Do Kayakers Need Rash Guard?| A Guide To Rash Guards For A Kayak Enthusiast

rash guards

Last updated on September 2, 2022

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Kayaking is fun. But just like other sports, kayaking might endanger you. Never ride a kayak without wearing the necessary equipment such as helmet, gloves, PFD, and shoes. Helmet, gloves, shoes, and PFD’s– these are some of the kayaking equipment that you need for safety. But wait, something seems to be missing. How about a rash guards? Have you tried using one while kayaking?

Give me a chance to explain why a rash guard is essential for kayakers. This article is for beginners and seasoned kayakers. I’ll define what rash guard is, how a rash guard should fit, and how to wear it. Of course, I’ll also provide a buying guide and other handy pieces of information.

What Is A Rash Guard?

I’m sure that you’ve already seen a rash guard at least once. People who go on beaches, rivers, and lakes always wear this. A rash guard is a kind of fitting spandex that protects against sunlight and the harmful compounds that are present in the water. Surfers and skimboarders wear rash guards. However, it’s rare to see Kayakers with rash guards, and I find this very interesting.

Kayakers -seasoned ones and beginners alike- seem to neglect the importance of wearing a rash guard. This is because they think that riding the kayak isn’t as dangerous as Surfing or Skim boarding. However, I say otherwise. Riding the kayak is equally dangerous, and this is very true in rapid waters.

A rashie (another term for rash guards) protects you from the sun. Specifically, it prevents your arms, back, and neck from getting sunburned. Furthermore, it keeps you from losing too much water due to sweating. A rash guard is also perfect for temperature control because it fits perfectly but doesn’t make you feel hot.

Swimming is also more comfortable if you’re wearing a rash guard. That said, it makes mounting the kayak easier in case you get thrown off. Apart from this, a rash guard might also increase your chances of surviving from a low head dam. I’m not saying that low head dams are safe once you have a rash guard. I’m only implying that swimming away from it might be more possible if you’re wearing one.

What Are The Different Types Of Rash Guard?

There are four types of rash guards; thermal rash guard, general protection rash guard, full-body rash guard, and rash guard vest.

Thermal Rash Guard

As the name implies, the thermal rash guard conserves heat in your body. The thermal rash guard is perfect if you’re kayaking during cold months. It’s also handy for kayaking on naturally cold bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, and canals.

General Protection

General protection rash guard has it all. It protects against heat, cold, UV rays, and water’s chemicals. This kind of rash guard can be used for surfing, kayaking, Skim boarding, and other types of water sports. However, the downside with the general protection rash guard is that it doesn’t offer full protection against UV rays.

Full body Rash Guard

Full body rash guard covers most of your body. It covers your neck, arms, and torso completely. This is the type of rash guard that surfers and skimboarders usually use.

Rash Guard Vest

On the other hand, a rash guard vest only provides partial cover for the body. It doesn’t cover the neck and has shorter sleeves and thinner fabric. However, I highly recommend rash guard vest to kayakers because it doesn’t disrupt paddling.

How To Wear A Rash Guard and How Should It Fit?

You can opt to wear a rash guard in combination with conventional clothing. For example, you can wear a rash guard first then wear a sleeveless T-shirt on top of it. You can also opt to wear the T-shirt first then wear the rash guard on top.

Wearing a rash guard alone is not a problem. A rash guard is already stylish, so it’s okay if you don’t pair it with other clothing. However, I recommend you to wear a rash guard with conventional clothing for the best protection.

Don’t think about wearing a rash guard and a wet suit at the same time. Wearing these together will only restrict your movement.

It’s common for a rash guard to fit, but how fitting should it be? In general, a rash guard should fit in a way that outlines your body but doesn’t make breathing hard. Also, it should be fitting enough that you can still move your arms around or turn your body.

For females, the rash guard shouldn’t reveal too much of the bust. It shouldn’t squeeze the breasts or make them feel painful or uncomfortable.

The rash guard should fit in a way that doesn’t reveal the navel for people with big bellies. If you’re fat, buy a rash guard that’s a little loose.

Rash Guard Buying Guide

So what should you ponder about when buying a rash guard? Here are the things that you need to know.

Inspect the Rash Guard’s Functions

Rash Guard conserves heat or prevents you from feeling hot. Between the two, the airy or breathable rash guard is perfect for kayaking in summer, In contrast, you should buy a warm rash guard for kayaking during fall and early spring.

Also, you might want to buy a rash guard that protects you from sharp objects, dust, and water irritants aside from UV rays. A rash guard that has a lot of protective functions might be pricey. Still, its cost might be cheaper than buying various rash guards that only have a single protective function.

Check To See If The Sleeves Are Too Tight

A rash guard with very tight sleeves is useless. It will make paddling hard and might even irritate your arms. Always check if the rash guard that you’re buying has sleeves that aren’t too tight. Precisely, its sleeves must fit in a way that you can still raise your arms or move them in a circular motion.

Rash Guard With Thin Fabric Is Good

Don’t buy a rash guard that uses a thick fabric. This kind of rash guard can’t be layered with conventional clothing. I recommend you to buy a rash guard that is made out of thin fabric instead. This kind of rash guard is very light on the body, can be worn with other clothes, and will never feel hot.

At Least Provide A Bit Of Allowance

You need to provide a bit of allowance when buying a rash guard online. This means that if your clothing size is 5’7, so you should opt to buy a rash guard that’s at 5’9 or 5’8. Providing allowance is crucial for you not to buy a new rash guard if ever you gain weight.


Consider adding a rash guard on your array of protective kayaking equipment. A rash guard will further prevent you from experiencing sunburns, bruises, or rashes. Also, it might make moving more comfortable. Still, the best thing about owning a rash guard is that wearing it will improve your looks. That said, get a rash guard if you want to look like a professional Kayaker.

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