Rash Guards: How Tight ? ;-)

I’m a size “Large” according to all sizing guides, but have bought XL and even XXL, because retailers always seem to be out of stock in “Large”.

These larger sizes still fit REAL tight, with just a hint of bagginess at the elbows.

Question: Am I losing anything by wearing a size or two larger? Do they need to be ultra skin tight to be more effective? (2 brands for reference: XL HydroSilk and my XXL Body Glove is super skin tight also)

Seems like a silly question, but I’m getting 2 more, and I wanted to know how these things usually run size-wise. Is Ultra Tight better for some reason?


Rash guard
They should be snug. Vaughn Fulton

1 Like

Depends on use
Under a wetsuit - snug might be best. I wear as a paddling shirt alone, and like the Aussie style loose fit “swim shirts”.

I’d have to have an XXXXXXXXL for it to be loose!! :slight_smile:

Seriously, I’m only 5’10" and 175, but those things are tight, even at XL… (Comfy though!!)

I feel your pain
I just picked up a size Large NRS HydroSilk ss, and came to the realization that I need a lot more exercise :-0

comfy…that is all that matters
i am now wearing a hooded rash guard for touring…love it…upf 50…it is white and see through when wet but i have not gotten ANY sunburn through it…have a couple and my wife has one now too…when not in the water with a pfd there is a kangaroo pocket for comfort too…


you cannot order these direct fromteh website yet…have to call them…it is Corran Addisons shop in Canada…tell him i sent ya!

another trick for any rash guard is:

turn it inside out…if a rashie is too tight (or not made great) the seams might rub and chafe…just put it on inside out to make it more comfy…

ANY rash guard will work and do the same thing…hit up a surf shop where you can try them on…also usually the surf shop ones are a wee bit cheaper…


me too
According to the size charts I’m right in the middle of the size L range. Yet, the shirts are all over the place in terms of fit. I just ordered 3 from NRS . One was just about right, one was very tight (exchanging it to XL) and one was so small it wouldn’t even fit over my shoulders. I’ve had cases where I needed a M, L, or XL. You just have to try them on.


I switched to Under Armor.
Those “rash guards” are very pricy. I use an Under Armor shirt and like it better. Inside out is a must.

Ordered medium, received XL.
Decided to keep the XL because it fits just a little loose, like I expected the meium to. I’m glad that they sent the wrong size.

I’ve found that
for the quick-dry shirts, if they’re tighter, they dry quicker.

NRS has some quality control issues…
My “Large” just came in…

It’s larger than the XL that I was trying to replace…

I think they just slap any tag on them, and assume it will “stretch” to fit…

I’ve come to like the tighter fit better, as it can’t trap any water between my skin and the material, and it helps to hold my gut in… :slight_smile:

Recycling/ Reviving:

A fit question related to how tight…How Long (in the sleeves)?

I just received an NRS rash guard ordered online. I sized up from the measurements on the website because I really don’t look good in sausage casing! XL should’ve been “right” but I went XXL. The long sleeves make it about half way down my forearm, which is not the fit problem I was anticipating. Chest and waist are fine.

I’m assuming that long sleeve rash guards (like other shirts) are supposed to reach the wrists. Is that correct or is there some eccentricity with rash guards or NRS sizing that I’m ignorant of?

NRS sizing is not to be trusted. I have a pair of water shoes that I bought one size large, as recommended. They cramp my toes badly; I’d say they run more than one size too small. They felt even smaller than the same nominal-size booties I had bought in previous years.

But much more absurd was their long-leg Farmer Jane that I tried on in a store. Judging by the label size, it should have fit me or even been tight. Instead, the thing was so outrageously giant, especially in the butt, that I could have fit TWO of me in it. The legs and seat were comically baggy, not just loose. That FJ had to have been mislabeled at the factory…maybe as a sick joke.

Back to rash guard sizing, though: The shirt should be roomy enough in the shoulders that it does not hinder your paddling but snug enough that if you go in the drink, it doesn’t turn into a porous water balloon. Tighter shirts dry faster, too.

I like the men’s small from a South African company that they warn fits more snugly than “standard fit.” On me (a small woman) it is just loose enough for freedom of motion yet not baggy. The XS rash guard made by Quicksilver, which I thought would fit well, fits oddly in the shoulders and armpits, as if designed for a child. That one is tight.

You need to try them on to know how they fit.

NRS responded that the sleeves should extend to the wrists unless the biceps or forearms are large diameter. That’s definitely not me. Odd to me that the torso would be so ample but sleeves not proportionally longer.

If your rash guard is loose it will move on your skin. You don’t want it to move your want material to take the abrasion between your arms and torso or other parts. The most critical part for me is under my arms on my torso.

