Gear Guy

What Are the Best Boardshorts?

The six swim trunks you should be wearing this summer

What Are the Best Boardshorts?

The sign of a good pair of boardshorts: You can move in them, but they don’t look baggy. Photo: Gareth Tate

We took these six boardshorts on a multiday backpacking trip near Mount Shasta, a three-day whitewater rafting and SUP trip down the Klamath River, and a self-supported sea kayak trip through the Broken Group Islands in British Columbia. We tested how quickly they dried, how dynamically they moved, how well they fit, and whether they chafed at all on hikes. 

Here’s how they stacked up. 

Under Armour Hanley Boardshort ($53)

under-armour-hanley-board-shorts.jpg
  Photo: Gareth Tate

The Hanleys are both flashy and superstretchy. The exterior fabric caused water to bead on the surface, so the shorts never got saturated and stayed lightweight. They dried almost as fast as the Patagonia and Quicksilver. 


Volcom Mod Tech Pro Boardshorts ($68)

board shorts
  Photo: Gareth Tate

The Mod Techs are cut loose, allowing for a broad range of movement without looking baggy. We liked the simple waist-cinch closure, which accommodated a wide range of tester sizes. While they weren’t the fastest-drying shorts, the Mod Tech never stuck uncomfortably to our thighs, thanks to a series of perforations in the fabric.


O’Neill Complexity Hyperfreak Boardshorts ($55)

board shorts
  Photo: Gareth Tate

The Hyperfreaks are the second-stretchiest shorts we tested. The fabric is woven from 9 percent elastane and offers a huge range of movement. The two deep side pockets allowed us to bring wallet, keys, and phone along for the ride.  


Howler Bros Bruja Boardshorts ($35)

board shorts
  Photo: Gareth Tate

The Brujas are the least stretchy shorts on this list, but they get the most style points with the simple two-tone design and subtle split leg. The back pocket features a button and extra flap of material completely covering the opening for a safe place to store valuables while swimming. 


Quiksilver AG47 New Wave Bonded 19-Inch Repreve Boardshorts ($125)

board shorts
  Photo: Gareth Tate

The AG47 shorts are the best on this list for the serious watersport athlete. The fit was the tightest of the shorts we tested, but the 20 percent elastane fabric didn’t limit range of motion. The stitch-free seam construction eliminated any chafing during long hikes and SUP sessions. Scotchguard treatment made these the second-fastest drying shorts on the list. 


Patagonia Stretch Wavefarer 21-Inch Boardshorts ($69)

board shorts
  Photo: Gareth Tate

The Stretch Wavefarers didn’t have the most stretch or range of motion, but they’re our favorite short overall because they dry so quickly—the fastest on this list. The waistband cinched up tight while remaining flat along testers’ stomachs, and the fit was so seamless that the shorts didn’t chafe even when we wore a heavy pack with a hip belt.

Filed To: Pants, Water Activities

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