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Rash guards help keep your shoulders and back covered while surfing or enjoying the water. Photo: Tommy Pierucki//The Inertia


The Inertia

Summer is here, and that means lots of surfing and time in the sun. While it’s great to soak up rays and get some much-needed vitamin D after a long winter, there’s nothing worse than a blistering sunburn. On days when the sun is high, and I don’t have a buddy to sunscreen my back, I reach for a rash guard to keep me protected.

Not only do rash guards keep off the sun, but, as their name implies, they prevent rashes that can occur from paddling while surfing, making them a great option for cloudy days as well. Here, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best rash guards for women to keep you covered all summer long. Want to see each how each rash guard stacks up? Check out our Comparison Table. And to learn more about what to look for in the best rash guards, take a look at our Buyer’s Guide.

The Best Rash Guards for Women of 2024

Best Overall Rash Guard: Carve Designs Kona Rash Guard
Most Stylish Rash Guard: Billabong Postcards from Paradise Long Sleeve Rash Guard
Best Sustainable Rash Guard: Patagonia Women’s Long Sleeved UPF Top
Best Budget Rash Guard: Dakine HD Snug Fit Rash Guard
Unique Pick: Roxy Wavy Babe Long-Sleeve Crop Rash Guard


Best Overall Rash Guard

Carve Designs Kona Rash Guard ($72)

Pros: Half zip, soft and comfortable, longer cut for added sun protection
Cons: Runs big

Carve Design’s Kona Rash Guard has everything you could want and more. In an effort to provide maximum sun protection, the Kona Rash Guard has UPF protection and a longer cut for added coverage. The top features a half zip, adding style points and allowing for easy entry and exit. Made from durable stretch fabric and featuring raglan sleeves (sleeves that start at the collar) for increased mobility, the Kona is incredibly soft and comfortable.

The Kona fits a little looser than other rash guards, so order a size down if you prefer a tighter fit. We’re personally fans of the loose fit because it allows this versatile rash guard to be worn as a sun shirt throughout the day, and it is comfy both on and off the water.

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Most Stylish Rash Guard

Billabong Postcards from Paradise Long Sleeve Rash Guard ($48)

billabong rashguard

Pros: Stylish, made from recycled materials
Cons: Thin material

When it comes to style, Billabong always hits the nail on the head. Part of their Postcards from Paradise collection, this rash guard comes in a fun, floral print and pairs well with bikinis, shorts, and leggings from the collection. Made from 85% recycled polyester, this top is eco-friendly, and the fabric feels buttery soft against the skin.

This top offers UPF 50+ sun protection and covers the back, shoulders, and arms, making it perfect for long days in the sun. While the fabric is super comfortable, it is on the thinner side, so it’s not quite as durable when paddling or resistant to snags. Note: sizing is in juniors, so refer to the size chart to ensure you order the appropriate size.

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Best Sustainable Rash Guard

Patagonia Women’s Long-Sleeved RØ UPF Top ($59)

Pros: Rated UPF 40+, made from recycled materials
Cons: Not the most stylish

Fair Trade Certified sewn and made from a blend of 85 percent recycled nylon from fishing nets and 16 percent spandex, Patagonia’s Long-Sleeved RØ UPF top is about as ethical and eco-friendly as they come.

The Long-Sleeved UPF top is a long sleeve, crewneck style top rated UPF 40+. The flatlock seams and seamless underarms provide a chafe-free surfing experience. Thoughtful features include a security pocket with an internal key loop and a board shorts connector to prevent the top from riding up.

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Best Budget Rash Guard

Dakine HD Snug Fit Long-Sleeve Rash Guard ($20)

Pros: UPF 50+, seamless construction, boardshort connector
Cons: Not the most stylish

The Dakine HD Snug Fit Rash Guard is a straightforward design with everything you need in a rash guard. Made from recyled materials, the 5.6 oz. shirt is rated UPF 50+. The rash guard has flatlocked seams and a seamless construction on the paddle zones to minimize chafing and ergonomic paneling ensures a comfortable and flexible fit.

As the name suggests, the HD Snug Fit fits snug and includes a board short connector to ensure your rash guard stays in place. While it might not be the most fashionable option out there, it’s incredibly functional!

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Most Unique Rash Guard

Roxy Wavy Babe Long-Sleeve Crop Rash Guard ($66)

Pros: Stylish, comfortable
Cons: Crop style doesn’t offer full sun protection

The Roxy Wave Babe Long-Sleeve Crop Rash Guard is the ultimate feminine and fun rash guard. Featuring a crop design and an open back, the top will require some sunscreen to ensure you stay covered. But what it lacks in sun protection, the Wavy Babe makes up for in style and comfort.

