compression so that you can say out on the water longer, this is an excellent option for your next day out on the beach.
- Lifetime warranty
- Provides compression
- Dries quickly
- Superior sun protection
- Some users do not like the fit
- Reports that the material is thick and can become hot
Sanabul Essentials Rash Guard
The polyester material for this shirt has been treated with an antimicrobial substance to reduce bacteria and prevent fungal growth. Sometimes when you are out on the water for extended periods of time with a wet shirt, it can sometimes be a breeding ground for bacteria, but not with this product.
As with all great rash guards, this shirt offers a UPF of 50+, meaning you can stay out on the water longer and not worry about tending to a sunburn upon arriving back on the shore. It also serves as a compression shirt, which is great when you want to keep your muscle warm and pumping with blood when engaging in strenuous activities.
The design of this shirt is what makes it stand out slightly from the rest. It still fits tightly as some of the other products on this list, but it also has vented armpits that keep the body cool and provides an excellent range of motion. It is offered in a solid black with colored sleeve options available. Color options include: blue, brown, purple, red and white.
The price of this shirt runs a little bit more expensive than some of the other options on this list, but it by no means is going to break the bank
For surfers or wrestlers that are looking for a rash guard that goes that extra mile in terms of performance and is designed to keep the body cool and range of motion intact, this is a great option.
- Vented underarms
- Provides muscle compression
- Superior protection
- Unreliable sizing
- Not as many color options offered
DRSKIN Rash Guard
The material is composed of three distinct layers. One layer is designed to dispel water, one layer is designed to metastasize water, and the last layer absorbs water. It is easily cleaned; all you need to do is pop it into the washing machine. The odd ramp sewing method also ensures that the seams are flat and don’t rub against the skin.
This long sleeved shirt provides maximum protection against the sun. It is considered to have a UPF of 50+, meaning you are not going to be getting sunburned when wearing this shirt. The compression that it offers benefits muscles by keeping blood flowing to them during strenuous activities.
What is great about this shirt is that it is available in a myriad of fun colors and unique designs that will appeal to everyone. Colors include neutral colors such as black, white grey, and blue, to fun and bright colors such as neon green, red, and blue. If you are looking for a shirt with a print, it is also offered in black, white, and red camo designs.
The most appealing feature about this product is that is it offered at a very reasonable price. It runs about the same price as you would pay for a regular T-shirt. With all of its added features and color options, this is a great deal.
If you were looking for a rash guard that serves more than one purpose than just keeping you protected from the sun, this selection is an excellent choice. It is offered at a great price and comes in a variety of styles so that you can afford to buy one for every day of the week.
- Offers compression
- Many color options offered
- Some users have reported the color bleeds even after multiple washes
- Unreliable sizing
- Some find it is too tight around the neck
Kanu Surf Rash Guard
The material of this shirt is made from 100 percent polyester. This material is great because it fits comfortably, is lightweight, and offers great protection from the sun. It is also made with minimal seams to make it feel like you are wearing nothing at all.
This shirt provides the maximum protection from the sun that any shirt is capable of providing: UPF 50+. You can stay out all day on the water under the harsh sun of a cloudless summer day and you won’t have to worry about applying sunblock. Additionally, the minimal seams means that if you happen to suffer a wipeout, there will be fewer points of friction between the water and your skin.
The design of this shirt is simple and doesn’t have any logos or designs. It is available in every color imaginable- red, yellow, orange, pink, black, white, grey, and green. Each shirt has a sleek black panel that run from under the arm and down along the sides, giving the illusion of length and making you look lean.
The best part about this product is the incredibly affordable price point. It runs about the same price that you would spend on just a regular t-shirt, allowing you to buy one in every color, or for every day of the week.
For surfers looking for an affordable rashguard that offers the maximum protection from the sun without breaking the bank, Kanu Surf is an excellent choice for your next trip out on the water.
- Offered in many colors
- Maximum sun protection
- Some say that is fit too tight at the neck
- Unreliable sizing
- White color options becomes sheer when wet
Speedo Rash Guard Swim Tee
This shirt is made from 100 percent polyester, and it fits loosely around the body. It also sports limited seams so that there is a limited around of friction and rubbing, making it feel like you are wearing nothing at all.
