The 9 Best Rash Guards of 2021

Top picks to stave off the sun and chafing on your water-sport vacation

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The Rundown

Best Overall for Men: O’Neill Men’s Premium Skins L/S Rash Guard at Amazon

"For an all-around, versatile rash guard, opt for the O’Neill Men’s Premium Skins Rash Guard."

Best Overall for Women: Kanu Surf Women’s Keri Rashguard at Amazon

"The long sleeve rashie comes in more than a dozen colors and patterns."

Best Budget: DRSKIN UV Sun Protection Long Sleeve Top Shirts Skins Tee at Amazon

"This top has an affordable price tag yet doesn’t skimp on the must-haves."

Best for Surfing: Quiksilver All Time Long Sleeve UPF 50 Rashguard at Amazon

"A longer torso and extended hem keep this guard from creeping up while paddling."

Best for Snorkeling: Tuga Sunwear Men's Snorkel Hoodie Rash Guard at Amazon

"Prevent sunburns when snorkeling with this rashie's hooded protection and 50+ SPF rating."

Best for Paddling: Hurley One and Only Surf Shirt Long Sleeve at Amazon

"Four-way stretch and a relaxed fit allow for greater movement when kayaking."

Best for Babies: UV Skins Baby Boy's Sun & Swim Suit at Amazon

"This all-over suit from UV Skins keeps little ones protected from neck to ankle."

Best for Kids: O’Neill Youth Basic Skins 50+ L/S Sun Shirt at Amazon

"From top brand O’Neill comes this kid-friendly version of an adult classic."

Best Quick Drying: Hurley Quick Dry Long Sleeve Tee at Amazon

"This 100 percent polyester shirt helps you dry off quickly coming out of the water."

Some beach or lake vacations call for days lounging on the shore. Other destinations call for adventure. If your next excursion will have you paddling, swimming, snorkeling, or surfing, you may need a rash guard. The athletic shirts originally designed for surfers are helpful for many water-based sports because they protect your skin from harmful UV rays and prevent uncomfortable chafing under wetsuits or sandy sports equipment.

From short sleeve to thermal, and for every type of traveler, here are the best rash guards on the market.

Best Overall for Men: O’Neill Men’s Premium Skins L/S Rash Guard

What We Like
  • UPF 50 rating

  • Prevents chafing

  • Breathable

  • Stretchy

What We Don't Like
  • Tight fit

For an all-around, versatile rashie, opt for the O’Neill Men’s Premium Skins L/S Rash Guard. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends this shirt for its UPF 50+ rating. As buyers would expect from one of the top names in the water sports industry, O’Neill has maximized this shirt’s design for play. The guard’s minimal and well-placed seams won’t chafe when surfing, swimming, or paddling, and the design balances superior protection with premium four-way stretch for superior mobility during adventure sports. It remains breathable during maximum exertion, so wearers aren’t likely to overheat even on scorching days at the shore. Note that this performance-fit shirt hugs skin tight—as rash guards should in order to fit under wetsuits—so shoppers looking for a looser-fitting sun shirt should order a size or two larger..

Best Overall for Women: Kanu Surf Women’s Keri Rashguard

What We Like
  • Stretchy

  • Dries quickly

  • UPF 50 rating

  • Comes in various colors

What We Don't Like
  • Tight fit

The Kanu Surf Women’s Keri Rashguard is specifically designed for women. Made from a blend of polyester and spandex, this shirt is both quick-drying and stretchy. It comes with a UPF 50+ rating, so wearers won’t have to continue to slather sunscreen on their bodies while wearing this protective guard. The long sleeve rashie with a banded crew-neck comes in more than a dozen colors and patterns, so there’s likely a style to suit every buyer’s desires. Note that it has a slim fit by design, so size up if necessary.

Best Budget: DRSKIN UV Sun Protection Long Sleeve Top Shirts Skins Tee

What We Like
  • Stretchy

  • Dries quickly

  • Comes in various colors

What We Don't Like
  • UPF rating not listed

Those just learning to surf or getting into paddle sports may not want to take the leap into a pricey rash guard just yet. The DRSKIN UV Protection Long Sleeve Top has an affordable price tag and performance that doesn’t skimp on the must-haves. The polyester/spandex fabric blend provides unrestricted movement and four-season wearability for most locales. The moisture-wicking material also dries quickly in summer and retains heat in the winter. It provides some protection from harmful sun rays, so wearers can rest assured they good coverage.

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

What We Like
  • Sustainable

  • Stretchy

  • UPF 50 rating

  • Won't ride up

What We Don't Like
  • Hand-wash only

This rashie will serve buyers well in the water and on the shore. Made of recycled polyester and elastane, this shirt is both sustainable and functional. Its four-way stretch moves with wearers like a second skin, so they won’t feel constrained while catching waves. Long sleeves and ergonomic side seams allow for a full range of movement. A longer torso and extended hem keep this guard from creeping up while paddling. The close fit also goes nicely under wetsuits for cold-water surfing or as a stand-alone piece in warmer temps.