Made with recycled nylon jersey fabric, the top is soft, stretchy, and super comfy. It also has built-in pads for those surfer babes who prefer to skip wearing the bikini top underneath.

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Best of the Rest

NRS Long-Sleeve Rash Guard ($48)

Pros: Made from recycled materials, offers UPF 50+ sun protection, antimicrobial elements
Cons: Not the most stylish

Traditionally a river-oriented company, NRS makes gear that transitions well between both the river and the surf. The NRS Long-Sleeve Rash Guard is made from a mix of recycled polyester and spandex and offers UPF 50+ sun protection. The strategic seam placement prevents chafing and allows for freedom of movement while paddling or rowing.

The quarter-zip design allows for quick ventilation and the hem loop allows you to secure your board shorts to your rash guard. Another feature we greatly appreciate is the integrated antimicrobial elements that help keep your rashie smelling fresh.

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Athleta Point Break Rash Guard ($85)

Pros: Rated UPF 50+, made from recycled fabric
Cons: Pricey

Not traditionally a surf brand, Athleta has been breaking into the surf scene lately with swimsuits and rash guards. The Point Break Rash Guard is made with recycled H2:ECO swim fabric and is rated UPF 50+. The material is smooth, stretchy, and dries fast—the perfect combination for a rash guard.

The fitted cut is flattering and provides generous comfort and mobility. As far as looks go, this rash guard leans more high-end than beach bum, so if that’s your vibe the Point Break is for you.

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Salt Life Polly in Paradise Performance Tee ($48)

salt life rash guards

Pros: Moisture-wicking, breathable, versatile
Cons: Not as form fitting as traditional rash guards

Although the Salt Life Polly in Paradise Performance Tee is technically a sun shirt, it also works well as a rash guard. Made from a blend of polyester and spandex, the Polly in Paradise tee is lightweight and stretchy.

The shirt offers UPF 30 protection and the fabric is moisture-wicking and dries quickly. The shirt is breathable and comfortable and our tester liked that she could wear it for surfing, fishing, hiking, and a bunch of other outdoor activities.

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Hurley Women’s One and Only Short Sleeve Rash Guard ($21)

hurley rash guard

Pros: UPF 50+ sun protection, made from recycled materials
Cons: No sun protection on the arms

Some people wear rash guards with the goal of sun protection while others wear them to prevent belly rashes. If your main goal is the latter, the Hurley Women’s One and Only Short Sleeve Rash Guard may be right up your alley. The One and Only is a short sleeve rash guard that provides some sun protection but makes sure your stomach is completely covered.

Made from a blend of recycled polyester and spandex, the material is a little bit thicker but is nice and stretchy. Our tester found that this rash guard was perfect to quickly throw on before surf sessions. If you’re looking for a little bit more sun protection, Hurley does offer a long sleeve rash guard as well.

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Patagonia Swell Seeker Cropped Rash Guard ($99)

patagonia rash guard

Pros: Flattering fit, mock-neck
Cons: Pricey, no stomach protection

Like most products from Patagonia, the Patagonia Swell Seeker Cropped Rash Guard was made with the environment in mind. Fair Trade Certified sewn, the Swell Seeker was made from a blend of recycled polyester, recycled nylon,  and spandex. As such, the rash guard is lightweight, soft, and stretchy.

The formfitting, cropped cut is flattering but doesn’t provide protection from rashes on the stomach. The Swell Seeker sports a slightly high cut neckline, offering additional sun protection on the neck. Our tester found that the Swell Seeker rash guard was comfortable and allowed full range of motion while paddling and swimming.

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Best Women’s Rash Guards Comparison Table

Rash Guard Price Cut UPF Rating Eco-Friendly?
Carve Designs Kona Rash Guard $72 Long sleeve 50 No
Billabong Postcards from Paradise $48 Long sleeve 50 Yes
Patagonia Women’s Long Sleeved UPF Top $59 Long sleeve 40+ Yes
Dakine HD Snug Fit Long-Sleeve Rash Guard $20 Long sleeve 50+ No
Roxy Wavy Babe Long-Sleeve Crop Rash Guard $66 Long sleeve, cropped N/A Yes
NRS Long-Sleeve Rash Guard $48 Long sleeve 50+ Yes
Athleta Point Break Rash Guard $85 Long sleeve 50+ Yes
Salt Life Polly in Paradise Performance Tee $48 Long sleeve 30 No
Hurley Women’s One and Only Short Sleeve Rash Guard $21 Short sleeve 50+ Yes
Patagonia Swell Seeker Cropped Rash Guard $99 Long sleeve, cropped N/A Yes

How We Tested The Best Women’s Rash Guards

Our lead tester lives on Oahu in Hawaii where there is not short supply of sun. As such, a rash guard is an important part of her daily surf wardrobe. In order to test these rash guards, she hit the water and took into account how comfortable each was, the amount of sun protection it provided, how well each stayed in place while surfing, and more. She recruited a friend to help because it’s always good to get a second opinion.

