Best Rash Guard For Snorkeling – Eco-Friendly Sun Protection [2024]

This is our review of the best rash guards for snorkeling in 2024

Rash guards aren’t just for surfers and divers anymore as more and more people are turning to this environmentally friendly and superior way of protecting yourself against the sun.

Everyones body type is different, and people have different wants and needs in a rash guard. So I’ve compiled a list of the best rash guards for snorkeling for every individual.


The BEST Rash Guard For Snorkeling [2024]

The BEST Rash Guards For Snorkeling Reviewed

O’Neill Wetsuits Basic Skins Rash Guard

oneill mens rash guard
oneill womens rash guard

Specs & Features

  • Material – Polyester/Spandex
  • UV Protection – 50+ UPF
  • Minimal/Strategic Seam Placement
  • Available In Long & Short Sleeve
  • Best Overall Rash Guard For Snorkeling

The O’Neill Basic Skins rash guard ticks the right boxes for what a snorkeling rash guard should be. It has a high UPF rating (50+) to keep you protected from the sun, and it’s a super comfortable rash guard to wear for a day relaxing at the beach, or for more vigorous water sports activities.

At 60oz/170g this rash guard is very lightweight and barely noticeable. It won’t weigh you down either in or out of the water , and due to it’s tight performance fit it isn’t going to bunch up or create any drag whilst your swimming. It also dries nice and quickly which is exactly what you want from a rash guard.

There is minimal seam placement in the O’Neill Basic Skins rash guard and the seams that do exist have been placed strategically. What that means is the seams aren’t located anywhere where they may be subject to a lot of friction (like around the armpits for example), and so you won’t get any uncomfortable rubbing anywhere from this rash guard.

All of the seams on the Basic Skins are all flat stitched. The benefit of minimal seams and those seems being flatlock stitched is that this provides durability, but also comfort as it’s a very flat stitch and not bulky at all it will not rub or dig into you, and it allows the rash guard to hug as close to you as possible.

Performance/compression fit clothing can have a habit of running small, and the O’Neill Basic Skins is no different – Make sure you check the sizing and measure yourself before purchase as you may want to size upwards one or even two sizes with this rash guard.

This rash guard doesn’t have any thumb loops, or a high neck collar to prevent wetsuit chafing so wouldn’t be your best choice for layering underneath a wetsuit, but for snorkeling and all other water sports activities this is an excellent choice!


  • Very comfortable. Designed to fit like a ‘second skin’
  • Flexible 4-way stretch fabric, and does not ride up
  • Excellent UV protection
  • Breathable material/Quick drying
  • Budget friendly


  • Sizing runs small
  • Not good for layering under a wetsuit

Kanu Surf UPF 50+ Children’s Swim Shirt

kanu surf boys rash guard
kanu surf girls rash guard

Specs & Features

  • Material – Polyester/Spandex
  • UV Protection – 50+ UPF
  • Breathable & Quick Drying
  • Available In Long & Short Sleeve
  • Best Kids Rash Guard For Snorkeling

Probably the most important job of a rash guard for children is protection from the sun. We’ve chosen the Kanu Surf as the best kids rash guard for snorkeling for that reason – It has excellent sun protection.

The material has a UPF rating of 50+, and long sleeves (although a short sleeve version is also available), so your child will be fully protected from the sun without you constantly having to worry about sunscreen application. The collar is also a ‘mock collar’ style, (like a short turtle neck) to provide yet even more coverage and protection.

These Kanu Surf rash guards come in a really big range of bright colors. It’s great to have a lot of choice when it comes to styling but bright color provides other benefits too in that it will make it much easier to spot your child both in and out of the water.

If you enjoy having to wrestle with your child every time you want to reapply their sunscreen, then maybe you won’t like the Kanu Surf 😉 In all seriousness though, this is a fantastic snorkeling rash guard for children – Perhaps the one downside is that the bright color of them is susceptible to fading over time.


  • Mock collar provides sun protection for the neck
  • Available in a wide range of bright colors
  • Looser fit provides comfort and breathability
  • Quick Drying


  • Colors can fade over time

Kanu Surf Plus-Size UPF 50+ Rash Guard

kanu surf plus sized rash guard
kanu surf plus sized rash guard for snorkeling

Specs & Features

  • Material – Polyester
  • UV Protection – 50+ UPF
  • Comfortable Looser Fit
  • Available In Long & Short Sleeve
  • Best Plus Size Rash Guard For Snorkeling

If you’re looking for a plus sized rash guard with a more relaxed fit (a bit more like a t-shirt than a tight/clingy rash guard) then Kanu Surf have a variety of plus sized options available.

Their plus size options are available in both short and long sleeve, and also a crew neck version depending on how much coverage you prefer. The fabric itself provides 50+ UPF protection and is soft and comfortable.

