When you think about surfing, the idea of shirtless men riding the waves comes to mind. However, it’s not entirely true in real life. Water conditions may be harsh to human skin. Thus, the need for wetsuits during colder days.
On a sunny and warm day, however, chaffing and sunburn may ruin the fun at the ocean. Too much abrasion and exposure from the sun brings a rash that sometimes takes too long to nurse. While they are all part of being under the sun and enjoying the water, they can be annoying to get.
So, if it’s too warm for a wetsuit, a little protection from a rash guard wouldn’t hurt. Whether it’s a weekend swim with your family or a quick run to hit the waves with your friends, the best rash guard will keep you from the harsh elements out in the open.
Best Rash Guards for Surfing: Your Maximum Skin Protector
The best rash guard should be able to protect your skin from all the harshness you will encounter during your surf while still keeping you comfortable. This is why you should be careful in picking the rash guard to use on your next trip to the beach. With all the rash guards sold at the malls and online, how would you know they are the right ones?
We’ve narrowed down your choices to our top 7 best rash guards for surfing based on customer reviews and our research. Check out the list to get you started with your rash guard shopping.
- Kanu Surf Platinum Rash Guard
- O’Neill Men’s Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard
- Hurley Dri-Fit Sleeve Protection Rash Guard
- O’Neill Youth Basic Skins
- Speedo Men’s Longview Short Sleeve Swim Tee
- Quiksilver Performer Rash Guard
- Hyperflex Wetsuits Men’s Polyolefin Rash Guard
#1. Kanu Surf Platinum Rash Guard – Best Budget
Material: 87% polyester / 13% spandex
Sizes: Small to XX-Large
UPF Rating: 50 ++
- Comes in 4 different colors
- Long sleeves
Kanu Surf is one of the leading names in the designs and manufacturing of swimwear for men, women, and kids. Their offices and distribution centers are strategically positioned across the state of New Jersey. They hold a display room in New York. But their merchandise can be bought at department stores, sporting goods, and online retail shops.
Kanu Surf Platinum Rashguard provides the best protection under the sun. With the UPF rating of 50+ and sleeves that cover the length of your arm, you won’t have to worry about getting sunburnt after a long day of surfing.
Crafted from a combination of polyester and spandex, these two materials work so well together for the effective activewear. The polyester guarantees that the material is soft, breathable, and fast-drying, while the spandex allows the fabric to stretch according to your physique and body movements.
This ocean pleaser is form-fitting. Hence it also makes as a suitable addition to underneath clothing or a wet suit. It wouldn’t be so bad to add extra insulation for colder weather, would it?
Aside from relieving your worries about applying and reapplying sunblock to your torso and arms, another thing not to worry about is how it holds up against the elements of the ocean. You will be impressed at how durable it is against chlorine, saltwater, as well as the washing machine.
Kanu Surf Platinum Rash guard’s materials are lightweight but are exceptionally efficient at blocking UV rays while you are under the sun.
|Machine-washable||Fabric stretches out after a few uses|
|UPF 50+||Fits tighter/smaller
#2. O’Neill Men’s Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard – Best Overall for Men
Material: 6oz polyester / spandex
Sizes: Small to XX-Large
UPF Rating: 50 ++
- Strategic Seam Placement
- 4-way stretch
- Flatlock Stitched Breathable Seams
You can’t go wrong with a product from a reputable name in surfing such as O’Neill. With their experience since 1952, they have proved just how worthy their products are to be on a lot of best-surfing items list. O’Neill Men’s Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard is one of their products that shows you why.
O’Neill Men’s Basic Skins Long Sleeve Rash Guard is best in comfort, style, and performance. They boast their UPF rating of 50+ with UV protection. No wonder they are recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.
This performance fit shirt has a comfortable crew neck and is intended to act as a second skin. Ideal for warmer climates, they are designed and constructed with 6-ounce polyester/spandex that is durable, quick-drying, and extremely. That’s giving you enough freedom to slide and glide across the waves.
