Board shorts are your best bet for interesting surfing experience, particularly during summer. They are made to last even in various rigorous conditions as you go about enjoying your surfing.
Not just any shorts can serve as board shorts and not every board short will be perfect for your needs. If you are looking for a clue on how to pick the best board shorts for surfing, then you’ve come to the right place.
My article, containing all the needed information, is aimed at helping you find the best for your needs. I have compiled the 15 best board shorts for surfing as well as a buying guide to help in that regard. Let’s get started.
Why You Need to Wear Board Shorts?
You may have gotten your surf glasses, surf watch, and other accessories, what about your board shorts? For avid surfers, beginners or professionals, board shorts are one of the important things to possess. Of course, you cannot go unclothed nor with any wear. Why do you need to wear board shorts?
Board shorts are designed specifically for “water-board” sports. If you are going to be rolling the waves with surfboards, board shorts will help protect your leg hairs from getting stuck on the surf wax.
They also provide protection from ultraviolet rays. Also, they are generally loose and will allow breathability and comfort when surfing.
With most coming with a fixed waistband (button or drawstring closure), they do not slip off when wet. After your time on the waters, they dry quickly and can be worn casually on the beach without looking too odd.
My Top Picks
Board shorts are one of the nicest options for surfing during summer. See some of the best board shorts for surfing that should top your list.
- Best Overall: Hurley Men’s One & Only Supersuede
“Lightweight, comfortable, high durability, looks attractive, comes with a key loop.”
- Best Budget: ATTRACO Women’s
“Cheap, excellent UPF rating, soft feel, no irritation, high waist design, elastic and durable material.”
- Best Travel Board Shorts: Hurley Men’s One and Only
“100-percent polyester, machine-washable, durable, 21-inch long, fits nicely.”
- Best Mens Board Shorts: Hurley Men’s Phantom Patriot
“Looks great, American-flag design, hand wash, water-repellant, stretchy fabric.”
- Best Womens Board Shorts: Kanu Surf Women’s Marina
“50+ UPF rating, many attractive color options, budget-friendly, can be machine-washed.”
- Best for Big Guys: O’Neill GI Jack Patriotic Hyperfreak
“For patriots, water-resistant, fast fly closure, elastic, multiple camo color options, big sizes available.”
- Best for Tall Guys: Rip Curl Dawn Patrol
“Attractive, multiple designs, machine wash, side pocket, long enough to reach the knee or over it.”
- Best for Dad Bod: Rip Curl Men’s Mirage Core 20″
“Slightly elastic, standard length, variety of colors and sizes, cannot be seen through when wet.”
- Best With Pockets: Billabong Men’s Classic Lo Tide
“Multicolor designs, breathable, attractive, comes with three pockets.”
- Best With Liner: Birdwell Men’s 311 Nylon
“100-percent nylon, short length, features a back pocket and key loop, comes with a nylon lining..”
- Best for Big Thighs: Visive Mens Hybrid
“Button closure, nice aesthetics, quick-drying, comfy, lightweight, comes with five pockets and belt loops.”
- Best for Older Surfer: O’Neill Men’s Hyper Freak Heist
“4-times stretch, water-resistant, ultra-soft, flexible, lightweight, 21-inch long, high-performing.”
To select a product, you need to know much about it. You don’t have to stay all day examining all the board shorts available in the market. Below is a quick table of the most important characteristics and features of my compiled 15 best board shorts for surfing.
The 15 Best Board Shorts for Surfing Reviews
To get yourself the best board shorts for surfing, you need to have an accurate knowledge of those shorts available. Many options are available to pick from, however, I will recommend any of the 15 board shorts I’ve compiled in this article.
For a better knowledge of the complied board shorts, see their detailed reviews below.
See more related reviews:
1. Hurley Men’s One & Only Supersuede
(Best Overall – Editor’s Choice)
If you are looking for a lengthy, good-fitting option, the Hurley Men’s One and Only Supersuede Board Shorts is perfect. Its length along the outseams is 21 inches, long enough to reach the knees.
Made out of recycled polyester, it is considerably durable, but, it is less stretchable with low breathability. Notwithstanding, the colors are appealing and there are 9 options to pick from.
