Watersports Clothing – 21st Century Options

In most of our minds, the classic image of a surfer features a guy wearing just board shorts, or a girl wearing a bikini, shooting diagonally down a big wave. While this picture is fun for cartoons, the reality is that surfers and watersport athletes stay more covered up a lot of the time. The extra clothing isn’t just for warmth either. In this article, we’ll illustrate the expanding variety of clothes and suits designed for watersport enthusiasts. They’re great for those who love the water and sun too!

Back in the day, male and female surfers could get warmth or rash protection from two main items: a wetsuit or a men’s rash guard. Rashguards designed for females weren’t common decades ago, which was a bummer without internet shopping! Nowadays, men and women alike can choose from a wide variety of separate or unified wetsuit pieces, rash guards and swim suits. Swim leggings and neoprene jackets designed for watersports, the purposes of which we’ll describe later, add even more variety for both genders.

women rashguards

The Need to Cover Up

What many folks don’t realize, including those new to surfing and kitesurfing, is that rashes complicate the simplicity of frolicking around half-naked during watersports. Boards and kitesurfing harnesses grate on your skin. At some point, even people in warm water with tough skin and plenty of melanin need a rash guard.

surfing and kitesurfing

Watersport athletes who are obsessive about their sport and stay out for hours at a time don’t want to return to the beach if they feel a rash starting. Not when the waves are going off or the wind is right! Rash guards for men and women are designed like second skins. That’s not just because of the tight fit. Grippy, anti-slip silicone strips on the shirt bottom, or boardshorts fasteners on mens rash guards, keep them in place like skin. Also, high-quality rash guards are UPF 50+. As far as sun protection is concerned, that is a second layer of skin.

Of course, wetsuits solve these same problems. However, they are designed for cooler temperatures, can be constricting and are more difficult to get on and off. Neoprene wetsuits are also high-maintenance. They need to be promptly rinsed and hung to dry. With all the benefits of a rash guard, watersport enthusiasts can forget about their clothing and focus on having more fun.


Rash Guard Benefits for Your Lower Half

Between sun-protection needs and the growing popularity of new water sports like kiteboarding and paddleboarding in the past two decades, rash guards haven’t just become more popular. They have colonized people’s lower halves too! The advent of swim leggings has brought the benefits of rash guards to our southern hemispheres, body-wise. They began as surfing pants that delayed wetsuit hassles. The extra protection from rashes and the sun, combined with quick-drying fabric, caused them to migrate into the wardrobes of other watersport enthusiasts. Now, most chicks don’t have to be told twice about the perks of wearing leggings. But some men remain more skeptical. One benefit of rash guards for men, in pants form, is that they conserve heat because they’re tight and run to the ankles. Meanwhile, boardshorts just float around your upper legs. Also, some surfing leggings have a compression factor that improves performance.

Women have a unique option, which melds the benefits of long-sleeved rash guards and swim suits together into one. A long-sleeved watersport swimsuit is great for surfers, who are exposed from the waist up yet don’t need as much sun protection from the waist down. They can also be combined with swim leggings. All types of watersport athletes love them.

swim leggings for women

Rash Guards & Jackets for the Cold

When cooler water temperatures strike, the thought of breaking out the wetsuit can be less than appetizing. It’s not just that the water and air are cooler. Getting into a wetsuit is a process. . . hopefully, one that never involves dish soap or cooking oil for you! When you’re pumped to head into the water, perhaps because of perfect water, wind or weather conditions, you just want to get going. Besides being involved to take on and off, wetsuits can restrict movements. Thick neoprene can put pressure on certain areas, causing you to feel achy or heavy.

Thicker rash guards can help extend your Indian summer, watersports style. Fleece-lined rash guards can actually convert moisture to heat, regulating your body temperature. Good ones still dry quickly. Higher collars can maintain more heat. Combine a thermal rash guard with swim leggings any day of the year, and you’ve got full-body rash protection. This arrangement ain’t bad for summer jellyfish swarms either!

Alas, when wetsuits can’t be avoided, rash guards can help with two resulting issues. They can still prevent rashes but below wetsuits. Neoprene and abrasive seams sometimes irritate skin. A tight-fitting rash guard worn underneath can offer protection. This setup can also provide a bit of extra warmth. Instead of moving up to the next thickness of neoprene wetsuit, which can be restricting (and expensive), a rash guard beneath might get you by.

Neoprene Jackets

Another awesome addition to a watersports wardrobe is a neoprene jacket. While these have been popular among fishermen for decades, they haven’t been as popular for active watersports until recently. That is, neoprene jackets are now being designed for watersport athletes. Kitesurfers and paddleboarders can even wear them while cruising on their boards. Platinum Sun’s neoprene jackets are perfect for kiteboarding because they have a harness zipper. Many watersport athletes don’t stick to one sport or type of outdoor adventure. Therefore, we’ll mention they’re great for rafting, canoeing and kayaking as well. Surfers and bodyboarders love to put them on after a long day to keep warm while they head straight for grub. They also help in between sessions of surfing, diving or snorkeling.


Thankfully, watersports apparel has diversified beyond the three old-school options: swim suit, wetsuit and mens rash guards. Those didn’t help women much. In fact, there are so many garments now, folks who just love to swim or sit by the water have more options besides traditional swim suits.

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