Best Surfing Board Shorts

In the UK choosing a pair of boardshorts is probably more about fashion than it is about function.  Unfortunately due to our water temperatures, it’s rare that you are going to pull on a pair of board shorts and a rash vest and go and hit the waves.

That’s not to say that it cannot be done, these days some rash vests come with 2mm thickness, which will mean you can spend a greater amount of time in the water without getting cold.  In this article we will review a range of different board short options. We will look at some of the functional features within board shorts, so that those off to surf in warmer climates can maximize their boardshort potential while in the water. We will also measure up each set of boardies’ fashionability, so that you look the top dog while down by the coast.

Quick Verdict

billabong board short

We like these eco-friendly Billabong Board Shorts will really make you stand out at the beach.

They have good stretch allowing you to pop up on your board easily.

Why do Surfers wear Board Shorts?

To me wearing a set of board shorts is the dream as this means you are surfing in water where you are not banned by the wetsuit.  I’ve had the pleasure of just heading out in boardies a few times throughout my surfing career. If the water is not cold, then surfer’s will feel less restricted in the water by just wearing a pair of boardies, which is why you will see surfer’s wearing them instead of wetsuits. If don’t need to wear a wetsuit you take away all restrictions over paddling.

Also, a pair of boardshorts can be more expressive than a wetsuit, so sponsors will want their surfers to be wearing them while on camera to help promote their brand.

Top Board Shorts for Surfing

O’Neill Hyperfreak Boardshorts

Best O'Neill Boardshorts

Lets take a look at the premium option from O’Neill. This O’Neill Hyperfreak range has some great colour options, so if you want these shorts you are bound to be able to find a pair of shorts to match your style of clothes.

Super stretchy shorts that feature quick drying material. These shorts claim to keep you surfing longer. I can’t vouch for that, but can tell you that these shorts work well in and out of the water. The welded side zipper pocket is handy for storing items when out of the water.

Quiksilver – Surfsilk Tijuana 18” Boardshort

Best Quiksilver Board Short

Fantastic range of shorts are available from Quiksilver, and this Surfsilk style and design are both cool to look at and good for the planet. These shorts are made from recycled plastic bottles. While this doesn’t paint a picture of comfortable shorts to wear, I can tell you that these shorts are incredibly flexible and leave you feeling like you’re not wearing any shorts.

They are quick drying and have the 4 way stretch fabric. They are a board short that you don’t just need to wear to the beach as they go well with other outfits you may choose to wear alongside them. If you are buying these for performance in the water, they will more than meet your demands.

Rip Curl Mirage Boardshorts

best rip curl boardshorts

A nice lightweight option from Rip Curl. I prefer their neutral colour scheme, but they have multiple colour schemes available to find the shorts to fit your style. These shorts are suitable for more than just surfing. They are fast drying and comfortable wear in the water, so don’t worry if you aren’t buying this exclusively for surfing.

Saltrock Dominion Boardshorts

Best Salt Rock Board Shorts

It’s no surprise that the surfing community are always doing their bit to help save the environment. We want our coastlines and oceans to be thriving at all times. This pair of boardshorts are a brilliant way to have high performing board-shorts that also help improve the planet.

Made from recycled plastic bottles, these boardies have the 4 way technology so you can guarantee a high flexible pair of shorts. They have a bungee cord in the back pocket to help keep any essential keys locked in place while you are active.

Billabong – Sunday’s Mini Pro 19” Boardshorts

best billabong board shorts

This is part of Billabong’s pro range. The benefit of selecting these board shorts are that you can guarantee high performance from your shorts. It has a micro repel water repellent coating to allow your shorts to be quick drying. There is a fantastic amount of stretch in these shorts so you will have zero restrictions as you pop up in these.

These are made with recycled fabrics and feature cool design that is printed throughout the shorts. So as well as looking good, you also help save the planet. This is an important feature for the eco-conscious person!

Saltrock Amphibian Boardshort

Best Saltrock Boardshorts

Simple in style, yet one of the best pairs of boardshort you are likely to find. These boardshorts are a great all rounder as you will look good in them at a BBQ or pool party, yet also be able to go and shred it on the waves in them too.

