Ultimate Review of the Best Boardshorts in 2021

Ultimate Review of the Best Boardshorts

Last weekend on my usual strolls in my neighborhood, I noticed this lady with a pair of boardshorts.

We live in Brooklyn, and with no beach in sight, it was a little surprising.

But I’ve to be honest with you guys; I really admired the swim shorts. Mid-length and printed, these board shorts looked surprisingly and effortlessly chic, especially with the matched flowing blouse and chunky slide sandals.

It was the perfect beach-to-street look that I wanted badly to add to my summer outfit collection.

While it may have been an unexpected satirical choice in our environment, it made perfect sense.

See, there’s nothing worse than donning thick fabrics or tight silhouettes on sticky days.

But on the other hand, the laid-back aura, loose modern fit, and water-wicking fabrics for the best boardshorts make them appealing, whether you’re heading for a swim or simply a leisure walk.

This is not to mention, a handful of fashion brands have adopted a surf’s-up style on their boardshorts.

For me, at least, one of the greatest benefits of adding board shorts into your summer style is the endless amount of fun prints and shades.

From prints, bright to retro-inspired patterns, you can never run out of options or inspirations with board shorts.

But with a variety of options to pick from, it can be nerve-racking to choose the best option.

Fortunately, we’ve prepared a handy guide for you; whether you’re headed to the beach or simply need a short for lounging around, here’re some of our favorite boardshorts in the market.

Table of Contents

Quick Comparison Table!

O’Neill Men’s Hyperfreak Boardshort

4.8

4.8/5
Rip Curl Mirage Core Boardshort

4.6

4.6/5
Quiksilver Highline Kaimana Boardshorts

4.5

4.5/5
Howler Brothers Buchannon Boardshort

4.3

4.3/5
Mollusk Scallop Swim Trunks

4.0

4/5
Outerknown Apex Trunk by Kelly Slater

4.0

4/5
RVCA Men’s Commander 18 Trunks

4.0

4/5

The Best Board Shorts For The Money

tRVCA Men's Commander 18 Trunks

#1 O'Neill Men's Hyperfreak Boardshort -Editor's Choice (Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles)

4.7/5
4.2/5
4.8/5

O’Neil has been a dominant force in the surfwear industry since it was founded in 1952, constantly developing new and exciting merchandise.

The Hydro version of their Hyperfreak Boardshorts claims to be some of O’Neill’s best selling swim shorts, offering ‘goldilocks’ amounts of stretch, anti-rash properties, and beast of all, utilizing recycled materials perfect for the eco-conscious users.

These pairs of red shorts are of the same quality as you’d expect from any O’Neil’s product line, save that most of the company’s shorts use zip-up compartments with a little lanyard for your car keys. The O’Neill Hyperfreak lacks this important feature, so beware of using the pocket for anything. I’ve lost my wallet because of it.

Besides that, the Hyperfreak is incredible to wear.

O’Neill Hyperfreak Hydro utilizes a flat, no-tie front, using a closure system that you’ll only find in the O’Neils. That means the board shorts fit pretty well and are very forgiving in just about any movement you can imagine. Plus, it means nothing gets in your way when paddling.

For me, at least, I can effortlessly practice yoga in these, and I don’t have to worry about the seams giving way. Ultra-comfortable and almost possible to forget that you’re wearing shorts.

A welded construction is crucial to the boardshorts construction, ensuring you don’t experience chafing or rubbing on your thighs. Simply put, the Hyperfreak is fun and comfortable.

Pros

Cons

#2 Rip Curl Mirage Core Boardshort – Most Versatile Board Short

4.6/5
4.3/5
4.6/5

The Mirage Core gives wearers plenty of choices when it comes to product selection. This line is available in different designs, and you can also choose from solid uniform colors and patterns with contrasting waistbands.

However, my greatest draw to the Rip Curl Board Short is they just have a simple drawstring and no additional Velcro anywhere. It’s a win in my books since Velcro is usually the first  to deteriorate; it’s inconvenient to put on and just sucks. I don’t have to grapple with tightening or precise fit with the Mirage Core.

