Best Rash Guards For Warm Water Divers

Scubapro Men's UPF 50 Long Sleeve Rash Guard

Wetsuits can be amazing for keeping you warm. But, not every dive you go on necessitates you wearing a wetsuit. Sometimes, you want to dive without the suit but still want the protection that it offers. This is where rash guards come into the picture.

We’re going to discuss exactly what rashguards are and why you should wear one. We’ll also go over the best rash guards currently on the market so you can find the right one for you.

What are rash guards?

Rash guards are used to protect your skin. You’ve probably seen athletes in other sportswear them. Surfers are known for wearing rash guard tops to protect them from the sun and water. Also, many martial artists wear them for training to protect them from abrasions.

But, they are also incredibly popular among divers. They help to protect your skin from scraping against rocks and coral. Also, they can help to keep you from being stung by jellyfish and other similar creatures.

You can find rash guards in many different styles and types. For other sports, they are primarily long and short sleeve shirts. But, for diving, you can also find full-body rash guards that fit in the same way a wetsuit does. Often times, when you see someone using a rash guard, it will be just the shirt with the bottom being their normal swim trunks.

Usually, rash guards are made from nylon. But, there are some types of full-bodied rash guards that are made from materials such as lycra. Since protection is more important in this instance than warmth, what the rash guard is made from is less of a factor. Instead, the most important thing is that it fully covers the areas of the body that need protection.

Why should you wear a rash guard?

You may be wondering why you would need to wear anything at all if you don’t need anything for warmth. On this one, it really comes down to personal preference. But, think about this, there are species of jellyfish out there that can kill you if stung.

Also, have you ever had a major abrasion in a tropical climate? Minor cuts can turn into giant infections really quickly and easily in tropical heat and humidity.

We have known people who had minor scrapes from coral who had to spend multiple days in the hospital. Their minor scrapes, which they were taking care of, managed to get infected in the humidity of Thailand. Instead of enjoying diving, for the rest of the trip, they were in the clinic for daily rounds of intravenous antibiotics. All of which could have been prevented with a proper rash guard.

There are so many things in the ocean that you must protect your body from. These range from jellyfish stings to different types of fish that have venomous fins. You also have all of the rocks and debris on which you may bump into, despite your best efforts, if the currents are too strong.

Wearing a rash guard is certainly optional. But, any smart diver will tell you that protecting yourself is your number one priority as a diver. So, even though you may not need a wetsuit for warmth, it never hurts to have a rash guard for protection

Best Rash Guards For Men

O’Neill Men’s Basic Skins Long Sleeve

O'Neill Wetsuits Men's Basic Skins UPF 50+ Long Sleeve...
  • Skin Cancer Foundation Recommended Product; UPF 50+ Ultraviolet Protection
  • Perfect For Surfing, Swimming, Paddle Sports, Boating, And Beach Days
  • Comfortable yet durable construction. Flatloc stitched and 6 ounce polyester, spandex four way...
  • Minimal Seam Placement For Maximum Rash Protection; Reduces Fatigue From Sun Exposure
  • Performance Fit: Form-Fitting Tight Layer Fits Like A Second Skin

O’Neill is a leading manufacturer of wetsuits and rash guards. They’ve been in the business for almost 70 years and have developed a strong following. In fact, their founder, Jack O’Neil, is credited as being one of the first people to create and use a wetsuit. In his case, for surfing. They also claim that the company was the creator of the modern-day rash guard in the 1980s.

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So, when you choose O’Neill you can be confident you are getting a top-quality product with many years of innovation behind it.


  • This is an incredibly durable rash guard. It is multi-purpose so you can wear it both in and out of the water for a variety of activities. Many people use it for surfing as well as snorkeling. This is a plus for us as you can purchase it knowing that it will hold up in a variety of activities and look good no matter when and where you wear it.
  • The Basic Skins is good for both protection from minor scrapes as well as protection from the sun. It has a UPF rating of 50+. This means it will protect you from the sun by blocking out the ultraviolet radiation from being absorbed. We’ve experienced horrific sunburns from snorkeling and diving in the tropics and value anything that can prevent that.
  • This rash guard has been tailored for durability. The material has four-way stretch which means it will last longer before it begins to lose its stretch. It is also constructed using the minimal number of seams both for added durability and to help with protection.

