Updated: November 2017

Rash Guard Shirt Reviews:

Have you ever noticed that when you need to focus most, when you need to marshal your resources to stay on top of that wave, swim those last few meters, or run that last lap something irritates you and you lose your concentration? This is how a stinging little toe can destroy a 5-mile run or a rash can ruin what could have been a perfect day at the beach. Rash guards are the ideal solution for those who enjoy water sports: with one of these, there is no excuse not to be on your best game. They have also become popular in other sports, including mixed martial arts and wrestling. Whether you're trading in your old surf shirt or buying swim shirts for your family, we'll guide you through your best choices so you can hit the water - or gym, pool, field, or court - with total confidence. After my recent bodyboarding and boogie boarding episode in Maui, I realized I needed to upgrade to rash guard shirts to protect my skin.
rash guard shirt

What is a Rash Guard? - You've no doubt seen rash guards on beaches everywhere as watersports enthusiasts gear up for summer. The shirts are designed for those participating in surfing, body surfing, body boarding, windsurfing, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming and offer light protection in higher temperatures. Why would you need a rash guard? They are often used in place of a wetsuit in warmer weather, as well as by those who come into contact with board or water. A surfer, for instance, without a rash guard will expose his (or her) skin to the sand that adheres to the wax on their boards. As they slide on and off, they rub their skin raw, creating an uncomfortable rash. The use of rash guards has spread to other sports, where rash and abrasions are also a risk. MMA fighters, for instance, will often use these (UnderArmor is a popular brand) to prevent chafing under the arms or thighs or from contact with the other fighter's skin. They also serve to wick away moisture. Rash guards also have other benefits: for those enjoying outdoor sports, they provide slight protection against jellyfish stings and UV rays. This is why you will see them popping up on the beach more and more. They are especially useful for children, who may be resistant to being attacked with sunscreen every hour. While their faces and legs need to be protected, the shirts at least provide good coverage for their torsos. Depending on the brand, you will also find that rash guard shirts are flexible, durable, water-wicking, quick drying, lightweight, and naturally antibacterial. You might want to wear these babies everywhere. What to Look for in a Rash Guard - While there are different styles of rash guard, they are typically made of a combination of spandex and nylon or polyester. The best will be a mix of Lycra (20 percent) and nylon (80 percent). This allows their lightweight flexibility and quick drying properties, both of which are essential to water sports enthusiasts and other athletes. Instead of a typical 4-panel construction like you would see on a t-shirt, rash guards have 6-panel construction for mobility and flatlock stitching for strength and durability. Other features to look out for include:

*Durable cover stitch hems. This is a method of hemming that uses double or triple needle stitches for increased strength, as well as an active, sporty look.
*Long or short sleeves. This will depend on your preferences and activity.
*UV ray protection. This is important especially when you're buying swim shirts for children. You need to know if you should supplement the sunscreen. Get as much UV protection as you can.
*Price. You'll probably pay between $20 and $40 for a rash guard. You can pay more for a big brand shirt emblazoned with logos, or get a nice, non-logo shirt for less. It's up to you. If you do have a choice between a Lycra/nylon blend or a less expensive spandex/cotton blend, opt for the better Lycra/nylon if you have the money. It will prevent rashes and sunburn far better, and it will also last longer than the cheaper cotton materials.

You can browse the best selling rash guard shirts online here.

