If you are an open-water swimmer, you may have tried a wetsuit, but another option you may want to consider is a rash guard.
Rash guards are a popular piece of equipment that gives swimmers protection and warmth in cold water.
Many women prefer rash guards over neoprene wetsuits, as they tend to allow for less restricted movement, allowing for quicker and easier swims.
There are many stylish and budget-friendly rash guards for women and men. This article will highlight the top rashguards for women on the market!
What is a rash guard?
A rash guard is a fitted spandex top, typically a long sleeve, that swimmers, surfers, and any other outdoor athlete can wear for extra protection.
Rash guards protect cold water swimmers from the low temperatures of oceans, lakes, and rivers and from the sun’s UV rays.
Many outdoor enthusiasts wear a short or long sleeve rash guard to shield themselves from the elements, particularly when swimming in the colder months.
Keep reading to find the best rash guards for women!
What are the benefits of wearing a rashguard for women?
Wearing a rash guard when swimming or surfing has many benefits, such as extra protection, warmth and visibility.
First up, rash guards can add an extra level of protection from many elements, such as:
- The cold
- The sun
- The wind
- Potential hazards and debris in the water
Slipping into your rash vest can prevent many serious risks, like sunburn, cuts, and after-drop.
Therefore, a long or short sleeve rash guard is a perfect alternative for swimmers who aren’t keen on wetsuits but don’t want to risk just a swimsuit.
Whether you want to surf, swim, or relax on the coastline, it will likely be a bit nippy, especially if you swim in the notoriously cold United Kingdom!
What you choose to wear in or out of the water is a personal preference; however, a high-quality women’s rash guard will keep you warmer than if you wear basic skins or a standard t-shirt.
Rash guards are quick-drying, so they are ideal for women looking to wear their vests for diving, swimming or surfing, as once you exit the water, you can dry and warm in no time.
Another benefit of wearing a rash guard, whether long-sleeve or short-sleeve, is the vibrant colours offered by many brands allow you to be easily located in the water.
Visibility is crucial for any activity where you will be in the open water, as it lets lifeguards, boats, and other swimmers find you in an emergency. Most swimming accessories, such as tow floats, are brightly coloured for the same reason.
However, if you are in the water without additional equipment, having a vibrant and noticeable rash guard could save your life if anything were to go wrong.
Best women’s rash guards for cold water swimming
Our team at Cold Water Swim have found and ranked the best women’s rash guards for cold water swimming:
First, we have Attraco’s women’s rash vest, a popular choice due to the wide variety of colours swimmers can choose between and the quality of the material.
The long-sleeve second skin gives swimmers the best UV protection, so you won’t need to worry about burning while you are in the sun all day.
With flatlock seams and a relaxed fit, you will feel comfortable in the water, swimming and walking without the risk of chafing.
If you consider suiting up with an extra layer, Attraco should be at the top of your rash guard wishlist, as it is one of the best rash guards for women.
- Raglan sleeve design
- 82% Nylon, 18% Elastane
- Flatlock construction
- UPF 50+
Next, we have Beachkini’s one-piece suit, another high-quality and popular rash guard for cold water swimming.
With over 40 colours and designs to choose between, you can find a vest to suit your personality or match your dryrobe.
The long-sleeve suit fastens securely with a front zip to prevent the top from riding up and keep the warmth in by trapping a thin layer of water next to the skin.
If you are looking for the best rash guard for women, Beachkini is definitely in the running; the one-piece swimsuit has removable padding.
- Long sleeve design
- 85% Polyamide, 15% Elastane
- Zipper fastening
- UPF 50+
Puma is a well-known sports and leisure brand that offers many products for cold water swimmers, such as their popular women’s rash guard in black.
Made from recycled nylon, the swim shirt will help keep you buoyant in the water, and with 50+ UV sun protection, you will also be shielded from the sun’s rays.
The rash guard’s material is chlorine resistant, so you can use your women’s rash guard in chlorinated pools, as well as in the open waters and sea.
With a 5-star rating on the Amazon platform, many other open-water athletes have now accredited the Puma rash guard as one of the market’s best women’s rash guards.
