The 13 Best Rash Guards of 2022, Recommended by a Surfing Instructor

O’Neill’s Premium Skins Rash Guard keeps you comfortable and protected

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No matter which summer activity is your favorite–whether it’s surfing, scuba diving, or even swimming–wearing a rash guard while you enjoy the outdoors can help keep you safe from the sun’s harmful UV rays. “Most rash guards have a UV shield, and it’s important to wear one when UV factors are really high,” Thomas Cravarezza, founder of Manly Surf School, says.

Reviewed & Approved

The O’Neill’s Premium Skins Rash Guard is our top choice, thanks to its UPF 50+ protection and premium, quick-drying material. We also recommend Roxy’s Active One Piece, which has a comfortable design made from recycled fabric.

Rash guards come in a wide range of colors, sleeve lengths, fabrics, and coverage ratings. When shopping for a rash guard, it’s important to find one that offers all the features you’re looking for, plus the right amount of protection. To find the best ones, we interviewed a surf instructor and considered price, material, fit, and more. 

Based on our research, here are the best rash guards on the market.

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

4.6
O'Neill Premium Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve Rash Guard

REI

Pros
  • Lightweight and breathable

  • Quick-drying

  • Tight, performance fit

Cons
  • May need to order a size up

We chose O’Neill Men’s Premium Skins Rash Guard as our best overall pick because its four-way stretch and quick-dry fabric are perfect for any water sport. Whether you’re a professional surfer or spending a casual day at the beach, this rash guard comes with UPF 50+ protection for your safety—the maximum UPF rating that exists.

The rash guard is made from breathable nylon and spandex, and there are multiple colors and sizes to choose from. Just note that you may need to order one size up from your usual. We love that this rash guard offers a tight, performance fit because it provides comfort without adding bulky layers. This fit, combined with minimal seams, helps prevent chafing or drag that can slow you down.

Material: Nylon, spandex | Sun Protection: UPF 50+ | Sleeves: Long | Colors: 11 | Care: Not listed

Best Women's Overall: Roxy Active Long Sleeve Back Zip One Piece Rashguard

4.5
Roxy Active Long Sleeve Back Zip One Piece Rashguard

Dick's Sporting Goods

Pros
  • One-piece design

  • Made from recycled materials

  • Thumb holes to secure sleeves

Cons
  • Expensive

Made from recycled materials, we recommend Roxy’s Active One Piece Rash Guard for its thoughtful features. This rash guard has a back zip closure, as well as thumb holes for freedom of movement. Like many others on our list, it’s also rated UPF 50+ for maximum protection.

We love the design, and the cutout seams on each side that offer a better fit. And the one-piece design means you won’t need to wear a separate bathing suit underneath. Although it’s expensive, this rash guard has the right mix of comfort and performance.

Material: Recycled polyamide, elastane | Sun Protection: UPF 50+ | Sleeves: Long | Colors: Four | Care: Not listed

Best Men's Budget: Kanu Surf Long-Sleeve Platinum UPF 50+ Rashguard

Kanu Surf Long-Sleeve Platinum UPF 50+ Rashguard

Amazon

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Quick-drying

Cons
  • Material may become see-through when wet

For a budget-friendly option, we recommend Kanu Surf Men’s Platinum Rash Guard. It’s made from a combination of nylon and spandex, which means it’s both lightweight and quick-drying. But since it’s so thin, some of the lighter colors may appear slightly see-through when wet. It doesn’t matter if you’re a surfer or want a rash guard for recreation–this one comes at a reasonable price point.

This rash guard is long-sleeved, features a standing collar, and is machine washable. It also provides the maximum UPF 50+ sun protection, making it one of our top picks for breathability and protection.

Material: Nylon, spandex | Sun Protection: UPF 50+ | Sleeves: Long | Colors: Eight | Care: Machine wash

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

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

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Crew neckline

  • Wide range of colors and patterns

Cons
  • Sleeves may be too short for some

It can be difficult to find rash guards at a budget-friendly price point, especially if you’re shopping with quality in mind. We love Kanu Surf’s Women’s Keri Rash Guard because it’s affordable and well-made. This rash guard comes in over 20 bright colors and five different sizes. Since it comes in less sizes than others on our list, the sleeves may be too short for some wearers.