An excellent surf-ready shirt, O’Neill Men’s Basic Skins is airy. The design allows heat and moisture to escape making you feel cooler for longer periods when not in the water. Even when you are sweating, it won’t make you feel too hot.
O’Neill Men’s Basic Skins is enhanced with flat-lock stitching and strategically-placed seams for the added comfort. This also reduces the risk of chaffing.
With the superior style, performance, and comfort O’Neill Men’s Basic Skins rashguard brings, you will be too proud to wear any of the colors it features with its famous O’Neill logo on your chest.
|Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation||No boardshort loop
|Ergonomic flat-lock stitched seams||Size runs short|
|Quick-dry, flat-lock stitching
#3. Hurley Dri Fit Sleeve Protection Rash Guard – Best Quick-Drying
Material: 100% Polyester
Sizes: Small to XX-Large
UPF Rating: 50 ++
- Nike Dri-Fit
- Flatlock seams
- Hurley icon branding
Founded in 1979, Hurley is an American company that specializes in the design, development, and manufacturing of surf apparel and accessories. They started as premiere shapers in Southern California until they became the licensing partner in the US for Billabong.
After deciding to stop their licensing rights with Billabong, they became Hurley International in 1998. Fast forward to 2004, the company was sold to Nike for an undisclosed amount.
Despite being acquired by Nike, Hurley did not stop producing world-renowned surfing products.
One of which is the Hurley Dri Fit Sleeve Protection Rash Guard. Backed by Nike’s Dri-FIT technology, this rash guard delivers lightweight and stretchy comfort to help you move freely in or out of the water.
This shirt is thin enough that you won’t feel like you are even wearing a shirt. Still, it provides the UPF rating of 50+ for that sun protection you need. It dries out pretty fast and tops at wicking away sweat when you are out of the waters.
Hurley rash guard, while coming short of some of the technical aspects of the best rash guard, is comfortable and lightweight. Reason enough to leave them on even after you’re done with your surf. Better than heavier shirts that can be a drag when they won’t dry easily.
The design is a simple, plain black shirt with a little logo. It seems pretty basic but, most buyers comment that the smaller the logo, the better. It is more loose-fitting, but not too baggy.
Comfort-wise, it is light, soft, and extremely stretchy. It is that rash guard that you can wear for that chillout hours after surfing. No need to take it off to dry out.
|Amazingly quick-drying||More expensive than other rash guards|
|Ultra-lightweight||Less than excellent stitching|
#4. O’Neill Youth Basic Skins – Best for Kids
Material: 89% polyester, 11% elastane
Sizes: 4 to 16
UPF Rating: 50 ++
- Strategic Seam Placement
- Slim Fit
- Overlock Stitches
O’Neill wouldn’t pass on producing merchandise for children. Kids always tag along at beach trips after all. Some are even enrolled at surfing classes at their tender age. Therefore, it is just right they did.
O’Neill Youth Basic Skins is available in sizes 4 to 16. With a UPF rating that is approved by the Skin Cancer Foundation, it is the rash guard that you need for that extra layer of sun protection. This helps you reduce your effort in chasing the toddlers for sunscreen reapplication.
This rash guard is 89% polyester, 11% elastane, and is safe for washing machines. The materials make it lightweight, breathable, and soft. You won’t have to worry about your kids feeling too hot for a day at the beach.
Plus, kids will also love their bright and lively colors!
The stretchy fabric will contour to every line of your kid’s torso. But it is not too fitted to constrict their range of movements. Its sleeves are long and snug enough to give the over-all arm protection against the sun.
That feature impressed mothers who have brought this rash guard for their children. Some comments claim that even after a full day at the beach, under the sun, kids had no sunburn on that part of the skin that this shirt covers.