- Well-established brand
- 80% Polyamide and 20% Elastane
- Pull-on design
- 50+ UV protection
Our award for the best design on a women’s rash guard goes to YoYogini and their floral bathing suit. The durable material that constitutes this rash guard makes it ideal for water sports, such as paddle boarding, surfing and swimming.
The four-way stretch fabric sits comfortably in various sizes and is easy to pull on and off using the front zip. You will be supported without irritating edges with a built-in bra but no underwire.
The YoYogini rash guard will protect you from harmful UVB rays all summer, so you won’t need to worry about slathering on the sun cream as long as you have your rashguard on.
- 82% Polyester and 18% Spandex
- Easy-to-access zipper
- Perfect for scuba and other water activities
- Five sizes
Available in seven colours and sizes, the O’Neill long-sleeve rash guard is a popular option for any open-water swimmer. The sizing ranges from XS to XXL and is a true-to-size fit.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends O’Neill’s polyester spandex suit, as it has been credited with providing effective sun protection.
O’Neill has over 60 years of experience creating quality neoprene wetsuits and other swimming equipment, so they are a brand you can trust.
Here at CWS, we only recommend products worth your attention and money.
- Polyester and spandex mix
- Seven different colours
- UPF 50+ ultraviolet protection
- Minimal seam placement
The Attraco zip-up is another fashionable choice, with a unique design that sets it apart from its competitors.
The slim-line fit creates a flattering silhouette that will keep you looking your best on the beach. Coming in eleven colours and four sizes, you can pick your favourite.
The rash guard has a front zipper making it easy to take on and off. The UV block fabric and crew neck protect you from the sun and the wind.
If you are looking for a stylish yet protective rash guard, Attraco’s wetsuit top is a great option to consider.
- 82% Nylon and 18% Elastane
- Scoop neck and zipper
- Stylish design
- Flatlock construction
Last but not least, we have Roxy’s rash guard shirt, a long sleeve rash guard for women made from recycled polyester elastane.
Roxy is a well-known brand that focuses on sustainability and protecting the environment, which we cold water swimmers cherish.
The stylish Roxy rash guard comes in thirteen colours and six sizes, and as the material stretches nicely, their vests will fit most.
The only thing to consider with this logo embellished suit is that it is recommended as hand wash only. So, take care of your Roxy rash guard to prevent any damage.
- Recycled polyester elastane jersey
- UPF 50 protection
- Second-skin fit
- Embellished with the Roxy logo
What should you consider before buying a rash guard?
Before you buy a rash guard, you should take into account the following factors:
- UPF protection
- Sleeve length
Our list of the best rash guards for women has considered all these features on your behalf! So, all you need to do is pick your favourite and get swimming.
What can I wear instead of a rash guard?
Alternatives to rash guards include the following:
- Neoprene wetsuits
- Bathing suits
- Or nothing if you fancy a skinny dip!
Rash guards are there to protect swimmers from the sun, wind, and cold, so everyone will have different levels at which they can tolerate.
The only thing to truly consider when cold water swimming is safety. For those new to open water swimming, we recommend a thermal wetsuit, as it can protect from cold shock bodies that have not acclimatised to the harsh environment.
Once you have practised a few times, you can listen to your body and decide whether to drop down to lesser protection.
Are rash guards supposed to be tight or loose?
Typically, you want to rash guard to be fairly tight-fitted to keep a thin layer of water by the skin and insulate the body.
If you get a loose rash guard, you may experience chaffing, excess material and discomfort, so we recommend a second-skin fit.
You also don’t want your rash guard to be too tight to the point that your movement is restricted, or you feel difficulty breathing in the water.
Do you need to wear sunscreen under a rash guard?
All of the rash guards on our list of the best rash guards for women have UPF protection, meaning the parts of your body covered by the rashguard will not need suncream.
Please remember to put suncream on if you are to remove the rash guard at any point. Many underestimate the power of the English sun!
Rash guards are a perfect alternative to wetsuits or bathing suits, as they provide a medium level of protection from the cold yet high protection from the sun.
As an open-water swimmer, you may want to push yourself to endure colder temperatures, meaning thick neoprene wetsuits aren’t ideal equipment; rashguards are a great alternative.
Rashguards are lightweight, allowing for easy movement as you swim, and they provide some insulation to help swimmers adapt to their environment.
If you are ready for a cold dip, grab your rash guard, tow float, and changing robe, and go!