Rash guards are one of the best ways to protect yourself from the elements (sun, water, sand) when out on the water. These fitted, athletic shirts come in both short and long sleeve versions and are worn over a normal bathing suit top (for women) or like a swimming shirt for the guys.
Did you know that rash guards and swim shirts aren’t only for surfers? Some of the best rash guards will provide protection from the sun, rashes, and scrapes whether on land or in the water.
They are designed to dry fast and wick moisture, like sweat, away from the body while remaining lightweight and breathable. If you also want to cover up for modesty, rash guards are a great solution.
Throughout this article, you’ll notice that we refer to the UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of these products. UPF is the rating given to clothing and fabrics that protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. A UPF rating of 50 means that only 1/50th of the sun’s harmful UV rays can get through that particular fabric.
Our 8 Favorite Rash Guards for Adults
Best Women’s Rash Guards
CharmLeaks’ long sleeve rash guard for women provides UPF 50 broad-spectrum sun protection. It comes in eight fashionable colors and sizes ranging from small to XX-Large. The patterns and color block striping and fitted shape of this rash guard give it a stylish look, whether you’re hanging out by the pool or out on the water.
This high quality rash guard is made from polyester and spandex. You can expect it to dry quickly and wick away moisture to help you stay cool. It also holds its shape and color well, even with repeated hand washing. We love the soft feel of this shirt and find that it’s perfect for everything from swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking to yoga and cycling.
Owners of the CharmLeaks swim shirt find the 4-way stretch fabric to be extremely comfortable against the skin. The flat-lock seams are smooth and don’t cause any chafing. And, the banded crewneck isn’t constricting, even when the shirt is wet.
Like most rash guards, this shirt is designed to fit snuggly, so it doesn’t constrict movement when it’s wet. If you prefer a looser fit, you’ll probably want to order a size larger than you normally wear.
Note that this shirt does not come with a built-in bra. You will need to wear a lightweight sports bra or swimsuit top underneath.
If you’re a woman who prefers a short sleeve rash guard with a comfortable fit, check out BodyGlove’s Smoothies In Motion line. This rash guard comes in 18 fashion colors and sizes from X-Small to X-Large. It comes with built-in UPF 50+ broad-spectrum sun protection, too.
This rash guard / swimming shirt for women is made from nylon and spandex, so it dries quickly and wicks moisture away from the skin to keep you cool. It fits like a fitted T-shirt, so it’s flattering when dry, but not too loose or too tight when it’s wet. It’s very stretchy and lightweight, making it perfect for swimming or yoga, and everything in between.
Keep in mind that this rash guard tee is meant to be worn over a swimsuit top, so it does not come with a built-in bra. Unfortunately, we did notice just a little bit of show-through when the shirt is wet, but only if you wear a dark color underneath a light-colored style.
This is one of the softest, most comfortable rash guards on the market today. It has a very forgiving, stretchy fit that holds its shape in the water. If you’re a woman who wants cover and comfort at a reasonable price, BodyGlove’s Smoothies In Motion rash guard is exactly what you’re looking for.
This women’s rash guard shirt made by TSLA (formerly Tesla) comes in a ton of different colors and designs to choose from (over 15!). It’s available in sizes x-small thru x-large. The UPF is 50+, so it’s great for water sports and other outdoor activities.
It dries fast and is very breathable, making it great for workouts, too. The fabric is very durable to protect against rashes and scrapes.
We love how this top has a slightly looser fit but still manages to be form fitting and flattering on a woman’s figure! It’s so comfortable and light weight, you’ll forget you are even wearing it.
There’s no need to wear sunscreen on your torso area when wearing this shirt, and that’s a great benefit for those who always forget to reapply and end up with a sunburn!
Purchasers of this shirt found it to be an excellent value for the price and very well made. They all love the bright, beautiful colors and the durability of this shirt.
However, some users had trouble finding just the right size and found themselves returning it to try a size either smaller or larger depending on their build. Try to give yourself some extra time when ordering just in case you find you need to exchange it for a different size.
This long sleeve women’s rash guard shirt is made of 82% nylon and 18% spandex, making it very flattering and form fitting. This shirt provides a UPF of 50+, and it’s perfect for water activities as well as yoga, running, and working out.
The fabric is soft and breathable, but still durable enough to last a long time. The wicking quality of the shirt makes it very cool in the sun, even when out of the water.
If you’re looking for a women’s rash guard that has a flattering fit, this one is sure to please! We love the zipper neckline and adjustable gathered tie sides! You can wear it long like a dress, or shorten it with the side cords to make it fit like a shirt.
The gathered fabric even helps to hide your tummy! With seven beautiful colors and six sizes to choose from, you really can’t go wrong with this shirt.
Wearers love the versatility of this rash guard. They felt safe relying on it to prevent sunburn . Many users even said they love it so much they’re buying it in multiple colors! The only drawback of this rash guard is that the manufacturer says it must be hand washed only. Machine washing could weaken its sun protection ability.
Best Men’s Rash Guards and Swim Shirts
If you’re looking for a short sleeve rash guard for men that has a loose, comfortable fit, you can’t go wrong with the Speedo UV swim shirt. It’s available in seven colors and sizes ranging from small to 4X-Large. Our favorite thing about this rash guard tee is how lightweight and breathable it is.
