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December 02, 2021 8 min read

13 Best Boardshorts

Family of four paddle boarding

Whether you’re relaxing at an oceanside beach or paddle boarding a fresh coast lake, you need to wear apparel that’s lightweight, comfortable, and looks good, too. That’s why most male paddle boarders opt to wear boardshorts while on the water.

Of course, shopping for boardshorts can be a bit overwhelming because there are so many options on the market today. What fit do I look for? Do I need cargo pockets? How much should I really be spending on these shorts? And is there a difference between swim trunks and boardshorts?

Don’t worry! Our team of expert paddle boarders (and water apparel reviewers!) is here to help you wade through it all and find the perfect boardshorts for your next adventure.

What to Look For When Shopping for Boardshorts

Purchasing boardshorts isn’t as simple as searching and purchasing — although we’re going to try and make it that easy for you!

Style

When it comes to the overall look and style of your boardshorts, you can be as loud or conservative as you like. Looking for something in a solid color? No problem. Want a pineapple or jellyfish pattern on your shorts? You can find those, too. No matter your personal style preference, there’s a board short or two on the market for you!

Fit

Boardshorts have evolved over the years, especially when it comes to fit. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, surfers and paddle boarders liked baggier, longer fits. Today, though, many beachgoers appreciate a slimmer fit. Be careful with slimmer-fitting boardshorts. If they’re too tight, it could feel restrictive for activities like paddleboarding.

The other big differentiator is length. Do you want a board short that falls above or below your knee? The longer length can better protect your legs from the sun, but a shorter cut can be more comfortable and stylish.

Lining and Material

One of the biggest differences between swim trunks and boardshorts is the lining. Swim trunks typically have a mesh lining, while boardshorts do not. If you’re hanging outside and paddle boarding all day, you’ll appreciate the freedom and air circulation that boardshorts provide — especially on those hot days.

Boardshorts need to dry quickly, which is why most are made of polyester, nylon, or some combination of the two materials. These materials dry quickly and are light and comfortable for boarding on the water.

Is There a Top Boardshorts Brand?

Man wearing a boardshort with his gili inflatable SUP board

There are a number of startups, like Howler Brothers, that have recently released some great boardshorts that look and feel great, but some of the best board short brands have been around for decades. If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend starting with Hurley, Quicksilver, and Billabong. These companies understand activities on the water and have produced some apparel that looks great and performs well in your preferred activity.

GILI’s Top 3 Picks

Let’s take a look at some of the best boardshorts on the market right now:

Best Higher-End
Under Armour Stain Resistant Boardshorts
Under Armour Men’s Tide Chaser Boardshorts

These trunks are packed with features that are great for paddle boarding and other beach activities.

Why we like it:

  • Great design. Four great looking color options.
  • 4-way stretch technology. You won’t have any issues bending over on the paddle board.
  • Stain-resistant. Don’t worry about anything staining your trunks.

What we don't like:

  • A little expensive. If you’re on a budget, you may not want to buy two pairs.
Check Latest Price
Best for Beach Lounging
Hurley Men Polyester Board Shorts
Hurley Men’s One and Only Solid 17” Volley Board Short

Classic design from a genuine surf brand.

Why we like it:

  • Plenty of pockets. Two on the sides, one in the back.
  • Effective drawstring. You can tighten these boardshorts nicely to your waist.
  • Machine washable. We recommend air drying, though.

What we don't like:

  • Not as flexible. The mechanical stretch isn’t as flexible as 4-way stretch technology.
Check Latest Price
Best Higher-End
Rhone Men Quick Dry Mako Shorts
Rhone Men’s 9” Make Short

A more expensive option, but worth the money.

Why we like it:

  • Versatile design. Wear it out to lunch, the gym, or on the beach.
  • Plenty of colors. You can choose from nine different options.
  • Chafe-free and fast-drying. These high-end materials dry quickly and are very comfortable.

What we don't like:

  • Expensive. But if you’re an avid paddle boarder, it’s worth the investment.
Check Latest Price

These Are the 13 Best Boardshorts for Men

As avid paddle boarders, we’ve worn a lot of different boardshorts while on the water. These are our favorites.

Best Boardshorts on a Budget

Everyone loves a good deal. These boardshorts won’t break your bank account.

Amazon Essentials Boardshorts

If you’re looking to keep your cost per short under $20, you can’t go wrong with the Amazon Essentials Board Short.

