At the Beach, From Panama Jack — September 4, 2015 at 5:00 am

How to Choose a Rash Guard

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Rash guards are your last defense against the brutal sting left behind by crushing waves and water gunk is floating around in them. They keep you from developing painful rashes from exposure to the sun, along with sand and salt as it pounds up against you while you swim or surf.

It’s important to choose one that fits and works well for your body, so here are a few tips to help you pick the right one.

What’s your style?
Rashies need to do their job of protecting your body, but no one wants to look ridiculous wearing one. Choose the style that works for you. There are short sleeve and long sleeve depending on your needs.

Remember, the longer the arms the more protection you’ll get form the sun and sand. A shorter one, though, might help keep you cooler on a hot summer day.

What’s your fit?
Fit is the most important consideration to keep in mind when choosing a rashie. You don’t want your rash guard riding up while you’re trying to catch a wave. Go for something skin-tight if you’re buying a guard for surfing or even strenuous swimming.

Otherwise, a loose-fitting garment that protects against the sun will do. They’re great for days on the beach where you don’t plan on hitting the waves and just want an extra layer against the elements, or something to help keep you warm.

What’s your color?
Again, you’ve got to look good when you’re at the beach. Rashies come in different colors to choose form, so play around and buy a few different ones to help you stand out. Most colors pair well with black bottoms, so each one is a safe bet.

How resistant is it?
Most rash guards are made with UPF50+ material that’ll help keep you from getting burnt, but not all. It’s important to check the tags before settling on one if that’s what you’re aiming for.

Other rashies are chlorine-resistant, which are great for people who spend a ton of time in the water. Make your decision wisely, or try and find one that has both useful properties.

Turtleneck or no turtleneck? 
The necklines on rash guards tend to vary. Do you need something to cover up your neck, one of the areas on your body most susceptible to the sun, or are you comfortable leaving it up to fate and sunscreen?

Comfort is an important factor here. Some people can’t stand the feel of fabric enveloping their neck – it can be a little constricting. Others seem to prefer it. Decide which one works best for you and pick your outfit accordingly. Nobody wants to feel like they can’t breath while they’re trying to swim their way back to the surface after being knocked under by a wave.

Thermal or not?
If you need to keep warm a thermal rash guard might be the way to go. They tend to be a little stuffy in the summer, but people who enjoy surfing in the spring, fall, and even winter need them to withstand the frigid temperatures of the water.

Always check to see whether your rashie is designed to handle the freezing liquid, otherwise you might be left out in the cold.

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