The Rip Curl has a snug fit and looks great on most surfers. At 20″ length, they sit at about the top of the knee cap, so I would say they’re a bit shorter than most board shorts in our bundle. But this is nice, especially if you prefer the shorter design when wake surfing or swimming.

Plus, they’re a little bit on the slimmer side as not super baggy—a win for surfers with skinny legs.

Meanwhile, the high polyester content gives more durability that will survive the roughest sands and waves. Besides durability, the material is thick enough not to be see-through when wet. Yet, it retains the properties of thin material and has a good amount of stretch, making the shorts not feel tight or constricting at all.

These pairs of shorts also have a waterproof zipper pocket on the right side that holds your accessories secure on the back of the thigh. The pocket is a mesh enclosure and has an elastic cord inside for attaching things.

Overall, the Mirage Boardshort is a nice swim short and one that will allow you to enjoy your beach day, regardless of what you plan to perform.

Pros

Cons

#3 Quiksilver Highline Kaimana Boardshorts - Premium Board Short

4.4/5
4.5/5
4.5/5

Quiksilver is a clothing company founded in Australia in 1969 but has since moved to Huntington Beach, California.

It’s regarded as among the pioneers of board-related sports and one of the premium surf brands.

One of Quiksilver’s selling board shorts is the Quiksilver Highline Kaimana Boardshorts. The Kaimana pair comes with a tech grip, making them suitable for casual-street use and beach use for the modern man.

These shorts use a recycled Repreve four-way stretch fabric made from recycled plastic bottles and benefit from a DryFlight water-repellent coating that helps wearers stay dry after a dip in the water.

The convenient water-draining compartments also help keep your accessories safe, while the bungee loop hangs your keys safely.

Kaimana’s slim fit around the legs and is true to size around the waist.

The construction seems good quality and durable too. For example, the material is super lightweight and stretchy.

Overall, users are happy with the Quiksilver Highline purchase but just wishing it was a little less expensive. Keep in mind you get what you pay for.

Pros

Cons

#4 Howler Brothers Buchannon Boardshort - Best Stretchable Swim Short

4.3/5
4.5/5
4.3/5

Howler Brothers was founded by two friends, not brothers. However, the two friends practically became brothers after meeting and realizing they shared much of the same interest.

As with any true-family business, Howler’s products are created with “soul and passion,” designed to fulfill a purpose.

For example, this pair of Buchannon board shorts rock a custom-design print and utilizes quick-drying fabric, so you won’t have to stay wet for long after a dip in the water.

The fabric is also stretchable, and this ensures you remain comfortable all day long.

Buchannon pair also has compartments all-around, and without a mesh lining, so all your essentials are kept close and that they don’t suffer from chaffing.

Pros

Cons

#5 Mollusk Scallop Swim Trunks – Frills-Free Trunk

4.2/5
4.6/5
4/5

The Mollusk Scallop Trunk might lack the bells and whistles of other boardshorts on our list, but it doesn’t compromise on performance or comfort. Not at all!

Instead, they’re among our favorite shorts, and one thing we love about the Mollusk Trunk new pair is their versatility. Whether you’re lounging out on the beach or handling a swell, the Mollusk Scallop Trunks have your back.

They’re cut just above the knee with a classic 6.5″ inseam and a curved leg opening for optimal comfort. The trunks don’t restrict your movements in any way and might be perfect for swimmers or surfers.

A buttoned patch compartment offers a secure holding space for your accessories, while the interior loop keeps your keys and other valuables safe.

Meanwhile, the 65-63 cotton-nylon blend is lightweight, super soft, and stretchable for great wear.

What’s more? This pair features a conveniently pre-shrunk Velcro Closure and tie that will allow for more time surfing and less time sorting out the uncomfortable sandy wedgie.

Pros

Cons

#6 Outerknown Apex Trunk by Kelly Slater – Best for Performance

4.2/5
4.6/5
4/5

The Apex Trunks by Kelly Slater will do when nothing but a pair of truly performance-optimized board shorts is needed.

