As wonderful as it would be if surfing didn’t require any form of protective clothing, it is simply not the reality. As a surfer, you must take extra precautions to ensure that you are keeping safe whilst having fun.
This is where the rash guard comes in. Otherwise known as a rash vest or a rashie, the rash guard is essentially a protective shirt that is designed to be worn in the water.
Typically composed of lycra, neoprene, spandex or polyester, rash guards work to protect the skin against the harmful UV rays of the sun, abrasion and harsh elements that surfers are often exposed to out in the ocean.
On warm days, rash guards work to prevent you from burning, whilst eliminating excess moisture for optimum comfort. On colder days, the rash guards work just as well to provide an extra layer of insulation.
They are an extremely versatile piece of surf-clothing which is why it is no surprise that they are used by millions of surf-enthusiasts all over the world. We would advise surfers of all ages and abilities to consider adding one to their wardrobe.
With so many different rash guards available on the market, we know it can be confusing to know where to start. You need to consider how you would like it to fit, what you would like it to do, and where you are going to be wearing it.
We thought we would help to narrow down your choices by showing you our top 5 picks of surfing rash guards. We have also answered some questions that you might be wondering and outlined some of the things you should be considering before making any ‘rash’ decisions.
Top 5 Best Rash Guards for Surfing
OUR TOP PICK
O’Neill is one of the most reputable surf brands in the world. Since 1952 they have been responsible for producing some of the most innovative products the industry has ever seen, specializing mainly in surfboards and surf clothing. It is no surprise that their Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guards is one of the most best-selling rash-guards on the market.
Designed to hug your body like a second skin, this rash guard ensures minimal heat absorption and effective UV protection. Despite its snug fit, this rash guard is incredibly comfortable. Its materials are both lightweight and breathable whilst its seamless paddle zones work to reduce chafing.
Made with polyester and spandex, this rash vest is not only quick-drying but extremely flexible. It can be worn both alone and underneath your wetsuit and provides rash protection with minimal seam placement. With a UPF rating of 50+, this rash vest will be sure to protect even the most sensitive skinned riders and has been recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Whilst this rash guard isn’t the cheapest option on the market, it’s technical details and classic, simplistic style makes it totally worth it in our eyes. Its quick-drying properties and highly comfortable fit mean that it can be worn all day long both in and out of the water. Whilst this rash guard may be slightly more of an investment than some of the other rash guards out there, it will be one that you won’t regret.
- -Lightweight, breathable material
- -Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation
- -Made by one of the most famous surfing brands in the industry
- -Ideal for warm climates
- -Some buyers have reported issues with sizing
- [U.P.F. 50+ Max UV Protection Factor by O'Neill] creates tight Performance Fit that hugs your body like a second skin.
- [Skin Cancer Foundation Recommended] Polyester/Spandex blend for effective UV protection with minimal heat absorption.
- [Quick Dry 4-way Stretch Moves with You] for wearing alone or under a wetsuit for rash protection with minimal seam placement.
- [Strategic Seamless Paddle Zones Stop Chafing] Supports movement throughout this O'Neill Basic Skins 50+ long sleeved rash guard with value-driven choices.
- [O'Neill Wetsuits since 1952 Creating Industry Leading Functional Gear] Cleanly Designed Graphics for rash prevention during outdoor sports and activities.
From a brand that has been designing and selling surf-wear since 1997, comes the Kanu Surf Men’s Long Sleeve Platinum UPF 50 Rash Guard. Like all of Kanu’s products, this rash guard is both high-functioning and affordable. It is extremely versatile and can be used in all sorts of water-based situations and conditions.
Made up of 87% polyester and 13% spandex, this rash guard is just as flexible as it is durable. Whilst the spandex gives the rash guard the perfect amount of stretch, the polyester ensures ultimate comfort and breathability. Whilst it is designed to be worn during summer surf sessions to protect you against those harmful UV rays, this rash guard can also be used as an additional layer of insulation during the colder months.
The long-sleeve fit of this shirt and its UPF rating of 50+ means that you don’t have to worry about applying sunblock to your arms and torso throughout the day. If you’re planning on being in the water for a prolonged period, this can be extremely handy. For further convenience, it is also designed to be washing-machine friendly meaning you don’t have to waste time handwashing after every use.
Available in a wide variety of sizes, this rash guard is perfect for riders of all levels. You even have the option to coordinate with other members of your family with matching styles available for adults and kids! If you’re looking for a simple, but excellent rash guard that won’t cost you a fortune, this Kanu shirt would be a wonderful option to consider.
