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Boardcave's Board Shorts Buying Guide

No surfing outfit is complete without nice-looking board shorts. It's probably one of the most iconic images, a surfer heading out to the beach with a surfboard firmly tucked under their arms with a matching board short.

What are Board Shorts?

Board shorts are swimwear that are specifically designed for water activities. Also referred to as 'surf trunks' or 'swim shorts', these pieces of swimwear can be traced to swimming trunks. With time, changing demands, fashion tastes, board shorts have come to be what we see them today.

The term 'board' short is associated with the surfboards used by surfers who popularised their use. However, it was not long before it found its way into other water sports or casual wear that can be used in the street or the beach.

When to Wear Board Shorts

Generally, wearing a board short or swimming trunk for your next trip to the beach isn't such a big deal. For most of us, it all boils down to personal taste and what particular water activity we would be engaging in.

Would a competitive swimmer be caught wearing board shorts in a race, or would a professional surfer be seen in swimming trunks when riding some serious waves?

However, if there is one time that we recommend you not to use board shorts is during freezing water conditions. Without proper equipment and the protection of a surfing wetsuit, there is a real danger of suffering from life-threatening hypothermia.

Things to Consider When Buying Board Shorts

If you're in the market for board shorts, below are some of the most important things to check out:

Quick Drying

Board shorts made from polyester have quicker drying times compared to cotton. Although not as comfy or gentle on the skin as their cotton counterparts, polyester boardshorts are the top choice for surfers. It is because polyester shorts dry quickly after hanging them up for a short time and ready to pack by the time you go home.


Polyester is the preferred material for making board shorts because these are durable and quick drying. But wet board shorts tend to stick to the skin, which can restrict your movements. The best board shorts are made from polyester and spandex, which gives them their quick-drying and flexible characteristics.


Board shorts are held into place by strings and Velcro or a combination of both. Unlike most sporting shorts that only have an elastic waist or garter, surfing board shorts require a more robust locking mechanism to keep them strapped to the waist. Although uncommon, some board shorts come with metal buttons or zippers - just stay away from these since seawater and metals simply don't mix well.


One unique feature of a well-designed board short is the presence of a small pocket that is used to store your car keys, locker key, or room card. So be sure to check if your board short has a provision for this if you're planning to leave your surfing gears and valuables in a car or locker.


Board shorts are comparably longer than regular shorts or swimming trunks. These help them stand out from other shorts and give them a distinct appearance, but their length also serves a particular purpose for surfers. Being longer, the board short can protect the surfer's legs from the wax on the board, preventing the wax from pulling the hair from your legs.

Should I Wear Underwear When Wearing Board Shorts?

It is not necessary to wear underwear for board shorts with built-in-liners. The liners serve to provide you with the support and snug fit that briefs offer. However, wearing compression shorts or underwear is required for board shorts without liners.

Board Short Ideas

Board shorts have become synonymous with the beach and having fun in the water. But with the great variety of board shorts available today, making the decision can be challenging. It all depends on what type of activity you will be using the board short. Below are some ideas on what kind of board short you should be looking for.

The Surfer

Board shorts are an essential piece of equipment for any surfer. These do not only keep you looking good when you're on top of the board but also provide some features that ordinary shorts do not. Surfers should look for board shorts that are slightly below or just around your kneecaps. These keep your leg hair from being pulled out by the surfboard wax or irritating the skin.

Board shorts have wider leg openings for more effortless leg movements. Also, look for quick drying and stretchable board shorts. If you're a regular surfer, board shorts that stretch lengthwise and crosswise give you the best freedom of movement. And finally, look for a board short with at least two closures, a Velcro and string tie combination, for example. This is your best guarantee that your board shorts would not go swimming around just in case you get wiped out.

Fashion tip. If you're on the shorter side, opt for shorter board shorts or those that end slightly above the kneecaps. Longer board shorts only make you appear shorter.

The Swimmer

Why board shorts? If you're not joining a competition, these are certainly more practical and fashionable than swimming trunks. It is also more acceptable, especially when you're grabbing food in a nearby restaurant or going on a quick trip to the mall. All you have to do is to put on a shirt and slip some flip-flops. A simple string tie or elastic waist for closure to keep your shorts in place would do.

What’s the Difference Between Board Shorts and Swimming Trunks?

The most obvious difference between board shorts and swimming trunks is their length. Board shorts usually come down just above or around the kneecaps, while swimming trunks are generally shorter, although long ones are not uncommon.

Board shorts are fashionably longer, but they also serve to protect the legs from the wax on the surfboard. Swimming trunks, on the other hand, are shorter to allow freedom when swimming. In terms of closure, board shorts are secured by a string tie and Velcro. This ensures that the board short remains secured in place even during a wipeout or surfing in strong waves.

The Best Board Shorts

Regardless of where your next surfing tip would be, below are some of the best board shorts from some of the most trusted names in the business.

Kelly Slater - Apex Hybrid Trunks

This board short scores high by being one of the most eco-friendly options in the market today. Made from recycled plastic bottles, the board short is lightweight, quick-drying making it the perfect companion for the eco-conscious surfer. It also comes with mesh-lined front pockets and an Aquaguard zipper-equipped back pocket. Securing the board shorts is done via a triple eyelet lace-up tie and zip fly.

Quiksilver Highline Kaimana Boardshorts

Considered one of the best in Quicksilver's board shorts lineup, the Highline Kaimana Boardshorts comes with DryFlight, a water-repellent hydrophobic coating. It also features zip-up closure pockets and a key bungee cord for holding your keys. The board short is made from 93 percent recycled polyester and 7 percent Elastane for a better stretch.

Hurley Phantom Hyperweave

Considered to be the lightest available board shorts in the market, the Hurley Phantom Hyperweave is 50 percent less bulky than most trunks. These are an updated version of their Phantom board shorts. It is both lightweight and stretchable, offering maximum comfort and freedom of movement. Its Hyperweave waistband consists of a single woven layer of free-floating magwires to provide a better fit.

Patagonia Stretch Wavefarer Shorts

Loose-fitting and incredibly comfortable, the Patagonia Stretch Wavefarer Shorts is made from 95 percent nylon and 5 percent spandex. This quick-drying board short offers UV protection (40 UPF). A pocket can be found at the right side of the short with a key loop.

Billabong Fluid Airlite

The Billabong Fluid Airlite offers excellent levels of flexibility and comfort. The board short is made from 88 percent polyester and 12 percent elastane. Its Platinum X Airlite Stretch Material technology ensures anti-cling and rash-free surfing.

Board Shorts - The Lowdown

Board shorts or swimming trunks? The question seems so simple, and either one could do, but from a serious surfer's point of view, board shorts wins the day, every day of the week. Most swimming trunks come with mesh linings that could impede a surfer's movement when performing complicated manoeuvres.

Board shorts with their longer length also protect your leg hairs from being pulled out after getting caught on your surfboard's wax. So, the next time you're hitting those waves, just stick to your board shorts. They're the only way to go.

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