Made from a combination of polyester and spandex, this rash guard is also machine-washable and provides UPF 50+ protection. The Kanu Surf’s Women’s Keri Rash Guard is perfect for trips to the beach or pool.

Material: Polyester, spandex | Sun Protection: UPF 50+ | Sleeves: Long | Colors: 22 | Care: Machine wash

Best with Built-In Bra: Madewell Second Wave Ribbed Short-Sleeve Crop Rash Guard

Madewell Second Wave Ribbed Short-Sleeve Crop Rash Guard

Madewell

Pros
  • Cropped style

  • Easy to put on and take off

  • Made from recycled materials

Cons
  • Only comes in one color

We recommend Madewell’s Second Wave Ribbed Rash Guard for those looking for a rash guard with a built-in bra. This rash guard offers plenty of support, even without a separate bathing suit underneath. 

And we love that it’s made from sustainable, recycled fabric, which is great for the environment. We also like the unique look of this rash guard, which can double as a bikini top at the beach or pool. But rest assured, this doesn’t mean the coverage it provides is limited—this rash guard is rated UPF 50.

Material: Nylon, elastane | Sun Protection: UPF 50 | Sleeves: Short | Colors: One | Care: Machine wash

Best Short Sleeve: L.L. Bean Swift River Cooling Sun Shirt

L.L. Bean Swift River Cooling Sun Shirt

L.L. Bean

Pros
  • Abrasion resistant

  • Anti-microbial

  • Loose fit

Cons
  • Limited range of colors

For scorching hot summer days when you can’t stand long sleeves, we recommend L.L.Beans’ Men’s Swift River Cooling Sun Shirt. This rash guard is slightly fitted, which means that it’s made with lightweight comfort in mind for those who don’t like the usual tight, performance fit. 

The fabric also helps regulate the evaporation of moisture, leaving you cool no matter how warm it is outside. 

Made from polyester and spandex with UPF 50+ sun protection, this short-sleeve rash guard is ideal for beach walking or your favorite outdoor activity. It’s also machine-washable, so it will hold up for plenty of summers to come. But it’s worth noting that the range of neutral colors is smaller than others on our list.

Material: Polyester, spandex | Sun Protection: UPF 50+ | Sleeves: Short | Colors: Four | Care: Machine wash

Best for Cold Weather: Platinum Sun Thermal Swim Shirt

Platinum Sun Thermal Swim Shirt

Amazon

Pros
  • Fleece-lined

  • Made from recycled materials

  • Unisex

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Only one color

We recommend Platinum Sun’s Unisex Thermal Swim Shirt for swimming in cold water. Made from 100 percent polyester, this unisex rash guard can be worn as a layer in cold weather or by itself in warm weather. We like that the fleece lining means this rash guard can also be used for hiking, the gym, or even skiing. And, it’s UPF 50+ rated for maximum protection. 

Although it’s only available in one color (and at a higher price point than others on our list), this rash guard is a great option for a dependable, year-round layer.

Material: Polyester | Sun Protection: UPF 50+ | Sleeves: Long | Colors: One | Care: Rinse in water, do not iron

Best Plus Size: J.Crew Active Zip-Up One-Piece

J.Crew Active Zip-Up One-Piece

J.Crew

Pros
  • Made from recycled materials

  • One-piece design

  • Short sleeves

Cons
  • No chest support

  • Not ideal for long torsos

J.Crew’s Active Zip-Up One-Piece is made from recycled materials and offers UPF 50+ protection. Capped sleeves and a zip-up neckline make this a unique and stylish rash guard that still provides plenty of protection and comfort. We love the size range on this rash guard–it goes up to size 16. And it comes in bright colors that are perfect for long summer days. 

Since it’s made from recycled nylon and elastane, it’s recommended that you hand wash this rash guard. Note that this suit doesn’t offer any chest support, and that those with long torsos may not like the fit.

