Board Shorts vs. Swim Trunks

Board Shorts vs. Swim Trunks

Putting an End to the Back and Forth

Ahh, the age old debate—what is the difference between board shorts vs trunks? The most important differences between the two terms really comes down to the style, comfort, and durability of each piece. So, what are board shorts? Typically, they’re a bit longer than swim trunks and can be worn as both swim and casual wear. On the other hand, swim trunks should not be worn as shorts because they lay above the knee and are specifically designed to get wet and provide support to guys while swimming. Let’s take a closer look at the nuances between these closet-staple rivals so that you can decide which one best suits your needs.

Style Signifiers 

When it comes to style, there are plenty of pattern and color options available for board shorts and trunks. However, choosing the right shorts really depends on other features aside from just the aesthetic. For example, board shorts are usually longer than swim trunks, and are equipped with pockets for land use. In fact, their original design was intended for skateboarders and martial arts competitors, not necessarily for swimmers and surfers. So, they do tend to have a looser fitting style as well. With that being said, you may be asking “Do you wear anything under board shorts?” If you plan on using them in the water, you can wear them on their own. But if you’re going to sport them while going out, we recommend wearing underwear or compression shorts underneath for added support. Swim trunk style is more straightforward—depending on personal preference, they’re slightly shorter than board shorts and you don’t have to worry about wearing anything underneath.

Comfort Cues 

The key to distinguishing the difference between board shorts vs trunks is in the comfort. Although board shorts are intended for land and water use and made from fast-drying materials like polyester and nylon, they’re not as moisture-wicking as quality swim trunks. This could become an issue for those who plan on being in and out of the water all day—a breeding ground for chafing if you ask us. Plus, board shorts have no interior lining for support while swimming. That’s why we strongly suggest trying a pair of breathable chafe-free trunks, especially if you’re going to be in the water a lot.

Durability Details 

If you’re weighing the pros and cons of board shorts vs trunks, honing in on durability and quality is crucial. Regardless of which one you go with, you should always choose a reputable retailer to make sure you get the most out of your money. Some things to consider in this category include waistbands, overall protection, and material. First, board shorts usually have a tighter waistband that opens with either velcro or some buttons. Meanwhile, the best swim trunks normally have drawstrings for easy adjustment in and out of the water. Drawstrings are much less likely to fall off or frizz compared to velcro or buttons. Secondly, board shorts give more leg coverage since they’re longer, so they may offer a longer shelf life compared to trunks if you’re using them for high-impact activities. Lastly, trunks are specifically designed to get wet while board shorts are not. So, we recommend going with swim trunks if you’re using them solely for swimming—no need to wear down the material that wasn’t intended for water sports anyway.

The best thing you can do to decipher between the two is to consider the circumstances. Will you be swimming or skateboarding? Going to the beach or going to grab a bite to eat? Trying out surfing or epically failing at wakeboarding? Okay, maybe that last one is just for us. Anyway, when choosing between board shorts vs trunks, think about your level of activity and personal preferences. If you’re interested in learning more about chafe-free clothing in particular, check out our blog. Or, find a cool graphic tee or hat to pair with your shorts when you browse our collection.


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