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


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 eight of our favorite rash guards for women to keep you covered all summer long. For more information check out our comparison table and buyer’s guide.

The Best Rash Guards for Women

Best Overall: Carve Designs Kona Rash Guard
Most Stylish: Billabong Postcards from Paradise Long Sleeve Rash Guard
Most Sustainable: Patagonia Women’s Long Sleeved UPF Top
Most Affordable: Sisstrevolution Ikat Sandbar Rash Guard
Most Unique: Roxy Wavy Babe Long-Sleeve Crop Rash Guard

Other Rash Guards We Love

NRS Long-Sleeve Rash Guard
Athleta Point Break Rash Guard
Dakine HD Snug Fit Long-Sleeve 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.

Comfort: 5
Sun Protection: 5
Durability: 5
Style: 5
Total: 5/5

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/exit. Made from durable stretch fabric and featuring raglan sleeves 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. I’m personally a fan of the loose fit because it allows it to be worn as a sun shirt throughout the day and is comfy both on and off the water.

Check Price on REI

billabong rashguard

Most Stylish

Billabong Postcards from Paradise Long Sleeve Rash Guard ($60)

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

Comfort: 5
Sun Protection: 5
Durability: 4
Style: 5
Total: 4.75/5

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 percent 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 be careful not to snag it if you want it to withstand the test of time. Note: sizing is in juniors, so refer to the size chart to ensure you order the appropriate size.

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Most Sustainable

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

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

Comfort: 5
Sun Protection: 4
Durability: 5
Style: 4
Total: 4.5/5

Fair Trade certified sewn and made from a blend of 84 percent recycled nylon from fishing nets and 16 percent spandex, Patagonia’s Long Sleeved 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.

Check Price on Patagonia

rashguard

Most Affordable

Sisstrevolution Ikat Sandbar Rash Guard ($46)

Pros: Made from recycled fibers, flattering slim fit.
Cons: Crop style doesn’t offer full sun protection.

Comfort: 4
Sun Protection: 4
Durability: 4
Style: 5
Total: 4.25/5

Style meets function in the Sisstrevolution Ikat Sandbar Rash Guard. Made from recycled fibers, the long-sleeve rash guard features a flattering slim fit that ensures the rash guard stays in place while paddling out. The material is lightweight, allowing for freedom of movement when paddling and surfing. The rash guard also dries incredibly quickly when you’re finished on the water. Available in three different colors, the slight crop adds a feminine touch, which still offering plenty of sun protection.

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Most Unique

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

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

Comfort: 5
Sun Protection: 3
Durability: 4
Style: 5
Total: 4.25/5

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. It pairs perfectly with the Roxy Wavy Babe Swim Shorts (sold separately).

Check Price on REI

NRS Long-Sleeve Rash Guard ($48)

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

Comfort: 4
Sun Protection: 5
Durability: 5
Style: 3
Total: 4.25/5

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 I greatly appreciate is the integrated antimicrobial elements that help keep your rashie smelling fresh.

Check Price on REI

Athleta Point Break Rash Guard ($85)

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

Comfort: 4
Sun Protection: 5
Durability: 4
Style: 4
Total: 4.25/5

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 has more of a high end feel than beach bum vibes, so it all just depends what look you’re after.

Check Price on REI

Dakine HD Snug Fit Long-Sleeve Rash Guard ($60)

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

Comfort: 4
Sun Protection: 5
Durability: 4
Style: 3
Total: 4/5

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!

Check Price on REI

Rash Guards Comparison Table

Rash Guard Overall Rating UPF Rating Eco-Friendly?
Carve Designs Kona Rash Guard 5 50 No
Billabong Postcards from Paradise Long Sleeve Rash Guard  4.75 50 Yes
Patagonia Women’s Long Sleeved UPF Top 4.5 40+ Yes
Sisstrevolution Ikat Sandbar Rash Guard  4.25 N/A Yes
Roxy Wavy Babe Long-Sleeve Crop Rash Guard 4.25 N/A Yes
NRS Long-Sleeve Rash Guard 4.25 50+ Yes
Athleta Point Break Rash Guard  4.25 50+ Yes
Dakine HD Snug Fit Long-Sleeve Rash Guard 4 50+ No

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.

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

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.

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.

rashguard

The Sisstrevolution Ikat Sandbar Rash Guard is stylish and affordable. Photo: Tommy Pierucki

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

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.

Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.

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