What should you wear underneath a wetsuit? Well, you might be using a stand up paddle board (SUP) or you might be a kayaker. Alternatively you may be an avid surfer that is looking for something to put under a wetsuit to allow you to shred the waves. We have tried and tested several of the best rash vests on the market to help save you time in choosing the right rash vest. We have also looked at the different uses, given that the rash vest is more than just an undergarment for a wetsuit.
This rash vest is a hybrid. It is 1mm thick offering extra warmth for cold water surfing.
Can be worn stand alone if your paddleboarding or kayaking.
You may choose to opt for different styles of rash vest. You will want to find the right rash vest that suits your sport. If you don’t plan on wearing under a wetsuit, one of the thicker rash vests would be a good idea. It will provide extra watch but still have good flexibility for paddling a SUP or Kayak.
Best Rash Vests for Men
Quiksilver All Time Men’s Rash Vest – Short Sleeve
Simplicity of design is sometimes the best, and in this case we think so when it comes to this short sleeved rash vest from Quiksilver. You get a high quality Lycra that sticks to the body when wet, which is essentially what you want. You will be bound to find a colour you like as it comes in various different styles.
It’s quick drying and highly stretchy, so it’s very easy to put on. Provides good protection to your chest to help prevent board rubbing. If you are buying this as a gift for a SUP or Kayaker, it will serve them well as it has great flexibility, so does not restrict paddling. We consider this one of the best rash vests given the price.
O’Neill Reactor II – 1mm Neoprene Rash Vest
O’Neill is a wetsuit brand that I have a great deal of faith in, so if you are looking to buy a quality rash vest that can be used for more than just an under layer for your wetsuit then this is worth considering. With 1 mm of neoprene, this offers some warmth to you whilst in the water. The days when I am at the beach with the kids I spend lots of time in and out of the sea. This rashy is a great hybrid – as I don’t need to keep climbing in and out of my wetsuit, instead this offers me enough warmth for a play in the water.
It is a pull-on on entry and is short-sleeved. It has a hidden key pocket to help keep your essentials locked away safely. It has flatlock stitching and a board short tag to help keep it locked in place when you are wearing it. A really nice rash vest that can be used for more than just surfing.
Saltrock Men’s Rash Vest
A stylish long sleeved option on offer from Saltrock. This is a quick drying rash vest that is perfect for going underneath a wetsuit or to provide solid UPF 50 protection from the sun. A nice looking rash vest for anyone wanting to look stylish when up on the SUP. Saltrock are really coming into their own in terms of surf and water sports accessories and this rash vest is another highlight in their emerging product range.
O’Neill – Turtle Rash Vest
We took a look at O’Neill’s thermo warming rash vest earlier in this list; well this Turtle Rash Vest is one of their more traditional fitted rash vests designs. This short-sleeved rash vest provides a skin like feel when on. It has a very fitted feel to it, so it compliments anyone with a chiselled physique. You will look ready to take on the world when wearing this.
A simple design with the O’Neill logo patched onto the chest and shoulder, a classic look from the classic wetsuit maker. Will make paddling in your kayak a piece of cake.
Olaian Men’s Long Sleeved Rash Vest
This rash vest is made from 85% recycled polyester so you are doing your bit for the planet in buying this one. The fact that it’s polyester material makes it quick drying and it features a drawstring loop which helps to keep it in place when you’re splashing around in the waves. It’s tight fitted cut means that it stays in place and helps reduce chafing, a solid option that will keep the sun off your back and the chafing off your chest.
Olaian are a surf product that you might not necessarily know, however we have been impressed by their water sports gear so have faith that this is a good product and a high quality rash vest.
Best Rash Vests for Women
Speedo Women’s Rash Vest
This rash vest from Speedo is basic in design, but highly functional in terms of protecting you from the sun and providing relief from any unnecessary chafing. the material is fully breathable so allows moisture and heat to escape, so if you’re playing touch rugby on the beach this rash best will be the perfect addition to your catalogue of clothes. It has a board short loop so stays in place when you are in the water and splashing around. It is made from premium quality Lycra so has a very stretchy and comfortable fit when on.
Roxy – Long Sleeve Rash Vest for Women
Roxy has really set itself apart from other surf brands in my own humble opinion. The brand and product designs are premium and very high quality and I think they are doing great things for women’s surfing. Now that I’ve put my opinion in written form, it’s time to take a closer look at this rash vest. Firstly I love the design. It is fashionable and cool which makes the user special when wearing it. Made from nylon and elastane, it has a soft feel, that is stretchy when moving around but also fitted and pressed against your skin. The Roxy logo is printed on the chest and back – this is one of my favourite rash vests in this list.
Rip Curl – Summer Breeze Long Sleeve Rash Vest
A very stylish rash vest – for only the most fashionable beach goer! You could be forgiven for thinking this rash vest can also be worn out and about – and I have a funny story that relates to somebody who actually wore a rash vest on a night out because he thought it was a muscle top…but I digress. This rash vest is long-sleeved to give good UV protection. It has a relaxed feel to it, so it’s perfect for beach attire to keep you covered up and out of the sun’s exposure but also allow you to go bodyboarding and enjoy yourself in the water. If you like the design but prefer short sleeve, you can get that here.