The waist is partially adjustable since the drawstring doesn’t go around the waist but only to hold to front closure. It fits nicely but it’s less forgiving and you need to pick the most suitable size for you.
The Hurley Men’s One and Only Supersuede Board Short feature an elastic loop in the pocket to hold keys.
- 9 color options.
- Pocket comes with an elastic loop to hold keys.
- Available in many sizes.
- Partial waist adjustment.
- Low stretch-ability.
2. Hurley Men’s One and Only Board Shorts
(Best Travel Board Shorts)
The Hurley Men’s One and Only Board short meets all the criteria you may need in a board short. From its price that is pocket-friendly to its durable material that can withstand rigors, it’s just perfect.
It’s made from 100-percent polyester, which explains its durability, although, it is not stretchy. Not all shorts can be machine-washed but this one is an exception as it won’t fade or weaken.
Many sizes are available numbering up to 12, including those that can accommodate big individuals. There are many colors of the Hurley Men’s One and Only Board Shorts available but they are just plain.
It comes with back pockets and the regular drawstrings, hence, it is adjustable. Furthermore, the length of the short sizes is 21 inches.
- Many sizes and colors available.
- Offers more length.
- Can be machine-washed.
- No zippers included.
- May not be too elastic.
3. Hurley Men’s Phantom Patriot
(Best Mens Board Shorts)
If you would like to rock colorful, American-theme designs to the beach, consider the Hurley Men’s Phantom Patriot Board Shorts. You should not worry about the size since it comes with an adjustable waist and up to ten sizes.
The build material is a combination of polyester and spandex, making it rugged and slightly stretchy. The material is also water-repellant and quick-drying.
Just one pocket is featured and it is located on the backside with a flap as a closure. The length of the Hurley Men’s Phantom Patriot Board Shorts for all the sizes is 20 inches which is about the standard size.
- Attractive theme designs.
- Moderate length.
- Available in many sizes.
- Features a back pocket.
- Water-repelling and stretchy material.
- It cannot be machine washed.
4. Kanu Surf Women’s Marina
(Best Womens Board Shorts)
Female sports enthusiasts have a great choice with the affordable Kanu surf women’s marina board shorts. Like most board shorts, it is made from polyester and has a UPF rating of 50+.
In addition, the fabric is machine-washable and quick-drying while it allows minimal water absorption. One major highlight is the availability of several color options that females will find attractive.
It features a drawstring for the front closure only. The Kanu surf women’s marina board short doesn’t come with a pocket but it features a cargo pocket storage.
There are sizes for waist circumferences between 35 and 43 inches. However, the length of the short is 18 inches, which may be short for some individuals.
- Many attractive colors are available.
- Features a cargo pocket storage.
- UPF 50+.
- No pockets.
- May be less elastic.
5. O’Neill GI Jack Patriotic Hyperfreak
(Best for Big Guys)
Another impressive board short for men is the O’Neill GI Jack Patriotic Hyperfreak board short. Its waistband is adjustable with its tough drawstring. Interestingly, it is available in many size options even for big individuals.
It is a stretch board short made from 91-percent polyester and 9-percent spandex. The fabric is also coated and made water-resistant. This way, it absorbs less amount of water and you won’t feel awkward when wet.
It is quite lengthy on the outseams, reaching the standard length of 21 inches. It flaunts a fast fly closure and it features a zippered pocket with key loop. The O’Neill GI Jack Patriotic Hyperfreak board short comes in multiple color options and a patch of the American flag.
- Waist is adjustable.
- Standard length.
- Water-resistant coating.
- Fast fly closure.
- Comes with a zippered pocket with a key loop.
- No bright color options.
6. Rip Curl Dawn Patrol
(Best for Tall Guys)
For male surfer looking for attractive board shorts, you should have the Rip Curl Dawn Patrol board short to your list. There are a variety of designs available both in multiple (strips) and plain colors.
It’s not really a stretchy short but its fabric (a combination of nylon, polyester, cotton, and spandex) is quality enough.
Therefore, you shouldn’t be buying another sooner. If you cannot hand-wash, you can use your washing machine without any side effects.
Measuring 21 inches on the outseams, the Rip Curl Dawn Patrol board short will definitely reach the knee or even over it. There is a pocket on the right leg which has a flap closure. You also get to enjoy the inclusion of a fly.