Like any quality rash guard, this shirt offers the maximum amount of sun protection that any shirt can give: UPF 50+. That means that your skin will be safe from the harmful and cancerous rays of the sun so that you can stay out there longer. Fewer seams also mean that if you happen to suffer a nasty wipeout, there will be fewer points of friction between the water/ground and your skin.
Since their founding in 1914, Speedo has been able to make stylish and functional pieces without skipping a beat, and that is the case with this product as well. It’s designed to fit a little bit looser for users that hate wearing tight-fitting clothing. However, if you prefer for it to fit tight, simply go down a size. It is offered in a variety of cool beach tones such as blue, white, black, grey, and bright ocean.
The cost of this product is a little more affordable than the O’Neill guard. It will run you about the price of a good quality graphic T-shirt. Keep in mind, however, that this is a short sleeve shirt, so it doesn’t offer the same level of protection on your arms as a long sleeve shirt would.
If you are in the market for a rash guard that checks off of the boxes of what surfers want in protective gear, Speedo is an excellent choice, especially with its reasonable price.
- Brand Recognition
- Can wear loose or fitted
- Superior sun protection
- White color option because see-through when wet
- Some users report the fit is a little too long
O'Neill Long Sleeve Rash Guard
The product is made from elastane polyester- which makes it incredibly lightweight and quick drying. It is also made with the fewest seams possible so that it feels like a second skin. The polyester material is sewn with minimal seams so it feels like you aren’t wearing anything at all.
The fewer seams that a shirt has means the fewer points of friction there will be when the surfer suffers a wipeout, leaving the skin more protected. This shirt was sewn with as few seams as possible. It is also recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation because it provides UPF protection of 50+.
The design of this shirt is sleek and sharp, and it fits like a glove. The placement of the seams helps the material contour to your body so that it always feels comfortable. The O’Neill logo is placed predominantly across the chest, and it is available in a myriad of fun colors such as blue, red, yellow, white, black, and grey. If you're not thrilled about the giant logo across the chest, it is also offered with a more modest logo on the sleeve.
When you purchase an O’Neill product, you know that you are buying one of the best pieces of gear out there, and it reflects in the price. While it is not the most expensive shirt out there, you will be paying a little bit more than you would some of the others. The price of this item will run you about the same price is it would cost you to buy a nice button down shirt.
For swimmers that are looking for a rash guard that fits comfortably and comes in a variety of colors to match their personal style, this is an excellent option. You will also feel safe knowing that the product is coming from such a well-known company such as O’Neill.
- Color options available
- Brand recognition
- Superior protection
- Runs a little small
- Collar seam is in the inside- some users have found it to be irritating to their necks
The Criteria We Used To Find The Best Rash Guards
There are many different styles and type of rash guards out there on the market, and many of them offer more than one benefit. When selecting the best ones for this list, we took into consideration all of the added benefits to determine which ones were worth all of the extra bells and whistles. When it came down to it, the more simple the design- the better the shirt. These shirts are made not to be noticed. You want to be able to be out on the water carefree without worrying about becoming horribly sunburned in the evening. A good rash guard gives you all of the flexibility, movement, and comfort as you would if you weren’t wearing anything at all. With that in mind, there were certain criteria we kept in mind while selecting the best products currently on the market.
The mark of a really great rash guard starts with the materials that they are made from. It was important that we selected rash guards that were made from materials that had a UPF of 50 or over, and were made from cotton or polyester. When you wear a rash guard, you don’t want to be able to sense that you are wearing a shirt. It should feel like a second skin or even nothing at all. A good shirt is composed of six panels that are held together with seams created by flatlock stitching is what makes a rash guard better than wearing just a regular shirt. We tried to keep an eye out on this level of construction for all of the shirts that appeared on this list.
