If you’ve ever tried surfing in a string bikini or spent half a day hiking to the perfect river spot in your one-piece swimsuit, you already know how important it is to have swimwear that is specifically made for outdoor activity. Chaffing inner thighs, loose swim bottoms, and slipping bikini tops can ruin an otherwise perfect summer day.
Luckily, there exist nearly endless swimwear options for the active outdoorsy person. Made for active outdoor adventurers,: here are the best swimsuits for every high-octane outdoor summer activity.
Rash guards are the mainstay of the surfer summer wardrobe. In addition to providing excellent sun protection, and reducing the amount of sunscreen you have to use, rashguards also, as the name implies, serve as a physical barrier to protect your skin from abrasion and irritation. Surfboards tend to be covered in sticky wax that helps the surfer keep their grip and balance while standing. This wax, however, can cause a mild abrasion referred to as “surf rash” on the hips, stomach, and chest while the surfer is paddling. Wearing a good quality rash guard can help prevent this.
Surf rash can also happen on the inner thighs and legs, so if you tend to have sensitive skin but want to try surfing this summer, invest in some swim leggings or board shorts.
Sometimes, the best swim spots aren’t the most easily accessible ones. If your favorite swim spot is in the backcountry, or even just a short hike from the parking lot, you want to ensure you’re in well-fitting, flexible, and breathable swimwear. High-quality swimwear is typically made from materials such as nylon and spandex, which are excellent form-fitting and flexible wear, but are notoriously not breathable. This can lead to sweating and chaffing during rigorous out-of-water activities.
For hiking to your water activity, we recommend wearing women’s board shorts. Hiking in board shorts, you have the advantage of a lightweight, quick-drying material that is also loose and breathable. You can pair these with a sports bra or sporty racer-back swim top. You can even throw on a T-shirt for extra coverage during your hike or climb.
For outdoor summer activities such as camping, backpacking, or any backcountry overnight trip that might involve swimming or time spent in the water, your main priority will be getting a lightweight and quick-drying swimsuit. Without access to central air or an indoor drying rack, you want to make sure that your suit is made of a material that will dry overnight so you can keep the water adventures going the next day.
Lycra is the most quick-drying swimsuit material and is likely your best option. You can also get a UV-protective black swimsuit, which will absorb heat faster and, therefore, potentially dry more quickly than other swimsuit colors.
For any active swimsuit wearer, the most important feature to consider is how well your suit will stay put while engaging in physical activity. A one-piece swimsuit with a racerback, such as the style worn by competitive swimmers, is the most obvious choice. You can look for key stay-put features if you want to wear a two-piece swimsuit for your outdoor adventure.
Stay-put seams lined with slightly sticky silicon are great for giving you confidence and security while participating in water sports. You can also look for cross-back ties and racer-back style tankini tops. High-neck tops also provide extra coverage and protection. Modest high waist t swim shorts and swim skirts keep you covered for all your activities such as paddleboarding or canoeing.
Polyester and nylon are popular and common swimsuit materials, usually blended or combined with other materials. Spandex is usually added for stretch. Nylon is incredibly soft and offers a tight but comfortable fit. Most high-quality swimwear is made from a blend of these, or from a patented material called Lycra, which offers the best features of all these materials in one.
No matter what your summer has in store for you, the perfect swimsuit exists for you.