Board Short Vs Swim Trunk: A Buyer’s Guide

Board Short Vs Swim Trunk A Buyer's Guide

Board short vs swim trunk: The main distinction between swim trunks and board shorts is that the latter are shorter (stopping above the knee), with the former being longer (going down to the knee or below, depending on style & preference).

Oftentimes, swim trunks are made specifically for use in the water and have an additional mesh insert to give men more support. The netting’s breathable fabric can help you stay cool on hot, muggy days by increasing air circulation. Swim trunks come in both short and long styles, and many now feature pockets that can be used to store keys. Board shorts, on the other hand, aren’t just for surfers and beachgoers, and they’re not just worn by men, though most women who wear them wear bathing suit bottoms underneath.

Board shorts have become common as part of the attire for Mixed Martial Arts competitions in addition to being well-liked among skateboarders.

For more information, keep reading.

What Are Board Shorts?

The modern board short was created in the late 1940s on Oahu’s Westside by Japanese-Hawaiian tailor Minouri Nii, and it is designed to support almost all active water-based activities. The preferred piece of technical clothing for men to use while surfing, bodysurfing, diving, swimming, sailing, and other water sports is a well-built board short as long as the water is not too chilly (66 degrees Fahrenheit or below).

The board short’s fixed waist, a panel of reinforced, two-ply rigid fabric typically fastened in the front with a drawcord tie system, is the secret to its efficiency. Despite being four-way stretch throughout, the rigid, fixed waist of the shorts ensures that they stay on your hips while you’re moving around. In addition to the fixed waist, features of the board short include:

  • Four-way engineered stretch fabric
  • Strategically placed, water-sealed pockets
  • no inner mesh lining.

What Defines A Boardshort’s Outseam?

The outseam of a board short is another distinguishing characteristic. In the early 2000s, this length crept up to 24 inches and beyond, but today’s typical range is between a 17 inch outseam and a 21 inch outseam.

Your individual body type and preferred style, which we go into more detail about below, will determine the ideal outseam length for you. Today, a 19-inch outseam is the typical length for a board short.

What advantages a longer outseam has in terms of functionality? A little bit longer shorts provide the wearer with more thigh and knee protection while paddling and from the sun because board shorts were originally designed for surfing.

What Material Are Men’s Boardshorts Made Of?

Board shorts typically have an eco-friendly, water-repellent coating on the exterior fabric that makes them lighter and dries more quickly.

Board shorts are available in a variety of materials, including canvas, nylon, recycled polyester, and cotton blends. However, the material of choice for maximum performance is engineered fabric made from recycled polyester and elastane. Most surfers and water-based athletes need four-way stretch properties for their physically demanding activities, and this engineered fabric offers them.

What Should You Put On Over Boardshorts?

For several reasons, board shorts do not have mesh inner linings: they limit flexibility, have a tendency to absorb water, and can chafe much more easily than shorts without lining.

However, there are times when wearing a liner-free board short for a long period of time can cause some chafing. Some surfers and water-based athletes will wear a poly/spandex base-layer underneath their board shorts to avoid this and ensure chafe-free, all-day sessions in the water. See more about Do Swim Caps Keep Hair Dry?

Can You Swim Or Perform Other Activities In Boardshorts?

For all water-based activities, including yoga, training, and rock climbing, board shorts’ combination of a secure fit and a lightweight, four-way stretch fabric is ideal. Additionally, because of their amphibious abilities and water-specific design, they are even more appealing for activities on land.

What Are My Options When Choosing A Boardshort?

As we mentioned above, finding the best board short for you depends on a variety of personal preference factors, including your preferred color or print and how much stretch (or lack thereof) you want in your board shorts.

To style, comfort, and wearer preference, outseam length is the factor that matters the most. Manufacturers of board shorts usually grade the outseam lengths to make them uniform no matter the wearer’s height or weight. For example, a 19″ outseam board short, for most wearers, should hang just above the knee. Below is a series of illustrations showing outseam length and how far they hang on a 5’11” surfer, waist size 32.

  • Well Above Knee: 16-17″
  • Just Above Knee: 18-19″
  • Just Below Knee: 20″
  • Well Below Knee: 21-22″
Board Short Vs Swim Trunk A Buyer's Guide
Board Short Vs Swim Trunk: A Buyer’s Guide

What Are Swim Trunks?

Swim trunks are also made to be worn in a more relaxed manner around the water. They’re constructed from materials that dry quickly, and they might have a mesh lining inside for comfort. Swim trunks, a standard piece of swimwear for men and boys, are typically shorter than board shorts but come in a variety of lengths. They frequently have drawstring waists and might have side or back pockets. Swim trunks and board shorts both come in a wide variety of prints, patterns, and styles.

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Their Major Differences


Both types of shorts serve a few distinct functions, but they are both appropriate for a variety of outdoor activities. When it comes to surfing, board shorts are frequently a better option because they have a little extra length and a double-closure fly. Swim trunks are a smart option for water activities, relaxing by the pool or beach, and other laid-back settings.


Longer inseams distinguish board shorts from other types of shorts. In order to offer additional protection from crashing waves, sand, and surfboards, most board shorts will fall at or below the knee. Additionally, the added length is intended to keep surf wax off a surfer’s leg. Swim trunks, on the other hand, are not required to be a specific length. They are available with inseams ranging from four inches for shorter trunks to seven inches or more for longer trunks.


The way that they fit on the body is another significant distinction between board shorts and swim trunks. Board shorts have a longer, slouchier waist that gives them a more relaxed, sporty appearance. Swim trunks have wider legs and a slightly boxier cut, giving them a more traditional appearance. You can always choose swim trunks with a longer inseam if you want a more contemporary, sporty appearance and enjoy the fit of them.


Additionally, these two varieties of shorts differ from one another by sharing a few characteristics in common. To prevent surfers’ board shorts from coming undone in the waves, board shorts are made with a tie and Velcro fly. This double-secure closure keeps surfers’ gear on. Swim trunks, on the other hand, have a mesh lining built right into the fabric, which can keep you dry and comfortable all day long.


Board shorts and swim trunks are made of different materials as a result of the different purposes for which they are intended. To withstand rough and tumble wear in the surf, board shorts are typically made with more resilient, tear-resistant fabric. Swim trunks are also strong, but they are typically designed for mobility and quick drying, which makes them ideal for beach sports like volleyball, paddle ball, and surfing. Wearing your favorite pair of swim trunks will make it simple to go from your fishing or golfing trip to a nice dinner at a restaurant or bar!

Which Is Better, Board Shorts Or Swim Shorts?

What you’ll be wearing them for and your preferred style are the two main considerations when deciding between board shorts and swim trunks. Board shorts are a good option if you prefer longer shorts. Swim trunks are a better option if you’d be remiss without a mesh insert.

Due to the popularity of board shorts, some swim trunks are also available with liners in board short lengths. In conclusion, you can locate the ideal set for both your requirements and your appearance.

Writer for BestReviews Ana Sanchez BestReviews is a product review business with a clear goal: to make your purchasing decisions easier and save you time and money.