Anyone who loves to spend time in or around the water needs a reliable rash guard.

It’s a highly versatile piece of kit that will look after you whatever your chosen water activity.

But with almost every clothing brand on the planet selling some sort of rash guard, rash vest, or swim shirt it’s not easy to know which one to pick.

And that’s why we’ve done all the hard work for you and compiled a list of the very best rash guards available.

Simply pick your favorite and get back in the water ASAP!

If you don’t have time to read the full post, here’s a quick rundown of the best rash guards…

Best Rash Guards for Men: 

Best Rash Guards for Women: 

Want to learn more about these options?

Keep reading as below we’ll be reviewing each of these in detail, so you can pick the very best rash guard for you.

What is a Rash Guard?

What is a rash guard?A rash guard, also known as a rashie, rash vest, or swim shirt, is a lightweight, stretchy shirt designed specifically to be worn for in-water activities.  They can be worn on their own or layered underneath a wetsuit.

Rash guards are usually made from either lycra, spandex, nylon, neoprene, or polyester. And typically come with either long or short sleeves.

Depending on the specific features, a rash guard can provide sun protection, thermal protection, and of course, rash prevention.

Rash guards were originally worn by surfers to protect them from friction rashes caused by their boards, hence the name. But now these versatile tops have become a staple piece of kit for a wide range of water sports.

12 Best Rash Guards

Although all of these rash guards are versatile enough to be used for pretty much anything, we’ve split up our list into different categories and activities to make it easier for you to choose.

Best overall

Men's Best Overall Rash Guard As one of the most trusted brands in surfing apparel, O’Neill creates high-performance garments that enhance your experience in the water. And this ergonomically designed rash guard is no exception.

Featuring 4-way stretch fabric, this rash guard doesn’t ride up or shift around when you’re in the water.

And the strategically designed seams and flatlock stitching means there are less chafing and a much greater range of movement than most other rash guards.

Women's Best Overall rash GuardNot only is this rash guard breathable and quick-drying, but it’s also exceptionally soft and comfortable. Although the fabric seems quite thin, it’s very durable meaning that this rash guard will last you a long time.

With the highest UPF rating of 50+, the O’Neill Premium Skins Rash Guard is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation for its excellent sun protection.

When it comes to comfort, style, and performance, the O’Neill Premium Skins Long Sleeve Rash Guard provides incredible value for money.

Also available in women’s fit, the O’Neill Premium Skins Long Sleeve Rash Guard is easily one of the top rash guards available.

Pros
  • 4-way stretch fabric
  • Strategic seam placement
  • Flatlock stitching
  • Quick-drying & breathable
  • 50+ UPF Sun protection
  • Boardshort Connectors
  • Hard-wearing
  • Sleek & stylish design
  • Multiple colors & sizes available for both men & women
Cons
  • Doesn’t offer any thermal protection
  • No thumb loops

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ScubaPro EverFlex Rash Guard Best For WomenWhen it came to the best rash guard for women, we couldn’t find a better choice than the ScubaPro EverFlex Jacket.

Designed specifically for women, this rash guard provides a stylish and flattering fit. As the name suggests, it’s super stretchy and doesn’t restrict your movement in any way.

But this rash guard doesn’t just look great and move easily, it’s also highly efficient at keeping you warm.

The form-fitting design minimizes water flow whilst the 1.5mm neoprene and ultra-soft fleece interior provide plenty of insulation. So if you’re prone to feeling the cold, then this is the best rash guard for you!

Despite the fact that it’s thicker than most of the rash guards on our lists, it’s still one of the quickest to dry.

We also love that the sleeves are slightly longer than most rash guards and feature large thumb hooks. Which offers a little added protection for your wrists.

Although ScubaPro is typically considered a brand solely for scuba divers, this rash guard’s performance surpasses several of the best-known surf brands.

Pros
  • Keeps you warm
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Ultra-stretchy & comfortable
  • Very flattering cut
  • Large thumb loops
  • Quick-drying
Cons
  • A little bulkier than most rash guards
  • No board short connectors

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Best Budget Rash Guards

A reliable rash guard doesn’t have to be expensive. These entry level rash guards offer great protection for a very reasonable price.

Mares Trilastic Best Rash GuardIf you’re looking for a reliable rash guard on a tight budget then the Mares Trilastic is a great choice.

This no-frills rash guard is lightweight, quick-drying, and comfortable. Perfect for a variety of water sports and traveling.

A high neckline helps keep the sun off the back of your neck.

