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 to say — board shorts have come a long way since the early days when they were little more than simple nylon trunks. The 15 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 read on to see what’s what.
Quiksilver Highline Kaimana Boardshorts
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.
Howler Brothers Stretch Bruja Boardshorts
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.
Vissla Jambu Ecolastic
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. This pair of Jambu board shorts is 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.
Roark Elastic Malam Boardshorts
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. In the case of the Malam boardshorts, this means that you get a vibrant textile stripe pattern named after the Javanese word for “night” and a hard-wearing hemp blend that’ll last you for years to come. Oh, and at 16″ in length, they make for the perfect middle ground between old-school shorties and more modern trunks.
Banks Journal Birmingham Elastic Boardshort
Banks Journal is something of an international effort, with half of its founders hailing from Tokyo, Japan, and the other half being life-long 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 understated shorts, you’ll find the slick striped pattern is made only better by the fact that they’re super-soft because of a 97% cotton construction.
Vans Voyage Boardshort
Vans is a name that needs no introduction, having become a staple presence throughout the skate, snow, surf, and even BMX scenes since its founding in 1966. To put it another way, they definitely deserve to be on your swimsuit shortlist. While the Voyages are a decidedly simpler take on the board short silhouette — an 18.5″ cut, a medium rise, and a modern fit — they come with four zippered pockets so that you can take to the water without fear of losing your essentials.
Mollusk Scallop Trunks
No matter if you’re lounging out on the beach or sending it into a swell, Mollusk’s Scallop Trunks are sure to have your back. Cut above the knee with a classic 6.5″ inseam, they feature a curved leg opening, a buttoned patch pocket, and an interior loop for keeping your keys secure. What’s more, they come conveniently pre-shrunk with a convenient Velcro fly and tie, allowing you to more time surfing and less time sorting out that uncomfortably sandy wedgie.
Vuori Cruise Board Short
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.
Wellen ‘66 Stretch Boardshort
While there’s no denying that thrifted outfits are all the rage these days, those vintage board shorts aren’t great for much more than bumming around on the beach. If you’re someone who actually wants to go in the water, Wellen’s ’66 Stretch Boardshort presents an ideal alternative. In spite of their otherwise old-school aesthetic, they come chock-full of modern performance details, such as a super-soft stretch blend, a pair of welt hip pockets, as well as a bungee loop for securing your keys.
Patagonia MOC Hybrid Shorts
Whether you’re looking for some street-to-surf versatility or even just a bit of added carrying capacity, Patagonia’s MOC Hybrid Shorts are one option well worth your while. Made from a blend of recycled nylon and spandex, they feature both a durable water repellent finish as well as 50+ UPF sun protection, ensuring that you’re ready for anything the day has to offer. And because of their extensive six-pocket storage setup, you’ll also be able to bring with you whatever you need to stay prepared.
Saturdays NYC Grant 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, their Grant Boardshort is crafted using a durable dual-layer nylon 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?
Birdwell 311 Stone-Washed Board Shorts
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.
O’Neill Hyperfreak Hydro
From the materials to the closure method, everything about O’Neill’s Hyperfreak Hydro board short has been designed to support surfers of the highest caliber. So, in addition to a multi-stretch fabrication, a laser-cut hem, and a recycled Repreve blend, they also come with a clever “No Tie Fly” that’s all but guaranteed to save you from having an unsightly wardrobe malfunction.
Deus Sandbar Hemp Short
Although Deus may be best known for its eye-catching custom motorcycle builds, the brand is also firmly rooted in surf culture, having gotten its start on the shores of Sydney. When it comes to their Sandbar board shorts, you’ll find that their hemp and recycled poly fabric makes them super sustainable, while a simple construction and a vibrant garment dye ensures that they look the business.
Outerknown Apex Trunks By Kelly Slater
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.
The 15 Best Surfing Essentials For Summer
Board shorts may go a long way towards making you look like a pro, but they’re not the only thing you need to be successful in your wave-riding endeavors. If you really want to improve your experience out on the water, head on over to our guide to the best surfing essentials for summer — it’ll tell you all that you need to know.