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Do Rash Guards Keep You Warm?

Rash guards are a common tool for surfing and other water sports, and many people wonder if they’re adequate for staying warm in the cool ocean water. 

Rash guards don’t really help you stay warm because they aren’t thick enough to trap body heat. Most rash guards are made out of neoprene, lycra, nylon-spandex, or polyester, and while these materials are great for preventing chafing, they won’t keep you warm. To stay warm, you’ll need a wetsuit. 

Keep reading to learn how to stay warm when you’re surfing. I’ll also share some interesting facts about rash guards and explain the best way to wear a rash guard. 

Do rash guards keep you warm

Staying warm in colder water

If you’re getting into water that is cold, most rash guards aren’t going to provide enough protection. In those cases, rash guards make a great base layer to wear under your wetsuit. Wearing multiple layers in cold water helps keep you warmer than a single layer.

The great thing about rash guards is that you can find them in different thicknesses. If you need extra insulation, you can get a thicker rash guard. But if you’re going to be swimming in warm water, a thinner rashie – another name for a rash guard – is a viable solution.

Fact #1: Rashies keep your skin protected.

The primary purpose of a rash guard is to protect your skin from chafing and rashes. These are common issues that occur due to the wax applied to surfboards, salt that collects from the ocean, or the friction of your body moving against your clothing while in the water. 

Rashies are breathable, flexible materials, so there’s no foul rubbing to irritate your skin. Plus, they can also protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun. There’s even rush guards with UPF protection if you’re going to be spending extended amounts of time outdoors.

Do rash guards keep you warm

Rash guards are commonly worn for surfing and other ocean hobbies, such as:

  • Diving
  • Windsurfing
  • Swimming
  • Kayaking
  • Bodyboarding
  • Snorkeling
  • Swimming

Fact #2: Rash guards are versatile.

Rash guards are popular for a lot of watersports, but these lightweight shirts can also work for any physical activity where you want to protect your skin while being able to dry quickly. 

They have become a favorite for many people performing mixed martial arts, baseball, and even football. As you can see, you don’t have to be in the water to wear rash guards. You’ll often see professional athletes sporting rash guards under their uniforms.

And, rash guards are frequently used in jiu-jitsu because they reduce the chances of cuts, burns, and infections that can occur during practices and competitions. Rashies are lightweight and flexible enough to allow you to have normal movement.

Fact #3: Rashies come in different styles

You can get rash guards in different styles to meet your individual needs. There are three different types: 

  • Long sleeves
  • T-shirt 
  • Sleeveless (also called vest)

We’ve already explained that you can find different thicknesses to meet your needs. The best way to decide what style you’ll require is to consider the activities you’ll be doing while wearing your rash guard.

If you only want a rash guard to protect your back and torso, a sleeveless vest would be adequate. But when you want layers, such as to wear under a wetsuit or to protect your arms, you’d want to go with a long sleeve.

If you’re going to be lounging on the beach and doing a bit of playing in the water, a t-shirt rashie will provide all the protection you’d need. You often see children on the beach wearing t-shirt rash guards

Fact #4: Rash guards come in different fabrics.

You can find rash guards made out of a bunch of different materials. It can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Before you decide on what material you want to go with, it helps to know the different types and how they’re useful. 


Neoprene is a common material to use for clothing that will get wet. Most wetsuits and diving suits are made from this fabric type. This material can dry quickly. 

Rash guards can also be neoprene, which provides better insulation – warmth – than other fabric types. It’s also flexible enough that your movements won’t be limited. 


Lycra is another fabric used for rash guards and wetsuits. This material is breathable so that you won’t feel suffocated. And it’s also flexible like neoprene so you can do normal activities without affecting your mobility.

Plus, Lycra has wicking abilities, so it dries quickly. Whether you’re wet from sweating or trying to dry off after a dip in the water, a Lycra rash guard will keep you warm, and you’ll be dry in no time. 


Polyester is a common material that you see used in a wide variety of clothing, including rash guards. This type of fabric is breathable and lightweight. And it does have wicking abilities, which means you’ll dry quickly.

But, let’s look at a few downsides of using a rash guard made out of polyester. This material doesn’t have the same elasticity as other materials, so you’ll have limited movements. You might have trouble with some activities while wearing polyester. 


Nylon-spandex blends have exceptional stretching abilities, so you will be able to move around comfortably. And the material is breathable enough not to weigh you down if you keep it on for a while.

Do rash guards keep you warm

It will provide a form fit, so there’s no room for excess water or sand to get trapped beneath the fabric. And it has quicking abilities, so you’ll dry quickly. And nylon is known to be a durable material that is resistant to damage.

Pay Attention to the Fabric Stitching

When shopping for a rash guard, pay attention to how the material is sewn together. To ensure your rashie doesn’t fall apart or tear, you want to have flatlock stitching.

This method creates a flat stitch against the fabric so that it has more strength and provides better comfort during activities. 

Most companies mention what type of stitching they use in their product descriptions, so take the time to read all the details of your selection before making your choice. 

If you don’t see a mention of flat stitching, you might want to reconsider another option or check the reviews to see what others have had to say about the product. 

How to wear a rash guard

Most people wear rash guards that fit their bodies like a second skin. The reason is functional – the tighter your rashie, the less room there is for water or debris to get underneath your suit.

Do rash guards keep you warm

Tight rash guards also make it easier to swim and move around without excess fabric getting in the way or weighing you down. If you’re diving or surfing, you don’t want to risk getting tangled up in extra fabric. 

But, if you plan to stay on dry land most of the time with only occasional mild waterplay, a loose-fitting rash guard, perhaps in a vest or t-shirt style, would work. If you prefer to have a looser fit when you’re diving or surfing, that’s a personal preference. There’s nothing wrong with it. Some people don’t like anything that fits tightly. 


  • Alanna Greene

    Alanna is an avid traveler who lives in Michigan. In addition to writing for Temperature Master, he also sells crafts on Etsy and takes long walks through the forests near her home.

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