Looking for rashguards, dive skins, and under wetsuit garments and the endless options can be very overwhelming. Do you want lycra, spandex, nylon, polyester, neoprene? Are you looking for a top, bottom, shorty, or full body suit style? There are advantages and disadvantages to the materials used and the coverage style of the rashguard or dive skin you choose. But if you are looking for the most versatile, warmest rash guard, dive skin or exposure suit on the market, then look no further than Sharkskin Chillproof or Lavacore, 3 layer composite thermal exposure protection garments.
So, which is the best exposure suit in the Sharkskin vs Lavacore showdown? Our mission here is to look at both options to enlighten you on Sharkskin vs. Lavacore, and hopefully, enable you to choose what you believe is the right option for you.
What is Sharkskin Chillproof?
Sharkskin Chillproof offers protection from cold, sun, and marine allergens all while being neutrally buoyant, antimicrobial, odor and itch resistant. It can be a stand alone replacement suit for warm water activities, or a warming layer under a traditional neoprene wetsuit.
Sharkskin Chillproof is a watersport specific, windproof, 3 layer composite thermal suit. It has an equivalent thermal property of a 3mm neoprene wetsuit that was developed for aquatic adventures. The base layer that touches the skin is hollow fiber fleece and has water wicking properties that wisk water and sweat away, accelerating the body drying process. The middle technical layer is both windproof and breathable, keeping the windchill to a minimum while regulating body temperature. The outer layer is a nylon/lycra blend that makes the whole suit abrasion resistance, as well as giving the fabric a 4 way stretch. The outer layer is also UV resistant and has a durable water repellent finish that provides a protective shell that sheds water from the suit.
- Should fit snug, but not too tight
- Sharkskin chill proof is an aquatic specific, windproof 3-layer composite material that has been developed for water sports athletes
- It has a soft Neoprene neck Seal to help keep wind, water, spray and waves from entering
- Thumb tabs assist when pulling a wetsuit on over the top
What is Lavacore?
Constructed and engineered for watersports, Lavacore is a technically advanced material with fantastic thermal control and outstanding comfort. Versatility is it’s strong point, warm enough as a stand alone exposure protection garment with thermal and neutral buoyancy properties while flexible enough to wear under a neoprene wetsuit for additional warmth and insulation. Lavacore allows extreme flexibility by using non constrictive materials while regulating the body's core temperature.
Lavacore has 3 layers of fabric, the base layer: Merino Laminate, the middle layer: Polytherm Tri-Laminate and the outer layer: Lavaskin. The base layer, Merino Laminate, is a fleece fabric that is antibacterial, odor resistant, moisture wicking, and extremely soft. Merino fleece keeps the body warm above and below the water surface. The middle layer, Polytherm Tri-Laminate (a Lavacore exclusive fabric), provides windproof and breathable characteristics that are anti-windchill and draw moisture away from the body on the surface, ensuring heat retention in cool conditions. The outer layer, Lavaskin, is a flexible thermal material designed for sun protection, performance and comfort. The flexible outer layer protects the body and exposure suit from abrasions, UV rays (UPF 50+) and streamlines quick drying through fast water run-off.
- Flexible, durable and water repellant/resistant outer layer. Windproof and breathable middle layer
- Warm, moisture-wicking, anti-bacterial inner fleece layer. Thumb Loops
- Extended material on back to keep shirt from riding up. Full gusset incorporated into the underarm
- Lightweight and 4-way stretch. Neutrally buoyant
- All seams are overlapped during flatlock sewing. UPF 50+ protection
Defining fit is about as challenging as defining “How long is string?”, well, it depends on the person, or the string! With as many body types as there are people in the world, how well a garment “fits” is very subjective. With that in mind, we have done our best to give you the most important information so you can make the right decision on what is a “good” fit for you.
Sharkskin Chillproof and Lavacore are by design a tight fit (think running tights, or spandex). This tight fit is what facilitates the wicking and drying process, by allowing very little water between the fleece inner lining and your body the wicking feature is streamlined. The tight fit also helps when using the garments under a traditional neoprene wetsuit. Unfortunately, a tight fit to one person, may be discomfort to another. Some of our testers found both the Sharkskin Chillproof and the Lavacore ran small, opting for one size bigger than they typically wear, while others found the sizing to be similar to their typical size. After some discussion, all agreed that the sizing was fairly consistent, but the tightness of fit the individual person was comfortable with was what really varied between testers. We recommend that if you are comfortable with tight fitting clothing, ordering your traditional size would be appropriate, however, if you do not like tight fitting clothing, you may want to order 1 size larger than you traditionally do, keeping in mind the effectiveness of the wicking and warmth features may be negatively affected.
