The best rash guards
- A long-sleeved, hooded rash guard is the best for most people because it offers the most protection and compresses to your body without trapping too much water and slowing you down.
- Our top pick is the Hurley Quick Dry rash guard because it's lightweight, looks decent, comes with UPF 50 sun protection, and dries quickly.
A little protection never hurt anyone, and if you're going swimming, surfing, or skin-diving in the sweet summer sun, it's worth giving yourself a buffer from its loving-but-merciless rays. And while a rash guard may not entirely prevent a jellyfish's wrath or a plague of sea lice, it will almost certainly diminish the intensity of their offensive.
Rash guards are essential for surfers, especially those with body hair. Wax and hair, as we all know, don't go too well together unless we're intentionally removing hair, and the case is no different with surf wax. Even if you don't have body hair, surf wax can really tear up your skin leaving you with something like a rug burn, or, uh, a rash. Don't get a rash. Wear a rash guard.
While a constrictive lycra top is probably optimal for performance's sake, that might not be your goal at all (it's hardly mine). Loose-fitting rash guards are more comfortable, and while they're also liable to welcome unwelcome critters into your torso region, they still keep the sun away. Likewise, if you're swimming in a pool, I couldn't think of a reason why you'd need a tight-fitting rash guard.Rash guards also come in short- and long-sleeved designs, with and without hoods, pockets, and loops for more secure surf bathing. We've got an assortment of functional styles below, and while I don't like to recommend short-sleeve rash guards, all of our choices are available in that cut, too.
Here are the best rash guards you can buy:
- Best overall: Hurley Quick Dry
- Best for surfing: Patagonia RØ Hoody
- Best thermal: O'Neill Thermo-X
- Best hybrid: O'Neill 24/7 Hybrid Zippered Hoody
- Best for casual use: Land's End Swim Tee
Updated 10/30/2019 by Owen Burke: Our top pick, Patagonia's RØ Long-Sleeved Hoody, is no longer available, and Hurley's Quick Dry rash guard has taken its place for now. We'll be on the lookout for another loose-fitting hooded rash guard to recommend come springtime.
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