How to Pick the Right Rash Guard

How to Pick the Right Rash Guard

How to Pick the Right Rash Guard

Traditionally worn by surfers to protect the skin against chafing from salt water and movement, rash guards are now worn by people in other sports such as MMA, biking and running. But it is water sports such as surfing, wake boarding, kite surfing and paddle boarding where the need for good for swimwear is really appreciated. But even experienced water sportspeople are often confused on picking the right rash guard. Here are a few tips on how to get the right rash guard.

Sun protection

Spending long hours in open water can lead to hazardous skin damage from direct sunburn and reflected sunburn. A good quality rash guard should be rated UPF 30+ and ideally UPF50. This blocks off both Ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.

The right fit

Rash guards are designed to be worn against the skin. The rash guard should be snug while not being too tight as to chafe the skin, which would beat the purpose of wearing it. Swimwear for underwater sports such as scuba diving and snorkeling should feel comfortable when worn under a wetsuit. These skintight rash guards have less water resistance, making your movement in the water smoother. You can pick a looser fit if you are spending time above the water e.g. fishing.

Fabric type

Rash guards are usually made of a blend of nylon, spandex, neoprene, and Lycra. A nylon-spandex blend is good for quick drying. Neoprene flexible and warm. Lycra is stretchy and breathable, while polyester blends offer better sweat wicking. You should pick the material according to the activity you are doing. A nylon-spandex blend, for example, would be good for snorkeling as it is fast drying, while a polyester fabric would be good for kitesurfing.

Sleeve length

Full-length rash guards are good for cold temperatures as they provide more warmth. Tank style rash guards are ideal for working in the sun while short sleeved rash guards are good for days when the weather is temperate (no half-arm tanning).


If you are wearing swimwear next to the skin, you will need the fabric lying flat on the skin to avoid chafing and irritation. Flat stitching and low profile seams are seen in many high-quality rash guards.


The styling on your rash guard is a statement of self-expression. Depending on the type of graphics, the method of graphics design can be sublimation, which is the permanent bonding of fabric and dye, or heat-transfer, which is like stamping on the dye on the fabric using heat. Sublimation designs are more expensive but last longer. 

A rash guard is an essential swimwear if you are spending long hours in the water, or being active. Use the above tips to pick the right one.



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