Jul 242011

I’m an avid sunscreen user and practice direct sun avoidance when possible. But as a beach lover and water sports fanatic, total sun avoidance is not practical or desirable. That’s where my beloved collection of rashguards comes into the picture.  Long a staple of surfers everywhere, the rashguard has recently skyrocketed in popularity.

For those of you thinking, what in the world is a rashguard?  I’ll explain.  A rashguard is a water-friendly shirt, made of sun protective, quick-drying fabric. The primary reason for my rashguard obsession is laziness.  I dread those full-body sunscreen applications that must precede any beach day or snorkel expedition.  By wearing a long-sleeve rashguard, you can cut the sunscreen ritual in half and skip the upper body (but please don’t forget to apply sunscreen if you remove your rashguard).

Athleta Rutched Guard

Now for the second main reason that I adore my rashguards – warmth!  I like my ocean temps to be in the 80’s (25-28 C), but this isn’t always possible.  A medium or heavier weight rashguard will keep you warm while you snorkel or frolic in the waves.

Other reasons to embrace the rashguard

1)  Protect against scrapes or coral burns (but please remember to avoid touching coral)

2)  They make stylish quick-drying shirts for other outdoor activities

Photographing Black Tip Sharks

Kayaking in Fakarava, Tuamotus

3)  You want to provide your little ones with the best sun protection possible while they build sandcastles or play in the waves

4)  Modesty – Maybe you aren’t thrilled with the idea of exposing your arms or midsection

5)  Eco-Consciousness – Less sunscreen use = healthier reef

My favorite rashguards are from Athleta.  Their rashguards are feminine, stylish and protective (did I mention stylish?).  Their Ruched Guard is a nice substantial weight, comes in several colors and has a longer length which can be shortened with side ties or lengthened to cover the posterior. It has traveled around the world with me – from Rangiroa to Moorea to the Maldives to Roatan.  Their Summer Shade Tee is another personal favorite.  It has seen the inside of my suitcase more times than I can count.

Other sources for rashguards for men, women and children are Lands End and Coolibar.
Fit tip – a rashguard should have a snug fit.  There is nothing worse than layers of loose, wet fabric.
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