Surf trunks have come a long way since the early days of classic nylon designs, which is nice to see considering the influx of high-performance fabrics permeating through other athletic apparel. We’re just happy to see that surfing – and board shorts in particular – haven’t fallen by the wayside over the course of this expedited progression. Best of all, with summer now in full swing, we now have no excuse to not to get out and enjoy the fruits of what was surely a painstaking R&D process for these key brands during the colder winter months.
The end result? High-performance 4-way stretch fabric, stitchless seams, and even board shorts built from recycled plastic bottles as a nod to the environment. Needless to say, there’s a myriad of options out there to choose from before hitting your local lineup. These 12 though, in our humble opinion, are the best the industry has to offer this summer. Nothing too flashy or gimmicky. Just quality made board shorts built with purpose and a nod to classic iconic styling.
Quiksilver Highline Division Board Shorts
Nothing like a little environmentally-friendly initiatives to pair with a pair of high-performance board shorts this summer. Take the Quiksilver Highline Divisions for example. Each pair features their REPREVE traceable recycled 4-way stretch, a DryFlight water repellent hydrophobic coating, neo fly closure, and a key bungee cord inside the pocket for good measure.
TCSS Couch Surfer
Built for just that – from the lounge to the lineup – the Couch Surfer Board Short boasts a warm tropical design in conjunction with a stretch cotton canvas and fixed waist while finished with a soft wash to enhance comfort. It also doesn’t hurt that Aussie mag Stab named them the best board short of 2017.
Roark Revival Savage Hineapple
One of the key litmus tests for quality board shorts is freedom of movement and quick-drying capabilities. Luckily, the Savage Hineapple from Roark has them in spades. Here, each board short features a lightweight 4-way stretch fabric construction, specially designed seam angles to reduce chafing, and zipper pocket with an internal key loop to keep things safe without getting in the way of your fins-out turns.
Vissla Tripper Retro
Complete with a retro fit and bright colorway, Vissla is throwing it way back with their Tripper board short. Combine that aesthetic with a 4-way stretch composition made with coconut and upcycled polyester and you have a pair of boardies built for multiples warm-water tropical sessions per day without worry. Additional features include a water-repellent finish, a tethered waistband, and triple needle stitching.
Mollusk Notched Trunks
Built to cruise, the Notched Trunks are meant to help you fly right and with ease atop those lazy summer swells. In addition to a pared-down yet detailed design, each pair from Mollusks feature a sporty above-the-knee fit with a velcro fly and convenient tie at the waistband. Additionally, a hidden key loop keeps the car safe during the session so you can enjoy some peace of mind this summer.
A foolish oversight would be to not include a pair of Patagonia board shorts in this roundup. Seeing how the outdoor powerhouse covers all the bases, it’s no surprise their surf trunks are anything but high quality. Proof can be found in their quick-drying nylon construction with a DWR finish, a mid-length design, and a hip pocket with a draining mesh pocket bag.
Seager Co Charlie Trunks
Built with strong and soft satin microfiber, the Charlie Trunks are both comfortable yet durable for all manner of use and abuse this summer. Additionally, you’ll find a classically-styled above the knee 17.5″ outseam, a Velcro back pocket complete with a key ring, fly gusset and six drawstring loops for enhanced reliability in larger surf.
Almond Sportsmen Trunks
Building off their already popular Lumberjack Trunk silhouette, Almond went the extra mile and incorporated a lightweight quick-drying two-way stretch polyester-spandex blend into the mix. Meaning, what results here is a pair of surf trunks built to last and with the mobility and performance needed for long summer sessions on the log.
Saturdays Ennis Board Shorts
In hopes of alluding to that timeless trunk design, the two-toned Ennis board shorts from Saturdays combines both retro styling with modern construction for a unique take on classic fitting boardies. Each pair also comes standard with a dual-layer nylon construction, snap-down back pocket, and an adjustable drawcord for added comfort around the waist.
Taylor Stitch Board Shorts
Extending their renowned and respected attention to detail and styling into the swimwear arena, Taylor Stitch offers up these classically-styled yet performance-friendly board shorts. Each pair is built from recycled polyester, spandex for enhanced mobility, and boasts a 4-way stretch with DWR finish to round things off. Additional features include a single hidden side zip rear pocket, fixed waistband complete with a natural drawcord, and antique brass eyelets.
Birdwell 311 Patriot Board Shorts
As a legacy USA-made brand based in Santa Ana, Calif. Birdwell has stuck to their guns over the years in both the construction and style of their iconic board shorts. It’s something we can wholeheartedly respect and honesty dig about the brand. This small iteration, paying tribute to patriotic summer holidays, certainly caught our eye. It also doesn’t hurt that each piece also features a SurfNyl™ exterior and lining for both comfort and strength, and triple-stitched seams for maximum durability.
Outerknown Apex Trunk
Designed and tested in part by none other than Kelly Slater himself, Outerknown’s all-new Apex Trunk is built from a recycled polyester made by transforming plastic bottles into a premium polyester fiber. Not to mention the maximum mobility, laser cut details and welded back pocket that comes standard with each pair as well. Best of all, each Apex Trunk features bonded, stitch-free seams to reduce chafing; something we can all appreciate after a long session.
Nixon's Base Tide Pro: Know When to Go
Complete with 550 pre-programmed beach locations with tide, sunrise and sunset times, you’ll never be in the dark when your local spot turns on thanks to Nixon’s Base Tide Pro. It’s all captured within a 42mm 100-meter TR90 case with a stainless case back, 10 ATM water-resistant pushers, and fits snuggly around the wrist thanks to an injection molded silicone band with a double-locking looper.