Roxy – Whole Hearted – Short Sleeve Rash Vest for Women
A great range of rash vests for anyone looking to stand out. There are lots of benefits to having a bright coloured rash vest, one being the fact that you can be found more easily, which on a busy UK summer day has its benefits. There are many times that I’ve walked back from the beach and managed to find my family due to the bold rash vest colours we have chosen. This range from Roxy has multiple different colour options so that is something to consider. This rash vest features the standard Roxy logo, so you get some brand recognition by wearing this one. It has a fitted design with stretchy durable material so you can get some longevity out of this rash vest.
O’Neill – Women’s Long Sleeved Rash Vest
This rash vest has O’Neill’s super soft printed fabrics with a subtle floral design, it’s a really nice looking rash vest from the wetsuit kingpin. It’s long sleeved so you get great UV protection. It has a boardshort loop to keep it locked in place. The brushed polyester and spandex material is quick drying so you can be in and out the water throughout the day.
Best Rash Vests for Kids
Young children’s skin needs protection from the sun – and some of these kids rash vests are perfect for mini grom’s to enjoy their time at the beach. It’s no good mum and dad having all the gear and then leaving your kids looking like they aren’t real surfers.
Gul – Kids Thermo Rash Vest
Do you have a young child or teenager who is just starting to gain their confidence in the open water? Well this might be the perfect rash vest for you. With 1 mm of neoprene, it provides the user with some warmth while out in the water without the need for a full wetsuit. The titanium 2 lined thermal neoprene is designed to try and reflect heat back into the body whilst keeping the water out. Now I will add to this, if you are looking to spend a good deal of time in the water then purchase a wetsuit, however, this is a good option for anyone looking for that “in and out” of the water day at the beach and perfect for teenagers who might just want a splash around and play.
Olaian – Kids Rash Vest
This is by far the cheapest rash vest on this entire list. It is clearly designed with your children in mind with the fun playful graphic on the chest. With UPF 50 fabric it is going to provide your little one with great sun protection and will help reduce chafing from those bodyboard sessions when they are just learning how to enjoy the water. The added bonus is this textile helps prevent sand from getting stuck within it, so it can be cleaned easily after a day at the beach. If you want a budget rash vest, then search no more.
Billabong – Rash Vest for Girls
This is the perfect present idea for any man looking to kit his wife and daughter out in matching surf gear – as this design comes in women’s and children’s aged from 6 to 16. Just like the senior version, it has the floral shoulder design and UPF 50 protection. It’s made from a blend of polyester and elastane so it is soft and features a stretch fabric that holds its shape well – you will be in the good books with everyone if you choose to buy this range for the family.
What is a rash vest?
A rash vest, or rashie is a multi-use garment that thrives in the surfing community! In its primal form, its aim is to reduce any chafing. Now, let’s break that down a bit more. If you are surfing in warm waters, you may just be wearing a pair of boardshorts and heading out to shred in for the day. The constant movement of your exposed skin on a waxed surfboard will cause an unwanted friction rash. This is where the rash vest comes in – it forms a protective barrier against your skin and the board, which means you can enjoy your time in the water more.
As mentioned, you may be surfing in warm water, or even just on holiday at the beach. The rash vest also offers UV protection against the rays of the sun. If you are being physically active, sun cream can rub off, the rash vest offers greater protection for your skin and can give you peace of mind that you are not burning.
Other water users such as SUP or Kayak, will need a rash vest for different reasons to a surfer. While a surfer will have their rash vest underneath their wetsuit, unless in warm water, a SUP user will not plan on getting their rash vest wet, as it will hopefully be for emergencies only. The reason for this is that with Stand Up Paddle Boarding you stay on top of the water for the duration of your paddle.
The exception to this will be during the beginning stage, where you will lose your balance more than a few times and end up in the water. Even so, your aim while learning to paddle board will always be to stay on the board and out of the water. For this reason you will use the rash vest as a means of UV protection and also a garment that can get wet and quickly dry, whereas a surfer will always spend the majority of the time submerged.
A kayaker will not even contemplate getting wet. They may want a rash vest for comfort more than anything else. A rash vest provides peace of mind that if you get it wet it will dry quickly.
Do I need to wear a rash vest for surfing?
Now you may have read the paragraph above and thought to yourself, “I’m not surfing in warm water, do I still wear a rash vest under my wetsuit?” The answer is yes you can, but it is not the law. Some chafing is to be expected when in a wetsuit and the rash vest is a valuable guard against it. I particularly like to wear one for the protection on the neck, as I have found some wetsuits to give me a rash on this area.
If you plan on exploring the open water in a kayak or SUP then I would definitely get a rash vest. I would look at a thicker mm rash vest so that I am not restricted to always wearing a wetsuit.
What should I look for in a rash vest?
There are different types of fit on the market, these range from a tight fitted rash vest to a more loose, t-shirt style fit. They come in long and short sleeved options depending on your preference. Another style to look out for are the Thermo Warmth rash vest; these borrow some of the technology from a wetsuit and come in thin neoprene options – so you get the freedom of just a top to wear, with the added warmth of some neoprene. I think these are great if you are bodyboarding with young kids, as you might not end up with a really long session in the water, so it makes it easier for the constant “in and out” trip to the water when the kids get bored.
Other things to consider are colour options. If you are wearing your rash vest under a wetsuit then don’t be too concerned about what colour you opt for However, a bright rash vest could be desirable if you are looking to increase visibility. I have been out surfing and asked my wife to take pictures of me, only to find out that she’s been filming somebody else the whole time. Why not reduce this risk by choosing a bolder colour so that you can stand out in a crowd. This is also important if you are taking your kids to the beach, as a bright rash vest can help identify them at crowded spots such as Fistral Beach.