Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with our picks for 2016.

Summer and spontaneity go together like Jet Skis and adrenaline. Thankfully, modern swimwear has trended away from garish patterns to embrace a simpler aesthetic — one that’s capable of navigating the shoreline and impromptu BBQ without a clothing pitstop. The return of pockets is also a boon in the smartphone age, provided you remember to empty them before charging the surf.

Beyond color and pattern preferences, inseam length is the biggest factor to consider. The rise is definitely real, and we find a seven-inch inseam offers the right compromise between fit and “coverage” for contemporary style. Of course, never sacrifice comfort or confidence in the name of a trend. These selections represent our top picks for the good weather ahead.

Additional contribution by John Zientek.


Notched Cotton-Blend Board Shorts by Mollusk $70


Curtis Swim Shorts by Saturdays NYC $75


Contrast Pocket Board Short by Birdwell for J.Crew $85


Pocket Evolution Printed Econyl Swim Shorts by Outerknown $95


Rainbow Swim Shorts by Sundek $120


Calder Swim Shorts by Onia $130


Perry Face Swim Short by Acne Studios $135


Setter Swim Short by Orlebar Brown $199


Roman Swim Short by Officine Generale $210


Draupner Swim Shorts by Everest Isles $235

Ben Bowers

Ben Bowers is the chief content officer and co-founder of Gear Patrol.

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