I went out in the early summer and said hey I’ll throw this neo core shirt on it’s soft. I went about 8-9 miles and started feel pain it was a long paddle home. Shirt stretched became loose. :scream: When I came home I had two be 1/4 moons bright red under my arms. Very painful the next day. I should know better by now to change even a small item in you regiment can be a disaster especially if it’s a longer paddle. NRS and Kokatat I use XXL 48" chest 38" waist. 6’ 230 lb. The red moons on my torso took a good week to heal. Never again. :sob:

PS – I know what you mean about the NRS sizing. I found a shop that stocked both mens and womens Hydroskins and wanted the long bottoms,

Maybe I had lucked out with my Farmer Jane because I had ordered it on line and the XL fit perfectly (I am a size 12 with more bust and waist volume but narrow shoulders, trimmer hips and fanny and long legs.)

But the women’s L and XL leggings were horrid. Both were cut to be low riders with a really short rise – I’m only 5’ 4" I’d have had “plumbers crack” in either size especially sitting-- and both fit in the hips and thighs like equestrian jodphurs so it looked and felt like I was wearing a diaper.

SO I tried on the mens L and they were perfect. I had also gotten a men’s L NRS 0.5 mm hydroskin zip jacket and it was too snug – sold it at a paddling event . Then I spotted a mens L pullover in the same 0.5 hydroskin and since it was only $10 I took a chance – perfect fit.

Kokatat is worse. I had a longsleeved older version of their inner fleece rashguard type top that was a good fit. Saw the exact same model and size L, even the color, on sale in short sleeved and ordered it. Could barely get it on and ended up giving it to a friend who wears a size 6 and it fits her nicely. Laying it atop the longsleeved large it was 3" to 4" smaller in all dimensions. It reminded me of the difference between a size 12 in the UK and the USA. (A 12 in the UK is equal to an 8 in the USA).

Though women’s sizes in the USA are a mess from any vendor – total Wild West in any company’s size ranges and “vanity sizing” has gotten absurd. If any woman wants to delude herself that she is sleeker than reality would suggest, she should go to Duluth Trading company. I really like a lot of their outdoor wear but I had to go down to a Small in their women’s gardening overalls (supposedly a 6-8!!) I could have shared the size L with a friend.

Jodphurs is exactly what the fit was on those alleged women’s Farmer Janes. My legs are hardly stick-like, so the gaping empty pouches around them and my hips and butt were truly astounding. The rest of the suit was baggy, too, though not as baggy as the bottom part was.

Wetsuit sizing in all brands of neoprene wear I’ve bought makes no sense. But in general, the women’s stuff runs small. If I didn’t upsize by at least one size (and usually two sizes), the item would bind in the shoulder/armpit area. Therefore, that jodphur-like huge FJ from NRS was downright bizarre, which is why I wondered if some petite foreign worker who labeled it was snickering about American women’s concept of “small” and snuck a doozy of a “mistake” in the batch.

Duluth makes some men’s clothes that I would love to buy, but I can tell that even their Small would be far too big, and most of the menswear starts with size Medium. Women’s clothing I won’t buy without trying on, because it is such a crapshoot.

Ever notice how men’s Small used to be chest 34-36 and Medium was 38-40 etc? Now, Small might well be 36-38 etc.

I have been using rash guard pants all year long. Drips don’t run down my legs and sweat. If a bug is trapped in there. I learned when possible buy tall person’s clothing for better coverage at the waist.

Oh yeah, wetsuit sizing is ridiculous. Onneil, Body Glove, Billabong and Roxy are all sized for anorexic midgets! I am slightly below the median size for American women and I can’t pull their XL past my hip bones. I had my snorkeling/diving 2/3 spring suit custom made by a family outfit in Minnesota that went out of business a year later.

The first Farmer Jane I mail-ordered was from Warmers: bottom fit fine in a women’s L but the rise was so long the crotch was like MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” droopy drawers from MTV. I could have smuggled a watermelon in the space, So that all bunched around my belly when I was seated in a boat. And the chest was for 36 AA “girls”, not my 36 Ds – once zipped I could have passed for male, if I had been able to breathe. I considered cutting them in half to make pants but ended up selling them at a loss to someone smaller.

Then I lucked out buying a barely used full length 3/4 surfing wetsuit from Xcel on eBay that I could use for whitewater canoeing – was only $20 so I chanced it. It was a size 12 and fits me as well, if not better, than the custom one. Nice suit and really true to size – did my PADI course in that as well as WW canoeing – the built in knee pads are great. If what I have experienced is typical for Xcel I highly recommend them – they actually seem to know how normal women’s bodies are shaped.

To get back to the topic, Xcel makes some nice rash guards too – I have a short sleeved one, women’s L that fits like their size 12 wetsuit. Swimoutlet often has good sale prices on them. I have never had chafing issues with their wetsuit so if their cut and seaming is as good with the rashguards I would imagine buying your usual size from them would be a nice fit.