Some of the best days of summer are spent out on the water — or at least relaxing, sipping beers and socializing near it. But what to wear? Board shorts are the safest (and best) bet in our book, providing the rugged construction necessary for water sports with a look and form — thanks to a rigid waistband, fly, snaps, ties and quick-drying, stretchy material — that also lends itself to an inland hike for boardwalk pizza. Lately, a trend toward shorter length has made fit even more commendable: if we wanted to buy man-capris, we’d move to Italy and grow a faux hawk. Still, there are plenty of hackneyed, out-of-style or just plain ugly pairs to swim clear of. We’ve herded our five favorite board shorts of the year for your wearing pleasure here.
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Saturdays Surf NYC Grant Boardshort
Best Classic Board Short: The Soho phenomenon that is Saturdays Surf NYC has always pushed a passion for the ocean as a single coherent lifestyle, without the douchey Point Break stereotypes. The classic-fitting Grant Boardshorts are a welcomed addition to their Spring 2013 line and boast a retro-inspired striped design in a trio of tasteful color combinations. Think fun, not funny. Hamptons, not Hampton Inn.
Onia Amaury 8″ Boardshort
Best Active Board Short: Onia’s take on the board short uses a straight-legged cut that defies overly lengthy, baggy options of the past. The extra dough in this case gets you strong construction (reinforced front, rear and side panels), antique nickel hardware, a rear zipper pocket with a hidden nylon cord key loop and a great look in either solid or subtly patterned versions, while a deep-backed curved waistband, a zip front fly and velcro closure ensure wave-induced moonings are kept to a minimum. A water wallet is included with each suit as an added boon for those who on insist on taking their iPhone swimming too.
Quiksilver OG Scallop 19″
Most Comfortable Board Short: Quicksilver’s water repellent, easy-stretch Diamond Dobby DLX fabric paired with a scalloped cut make these shorts perhaps the most comfortable on the list. Their extra-short cut is great for more compact guys, so long as they’ve remembered to do their squats during the off-season. Colorways are sophisticated, striking and attention-grabbing, in order from dark to light.
Orlebar Brown Jack Mid-Length Board Short
Best Fitting Board Short: Orlebar Brown is beloved by the luxury set, but you have to pay to play. Their Jacks are a shorter short for the bold man. Smart inclusions like a velcro fly, rubberized snap, a rubberized bag for damp packing and quick-drying nylon fabric confirm their value. The downside? They’re the opposite of forgiving to gents who’ve enjoyed their beer this winter. But if Bond can pull them off, you can too… right?
Bonobos Low Tides
Best Bold Board Short: Ignore that tiny voice from middle school urging you buy palm tree prints and spring for these instead. The combination of bold colored stripes and premium quick-drying fabric strikes a nice balance between modern and mod — without screaming Europe in August or splash mountain in July. The Banana print on the fly interior should also garner a laugh in the right frozen drink stupor circumstances.