So, whether your water-loving kid is into surfing, boarding, or swimming, this durable rash guard will keep them comfy, snug, and safe. No more painful rashes from chafing and sunburn.
|Recommended by Skin Cancer Foundation||Poor stitching
|Well-made and dries fast||Stains easily|
|Snug fit but not too tight
#5. Speedo Men’s Longview Short Sleeve Swim Tee – Best Short Sleeve
Material: 100% polyester
Sizes: Medium to XX-Large
UPF Rating: 50 ++
- Allover exposed stitching
- Machine washable
Speedo has been in the swimwear scene since 1928. Their longevity makes them the world’s top-selling swimwear brand. Their history of innovation started with the Racerback suit, which is the world’s non-wool suit.
Since the Racerback suit, Speedo produced innovation after innovation in swimwear. From creating the first water shorts to the first-ever suit made of Nylon, they remain a brand that is synonymous with water sportswear.
One of their innovations is their Men’s Longview Short Sleeve Swim Tee. This is their solution if you feel like long-sleeve rash guards are too constricting. You will find its relaxed fit more comfortable if you don’t like tight-fitting clothing.
Short sleeves may not offer the same level of sun and chafing protection, but many surfers prefer them because they can move more freely, and they feel a lot cooler.
This rash guard helps to keep your skin shielded from the sun with the UPF 50 fabric. While its being short-sleeved makes it feel light, this shirt is lightweight, and its flatlock seams create the feeling of not wearing anything. Even so, you are still guaranteed excellent protection against the sun and abrasive surfaces.
Speedo Men’s Longview is constructed to be extremely durable. It holds up well against repeated exposure to the sun, salt, sand, and chlorine. It is your go-to rash guard for not just for water activities, but also on awfully hot days when long sleeves may feel oppressive.
You won’t have to worry about cleaning it after use. This rash guard is safe for machine wash, so you just pop it in the tub, and you’re all good.
This 100% polyester rash guard features a crew neck and raglan sleeves for increased range of motion. You may also choose from its range of colors, including black, granite and cyan.
|Internationally renowned brand||Size runs longer
|Lightweight and comfortable||Stains easily
#6. Quiksilver Performer Rash Guard – Best Looking Rash Guard
Material: 92% polyester, 8% elastane
Sizes: X Small to XX-Large
UPF Rating: 50 ++
- Bi-color design
- Super-resistant flatlock seams
Quiksilver, since its humble beginnings in 1969, has combined function, fit, art, and fashion in developing the apparel they market for ocean lovers around the world. While they are still trying to stick to the old-school roots of surfing, they have become one of the most recognized clothing brands among the youth.
Maybe because of their involvement with a lot of surfing competitions whose participants are coming from the younger generations. And, their attention to what athletes need from their brand is dedicated.
Their Performer Rash guard is one of the many products in their product line that is popular among young adults and adults. Its construction and design allow you to ride the waves feeling confident and assured that you are protected while pushing your limits.
This rash guard is perfect for surfers who love riding waves for longer periods. It provides exceptional sun protection at the same time, good contraction to keep the body warm. It can also be used as underclothing for a wetsuit since it is designed to keep you unharmed from colder water conditions.
The materials this rash guard is constructed with are quick drying so, you will instantly feel dry when you get off the waters. The combination of polyester and elastane gives just the right stretch to prove that perfect snug fit. No more worrying about your sleeve rolling up when you are at your most intense movements, as the edge of the sleeves is snug tight to keep them at your wrists.
Quiksilver Performer Rash guard makes you a standout. The style and colors are loud and sharp but are at a tone that won’t make you feel too bright and unbearable.
|Flattering fit and fabric||Color fades after a few uses
|Reputable brand||Hand wash only
|Nice color options
#7. Hyperflex Wetsuits Men’s Polyolefin Rash Guard – Best for Thermo Layering
Sizes: Small and X Large
UPF Rating: not rated
- Excellent insulation
Hyperflex is a division of Henderson Aquatics but, prior to that has been a key player in Surf Market when they entered the scene focused on surfing and kiteboarding wetsuits. Intending to build the best possible wetsuit in the market, they keep striving to create warm, flexible, and price aggressive water apparel.
Their innovation led them to use Polyolefin from the traditional neoprene materials that they are used to creating their merchandise. One of their Polyolefin items is the Hyperflex Wetsuits Men’s Polyolefin Rash Guard.