The flatlock stitching ensures there’s no chaffing and the elongated torso means it’s not prone to riding up. But there are no thumb loops to help keep the rash guard in place when sliding into a wetsuit.

The Mares Trilastic rash guard is also available with long sleeves and in a women’s fit.

Pros
  • Affordable & versatile
  • Flatlock stitched seams
  • High neckline
  • Quick-drying
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • No thermal protection
  • No board short connectors
  • Fabric isn’t very durable

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Kanu Surf Women's Rash GuardKanu Surf is a relatively new brand, but they’re making serious waves with their affordable swimwear. To be honest, when we first saw the price of this rash guard we really weren’t expecting much. But we were pleasantly surprised.

The polyester and spandex fabric are soft, lightweight, super-fast drying, and breathable. Plus it offers the highest level of sun protection with a  UPF 50+ rating. The cut has been des

It’s been designed specifically with a women’s body in mind and provides a flattering, yet comfortable, fit.

Although it’s not as hard-wearing as some of the more expensive rash guards on our list, it’s so cheap that you can buy yourself a few and keep them for next year. And with so many colors, you’ll probably want more than 1 anyway!

Pros
  • Super cheap
  • Breathable & quick drying
  • Variety of colors available
  • Lightweight
  • Flattering fit
  • Excellent sun protection
Cons
  • Not very long-lasting
  • Doesn’t provide any warmth

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Best Luxury Rash Guards

Looking to invest in a high-performance rash guard? Then these innovative garments are for you.

ONeill Thermo X Best Mid Range Rash Guard Another high-performance rash guard from O’Neill, the Thermo X rash guard is the most versatile rash guard on our list.

It’s incredibly soft, odor-resistant, water-repellant, quick-drying, low-bulk, and lightweight. With the whole garment weighing less than 220g!

The patented Thermo X technology helps regulate your core body temperature whatever climate you’re in. Not only does this rash guard provides incredible thermal insulation without adding any bulk, but it’s also breathable and moisture-wicking. So it’ll also keep you comfortably cool when active.

ONeill Thermo X Womens Best Rash GuardWhat’s more, the 4-way stretch fabric and ergonomically designed seams ensure that there’s absolutely no restriction in your movements.

Plus the slim fit looks sexy on everyone! And there’s also a women’s version available.

Although to enjoy the benefits of such an innovative rash guard, you will need to spend a little more.

Pros
  • Ultra-soft & stretchy
  • Great thermal protection
  • UPF 50+ Sun Protection
  • Long-lasting & durable fabric
  • Strategically designed flatlock seams
  • Odor-resistant & breathable
  • Super lightweight
  • Boardshort connectors
Cons
  • A little pricey
  • Only available in black

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Lavacore Mens Best High End Rash GuardIf you’re ready to splurge on a high-end, high-performance rash guard then we recommend treating yourself to the Lavacore Long Sleeve Polytherm.

Flexible and highly durable, the 3 layer polythermal material has been carefully crafted to look after you even in the toughest of environments.

The antibacterial inner fleece layer feels wonderful against your skin and will keep you much warmer when diving and snorkeling than other rash guards.

A windproof, yet breathable, middle layer protects you from wind chill whilst also helping to draw perspiration away from your body. And the lycra outer layer is water-resistant and dries super fast.

Lavacore Women's Best High End Rash GuardA drawstring and toggle at the bottom, as well as sturdy thumb loops, ensure that the rash guard stays in place. This rash guard performs well both on its own or layered underneath another exposure suit.

What’s more, this luxury rashguard is also neutrally buoyant so you won’t have to wear any extra weight when diving.

Also available in a women’s fit.

If you’re looking for the very best performing rash guard, then the Lavacore Polytherm simply cannot be beaten.

Pros
  • Exceptional thermal insulation
  • Neutrally buoyant
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Quick-drying, lightweight, breathable & windproof
  • Moisture-wicking & antibacterial fleece interior
  • UPF 50+ Sun Protection
  • Thumb loops & drawstring
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Only available in black
  • No hood

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Best Rash Guard for Scuba Diving

Although all of the rash guards on this list are great for scuba diving, this one’s our top pick for scuba fanatics.

ScubaPro Scuba Diving Rash Guard Womens The ScubaPro Long Sleeve rash guard is our favorite rash guard to scuba diving. Not only does it look awesome (let’s face it, that’s one of the most important rules of scuba diving), but it’s also comfortable and hard-wearing.

