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As temperatures continue to change, so do our wardrobes. That’s right, it’s officially time to pull out the lightweight tees and linen pants from the back of your closets, and start shopping for the best sandals and swim trunks that summer has to offer.
Most men generally opt for a swim trunk or a board short, but with so many variations, you may be asking yourself, is there even a difference between the two? The answer is yes. From fit, lining, waistband, fabric, and occasion, board shorts actually differ from swim trunks in many ways.
The main difference here is the length. While swim trunks generally hit at the thigh, men’s board shorts tend to be longer, usually ending right at the knee or slightly below it. This helps provide more coverage in general, and it protects you from the sun. Traditional board shorts tend to be baggier in shape and are known for being less restrictive—one of the many reasons they are recommended for highly intense activities, such as surfing, wakeboarding, and beach games.
Swim trunks almost always have mesh linings to provide more support. Boards horts on the other hand, do not usually have linings, and instead offer a more free, less restrictive fit that helps air circulate to keep you cool on those hot summer days.
Board shorts have a very specific tighter, more durable waistband that opens up in the front and is secured by a Velcro or zip fly. It can be adjusted using a string tie, normally laced through grommets (aka those o-shaped metal hardware pieces) that help prevent them from falling down. However, swim trunks can come with a range of closures from button snaps and zip-flies to the most commonly used basic string tie at the front.
Below, we round up where to buy the best board shorts in the game to help you find the pair that’s right for you.
Fair Harbor The Nautilus Boardshort
The board short gets a modern twist in this slightly-slimmer cut and color-blocked option from Fair Harbor. Made from 80% recycled polyester from plastic bottles, these durable shorts can take you just about anywhere in style.
Outerknown Apex Trunks by Kelly Slater
Developed and tested by legendary surfer Kelly Slater, these shorts are the ultimate option for athletes. With stitch-free welded seams for a lightweight feel and ultralight 4-way stretch polyester fabric for maximum mobility, they check all the boxes.
Howler Brothers Vaquero Board Short
An adjustable waistband and breathable fabric allow comfort to reign supreme in these subtly printed board shorts from the Howler Brothers.
Nike Swim Men’s Funfetti Racer 9-inch Volley Board Shorts
Without a doubt, Nike makes some of the best board shorts around. A slightly baggy leg meets the casual quality of a draw-string trunk in these Nike board shorts.
Banks Journal Demo Boardshort
When you find a suit you love, you want it to last. These shorts come with triple-stitched seams and state-of-the-art screen printing to ensure you can wear them again and again.
Patagonia MOC 21-inch Hybrid Board Shorts
Patagonia makes the best hybrid board shorts on the market, allowing you to go from one summer adventure to the next without having to change. We suggest buying one in every color.
Rhone 7″ Board Short
You can never go wrong with board shorts in a sleek solid color. These shorts from Rhone are the perfect no-fuss option in a modern length with signature construction.
Vuori Cruise Board Shorts
With nods to retro gym shorts, this suit is built from a sustainable performance fabric with moisture-wicking and anti-odor technology to make sure you look (and smell) fresh to go from the beach to the seaside bar.
Faherty Classic Boardshort
With a classic board short waistband and the length of a traditional swim trunk, this option is the best of both bathing suit options. Bonus points for a cool print that was designed in partnership with a great cause.
Rhythm Livin Blocked Trunk Navy
A cool combination of classic navy and olive make these board shorts a standout choice for cool beach style.
J.Crew 9″ Stretch Board Short
Graphic nautical stripes add an unexpected pattern to this classic suit that could easily pass for a cool pair of flattering shorts. Wear them to run errands or for a dip in the pool on your lunch break.
O’Neill Leedo 19″ Cruizer Boardshorts
A vintage-inspired print gives these O’Neill board shorts that sweet summer vibe, while multiple pockets and anti-rash technology make it a high-quality short for a great price.
