Boardshort season is upon us, and thus your the chance to perform surfing's highest act: the boardies session. But with so very many on the market, how do you even know which are the best boardshorts for surfing?
'Surfing?' you ask. Sure, you could just hang in them all day, and still surf in your steamer, you could use them for showing off that outside calf tribal tatt, for jogging, yoga, gym... even for Joel Jitsu.
But the real utility of the boardshort, the real beauty of the trunk, is to allow you to surf at your very best. You're lighter, faster, better. Unshackled by rubber and bathed directly in brine, your rig sings the body electric. You're so ready to send it.
Nothing fun in life, dear reader, comes without consequences. You eat a burger? The rainforest shrinks. You fly on a plane? The ice caps melt. You drink 4 G&T's? You fall into a state of emotional darkness, a morning after episode of the fear of benthic depths.
Boardshorts too, carry hazards. Chiefly in the form of rashes or rubs on your thighs, bum and tackle. Wardrobe malfunctions can see them falling down thus rendering you fully or partially nude. Maybe they're generally uncomfy, restrictive. And of course, perhaps the most severe threat of all: looking shite.
This is where we come in. We've hand picked the very finest boardshorts on the market this year, trunks so good you'll look and surf better than ever. In terms of rashes and your gentleman's agreement? No longer the twain shall meet.
Well not from surfing, at least. We can only take you so far.
"Unshackled by rubber and bathed directly in brine, your rig sings the body electric"
(Not planning on surfing in boardies anytime soon? Fine! Read all about the 10 Best Summer Steamers )
Vissla Da Bush
Vissla Da Bush
Materials: 50% recycled polyester, 38% coconut, 12% spandex
Price: €65 / £56
These terrific trunks from Vissla, made in part from up-cycled coconut husks are called Da Bush and carry a striking snake motif. So bush, and snakes. Bush tends to suggests things that are broadly enjoyable, if perhaps best consumed in moderation. Things like weed, muff and the outback, for example.
Snakes on the other hand, conjure up an image of things to be avoided at all times. Those bothersome, vile sub-humans who exhibit the worst kind of greed, those folk for whom their wave-derived fun seemingly must come at the expense of someone else's.
As it happens, these shorts fall into neither category; they should be enjoyed without moderation... Read the full review
Globe Dion Eclipse
Globe Dion Eclipse Boardshorts
Materials: 87% polyester 13% elastane
Price: €70 / £60
Just like the man himself, Dion Agius’ shorts are simultaneously high-performance and low-key. It’s a frustratingly rare combination that the surf industry seems to think is some kind of impossible paradox. Evidently it isn't; Globe’s ingenious boardshort technicians and their small balded, bearded Tasmanian goofyfoot have finally proved that surfing in comfort and looking like a presentable member of the human race are not, in fact, mutually exclusive.
Why should a man have to resemble a set of traffic lights just because he wants to safeguard himself against debilitating private part abrasion? The struggle to find a pair of comfy, functional boardies that aren’t nauseatingly high-vis is over... Read the full review
RVCA VA Boardshorts
Materials: 94% 6% elastane
Artist: Luke Pelletier
If there's a better looking pair of trunks in the universe this year - or any other year for that matter - then I'd like to know about them. A print from a painting by artist Luke Pelletier called American Fizzle adorns these, a colourway that says shred dandy like little else.
And if there's a better-looking wearer of them than Luke Davis The Grey, well I should like to know about him, too. Because it'll take more than that pesky restraining order to dampen my enthusiasm for these shorts and the strong but delicately jawboned RVCA advocate himself. The whole thing was basically a huge misunderstanding... Read the full review
Rip Curl Mirage Ultimate Amplify
Rip Curl Mirage Ultimate Amplify
Materials: 89% polyester, 11% elastane
A relatively long trunk with an outrageous boast of high end spec, the Mirage Ultimate Amplify is the kind of short you can tell as resulted from exhaustive R&D and teamrider feedback. Kinda fussy, particular teamriders, at that. Whether it be the key pocket on the side (as opposed to on your bum, leaving an imprint as you sit on your board), the stitch-less welded seams throughout, or the eyelets on the fly, it's the little details that make these shorts more impressive the closer you inspect them... Read the full review
Patagonia Wavefarer Boardshorts
Materials: 100% nylon
Price: €65 / £55 approx.
