Rash Guard for Snorkeling Guide


Last Updated on June 28, 2023 by Snorkel Ken

Rash guards can be a great friend to have on long snorkeling adventures.  They have many beneficial features when worn.  Many people swear by them and others don’t use them at all.  Below you will find the SnorkelStore.net’s in-depth rash guard guide as well as our recommendations on the ones that we find wear the best for adults and children.

Please check out our snorkel rash guards store!

rash-guard-for-snorkelingThis article will cover:

  • Part 1: Why I always wear a rash guard when I snorkel and why I recommend one for all snorkelers now.
  • Part 2: Why is it called a rash guard?
  • Part 3: What do rash guards do?  Why do they work?
  • Part 4: Types of rash guards
  • Part 5: The Snorkel Store’s recommendation for the Best Snorkeling Rash Guards for men, women, and children.

Part 1: Why I Always Wear a Rash Guard and Why I Recommend Them

A little back story to start things off never hurt anything, right?  Here’s my sob story and a lesson learned.

I never, ever used to wear a rash guard.  I always said that I would never wear a rash guard while snorkeling.  I didn’t see the point in being at the beach or favorite spot to snorkel and covering up and shying away from the sun so much that I put a layer of clothing between myself and the sun.

That all changed one day when I went out to snorkel for a little longer than I had intended.  (Losing track of time can happen easily when snorkeling) When I got home that afternoon I realized that my back was severely sun burned.  I hadn’t even known it was happening and, yes, I always wear sunscreen.  It just didn’t stand up to the hours of sun, water, and sweat of that day.

I was in pain for a week.  My back blistered.  I could hardly lay down.  If you came even within a few feet of touching my back I almost would have decked you.  I was in pain.  Then the healing process from a bad sunburn which, in my opinion is more excruciating than the burn itself.  The dry skin and that deep itch that just doesn’t go away and that you can’t scratch because you would just cause yourself more pain from scratching your burnt skin.

Man, even now I cringe at the thought of that sunburn.

Wearing a Rash Guard for Snorkeling is Highly Recommended

I always wear…err…bring a rash guard to the beach or snorkeling location that I’m going to.  I even wear it about 75% of the time without my girlfriend telling me to.  I just forget.  However, I’m confident that the only reason that I haven’t gotten another sunburn since that day is because of my rash guard.

Part 2:  Why is it called a “Rash Guard”

Most people think of rash guards, in the snorkeling or scuba sense, as a way to protect your skin from the sun and possible jelly fish stings.  SCUBA divers also wear them under their wet suits because the tight rash guards keeps everything away from zippers…so that it nothing gets caught. 🙂

Rash guards, however, got their start in the surf and body boarding activity/industry.  Surfers and boarders would wear them so that when they paddled out and lay with their stomach to board, it wouldn’t cause them to get scraped up and roughed up from the texture of the board and the wax they apply to the board.

Part 3:  What do Rash Guards Do and How Do Rash Guards Work?

The best rash guards always have some SPF (sun protection factor) built right into the fabric of about 50 or higher.

A rash guard for snorkeling works in these primary ways to protect your body:

  • Provide protection for your body from the sun. (Primary in snorkeling)
  • Provide protection for your skin from possible jelly fish bites.
  • Provide a protective layer between your skin and the wetsuit (divers primarily)
  • Provides minimum, but still SOME, from scrapes on coral and rocks. (This happens to me a lot)

As opposed to a typical long sleeve t-shirt in the water, the rash guard lycra material is superior because it doesn’t-

  • -retain lots of water and make you heavier
  • -it doesn’t cause drag in the ocean because it’s thinner and usually tighter
  • -has built in SPFwhereas typical cotton t-shirts will get its butt whooped by the sun and you’ll get burned right through it

Part 4: Types of Rash Guards for Snorkeling

There are 5 main types of rash guards:

Upper body, short sleeve, tight.

This a good type of rash guard.  It’s tight to the body which reduces drag of loose fitting items.  They have good SPF and skin coverage.  Short sleeved if you prefer it this way.


Upper body, long sleeve, tight.

This is OUR preferred and recommended type of rash guard.  It has all of the benefits of the short sleeve version above but it has a larger skin coverage area since it is full sleeved.


Upper body, short sleeve/long sleeve, loose.

Same benefits as the tight versions, except a loose rash guard causes more drag in the water.  That being said, many people find tight clothing uncomfortable-particularly around the neck.  If you’re one of those or just don’t want to pack into a tight rash guard then this is the type you’d prefer.

SPF, skin coverage and light.  Although the lycra doesn’t retain that much water, the loose fitting


Full body, tight. (Like a wetsuit but much thinner and lighter)

This version of rash guard protects the entire upper body and lower body.  It is full-sleeved and full-legged, to the wrists and to the ankles.  It is a bit more money.  This is the preferred rash guard for many people that do spear fishing and are not wearing an actual wet suit.


Full body, partial leg, tight.

Same as the full bodied rash guard explained above except that instead of going to the ankles, this type ends right above the knee or at the calf.


Part 5:  Our Recommendations for Rash Guards (click the images for more information)

This women’s rash guard has UV protection and complements the body.  It is short sleeved and comfortable.

This is the type of rash guard that I wear personally.  I don’t like the tightness around my neck and chest of a fitting rash guard, so this type and style is best for me.  It has UV protection and a comfortable, natural feel to the wear.

This one is cool for the kids.  It is full sleeved so you get max protection on the upper body and it has the UV built right in.  It’s also trendy enough to not be “dorky” wearing it

Please check out our snorkel rash guards store!

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