The Kanu Surf is a versatile shirt which is great for the ocean, pool, or just lounging at the beach but would also make a fine top for other activities such as hiking.

Perhaps the main disadvantage of this rash guard is the lack of strategic seam placement. The other rash guards on our list have their seams placed strategically in an effort to minimise and rubbing and chaffing but the Kanu Surf does not. Users may get a bit of chaffing from the seam when using this shirt for activities like surfing/body boarding


  • Very comfortable relaxed fit rash guard
  • Versatile – Good for water sports & land based activities like hiking
  • Soft/comfortable material


  • Open neckline means more exposure to the sun (buy the crew neck if this is a concern for you)

Scubapro Rash Guard

scubapro mens rash guard
scubapro womens rash guard

Specs & Features

  • Material – Polyester
  • UV Protection – 50+ UPF
  • High neckline prevents wetsuit chaffing
  • Available In Long & Short Sleeve
  • Best Rash Guard For Snorkeling & Diving

Scubapro rash guards are designed for divers but are excellent allrounders that can be used for any water based activity. The neck collar on the Scubapro runs higher than others, which provides your neck with protection against the sun but is also there to prevent your wetsuit from chaffing against your neck.

The polyester material has 50+ UPF protection (they also sell this rash guard in an 80+ UPF – The highest rating possible), so if you plan on spending a long time out on the water then this will be a great rash guard to wear all day long that will comfortably block out harmful UV rays.

The material and form fitting nature of this rash guard helps your wetsuit slip on easily over the top, something all divers can appreciate! And of course having this rashie under your wetsuit adds a little extra warmth.

The Scubapro dries very quickly so you can comfortably wear it between dives, and the seams are all well placed and lay flat so chafing from this rash guard is all but non existant .


  • Maintains shape & color even after multiple/long use
  • Protects neck from wetsuit chaffing
  • Versatile – A great rash guard for any water sport
  • Durable & abrasion resistant
  • Fits true to size


  • The only reason this isn’t ranked my number one is its twice the price of the O’Neill

Lavacore Long Sleeve Thermal Rash Guard

lavacore womens thermal rash guard

Specs & Features

  • Material – Polytherm Tri-Laminate & Merino Laminate Fleece Lining
  • UV Protection – 50+ UPF
  • Antibacterial Inner Fleece
  • Thumb hooks & waist drawstring
  • Available In Long & Short Sleeve
  • Best Thermal Rash Guard For Snorkeling

The Lavacore Thermal rash guard was designed specifically for water sports which require thermal comfort – like snorkeling in cooler waters, or layering underneath a wetsuit when diving in cold water for example.

It features a fleece lined middle layer and it’s this layer that gives the Lavacore it’s thermal insulation, and also helps to prevent windchill giving you a very versatile rashguard that is going to keep your core temperature much warmer than a regular rash guard.

The middle layer of the Lavacore is also antibacterial which helps to minimise bacteria and decrease odour which is a really nice feature, and this rash guard is also neutrally buoyant. That means you won’t have to add any additional weight to your weight belt or BCD to counteract additional buoyancy from your rash guard.

Another nice set of features the Lavacore has is thumb loops, and a drawstring at the waist. Sometimes rash guards can have a habit of riding up – But with thumb loops the sleeves will stay in place (not to mention this also makes putting a wetsuit over the top of it easier), but the waist drawstring also prevents the bottom from riding up.

The biggest ‘flaws’ with this rash guard are firstly the price. It’s almost double the price of the Scubapro, but.. it really is excellent quality and does exactly what you need it to. And secondly, the sizing runs pretty small. As with the O’Neill you may need to size up one or even two sizes to get the correct fit.


  • Windproof middle layer provides anti-windchill properties
  • Neutrally Buoyant
  • Antibacterial inner fleece minimises odour
  • Thumb loops & waist drawstring
  • Great quality overall – Very warm, comfortable, and durable


  • Very expensive. Almost twice the price of the Scubapro
  • Runs quite small

snorkeling rash guard

What Is A Rash Guard

A rash guard (also called rash vests or rashies) is an athletic type shirt which is usually made from spandex, polyester, nylon or lycra. 

They were initially designed for surfers, and called rash guards as that’s what they’re specifically designed for – to guard against rashes and chafing when sliding on and off the surfboard.

Rash guards have been adopted by many sports since but have also become really popular amongst recreational water sports as well.

For the longest time wearing a rash guard for snorkeling hadn’t occurred to me. Now, I rarely snorkel without one due to the many benefits they provide

Why You Should Wear A Rash Guard For Snorkeling

Probably the main reasons for wearing a rash guard are that they protect the wearer from rashes that can be caused by abrasion (such as from a surfboard or wetsuit), and they protect you from sun exposure.