Biggest Con:

  • This is a tight-fitting rash guard that may be offputting for some people. Rash guards, in general, are usually tighter fitting than other articles of clothing. But, this for sure cuts it close. If you are looking for something that is going to hug you tight, then this is a great choice. But, if you want something that gives you just a bit of breathing room, you may want to opt for a different rash guard on this list.

Cressi Camouflage Rash Guard

Cressi Hunter Rash Guard, camo blue, L
  • The Hunter is a camouflage rash guard made with strong and elastic synthetic fabric, ideal for scuba...
  • The main feature of the rash guard is that protects from wind and from UPF Ultraviolet rays that are...
  • The material is elastic and easily adapts to the shape of the body. It should dress tightly, but...
  • Can be worn over a solid color wetsuit to use the camouflage effect, or over wetsuit that does not...
  • The chest is seamless and features a soft durable pad that protects the body. Essential for loading...

Cressi is one of the oldest scuba diving equipment manufacturers. They’ve been at it since the 1940s and have developed a reputation for quality equipment at a reasonable price. They are a titan of the industry. This is a great rash guard if you plan on doing any spearfishing as it’s been specially made for this purpose. It has a camouflage pattern so if that’s something you prefer in your spearfishing suits this could be a great option. It has all of the main necessities for a rash guard including a padded chest plate for loading your speargun.


  • The Cressi Camouflage Rash Gaurd is anatomically cut to fit perfectly. This has the added bonus of making it easier to move around. One of the single most important things when it comes to rash guards and wetsuits for spearfishing is ease of movement. You need to be able to easily aim and shoot.
  • As noted above, this has a 1mm chest pad. If you are new to spearfishing, just know that having a padded chest plate is important. When you are reloading your spear, you will need to rest the but against your chest. The padded area not only protects the wetsuit from wear and tear but also your chest from bruising. This can also be used to rest stabilizers against when filming video underwater.
  • You can choose from either a crewneck cut or a hooded rash guard. The hooded version can be a great option if you want to use this over a thicker wetsuit that lacks camouflage or that doesn’t have a chest pad. You can also choose between three different camouflage patterns depending on the environment you will be hunting in.
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Biggest Con:

  • The main issue with this rash guard is the sizing. Many people have reported that this fits extremely tight. It can be a good idea to purchase one size larger than you would normally wear. Cressi has a solid return policy so if you need to swap it for a larger or smaller size it shouldn’t be an issue. Always make sure that you leave plenty of time between when you order this and when you need to use it in case you need to return it.

Scubapro Men’s Long Sleeve Rash Guard

Scubapro Men's UPF 50 Long Sleeve Rash Guard
  • UPF 50 rating blocks 98% of UV radiation.
  • Polyester is comfortable yet durable
  • abrasion-resistant
  • and it does a good job of retaining its shape after repeated use.
  • Flattering color panels and cut keep you looking good while enjoying excellent UV protection.

Scubapro is another titan in the scuba diving industry. They have been in business since 1963 and since then have become one of the best-known brands on the market. You’re in good hands when you use Scubapro equipment as dive centers around the world use their equipment for training students. This is one of the basic rash guards perfect for a variety of water sports. You can use this for diving, snorkeling, freediving, or surfing. It comes in different colors and is tailored for a slim and comfortable fit.


  • Like the O’Neill Basic Skin, this rash guard is made from UPF 50+ rated material. This means that it is going to reflect close to 100% of ultraviolet radiation from ever coming into contact with your skin. We highly encourage divers, and anyone who enters the ocean, to opt for rash guards instead of sunscreen. Many brands of sunscreen contain chemicals that kill coral. Opting for a rashguard serves the dual purpose of protecting your skin while at the same time being ocean-friendly.
  • This is made from a thick polyester specifically designed to be abrasion-resistant. While protection from the sun is important, the main reason for wearing a rashguard is to protect your skin. This thicker material will help to keep you from getting scratched and bruised as you go about your diving.
  • The Scubapro Long Sleeve will fit well underneath a wetsuit. Some rash guards can be extremely difficult to squeeze a wetsuit overdue to the material that is used. But, this will allow you to wear a wetsuit over it with little difficulty when you go to colder climates or if you decide a rash guard just isn’t enough.