- -Very affordable
- -Machine washable
- -Extremely durable against salt water and chlorine
- -UPF rating of 50+
- -Material is susceptible to stretching after several uses
Now, like all of BPS rash guards, the Men’s UPF 50+ Rash Guard was designed by an experienced surfer who wanted to create a shirt that was just as protective as it was comfortable. It is a highly versatile piece of protective gear, directed not only towards surfers but divers, skimboarders, bodyboarders and other water-sport enthusiasts. It would be a perfect option for any of you multi-talented thrill-seekers out there with a flair for water sports.
Made from premium quick-drying Lycra and poly fabric, this rash guard is both breathable and stretchy. The BPS manufacturers designed this shirt to have roomy sleeves as well as a board short connecting loop to prevent the material from riding up in the water. Their priority of comfort is further exemplified in the shirt’s tailoring.
This rash guard in particular is designed with a high-collar which ensures maximum protection of your neck and back against the sun. Whilst this may sound slightly uncomfortable, its flatlock seams ensure that you won’t feel any sort of irritation or chafing to your skin.
Unlike many rash guards that can feel bulky and imposing underneath clothing, this BPS shirt has been crafted to ensure it achieves the opposite effect. When surfing, your clothing can have a huge effect on your performance, which is why it is so important to make sure you are perfectly equipped. With this BPS rash guard, you won’t even notice it’s there.
- -Reasonably priced
- -Available in a huge variety of colors
- -Features a board short connector to prevent the rash guard riding up
- -Available in both short and long sleeve fits
- -Comes with a 12-month guarantee
- -Some buyers reporting issues with stitching after several wears
- BPS Rash guards are designed by an experienced surfer who wanted a relaxed fit for comfort, roomy sleeves, and a board short connector loop at the bottom hem to stop the shirt from riding up. They are also tailored with minimal seam placement to feel comfortable and light.
- Made from premium super-quick drying Lycra and Poly fabric, which is breathable with 4-way stretch. You instantly get 50+ UPF sun protection just by putting it on, as it blocks harmful rays and shields your skin from the sun. Designed with a high collar for neck protection from the sun and your wetsuit (if you wear one). You'll receive an e-guide that contains helpful tips on how to look after your rash guard. Make sure you DON'T OPT-OUT from receiving emails from Amazon so you won't miss this!
- These rashguards are also available in Long Sleeve if you want full protection for your arms. Easy to get on and off, non-chafing, and providing protection against underwater irritants. Available in Charcoal Grey, White, and Black, with BPS’s very own friendly and discreet Shaka design. Actual color may vary due to different display capabilities of mobile and computer screens but feel free to reach out if you are not happy and we'll make it right for you.
- Buy with complete confidence, as all our products are stored and shipped quickly and reliably to you by Amazon. Also, all BPS products come with a 'Next-Level' guarantee for 12 months. If you encounter any quality (or fit issues) at all, just let us know, and your item will be replaced, or you'll be refunded - your choice!
- Thank you for looking at a product from our store, Surf and Snow Warehouse. We are a small family business that ONLY sells what we know and love - water sports gear. We know our products, use our products, and stand behind them 100%. We are known for the excellent product support, advice, and after-sales service we provide. So if you have ANY questions about any of our products, please just ask.
The Huge Sports UPF 50+ Rash Guard is another extremely good value for money product. Crafted from a combination of nylon and spandex, this rash guard works to balance temperatures whilst eliminating excess moisture.
It is not only suitable for water-based sports such as surfing but recreational outdoor activities such as hiking. This makes the Huge Sports Rash Guard one of the more versatile options on our list. Its 50+ UV rating ensures that no matter what sport you’re going to be engaging in, you will be sufficiently protected from the sun.
This rash vest has been designed with a two-way stretch fabric that is known to prevent energy loss and fatigue through muscle stabilization. Whilst the shirt is great for compression, and improving performance, it remains extremely lightweight and breathable on the skin.
This rash guard is also impressively durable. It is abrasion-resistant meaning that it can withstand all sorts of aerobic and aquatic conditions. You shouldn’t have to worry about the wear and tear of this shirt any time soon.
This quick-drying, resilient shirt would be perfect for anyone looking for a universally effective rash guard. At such a reasonable price, we think it’s an all-round wonderful option that you should consider in your search.
- -Variety of unique designs
- -Extremely versatile
- -Works to stabilize muscles through compression
- -UPF 50+ ultraviolet protection
- -Some buyers reported issues with sizing
Founded in 1969, Quicksilver is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of board sports equipment and surf-wear. They are a brand that has dominated the surf market over the past few decades and are now championed by professional surfers all over the world. It is no wonder that their All Time Long Sleeve Rashguard is one of the most best-selling surf rash guards on the market today.