But wearing a rash guard for snorkeling actually has many benefits.

Benefits Of Wearing A Rash Guard

Wearing a rash guard for snorkeling provides you with a ton of benefits:

  • Prevents rashes and chafing 
  • Provides UV protection from the sun
  • Can provide slight protection against jellyfish stings
  • An alternative to sunscreen (money saved for you, and better for our oceans)
  • Thermal rash guards can provide warmth when swimming in colder waters
  • Some people feel more comfortable with more coverage at the beach
  • Made from quick drying fabric
  • Versatile – wear as inner or outer layer and for many different sports/activities

What To Look For In A Snorkeling Rash Guard

For the casual snorkeler a lot of what to look for when buying a rash guard for snorkeling is down to personal preference.

For some it could depend on whether you intend on using your rash guard for other activities as well as snorkeling, like diving for instance.

The conditions in which you will be using your rash guard will also play a role in what the best rash guard for you may be.


The material of your rash guard is an important factor. It should be flexible and able to move with your body so as not give you any kind of restriction. 

It should also be light but durable and not something that will soak up water (like cotton), as that would make it heavy and create a lot of drag in the water

In order to achieve their lightweight flexibility, and deliver high performance in and out the water, snorkel rash guards tend to be made from either one or a combination of; lycra, spandex, neoprene or polyester

Fit – Loose/Compression

Rash Guards can either be tight fighting, or they can have a slightly more relaxed fit. 

A tight fitting/compression style rash guard is much better for performance in the water. 

They will give you unrestricted movement and they create less drag when swimming and are also less likely to bunch/ride up.

If you intend on also using your rash guard for scuba diving, worn underneath your wetsuit, then you should go for a compression fit.

Personally, a tight fit/compression style snorkel rash guard is the type that I prefer.

Rash Guards do come in a looser fit too and they’re not without their own benefits. For those who seek to hang by the pool/beach and are more into a leisurely style then you may prefer this type of rash guard.

By nature though rash guards do hug somewhat close to the body so that performance can be maximised.

For some, the idea of a form fitting shirt is unappealing so if you prefer the idea of a much looser fit then you may be more interested in a swim shirt rather than a rash guard.

Long Sleeve vs Short Sleeve VS Sleeveless Rash Guard

This is really up to your own personal preference. 

All of my rash guards are either long sleeve or short sleeve as I prefer to have that added protection on my arms from the sun.

For the utmost protection, whether that be from the sun or protection against chafing from a surfboard or wetsuit then a long sleeve rashie is the way to go. 

A long sleeve rash guard is obviously also going to be more favourable for providing warmth in chilly waters.

If you hate long sleeves in the sun, or prefer to have no restriction at all around the arm and shoulder then a sleeveless rash guard may be your go to.

UV/Sun Protection

One of the main benefits that snorkeling in a rash guard provides is protection from the sun. 

Water resistant sunscreens will typically last around 60-80 minutes before having to be reapplied again. 

Reef safe sunscreen (which we recommend) can often be more expensive than the traditional (harmful) kind, but it’s also cumbersome to reapply, you can miss areas, and if you have particularly sensitive skin then it can be irritating or often lead to becoming sunburnt anyway!

The only surefire way of protecting your skin from the sun (and protecting our oceans from harmful sunscreens), is to cover up when you’re out in the sun.

All rash guards are going to provide you with some kind of protection from the sun, but not all rash guards have special UV coating on them.

In order to get the utmost sun protection, especially since you’ll typically be wearing it for long periods whilst out in the sun, try to choose a rash guard which has UV protection.

The UV protective coating that can be applied to rash guards typically ranges from 30+ UPF to 80+ UPF – Obviously the higher the rating, the higher protection.

Thermal Protection

Rash guards are available in varying levels of thickness, though most typical rash guards are made of fairly thin material. 

You may feel a regular rash guard offers you some slight thermal protection over wearing just a bathing suit but they’re not designed to keep you warm.

For utmost protection in cooler waters you will want to go for a thermal rash guard.

Thermal rash guards tend to be constructed from neoprene (the material wetsuits are made from), or they have a fleecy layer built into them.

Our Verdict

Whilst the best rash guard for you can be quite individual based on your needs – The O’Neill basic skills is an amazing all rounder that will suit most peoples needs, and for a really great price

For utmost protection from the sun on your exposed parts ensure you buy a high SPF reef safe sunscreen, and you’ll be all set for a carefree, comfortable and environmentally friendly day in the water.

Gia Halliday

Gia Halliday

Hey, my names Gia! My biggest passions are food, travel and basically anything to do with being in the water. Combine all of that with an addiction for buying gear and you end up with with this website!