Biggest Con:

  • As with the Cressi rash guard above, this fits small. This is an issue with many rash guards due to the nature of what they are. So, make sure that you are buying one or two sizes larger than what you would normally wear. If you purchase at the size you would normally wear, you may find that it is impossible for you to wear. Rash guards are supposed to fit comfortably but not too tight.
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Best Rash Guards For Women

O’Neill Women’s Basic Skins Long Sleeve

Get 18% OFF
O'Neill UV 50+ Sun Protection Womens Basic Skins Long...
  • Skin Cancer Foundation Recommended Product; UPF 50+ Ultraviolet Protection
  • Perfect For Surfing, Swimming, Paddle Sports, Boating, And Beach Days
  • Comfortable Yet Durable 6oz Polyester/Spandex Construction
  • Minimal Seam Placement For Maximum Rash Protection
  • Performance Fit: Form-Fitting Tight Layer Fits Like A Second Skin

This is the women’s version of the O’Neill Basic Skins we listed above. It is built the same and has all of the same benefits only it is tailored for women’s bodies. As we noted above, O’Neill has laid claim to being the original manufacturer of the rash guard. So, it stands to reason that their rash guards are going to be a cut above the rest owing to having more time to perfect them. If you want something that is functional yet stylish, this is the way to go.


  • You have plenty of options with this rash guard in terms of sizing and style. The O’Neill Basic Skin has been designed specifically to fit women of a variety of sizes. There are also twenty different color styles to choose from. These range from plain black to more exotic colors like Graphite with Berry sides.
  • This rash guard is made from a quick-dry material. If you plan on doing a lot of traveling then this might be a great option. One of the major downsides of diving equipment and swimsuits is trying to dry them before you need to pack up and move on. This quick-dry material will allow your rash guard to drip dry and be ready to stow away within the hour.
  • Like the men’s version, the women’s O’Neill Basic Skin rash guard is made from UPF 50+ material. This is a perfect choice if you are prone to burning. You can use it for diving as well as surfing and snorkeling to keep you from sunburn.

Biggest Con:

  • As with the other rash guards on this list, this is tight-fitting. Make sure that you order at least two sizes larger than you think you need. Make sure that you are ordering this with plenty of time between when you expect it to arrive and when you need it. You don’t want to be stuck at the last minute without a rash guard because you ordered it right before your trip and it has to be exchanged.

Cressi Women’s Long Sleeve Rash Guard

Cressi Man Long Sleeve Rash Guard, black/pink, XS
  • Fitted athletic shirt rash guard ideal for any kind of water sport. For surfing, swimming,...
  • Worn as a protective layer, a rash guard is used to shield from damaging sun-rays, harsh ocean...
  • It is made of a stretchy material which adheres to the skin for the purpose to keep the body warm....
  • Thanks to its material, the rash guard increases the ease of wearing a neoprene wetsuit. If worn...
  • In the water, the high-stretch material is form fitting for easy swimming and protects against...

We mentioned above that Cressi is a top manufacturer of scuba diving equipment, including wetsuits and rash guards. They make equipment for both men and women and have done an excellent job of creating this anatomically fitting rash guard. This is a bit different than the other rash guards on this list in that it is made from lycra. It is made specifically for scuba diving and will do a great job of not just protecting you, but also adding a bit of warmth if needed.


  • This is made from quick-dry material. As we noted above this will save you a lot of time between when you use it and when you can pack it. One of the biggest problems with a lot of wetsuits and rash guards is that they take a long time to completely dry. Often, you will find yourself sowing away a still partially damp wetsuit with your clean clothes. This quick-dry rash guard takes care of that problem.
  • As we mentioned, the lycra is going to keep you warm on top of protecting you from abrasions and stings. It isn’t insulated so it won’t do if you are in cooler waters. But, it should help you keep comfortable even when passing through thermoclines.
  • This is a great choice for both scuba diving and snorkeling. If you participate in other water sports, such as surfing or water skiing, this is good as well for protection against falls.

Biggest Cons:

  • The only downside with this is that there aren’t any choices in terms of color style. Most of the other rash guards have many different colors and styles to choose from. With this rash guard, it only comes in black and pink. The sizing is accurate so you don’t have to worry about ordering larger than necessary. But, you won’t have much choice if you want an alternative style.
Wrapping Up

Rash guards are a must for any scuba diver who dives frequently in tropical environments. Wetsuits are often just too hot in many parts of the world. But, you don’t want to sacrifice the protection you get from your wetsuit. Remember, safety should always be a priority when diving. Part of staying safe means protecting yourself from stings and abrasions.

Do you have any recommendations that we didn’t mention? Let us know what you think in the comments section below. We love hearing from divers just like you.

This page was last updated on 2022-08-29. Affiliate links and Product Images are from Amazon PAAPI

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