Performance, stretch boardshorts have been all the rage the last decade, adding to the tech battle between surf brands that has been going strong in the wetsuit category for decades. For some it’s a bit of a mind fuck trying to figure out which ones are best for you, or if you even need some to surf in compared to ‘regular’ boardshorts, and to be honest I think most brands are de-tech’ing a lot of their trunks to be more broader ranged in functional use.

Given that today even a brand’s mid-tier performance trunks are great you’d be forgiven for thinking most brands could get away without a proper tech run trunk program. BUT without these brands pushing the tech/innovation, etc forward those mid-tier ones would never reach the level they are at now. And while I’m harping on about mid-tier, we’re here for the top of the class.

Below is our technical boardshorts buyers guide based on what’s available right now…




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“Designed and tested by Kelly worldwide on more than a few knee-highs. We’re saying goodbye to overflowing landfills, and hello to next-level recycled materials.”

The Apex (Kelly Slater) trunks from Outerknown won our light hearted ‘boardshorts of the year’ award back in late Dec. Why? Because they are, in my opinion, the best boardshorts on the market. They are also the most expensive by a long shot and if the award was for best value boardshorts, these would not have won (hello, Rip Curl).

If you have the cash to splash and want the best, then get these.


Phantom Max


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Buyers Guide for Boardies

“The Hurley Phantom Hyperweave Solid Board Shorts are made for endless comfort in the water, delivering an adaptive fit that won’t slow you down”

Even if you’re not down with the new overlords at Hurley, you still can’t question that these shorts would be a delight to surf in. Hurley have a long history as the front runners in the boardshort category and I don’t think new owners will ruin that super quickly.

But at $150 you can definitely buy cheaper boardshorts that work jussssssst as well and might have better ‘surf cred’ these days…




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Buyers Guide for Boardies

“Fully redesigned with fused waistbands and 4-way stretch, our all-new Strech Hydroflow Boardshorts are made with recycled polyester blends, Fair Trade Certified TM sewn and backed by Patagonia’s Ironclad Guarantee.”

This is Patagonia’s first foray into a top tier performance short. With 4-way stretch, a fused waistband, Patagonia’s environmental and social considerations, and a reasonable price point, they’re a solid option for a tech short. Also, we’ve already reviewed these tech trunks from Patagonia if you want to read up more about them – link here.

Rip Curl

Mirage Medina


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Buyers Guide for Boardies

“The 10M Ultimate Mirage Boardshort is made for you know who. Apex competitor, freakish talent, and Mick Fanning verified good-guy to boot… “

While we claim those Apex boardies from Outerknown as the best in market, I’d gladly say that Rip Curl have been making the best value boardshorts for a hot minute. While I haven’t tried these Medina ones, the MF ones I’ve used are always comfortable, functional and do whats needed. I’d say for $120 it’s a steal, but spending over $100 on boardies today is wild scene in my mind…


Hyperfreak Hydro


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Buyers Guide for Boardies

“Hyperfreak 4-Way Super Stretch. 20″ Leg Length. Water Repelling SIGMA Fabric”

These look nice enough and if I’m going off previous O’Neill shorts I’ve used odds on they’re pretty good, and these have been updated this year with the new O’Neill ‘No Tie Fly’ which looks interesting (haven’t used though).

Although, if I’m spending $150 I’d love a little more info on what/why I’m spending that much on the product page.


Highline Pro


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Buyers Guide for Boardies

“Boardshorts for men featuring Highlite® 4-way stretch fabric, a DryFlight® water-repellent hydrophobic coating and a 19″ outseam for a mid length.”

The biggest thing to note here with the Quiksilver Highline Pro Arch boardshorts is that they’ve managed to drop the price from $200 last year to $120 this year. That’s a solid drop in price, especially if they’re roughly the same shorts we spoke about last summer.

Which was an upgrade on the original Highline pair with fixes happening for some of the issues that they had – structure and drape mainly. Worth a look at $120…




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Buyers Guide for Boardies

“The Fifty50 Airlite Plus is a mid length performance fit Boardshort. The Airlite boardshort is built to the way you surf.”

Long gone are the days that Billabong are dropping $200 tech trunks (remember those jacquard ones?). Last year they were at $150, and now they’re at $90. That’s probably a pretty good increase in value for you, the consumer, I like to think anyway. The Airlite program from Bong is solid and you’ll get a good pair of trunks.

No word if using these will have you surfing like Ethan though, sorry


Surf Trunk


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Buyers Guide for Boardies

“This is not for hanging out at the beach, this is a trunk designed for surfing.”

Vans coming into the tech trunk world with their ‘Surf Trunk’ was a bit of surprise but not entirely, as they’ve been making huge inroads into surf the last few years. The biggest eye-catcher is the closure/tightening system, it’s been placed on the hip.

The fabric looks real nice, and seems interesting too – Dupont Sorona – which is a renewable fabric. Available now at an ok price of $105