Wherever the waves take you, you’re covered.

shorts
(Courtesy Columbia)

Columbia Blue Magic ($40)

These shorts are fun and functional. The fabric is a solid color when dry, but get it wet and a pattern appears. Gimmicks aside, Columbia’s shorts were the lightest we tested. They’re also exceptionally ­versatile, offering excellent mobility and UPF 50 protection—a good choice for long days on the river or at the beach.

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shorts
(Courtesy United by Blue)

United by Blue Seabed Scallop ($68)

Three pockets give these shorts the most carrying options of the bunch. The ladder-lock drawstring keeps the waistband snug, and the eight-inch inseam hits above the knee for unrestrained movement. Sleek styling makes them ideal for hopping between the waves and the bar.

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shorts
(Courtesy Needessentials)

Needessentials Premium Straight Leg ($45)

Minimalists take note: Needessentials never puts logos or graphics on its apparel, focusing on technical features instead of splashy branding. One of the least expensive shorts we tested, the Premium Straight Leg features a dobby weave that creates an air barrier against your skin to reduce chafing. A self-draining zipper pocket holds keys or a bar of board wax.

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shorts
(Courtesy Kind Designs)

Kind Designs Colorado River ($60)

If comfort is your priority, these shorts are your best bet. They were the coziest in the mix, and the soft polyester-spandex blend dries quickly and offers four-way stretch. A welded zipper pocket is well placed on the hip for prime convenience. On the feel-good side: $2 per pair goes to eco-nonprofit Western Resource Advocates.

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shorts
(Courtesy Vissla)

Vissla Fathoms ($60)

Like all Vissla’s boardies, these are fashioned from a combination of coconut fiber and recycled polyester. The quick-drying, odor-resistant fabric is stretchy and supremely breathable, making the Fathoms the perfect mix of style and function.

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shorts
(Courtesy RVCA)

RVCA VA Boardshorts ($55)

With color options that include designs from RVCA’s Artist Network Program, these trunks check boxes for both performance and flash. The polyester-elastane blend has a DWR treatment for water and stain resistance, and there’s a hook and loop back-pocket closure to keep valuables secure.

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Fitness

The Best Stand-Up Paddleboards of 2018

Versatility is the name of the game. (Courtesy Surftech) Surftech Aleka 11'2" ($1,349) Surftech’s Aleka takes home our Gear of the Year award for one deceptively simple reason: in nearly all conditions, it shone. Designed for SUPers focused on fitness, it’s lightweight, it’s durable, and it held its own on distance outings, through choppy short trips, and in small waves off the Northern California coast. The Aleka was shaped by legendary board designer Joe Bark and built with Surftech’s combination of interior foam and exterior fiberglass and bamboo layers. With a 29-inch waist, it’s not

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Fitness

The Best Pedal-Powered Boats of 2018

Hobie dropped the first pedal-driven kayak back in 1997, but it was 15 years before we took the technology seriously. When we finally placed one of the boats in our test rotation, we were blown away by how capable it turned out to be compared with most recreational craft. Hobie’s patent ran out last year, and competing designs have started to enter the market. (Courtesy Jackson Kayak) Jackson Kayak Cruise FD ($2,399) Jackson Kayak’s Cruise FD rips on Class I and II whitewater, thanks to a sharply cut, rockered bow and best-in-category turning radius. Buy Now

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Fitness

The Best Fly-Fishing Rods of 2018

Walk softly and carry the right stick. (Courtesy Sage) Sage Salt HD ($950) The splurge Permit at 70 feet, 20 mph headwinds, guide screaming in your ear. What do you want in your hand? The Salt HD. Sage tweaked the composite of its already whippy Konnetic rod technology to transfer energy more efficiently, for faster casting. Sure it’s expensive. But do you really want to miss your shot? Buy Now (Courtesy Scott) Scott G ($845) The multitool Scott’s G series can do it all, and the company updated it in 2017 with new

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Fitness

The Best Women’s Swimsuits of 2018

Swimwear that exudes style and capability. (Courtesy Patagonia) Patagonia Women’s Nanogrip Nireta Top and Bottom ($75 and $69) The Nanogrip offers support for athletes who like to be on the move, whether it’s playing beach volleyball or paddleboarding rapids. The high-neck top and bikini bottom have a slip-resistant lining that keeps each piece in place no matter what you throw at it, and the red print really pops. Top Bottom (Inga Hendrickson) Seafolly Jagged Geo Action-Back Tri Top and Multi-Strap Hipster Bottom ($92 and $90) This company, based in Sydney, Australia, knows

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Fitness

The Best Surfboards of 2018

It’s south-swell season. Make sure you have the right board. (Courtesy Superbrand) Superbrand Siamese Twin ($705) The modern fish isn’t new—credit the 1997 film 5'5" x 19¼" with reinvigorating the quick and stubby design. But it could be hard to surf if your name wasn’t Wardo, AI, or Corey Lopez. Enter the Superbrand Siamese Twin, which blends a fishy outline with high-performance rails and a four-channel bottom. The result catches waves easily and skips down the line, but won’t bog or slide out through bottom turns or mid-face wraps. It’s a playful small-wave board for

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Fitness

The Best Sun Protection Gear of 2018

Because sometimes you don’t want to catch some rays. (Courtesy Nau) Nau Twisted Long Sleeve Shirt ($115) This wears like your favorite breezy cotton button-front, but with fabric that includes built-in sun protection and an ultralong cut that blocks rays from easy-to-miss areas. Men's Women's (Courtesy Electric Stacker) Electric Stacker Ohm+ Sunglasses ($180 and up) When it comes to eye protection, go big or go home. The Stacker’s removable side blinders cut peripheral glare and shield you from wind and sand, while the oversize lenses reduce brightness on both land and sea. Buy

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Fitness

The Best Hawaiian Shirts of 2018

Vintage aloha style gets technical. (Courtesy Patagonia) Patagonia Pataloha ($119) The Pataloha performs well with soft organic cotton, a comfortable athletic fit, and buttons made from coconut. (Hey, they’re cute!) The bright patterns are just short of outlandish. Buy Now​​​​​​ (Courtesy California Cowboy) California Cowboy High Water Tropic ($135) The High Water is the hunting vest of Hawaiian wear, with a specialized pocket to stash your beer and a water-resistant slot for your phone. Our favorite part: the bottle opener tucked discreetly into the hem. Buy Now

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Fitness

The Best Water Shoes of 2018

Slip-ons and lace-ups for your soggiest adventures. (Courtesy Hari Mari) Hari Mari Dune ($45) Softer and more flexible than many of its rivals, the Dune babies your feet with cushy rubber and a memory-foam post that won’t dig between toes. But don’t let the creature comforts fool you: thanks to a heavily siped outsole, footing was steady atop paddleboards and slippery rocks. Men's Women's (Courtesy Astral) Astral Loyak ($85) The handsome canvas upper may give the Loyak a shot of street style, but there are performance chops here, too. The stretchy mesh

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Fitness

The Best Water Accessories of 2018

Tried and true gear for river, lake, and ocean play. (Courtesy Buff) Buff UV Multifunctional Headwear ($25) Get wet and wild without worrying about sun-damaged skin. Buff’s simple tube-shaped designs are popular for a few good reasons: they’re versatile, they’re unobtrusive, and they shield your head and neck from getting burned. Plus, the graphics are flashy and totally on-theme. Buy Now (Courtesy H20) H20 Audio Surge+ Bluetooth Waterproof Headphones ($100) Water and electronics don’t mix—most of the time. H20’s Surge+ Bluetooth headphones are an exception. Select the ear-tip size for a

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