Sharkskin Chillproof comes in both Mens and Womens sizes. The women testers noted that the bust area had excess material for most women's body types. Sharkskin comes in many different coverages, such as: vests, long and short sleeve tops, hooded tops, shorts, pant bottoms and full body suits.
Lavacore also comes in both Mens and Womens sizes. Coverages include: vests, long and short sleeve tops, hooded tops, unisex shorts, unisex pant bottoms, shorty (women only) and full body suits (front and back zip).
Performance is where the Sharkskin vs Lavacore match up goes into overtime! Both exposure protection suits just perform, and perform well. As stand alone garments, these suits are equivalent to a 2 to 3 millimeter neoprene wetsuit. But they are so much more than a wetsuit. Sharkskin Chillproof and Lavacore, unlike wetsuits, are breathable, making them comfortable in the hottest of weather. They are windproof, so the windchill on a boat ride back from an epic dive is no problem. They wick water and sweat away from the body, so once out of the water these garments go to work on drying the skin, keeping the body warmer in colder weather. Best of all, Sharkskin and Lavacore give you a 2mm to 3mm equivalent wetsuit that can be worn under a 7mm wetsuit, giving you 3 different options for 3 different water temperature environments.
The only difference in performance our testers could find was the amount of time it takes for the Sharkskin Chillproof and Lavacore to dry. The Sharkskin fleece will dry completely in under 12 hours. The Lavacore on the other hand took much longer than 12 hours to dry. If you do not typically need your exposure suit for two days or more in a row, this will not be a problem. However, if you do string together multiple days in a row of water activities, you will be starting the day in a damp Lavacore garment.
Materials and Build Quality
Sharkskin Chillproof and Lavacore are both made from a 3 layer material. The outer layer is a tough, water shedding and stretchable protection. The middle layer is windproof and breathable, while the inner layer is a moisture wicking material made of fleece. All seems are overlapped, flatlock stitching for stretch and comfort. The overall build quality of the two suits is fantastic. Some customers report 3+ years of use and counting, with the suits looking like they did the day they were new!
Washing and Care Instructions
How many years of service you get out of your Sharkskin or Lavacore will have more to do with how well you care for them. Below is the washing and care instructions for both exposure suits.
Sharkskin Chillproof recommend the following care instruction to get the optimum performance out of your exposure garument:
-Hand wash in cold water-Line dry-Do not bleach-Do not iron-Do not dry clean-Wash after use to remove residual chlorine or salt-Keep out of the sun when not in use-Wetsuit Wash is recommended
Lavacore recommends a few simple tips that will ensure that your garment will provide many years of use:-Care should be taken when donning and doffing your garment. Be careful not to unduly snag or stress your garment, it should easily slide on and off.-Do not machine wash.-Hand wash in cool water after each use.-Do not tumble dry.-Avoid contact with Velcro.-To dry, hang your garment inside out, on a padded plastic or wooden hanger and away from direct sunlight.-Avoid storing Lavacore product folded, instead store on a padded hanger or flat.-Zippers and sliders should be thoroughly cleaned after each use. It is advisable to lubricate regularly with a suitable wax.
The Sharkskin Chillproof and Lavacore both come with a 1 year warranty on materials and workmanship. Both exclude such wear and tear as fading and degeneration as a result of excessive exposure to chlorine or sunlight.
The incredible performance and versatility of the Sharkskin Chillproof and Lavacore do come at a price. If you are looking for a simple rashguard or dive skin, you may get some sticker shock. If you are looking for something far more, something that will give you a 3 temperature range exposure suit, for the price of 1 (when paired with a wetsuit), then these are the garments for you! Across the different coverage options, Lavacore tends to be 20% to 30% cheaper than the equivalent Sharkskin Chillproof suit, not a small difference for the more price sensitive people among the Aquazealot team.
So who wins in the Sharkskin vs Lavacore showdown? Well...it depends! You really cannot go wrong with either Sharkskin Chillproof or Lavacore. They both perform equally well doing what they were designed to do. The Sharkskin Chillproof has the advantage when it comes to drying time, but Lavacore has the advantage on price. Ultimately, for most testers, their preference came down to personal fit, whether they needed a exposure suit that would dry overnight and price. No matter which side you end up on in the Sharkskin vs Lavacore showdown, you will be happy knowing you have the most versatile, high performing rashguard, dive skin or exposure protection suit on the market today!