The loose fit and soft fabric make it a great choice for all sorts of water sports, as well as land-based sports like cycling and golfing. The fit is similar to a regular t-shirt and is true to size. If you prefer a snug-fitting rash guard, consider purchasing a size smaller than you normally wear.
Speedo’s short sleeve rash guard for men is made from 100% polyester, making it very soft and fast drying. It’s also extremely durable and holds its shape well, even with frequent use. The UPF factor is 50+ to prevent sunburn. Despite its loose fit, this shirt doesn’t ride up in the water.
Like most rash guards, this shirt has a built-in water-repellent coating that requires handwashing only, which may be a drawback for some shoppers. That said, it dries fast and cleans up easily, so handwashing it isn’t a big deal. It’s an extremely versatile swim shirt for men at a fair price point.
O’Neill wetsuits has an excellent reputation for producing high-quality products at a fair price. The O’Neill long sleeve sun shirt for men lives up to those expectations with impressive attention to detail, including UPF 50+ sun protection.
We love this company’s focus on function! Their rash guards aren’t fancy, but they provide all the protection you need with long sleeves and a comfortable fit. The graphics are minimal, and the shirt is available in 10 colors for men from size small to 4X-Large Tall.
As with most rash guards, O’Neill’s is designed for a snug fit that won’t hinder movement in the water. You can simply order a size or two up if you prefer a looser fit. The shirt is made from polyester and elastane, so it dries fast and is silky smooth on the skin to prevent chafing.
Owners of this rash guard tee say that it wicks moisture away from the body to help you stay cool on a hot day. They also report that the sun protection is reliable and even protects the back from sunburn after hours of snorkeling. However, the collar sits low, so you’ll still need to apply sunscreen on the back of your neck.
Unfortunately, some reviewers did report that the sizing is inconsistent with this product. If you’re counting on it for a vacation or specific event, we recommend allowing some extra lead time when ordering in case you need to exchange it for a different size.
The Kanu Surf men’s swim shirt is available in 13 colors and sizes small thru xx-large. This rash guard shirt has short sleeves and is made of 100% polyester with a crew neckline. It offers an Ultraviolet Protection Factor(UPF) of 50+.
This shirt dries fast and is great not only for swimming and surfing, but also for running and working out. The quick-dry fabric features wicking technology that pulls moisture away from the skin and it’s loose fitting, making it very breathable, cool, and comfortable.
We’re big fans of Kanu Surf swim shirts because they don’t fade in chlorinated water and they hold their shape well after washing. The stitching doesn’t come loose in the wash, and they’re a great value for the money.
The sun protection of this shirt is very good, and we love that you don’t need to apply sunscreen to your torso when wearing it. Going kayaking ? This Kanu Surf swim shirt is perfect for paddlers.
Wearers of this shirt felt safe from sunburn with this water shirt, and most love the loose fit. However, some users noted that they wished the shirt was a bit more form fitting, like a traditional swim shirt. Some recommended purchasing a size smaller than normal if you like the form fitted look.
Also, be aware that some of the lighter colors might be see through when wet. If that will bother you, choose a darker color option.
The TSLA (formerly Tesla) Men’s long sleeve rash guard is available in over 25 colors and sized small thru xx-large. This long sleeve shirt is made of 100% polyester for quick drying. The durable, high-density fabric protects against rashes and abrasions, while providing an UPF of 50+, making it perfect for wearing under a snorkeling vest so your back doesn’t end up like a lobster.
This shirt is great for swimming and surfing, too, because the sleeves fit snuggly but don’t restrict movement.
We love this shirt’s ability to shed water and dry fast. Just give it a quick towel dry when you get out of the water and you’ll be dry in no time! The shirt has great elasticity that allows for freedom of movement and a comfortable fit making it the perfect addition to your kayaking gear .
The breathability and great ventilation make it very cool, even when you’re not in the water. The TSLA rash guard fits true to size, and is long enough in the sleeves and torso for bigger guys. This shirt has a snug fit, like a traditional water shirt.
Those who own this shirt mentioned that they love the extra neck protection this shirt offers, while still being easy to take off. They found it to be comfortable for even non-water activities, like biking and working out.
However, there is a lot of confusion about the sizing. As mentioned above, the shirt is meant to fit snuggly, so don’t purchase a size up unless you want it a little baggy. Also, some users felt that the lighter colors stained too easily, so you may want to consider a darker color option to avoid that problem. We find this shirt to be the best men’s rash guard shirt for those looking for a snug fit, good value, and full sun protection!
Does a Rash Guard Keep You Warm?
Rash guards are made to dry fast, but they do not generally provide a lot of extra warmth. If you are looking for something to keep you warm in cold or very cold water, look for a wetsuit or drysuit .
Should I Get the Long Sleeve or Short Sleeve Type?
It really just comes down to personal preference, but a long sleeve version will provide more protection from the sun and rashes and scrapes than a short sleeve one will. You’ll still need to apply sunscreen or sunblock but there will be less to apply with a long sleeve rash guard.
Can a Rash Guard Be Used For Non-Water Activities (ie: Running, Hiking, or Biking)?
Absolutely! Rash guards are designed to dry fast and wick moisture away from the skin, so they are great for any activity that involves sweating.
Consider purchasing a rash guard for each member of the family! The sun protection and comfort are well worth the investment.