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The Best Men’s Board Shorts to Wear This Summer

Best Mens Board Shorts 00 Hero
Photo:Roark Chiller Boardshorts

Well, we may still have a few days left until spring has officially sprung its last shower, but, in many parts of the country, the heat of summer is already here. In other words, now is a prime time to be embracing your warm-weather wardrobe, casting off your kicks in favor of some flip-flops, and losing your shirt to fix that farmer’s tan. Assuming you happen to be near the coast, this also marks the beginning of prime beach season, a time in which board shorts will likely form the basis of your day-to-day attire.

As such, it’s critical that you buy the best pair of board shorts you can afford because the added coverage and protection they provide will make a world of difference in staving off sandy discomfort. What’s more, the best options on the market will also offer premium details like advanced performance fabrics, eco-friendly recycled constructions, and secure carry solutions to keep your keys safe while out in the water. Suffice it to say — board shorts have come a long way since the early days when they were little more than simple nylon trunks. The shorts we’ve picked for you here represent the sum of the garment’s development, options that we feel are fit to be called the best board shorts for men. So kick back, put your feet up, and take a look at our best men’s board shorts guide.

The Best Board Shorts Breakdown

What are board shorts for?

These rugged shorts are purpose-driven for surfing, along with other water sports, and are built tough with nylon or polyester. They should ideally be lightweight, quick-drying, and have stitch-free seams. A secure waist (often a string tie secured by velcro) and a four-way stretch are also important features, as you’ll want something you feel comfortable thrashing about in the water with. Since surfers want to avoid any extra weight or chance of chafing, mesh lining is generally not found in good board shorts (or at least board shorts meant for water sports). But since board shorts have become popular casual wear, especially in beach towns, it’s not as important to tick all these boxes if you’re wearing them casually.

The length matters

Because board shorts are meant to be more rugged and offer protection, the length is an important consideration. Most board shorts will be longer than trunks, often reaching past the knee, to keep your legs guarded. If you plan on using these shorts for surfing or other water activities, you’ll want something with at least a 7″ inseam (with 9″+ being ideal).

How Do you choose between trunks and board shorts?

Since board shorts have veered into casual clothing territory, it’s hard to say definitively when you should or shouldn’t wear them, or when you should go with a pair of swim trunks instead. But to simplify things: trunks are ideal for chill days around or in the pool and beach, with lighter construction and often shorter length, while board shorts are best for activities like surfing or waterboarding, where extra protection is needed. Also, keep in mind that board shorts are technically trunks, but trunks are not board shorts.

Our Favorite Board Shorts

The top picks for summer

Quiksilver Surfsilk Kaimana 20″ Performance Boardshorts

The Best Budget Choice: Just because you’re looking for some legit, performance-inspired surfwear doesn’t mean that you should have to spend an arm and a leg to get your fix. Thankfully, this pair of simple, no-nonsense board shorts from Quiksilver should do just the ticket. As comfortable as they are eco-conscious, they feature a long 20″ outseam, a tapered cut, and a secure fly — all the while being made from a recycled 4-way stretch Repreve fabric.

Material: 53% recycled polyester, 35% polyester, and 12% elastane
Length: 20″ outseam

Howler Brothers Stretch Bruja Boardshorts

The Safe Pick: Having grown up fishing and surfing along the coasts of Floria and Virginia, Chase Heard and Andy Stepanian founded Howler Brothers hoping to do one thing: to make long-lasting garments that looked to their history while staying relevant amongst today’s trends. These Brujas are no exception, pairing a heritage-inspired print with a top-notch construction that includes a contoured, self-lined waistband, plenty of drainage provisions, and a velcro closure for a secure fit.

Material: 57% cotton, 38% recycled polyester, and 5% spandex
Length: 19″ outseam and 8.5″ inseam

Vissla Solid Sets 17.5” Ecolastic

Vissla Solid Sets 17 5 Ecolastic

The Sustainable Choice: With sustainability becoming an expected standard rather than an added bonus, manufacturers are having to look to innovative solutions to ensure that their products adequately support the planet. Just take Vissla, for instance. The Solid Sets 17.5″ Ecolastic shorts are made from a blend of coconut, recycled Repreve, and eco-friendly cotton — a combination that looks the part, feels great, and makes for unrivaled mobility no matter the application.

