The Best Boardshorts of 2021
These bottoms can tackle any wave—and then hit the bar
Outerknown Apex Trunks by Kelly Slater ($145)
With 11 world titles and a lifetime in the sea, Kelly Slater knows what he wants in a pair of shorts. The Apex remains among our favorites, thanks to its trim, athletic fit. Testers appreciated how quickly the soft recycled polyester dries and how the welded seams add comfort down below. You can also fold the shorts into their back pocket, which has a hardy rubberized zipper.
Patagonia Stretch Planing ($79)
The Planing is a perfect blend of hipster and jock: it’s a whopping 19 inches long, with a fit that’s tight through the legs but still plenty stretchy. Quick-drying recycled polyester and minimal seams make for a comfortable, chafe-free all-day wear, regardless of how you like to play in the water.
Driftline Drifties ($89)
Driftline made an old concept look sleek with these boardies, which feature an outer polyester layer over a skintight neoprene lining—like trunks over wetsuit bottoms. The half-millimeter cushioning prevents inner-thigh rash when you’re gripping your surfboard. Testers also found it kept them warm on cool tropical mornings, during July dips on the East Coast, and in the late Southern-California summer.
Vans Voyage ($65)
In a word, the Voyage is sleek. The 18.5- inch-long trunks boast a snug fit through the hips and legs, which lends a slim silhouette, and the deep mesh pockets shut with subtle zippers, so they blend into the fabric. We also love the polyester, which is at once durable and soft.
O’Neill Hyperfreak Hydro ($100)
Sometimes one small design tweak makes a world of difference. O’Neill uses a svelte rubberized strap in place of a traditional string closure. This means the Hyperfreak Hydro is easier to adjust and to get on and off. Plus, no wet drawcord. A secure waistband and a zippered key pocket round out this pair of trunks.
Prana On the Rocks ($65)
If you like barely-there boardies, Prana’s latest is for you. With its 7.5-inch inseam and slim cut, the On the Rocks fits tighter than others on this list. It’s also minimalist: one back pocket with standard Velcro anchors, and a polyester-spandex material that feels like silk pajamas. Testers loved it for everything from boogie boarding to surfing to hiking.