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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.
Purchasing boardshorts isn’t as simple as searching and purchasing — although we’re going to try and make it that easy for you!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Let’s take a look at some of the best boardshorts on the market right now:
These trunks are packed with features that are great for paddle boarding and other beach activities.
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Classic design from a genuine surf brand.
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A more expensive option, but worth the money.
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As avid paddle boarders, we’ve worn a lot of different boardshorts while on the water. These are our favorites.
Everyone loves a good deal. These boardshorts won’t break your bank account.
If you’re looking to keep your cost per short under $20, you can’t go wrong with the Amazon Essentials Board Short.
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.
Unitop executed very well on three elements of these shorts: Classic design, reliable drawstrings, and large pockets.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just want to relax on a sandy beach? You’ll look — and feel — great in these shorts.
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.
An affordable beach lounging pair of boardshorts, the O’Neill Santa Cruz comes in 18 different colors at very reasonable prices.
Want to be the coolest looking dude on the beach? These are some of the trendiest trunks on the market today.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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