If you’ve ever tried shopping for swim gear, you probably know that there is a lot of it out there. There are a ton of different kinds of swim shorts, board shorts, and swim trunks, and they all have subtle differences between them. With many garments, the differences simply come down to fashion sense. But swimwear serves a practical purpose, so the differences can actually, well, make a difference. If you only need swimwear for hanging out on the beach or taking a dip in a backyard pool, the details aren’t necessarily that important. But for surfers, picking the right swimwear can make a big difference.
Board shorts, as the name helpfully implies, are designed with surfboards in mind. They’re generally loose and hit at the knee. This allows a wide range of movement, and the longer length prevents irritation that can come from skin contacting the board. Even if you don’t surf, board shorts can be a good alternative to swim shorts, which are often very short.
1. O’NEILL Santa Cruz Printed Boardshorts
These shorts from beachwear mainstay O’Neill come in a variety of camo-inspired prints, like this knee-length gray option. They’re made from a durable polyester material that quickly dries, and the fabric is soft, keeping you comfortable.
Pros: Comfortable and soft fabric. Dries quickly.
Cons: No hand pockets.
2. Hurley Men’s 22-Inch Boardshort
Hurley is an enduring name in the beachwear industry. Their simple boardshorts come in a variety of solids like navy and gray, as well as statement colors like jade and cyan. They have a single cargo pocket and a fixed waistband with a drawstring, rather than an elastic waist.
Pros: Made from soft, recycled polyester fabric.
Cons: The most expensive option on our list.
3. Kanu Surf Men’s Barracuda Swim Trunks
These board shorts from Kanu are made from a quick-dry polyester, and they have four-way stretch for maximum comfort and ease of movement. Two outer cargo pockets make it easy to hold on to any essentials (at least the ones you don’t mind getting wet). Kanu’s board shorts come in classic solids and vibrant patterns.
Pros: Four-way stretch, two exterior pockets, two hand pockets, and one inner mesh pocket. Available in extended sizes, up to 4XL.
Cons: Some found that the inside mesh netting was too tight.