Composed of 92% polyester and 8% elastane, this rash guard is both snug-fitting and highly-flexible. Whilst offering full coverage against those harmful UV rays, the material is quick-drying, ensuring maximum comfort all day long. This rash vest features flatlock seams that work to reduce irritation and chafing whilst its raglan sleeves help to enhance freedom of motion and stretch.
The flexibility of the shirt makes it a perfect option for anyone looking to perform intricate surfing tricks and maneuvers in the waves. Designed to work as a second skin, this rash guard is one that you don’t have to worry about getting in your way.
This rash guard is not only extraordinarily well made, but its iconic, minimalistic design truly rounds it off as one of the greatest rash guards currently available on the market.
- -Created by a highly respected surf-wear giant
- -Superfast drying
- -Feels light and comfortable on the skin
- -True to size
- -Very flattering fit
- -Requires handwashing
Best Rash Guards for Surfing Buying Guide
As a surfer, your clothing can have a profound effect on your performance in the water. Because of this, it is incredibly important to ensure you are equipped with the right gear.
There is a huge variety of rash guards available on the market and with so many different options at your disposal, you are guaranteed to find one that is just right for you. When making this decision, there are several factors you should consider. We thought we would make things slightly easier for you by breaking some of these factors down:
Rash guards can be made with a variety of different materials. These different materials will offer different levels of insulation, stretch, and flexibility so the ultimate decision should depend on exactly how you want your rash guard to feel.
There are four main materials that rash guards are typically composed of: lycra, polyester, spandex, and neoprene. Lycra is an extremely flexible fabric that is quick-drying and will prevent irritation. Polyester rash guards offer sweat-wicking and ultimate breathability whilst retaining an impressive amount of flexibility. Spandex rash guards are tight-fitting but breathable and extremely fast at drying.
Finally, neoprene rash guards are highly flexible and great for insulating against colder waters and temperatures. Whatever rash guard you choose, you will need to ensure that the material offers UPF protection. This is the most crucial factor when deciding on a fabric.
The main function of a rash guard is to protect against UV rays. If you are a surfer, you should look for a rash guard with a high UPF rating to ensure you are optimally protected against harmful UV rays from both the sun and water reflection. This will prevent you from burning and developing any long-term sun damage.
The price of rash guards varies massively depending on the quality of materials and level of UV protection. Whilst the more expensive options will likely be better fitting and more comfortable in the water, there is a huge variety of lower budget rash guards on the market that work perfectly well and won’t cost you an arm or a leg.
Rash guards are typically designed to be tight-fitting. Whilst there are loose-fitting rash guards available, a snug-fit will be the most beneficial to surfers who are going to be spending prolonged periods in the water.
This is because tight-fitting shirts have less resistance meaning you are less likely to experience irritating of the skin and chafing. The snug fit of the rash guard also ensures that you can wear it both alone and underneath clothing or wetsuits for maximum protection and insulation.
Rash guards are available with tank-sleeves, short sleeves, and long sleeves. The sleeve length you choose is completely down to your personal preference. Tank sleeved rash guards are great for flexibility and work best for surfers who prefer a much more breathable protective layer. Short-sleeved rash guards are great because they protect your neck and shoulders from the beating sun whilst not being too restrictive.
Long sleeve rash guards are the most protective of all. They cover a larger surface area and therefore are great for cooler temperatures where added insulation is needed.
Best Rash Guards for Surfing - FAQ's
Can I put my wetsuit in the washing machine?
You will need to check the label of your rash guard for specific wash instructions. Depending on the materials, you may have to hand-wash. If you are going to use a washing machine, make sure you are using a cold/delicate setting with mild dish soap or detergent. Do not put your rash guard in the dryer as this will cause it to shrink and ruin. You should leave it out to air-dry instead.
When do I need to wear my rash guard?
Rash guards are typically worn during warm conditions as they provide UV protection whilst preventing wax-based chafing of the skin. They can also be worn during the colder months to work as an extra layer of insulation. If possible, you should wear a rash guard at all times when surfing to not only prevent burning and rashes but to balance your temperature.
How tight-fitting does my rash guard need to be?
The fit of your rash guard should depend on where you will be wearing it. If you are simply looking for a rash guard to wear around the pool, then you can opt for a loose fit, but if you are looking for a rash guard to wear for surfing or diving, then a more tightly-fitting protective shirt would be more beneficial.