As stated earlier, shirts that have a UPF of 50 or over are considered to be the best of the best, and they almost block out the sun completely. There are shirts out there that offer less than 50, but we didn’t consider those types of shirts on this list. One of the most important features of a guard is sun protection, so it wouldn’t be pragmatic to select a shirt that doesn’t offer maximum protection. A shirt that also protects skin from abrasions is also important, and the number one way to keep skin safe is to have as few seam lines as possible. When coming into contact with the water or the ground, you want to create as few points of friction as possible to protect your skin. Additionally, some of these shirts also came with the added benefit of compression. Compression is great if you are engaging in a stressful activity and want to maintain stamina throughout the day, while also trying to prevent muscle soreness the next day. If you are planning on wearing a rash guard to keep the sun off your back while sitting on the beach for a relaxing day, compression may not be for you. However, if you are worried about how you look after a long winter of take-out pizza and ice cream- a rash guard with compression can serve to slightly conceal all those late night snacks.
In a perfect world, you would be able be to out there on the water without risking getting sunburned or hurt. Sadly, we do not live in a perfect world, so wearing a shirt while out on the water is our only line of defense. Since you will have to conceal your body under fabric, it is important that it looks good. We tried to make sure that each guard that we selected offered a stylish design, and was also offered in colors that work for everyone. When you are out there on the waves, you want to make sure that you look good, and we made sure to select styles that make you look great.
No one wants to spend a lot of money on clothes. They want to spend a lot of money on surfboards and beachside lunches. When selecting the best rash guards, we kept this condition in mind. Even some of the well-known name brand items were reasonably priced enough to not break the bank. When it came to guards that offered superior compression and are primarily used for jiu-jitsu, the price tag shot up a great deal. Generally speaking, however, all of the shirts that are found on this list cost about the same price that you would spend on a regular piece of clothing, and in some cases, they cost significantly less.
There are just some brands that are synonymous with swimwear, and we made sure that we checked out those brands to see what they had to offer. It comes as no surprise that brands like Speedo and O’Neill made this list. They have been in the business of making great summer garments that keep users safe and protected, all while being durable and easy to wash. While some of the bigger brands have great products that are sure to not disappoint, we made sure not to discount some of the smaller companies that are eager to make a name for themselves, such as Kanu.
Other Factors To Consider
If a shirt doesn’t isn’t comfortable, you are not going to enjoy your time out on the water as much as you could. When selecting a rash vest for you, take into consideration the things that you need and prefer in a shirt. Many users have had pervasive complaints that some of the designs have high necks that can become uncomfortable when surfing or swimming. If you don’t like higher necklines, be sure that the design you select doesn’t have a neckline that is too high for you. Also, if you prefer not to wear a shirt that is too tight, it would be wise to buy a size slightly larger than one that you normally would. Protection is always the number one factor when wearing a rash vest, but if you do not feel comfortable, you are not going to want to wear it.
Q: What is a rash guard?
A rash guard is a shirt that protects your skin from the sun or abrasions. Abrasions can be caused by a waxy surfboard, the mats on the floor of the gym, or even rough contact with the sand. Most commonly, we see rash guards out on the water at the beach. A rash guard helps to protect the skin against the harmful rays of the sun so that you can be out on the water longer. Sunscreens sometimes don’t offer the same level of protection that these shirts can offer. Furthermore, when you are out on the water you often have to reapply sunscreen every 80 minutes, but you don’t have to do that when wearing one of these shirts, even if you are out on the water for the entire day.
Q: Who wears rash guards?
Rash guards are designed to protect skin against the harsh rays of the sun as well as protect it against abrasions. Therefore, they are primarily used by surfers, kayakers, swimmers-, or basically anyone engaging in water sports when the sun is hot. However, they aren’t just for swimmers, they offer sun protection that far surpasses sunscreen because it doesn’t have to be reapplied every 80 minutes. If you are some of the unfortunate few that gets a sunburn even thinking about the sun, you may benefit from the superb sun protection that comes from wearing a rash guard, even if you have no intention of stepping into the water.
Alternatively, rash guards are also used by wrestlers and jiu-jitsu practicers. With all of the rolling around and skin to skin contact, a rash guard is incredibly helpful in these sports. The mats on the floor of these gyms are meant to prevent slipping and sliding. In turn, if you fall and your bare arm is on the floor while the rest of your body is still moving and fighting, you will get burned. Another great feature of a rash guard for wrestling is to prevent the spread of bacteria. You never know who you’re going to be up against, let alone when they last showered. For these sports, a rash guard is better while fighting, while a compression shirt is better for after.