- Attractive color choices.
- Machine wash.
- Features side pocket with flap closure.
- Length reaches the knee or over it.
- Comes with a fly.
- May appear less stretchy.
7. Rip Curl Men’s Mirage Core 20″
(Best for Dad Bod)
The Rip Curl Men’s Mirage core board short is made from stretchy material (polyester and spandex), therefore, it fits well on its users.
The short can withstand intense use and can also be machine washed. It is available in various sizes and color options. However, the length of its outseam is 20 inches which is within the standard length.
Although it doesn’t have a back pocket, it has a small waterproof zippered pocket on the right. It uses a drawstring closure. Overall, the Rip Curl Men’s Mirage core board short is attractive and durable.
- Elastic material.
- Features a waterproof zippered pocket on the right side.
- Multiple color and size options.
- Moderate length.
- Sizing may be inconsistent.
8. Billabong Men’s Classic Lo Tide
(Best With Pockets)
You may want to consider the Billabong Men’s Classic Lo Tide Board shorts. Like many similar board shorts, it’s got an adjustable waist (drawstring).
Its material comprises 80-percent polyester, 7-percent spandex, and 13-percent cotton. Also, it is breathable, water-resistant, and quick-drying so you won’t have to feel wet not long after action.
The short has two on-seam pockets and a back pocket with flap closure. The Billabong Men’s Classic Lo Tide Board is available in few multicolor designs, though, attractive.
The length of the short (along the longest seam) is just 19 inches. Hence, it may seem too short for some people.
- Quick-drying and water-resistant.
- Two side pockets and back pockets.
- Impeccable aesthetics.
- Length may appear too short.
- Few color options.
9. Birdwell Men’s 311 Nylon
(Best With Liner)
The Birdwell Men’s 311 board short is an attractive, top-quality option, made from nylon fabric. It is fully lined, hence, one cannot see through even when wet. Even with that, it is highly breathable.
Although it is made by hand, the seams are reliable and neat. Men will definitely like the idea of the fly included and it can be secured properly with the buttons.
At the outseams, it measures 18 inches which implies that it is a medium-sized short. The Birdwell Men’s 311 board short comes with a front-closure drawstring and, at the back, there is a big pocket and a key loop.
- Highly breathable.
- Fully lined.
- Comes with a button fly.
- Features a key loop on the back pocket.
- May not dry quickly.
- Sizing may be inaccurate.
10. Visive Mens Hybrid
(Best for Big Thighs)
One of the most stylish men’s board short is the Visive Men’s Hybrid board short. It is finely sewn and available in multiple attractive color options.
The short is sewn from a polyester-spandex fabric, hence, it is quick-drying and slightly elastic. Overall, the short is lightweight and comfy.
It doesn’t come with a drawstring but a button closure so you can wear and put off faster. It features five pockets – two side pockets, two back pockets, and a coin pocket around the band.
The Visive Men’s Hybrid board short doesn’t get too wet and soggy. However, it may get stained with liquids and may look embarrassing (like did you pee on yourself?).
- Nice aesthetics.
- Button closure.
- Features five pockets and belt loops.
- Stretchy and quick-drying material.
- Comfy and lightweight.
- May get stained from liquids quickly.
- No lining.
11. O’Neill Men’s Hyper Freak Heist
(Best for Older Surfer)
The O’Neill men’s hyper freak heist board short is a hyperelastic long short, measuring 21 inches at the outseam. Coming from a reputable brand like O’Neill, the short is made from quality fabric that attests to their fine reputation.
The material, polyester-spandex fabric, is soft, comfy, and less susceptible to tearing. In addition, the material is water-repellant, lightweight, and dries quickly.
It comes with anti-rash thread and a zippered pocket on the side (right). Like most shorts, the O’Neill men’s hyper freak heist board short is available in sizes between the range of 28 and 44.
You also get to pick between many attractive colors. The short doesn’t come with a lining, however, it still feels comfortable if worn with a brief underneath.
- Super stretch.
- Treated to be water repellant.
- Reputable brand.
- Soft and comfy.
- No lining.
- May appear bigger than its size label.
12. ATTRACO Women’s
Another modest and budget-friendly choice for females is the ATTRACO Women’s long board shorts. It is a super versatile option, ideal for many sports including surfing.
