Choice helps consumers choose rashies
Nothing if not topical, consumer group Choice put nine brands of rash vests to the test, and reports the results.
Testing found that while all passed with flying colours, cheaper brands provide good sun protection and won’t burn your budget.
Says Choice Head of Media Tom Godfrey,“When it comes to top performers, Billabong ($55.99) and Quiksilver ($39.99) both returned an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) greater than 300, well above their claimed 50+ rating,”
“But rashies don’t have to be expensive to be effective. So, if you don’t want to stretch your budget and splash out on a $55 rashie, the $12 offerings from Kmart (190 UPF) and Big W (140 UPF) still offer ‘excellent’ protection.
“While our test found cheaper and more expensive tops easily met claimed UPF protection, it’s worth remembering that after exposure to sun and chlorine and repeated washing there can be a big difference after two-three years use,” he says.”
To test the rash vests, Choice chose the lightest coloured rash vest from each brand, with all suitable for use in chlorine.
The vests were exposed to sun, chlorine and repeated washing before being tested to the Australian Standard for UPF, AS/NZS 4399:1996, by an external lab
“Our test was designed to simulate the harsh treatment rash vests get each summer to help parents determine if their kids’ rashies were up to scratch.
“Whether they are used in chlorinated public pools and in the sand and sun, all brands made the grade,” he says.
“For those considering sticking with an older rash vest, we also tested a much-loved three-four year old Seafolly top, which had copped a battering in chlorine pools and at the beach. Although it showed signs of wear and tear it still managed a UPF rating of 20.”
“When you consider a white cotton T-shirt has a UPF rating of around 5, even a rashie that has been put through its paces for a couple of years can still offer ‘good’ protection.
The lab test measured the UV radiation that penetrated each rash vest. This gives a UPF rating for the fabrics and determines how much of the sun’s UV radiation is blocked, and therefore how much protection it provides.
“It’s important to remember that rashies don’t last forever with the impact of the sun, chlorine, washing and stretching diminishing the protection over time. So for the best protection, it’s worth considering replacing your rash vest each year, says Tom Godfrey.”
He recommends looking for visible signs the fabric is slackening and losing its shape, particularly when the rashie is wet, looking for excessive stretching and transparency.
Replace rash vests regularly to help ensure maximum sun protection which is affected by the thickness of the fabric, tightness of weave; colour – darker and intense bright colours provide more protection than light ones; fibre – synthetic materials tend to provide more protection than natural fibres; the addition of UV absorbing optical brighteners; and moisture – dry fabric often has a higher UPF than wet fabric .
Rashie brands tested included Speedo, Seafolly, Billabong (boys' rashies pictured), Quiksilver, Zoggs, Cancer Council, Big W, Kmart and Target.