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Rash Guard Buyers Guide

Do you hate the rashes that develop on your skin after you take a dip into the ocean? Well, it happens with everyone, as rashes are common, especially when your skin rubs against something hard such as a boat or your surfboard.

The only solution available to keep rashes at bay is wearing a rash guard shirt that protects your skin from rashes while offering ultimate comfort. But, the real challenge steps in when it comes to buying a rash guard.

Purchasing the best rash guard isn’t easy at all, as you need to check a plethora of things such as the type, size, and material. To make things easier for you, we are here with this comprehensive buyer's guide that will help you buy the best rash guard.

Furthermore, this guide contains some more information that you need to know before buying a rash guard wetsuit.

What is a rash guard? And why is it important?

Rash guards or commonly known as swim shirts are popular for use during in-water activities. Further, they are immensely popular among surfers because the friction caused by the surfboard results in painful rashes.

The rash guards available today are versatile and are ideal for everyone, including kids and adults. You can even use them while swimming, and there is no such limitation that only surfers can use them.

The rash guard shirt also protects you from the exposure of UV rays, and you can wear them in warm and cold water.

The commonly used material to manufacture rash guards is Lycra, nylon, spandex, polyester, and neoprene.

Benefits of using rash guards

A typical rash guard is more expensive than a beach t-shirt, so are there any real benefits of wearing it? A short answer is, yes! There are multiple benefits of wearing a rash guard shirt as it acts as a shield while protecting your skin from rashes.

Check the following benefits to understand what benefits a rash guard offers.

Offers thermal coverage

Rash guard shirts are available in a plethora of options with varying thicknesses. The thicker rash guards have better heat retention, and they are good for cold weather. You can wear a rash guard with a wetsuit as they are thin and can be layered easily.

The fast-drying fabric dries quickly, and that is a reason why rash guards are better than normal t-shirts. The thermal coverage depends on how thick the rash guard is. If the weather is hot, you should go for thin shirts, whereas cold weather requires you to get a thick rash guard that keeps the heat intact, so you feel warm and dry.

Prevents chafing and rashes

When you wear a rash guard shirt around the beach, then it prevents chafing and rashes caused due to abrasion during water sports. Your surfboard or boat can result in abrasion, and it will create rashes on your skin.

When you wear a rash guard shirt, then it protects you from rashes and chafing. The shirt will cover your sensitive areas, so there will be no direct rubbing and, therefore, no rashes.

Usually, scuba divers prefer to wear rash guards under the wetsuit for better thermal protection and protection against rashes as wetsuits aren’t designed to offer protection.


With a good quality rash guard, you won’t feel any restrictions in your movements. You can enjoy water sports or other activities like before with the assurance that there will be no rashes on your skin.

The guards are designed to offer a snug fit, and the comfortable and soft material makes things easier for you. You can wear a rash guard for a prolonged time without feeling any discomfort, and it is a major plus point why you should buy it.

Protects from sun

Other than the rashes caused due to the surfboard or boat, your skin is also exposed to something more dangerous. The harmful UV rays falling on your body can damage it even if you are wearing the best waterproof sunscreen.

When you wear a full sleeve rash guard, then you can rest assured that it will safeguard you from the harmful UV rays that are damaging your skin and can have some long-term effects. No matter if you are a kayaker, snorkeler, or surfer, you need a rash guard every time when you hit the water.

Jellyfish protection

Most of the surfers and kayakers aren't aware that a rash guard offers protection against jellyfish sting as well. The thick layer of the cloth will restrict the sting from penetrating your skin, and you can enjoy kayaking and surfing.

Jellyfish attacks are getting common every day, so it is essential to wear a rash guard before you take your surfboard and start riding on the waves.


Rash guard shirts are highly versatile and can be worn as an upper or a supporting garment. The comfortable piece of clothing is just like a regular t-shirt so that you can wear it with a wetsuit for added protection. You can use the same rash guard for all seasons provided that it offers decent thermal coverage.

Make sure to buy the best branded rash guards as they are durable and are good for all-seasons.

Factors to consider when buying a rash guard

You can’t just buy any rash guard, as they are available in different thicknesses and styles. Thus, this buyer’s guide will help you buy the best rash guard that is perfect, depending on your requirements. Check the guide to know more about the factors that you should check before pressing the buy now button.

Types of rash guards

Start by choosing the type of rash guard depending on the protection you need and the season. Rash guards are available in a plethora of types, and each type has its respective pros and cons. Below we have explained the common types of rash guards that you will find in the market along with their advantages and disadvantages.