Quiksilver Highline Kaimana 16″ Boardshorts
Have you ever bought a board short and wondered what the bungee cord loop inside one of the pockets was for? It’s actually a classic characteristic of a board short, and it’s for your keys so you don’t lose them in the water. These Quicksilver’s take that tradition and update it in this classic nectarine hued pair.
Saturdays NYC Danny Boardshort
A loose fit looks perfectly laid back for anything summer may throw your way. Minimalists take note of the logo-free, simplistic design.
Columbia Summertide Stretch Shorts
The ideal amount of stretch, UPF 40 sun protection, quick-drying fabric, and a super comfortable waistband—what’s not to love? If you’re looking for the best board shorts for plus-size men, look no further.
Birdwell + Hoffman Fabrics Monstera SurfNyl Swim Shorts
From renowned surf brand Birdwell, these super durable shorts are made from their own innovative fabric that is wicks away moisture. A subtle tropical print adds just enough interest to your summer fit without overwhelming the eyes.
Alo Plow Board Shorts
Alo’s Plow boardshorts get the modern treatment with all-over tonal color ,and sleek seams to flatter and lay comfortably against your body. With extra stretch, these board shorts are always the perfect fit.
Marine Layer Coronado Board Short in Beachy Palm Print
A muted print looks handsome and timeless, while a mesh lining adds the support of a swim trunk. We call that a win-win.
Fourlaps Stretch Board Shorts
Hands down one of the best board shorts with pockets is from Fourlaps. With side seam storage and an extra-large back flap pocket, you can take everything you need with you wherever you go.
Hurley One & Only Boardshort 22″
Fans of long board shorts, look no further than Hurley’s signature One & Only shorts. With 21-inches in length, they give you the coverage you love and need. This version also comes in extended sizing for big guys who are looking for a reliable swimsuit.
Roark Chiller Magic Bay Boardshorts
Looking to make a statement on the beach this summer? Go bold. This ocean-inspired print from Roark is best paired with a simple white tee and minimalist slides.
Wellen ’66 Stretch Boardshort
Sometimes the best choice is the simplest one. These boardshorts from Wellen check all the boxes: convenient pockets, sleek design, and stretchy, comfortable fabric that makes you want to wear them over and over again.
RVCA Stanton Board Short
RVCA’s Stanton shorts are rendered in 100% nylon,which means they’ll dry in no time. Throw these on for a morning surf or nighttime swim with confidence and ease.
Italic Wade 7.5-inch Swim Shorts
Italic members can purchase these simply stylish board shorts made by the same manufacturers of Alo Yoga and Vilebrequin for an incredibly low price. If great quality is what you’re after, without having to break the bank, Italic will be your new go-to shopping destination.
L.L. Bean Men’s Vacationland Stretch Swim Trunks
Stay cool in L.L.Bean’s printed board shorts with UPF 50+ fabric to help block out the sun’s rays. They’re ideal for all-day wear in the summer sun.
Volcom Barnacle Stoney 19-inch Board Shorts
These cool board shorts are all about the stylish color combination and crazy-comfortable feel.
Vineyard Vines 8-inch Sandbar Shorts
These sleek hybrid board shorts are the perfect pair for the man on the go. Wear them with a crisp button-up for a surfside lunch, followed by endless hours of laying on the beach.
Vans Ever-Ride 17″ Boardshort
New, innovative fibers meet old-school designs in this retro-inspired suit from Vans. Keep an eye out for the subtle checkerboard tape lining the sides for a nod to the brand’s iconic footwear.
Under Armour Men’s UA Angled Block Volley Shorts
A long, loose fit provides you with the ultimate range of motion for all your outdoor activities. Pro Tip: these can even double as gym shorts for your work out with their moisture-wicking properties and sleek look.
Vissla The Trip 17.5″ Boardshort
Made to surf, these boardshorts come in four-way stretch recycled fibers to help your suit move with you, not against you.
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