The Best Rash Guards for the Whole Family

The O'Neill Basic Skins Rash Guard keeps you protected and comfortable

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Whether you surf leisurely or competitively, a rash guard is critical to your performance and comfort. A rash guard does exactly what it sounds like, protects your skin from sun exposure and prevents irritation from spending hours on your board. Factors worth considering are built-in UPF protection, sweat-wicking and quick-drying properties, and whether or not you want to wear it with a wetsuit.

Reviewed & Approved

The O'Neill Basic Skins Long Sleeve Rash Guard is a top pick for men from a trusted brand that has 4-way stretch and UPF 50+ protection. The Kanu Surf Keri Long Sleeve Rash Guard also offers UPF 50+ protection and is a top pick for women.

While they may have started out as a staple for the surfing community, you don't have to be a surfer to benefit from the extra coverage at the pool or the beach. We considered how much coverage a rash guard provides, what type of fabric it's made of, color, cost, and special features like anti-chafe seams or loops to keep it in place when reviewing rash guards for our list.

Ahead, the best rash guards for the whole family for this season and beyond.

Best Overall for Men: O'Neill Men's Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard

4.7
O'Neill Men's Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard

Courtesy of Amazon

For the best in comfort, style, and performance, you can’t go wrong our best overall pick for men from the top trusted name in surfing apparel: O’Neill. Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, this rash guard comes with UPF 50+ protection to keep your skin safe from the sun’s harmful rays. It features four-way stretch fabric so it won’t ride up or shift when you’re in the water. The flat-lock stitching and strategically-placed seams enhance the overall comfort and reduce your risk of chafing.

This surf-ready shirt is made of a polyester and spandex fabric, so it dries quickly and is extremely durable. It’s also breathable and wicks away sweat, so it will help you stay cool and dry when you're walking on the beach, too. You can choose from numerous solids and color combos, all of which feature the O’Neill logo.

To keep uncomfortable friction at bay, check out our favorite chafing creams.

Best Overall for Women: Kanu Surf Women's Keri Long-Sleeve UPF 50+ Rashguard

Kanu Surf Women's Keri Long-Sleeve UPF 50+ Rash

Courtesy of Amazon

Known for their quality apparel as well as exceptional fit and functionality, Kanu Surf designed this long-sleeve rash guard shirt with women’s needs in mind. It features a flattering, slim fit and UPF 50+ UV protection, which blocks 98% of the sun’s harmful rays and helps you avoid a painful sunburn.

The extremely soft, polyester/spandex fabric is quick-drying and breathable, so this shirt works well for both land and water activities. Take your pick of 10 different colors, from basic white to pretty coral or aqua. All include the stylish, screen-printed Kanu logo on the chest. With such a reasonable price tag, you may decide you need multiple colors, so you can still stay protected when one shirt is in the laundry pile.

Need more gear for fun in the sun? Get our picks for the best products to protect your skin during outdoor exercise.

Best Budget: DRSKIN UV Sun Protection Long Sleeve Top

DRSKIN UV Sun Protection Long Sleeve Top

Courtesy of Amazon

With the durability and comfort of similar higher-end rash guard shirts, DRSKIN’s long sleeve top is an excellent value for the money. Your skin will be protected from irritating rashes, as well as the sun’s harmful rays, thanks to the UPF 50+ protection. The quick-dry material makes it a good choice for both water and land sports, and also helps you avoid the mistake of taking it off to dry and then discovering (painfully) that you waited too long to put it back on.

It comes in a wide range of colors and patterns, which is always a plus for inexpensive shirts when you may want to stock up. Users note that these shirts are very form-fitting, so order two sizes up if you prefer a looser fit.

Want protection for your feet, too? Take a look at the best water shoes for women and the best water shoes for men.

Best for Surfing: Quiksilver All Time Long Sleeve Rashguard Swim Shirt UPF 50+

Quiksilver All Time Long Sleeve Rashguard Swim Shirt

Courtesy of Amazon

Surfers who love riding waves for hours at a time need a rash guard with exceptional sun protection as well as good compression to keep their muscles warm. Quiksilver, an iconic brand in the world of surfing, delivers on those features and more with this long-sleeve rash guard. It feels like a second skin, and dries super quickly once you’re out of the water.

The board short loop fastener helps prevent it from shifting and riding up, so you’re protected from uncomfortable friction between your skin and the board. It’s ideal for surfers looking for a quality, sleek, and stylish rash guard that will keep them protected and comfortable for extended periods on the water.

Stand up paddleboarding more your style? Check out the best SUP boards on the market.

Best Quick Drying: Hurley Men's Nike Dri-fit Long Sleeve Sun Protection +50 UPF Rashguard

Hurley Men's Nike Dri-fit Long Sleeve Sun Protection

Courtesy of Amazon

On seriously hot days, you need a lightweight, breathable rash guard that will keep you comfortable as well as protected. This long sleeve from Hurley is thin enough to feel like you’re not even wearing a shirt, while still providing the UPF 50+ sun protection you need. It dries extremely fast and excels at wicking away sweat when you’re on land.

While it’s not the most technical shirt on our list, it’s ideal for days at the beach when you’re in and out of the water a lot and you want to keep your skin covered. Hurley also makes a similar women’s version that’s just as comfortable and reliable.

