What are rash guards?
As the name suggests, rash guards (also known as rashies or rash vests) are shirts which protect the skin from any type of rashes being the result of sun overexposure or abrasion. They’re made of synthetic fibers like spandex, nylon and polyester thanks to which they’re ultra comfortable, stretchy and easy to care. Rash guards are usually worn under a wetsuit, but in certain watersports like surfing, wakeboarding or kayaking they can be used alone for light coverage.
Is the rash guard fit important? Is it supposed to be loose or body-fitting?
Yes, the size matters, but not because how it will look on you. It has more to do with the activities that you plan to use the rash guard for. They usually come in two different fits – body-tight and loose. The first one is better suited for watersports like swimming, diving or surfing as it sits snuggly, doesn’t ride up on the body and has no excess fabric that might get in the way. Loose-fit rash guards, on the other hand, are perfect for chilling on the beach or on a boat as they more comfortable.
What fabrics should I take into account when choosing a rash guard?
Don’t be tempted to buy the cheapest rash guards on the market. They should be comfortable, quick-drying and most importantly they should protect you from the harmful effects of sun exposure. That said, look for rash guards from synthetic fibers like polyester or nylon with elastane for maximum comfort. Always check if they are sun protective – a good rash guard is made of UPF+50 materials that are either pre-treated with UV-inhibiting ingredients or have novel weave structures or denier. Check the label for more information before settling on one.
What are additional factors I should think about when looking for a rash guard?
You also need to consider how long it takes to dry. It’s vital as rash guards are mostly used for watersports, so the shirt should wick moisture quickly off your body and not affect your body temperature. You should also look closely at the seams, stitches and small details. Make sure they flat-locked and gentle on the skin. Any rough spots or thread which is not soft can chafe your skin while doing active sports.
Mock collars – yes or no?
Definitely yes. The neck is one of the most susceptible parts of the body which is often unprotected as most people forget to put sunscreen on it. The effect? Sunburns, of course. A rash guard with a mock collar is, therefore, a great idea as it’ll provide extra coverage and protect the sensitive skin of your neck.
Are there thermal rash guards available?
Do you like surfing in the early spring, fall or even in winter? If yes, then a thermal rash guard is definitely the style to opt for. They are usually made of thick, insulating fabrics like neoprene which provide extra warmth and will help you withstand the chilly water. When looking for thermal rashies, check the tag for more information about the fabric. You’ll find some data about the thickness of the fabric in millimeters there. It’ll usually be displayed with two numbers separated with a slash. The first number is the thickness around the torso, the second refers to the thickness of the material around the limbs.
What sleeve length should I choose? Does it matter?
Rash guards vary not only in the fit, but they also come with different sleeve lengths. Each of the styles and sleeve lengths has a certain use. Tanks are most suited for hot days and they provide a lot of flexibility in water, but you need to remember to put some suncream on your shoulders and arms to protect them. Short-sleeved rash guards provide better protection than tanks and are much better than long-sleeved ones in hot temperatures. Rashies with long sleeves provide the best UV protection and can also offer some extra warmth – perfect on days when temperatures fall, but not so good when it’s boiling unless you’re mostly in water.
What are rash guards with sublimation?
Rash guards don’t need to be just functional. They can draw eyes with colorful patterns or prints, and that’s exactly where sublimation takes place. Sublimation is a durable print technique during which the artwork is transferred onto the garment surface and becomes part of it. It doesn’t crack or fade and lasts much longer than more traditional techniques like inkjet transfers. Be prepared to pay a little bit extra, though.
Full-body rash guards – when is it a good idea?
Full-body rash guards are made of the same materials and are usually body-fitted. They can be worn under a wetsuit or alone depending on the watersport. These full-body versions are very popular in canoeing, kayaking, kite surfing and surfing. Many of them are intended for use in tropical countries for head-to-toe protection not only from the UV radiation but also biological irritants (think jellyfish for example).
Are rash guards used only in watersports?
No. Although they are normally associated with water activities, rash guards have a wider use than that. They are also needed by people who train martial arts or Brazilian jiu-jitsu. They absorb sweat well, wick moisture off the body, dry quickly and provide maximum comfort and flexibility during the training. They also protect the skin from contacting the mat and bacteria which can accumulate there.