Developed and tested to the standard of 11x world surf champion Kelly Slater, the Outerknown Apex Trunks by Slater make for some of the most purpose-built trunks.

They’re the real deal, with every detail meticulously considered, from the two-way stretch fabric for ultra-comfort, stitch-free seams to eliminate chafe, and double-bonded reinforcement for added strength.

Combined, all these features add up to make a pair of board shorts optimized for performance, durability, and aesthetics in one sport-ready package.

And as icing on the cake, the Apex Trunk by Slater, as with all Outerknown’s offerings, are sustainable as they come as they utilize recycled material sewn to Fair Trade Standards.

Pros

Cons

#7 RVCA Men's Commander 18 Trunks – Best for Swimming

4.2/5
4.6/5
4/5

RVCA, pronounced as “roo-ka,” is a California-based surf label producing all-thing surf apparel since 1999.

But beyond surf apparel, the brand has also branched into other niches such as skateboarding, MMA and is also associated with street graffiti surf culture.

But today, we’ll look at one of its best-selling board shorts, the Commander 18” trunk.

It sits at the more premium end of RCVCA’s offerings, but in return, you get a host of awesome features.

For starters, it utilizes recycled materials, so you’re confident of not harming the environment.

A welded waistband eliminates chafing while allowing for precise fit and style, while the front and back rise for more strength and durability.

Meanwhile, the recycled polyester material stretches for a perfect fit, while the hidden zippered pouches provide enough room for storing your accessories.

Users can’t also get enough of how lightweight the Commander 18 Swim Shorts are.

Pros

Cons

Best Board Shorts Buying Guide

Best-Board-Shorts-Buying-Guide

There’re several factors to consider when purchasing boardshorts. After all, not every boardshort is for every man, and you don’t want to purchase a swim short that doesn’t match your tastes, needs, and body type.

But before we look at the things to consider when purchasing the best men’s board shorts, let’s see the benefits of having board shorts.

1)      Breathable material

Generally, the best board briefs are made from extremely breathable and moisture-wicking material and designed to absorb perspiration.

What this means is they’ll keep you cool during the long days at the beach or home during the sunny afternoons.

2)      Won’t Ride up

The second benefit of boardshorts is they’re less likely to ride up when performing intense movements such as wakeboarding.

This way, they help prevent skin irritation when spending long days in the water.

3)      Additional Length

The third benefit of board shorts is their extended length, which makes them ideal for sun protection.

Most of the board shorts cover your knee, some even falling just above it, so they’ll protect more of your skin from harmful UV rays.

Plus, their additional length makes them look more like shorts than swim shorts, allowing you to wear them straight from the beach to your restaurant or local store.

4)      Comfortable fit

The final benefit of board shorts is they don’t restrict leg movement as the mesh-lined swim shorts do.

Instead, they offer a comfortable fit and allow for a natural range of motion, whether in the water or sand.

Essential Factors to Consider When Selecting the Best Boardshorts

Purpose/ Activity

It’s always a good idea to consider the type of water activity when choosing boardshorts.

For example, if you plan to do some swimming or surfing, choose a short with a tighter fit for reduced drag.

On the other hand, if you simply need a board short for lounging around at home or in a restaurant, choose one without any technical features.

Also, consider how many leg movements you need and how long you plan to wear the shorts out of the water. Board shorts with a looser fabric can cause chafing when wet.

Body Type

You need to be honest about your body type, but this shouldn’t make you feel bad or prompt a crash diet.

It’s simply a method for developing realistic expectations when choosing a boardshort.

For example, consider a boardshort with a loose cut to help balance things out if you’ve a big belly. Avoid board shorts or any other type of trunks that dig into your midsection.

On the other hand, the shorter board shorts or swim briefs are ideal for men who have no qualms about showing off.

Board Short Fabric

Some of the common materials for board shorts are Lycra, polyester, spandex, and polyester blend.

Lycra and spandex stretch more than other fabrics and are ideal for racing and serious swimming competitions.

 Board shorts utilizing polyester tend to be more durable and chlorine-resistant. They’re also quick-drying and easy to launder. Plus, they’re soft and breathable.