Although this rash guard doesn’t provide any thermal protection, the form-fitting design sits snugly against your body making it perfect for layering underneath a wetsuit. And the high neckline also prevents any chaffing caused by your wetsuit.

ScubaPro Scuba Diving Rash Guard MensWith a 50+ UPF rating and durable construction, it can also be worn alone for snorkeling or diving in tropical waters. Plus it’s super lightweight and quick-drying, perfect for traveling!

The ScubaPro Long Sleeve rash guard is also available with short sleeves and in a women’s fit.

Pros
  • Affordable & versatile
  • High UPF rating
  • Durable & long-lasting
  • Comfortable & flexible
  • Form-fitting design
  • Stylish colors & designs
Cons
  • Doesn’t offer any thermal protection
  • No boardshort connectors
  • No hood

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Best Rash Guards for Swimming & spending time at the Beach

O'Neill Basic Skins Men's Best Rash Guard for swimming Yet another O’Neill rash guard makes it on to our list. We’re not being paid by the brand, we promise! O’Neill just happens to make some of the best rash guards on the market.

If you’re looking for an affordable and reliable rash guard, then the O’Neill Basic Skins long sleeve rash guard is a solid choice. It’s lightweight, stylish, and built to last.

O'Neill Basic Skins Best Women's Rash Guard for swimmingAlthough it’s not quite as breathable or flexible as O’Niell’s top tier rash guards, this so-called ‘basic’ rash guard still provides you with great all-round protection for a surprisingly low price.

The Basic Skins rash guard is also available with short sleeves for men and both short sleeve and long sleeve for women.

Pros
  • Fantastic value for money
  • Super strong construction
  • Chlorine-resistant
  • Strategically placed flatlock seams
  • Stylish & slim fitting
  • UPF 50+ Sun Protection
  • Available in several colors
Cons
  • No thermal protection
  • No board short connectors
  • Not windproof
  • Doesn’t wick moisture away from your skin

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Hurley Mens Nike Dri Fit Rash GuardHurley’s Long Sleeve swim shirt is definitely the best looking rash guard on our list. And with the brand’s reputation for hard-wearing, high-performance sportswear, you know it’s a worthwhile investment.

Featuring Nike’s patented Dri-Fit technology this relaxed-fitting rash guard can easily double up as an everyday shirt. Made with moisture-wicking, 4-way stretch fabric it’s incredibly comfortable.

If you’re looking for a versatile rash guard that you can use both in and out of the water, then look no further than Hurley’s Nike Dri-Fit swim shirt.

Pros
  • Doubles up as a normal shirt
  • Looks great
  • Incredibly comfortable
  • Ultra quick-drying & breathable
  • Built-in hood & large front pocket
  • UPF 50+ Sun Protection
  • Long-lasting
Cons
  • Won’t keep you warm
  • Loose fit & hood creates a lot of drag in the water
  • Not ideal for surfing or scuba diving
  • No boardshort connectors or thumb loops

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Roxy Essentials Zip Up Rash GuardWhen it comes to hanging out at the beach, the Roxy Essentials Zip Up rash guard is our favorite for women.

The soft and stretchy fabric is super comfortable and gives you plenty of flexibility. Although the material is quite thin so you need to be careful of scratches and tears.

The front zipper makes this rash guard easy to put on and take off (without the fear of losing your bikini top and flashing the whole beach).

And the cut is slightly longer than most rash guards to create a sleek silhouette.

Sizes tend to run a little big so if you want a snug fit we recommend going down a size.

Pros
  • Flattering design
  • UPF 50+ Sun Protection
  • Full-length zip
  • Quick-drying & lightweight
  • Very comfortable
Cons
  • No thermal protection
  • Only available in black
  • No thumb loops
  • Fabric is very thin

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Best Rash Guards For Surfing

QuikSilver Best Surfing rash guardIf you’re looking for the best rash guard for surfing, then look no further than the Quiksilver All Time Long Sleeve rash guard.

As the market leader in surfwear, Quiksilver designs gear that is built to look after you even in the gnarliest of breaks.

This classic rashguard is lightweight, super comfortable, and comes in a variety of different colors. It’s also a great option for swimming and snorkeling.

The stretchy fabric offers a fantastic range of movement. However, it also loses some of its tightness and can end up being a little baggy over time.

