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Wetsuit vs lycra rashguard  what is the difference?

The right outfit will let you completely enjoy swimming, surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, SUP, wakeboarding. Among the functional outfits for water activities, there are two choices of material: Lycra rashguard or neoprene.


The main purpose of a lycra surfsuit is protection against UV radiation and abrasions. The neoprene wetsuits main function is warmth, more specifically thermal, insulation. Knowing the difference between a lycra rashguard and neoprene material can help you to make the right choice regarding your personal requirements on the water.

So, how do you now see the difference of the two materials? 

The lycra is a thin material and consists of 70-80% polyester and 20% elastane (a high quality lycra has elastane coefficient between 18-26%). Tightly woven polyester threads protect our skin against sun rays. Lycra fabric is extraordinary breathable, dries fast and easy washable. Elasticity or stretch is the key feature of lycra material, which provides a “second-skin” feeling and a highly flexibility in movements on the water.

Compare to lycra the Neoprene material can have various thicknesses: 1-2 mm falls into the thin category, above 4 mm into thick. A good quality Neoprene wetsuit is very elastic and long-lasting. The thicker the material the more it prevents the loss of body heat. Keeping you warm on the water while moving can also increase sweating.


Which material gives you more comfort? How to make a decision?

It all depends on your personal preference and of course the climate you are heading to. Considering the temperature you’re going to need a neoprene wetsuit in cold waters for instance. In tropical environments you rather choose something lightweight, like a rashguard made of lycra. Also important to think about the characteristics of the water areas you want to go to: Are you facing obstacles like sharp corals or dangerous marine life? Then you might want to cover your entire arms with a long-sleeve lycra, even in warm waters. Finally, how much sun exposure do you expect and want for yourself?

All the above mentioned questions will help you determine what surfsuit you need. If you are currently looking for an elegant and comfortable women's or children's lycra, please visit my store.

See You on a water. Aloha.
Ania - VDWS instructor; kitesurfing & windsurfing & catamaran.

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