It is highly elastic and offers good-fitting as its polyester material has some percentage of Spandex. It has a brief-shaped polyester lining and this, together with its material, guarantees a comfortable and irritation-free feel.
The short is also able to provide high ultraviolet protection. Instead of drawstrings, the short has a high waist design and an elastic waistband. This helps to keep it in place when wet. The ATTRACO Women’s long board short is available in various sizes and color choices.
- Excellent UV protection.
- Soft feel on the skin.
- Comes with a lining.
- Sizes may appear too small.
13. Billabong Men’s Stripe
(Best With Water-Resistance)
Add the Billabong Men’s Stripe board shorts to your everyday essentials for surfing. In terms of aesthetics, it flaunts a classic stripe multicolor design that is available in four options.
This short is made from 100-percent polyester, which implies more durability. The material is lightweight, able to repel water, quick-drying and machine-washable.
Apart from the quality material, it has durable seams and stitches. It comes with a single side pocket with a flap closure located on the left leg.
Despite the merits, the Billabong Men’s Stripe board shorts is less stretchy and won’t fit bigger individuals. However, it is available in three sizes, 28, 32, and 40, so more people can wear.
- Available four multicolor designs.
- Can be machine-washed.
- Repels water.
- Durable seams and stitches.
- One small side pocket.
14. Tournesol Women’s
(Best With High UPF Rating)
The Tournesol Women’s board short is a versatile and attractive high waist wear that resembles a bikini. It is one of the most affordable options on my list.
The short is durable and elastic, thanks to its polyester-spandex fabric. Even though it is fully lined, it is completely breathable, quick-drying and also has an excellent UPF rating.
It doesn’t have drawstring but it has an elastic waist which makes it comfy. Nevertheless, you still have to pick a suitable waist size within the range of 25 and 43 inches.
Interestingly, the Tournesol Women’s board short has an adjustable tie design that allows you to adjust its length.
- Highly elastic fabric.
- UV-resistant, quick-drying, and breathable.
- Fully lined.
- Available for many waist circumferences.
- Short length.
15. RVCA Men’s Eastern
(Best for Small Surfers)
With more spandex (15 percent) in its fabric, the RVCA Men’s Eastern board short gives the nicest fitting on male surfers. You have the luxury of attractive choices as it comes in various color themes – plain, strips, and even mosaic patterns.
As it balances aesthetics and function, the fabric appears tough and can provide all the needed protection. It is made with a water-repellant coating to reduce water absorption.
When it comes to washing, it is absolutely compatible with washing machines. A side pocket, with a flap closure, is sewn on the right leg. Due to its small size range, the RVCA Men’s Eastern board short is ideal for young surfers.
- Available various color themes – plain, strips, and mosaic.
- Super stretch.
- Water-repellant coating.
- Machine wash.
- Small size range.
Choosing the Right Board Shorts for Surfing
Asides your budget which is important, here are the top six things to consider when buying board shorts for surfing.
1. Size and Comfort
This is the most important thing to consider as it determines the level of comfort. Almost everybody will find their size. Prior to any purchase, you should know the most suitable size for you.
At least, you should know the circumference of your waist so you can compare with the size chart of the board shorts available. There are shorts with sizes that can accommodate big guys and some for small or young surfers.
The length also matters too. Generally, the length ranges from 18 and 24 inches but the standard length ranges between 20 and 22 inches. Of course, the length determines if it will go over the knee or not.
Board shorts are made from many materials such as cotton, nylon, spandex, polyester, or a combination of any of them. However, shorts made with fabrics that have a high percentage of polyester or nylon are best for some reasons.
You should go for board shorts that are lightweight and comfortable and are made from durable, water-resistant, and moisture-wicking materials.
For instance, polyester is tough durable and can withstand more physical activities. Also, polyester is very quick-drying when compared to other fabrics used.
Materials made from spandex offer more stretch, hence, more comfort and freedom. Spandex is often infused in other materials like polyester to help you enjoy the benefits of all the materials.
3. UPF Rating
Like rash guards, board shorts also protection to its users. Apart from protection from chaffing and surf wax, they can also offer protection from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
However, the level of protection, also known as the Ultraviolet Protection Factor rating, differs from material to material. The Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating measures the quantity of UV rays the fabric can let through.