Polyolefin is so versatile that Hyperflex made them the staple of a lot of their apparel from their wetsuits line. This material helps shield surfers from abrasion, UV rays, and biotic irritants. Hyperflex Polyolefin Rash Guard uses a durable over-lock and flat-lock stitching.
While it can be used as-is when surfing, it is also perfect for thermo-layering. This means it works great as an undergarment for a full wetsuit. The polyolefin holds insulation well, keeps you warm, and makes the wetsuit slide easy to your body.
As most of the materials, other rash guards are made from, polyolefin not just look great, but it also allows total freedom to move around and stand up. It conforms well with the rigors of an active lifestyle. At the same time, it wicks off moisture away from the skin more effectively than most fibers.
Polyolefin Rash Guard is lightweight and durable. It also does not retain odor and is pretty simple to care for. Polyolefin is woven from colored, solid core material so your rash guard is guaranteed to never fade despite the bleaching effects of chlorine and direct sunlight.
|Size doesn’t run long or short||Polyolefin feels heavier on
|Durable and doesn’t fade||Not UPF rated|
Our Top Pick
The rash guards listed on our review all stood a chance at being the best rash guard for surfing. After all, they possessed all the qualities that a rash guard should have. But, in every “best of” list, one surely stands out.
O’Neill Men’s Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard takes the crown. This excellent long-sleeved rash guard is well-constructed. The blend of soft and lightweight polyester and spandex was a good match to the minimal seams, making it feel natural and comfortable.
Almost like a second skin!
It wouldn’t have been recognized by the Skin Cancer Foundation for nothing. O’Neill Basic Skins Rash Guard offers the maximum UV protection while allowing the moisture to escape, despite the snug fit. This rash guard is the perfect choice for anyone who wants slim-fit apparel that doesn’t constrict movements.
What Are Rash Guards?
Rash guards are believed to have originated in Australia. I wouldn’t disagree. After all, it has been voted by Ranker.com number 1 on its Best Countries for Surfing list.
They are what you prefer to wear when the waters are too warm for a wetsuit. And, to prevent wax-based chafing on torsos or legs from too much sliding on and off the surfboard. They also serve as good protection from the sun as well as jellyfish stings.
While wetsuit’s primary focus is to keep you warm, rash guards keep you from irritation brought by the sun, the waters, or sea creatures. Rapid impact with surface waters and waves hurts too. Not with rash guards.
These “rashies,” as they are known in Australia, have eventually evolved to be more than a swim/surf wear. Variations of rash guards have penetrated sporting scenes too. Sports like baseball, football, water polo, grappling, and mixed martial arts have rash guards as part of their uniforms. Athletes from these sports and others that weren’t mentioned wear this apparel to protect themselves from cuts, mats burns, and other irritations caused by skin exposure.
Rash guards generally have two variations, the cropped rash guard and the overall rash guard. The cropped rash guard is a crop top type and is usually intended for women. These cropped rashies can be paired with swimwear bottoms.
The overall or the bodysuit rash guard is similar to most wetsuits. They are complete with boyleg/short or long pants. Overalls are mostly unisex, but they are mostly being used by children.
These wet apparel can be worn underneath a wetsuit for extra insulation during colder rides. They can also be worn by themselves in warmer areas for sun and rash protection. Most rash guards are made from materials like spandex, nylon, polyester, or neoprene.
This skin protection wearables are designed to insulate and breathe at the same time. The components they are built serve their purpose, too. Flatlock stitches create a seam where the allowances lie flat to the garment instead of hanging loose. This factor increases the strength of the garment for intense movements.
Why Should You Wear A Rash Guard
Rash guards have various purposes under the blazing sun when you are out in the water. They act as a protective layer against UV rays, harsh ocean conditions, and sore chaffing. While it can be tempting to be topless while riding the waves, think of the following reasons you shouldn’t.