Q: Do rash guards protect against the sun?
Absolutely. We are all familiar with SPF, the Sun Protection Factor offered by sunscreen. Rash guards and clothing offer us something called UPF. UPF is the Ultraviolet Protection Factor. UPH is specific to clothing and measures the effectiveness of sun protective fabrics. The UPF of these shirts range anywhere from 1-50, where 50+ is considered the highest protection against the sun. Basically, a rash guard that has a UPF of 50+ means that approximately 98.8 percent of the sun’s harmful rays stay off of your skin.
Q: Can I wear a rash guard for swimming?
Of course, that’s what it is designed for! However, when shopping for rash guard you have to be careful to ensure that you buy a style that is specially made for swimming. Some rash guards are more tailored to kayaking or surfing. To buy a shirt that is more for swimming, you need to buy one that fits tighter to your skin. If you buy a shirt that fits loosely, it may catch the water in such a way that will slow you down while swimming.
Q: How should my rash guard fit?
This is all a matter of personal preference. A loose fitting rash guard doesn’t mean that it offers less protection than a tight-fitting one. The only downside to wearing a loose fitting shirt is if you are swimming- is that it can slow you down. In terms of drying, keeping the sun off your back, and providing a layer of fabric between you and the water of those rare times you wipeout on your board, they are all about the same.
Q: Should I wear anything under my rash guard?
No, you don’t have to wear anything under a rash guard. Think of it as a swimsuit the covers more of your body. However, if you want to wear something under your rash guard, you always have that option if you purchase a loosely fitting design. Also, some rash guards come with the ability to zip it up the front so that you can take it off when you feel that you don’t want to wear it anymore for the day. Some rash guards can be worn under wetsuits or over swimsuits. Most females keep their bathing suit on under the rash guard, this could be for comfort or with the realization that they will want to tan and relax after catching a few waves.
Q: Will the rash guard make me too hot?
Typically, no, rash guards will not make you too hot. These shirts are designed to keep the hot sun off of your back and keep you comfortable while you are out on the water. They are made from incredibly lightweight material is breathable so that it dries quickly and feels almost like a second skin. Keep a lookout, however, on some rash guards that are also compression shirts- these designs are often a little bit heavier and are able to wear outside when the temperatures are a bit cooler.
Q: Can I wear them in colder weather?
It all depends on the type that you buy. Rash guards that don’t offer compression typically are only designed for warm weather to keep you cool and dry. Shirts that also provide compression are often made out of thicker material that sometimes can become a little stiff, but it would be perfect for morning jogs along the coast, or boarding when it’s cool and rainy. If you live in a cooler climate, or a warm climate with cool waters and great waves, a rash guard may be a great alternative to a body suit for surfing. You will have a bit more warmth and still enjoy the flexibility that you don’t get with a body suit.
Q: What is the difference between rash guards and compression shirts?
Rash guards are designed to protect skin against the sun and from abrasions. Rash guards are not as tight fitting as compression shirts and are composed of six panels. Compression shirts are only composed of four panels and can ride or roll up more easily. Compression shirts are designed to maintain body heat to regulate temperatures, and also to promote circulation to muscles. Sometimes, rash guards can also offer compression, but you have to be careful because sometimes those shirts do not offer any sun protection.
Q: Will I be less protected with a loose fitting rash guard?
If you are more comfortable wearing loose-fitting clothing then, by all means, go for it. It in no way leaves you less protected from the sun than the tighter fitting clothing. As long as there is a layer of fabric between you and the sun, or you and the water, you are just as safe and if you were wearing something that is very tight fitting.
The uses of rash guards are endless. It is the perfect accessory to stash away in your closet until you either: have the worst sunburn of your life and don’t want to miss out on summer fun, want to avoid that sunburn in the first place, decide to try out jiu-jitsu, want to go surfing, or are ready for a day on the boat but are already tan enough. We believe that everyone should own at least one and with their stylish appeal, modest price tag, and availability, there’s no reason not to order your perfect fit today.