If you’re looking for other women’s surf gear, we’ve done extensive reviews of the Best Women’s Springsuits, Best Women’s Wetsuit Jackets, The Best Women’s Board Shorts of 2023, and the The Best Women’s Swimsuits for Surfing (That Will Stay Put), so you can get out there and stay protected in your warm-water surf adventures.

Editor’s Note: We first ran this review in the spring of 2023. We updated it in May of 2024, deleting a rash guard that was no longer available and adding in three new rash guards that we have been testing (and loving) this spring. 


Best Women’s Rash Guards Ratings Table

Rash Guards Overall Comfort Sun Protection Durability Style
Carve Designs Kona Rash Guard 5 5 5 5 5
Billabong Postcards from Paradise 4.75 5 5 4 5
Patagonia Women’s Long Sleeved UPF Top 4.5 5 4 5 4
Dakine HD Snug Fit Long-Sleeve Rash Guard  4 4 5 4 3
Roxy Wavy Babe Long-Sleeve Crop Rash Guard 4.25 5 3 4 5
NRS Long-Sleeve Rash Guard 4.25 4 5 5 3
Athleta Point Break Rash Guard 4.25 4 5 4 4
Salt Life Polly in Paradise Performance Tee 4.5 5 5 4 4
Hurley Women’s One and Only Short Sleeve Rash Guard 4 4 4 4 4
Patagonia Swell Seeker Cropped Rash Guard 4 4 3 5 4

Crop rash guards are great for style and comfort but offer less sun protection. Photo: Tommy Pierucki//The Inertia

Best Women’s Rash Guards Buyer’s Guide

What Makes a Good Rash Guard?

When I’m in the market for a new rash guard there are a few things that I look for. I want it to be comfortable, durable, stylish, and offer plenty of sun protection.

Comfort
When it comes to choosing a rash guard, comfort is the name of the game. I look for something that fits snug, but not too tight, so it won’t move around but will also be comfortable while I’m surfing.

Sun Protection
There’s really not much point in wearing a rash guard if it doesn’t offer sun protection. I like to check the UPF rating before I buy a rash guard and makes sure it will cover enough skin so I don’t have to worry about getting sunburnt or lathering up.

rashguard

Bonus points when a rash guard is stylish. Photo: Tommy Pierucki//The Inertia

Durability
Rash guards are often made from pretty thin material, so they’re not typically the most durable piece of surf equipment. But some are made better than others and will last longer. I look for quality stitching and fabrics because you know I’ll be rocking the same rash guard for years to come.

Style
When I’m looking for a new rash guard, I want something that comes in a fun print or a bold solid. I also want the fit to be flattering so it’s something I feel good about wearing.

Best Overall Rash Guard
Best Overall Rash Guard

The Carve Designs Kona Rash Guard has everything you could want in a rash guard and more: UPF 50 protection, a half-zip design, durable stretch fabric, and a longer cut for added coverage.

Check Price on REI

What Else Should I Look for in a Rash Guard?

Stays Put

I like rash guards for the sun protection they offer but I often get annoyed with them because they tend to ride up frequently while paddling. To prevent this, I prefer rash guards that fit snugly or that have a board shorts attachment on them.

Rash guards were made for sunny surfs. Photo: Tommy Pierucki//The Inertia

Cost

Rash guards vary vastly in price. Some are super cheap while others will cost you a pretty penny. I tend to settle somewhere in the middle. I want something that’s made well and will withstand the test of time but I don’t need a designer rashie.

Eco-Friendly

Although it doesn’t typically effect the performance of the rash guard, we always like when our surf gear is sustainably made. Some of the rash guards on our list were made from recycled materials, which we noted in our comparison table if that’s something that is important to you.

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Editor’s Note: Surfing somewhere cooler? Check out our guide for The Best Women’s Wetsuits. For shoulder season, don’t miss our Best Women’s Springsuits Guide. And if you need a great women’s swimsuit that will stay put while surfing, check out our guide here. For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.


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