Material: Recycled nylon, elastane | Sun Protection: UPF 50+ | Sleeves: Short | Colors: Five | Care: Hand wash

Best Design: Platinum Sun Long Sleeve Rash Guard

Platinum Sun Long Sleeve Rash Guard

Amazon

Pros
  • Thumb holes to secure sleeves

  • Quick drying and odor-free

  • Anti-glide silicone band

Cons
  • Sizing may be too small for some

  • Hand wash only

If you want a rash guard with a unique design, we recommend Platinum Sun’s Women’s Long Sleeve Rash Guard. This rash guard is lightweight and breathable, and an anti-glide silicone band prevents it from riding up if you’re swimming in heavy surf. We love that it has a shoulder zipper, which should mean it’s easy to pull on and off, even when wet.

The rash guard is quick-drying and odor-free, but Platinum Sun does recommend hand washing it to protect the colors. Also, the sizing may run too small for some swimmers.

Material: Polyester, spandex | Sun Protection: UPF 50+ | Sleeves: Long | Colors: Nine | Care: Hand wash

Best Quick-Drying: Lululemon Waterside Relaxed UV Protection Short Sleeve

Lululemon Waterside Relaxed UV Protection Short Sleeve

Lululemon

Pros
  • Soft and lightweight

  • Four-way stretch

  • Loose fit

Cons
  • UPF 40+

  • Expensive

With a relaxed fit, soft fabric, and hip length, lululemon’s Waterside Rash Guard is our top choice for a quick-drying rash guard. The combination of nylon and elastane materials gives this top a barely-there feel. Although it doesn’t offer maximum protection from the sun, this rash guard is rated UPF 40+, which is still high.

We love that it sits below the waistline and isn’t as tight-fitting as other rash guards. But note that there are only two colors to choose from, and that the price point is higher than others on our list.

Material: Nylon, elastane | Sun Protection: UPF 40+ | Sleeves: Short | Colors: Three | Care: Machine wash cold

Best for UV Protection: Athleta North Point Rash Guard

Athleta North Point Rash Guard

Athleta

Pros
  • Easy to take on and off

  • Made from recycled materials

  • Full upper body coverage

Cons
  • Hand wash only

  • Fit may be too tight for some

If you’re looking for a rash guard with full upper-body coverage that has great UV protection, we recommend Athleta’s North Point Rash Guard. This rash guard has long sleeves and is made from resilient, recycled materials.

Perfect for paddlesports or a day at the beach, it’s quick-drying and features a zipper so you can easily put it on and take it off (even when it’s wet). But the brand recommends only hand washing this rash guard, and the fit may feel too tight for some.

Material: Recycled nylon, spandex | Sun Protection: UPF 50+ | Sleeves: Long | Colors: Three | Care: Hand wash

Best Lightweight: Body Glove Standard Smoothies Long Sleeve Rashguard

Body Glove Standard Smoothies Long Sleeve Rashguard

Amazon

Pros
  • Flexible, comfortable fit

  • Quick-drying

  • Budget-friendly

Cons
  • Hand wash only

For a lightweight, breathable top, we recommend Body Glove Women’s Standard Smoothies Rash Guard. Coming in at a budget-friendly price point, this rash guard has long sleeves and comes in a variety of bright colors. Like many others in our list, it also offers maximum UPF 50+ protection.

This rash guard offers a flexible fit, thanks to stretchy nylon and spandex. And flatlock seams mean this top will still feel comfortable, even after spending hours in saltwater. Body Glove recommends hand washing this top to protect the color from fading.

Material: Nylon, spandex | Sun Protection: UPF 50+ | Sleeves: Long | Colors: 19 | Care: Hand wash

Best for Scuba Diving: Huge Sports Splice Skins Rash Guard

Huge Sports Splice Skins Rash Guard

Amazon

Pros
  • Four-way stretch

  • Modern, asymmetrical design

  • Lightweight and breathable

Cons
  • Sizing may not work for some

If you’re looking for a rash guard for scuba diving, we recommend Huge Sports’ Splice Skins Rash Guard. The four-way stretch fabric means that this rash guard is perfect for long days in the water, and also makes this top lightweight and breathable.

