Understand why UV rash tops are so important. From their Sun Protection Factor to what size you need
Essential Guide to Rash Vests & UV Tops
What is a rash vest?
A rash vest is also known as a rash guard, rashie or UV top. A rash vest is a thin top, usually made of Lycra. It is called a ‘rash vest’ or ‘rash guard’ as it can be worn underneath your wetsuit to protect you from rashes caused by abrasion from the wetsuit against your skin.
Rash vests also offer UV protection from the sun (which is why they are often referred to as UV tops) and can also be worn on their own with a pair of boardshorts or over a bikini. They are ideal for watersports like surfing, kitesurfing, snorkelling etc as they prevent you from getting burned by the suns harmful rays. When you’re out in the water, sunscreen washes off and its easy to forget how long you’ve been out there when you’re having fun!
Most rashies offer 50+ UPF sun protection, so they’re also ideal for kids on the beach. Many wetsuit brands like O’Neill and C Skins make UV sunsuits for children, of the same construction as rash vests.
What are rash vests made of?
Rashies are usually made of a Lycra material, often a mix of spandex, nylon or polyester. Rash vests / UV tops are often around 0.5mm thickness and stretchy. Seams on a rash vest are ‘flatlock’ construction. This lies flat, so is comfortable to wear, but also makes the seams durable.
What are the advantages of a rashie / UV top?
A rash vest can be worn under your wetsuit to prevent rashes. It can also be worn on its own as a top to protect you from UV rays. Most rashies (such as ones from O’Neill, Rip Curl, Billabong, C Skins or Xcel) will be quick drying too. Look out for additional features like a boardshort connector – this is a small elastic loop on the front hem that can be attached to the fastening of your shorts. This prevents the top from riding up your body when you’re out in the water.
How should a rash vest / UV top fit?
Traditionally, rashies are worn as a tight fitting garment. The stretchy material will make them fit against you well. If you’re wearing your rashie / UV top simply as a sun protective top on the beach however, you may prefer a looser fit, more like a t-shirt. Essentially, it doesn’t really matter – however you’re most comfortable.
What size rashie do I need?
Sizing on rash vests varies from brand to brand. All our mens, womens and kids rash vests have a size guide attached to their page. Just click on the ‘size guide’ tab above the description on the product page.