Board Shorts VS Swim Trunks: The Ultimate Comparison Between Most Popular Mens Swimwear

If you are looking to spend your summer by the beach or planning the perfect pool party, choosing the right kind of swimwear can really enhance your experience. Nowadays, there are mainly two types of swimwear that dominate the market: board shorts vs swim trunks. To give you the best advice on the matter, we present you with an in-depth comparison guide, detailing the pros and cons of each, their differences and similarities, and the key factors you should consider while making your choice.

What are Board Shorts?

Board shorts, as the name suggests, were originally designed for surfing – a popular board sport. They are fairly long and loose, typically extending to the knee or slightly above it. Unlike the basic swimming trunks, board shorts are meant to be quick-drying, and they cover more of the legs.

Board Shorts

Features of Board Shorts

Board shorts are unique in their design and function. Here are some of their key features:

Longer Length

Board shorts are typically longer than your average swim trunk, usually reaching to the knee or slightly above it. This provides more coverage and makes them ideal for surfing or swimming activities that need more leg protection.

Lightweight Material

Board shorts are usually made with lightweight, quick-drying material. This ensures you won’t be weighed down under water and that you’ll dry off quicker once you’re back on land.

Non-Elastic Waistband

Unlike swim trunks, board shorts typically have a rigid waistband, which is characterized by a lace-up closure. This helps to keep them secure so they don’t slip during high-action activities.

What are Board Shorts made of?

Board shorts are typically made of a polyester fabric or a blend of polyester and nylon. Some brands use recycled polyester from plastic bottles to conserve the environment. These materials are preferred for their lightweight and quick-drying properties.

What Are Swim Trunks?

Swim trunks are the more traditional form of men’s swimwear available on the market. They’re smaller and shorter than board shorts, usually reaching about mid-thigh. They provide free movement and are perfect for those who aren’t worried about riding a wave or protecting their legs from a stray surfboard.

Swim Trunks

Features of Swim Trunks

Swim trunks come with a set of unique characteristics:

Shorter Length

Swim trunks are typically shorter in length, reaching mid-thigh. This design allows unrestricted movement whether you’re swimming in a pool or soaking under the sun on a beach.

Light Material

Like board shorts, swim trunks are also made of lightweight material which enables quick drying. However, they are usually less sturdy compared to board shorts since they’re meant for more passive swimming rather than high-action water activities.

Elastic Waistband

Swim trunks usually have an elastic waistband for comfort and ease of wear. This also means they don’t need a lace-up closure like board shorts.

What are Swim Trunks made of?

Swim trunks are made of various breathable fabrics such as nylon, polyester, 100% polyester microfiber, and cotton blends, with nylon being the most popular for these types of swimwear.

Exploring the Major Differences: Board Shorts Vs Swim Trunks

Despite appearing similar, board shorts and swim trunks have key differentiators that you should be aware of while making a choice. Here’s a thorough comparison you might find beneficial.

Exploring the Major Differences Board Shorts Vs Swim Trunks

Purpose of Board Shorts and Swim Trunks

The ultimate purpose of any swimwear is to provide comfort while swimming or engaging in water-based activities. However, board shorts and swim trunks serve different types of activities. Board shorts are designed to be buoyant and quick drying, and are typically worn for more vigorous water sports like surfing and wakeboarding, whereas swim trunks are more suited for leisurely swimming and lounging.

In Terms Of Length

Board shorts are longer, usually extending to the knee or slightly above it, offering greater leg coverage and protection. On the other hand, swim trunks are shorter, reaching mid-thigh and allowing unrestricted movement in the water.

Comparison by Fit

The fit is another significant factor. Board shorts are loose-fitting with a non-elastic waistband and often come with a lace-up closure for added security. In contrast, swim trunks are tighter fitting with an elastic waistband providing comfortability and ease of wear.

Distinguishing Features

While board shorts come with a lack of lining for comfort during activities involving a lot of movement, most swim trunks have a mesh lining for support during more relaxed swimming activities. Also, pockets which are standard on most board shorts are usually absent on swim trunks.

Material Used

Both Board shorts and swim trunks are made from light, quick-drying materials, but there’s still a difference. Board shorts are more durable, and made to withstand the rigors of extreme water sports. Swim trunks, on the other hand, are often made from softer, more comfortable fabrics that aren’t meant to endure such rough conditions.

How to Choose the Right One for You

Understanding your Needs

It is crucial to assess your needs before making a choice. If you’re someone who likes being involved in rigorous water sports, board shorts could be the perfect fit for you due to their long length and durable fabric. On the other hand, if you are simply planning to lounge by the pool or take a leisurely swim, you might find swim trunks more comfortable and easy to maneuver in.

Board Shorts Vs Swim Trunks: Which One Suits You Best?

Personal preference plays a crucial part in making a decision. For example, if you prefer clothing that is secure and won’t budge during high-energy activities, you may want to pick board shorts, which have a rigid waist and a lace-up front. Conversely, if comfort is a higher priority and you desire easy-to-wear, less constricting swimwear, swim trunks would be your pick.


Choosing between board shorts vs swim trunks can be a battleground for most men. However, it does not need to be so! Remember, there’s no right or wrong choice here. It all boils down to what makes you feel confident and comfortable, and what meets your specific needs. By this point, you should have enough information to know what differentiates board shorts from swim trunks and vice versa. We hope this guide will help you in making a well-informed decision and augment your swimming experience. And remember, whether you opt for board shorts or swim trunks, the ultimate goal is to ensure comfort and style while you’re enjoying the water!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, due to their longer length and durable, fast-drying material, board shorts are typically preferred for more active water sports like surfing and wakeboarding.

Absolutely! Swim trunks are designed to be comfortable and casual, making them perfect for leisurely swimming activities.

No. While both are popular types of men’s swimwear, they’re quite distinct from each other. Board shorts are longer, reaching the knee or slightly above it, and typically have a rigid waistband. Swim trunks on the other hand, usually reach about mid-thigh and feature an elastic waistband.

Both swim trunks and board shorts are typically made of quick-drying materials. However, since board shorts are designed specifically for water sports, they may dry slightly faster due to the type of cloth used.


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