Of course, the higher the rating, the higher the level of protection. The table below shows the various ratings and the level of protection.
|UPF Rating (%)||UPF Protection||Remark|
|97+||40 – 50+||Excellent|
|95.6 – 97||25 – 39||Very Good|
|93 – 95.5||15 – 24||Good|
4. Waist Type
When buying board shorts, it is either you go for a fixed or elastic waist option. The fixed waist board shorts are often more secure and they may come with drawstring, hook & loop, or button closure. They are less forgiving and you need to find the right waist size.
The elastic waist board shorts are more comfortable and give little freedom. You may not need to buy another if you add or lose some fat. However, they are less secure and can slip off when wet or slack.
Of course, you might have a different purpose apart from using them with your surfboard. If you are going to be bodyboarding which requires more contact with your bodyboards, long board shorts will be ideal.
If you are going to be with your skimboard on the shoreline, a short one will do just fine. If you are going to be using windsurfing boards or stand up paddle boards, a short one will also be best since it will allow more breathability.
6. Extra Features
If you are considerate about aesthetics, you may want a board short that matches your surf watch. You may also check for the pockets and the presence of fly for male surfers.
What Is the Difference Between Board Shorts and Swim Trunks?
Most people often find it hard to differentiate between board shorts and swim trunks. For some people, it is the same thing. Well, there are differences between these two.
The first thing to check is the waistband. Since swimming is less physical than surfing, the waistband in swim trunks is often elastic. Therefore, they are easy to put on or off. In surfing, you need something that won’t slip off you easily, hence, board shorts generally come with fixed waistbands.
Another thing to look out for is the length. Generally, board shorts are longer than swim trunks. This allows them to provide the needed protection from the surf waxes on your surfboard.
From another perspective, board shorts appear more formal and classy enough to wear on the beach even when you are not surfing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Need or missed some important information? Here are some frequently asked questions on board shorts for surfing.
What Are Board Shorts?
Board shorts are quite a popular gear for surfers since the 1950s. They are often within the length of 18 and 24 inches, however, the standard length ranges from 20 to 22 inches. Sometimes they may be tight-fitting and free-flowing.
Board shorts are basically for protection, although, they may be worn for fashion purposes. Truly, surf waxes on surfboards are used to enhance grip and allow a better surfing experience.
However, they can be quite annoying too, especially when the surfer’s hair (legs) get stuck on them. This can create some painful sensation during surfing. During summer, it is one of the favorites of many surfers.
When to Wear Board Shorts?
Board shorts are ideal for surfing during summer and hot conditions. You may also wear board shorts if you will be doing less intense activities such as jogging or walking on the shore.
What to Wear Under Board Shorts?
A nice and popular question this is! Well, I think it is based on your personal preference. Some people find it odd to wear board shorts without undergarments. I won’t deny the fact that undergarments offer more protection.
If you are among this category of surfers, you may stick with wearing briefs. You may also wear any undergarment that feels comfortable and breathable.
If your reason for wearing undergarments is to prevent see-through, then there are many board shorts with full lining. Some, even when wet, don’t allow see-throughs. If that’s fine with you, then you can dump undergarments.
How Should Board Shorts Fit?
Again, this is based on your personal preference. Board shorts are available in slim-fit and free-flowing styles. Slim-fit styles will offer a more streamlined movement but they may be less comfortable.
Conversely, free-flowing shorts will offer more comfort but generate more drag. However, what is important is that you should be very comfortable with your board shorts.
By now, you should be able to determine and get yourself the best board shorts for surfing. Using buying guide and other info I’ve provided, everything should appear simpler and you can eventually narrow your options down to the best one for you.
If I was to recommend the best overall, I would go for the Hurley Men’s One & Only Supersuede for its durability and aesthetics. Budget users will definitely enjoy the ATTRACO Women’s.
The best for men and women will be the Hurley Men’s Phantom Patriot and Kanu Surf Women’s Marina respectively.
Have you purchased any of the board shorts on my list? Do you have remarks, requests, or comments to make?
Kindly drop them in the comments section below. You can also share this article with family and friends on Facebook or Twitter by clicking on the buttons below.