UV rays are a lot powerful in and around the waters. Flexing those muscles as you surf looks cool, but you don’t want to risk getting painful sunburns after. The best rash guards have built-in UV protection that gives surfers the additional layer with swimwear.
Sunscreen is an important part of “things to bring list” and so are rash guards as they provide the maximum protection against the sun’s harmful rays. Most rash guards have certain UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating. This rating lets you know just how much of the sun’s ray can be barred by the fabric.
Protection from Rashes and Chafing
Rash guards are that extra layer you need to protect your skin in and out of the water. Their primary purpose is to keep surfers from the scrapes and scratches that may be caused by sand and waxy residue of the surfboards. Granting that typical rashes are caused by sliding on and off a rough board, rash guards also protect kids from their active days on the sandy shores.
Rashies that are constructed with flatlock stitching, quick-drying materials aid surfers in enduring longer and comfortable rides in the ocean.
An Insulation Layer
Rash guards are usually intended for warm weather use. Like when it is too warm to wear a wetsuit. That is why they tend to be lighter.
Generally, they are not designed to keep you warm. Rather, to help keep you dry. Rash guards use fabric that is moisture-wicking to dry moisture away instantly. They are also breathable, and due to their moisture-wicking properties, they dry pretty quickly too.
Wearing and Taking Off Your Wetsuit
Rash guards are associated with warmer swimming or surfing conditions. Not a lot knows that wearing a rash guard makes it easier to get in and out of your wetsuit. This is especially true when you are in a hurry.
As opposed to the familiar tugging, pulling, and squeezing, wetsuits slide right on and easily with a rash guard. Its quick-drying properties prevent microbial buildup, which means they won’t smell.
Rashies are more useful than you think. They’re not just something you wear when you need to make a splash in the surf. They are now in other sports and swim fashion. Whether you want it long or short-sleeved, having one keeps the cold water, and hot weather put a damper on your surfing experience.
Buying Guide: Factors to Consider in Picking the Best Rash Guard
Getting the best rash guard for surfing depends on your preferences. But here are a few important things you need to keep in mind. These are the same factors we considered when we chose the rash guards we reviewed above.
Rash guards are supposed to be snug fit. This is because tight fit has less resistance causing it to minimize chaffing and rubbing. However, sizing a rash guard can be confusing. To help you with your performance, size up your rash guards for a looser, but form-fitting look.
The fabric used for these apparel play a very significant role. The most popular materials are spandex, polyester, nylon, and neoprene. Whichever you choose, it should be the one that is gentle on your skin. The idea is to achieve a feeling that you are not wearing anything.
More importantly, it should have a UPF protection. This is to make sure your skin won’t burn from too much sun exposure.
The design, choice of materials, and seams are important, too. These factors help the rash guard in delivering what they are intended for. The best rash guards will have seams that won’t feel like its there.
A Brief Run-Down about UPF Protection
You think you know what you needed to protect yourself from the sun, right? So, can you tell if UPF, UVA/UVV rays are the same?
I’m betting you are lightly shaking your head.
UPF is the Ultraviolet Protection Factor. It is a rating stated by wetsuit manufacturers that lets you know how the clothing is constructed to block sun rays from hitting your skin efficiently.
To put it simply, you are getting better protection if your rash guard has a higher UPF rating.
A good rash guard is an investment. We’ve seen countless times of surfers who suffered sunburn, chaffing, and skin irritations. These could have very well been prevented if rash guards were used.
Rash guards aren’t just a fashion statement. They are there to protect you as you enjoy riding the waves. Notwithstanding the fact that it saves you the hassle of reapplying sunblock every single time!
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: Should rash guards be tight?
Q: Is overheating a major concern?
G’day, my name is Rach Taylor and I’m the proud Founder of Surf Hungry. I am a former Australian Olympic athlete and Australian representative surf sports athlete. I’ve worked in the surf industry and lived at several of Australia’s best surf spots, sparking a life-long love of the ocean and a passion for surf sports which has now well and truly rubbed off on my two young sons, both little Aussie surf-stoked groms!