The simple colour scheme means that you’d be forgiven for mistaking these shorts for a pair of khaki shorts. Sporting mesh pockets, you can take more than just the shorts to the beach. These shorts are quick drying and flexible, so you will enjoy adding these to your border short wardrobe.

O’Neill World Cup Board Shorts

World Cup Board Shorts

A quirky and fun range that can help you display your colours while at the beach! This range of boardies have the national flag colours of all your favourite national football teams. If you are a big football fan then why not have your favourite England/Brazil/Portugal colours emblazoned on your board shorts?

The shorts have multiple pockets…so maybe you might wear these down the pub when supporting your team, as well as when in the surf.

Billabong – 73 Fade Pro Boardshorts

A great board short option from Billabong’s pro selection. These are high performing shorts that will not slow you down when wet. They have a 4 way recycled stretch fabric. According to Billabong this fabric is fast recovering, so it will dry quickly once you are out of the water. Ideal if you want to stay in these shorts all day.

These shorts have side and back pockets so there is good storage for your phones and wallets. The shorts all have a waist drawcord to help them stay on your waist…depending on your fit this will be important to keep them in place. 

The main attraction for me is the cool graphics on these shorts. They stand out against other designs and will boost your street cred while down at the beach.

O’Neill Elevate Board Shorts

Stretchy Board Shorts For Surfing

If you want a pair of board shorts that you can do gymnastics in then look no further. These shorts have 140%, 4-way stretch fabric. While this seems like a sales pitch in terms of gimmicks that surf brands put out to make their short seem the best, these shorts are so comfortable when on that you wont want to take them off.

The print design is inspired by the jungles of Indonesia and they are well suited to your surf lifestyle.

Quiksilver HempStretch 18” Boardshorts 

Good quiksilver boardshorts

One of nature’s most versatile plants helps to form the comfortable board shorts.These hemp based shorts are also made out of recycled plastic bottles, meaning your carbon foot print is about as low as it can be when choosing a good pair of board shorts to surf in.

They are performance based shorts so will work well alongside your surfing sessions. They have a key bungee cord inside the back pocket and feature the super stretchy material. Cool design prints make this a fantastic set of shorts to choose.

What should I look for in a set of Board Shorts?

A good pair of surf shorts will firstly need to have good flexibility within the shorts material. This is often referred to as two-way stretch or four-way stretch. This basically lets you know that once the material is wet, it will move with your body as you require it. Older versions of board shorts wouldn’t provide much movement within the material. Now, a high end pair of shorts will feel super responsive to your body, meaning you get more out of the short as it will allow for greater movement while surfing and also while on the beach.

This is personal preference, but a pocket of some description is essential for my choice of board short. I like to live in my boardies, so that means I’m not just going to use them for trips to the beach, but also to go to the shops and wear out to the pub. Therefore some type of pocket is helpful for storing my essentials such as wallet, phone and car keys. On the market you may find board shorts with zips or velcro pockets, they may also have a key leash inside of them. This is all to ensure that your property remains in place while out and about.  

Each brand will have their own version of material,  just ensure that you are looking for a quick drying short so that you are able to reuse the shorts quicker than if you were choosing to wear a standard pair of shorts. On today’s market there are plenty of recycled material options, so if you are looking to help do your bit for the environment you can sleep easier at night knowing you made an sound environmental decision when choosing your surf gear.

If you are planning on buying a pair of board shorts that are specifically for surfing in, then you may want to check the quality of the seams on your board shorts. Just like your wetsuit, you are going to want zero chafing against your skin, as this will cause a rash and discomfort.  A large protruding seam is the last thing you are going to want rubbing against your leg while in the water. Ensure you look at the quality of seem in each set of boardies you choose. 

The length of your boardshort is important, as you are looking for the shorts to help protect your skin in while you transition around your surfboard while trying to catch waves. Look to find which size suits your body shape so that you are comfortable in whatever short you opt for.

What are the best Board Short brands?

The usual major surfing brands dominate this industry (O’Neill, Billabong, Quiksilver, Rip Curl).  They have the most experience and expertise when it comes to designing surf accessories. However, don’t feel pigeon holed into staying on brand, especially if you’re looking for something more unique. Some of the other options on the market are comparable in terms of quality. You are also less likely to bump into other surfers wearing the same gear if you opt for one of the lesser known brands.