Material: 36% polyester from coconut, 34% recycled polyester, 20% cotton, and 10% spandex
Length: 17.5″ outseam

Roark Chiller Boardshorts

Roark Chiller Boardshorts

The Board Shorts with the Best Designs: Perhaps no brand better embodies the free spirit of surf culture than Roark, a traveling adventure outfit that finds inspiration for its products in the exploration of worldly culture. And the designs for the label’s Chiller Boardshorts represent this passion perfectly. So if you’re interested in some board shorts that look and perform great, then these are worth a look.

Material: Recycled polyester and hemp blend
Length: 17″ outseam and 7″ inseam

Vuori Cruise Boardshort

The Best Casual Board Shorts: At the intersection of sustainability, performance, and Southern California style you’ll find Vuori, an Encinitas-based outfit that’s shaking up activewear in a big way. The Cruises are a case in point, combining a fabric made from recycled plastic bottles with a 4-way stretch and a subtle splatter print to result in a pair of board shorts that offer a contemporary take on a classic look.

Material: 45% recycled polyester, 45% polyester, and 10% elastane
Length: 7.5″ inseam

Patagonia Men’s Hydropeak Boardshorts

Patagonia Mens Hydropeak Boardshorts

The Best Overall Board Shorts: Patagonia is a key player when it comes to rugged outdoor gear, and the Hydropeak Boardshorts are no exception. With Fair Trade Certified sewing and four-way stretch polyester construction, these shorts are light yet durable. They’re great for surfing but look just as good out of the water.

Material: 87% recycled polyester and 13% spandex
Length: 18″ and 21″ outseams

Birdwell 311 Boardshorts

The Classic: Often imitated, never duplicated, Birdwell’s 311s are widely considered to be the crème de la crème as far as classic board shorts go. Hand-cut from the Santa Ana operation’s signature SurfNyl fabric and sewn in California since 1961, their timeless design has only improved over the course of their 50-plus year production history. And thanks to a long-lasting triple-stitched construction and a stone-washed finish, each pair will continue to do so, developing a unique patina of its own.

Material: SurfNyl
Length: 17 – 21″ outseams

Faherty Brand Lined Surf Stripe Board Short

Faherty Brand Lined Surf Stripe Board Short

The Best Retro Board Shorts: Sometimes a little retro flare goes a long way, and the Lined Surf Stripe Board Short from Faherty Brand is a fine example. The eco-friendly material was crafted with some built-in stretch, and the drawcord offers a custom fit whether that’s on land or sea.

Material: 80% recycled polyester, 12% cotton, and 8% elastane
Length: 7″ inseam

Outerknown Apex Trunks by Kelly Slater

Outerknown Apex Trunks

The Best Trunk/Board Short Hybrid: When nothing but a pair of truly performance-optimized trunks will do, Outerknown’s Apex is the best option for you. Developed and tested to the standards of 11x world surf champ Kelly Slater, they make for some of the most purpose-built board shorts on the market, with features like stitch-free seams to eliminate chafe and a double-bonded reinforcement for added strength. However, as with all of Outerknown’s offerings, the Apex is as sustainable as they come, made from 94% recycled materials and sewn to Fair Trade standards.

Material: 43% recycled polyester, 43% polyester, and 14% spandex
Length: 9″ inseam

The Best of the Rest

More Great Board Shorts

Banks Journal Divi Boardshort

Banks Journal Divi Boarshort

Banks Journal is something of an international effort, with half of its founders hailing from Tokyo, Japan, and the other half being lifelong residents of Australia’s Byron Bay. In practice, this gives the label quite the leg up on the competition, for the worldly perspective results in both a unique style as well as unwavering attention to detail. With these retro shorts, you’ll find the clean design is made only better by the rugged material construction.

Material: 90% recycled polyester and 10% elastane
Length: 17″ outseam

Saturdays NYC Ennis Boardshort

Saturdays NYC Ennis Boardshort

Sure, Manhattan-based Saturdays NYC might be a far cry from the coasts of California, but the city-dwelling surf brand can still hang ten with the best of ’em. For example, the label’s Ennis Boardshort is crafted using a durable nylon Taslan construction, a handy snapping back pocket, and an adjustable drawcord for the perfect fit. Oh, and need we even mention the attractive, two-tone blocked colorways?

Material: 100% Nylon Taslan fabric
Length: 5.5″ inseam

The Best Sandals for This Summer

Best Mens Sandals 00 Hero
Photo: Teva Original Universe

Whether you’re surfing barrels or kicking back, your board shorts could use some company. So check out our best men’s sandals guide to get that taken care of.