Polyester blends, which combine polyester and another material, are lightweight, durable, and quick-drying.

Another popular fabric used on board shorts is nylon. It offers a smooth fit and is lightweight. In particular, the recycled nylon board shorts also don’t absorb moisture as other fabrics do.

Finally, it’s good to choose the four-way stretch fabric as they offer a more comfortable fit.

Board Short Fit

Fit is an important factor when selecting a boardshort.

In general:

  •         The waist should be tight enough so you can keep your trunks from sliding down without the need to use a drawstring.
  •         Like the waist, the fit of the thighs should also be tight, but not too tight. It shouldn’t also be so loose that there’s excess material showing.
  •         The length will depend on the boardshort style, but generally, the leg should end somewhere between two and four inches from your knee cap.
  •         Pay attention to the leg opening. If it’s too wide, your legs may look too wimpy or skinny- unless you’ve muscular things. You should look for a tighter fit, but not one that limits mobility.

Seams

Seams are crucial to a boardshorts performance.

They come in different forms, such as standard, welded, finished, taped, and a fused design.

Generally, the less seam protrudes from the shorts, the less material rubs against and chaffs your waterlogged thighs, crotch, and genitals.

Keep in mind seam types such as the high-end stitch-free welded seams are expensive. The flatter or welded the seams are, the more it costs to produce the garment.

Pockets

Originally, pockets were incorporated in board shorts so you could take your wax with you into the surf lineup.

Today, however, they have greatly evolved and can protrude or hide along the interior seams.

Most of the board shorts pouches close with either a waterproof zipper, Velcro fly, a button, or nothing.

The best board shorts compartments don’t protrude from the profile of the short of eliminating unnecessary drag.

It’s also a good idea to consider the pocket placement. For example, do you prefer a side or back pocket?

It’s important whether your pockets sit squarely on one buttock or off the side.

For example, back pockets stuffed with a bar of wax or car keys can be uncomfortable when sitting on your surfboard. We recommend shorts with side pockets.

Colors, patterns, style, etc.

The good news is boardshorts come in an array of sizes, colors, designs, and patterns.

You can never fail to find a design that matches your tastes and preferences.

Best Boardshorts Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What are boardshorts, and what are they used for?

A: Board shorts are quick-dry, water-resistant shorts that work well in the water and can be used for other leisure activities.

They are often used by surfers and swimmers, thanks to their versatility and functionality.

Q: What’s the difference between boardshorts and swim shorts?

A: Boardshort dry faster than swim shorts.

They also have a tie-up elastic waistband and functional pockets, while board shorts have elastic waistbands and mesh liners for support when swimming.

Of course, these definitions aren’t absolute and can be a bit blurry sometimes.

But the bottom line is both can be used for water use, such as swimming, and share many attributes, but boardshorts transition well into regular street use.

Q: What is typically worn under board shorts?

A: You don’t have to put on anything underneath your boardshorts.

However, some surfers prefer to have some extra protection and support.

For example, women don bikini bottoms, while some wear underwear, shorts, briefs, boxers, or a Speedo.

Q: How do I wash my boardshorts?

A: Nearly all the boardshorts on our list are machine washable with standard detergent and cool water.

However, some specific hand washes only, and so, you need to read the care instructions for the garment you buy.

Q: Can I swim in boardshorts?

A: Yes, boardshorts were designed with swimming in mind. They operate fine in water and dry quickly once you’re done swimming.

Wrap Up: Our Choice

Wrap Up Our Choice

Our review has some amazing options, but the Hyperfreak Boardshort takes the crown.

I choose this short as our editor’s choice because it has numerous features and benefits that support in and out of water use.

You’ll feel comfortable using the Hyperfreak Boardshort as surfing or wakeboarding short as it’s for lounging on the beach or for use at home.

The sustainable construction is a great draw, while the welded construction eliminates chafing or rubbing against the skin.

It also holds up pretty well; stretch is great and feels comfortable during the hot summer days.

While it lacks a lanyard for holding your keys, a side pocket makes it easy to hold most of your accessories.

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