The 100% Nylon is perhaps the Wavefarer's main judges-pleasing point of difference, nylon being a harder-wearing material than your standard polyester. I’ve not had them for long nor conducted a rigorous scientific experiment, but on the basis of past experiences with Patagonia and the sheer feel of these shorts both in and out the water, I’d be frankly astonished if there were a more durable pair of boardshorts on the market.
But enough of the technical stuff. What you want to know about is the vibe: what sort of vibe do these shorts transmit? Vibe, of course, is largely determined by the colour — or, as it’s known in the industry, the colourway. Read the full review
Hurley Phantom Hyperweave Toucan
Hurley Phantom Hyperweave Toucan Boardshorts
Materials: 86% polyester 14% spandex
Price: £90 / €100
The fit is superb, the Hyperweave waistband a marvel of modern engineering, the fabric light and quick-drying. The 18-inch leg, meanwhile, is a generous amount of protective fabric between surfboard and inner-thigh, but still short enough to retain a certain sleekness: not impractically long, à la Andy-Irons-circa-2002, not uncomfortably short, suffer-for-your-art-hipster style, but somewhere stylishly and ergonomically in between... Read the full review
Quiksilver High Line New Wave
Quiksilver High Line New Wave Boardshorts
Materials: 90% polyester, 10% elastane
Price: £50 / €60
So for serious all-day tropical sessioning, a pair of slightly longer-legged and fully performance-oriented boardshorts may prove key. These shorts feel wonderful, stretch towards all four points of the compass (courtesy of the Repreve recycled fabric), and generally exude a pleasant aroma of pioneering technology and boardshort-making know-how.
Of particular note are the heat-welded zip pocket (back, not side), and the laces at the waistband. These, in a stroke of genius, are shaped a bit like a string of sausages, resulting in increased friction and a more secure knot. Read the full review
Volcom Stoney Burch
Volcom Stoney Burch Trunk
Materials: 79% polyester / 11% cotton / 5% hemp / 5% elastane
Price: £60 / €75
"But my third eye helps me see, the black man's god, yo it ain't no mystery" said Brand Nubian in 1993's In God We Trust. It was a decent lyric from strong album in a golden age for the genre. And while hip-hop has fallen into despair of mumble, boardshort design is in its own belle epoch. Whether the very many eyes adorning the Burch Stoneys refer to dharmic spiritual traditions and ajna chakra being to the gate that leads to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness, or Five Percenters Brand Nubian, or whether they're just drawings is as yet unconfirmed.
What we can confirm at this stage is the supreme ride comfort of the Burch trunk... Read the full review
Finisterre Vendavel Boardshorts
Material: 100% recycled polyester
Price: £75 / €86
Weighing in at just 98g, these were the lightest shorts in this review by some measure. So light in fact, you wonder if you're getting your money's worth. The answer is of course, yes. So the Vendavel is freakishly light, and the sensation is wonderful, almost like wearing nothing at all. Just like the nudist, you’ll feel gleefully unshackled, except all your essential equipment will be safeguarded against the ravages of surf wax/front-foot traction pad... Read the full review
O'Neill Hybrid Denim
oneill hybrid denim
Materials: ISK0 Blue Skin denim, 4 way stretch
O’Neill trunk scientists have tirelessly researched the features that make up the comfy AF shorts part of the Venn Diagram, with the quick drying, stretchy boardies parts, and combined them in a beautiful piece of joined up thinking. Hooking up with denim manufacturer ISKO, they’ve delivered a denim that’s 50% lighter than traditional jean fabric, water repellent, soft and breathable both in and out of the water. Read the full review
Not really ready to stop reading about boardshorts? We've got way more of 2018's best trunks.