We love the asymmetrical design of this rash guard, which is stylish while still providing maximum UPF 50+ sun protection. Choose from over 15 different colors and patterns, but note that the sizes may not fit as usual.

Material: Polyester, elastane | Sun Protection: UPF 50+ | Sleeves: Long | Colors: 19 | Care: Not listed

Final Verdict

O’Neill’s Premium Skins Rash Guard is our top overall pick because it’s made from premium materials, is quick-drying, and offers UPF 50+ protection. The performance fit is ideal for all kinds of water sports. We also recommend Roxy’s Active Long Sleeve Back Zip One Piece Rashguard. Made from recycled materials, it features thumb holes that help the sleeves stay secure all day long.

How We Selected the Best Rash Guards

To choose the best rash guards, we first asked surf instructor Thomas Cravarezza for his expert opinion on which features to look for. He emphasized that different people have different needs when it comes to rash guards, including comfort, color, level of coverage, and climate.

Then, we researched dozens of rash guards from popular, trusted retailers and picked the best ones based on quality and comfort. We also looked at price to see which offered the best value.

What to Look for in the Best Rash Guards

Color 

Although you might prefer pale blues to match your rash guard to the color of the ocean, dark or bright colors (such as bright yellow, pink, and red) absorb ultraviolet rays more effectively than paler colors do. Also, darker colors will keep you warmer, while white and other light colors will cool you down. 

Coverage

Check the rash guard label to see its UPF rating: the higher the number, the better. This indicates how well the rash guard will block UV rays. You also want semi-loose fabric—not so loose that it comes off in the ocean, but not so tight that it pulls as you move your body. Fabric that pulls will lose its UV effectiveness over time. 

Fabric

Fabrics like nylon and polyester offer the best UV protection. You also want to inspect the texture of the fabric. A tight weave offers better protection because it will be harder for UV rays to pass through the fabric.

Thermal Protection

For colder climates, consider a rash guard with built-in thermal protection. Not all rash guards have this, but the extra layer can make a huge difference in cooler temperatures. 

Sleeve Length

You can get rash guards with long or short sleeves. Besides personal preference, sleeve length contributes to protection, too. Long sleeves can help protect your arms from the sun’s UV rays, while short sleeves may be more breathable and comfortable for some.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do rash guards keep you warm?

    Rash guards are made to block, reflect, and absorb the sun’s rays—they aren't made for body temperature control. Some rash guards do come with built-in thermal protection. But if you’re looking for something to keep you warm for long periods of time, consider a wetsuit, which is specifically designed to be worn in cold water.

  • How do you wash a rash guard?

    Some rash guards are machine-washable, while others will need to be washed by hand. With most rash guards, the apparel tag will state how many washes the UV protection will last. If you are concerned about using a washing machine, you can hand wash the rash guard or put it on a cold or delicate cycle. Additionally, avoid using the dryer.

  • Do rash guards offer UV protection?

    Yes—UPF clothing, including rash guards, help block UV rays. Look for rash guards that offer the highest UPF number. For reference, UPF 50 fabric blocks 98 percent of the sun’s rays.

  • What color rash guard is best?

    Although personal preferences are important here, the color of the rash guard you buy is crucial. “A brighter rash vest would be best in a tropical climate and a darker one would be best in colder climates,” Cravarezza says. Dark colors absorb the sun’s UV rays, so they are better for cold temperatures. White and other light colors will keep you cooler.

  • 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 that is loose enough fit so that it won’t pull over your body as you swim. Also, look for fabric with a tight weave. Stretched-out fabric will lose its UV effectiveness.

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

    First, let the shirt or swimsuit dry out. Once it's dry, you can shake the rash guard out to get rid of any extra sand.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

As a certified personal trainer and health and fitness writer, Ravi Davda understands how important quality product recommendations can be. He only recommends products that are reliable, comfortable, and genuinely well-reviewed by those who’ve tried them.

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  1. Skin Cancer Foundation. Sun-protective clothing.

  2. Skin Cancer Foundation. Sun-protective clothing.