Best for Kids: O'Neill Wetsuits Youth Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Sun Shirt

O'Neill Wetsuits Youth Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Sun Shirt

Courtesy of Amazon

If your water-loving kid gives you a hard time with reapplying sunscreen every 80 minutes, it’s nice to have an extra layer of sun protection. Another high-quality product from O’Neill, this rash guard gets the seal of approval from The Skin Cancer Foundation and offers UPF 50+.

Whether your kids are into surfing, boogie boarding, swimming, or playing in the sand, this durable shirt will keep them comfortable and safe. They can also avoid painful rashes and chafing, thanks to the shirt’s minimal seam placement. Suitable for both boys and girls, these rash guards come in a rainbow of colors and are available in sizes 4 to 16.

Best for Scuba Diving: Scubapro Men's Rash Guard

Scubapro Men's Rash Guard

Courtesy of Amazon

While many rash guards work underneath a wetsuit, this one from Scubapro is designed specifically for diving. Made from high-quality, durable polyester fabric, it has a form-fitting design that’s both comfortable and easy to layer. With UPF 50 sun protection and multiple color options, this versatile and stylish shirt can also be worn alone when you’re doing other water sports. The quick-drying fabric also makes it a perfect shirt for transitioning from water to land.

Best Short Sleeve: Speedo Men's UV Swim Shirt Short Sleeve Longview Tee

Speedo Men's UV Swim Shirt Short Sleeve Longview Tee

Courtesy of Amazon

If you feel like long-sleeve rash guards are too constricting or warm, you might like this short sleeve one from Speedo, a long-time leader in swim and surf attire. The shirt’s soft, lightweight material and flatlock seams make it feel like you’re not wearing anything, although you’re still getting excellent protection against the sun and abrasive surfaces.

Extremely durable, this shirt holds up well despite repeated exposure to sun, salt, sand, and chlorine. It’s a nice option for water or land sports, especially on extremely hot days when long sleeves might feel too oppressive. We love that it’s machine-washable, so it’s easy to clean after a long day at the beach. Speedo also makes a women’s version that’s perfect for water sports and outdoor activities.

Final Verdict

A solid choice for men, the O'Neill Basic Skins Long Sleeve Rash Guard (view at Amazon) offers built-in sun protection and will stay in place as you take on waves. For women, the Kanu Surf Keri Rash Guard (view at Amazon), offers a slim fit and is quick-drying so you can sport it post-surfing.

What to Look for in a Rash Guard

Color

Although you might prefer pale blues to match your guard to the color of the ocean, dark or bright colors (such as bright yellow, pink, and red) absorb ultraviolet rays in a much more effective manner than paler colors.

Coverage

Check the rash guard label to see its UPF rating: the higher the number, the better, as this indicates how well the rash guard will block UV rays. You also want semi-loose fabric, not so loose it comes off in the ocean, but loose enough to not pull as you move your body. Fabric that pulls will lose its UV effectiveness by stretching the protection right out.

Fabric

Fabrics such as nylon or polyester offer the best UV protection. You also want to inspect the texture of the fabric. A tight weave will leave you better protected because UV rays will be harder to pass through the fabric.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do rash guards keep you warm?

    Rash guards are made to block, reflect, and absorb sun rays and aren't made for body temperature control. If you need to stay warm in the water, look for a wetsuit, which is designed to keep you warm in cold water.

  • How do you wash a rash guard?

    With typical rash guards, the apparel tag will state how many washes the UV protection will last. For a standard UPF 50 garment, you can get 40 washes out of it. If you are concerned about using a washing machine, you can hand wash the rash guard or put it on the delicate cycle and avoid the dryer.

  • Do rash guards offer UV protection?

    UPF clothing helps block UV rays. Look for clothes that offer the highest UV number. For example, a "UPF 50 fabric blocks 98 percent of the sun's rays and allows two percent (1/50th) to penetrate, thus reducing your exposure risk significantly," says the Skin Cancer Foundation.

  • Why should I use a rash guard for my baby?

    Babies get exposed to UV rays just as adults do. Rash guards are popular among parents to protect their babies from early sun exposure, as well as because some babies don't like sunscreen being rubbed onto their delicate skin.

    Because darker colors tend to get hot, you might want to stick to white or bright hues for babies and young children.

  • How do I know what size rash guard to buy?

    Select a rash guard based on fit and texture rather than size. Look for a rash guard offering a fit loose enough that it doesn't pull over your limbs as you swim. Stretched-out fabric will lose its UV effectiveness. You also want a texture with tight weaves to avoid any excess stretching for the same reason.

  • How do I get sand out of a rash guard?

    First let the apparel dry out; attempting to get sand out of a wet garment is nearly impossible. Once it's dry, you can stretch the rash guard out and shake off the excess sand. You can also try running your nails over the garment to whip up the sand and then brush it off.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

A New York-based certified running coach and health and fitness writer, Christine Luff has spent years examining, testing, and recommending fitness apparel and products, and she knows that the right gear can improve your performance and make you feel comfortable at the same time.

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  1. Skin Cancer Foundation. Sun-protection clothing.