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(Inga Hendrickson)

The Best Boardshorts of 2018

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Nathan Allen

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Wherever the waves take you, you’re covered.

(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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(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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(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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(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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(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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(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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From Summer 2018 Buyer’s Guide Lead Photo: Inga Hendrickson

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