These days, swim trunks are expected to be worn as much in the water as they are out. Fabrics are being upgraded to be more performance centered and quick drying, and thus we’ve been launched into an age of blissful swimwear versatility.
From the beach to the dive bar up the road, these shorts have design, function, fit, price point, and style in mind. Quality shorts come in all shapes and sizes, but they share a few core characteristics: Maximum life span, moisture-wicking tech, and performance functionality for water sports — because getting active on the water is one of life’s greatest enjoyments. Get ready for Memorial Day and beyond. The season will be here faster than expected.
Toronto-based company Bather makes some of the freshest swim apparel out there. Its shorts are made with a quick-dry polyester made from 100% post-consumer waste, and its graphics are always just *chef’s kiss*. If your significant other has a problem with you wearing
Kelly Slater, the surf master, owns the awesome apparel company Outerknown. These Apex boardshorts are quite literally the best for surfing. They’re made with recycled polyester and feature moisture-blocking seam tape, four-way stretch, and a double-bonded butt seam for added strength.
A simple Ralph Lauren swim trunk that taps a worn vintage look, these Traveler shorts are made with 100% nylon and come with a polyester mesh brief. But, to be honest, our favorite detail is the subtle pink logo.
Barstool Sports owner Dave Portnoy has been spotted wearing these baggie-type swim trunks in recent interviews and pizza reviews. Baja Llama’s Swimmers are made with a durable, environmentally friendly polyester blend, guaranteeing ample stretch while holding shape over time. They’re also tooled with a SnapDry tech to quickly kick out moisture. According to their website, this Palmy Nights graphic was commissioned by a local independent artist, a process Baja prides itself on when designing most of its unique garments.
CDLP makes our favorite 3-inch inseam short. These twill weave shorts almost glisten when out in the sun thanks to them being made with Econyl — a regenerated nylon fiber made from salvaged plastic waste found in oceans and landfills. Couple them with a comfortable mesh liner, and you’ll hardly notice you’ve been wearing these trunks for 12-plus hours.
Who says boardshorts can’t be high end? Heron Preston took these cutout swim trunks to the top and invoked his iconic use of black and white gradients; and of course, they’ve got the signature orange detail, so everyone will know they’re Heron Preston.
A tailored-fitting, 5-inch inseam short with a trippy floral graphic, these swim trunks from Le Club are ready to make a statement the moment you walk into the pool party. They feature a stretchy polyester and elastane blend, guaranteeing ease of movement in all directions, as well as quick-drying technology — which means fewer wet car seats going forward.
Katin Reverb Volley Swim Short
Katin first started out making canvas boat covers well over 50 years ago, and it parlayed its material expertise into making durable swimwear. These are your classic all-day beach shorts, featuring a 6.5-inch inseam and an easy mesh liner.
Saturdays NYC Leonard Boardshort
Don’t be fooled by the functionality on these Leonard Boardshorts. Saturdays NYC has upped the ante on the construction so they can handle all surfing and outdoor activities. Laser-cut and bonded side seams, 3M reflective details, an inner waistband sporting soft microfiber — the Leonards have everything you need to track down that wave — or the ice cream truck that just rolled by.
Dries Van Noten Blue Len Lye Edition Graphic Swim Shorts
These premium nylon taffeta swim trunks come in a bold blue-and-white graphic — which is totally on par when looking for a classic Dries design. They’re made with a mid rise and come with a partial white mesh liner.
Quiksilver Original Arch Volleys
Quiksilver has built a legacy in West Coast culture for a reason. These Volley shorts take it all the way back to the brand’s roots in surf and skate culture. If we were to recommend the best swim trunks to kickflip in, these would be the ones.
Hurley Phantom One Boardshort
Hurley has been around for a while, to say the least, and its boardshorts are one of the main reasons why. Made almost entirely out of polyester — with a little bit of spandex — the Phantom boardshorts will give and stretch like no other before coming back to shape. It’s all in a day’s work when surfing barrels.
Howler Brothers Buchannon Boardshorts
Howler Bros is another great surf apparel brand. These Buchannon Boardshorts feature unique destinations in the Gulf, which means they can even double as a travel planner. They’re made with quick-drying polyester and cut in an 8-inch inseam.
Check the Length
The first thing people notice about a swimsuit is the length, which is indeed the most important factor — and not just for your tan lines. The golden rule is to find a swimsuit that hits two inches above the knee so it’s long enough to cover the goods but short enough to elongate the legs, no matter how tall you are. Feel free to go even shorter if you dare to show off extra skin.
Wear Prints With Caution
Swim trunks are a place to have a little more fun with your wardrobe in terms of bright colors and fun prints. We’re all for sartorial expression here, but it’s easy to go overboard with prints that could look childish or fratty. When seeking the right print, opt for more artsy patterns and colors and stay away from anything with the emoji appeal. Vintage-inspired patterns work really well here. It’s also important to think about your closet. This can be a statement piece, but it should be versatile and work with what you consistently wear.
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