What Is a Rash Guard Shirt?

Rayward Apparel

Summer is a time to enjoy the sunshine and get into the water. And with summer quickly approaching, now is a good time to invest in clothing that can protect you from the sun's harmful rays. A good article of clothing to accomplish this is a rash guard shirt. Also known as a "rashie" or rash vest, it is primarily an athletic shirt for water-based activities, usually made of spandex, nylon or polyester. It gets its name due to the fact that the shirt protects against both UV rays and abrasion from water, sand and surfboard wax.

Keep reading to learn more about rash guards and to find out why you should get a rash guard shirt this summer.

Surfer with rash guard UV shirt

Who Needs a Rash Guard Shirt?

The first and obvious answer: surfers. This is because the shirt was originally made for surfers that needed additional protection from the sand and wax on their boards. However, water sports have greatly expanded beyond surfing. Other popular water sports include boogie boarding, water skiing, kayaking, wakeboarding, and much more! All of these benefit in one way or another from rash protection shirts. Other benefits of rash guard shirts for water sport participants include the following: protection against wave abrasion, minor protection from jelly fish stings, and prevention of chaffing.

Yet, the most important factor is being able to protect the wearer from UV rays. When on the water, you are at most risk from the sun's harmful rays. This is because sunlight reflects off the water, exposing more skin to UV damage and multiplying the harm to your skin. Most rash guard-style shirts offer great protection from the sun. For water lovers, this is a much better alternative to sunblock which washes away and harms sea life.

Choosing the Right Rash Protection Shirt?

Rash guard shirts were created as an alternative to wetsuits, particularly for weather that was too warm for wetsuit use. It also helps that they are much more comfortable than wetsuits. Thus, a good rash guard shirt needs to posses a certain level of comfort and functionality. The right fit can depend on the planned activity of the shirt. If you plan on using the rash guard shirt for swimming or other water exercises, for instance, make sure your shirt is not so tight that it restricts your movement in the water. However, don't go to the other extreme and choose a shirt so loose it could accidentally get stuck or snagged on your board or other gear.

While the size and fit is ultimately up to you, the one factor everyone needs to check out for a rash guard shirt is the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF). You want to get a shirt that has a UPF rating of at least 30. UPF 50+ would give you the ultimate protection from harmful UV rays, blocking more than 98% of UV light.

Now that you know more about rash guard shirts, you're ready to hit the water with a functional, fashionable and protective piece of clothing.

Make sure to check out Rayward Apparel's Shoreline collection of shirts, which is essentially a very lightweight, loose-fitting rash guard. This relaxed fit makes it more versatile versus heavier, tighter fitting rash guards that look out of place once you exit the surf. Check out our UPF 50+ Shoreline shirts to learn more!