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 boardshorts 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 so-called ‘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.
In this board shorts story…
Features of the best men’s boardshorts
We could go into Swiss Army Knife comparisons and boring technical details, but let’s be honest. It’s pretty simple what makes the best boardshorts.
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 boardshorts 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 boardshort styles
From anti-establishment designs to world-title winning trunks, there are a lot of boardshorts 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 2022 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 dual-toned boardshorts. If you know how to throw an air reverse (or want people to think you do) you have to 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 boardshort of choice has anti-chafe technology.
Ready to buy yourself a new pair of boardies? These are the best board shorts available.
Price: From $99
Customer Reviews: “Fantastic! So light you’ll forget you’re wearing them. They stretch in all the right places and dry in a snap.”
Outerknown is a clothing company founded by Kelly Slater, arguably the world’s greatest ever surfer, so already you know its products are going to be built for some seriously slashing cut backs. It’s built on the ethos of being as sustainable as possible and to that end, 90 per cent of its fibres are organic, recycled or regenerated and all of its boardshorts are made using these recycled fibres.
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 boardshorts will last you forever, dry super fast and can even pack into their own back pocket.
Price: From $59
Customer Reviews: “The shorts have regular pockets which is a huge plus for me and make regular wear easy an easy and normal thing. Would recommend.”
Howler Brothers was founded by two friends, not brothers, in Austin, Texas. They practically became brothers, however, after meeting and realising they shared much of the same interests, thus becoming inseparable. The company’s products are created with “soul and passion”, with products that only provide purpose rolling off the production line.
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.
Price: From $98
Customer Reviews: “Perfect fit. Great feel. Can easily double as shorts/trunks, so they’re perfect for vacation going from beach to restaurants, etc.”
Faherty Brand is a lifestyle clothing company founded by twin brothers Alex and Mike, with the intention to create the best boardshorts. Their idea of the best or perfect boardshort is one that is somewhat shorter than most competitors and without “garish” designs and colours. In that regard, Faherty boardshorts can be worn to the beach and straight to the bar in the evening.
Case in point is the Classic 7in Boardshort. Made from a recycled poly-cotton elastane blend, these boardshorts 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.
Price: From $98
Customer Reviews: “Love the shorts – they really are perfect for a summer resort vacation!”
Premium athletic and commuter clothing specialist Rhone is also in the business of swim shorts and boardshorts. As expected, boardshorts are made to a high quality, exhibiting plenty of stretch and quick-drying properties that make them a stylish no-brainer for the beach.
These 7-inch boardshorts, 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.
Price: From $40
Customer Reviews: “Perfect fit, love the stretch & length.”
Hurley has been designing and developing surfwear since 1979. The company was responsible for distributing Billabong in the USA during the Australian company’s early years and it wasn’t until 1999 that Hurley International was born. Sports giant Nike acquired the brand in 2002 before letting it go in 2019, but it hasn’t stopped the brand from producing high-quality and well-designed surf apparel.
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.
Price: From $59
Customer Reviews: “Perfect fit, no binding and withstood the waves, wind and sand. I’ll buy again!”
Katin was initially founded in 1954 as a company making canvas covers for boats. The material soon became noticed by local surfers, and so founder Walter made some surf trunks from the same canvas, and they were a complete hit, becoming the first surf trunks introduced to California. The same commitment to quality and durability rings true today, making Katin a brand steeped in heritage and a genuine love for surf and its culture.
Price: From $60
Customer Reviews: “I love that you can get such a fresh eco surf product from REI. Fits great.”
Vissla was founded by Paul Naude, former head of US Operations at Billabong, in 2013. The company puts a heavy focus on producing products by sustainable means and promises to be one that “represents creative freedom, a forward-thinking philosophy, and a generation of creators and innovators”.
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.
Price: From $115
Saturdays NYC was founded in 2009 in SoHo, NYC by three friends and is one of those ‘cool’ brands. It produces all the usual menswear essentials, but ones of high-quality, with manufacturing split between countries such as Portugal and the US. The company has physical stores in the US, Japan and Australia and actually used to be called Saturdays Surf NYC, as boardshorts were one of its first major product lines.
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 a drainage hole keeps your valuable safe while the front drawcord keeps them hugged tightly to your body; hence, their inclusion on our best boardshorts list.
Price: From $46
Customer Reviews: “Perfect fit, dry fast, look and feel great.”
O’Neill has been a dominant force within the surfwear industry ever since it was founded in 1952, constantly developing new fabric technologies and manufacturing techniques to offer surfers some of the best clothing out there.
The Hyperfreak boardshorts claim to be some of the company’s best ever, offering the ‘goldilocks amount of stretch, quick-drying and anti-rash properties and best of all, they’re made from recycled materials making them eco-friendly.
Price: From $40
Customer Reviews: “These are amazing I love how fast they dry, they don’t bunch up in the water.”
Quiksilver was founded in Australia in 1969 but has since moved its headquarters to Huntington Beach, California. The company is regarded as one of the largest surfwear and board-related sports companies in the world, with it being a prominent favourite of snowboarders, too.