Polyamide Elastane Quickdry Men's Board Short

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Multiple colors
  • Machine washable
  • Welt back pocket

What we love:

  • Great value
  • Mesh lining
  • Back pocket

What we don't love:

  • Not as durable as others on this list

Available in black, charcoal, and navy, these shorts are primarily made with polyamide and elastane — materials that aren’t as durable or moisture-wicking as nylon and polyester, but get the job done for the price.

check latest price

Unitop Men’s Boardshorts

Vintage patterned style unitop men swim trunk

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • 100% polyester
  • 20 color choices
  • Classic board short design

What we love:

  • All of the great color options
  • Classic boardshort design
  • Quick-drying material

What we don't love:

  • Shorts feel a little stiff at first

Unitop executed very well on three elements of these shorts: Classic design, reliable drawstrings, and large pockets.

check latest price

Kanu Surf Men's Barracuda Swim Trunk

Blue and black shade kanu surf men's barracuda

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • 100% polyester
  • 20 color choices
  • Classic board short design

What we love:

  • Company has long, positive history
  • Reliable pockets
  • 11” inseam — the perfect length

What we don't love:

  • Polyester material is rough to the touch

Kanu Surf has been selling boardshorts and swimsuits for nearly 25 years, so you can expect a quality product with plenty of research and development behind it. The Barracuda model is one of the company’s most popular products.

check latest price

Actleis Men’s Swim Trunk Board Shorts

Ultra quick drying swim trunks board shorts

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • 100% polyester and machine washable
  • Mesh lining
  • Quick-drying technology

What we love:

  • Double-sided deep pockets
  • Plenty of fun colors
  • Shorter inseam for more flexibility

What we don't love:

  • Inconsistent sizing

Shorter in-seams is a popular trend right now for male shorts, and this model by Actleis looks to take advantage of it. Complete with a mesh lining and a double-sided deep pocket, these shorts come in a host of fun colors at a very reasonable price.

check latest price

RGSHDS Men’s Boardshorts

Men's drawstring swim shorts with pineapples print

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Elastic closure
  • Quick-drying material
  • Deep, double-sided pockets (perfect for phones)

What we love:

  • Versatile for any activity
  • Lightweight and flexible
  • Four great color options

What we don't love:

  • No mesh lining

You’ll fall in love with the design of these trunks by RGSHDS. Pick from an artistic pineapples grunge print or go with the more classic Hawaiian hibiscus flower print. Also, you can’t beat the price!

check latest price

Best Higher-End Boardshorts

Are you OK with spending a little extra on a pair of shorts? While you can certainly shop for expensive brands like Saturdays NYC, the O’Neill Hyperfreak, or the Outerknown Apex Trunks, we like these shorts as our higher-end options.

Quiksilver Standard Surfsilk Stretch 20” Board Short

Tri color boardshorts

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Drawstring closure
  • Four-way stretch fabric
  • 16 different color choices

What we love:

  • Versatile for any activity
  • Lightweight and flexible
  • Four great color options

What we don't love:

  • Hand wash only

Water enthusiasts are more familiar with the Quiksilver Highline by this popular surf brand, but the company’s Standard Surfilk board short is one of our favorites. Made of 54% recycled polyester, 36% polyester and 10% elastane, these shorts offer quick-drying and four-way stretch, great for high-intensity activities, including paddle boarding and kayaking.

check latest price

Under Armour Men’s Tide Chaser Boardshorts

Under Armour Stain Resistant Boardshorts

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • 84% polyester and 16% elastane
  • Four-way stretch fabric
  • Quick-dry technology

What we love:

  • Stain-resistant
  • Comfortable fit and material
  • Durable

What we don't love:

  • Price is a little high

When it comes to quick-dry technology, high performance, and water repellent technology, Under Armour makes some incredibly good products, including the Tide Chaser shorts. One downside is that the lighter colors are slightly see-through when they become wet.

check latest price

Quiksilver Highline Kaimana Board Short

Water repellent hydrophobic coating quiksilver highline kaimana boardshorts

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • 90% polyester + 10% elastane
  • Four-way stretch fabric
  • Flight water-repellent hydrophobic coating

What we love:

  • Classy design and color options
  • Material is nice and stretchy
  • Back pocket is helpful

What we don't love:

  • Runs on the larger side
  • Slightly expensive

The Quiksilver Highline Kaimana is as stylish as it is functional. Featuring a water-repellent coating and a four-way stretch fabric, you won’t have any trouble paddle boarding in these boardshorts.