Best for Snorkeling: Tuga Sunwear Men's Snorkel Hoodie Rash Guard

What We Like
  • UPF 50 rating

  • Hooded design

  • Prevents chafing

What We Don't Like
  • Hand-wash only

Whether you’re snorkeling in Aruba, Cancun, or Kauai, sunburn can quickly ruin an otherwise perfect day of spotting exotic fish and coral. So, for snorkeling rash guards, UPF protection is the top priority. This long sleeve rash guard has it in spades with a 50+ rating that will keep your back and arms protected all day. It goes one step further with a hood that can be pulled up to protect the back of your neck and ears without reef-harming sunscreen. A women’s version of this hooded rash guard is also available.

Best for Paddling: Hurley One and Only Surf Shirt Long Sleeve

What We Like
  • Stretchy

  • UPF 50 rating

  • Machine-washable

What We Don't Like
  • Limited color options

For paddle sports like kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, freedom of movement is a priority. The Hurley One and Only Surf Shirt delivers dynamic movement via four-way stretch and a more relaxed fit than other performance-fit rashies. It will also help wearers stay protected from the sun’s harmful rays with a UPF 50+ rating. Add a big hat, and wearers will be ready for all-day paddle adventures via river, lake, or ocean.

Best for Babies: UV Skins Baby Boy's Sun & Swim Suit

What We Like
  • UPF 50 rating

  • Prevents chafing

  • Chlorine- and saltwater-resistant

  • Machine-washable

What We Don't Like
  • Air dry only

Parents won’t want anything damaging their babies’ tender skin, and this all-over suit from UV Skins keeps little ones protected from neck to ankle. With a UPF 50+ rating, it should block 98 percent of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. Unlike most skin-tight rash guards, this one’s made for lots of movement. Raglan-cut sleeves give tots free range of motion in the arms, while flatlock seams throughout provide ultimate comfort and chafe-free wear. It also features a full front zipper, so getting your baby in and out of this suit won’t turn into a wrestling match. Even though your baby may outgrow this suit in a season, its chlorine- and saltwater-resistant fabric will make this durable suit a solid hand-me-down. Although the boys’ version is linked here, UV Skins also makes this suit for girls with colors some parents might find more fitting for them. Matching bucket hats are available as well.

Best for Kids: O’Neill Youth Basic Skins 50+ L/S Sun Shirt

What We Like
  • UPF 50 rating

  • Looser fit

  • Comes in various colors

What We Don't Like
  • Sizes run small

From O’Neill, leaders in water sportswear, comes this kid-friendly version of an adult classic. The multi-functional rashie is suitable for surfing, swimming, paddle sports, and days at the beach. Parents will likely find peace of mind in this shirt’s UPF 50+ rating and its recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation. With minimal seams for maximum rash protection and a close-but-not-tight fit, it allows kids to move and play without feeling constricted. It's also available in more than a dozen colors, so parents are sure to find a version their youngster will enjoy.

Best Quick Drying: Hurley Quick Dry Long Sleeve Tee

What We Like
  • Dries quickly

  • Looser fit

  • Hooded design

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't fit well under a wetsuit

This 100 percent polyester shirt helps you stay dry on land and dry off quickly coming out of the water. Hurley Men’s Dry-Fit rashie has a looser, more relaxed fit than most. With its hood and kangaroo pocket, it delivers maximum comfort, but it won’t easily go under a wetsuit. As with all guards, it offers superior UPF protection to give wearers sun protection during a day of water play.

Final Verdict

The O’Neill Men’s Premium Skins L/S Rash Guard (view at Amazon) and Kanu Surf Women’s Keri Rashguard (view at Amazon) are our top picks due to their versatility, durability, and their high UPF rating. However, if you're on a budget, you can't go wrong with the DRSKIN UV Sun Protection Long Sleeve Top Shirts Skins Tee (view at Amazon).

What to Look for in a Rash Guard

Material

You’ll want material in your rash guard that gives you plenty of movement and flexibility—the larger the range of motion, the better. Spandex and polyester are going to be your best friends for a great day on the board, and keep an eye out for flatlock stitching for added comfort. 

UPF Protection

Fabric technology has come a long way in rash guards in recent years, and many have sun protection built right in. Look for rash guards that have UPF protection to ensure that you're keeping your skin safe from the sun's harmful rays. 

Sleeve Length

Traditionally, rash guards have long sleeves to guard against the sun and chafing that comes along with a day of movement during water sports. Some rash guards are short sleeve, though, and offer a greater range of motion. Figure out which style is most comfortable for you and how much sun protection you want.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Journalist Ashley M. Biggers is a water lover at heart. Her paddling, snorkeling, surfing, and swimming adventures have taken her around the world, including to Australia, Hawaii, and Southern France. She’s had many rash-guard success stories—and a few misadventures along the way.

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