Though your surfing may stink, there’s no excuse for looking shabby between the car park and the water. And while the right pair of board shorts won’t improve your wobbly cutback, the wrong pair will bring unnecessary attention to it.
So frame them if you must, but it’s time to remove your 1999 below-knee board shorts from wardrobe circulation (same goes for the ‘high performance’ fluro monstrosities you were rocking in 2015). Sorry: the market’s moved on, man.
Fortunately, thanks to a welcome changing of the surf brand guard, you can now get all the ‘performance’, stretch, comfort and durability you could ask for, hidden away in a stylish package, if you know where to look. And as summer rolls around, there has never been a better time.
What Makes A Good Board Short
We could go into Swiss Army Knife comparisons and boring technical details, but let’s be honest. It’s pretty simple what makes a good pair of board shorts.
You want a comfortable, flexible, durable and quick-drying companion that makes you feel cool both in and out of the water.
Fortunately for you, in this selection of board shorts we’ve taken care of all that, so all you have to do is pick a pair you think looks cool (you could practically shut your eyes and point to any).
On Trend Styles
From anti-establishment designs to world-title winning trunks, there are a lot of board short designs tickling surfing trendsetters’ thighs at the moment.
Rocked by Kelly Slater and classy gents who want it all – comfort, style, environmental karma and high-performance capabilities – brands like Outerknown and Patagonia are the eco warrior’s board short of choice.
Subtle High Performance
While the likes of Hurley have previously been owned by sportswear giant Nike, and took incredible advantage of the company’s fabric technologies in the process, most pairs of boardshorts these days will offer levels of performance unrivalled by other sports shorts.
Flashy High Performance
Popular with Italo Ferreira and Mason Ho, colourful high-performance board shorts from the likes of Rip Curl, Billabong and O’NeiLl are for the man who believes himself capable of surfing low tide rock piles, and who doesn’t take himself too seriously.
From Need Essentials’ dark navy offerings to Banks Journal’s jaundice-coloured swag, muted colours are to 2020 what three-quarter-leg length monstrosities were to the early 2000’s. Popular with chain-smoking undergrads and intrepid adventurers alike.
Hurley, Rip Curl, Quicksilver, even Outerknown are now doing it. If you know how to throw an air reverse (or want people to think you do) you have at least 3 pairs of these in your wardrobe.
If you’re a city slicker too cool to associate with surf brands (but who still wants to be able to perform when it’s pumping) check out Vissla’s understated offerings.
If you like Alex Knost, Costa Rica and slow-moving point breaks have a squiz at RVCA’s top models.
If you are a man of creature comfort (and 8-hour shred sessions): you would do well to make sure your board short of choice has anti-chafe technology.
Men’s Board Shorts FAQ
You do not wear underwear with board shorts with built-in liners. These liners will fit snug just like briefs and provide added support. For shorts without liners, you can wear compression shorts or tight swimwear or regular underwear if you want. Most board shorts and swim trunks are made of polyester microfiber. This fabric is quick -drying and soft to the touch, plus it does not absorb water. Your board shorts must be loose-fitting, but not baggy. They should be tight enough to stay up even without a drawstring so you will not have to worry about them floating away when you swim or dive.
Are board shorts meant to be worn with underwear?
What fabric is used for board shorts?
How tight should board shorts fit?
You do not wear underwear with board shorts with built-in liners. These liners will fit snug just like briefs and provide added support. For shorts without liners, you can wear compression shorts or tight swimwear or regular underwear if you want.
Most board shorts and swim trunks are made of polyester microfiber. This fabric is quick -drying and soft to the touch, plus it does not absorb water.
Your board shorts must be loose-fitting, but not baggy. They should be tight enough to stay up even without a drawstring so you will not have to worry about them floating away when you swim or dive.
The Apex trunks may be a little more on the expensive side, but when Kelly wears them himself, you know they're going to be worth every cent. Completely recycled and benefitting from an ultralight 4-way stretch polyester, these board shorts will last you forever, dry super fast and can even pack into their own back pocket.
