Best Board Shorts for Watersports – The Ultimate Buying Guide

The first thing we do once summer’s set is to hit the beach and bask in the sun we’ve missed during the cold season.

Some of us like to just sit on the sand and feel it against our skin while we sip on a glass of Sangria, but others love to dare the waves. Watersports are fantastic but, needless to say, they’re not for everybody. They’re so much more complex and difficult than it looks like.

Since we’re speaking about watersports, there is one factor that surfers and swimmers always take seriously and that is proper clothing.

The last thing one wants when he’s away from the shore is to have his shorts blown by the waves. This is where board shorts come to the rescue.

In the following, we’ll let you know why you should consider wearing board shorts instead of other types of shorts, as well as what you should keep an eye on when shopping for them.

Image Model Name Price Rating
O’Neill Short

O’Neill Men’s Catalina Avalon Board Short

Moderate 4.6

Hurley Phantom One and Only 20″ Board Short

High 4.6

SULANG Men’s Fashion Board Shorts

Very low 4.6
Tormenter Shorts

Tormenter Men’s 5-Pocket Waterman Fishing Board Shorts

Moderate 4.5
Nonwe Shorts

Nonwe Men’s Beachwear Board Shorts

Very low 4.4

Board Shorts Buying Guidean

There are many brands of board shorts on the market and you might be tempted to think this will make the process of choosing a pair extremely easy. Unfortunately, it’s the other way around. You must do a lot of research to make sure you’ll end up with a durable, high-quality pair of board shorts.

Luckily, we know exactly what it takes for a pair to be included in the “best” category. These are some of the factors that make them top-notch and definitely worth your money.


Board shorts dry out fairly quickly. This is what makes them different from other types of shorts. In order to do that, they need to be made out of a material that doesn’t retain water for too long.

If possible, try to opt for board shorts made out of polyester yarn and/or nylon. These materials are not only prone to drying quickly, but they’re also affordable. Subsequently, you won’t need to damage your wallet too badly to get a pair.

Pro Tip: Polyester and nylon shorts don’t stretch as much as shorts made out of other materials. If you need a looser pair, you might want to get one made of canvas.

The waistband

Board shorts – or any other type of shorts, for that matter – can be uncomfortable if the waistband isn’t in the least elastic. Mind you, it doesn’t have to be too elastic because waves will blow your shorts off.

Before you actually purchase a pair, make sure its waistband is neither too rigid nor too elastic. Board shorts for surfing, for instance, have tighter waistbands. Shorts for sitting on the beach are looser.

Boys Swimwear


Board shorts vary in length and there’s no rule set in stone as to the one you should buy them in. It depends on your personal preference, as well as on the sport you’re practicing.
These items can be above or below the knee. If you need to squat or move your knees a lot (like you would when surfing), you should consider shorts that are above the knee, because you’ll have full mobility.


Board shorts serve different purposes. For example, some might be suitable for surfing but impractical for water skiing. The three aspects above contribute a great deal to the purpose of a pair of board shorts.

If you’re a surfer, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t get a pair of board shorts that have been made for walking and sitting on the beach. Assess what you’ll be using them for (if you practice more than one sport).


There are 4 main types of board shorts: half jam, standard, modern and baggies. They are variations on a theme and differ in length, material, tightness, etc. The most common type is the standard one.

Baggies are the looser type and are not very practical in skiing, diving or surfing. The modern ones are tighter than most board shorts. If you don’t mind the waistband, they can be used for all watersports.

Half jams have both elastic and rigid waistbands. The former allows you to move freely while the latter keeps the shorts fixed on your waist.

Top 5 Best Board Shorts for Watersports

1. Best Board Shorts for Swimming – O’Neill’s Men’s Catalina Avalon Board Short

O’Neill Men’s Catalina Avalon Board Short
O’Neill’s has manufactured suits, shirts, and shorts for watersports for quite some time now and has always been on top of its game.

If you want a pair of board shorts that dry out almost as quickly as you get out of the water, then this is the best choice you can make.

Due to being 100% polyester, these don’t retain water and don’t wear out after a couple of uses. What ensures their durability, apart from the material they’re made of, is the crosshatch. This was done with suede.
Another great thing about them is that they come in 14 colors, therefore you’re sure to find your favorite. We have to mention that these are a bit looser than other pairs.

Another aspect you should be aware of is that O’Neill’s shorts (this pair only, not all of them) are above the knee. If you want longer ones, choose another model.

All things considered, the Catalina Avalon are great, no matter what water sport you’re practicing.


  • 100% polyester
  • Large array of available colors
  • Very durable
  • Perfect for surfing
  • Machine washable


  • Just one pocket
  • The pocket feels rigid
  • They might feel a little abrasive when they’re dried out

Order it HERE.

2. Best Board Shorts for Surfing – Hurley Phantom One and Only 20” Board Short

Hurley Phantom One and Only 20" Board Short
Hurley seldom needs an introduction when speaking about clothes. They manufacture and sell casual clothing, as well as sportswear. Their Phantom One model is made with a combination of polyester (recycled) and spandex, albeit in an infinitesimal percentage.