Pros
  • Great flexibility
  • Affordable
  • UPF 50+ Sun Protection
  • Lightweight & versatile
  • Variety of colors available
Cons
  • Won’t keep you warm
  • Loses tightness over time

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Roxy Best Surfing Rash Guard for WomenRoxy is the women’s only line by Quiksilver, so you can be sure that this rash guard will perform well whatever the swell.

This ultra-flexible rash guard is contoured to sit snug against your body. With absolutely no restriction of movement and flat-locked stitching, it feels almost like a second skin. And with a UPF rating of 50+, you have nothing to worry about.

Although the cut is very flattering, the sizes tend to run a little small so if you’re unsure go for the bigger size. And the stretch-resistant fabric means this rash guard maintains a tight fit even after several months of wear.

With a simple, yet classic, design available in 12 different colors, the Roxy Whole Hearted rash guard suits everyone’s style.

Pros
  • Flexible yet stretch-resistant fabric
  • Durable & long-lasting
  • Excellent sun protection
  • Specially contoured for a flattering fit
  • Variety of colors available
Cons
  • Doesn’t provide any warmth
  • No board short connectors
  • Sizes run a little small

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Things to consider when choosing a rash guard

Now you know what the best rash guards are, let’s take a closer look at what to consider when buying a new rash guard.

How should a Rash Guard Fit?

A rash guard should be tight, fitting nice and snug against your body.

Men's Rash GuardIf a rash guard is too loose it’ll cause unnecessary drag in the water and won’t be able to offer any warmth. Plus it’ll get all bunched up if you layer it underneath a wetsuit.

Although, if a rash guard is so tight that it restricts your movement, you should probably opt for the next size up.

However, if you really don’t like to wear tight clothing, especially at the beach, then a looser rash guard will still provide a decent level of protection.

Level of Sun Protection

All rash guards will provide you with sun protection. But depending on the thickness and construction of the material, the level of sun protection will vary significantly.

If maximum sun protection is a priority then look for a rash guard with a high UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor). The UPF rating indicates how much UV radiation, both UVB and UVA, the rash guard allows to reach your skin.

Does a rash guard keep you warm?

Best Rash Guard for scuba divingThe majority of rash guards don’t keep you warm. As we mentioned above, rash guards were originally created to prevent friction rashes not provide thermal protection.

If you want a rash guard that keeps you warm, choose one that’s made from neoprene and/or a fleece-like material.

The thicker the rash guard is, the warmer it’ll be. Typically rash guards will range from 0.5mm thick al the way up to 4mm.

If you’re snorkeling or diving, you might prefer the ease of wearing a rash guard over a full wetsuit to keep you warm.

Or it can be wonderful to have that little extra layer of warmth underneath your wetsuit. Especially if you’re making multiple dives per day like on a liveaboard.

Don’t forget if you’re scuba diving, a neoprene rash guard will affect your buoyancy. So you might need to take a little extra weight.

No idea how much weight you need for diving? Check out our weight calculator.

Long sleeve or short sleeve rash guard?

This one is really up to you. Obviously, a long sleeve rash guard will give you more sun protection. However many people hate wearing long sleeves when it’s hot.

If it’s a particularly thick rash guard, one that offers great thermal protection, then long sleeves can feel a little restrictive on the arms and shoulders.

Additional rash guard features

Rash guards often feature some very handy extras that are worth considering. For example, thumb hooks are incredibly useful for keeping your rash guard in place as you slide into your wetsuit.

Or perhaps you find rash guards often roll up your torso?

Board short connectors are what you need! These are basically little loops at the hips that help keep the rash guard in place. Or opt for a full bodysuit.

Looking for some extra sun protection?

A rash guard with a hood is ideal for covering your head and neck. As well as helping keep your hair out of your face when swimming.

You can even find pockets in some rash guards!

Conclusion

Still not sure which one to choose?

Ultimately, the best rash guard for you is the one you feel most comfortable in. Whether that’s one that’ll keep you warm and cozy, one with the highest sun protection or, simply the rash guard that has the most flattering fit.

All of these top rash guards are versatile, comfortable, and long-lasting. So it just comes down to your budget and what features you prioritize.

Which rash guard did you pick? Or do you already have your favorite?

Share your experience with us in the comments below.

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Alexa Worswick Administrator

Alexa Worswick is a PADI and SSI scuba diving Instructor, recreational freediver and freelance copywriter. She first learnt to scuba dive in the UK aged 15 and has since travelled and dived in multiple locations across 3 different continents. After quitting her marketing job in London in 2016, Alexa is now based in Indonesia where she can pursue her passion for the ocean fulltime. 

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