Short sleeve rash guards

For hot and sunny days, you should go for rash guards with short sleeves. There will be no excess heating as the sleeves are short, so you will enjoy your day much more. The short sleeve rash guards cover your belly back and other parts of your body, just like a normal t-shirt.

However, your arms will be exposed to the UV rays and jellyfish stings.

Tank rash guards

The tank-top style rash guards should be your choice if you feel suffocated in the full sleeve shirt. The rash guard looks similar to a tank top, and you can wear it on hot and sunny days. Furthermore, they are highly comfortable and are breathable.

However, the issues will be the same as the short-sleeve rash guards as your arms will be exposed to UV rays and jellyfish stings.

Full sleeve rash guards

If you need ultimate protection against UV rays and the marine animals such as jellyfish, then go for rash guards with full sleeves. Also, they are good for insulation and keep the heat intact so that you will get good thermal coverage.

Full sleeve rash guards are good for hot and cold weather. However, if you feel extremely hot on sunny days, then you should avoid wearing them in hot weather.


The choice of the material will impact its durability and breathability. Manufacturers use a multitude of materials to manufacture the rash guards, so they are good for different weather and have varying durability.

Usually, rash guards are made using breathable fabrics, so that you get ultimate comfort when wearing them. The material will impact the warmth and stretch of the rash guard shirt.

You can check the following materials to find out which one is suitable for you.


Lycra is a popular material used to manufacture rash guards. The material is highly breathable, and stretchable so it won’t tear even if someone pulls you by your short. Furthermore, the rash guards made using Lycra dry quickly and protect your skin from chaffing.

They are lightweight and are available in different types of rash guards, including tanks and long sleeves.


  • Highly breathable
  • Dries quickly
  • Stretchable
  • Comfortable to wear in warm weather


  • Not so good for cold weathers


The rash guards made using neoprene are best suitable for cold weather as the material offers optimal insulation. Further, the material has excellent stretch and is flexible, which ensures durability.

You cannot wear a rash guard made using neoprene in warm weather as it may make you feel overheated. Neoprene rash guards are durable, and the material is machine washable.


  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Gentle to the skin
  • Excellent insulation


  • Not suitable for hot weather


When you choose rash guards made using polyester, then you get ultimate breathability. Furthermore, the material wicks moisture, and you will feel comfortable and easy. The main reason to buy polyester rash guards is the comfort you get with it.

However, there are some downsides to the material as well, such as it lacks flexibility and isn't as stretchable as Lycra, so the shirt can tear if it gets stuck in something.


  • Affordable
  • Requires less care
  • Comfortable


  • Lack of flexibility and stretchability

Nylon and spandex

Some manufacturers are using a blend of nylon and spandex to make the rash guards highly breathable and comfortable. You will get a snug fit with the guard, and it will keep you protected from rashes and impacts of the UV rays.

The stretch and breathability are also good, but the rash guards are pricey as compared to Lycra and polyester.


  • Highly breathable
  • Ideal for summers and winters
  • Tight fit
  • Pricey
  • Requires additional fabric care

The thickness of the material

After choosing the type of material, you should choose the thickness to get the desired comfort with the rash guard. They are available in multiple options as some are thick and some are thin. Thick rash guards have better insulation, whereas the thin ones offer better breathability.

Here we have explained the thickness options that you will find when choosing a rash guard.

3/2mm thickness

These rash guards are good for summers and hot days when you want to feel cool. The material is ideal to use in warm and normal waters, and you can prevent feeling overheated due to the thick material.

You will find a multitude of rash guards in this range as most of them are made using breathable material.

However, you cannot use them in cold weather.

4/3mm thickness

The rash guards with 4/3mm thickness are thicker than the previous range. They are ideal for cold and moderate waters, and you can even wear them if the weather is hot.

5mm and more

Rash guards with thickness more than 5mm offer excellent insulation, but the breathability is not that great. You cannot wear the rash guard during summers, as it will make you feel overheated and sweaty.

The choice of the material thickness should depend on the temperature of the water and the season.


Some good rash guards come with pockets so you can stash your important stuff. The availability of pocket depends on the model you are going for. Usually, most rash guards come with two pockets, or they have no pockets at all.

Thumbs hook

When you buy a rash guard with full sleeves, you will thumb hooks with them. The hooks will let you put your fingers in it so that the sleeves don’t slide from your arms. You will get a better fit when you buy a rash guard with thumbs hooks.


You will not find many rash guards with hoods, but some of them come with them. If you don’t want your hair to distract you while surfing, then go for rash guards with hoods.

