Surfing Boardshorts | 7 Of The Best Boardshorts For Surfing
Reviews of seven pairs of surfing boardshorts, from high-end, rash-free technical boardshorts to classic designs bridging style and functionality
There are various elements of boardshort design to consider when deciding what boardshorts to buy. Are you a high-tech, knee-length, ultra-lightweight sort of chap, or do you tend towards something a little fruitier, preferring the more tangible feel of thick cotton against your upper-thigh? Here are seven pairs of top-drawer boardshorts, each of them approaching the pressing issues of functionality and style from a slightly different angle.
Best Boardshorts: Hurley Phantom JJF II Elite Boardshorts 21"
Hurley took home the prestigious (if ungrammatical) SIMA Boardshort of the Year award for six years running between 2008 and 2013, and their Phantom boardshorts range continues to be a reference point in the industry.
John John Florence prefers the additional protection of a slightly longer leg for his signature boardshorts, which eschew Hurley’s standard horizontal stripes for two vertical ones on each side. The 4-way stretch fabric is made from 86% recycled polyester, and they come in numerous colourways, this dark “camo dye" being one of the more tasteful options.
At full price they'll set you back just over £100, but they're some of the comfiest boardshorts for surfing available. Non-elite versions of John John Florence’s boardies are available for around half that, but you’ll have to make do without the Hyperfuse waistband, whatever that means.
Best Boardshorts: Quiksilver New Wave Highline Boardshorts 19"
Quiksilver’s Highline Boardshorts boast double-layered Highlite 4-way stretch fabric, Dryflight hydrophobic coating, heat-welded back pocket with water-block semi-dry zip, welded stretch seams, Ariaprene waistband, and neo-fly closure. In other words, they will feel wonderful around the testes, and generally keep chafe to a minumum.
Perhaps the pinnacle of high-tech functionality, at £150 they're also the most expensive boardshorts on the market, but those who own a pair insist they're worth the extra sterling. Available in an understated, futuristic black colourway, they look like the sort of boardshorts an advanced alien species would elect to wear.
Best Boardshorts: Birdwell x RVCA Trunks 16"
RVCA’s collaboration with iconic Californian brand Birdwell Beach Britches has begotten these classic hard-wearing surf trunks, which sport a single button at the fly below a six-ring drawcord and a waistband that recalls a pair of boxing shorts. Available in Black, Royal Blue, or Yellow and Orange, they look and feel fucken’ rad.
Two layers of lightweight nylon fabric make for extreme durability, a pleasing “rolling" effect as one layer slides over the other, and a product strikingly unlike most modern technical boardshorts. The 15.75" leg is decidedly on the short side, in keeping with the classic aesthetic.
Best Boardshorts: O’Neill Hybrid Friday Night Boardshorts 18"
O’Neill Blue is a new collection inspired by concern for the marine environment and made from high-quality bio-threads containing recycled beach plastic. The first O’Neill Blue Spring Summer collection is estimated to have removed around 200,000 plastic bottles from shorelines worldwide — a drop in the ocean, as O’Neill itself admits, but a commendable initiative nonetheless.
Some of those plastic bottles have been used to fashion straight-up technical boardshorts; others have been transformed into these hybrid boardies, designed to be worn both in and out of the water. The composite fabric (58% polyester, 37% cotton, 5% elastane) is sufficiently lightweight for surfing in but retains a more casual look and feel, while the Hyperdry technology means they dry within minutes.
Best Boardshorts: Patagonia Light & Variable Boardshorts 18"
Patagonia tend to adopt a super lightweight, no-frills, minimalist approach to making boardshorts. Their sleek, mid-length Light & Variable Boardshorts represent really solid value (RRP: £40), and are some of the lightest boardies on the market. The polyester material is fast-drying and durable, the design simple but effective, featuring seam-free inner thighs to reduce chafe.
Best Boardshorts: Banks Splice Boardshorts 16"
Despite the monumental advances in boardshort technology over recent years, there’s still space in many surfers’ wardrobes for a pair or two of old-fashioned canvas boardies.
Dense and highly water-absorbent, cotton is manifestly not performance-oriented, but it does offer a more stylish appearance and softer, less plasticky texture. Some surfers opt for pure cotton; those of a more delicate constitution compromise with a weave that combines cotton with a more thigh-friendly material such as polyester. These 2-way stretch boardshorts by Banks incorporate several modern twists for greater comfort, and while they probably won't be your go-to pair of boardies on a surf-intensive fortnight in the tropics, they might just be your favourite.