The Highline Kaimana 20″ boardshorts use a recycled Repreve 4-way stretch fabric made from plastic bottles and benefits from a DryFlight water-repellent coating that helps 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.
Price: From $40
Customer Reviews: “Great pair of summer shorts. Good stretch and durability.”
Lira could be a brand you’ve not come across before. Being relatively young, having only been founded in 2007, the Southern Californian label has made it its mission to “bridge the gap between streetwear and action sports”. By this, the company means it wants to take the conventional action sports apparel and inject it with a bit of creative flair, taking inspiration from a community of athletes, musicians, photographers, artists and designers.
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.
Price: From $49
Customer Reviews: “Great fit. Great fabric. Durable fabric and stitching. A winner.”
Volcom started life in 1991 after two friends went snowboarding in Tahoe, USA and decided to start a clothing line for women. The company expanded its offerings to include guys too, and then even further to design clothing and accessories for other boardshorts. Volcom is currently a sponsor of a long list of surfers, skateboarders and snowboarders.
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.
Price: From $68
Customer Reviews: “The right material, the right length and fits perfectly. Another quality product from Vuori!”
Vuori makes premium performance apparel inspired by the active Coastal California lifestyle; an integration of fitness, surf, sport, and art. Breaking down the boundaries of traditional activewear, Vuori’s performance apparel is built to move in but styled for life.
Vuori has a huge range of men’s boardshorts that are designed for comfort and performance both in and out of the water. Available in a wide array of colours and patterns, if you’re looking for cool boardshorts that’ll last you much more than just one summer, Vuori is the brand for you.
Price: From $58
Customer Reviews: “These shorts are just super versatile, from hiking to swimming to all-around warm weather chillin’.”
Prana – styled ‘prAna’ – is a Californian-based clothing brand that started life in 1992. The company originally set out to revolutionise clothing designed for yoga and climbing, employing sustainable methods in the process and has since expanded into other areas, including surfwear. It’s now owned by Colombia Sportswear.
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.
Price: From $158
Customer Reviews: “Fantastic fit, flared hems to accommodate knee pads, lightweight material.”
Mission Workshop is a San Francisco-based company committed to designing and developing a complete range of durable, waterproof apparel and accessories. It started life producing bags, with its original model still going strong today, and all products are designed and manufactured in the US.
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.
Price: From $50
Customer Reviews: “Perfect length, comfortable and great color. Very happy with the trunks and the price.”
Billabong is a brand synonymous with surfing culture. Hailing from Burleigh Heads, Queensland, its founder Gordon Merchant managed to achieve mainstream success through various marketing campaigns and sponsorship deals, backed up by his triple-stitching manufacturing process used in early pairs of boardshorts. They became popular with surfers and quickly found a home across the whole of Australia.
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.
Price: From $60
Customer Reviews: “Nice fit, look and feel. Easy to move around in. Love the fact it has a side pocket! After a surf dries fast. Overall great buy!”
RVCA – pronounced ‘roo-ka’ – is a Californian surf label that has been producing all-things surf apparel since 1999. The V (instead of a U) and A (which usually has no crossbar) in the logo have been chosen deliberately to represent the two chevrons and “The Balance Of Opposites” ethos. While the company is best known for its surfwear, it also has prominence in skateboard, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and MMA industries, and is also associated with street graffiti culture.
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, making them some of the best boardshorts on the market.
Price: From $79
Customer Reviews: “All purpose shorts for sport activities and causal wear good fit and great fabric.”
Bonobos was born because founders, Andy Dunn & Brian Spaly, couldn’t find men’s pants that fit (they were either too tight or too boxy) and wanted to fix this common problem men face while shopping.
They fixed it with their not-so-secret secret: all Bonobos’ pants have a curved waistband that conforms to the natural shape of men’s waists. Bonobos then expanded into producing awesome shirts, suits, swimwear; you name a piece of men’s clothing, they do it!
Bonobos have a huge collection of boardshorts that come in multiple colours and prints. High-performing, these boardshorts will enhance your swimming experience while also making you look incredibly cool and stylish.
Price: From $68
Customer Reviews: “Excellent quality. Superior lining and fabric. Would definitely purchase again.”
American clothing brand Fair Harbor specialises in shorts for land and water, with many pairs being suitable for wear in both instances. As with its incredibly comfortable swim shorts, Fair Harbor’s boardshorts are made from recycled plastic bottles and come in both 8-inch and 9-inch inseam variants, with water-repellent layers, 4-way stretch and seamless fly closures. They don’t feature the super comfortable lining of the swim shorts, but as any surfer knows, commando is the only way to go.
Price: From $59
Customer Reviews: “Surfing, swimming, skating, chillin – these are simply the best board shorts. They fit perfectly, look great, and feel ultra-comfortable.”
While Patagonia may be associated with outdoor hiking gear, it also has its fingers in the surf apparel pie. Like with its outdoor gear, surf clothing also utilises recycled materials and other sustainable, eco-friendly production methods which only boost its B-Corporation credentials.
The Stretch Hydropeak boardshorts 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.