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There are two distinct types of fat guys, those who wear swim shirts and those who don’t.
However, this really only applies to normal fat guys. Really obese guys almost always don a swim shirt when we dare venture to the pool or beach. Let’s just say that it’s been years since I’ve gone swimming without a swim shirt.
However, it’s not quite as easy as putting on any random t-shirt or tank top from your drawer and calling it a swim shirt. While that might be fine if you just spend the day on the side of the pool, you’ll want something more functional and comfortable once you decide to get wet.
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4 Reasons Fat Guys Should Wear A Swim Shirt
There are many reasons why fat guys want a swim shirt and it’s not just about covering up our belly and man-boobs. While that is (obviously) a consideration, wearing a swim shirt was freeing for me because of many reasons I did not expect.
1. Sunburn Protection
I figure I require 3-4x as much sunscreen as my wife. What’s more, there’s no possibility that I can put it on myself. Just putting an adequate amount of sunscreen on my back required my wife to train for months with Mr. Miyagi (wax on, wax off…)
But seriously, not needing to worry about putting on sunscreen, waiting for it dry just to have to reapply it in a couple of hours is incredibly convenient.
2. Rash Protection
Even before I started wearing a swim shirt my skin didn’t see or touch much apart from the inside of my undershirts. If I’m going to be spending time around sand, going doing slides, or (heaven help us) trying to surf I want another layer between my skin and the elements.
The reason that many people wear “rash guards” is to avoid chaffing from wet skin rubbing together. Since I have more than the average amount of skin (and rolls) to rub together it’s imperative that I have a swim shirt that wicks away moisture and dries quickly.
3. No Need To Worry About Changing
Not ever having to be naked at the beach or swimming pool makes things much easier. Getting into a stall and changing isn’t exactly a joy but, with a shirt already in place, I can bypass the changing rooms and head straight for the water.
This also comes in handy at a beach bar, boardwalk, or nearby restaurant if I don’t feel like sitting around and eating/drinking in nothing but a swimsuit.
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and, if you’re going to be swimming there, you probably want all the layers you can get. In the spring you literally have to bundle up to get in the water at the beach.
It’s amazing how much warmth even a low-tech shirt can provide while you’re in the water. Of course, you’ll have to pay for it when you get out but it’s worth it to me at least.
The 3 Best Swim Shirts For Fat Guys
My original goal was to find 5 swim shirts to recommend but, when I figured out that all swim shirts and very similar and either fit into an acceptable or unacceptable group I figured that 5 was overkill.
Plus I didn’t want to buy 5 shirts.
So I settled for 3 shirts that I feel like cover the gammut well. These are all quick drying, availalbe in tons of sizes, well priced, and have lots of color options. What more could you ask for?
Since I don’t actually swim much I only ended up buying two of these, the first and last. The first two are so similar (and have such excellent reviews) that I didn’t feel the need to buy both and included them both only so you’ll have more options.
1. Kanu Surf UPF 50+ Swim Shirt – Best Swim For For Fat Guys (Up To 6XL)
This swim shirt felt like that most natural first choice. Tens of thousands of them have been sold on Amazon and it maintains excellent ratings.
I did end up buying this shirt (in black/gray) and have no complaints about it. At this price point I didn’t really expect luxury or miracles but it does it’s job.
It’s quick-drying, protects me from sun (UPF 50+), and protects everyone else at the pool from my blindingly white belly.
If you need a basic options that is availalbe in large sizes (up to 5X) then this is a great option. My only knock is that it tends to run slightly short and isn’t available in tall sizes.
2. Harbor Bay Big and Tall Rash Guard – Best Big & Tall Swim Shirt
If the shirt from Kanu Shurt seemed great but you need a tall version of an already large size then this one is for you.
It’s a bit more of a premium offering and you’ll pay up a bit for it but it should do it’s job in every way and last for years to come.
Made of moisture wicking polyster this shirt will keep you dry while protecting you from the sun. All in sizes up to 5XLT or 6X in regular length.
3. H2O Sport Tech Long Sleeve – Best Long Sleeve Swim Shirt For Big Guys
If you’re looking for a very large fit that will cover as much exposed skin as possible, this long sleeved offering from H2O Sport Tech is the one.
It is available is sizes up to 6X in regular length and 4X in tall sizes but is cut so generously that the company includes a size chart (below) and encourages buyers to size down one or two sizes to ensure a proper fit.
The tightly woven 100% polyester fabric ensures long lasting protection from both water and sun for as long as you care to wear it.
The color options are basic but good for people like me who don’t need to shine like a beacon when swimming.
As far as long sleeve options go, this one is well-priced and worth picking up to have in your bag.
I did end up buying and testing this one and have nothing negative to say about it. I would recommend sizing down one size and only ordering the tall version if you’re actually tall (otherwise you’ll look like you’re wearing a dress). The sleeves are a good length and it’s holding up well after several beach days, a couple of washes, and even a day working in the yard. Get one, you won’t regret it!
Choosing The Right Swim Shirt – Things To Consider
Everytime my wife and I walk through the store we make the comment that we could probably “pull off” some random fashion if we were just skinny.
As a fat guy, however, I have to put in a bit more thought if I want to approach looking normal and respectable to most people. That might not be the way it should be but that’s how it is.
So I put some serious though into buying a swim shirt and these are the parameters I came up with the guide my decision.
I consider the material a swim shirt is made out of the be of utmost importance.
The type of material will influence how fast it will dry, whether it will chafe, if it will cling to your rolls when wet, and more.
Since I’m not a fabric expert the best I could do was read a bunch of reviews and buy a couple of shirts to test. I ended up buying two of the above shirts (numbers one and three) and can attest that both are made of fabric perfectly suited to my application.
If you’re a big guy that want a swim shirt, look for fabric that is labeled as “quick dry” or “wicking”. These are typically synthetic fibers as cotton and similar options stretch out, shrink or take way too long to dry.
If you carry a bunch of your weight in your belly, having it hang out defeats several reasons for wearing a swim shirt. I’ve seen fat guys who have just been laying on a beach chair by the side of the pool end up with wicked sunburns in a 3-4″ strip on the exposed skin between their swim suit and shirt.
If you have a belly, it’s probably time that you invest in big and tall shirts. Even if you’re short, the extra distance that a shirt has to travel around your belly means that you’ll profit from having a longer shirt.
I did my best to find shirts that were available in a wide range of sizes, including tall options for those of us who want them.
3. Proper Sleeve Length
The best sleeve length for a swim length is really dictated by two things: application and preference.
I personally prefer a short sleeve variety as it means that I don’t have sunburned shoulders but also don’t have the cumbersome feeling and heat of a long sleeve version.
However, there is an application for each and most of it will just come down to what you’re most comfortable with.
I know I probably made the simple act of choosing a swim shirt a bit overwhelming but, unfortunately, that’s just the way I operate. However, you can rest assured that I overthink things (and spend too much money) so that you don’t have to!
Any of the above swim shirts are a great options for fat guys as they are comfortable, affordable, and availalbe in an extended range of sizes. So if you’re suffering from analysis paralysis just scroll up and choose the first one in the list. It’s number one for a reason after all.