Fast-drying capability

You will wear a rash guard into the water, so it should be made using fabric that dries quickly. The fabric that dries quickly will not impact your body temperature, especially in winters. Materials like Lycra have fast drying capabilities, and you should check it beforehand buying a rash guard.

The style

You can still look cool while wearing a rash guard, as they are available in multiple styles. You will find long, short, and other styles along with a tank and long sleeves. The style of the rash guard should depend on where you want to use it.

If you live in an area with hot weather, then go for the rash guard styles that have short sleeves or go for tank tops so that you get the required comfort.

On the other hand, if you live in an area with a cold temperature, you should go for rash guards that have long sleeves and thumb hooks.


Is the rash guard really effective as it claims to be? Well, there is just one way to find it out, and that’s checking customer reviews. You should go through multiple customer reviews to learn about the effectiveness of the rash guard.

It is essential to determine if the rash guard really walks the talk or is just making tall claims.


When choosing a rash guard, it is crucial to find out its fit. You won’t like a baggy fit, or a tight rash guard will make you feel uncomfortable. Generally, experts consider snug fit as the ideal fit because it is not too tight nor too loose.

Check the size chart to find out the size that will fit you. If possible, use a cloth tape to measure your body structure and then choose the rash guard accordingly. Going through customer reviews will also help in determining the right size.

As not all manufacturers have the same sizing measurements.

The seams

Most folks overlook checking the seams before buying a rash guard, and it has a significant impact on the durability. If you are buying a rash guard for surfing, kayaking, and other active sports, then check if it has flat-locked seams, as they are highly durable.

The other types of seams aren’t that great, so you cannot expect the rash guard to last longer in harsh conditions.

The neck

When searching for the best rash guards, you will come across two neck types: turtleneck and non-turtle neck. The choice depends on your preference and the style that you would love to wear. The rash guards with a turtleneck will give you a snug fit.

On the other hand, rash guards with no turtle neck are loose and comfortable. If you need a rash guard for surfing and kayaking, you should go for a turtleneck. Rash guards with a plain neck are good if you are not into high impact sports.


Women-specific rash guards are smaller in size and are designed especially for the ladies. Moreover, these rash guards have added support for the breast to make the woman feel comfortable while wearing it.

If you are looking for a rash guard for your lady, love look for the specific options.

FAQs: Best Rash Guards

Q: How to wash a rash guard?

A: It is important to take care of the rash guard so that it remains clean and lasts longer. If you want your investment to turn fruitful, then it is critical to follow a good cleaning regime. Here is the right way to wash a rash guard:

  • Take water in a bucket and add some mild washing detergent to it.
  • Put the rash guard in the bucket and leave it for some time.
  • Now rub it gently and make sure that the dust and dirt come off.
  • Rinse the rash guard using natural water and hand dry it.

While washing the rash guard, you should keep the following tips in mind to avoid damaging the fabric:

  • Never wash the rash guard in hot water.
  • Don’t use harsh detergents that have chemicals in them.
  • Don’t fold it or put it under the sun.
  • Don’t leave the rash guard into the car’s trunk as it may get torn.
Q: Are rash guards worth it?

A: Yes, it is worth every penny to invest in a good quality rash guard. It will safeguard you from abrasion, jellyfish stings, and that's why it is good to wear them before you get into the water.

Q: Can I wear a rash guard under a wetsuit?

A: A short answer to the question is, yes! You can wear a rash guard under a wetsuit. When buying the guard shirt, make sure that it is suitable for layering. Going through some customer reviews will surely help you select the best rash guard.

Q: Who should wear a rash guard?

A: Anyone who is interested in high impact water activities can wear a rash guard. No matter if you want to surf or paddle a kayak, you can use a rash guard to keep yourself protected from the possible dangers caused due to exposure to sun or salt water.

Q: Are rash guards good for kids?

A: Just like adults, kids also need protection against abrasion. If you want to take your little one with you for kayaking, then you should buy a rash guard for him as well. When buying rash guards for kids, look for kid-specific options as there are only a few rash guards available for kids.

Q: How durable are rash guards?

A: The durability of the rash guard depends on multiple factors, such as the material and how you take care of it. If you go for a branded rash guard with flat-locked seams, then you can expect it to last longer than the regular rash guards.


With this rash guard buyer’s guide, you can buy the best rash guard quickly without wasting your precious time in the research. Go through the factors listed in the guide and compare different rash guards based on the following parameters to choose the best one.

Lastly, look for customer reviews before to be extra-sure about the rash guard you are buying / - © Copyright 2020