These 7-inch board shorts, for example, have a waistband that won't let you down (or fall down), and water-flow pockets to help you move through the waves like a fish.
The Ennis Boardshort employs a two-tone colour design (there are four variations) easily making them an everyday pair of summer shorts that can double up for swimming when you want to take a dip. A buttoned pocket on the rear with drainage hole keeps your valuable safe while the front drawcord keeps them hugged tightly to your body.
Case in point is the Classic 7in Boardshort. Made from a recycled poly-cotton elastane blend, they provide a good amount of stretch, without ever being too loose. They sport a built-in super-soft mesh lining, a DWR coating for quick-drying, hidden back pockets and two side pockets with water drainage and even have a fresh guard treatment to help prevent odour build up.
The Loch Short isn’t reserved solely for use in the water, as its lightweight military-spec and water-repellant fabric provides a full range of motion, so it can have its uses within other sports too. You’re not confined to just one pocket either, as The Loch receives two side pockets and four chino-style pockets, letting you carry more when on the move.
The One & Only Volley 17″ boardshorts are versatile enough to be at home in the water and to double up as a regular pair of walk shorts when strolling around a beachside town. Serving up a sublime fit and being available in a variety of colours, they're the perfect casual outfit piece.
The Commander 18" trunk sit at the more premium end of RVCA's offerings, but in return you get recycled materials, welded waistband, front and back rises for increased strength and durability, stretch where you need it, a hidden zipped pocket and they're remarkably lightweight.
The Sundays Pro boardshorts are a midlength short at 19″, and is one of the more popular pairs within Billabong’s lineup. They’re available in a range of colours and designs and being part of the company’s ‘Pro’ family of products, are designed to offer optimum performance (by way of minimal seams). A micro-repellant coating helps to wick away sweat from your skin and to help them dry quicker.
The Hyperfreak board shorts claim to be some of the company's best ever, offering the 'goldiloccks' amount of stretch, quick-drying and anti-rash properties and best of all, they're made from recycled materials making them eco-friendly.
The Stretch Hydropeak are made from a lightweight material with a DWR coating to keep you nimble on your feet and to prevent them from soaking up water to weigh you down. A curved waistband design lets them contour to the body’s natural curves, and a rear pocket has an integrated key hook and zipper pull, making it easier to use.
The Highline Kaimana 20" board shorts use a recycled Repreve 4-way stretch fabric made from plastic bottles and benefits from a DryFlight water-repellent coating that help them dry in the blink of an eye. A generous elasticated drawcord, zip-up pocket and a cord to tie your keys to, and you've got a perfect pair of boardies.
The Lido Solid Mod 20″ boardshorts may look simplistic, but that’s exactly the look the company wanted, and to put performance above all else. The four-way stretch material is made using Repreve recycled fibres, and Volcom’s own Cinch Fly technology makes an appearance, providing an effective closure without velcro or a zipper. A 20″ length keeps you fully protected and DWR coating allows for quick drying.
The Fackler boardshorts embody that philosophy, combining a midlength 19″ outseam with stretch material for performance, alongside an all-over leaf print design to distance themselves from the numerous pairs of single-coloured shorts available on the market.
This pair of Buchannon boardshorts rock a custom-design print and are made from a quick-drying fabric that's also stretchy, ensuring they remain comfortable all day long. Pockets all around and no mesh-lining mean your essentials can be kept close and your 'essentials' won't succumb to chafing.
The Fenton boardshorts are made using a recycled polyester blend for its lightweight properties. They also feature a DWR coating for quick-drying and moisture-wicking, while a wide waistband design has closure tabs to help you keep them secure. A knee-length design provides full coverage when out on your board and a pocket with interior key loop keeps your valuable safe.
The Del Mar boardshorts are made from an upcycled polyester and sport a tethered waistband design and four-way stretch for optimum performance when throwing yourself into a barrel. A 20″ length will keep your legs covered while the all-over zig-zag print design offers a refreshing design.