However, due to the spandex, these stretch a lot more than the model we’ve seen previously. In respect to the capacity of drying out, this is outstanding thanks to a water-repellent coating.
While they certainly look a little rigid in pictures, they are actually surprisingly comfortable. Like many board shorts these days, the Phantom One can be thrown in the washing machine without the risk of getting a basket of tatters out.

Like O’Neill’s model, the Phantom One also has a pocket you can use to store your items. You can keep your waterproof wallet, for instance, though it’s not recommended you carry your wallet with you when you go surfing.

These, too, can be purchased in 14 different colors.


  • The material offers a certain degree of stretch
  • Water-repellant coating
  • Machine washable
  • Very durable
  • They dry out quickly
  • Eco-friendly (recycled polyester)


  • The back pocket can be uncomfortable
  • They cling a little to the skin as they dry
  • Some people can find them a bit pricey

Order it HERE.

3. Best Board Shorts for Beach Volleyball – SULANG Men’s Fashion Board Shorts

SULANG Men’s Fashion Board Shorts
Polyester is king and the fact that 99.9% of board shorts are made with it nowadays is mere proof that the claim we’ve made is true.

In comparison with the two models we’ve reviewed until now, this pair is more intended for activities on the beach rather than in water, even though the manufacturer says they can be used for swimming.

What you’ll definitely find great is that these have 2 pockets, instead of one. Also, the material ensures they have some breathability. That means they won’t get saggy and damp if you sweat.
In the same respect, they don’t cling to the body once you’re out of the water, which is a huge plus. The fact that board shorts can cling isn’t really the problem – the problem here is that they sometimes show… places when they’re stuck.

These don’t do this and even if they were, nothing would be on display because they are not transparent.

Another advantage is the design. Most board shorts are totally uninspired and don’t actually say “Buy me”. These do.

SULANG provides some excellent patterns, from the Milky Way to floral arrangements (they’re more masculine than they sound). Considering they can be purchased for less than $20, we think they’re a great buy indeed.


  • Great material (it’s recycled, by the way)
  • Not clingy
  • 2 pockets
  • Beautiful designs
  • Practical both on the beach and in the water


  • You might find them a little too tight on the waist

Order it HERE.

4.Best Board Shorts for Kayaking – Tormenter Men’s 5-Pocket Waterman Fishing Board Shorts

Tormenter Men’s 5-Pocket Waterman Fishing Board Shorts
Tormenter Ocean, the manufacturer of this pair of board shorts, has created some really nice pieces of equipment over the years.

Even though they’re board shorts, therefore you can use them in water, they don’t dry out as quickly as other models. This is why they reached the fourth place. As their name says it, these shorts were made for fishing.

They have 5 pockets where you can store some tools (one is made for your phone) and they’re all lined with a harder material that doesn’t get torn. The shorts are made of 100% polyester, so you can rest assured they’ll last you.

Some people even wore these on vacation. So, you don’t have to be a fisherman to rock them out. You can choose between 12 colors and 12 adjacent designs, so you’ll surely find something that suits you.

We’re not sure how important design is for you, but we know there are many people for whom this is a significant consideration. If you’re going fishing on a regular basis, then you’ll definitely find this to be a good – and even necessary – purchase.

They’re not all that practical in the water, but it’s not forbidden for you to swim in them, obviously. We think the selling point of these shorts is its array of reinforced pockets. Apart from that, they’re really no different from other models.


  • Plenty of pockets for small fishing tools
  • They’re reinforced
  • 100% polyester
  • Comfortable


  • They are more expensive than most brands
  • They don’t dry out very quickly
  • They can be a tad too tight at the waist

Order it HERE.

5. Best Board Shorts under $50 – Nonwe Men’s Beachwear Board Shorts

Nonwe Men’s Beachwear Board Shorts
Nonwe’s board shorts look cool, there’s no denying it. They’re made of 100% polyester (what were the chances?) and have a mesh lining. Some people will see this as an advantage, others not that much.

What you should keep in mind is that these were designed to be worn on the beach and in a best-case scenario, when swimming. They won’t be that good for surfers or water skiers.

In spite of the fact that the material is light and fairly thin, there’s no risk of people seeing your private parts when you get out of the water. They dry out extremely quickly and they’re virtually indestructible.

The biggest problem with board shorts is that their color can start to fade after a while. Fortunately, you won’t have to worry about that with this product. That’s because they’re made of a high-quality material.

If you want a pair of board shorts that will last you for years to come with minimal wear and tear, this is the best choice you can make; especially if you’re shopping on a budget.


  • Very affordable
  • High-quality material
  • Pockets are lined with Velcro
  • Available in 17 colors
  • They dry quickly
  • Good for swimming


  • The mesh lining can be insanely annoying

Order it HERE.

Final Thoughts

Board shorts are a must for watersport fans. They’re better than simple shorts in all aspects.

As you might expect, this best board shorts for watersports guide is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the variety of items you can find nowadays. Take your time before you actually purchase your shorts.

You don’t want to end up with a pair that you’ll just throw in a drawer and never actually use. We hope you’ve found this buying guide and our reviews helpful and that you’re one step away from getting the board shorts you’ve always wanted.

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