Best Rash Guards:

Body Glove is a name you will see again and again when you're looking for a rash guard. One of their most popular shirts is the Body Glove 6 oz. Basic Lycra Short Sleeve Shirt. It can be used as a thermal layer under a wetsuit in colder conditions or a rash protector in warm weather. It has an SPF rating of 30 and is a lightweight 6 ounces. The Lycra shirt is available in men's (XS to 2XL) and women's (XS to L) sizes. A reviewer on Scuba.com said it was exactly what she needed to keep from getting sunburned. The light color doesn't absorb the rays as much, and though light, it does provide a bit of warmth in colder waters. Another reviewer notes that since these fit like a glove (get it?), you may want to size up if you want a slightly looser fit. "Looser," is not the right word: less tight would be more accurate. Even in a larger size, Body Glove's rash guard will still hold up and retain its shape very well. You can find this great rash guard at Amazon for $24 to $28. This is also available in a long-sleeved version for $25. RECOMMENDED - Check out the most popular Body Glove rash guard shirts here. O'Neill is another name you will bump into. Californian Jack O'Neill is credited with the invention of the wetsuit, and his namesake company produces some of the best suits and shirts in the business. The O'Neill Skins Short Sleeve Rash Tee lives up to the O'Neill name, and reviews very well with consumers on sites like Amazon and Buzillions. In fact, it was the number 1 rash guard pick of Buzzillions reviewers. The Rash Tee offers 50+ UV protection, 6-ounce lightweight build, nylon/spandex construction, flexible 4-way stretch, quick dry, ergonomic seam placement, flat stitch seams, better entry flexibility, and low wind drag design. This moisture-wicking surf shirt is so lightweight, says one Amazon reviewer, that you don't realize you're wearing anything in the water. It offers the ultimate freedom along with ultimate protection. This O'Neill rash guard is designed for a looser fit and can be worn with board shorts, swim shorts, or even with jeans for a casual look. If you want a looser, casual shirt, opt for a size up from what you would normally wear. The short sleeve shirt is $33 to $34 and is available in XS to XXXL and Men's M to Men's XXXL. O'Neill also makes children and women's rash guards. View top rated O'Neill rash guard shirts here.

Best Rash Guards for Children - Rash guard shirts have become a more common site on beaches as parents seek to protect their children from burns and rashes. Rash guards made for children typically have higher SPF ratings, anti-rash material, and comfortable, colorful designs. Children are picky, and they would revolt if they had to wear something hot and heavy to a beach. Instead, these shirts are moisture-wicking, which is cooling on hot days. They are very lightweight, so your child will not likely notice a difference. But you will because there will be no more burns. Body Glove makes a great line of children's rash guards, so check them out. You can find a short and a long-sleeve version online - see all the kids rash guards here. Another prominent name in the kid's rash guard business is One Step Ahead. The One Step Ahead Sun Smarties Kids Rash Guard is a favorite with Buzzillions users, who praise its light weight, quick drying, breathable material, UV protection, and styling. One reviewer noted that her 5-year old loved to wear the rash guard because he felt stylish - and she didn't have to apply sunscreen as often. Perfect! You can find these for about $13 at Leaps and Bounds.

The Best Rash Guard for MMA - When choosing your rash guard for MMA or other similar sports, you need to remember that those designed for water sports keep heat in. Those designed for other endeavors need to allow heat out. In other words, your surf shirt and MMA rash guard aren't interchangeable. MMAGearGuide recommends the Hayabusa MMA Rash Guard. This deluxe shirt has 80 percent nylon and 20 percent Lycra, antimicrobial technology to protect against skin infection, and thermoregulation to wick away sweat. This is the best of the best and costs about $60. You can also try the Everlast Compress X. This is another top pick of MMAGearGuide. The Everlast is much less expensive, at about $17 for a short sleeve rash guard and $20 for a long sleeve version. The Compress-X is made of 90 percent polyester and 10 percent spandex, has a fitted, comfortable shape, and wicks moisture from the body. It is obviously not of the same top quality of the Hayabusa, but if you have a smaller budget, this is a great choice and will serve you well. When choosing your rash guard, make sure to keep your needs in mind. An MMA fighter doesn't need the same things as a surfer who doesn't need the same things as a mom trying to protect her child. Take a look at a large selection of rash guards here and keep the top names, like Body Glove and O'Neill, in mind. Stay protected and stay focused on your sport, even if it's just digging in the sand.