Anyone will tell you that surfing without a rash vest is just crazy, but as a beginner you will probably just want to get out there. All you need is a board and possibly a wetsuit if you are venturing out into cold territory – Right? Wrong!

If you have not gone through a surf school and have just dived into this yourself you will soon find out why a rash vest is absolutely vital and one of the first things that you will want to think about.

The main purpose is to protect the skin and especially under the arms as you go paddling. Some materials are inferior and you will find that you can still be irritated if you have been in the ocean for a while. You can imagine if you are constantly paddling and you are scraping against your board, rocking back and forth, this has got to give some wear and tear so this is where the protection factor comes into play.

There are a couple of other factors why you would want to make use of a vest like this:

Skin rash – this has already been explained, but for some it is worse than others and it can keep you out of the water for some time. The best kind of material to look out for is nylon that has some neoprene in.

rash vest

Protect yourself from the sun – Look for a descent material, which is going to act as UV protection. Don’t be fooled by a sun cream that says it is going to last for hours and hours in the water. You are going to be burned to a frazzle.

Insulation – Another helpful factor, which means you don’t have to wear a wetsuit. You get vests which are thicker with long sleeves. This may be all you really need for warmer temperatures.

The difference between a rash guard and a rash vest

Basically a rash guard will protect you against the sun. This is what you see little kids wearing at the beach, but they don’t provide an extra layer of insulation and they don’t provide that much of a barrier to protect your skin. For this you should definitely opt for a rash vest.

Three of the best -rash vest reviews - my picks

Body Glove Lycra Short Sleeve Shirt

This will give you full protection from the sun, and it is suitable enough for warmer weather without a wetsuit. Put this under your wetsuit without feeling uncomfortable and you will be fine. Don’t order a size that is going to be too big for you because their sizing is accurate. The vests fit tightly, which is what they should do. Customers enjoy this feature.

Body Glove Juniors Short Arm Lycra Rash Guard Shirt (Royal, 14/2X)
Amazon Price: $23.99 $19.50 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 26, 2015)

Quiksilver Cypher PS + Heat Vest System

And now for something completely different… I have not tried this vest out, but I sure do want to. Just one click of the button and you are fully heated. I bet in the 60’s when surfers were surfing icy waters in England they wished they had something like this. This comes with a battery operated heating system, using infra red technology.

If you hear of some really good surf somewhere around, but are scared off because of the temperatures then you may want to invest in something like this. It won’t weigh you down because it is made of lightweight polypropylene and it can fit under your wetsuit, giving you even more warmth.

The heating pad is inserted in the lower part of your vest, which can be set to low or high. You will know it is on high by pressing it just once and then the red light will show up.

XCEL Hooded Polypro

More and more rashies are coming up with hoods these days. It seems logical since it is the head that suffers the most when you begin to get cold. As a surfer, you have to also be aware of your ears and protecting them with a hood is one way to stay out of trouble, but obviously the best way for that are earplugs.

This is not just any old hood. It comes lined with Titanium for extra protection so you can go surf Vancouver Island without a problem now. This kind of materials also makes it easier for it to shape around your face. XCEL always make their wetsuits as comfortable as you like.

How to Take Care of Your Wetsuit

I thought this would be pretty relevant, as you should be thinking of taking care of any equipment that you have, whether it is a wetsuit or a rash vest.

So you just got yourself a brand new wetsuit or rash vest and you have come back from your first session wearing your wettie. Maybe this is your first wetsuit, maybe you have had a couple. The most important thing that surfers realize is that if you are not going to take the extra couple of minutes when you get home and really pay attention to your wetsuit then you are going to find that the lifespan of your wetsuit is not going to last all that long.

Obviously, this also depends on how you care for it. You may think you are doing the world of good for your wetsuit, when in fact you are doing more harm than good. Here are a couple of top tips to keep in mind

  • If you don’t want to see your wetsuit again then put it in with the rest of your washing and send it off to the washing machine. After that you can have it ironed. You will see results that will make you cry. This may seem obvious, but some people are not even aware of this.
  • Don’t hang your wetsuit out in the sun to get dry. You may think, Hey I’m keeping it away from the washing machine and the tumble dryer, but the sun’s rays can do a lot of damage to neoprene over time. You can leave your suit in the shade where it will be bettr protected. When it starts to get hard then it is no use to you anymore because the flexibility is lost.
  • Stay away from hot water. So this also means that if you head straight for the showers after your surf, make sure you take your wetsuit off first.
  • Hang it up in your closet on a suitable hanger. Don’t bundle it away in your sock draw.
  • Turn the suit inside out and dry it that way. This is the best way to maintain flexibility. It also seems logical because this is the side that is going to be exposed to your body until you hit the water.
  • I have mentioned before that you shouldn’t leave it in the sun, but it’s not a good idea to leave it in a hot place with the sun beating down like inside the car or inside the trunk.
  • Don’t procrastinate – do this as soon as possible. Don’t leave your wetsuit in the car or in a bag and go and hang out with a couple of friends. Do it now, otherwise the lifespan of your wetsuit will just decrease really quickly.

O’ Neill Wetsuit Cleaner This is definitely a good buy because all you need is a cap of this for any of your neoprene products and it gets to work. It also helps take the stink out of your suit which can be really off putting. As a surfer, you may try everything to get this out, from a lot of elbow grease to dish washing liquid, which really does not sound like a good idea.

This is definitely a good deal at under $15 seeing it lasts so long. Just a run your tub and add a cap of this. Stick your booties and all of your other neoprene goodies in here too. O’Neill Wetsuit Cleaner is activated I cold water. It’s also non toxic and it helps to increase the lifespan of your wetsuit even more which will make every surfer out there smile.

O'Neill Wetsuit/Drysuit Cleaner And Conditioner,8-Ounce
Amazon Price: $19.85 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 26, 2015)