Let’s face it: Water often comes with the territory when you’re adventuring outside. Whether you’re paddling your local lake, rafting a river, fishing your secret stash or hiking along a shoreline or up a canyon, water is an integral element of your outing. Thankfully, a host of brands are putting water performance at the forefront of their latest designs, be it for quick-dry swim and surfwear, paddling outerwear and even hiking apparel. Here are the latest technical breakthroughs explained, tips on how to choose the right equipment for your chosen activity ahead, plus a few standout product examples to whet your appetite on getting wet this season.
Whether you’re surfing, paddling, snorkeling or swimming, these base layers guard your skin from chafing rashes as well as the sun. Surfers in particular seek them for warm-water torso protection from the abrasion of saltwater, sand and their boards. Many designs integrate the UPF ratings of other sun-protective clothing to ward off UV rays from both the sun and reflected in the water.
- Fit and stitching: Rash guards should fit snug to keep chafing at bay, while still being loose enough for freedom of movement. Most also feature six-panel construction and flat-lock stitching for fit and chafing prevention. Longer sleeves are warmer and offer full-torso UV protection. Tanks and short sleeves work well for hot days and increased range of movement, though sacrificing sun protection.
- Material: Usually made from a blend of synthetics, including Lycra, neoprene, polyester or nylon-spandex, each option offers differing levels of stretch, warmth and breathability: Lycra is breathable with a high degree of stretch, and dries quickly; neoprene is also stretchy, offering top insulation qualities for cooler water; nylon-spandex is versatile and quick-drying for many purposes; and polyester breathes and wicks moisture well, but isn’t as stretchy as Lycra.