check latest price

Rhone Men’s 9” Make Short

Rhone Men Quick Dry Mako Shorts

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Internal drawstring closure
  • Two side pockets plus a hidden zipper on the left side
  • Premium soft fabric

What we love:

  • Can double as boardshorts or everyday shorts
  • Inseam length is just above the
  • Quick-drying

What we don't love:

  • Expensive, but they are extremely durable

As one of the more expensive items on this list, rest assured that you’re getting a quality product in Rhone. These shorts look great (you could easily wear these out in the summer, and it won’t look like you’re wearing swim trunks), they are machine washable, and they feature two pockets — one of which features a hidden zipper pocket.

check latest price

Best Boardshorts for Beach Lounging

Just want to relax on a sandy beach? You’ll look — and feel — great in these shorts. 

Rhone Men’s 9” Make Short

Faherty classic boardshorts with zipper closure

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Made in USA
  • Zipper closure

What we love:

  • Inseam falls right above the knee
  • Great water-repellent fabric

What we don't love:

  • Expensive, but still chapter than Saturdays NYC, Vuori Cruise or Quiksilver Highline models

Faherty is more of a fashion brand, but these boardshorts do feature water-repellent fabric, which allows them to dry quickly. That makes them perfect for paddle boarding.

check latest price

O’Neill Santa Cruz Solid 2.0 Boardshorts

O'Neill santa cruz solid boardshorts with loop closure

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • Made in USA
  • 100% polyester
  • Loop closure

What we love:

  • Affordable — a great value
  • Ultrasuede fabric is super soft
  • Multiple color options

What we don't love:

  • Surf tie front and hook-and-loop closure is a little tricky

An affordable beach lounging pair of boardshorts, the O’Neill Santa Cruz comes in 18 different colors at very reasonable prices.

check latest price

Most Trendy Boardshorts

Want to be the coolest looking dude on the beach? These are some of the trendiest trunks on the market today.

Hurley Men’s One and Only Solid 17” Volley Boardshorts

Hurley Men Polyester Board Shorts

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • 100% polyester
  • Drawstring closure
  • Two-way stretch technology

What we love:

  • Classic pink design is really nice
  • Side pockets come in handy
  • Plenty of color options

What we don't love:

  • Could be more flexible

Hurley makes some of the best men’s boardshorts on the market including the One and Only Solid Volley Board Short. The classic pink design is very trendy right now and looks good on the beach or on a paddle board.

check latest price

Biwisy Men’s Swim Trunks Quick Dry

Quick dry stretch fabric swim shorts mesh

Where to buy:

Features & Specs:

  • 98% polyester + 2% Spandex
  • Drawstring closure
  • Mesh lining
  • Elastic waistband

What we love:

  • Very comfortable thanks to the stretchy material
  • Quick-drying fabric
  • Ultra affordable

What we don't love:

  • Runs a little big

The overall material of these shorts is on the cheaper side, but if you’re primarily wearing them to lounge on the beach, you won’t regret your purchase, especially because they’re so affordable.

check latest price

FAQ’S

🏆 What do you wear under boardshorts?

Most men’s boardshorts don’t include a mesh lining, which means you have two options: Go without, or wear a moisture-wicking compression short that can dry quickly and handle a day of playing in the water. We highly recommend not wearing cotton underwear or boxer shorts. It’s not only a beach fashion no-no, but you’re going to be pretty uncomfortable when your underwear inevitably gets wet.


👍 Can you swim in boardshorts?

Definitely! Boardshorts are a great option for recreational swimming and playing in the water. We wouldn’t recommend wearing boardshorts for more exercise-focused or competitive swimming, though, because they tend to be baggier and don’t offer a ton of support.


🏝️ I’m wondering how to wash boardshorts

You can certainly wash your boardshorts in a washing machine, preferably on a delicate setting, and then air dry them once clean. Some brands recommend hand washing in cold water with a little bit of detergent or gentle shampoo to keep your trunks in the best possible condition.


❓ Are boardshorts the best option for paddle boarding?

Absolutely! You need to be comfortable when paddle boarding, and boardshorts provide that freedom thanks to 4-way stretch fabric technology. Boardshorts also provide your legs protection from the sun, especially the longer fits.

Jay Regan
Jay Regan

Chief Paddler - Jay has been surfing and paddling for over 5 years. When he's not dreaming up new stuff at GILI, he's writing articles about paddling, out paddling, or often traveling.


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