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When the weather gets warm and sunny, there are few things more enjoyable than getting into the water. Whether you’re lazing on a tube in a pool, boating around on a lake or hitting the ocean to surf and boogie board, you need sun protection. Spray sunscreens and mineral sunscreens are great, but they wash and sweat off.
That’s where swim shirts come into play.
Why Are Swim Shirts Useful?
Many swim shirts feature an ultraviolet protection factor, meaning they protect skin from the sun in the same way sunscreens do. If you know you’ll be spending all day or most of the day in water, wearing a swim shirt is easier than having to constantly reapply sunscreen.
Beyond sun protection, swim shirts are also known as rash guards because they protect skin. In most cases, that would be surfers dealing with sand caught up in the wax on their boards, but if you’re a regular non-pool swimmer, you know there’s the potential for all kinds of irritation when hitting waves and water.
Most swim shirts are also quick drying thanks to the use of materials like polyester and nylon, and they’re generally loose but form fitting thanks to elastane. They also come in long-sleeve varieties for fuller protection from sun and other environmental damage.
If you think your skin could use the all-day protection of a swim shirt or if you just don’t feel like reapplying sunscreen all day, check out a few of the best swim shirts below. We’ve got picks from water sport brands like BodyGlove and Speedo as well as some popular and well-reviewed picks on Amazon.
1. Speedo Men’s Short Sleeve Swim Shirt
When it comes to well-made swim gear, Speedo won’t let you down. The Speedo Men’s Short Sleeve Swim Shirt is a great overall swim shirt and representative of what you can expect when shopping. Made of 100% polyester, it’s durable, soft and dries quickly. It also offers a loose fit so you don’t feel the shirt constantly clinging, and raglan-style sleeves ensure it’ll fit comfortably. The sleeves are a bit longer than most other swim shirts, offering more UPF 50 protection from the sun on your arms, even if the shirt isn’t stylistically amazing.
2. Nike Essential Short Sleeve Hydroguard
For a tighter, sportier look, pick the Nike Essential Short Sleeve Hydroguard. Hydroguard is fancy Nike-speak for a swim shirt, with all the protection from sun and rashes that entails. With a 100% polyester construction, it’s guaranteed to dry fast too.
3. Body Glove Men’s Sun Shirt
Body Glove makes some of the best wetsuits around but when the weather’s too warm for a wetsuit, the Body Glove Men’s Sun Shirt will do just as well. This 100% polyester shirt has all the sun-protecting and anti-rash benefits of a great swim shirt with a slim fit that easily goes from beach to boardwalk.
4. Amazon Essentials Men’s Short-Sleeve Swim Shirt
At the end of the day, a swim shirt needs to protect your skin and dry quickly. Period. If you’re not bothered by details beyond those requirements, the Amazon Essentials Men’s Short-Sleeve Swim Shirt delivers those key features without breaking the bank. Plus, because it’s Amazon, you can get the exact same shirt in more colors than you’d ever need.
5. Kanu Surf Men’s Rashguard Swim Shirt
POPULAR ON AMAZON
When in doubt, it’s never a bad idea to go with something popular on Amazon. With over 15,000 ratings — 71% of which are five stars — and counting, the Kanu Surf Men’s Rashguard Swim Shirt wouldn’t continue to sell if it didn’t deliver. So what does it deliver? Just the quick-drying fabric and UPF 50 protection your skin needs in a loose-fitting package perfect for any dude.
6. Body Glove Offshore Pro Long-Sleeve Shirt
BEST LONG-SLEEVE SWIM SHIRT
If you know you need the extra protection offered by long sleeves, stick with a tried-and-true choice like the Body Glove Offshore Pro Long-Sleeve Shirt. It’s lightweight, breathable and loose but made with a polyester-spandex blend for a little extra fit and fast drying. Overall, it’s simple, comfortable and perfect for a longer day in the sun and water.
7. Amazon Essentials Men’s Long-Sleeve Swim Shirt
BUDGET LONG-SLEEVE SWIM SHIRT
When it comes to discounted prices, Amazon Essentials has everyone beat. For a budget-friendly long-sleeve swim shirt, go for the Amazon Essentials Men’s Long-Sleeve Swim Shirt. It has all the same benefits as the short-sleeve version, just with long sleeves.
8. Speedo Lifeguard Swim Shirt
BEST FOR LIFEGUARDS
Lifeguards literally spend all day in the sun and water and also need to be readily identified as lifeguards. If you or someone you know works as a lifeguard (and no one else unless you’re prepared to hop in the water to save someone’s life), go for the Speedo Lifeguard Swim Shirt. It’s got the classic lifeguard red and the quality protective features you expect from Speedo.