Performance, stretch boardshorts have been all the rage the last few years, 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, so we’re going to take some of the pain out of it.

It’s been a pretty crazy decade for tech trunks to the point that now even the mid-range ones are pretty legit, but we’re here for the top of the class. Everyone has stepped up their game, with a handful of brands really breaking through key aspects of what makes an amazing pair of boardshorts to surf in.

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




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Boardshorts Buyers Guide - Outerknown

“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.”

I like Outerknown, and what they’re doing. These Apex shorts look good, and right now the prices are acting up with 30% off – you can grab a pair for $130. There’s a glitch in the matrix for sure…

I’ve worn the red ones, along with Jim at Lipped, and we both agree they’re one of (if not, the!) best trunks we’ve worn. They’re pretty damn good so while they’re on ‘sale’ I’d be looking at copping a pair.


Highline Pro


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Boardshorts Buyers Guide - Quiksilver

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

This update to the Highline Pro looks like it’s fixed some of the issues that the original pair had – mainly structure and drap – which I imagine the taping on the side panels and waistband will help immensly. And if that’s the case, these could be top two trunks on the market. Digging the subtle red on the wasitband too.

At $200 it’s a bit of a strecth on ya wallet, but if you want the best sometimes you gotta pay. Available now in a Han Solo colorway, BLACK.


Phantom Hyperweave


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Boardshorts Buyers Guide - Hurley

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

Not a lot of info on the product page, but Hurley have a solid rep in boardshorts with the Phantom range so you’d be shocked if these actually sucked. Although it’ll be interesting to see what the next iteration will be without the access to Nike tech (flywire, etc).

In black, and another yardage style colourway, available now at and surf shops I imagine. Definitely have these ones in your top three for consideration (this year anyway).


Hyperfreak Hydro


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Boardshorts Buyers Guide - O'neill

“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’used though). And the color/print is pretty neat, tie-dye prints seem to be having a moment so micro-dose before you go surf and see what happens when in these…

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.


Surf Trunk


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Boardshorts Buyers Guide - Vans

“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. Their Surf Trunk is pink and you might have seen Harry Bryant repping it on their ads, and in the surf. 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 $150 in Pink and one other colour, I think.


Deadly Plus Mondo


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Boardshorts Buyers Guide - Volcom

“We talk about being at the forefront of boardshort tech, and the Deadly Plus Mod boardshort is us practicing what we preach”

After a couple of years of playing in the mid-tier (or just not doing tech trunks) Volcom are back with a pretty solid tech trunk. The Deadly Plus Mondo is an interesting addition to the trunks program for Volcom – 4 way stretch, welded seams and hems and Volcom’s cinch fly tech are all nice to haves, but it’s the mositure wicking Stone Sheild Stretch fabric that has me the most interested. Wondering why I need to wick mositure away when I’m surfing (in the ocean, which is wet).

Rip Curl

MF Ultimate Trifecta


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Boardshorts Buyers Guide - Rip Curl

“Made with our advanced Mirage Pro Fabric, welded critical seams and Surf Grip technology, the Mirage Ultimate MF Trifecta is the best men’s boardshort for surfing.”

Maybe not the most tech’d out shorts here, but I can tell you these will most likely be the best all-round pair of tech trunks you’ll own. The last two pairs I’ve tested were a good, comfortable short I could wear and surf in all day. And granted I might be a little biased, but everyone else who’s tested them agree as well – these are an easy most days of the week. Rip Curl/Hurley/Outerknown – there’s ya top three.




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Boardshorts Buyers Guide - Patagonia

“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.


Sundays Airlite


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Boardshorts Buyers Guide - Billabong

“The Airlite boardshort is built to the way you surf. Airlite features three unique performance fabrics seamlessly engineered into one, to give you Stability, Flexibility and Comfort”

Long gone are the days that Billabong are dropping $200 tech trunks. 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 – overall tho, if you don’t want to spend over $100, these are ya guys (or Need Essentials I guess). The print is rad too, plus you might surf Ethan Ewing if you get them (probably not)


If reading our Buyers Guide for Technical Boardshorts has been too much, here’s something to give you some extra froth about surfing in the warming waters – Torren Martyn surfing through Indo, complete with some wild footage of Greenbush. Tbh, might not get you psyched to surf crazy waves, but it’s good viewing in trunks so there’s a weak line of correlation I’m pulling on…

If you’re about to run into winter cause you’re posted up north, hit our Winter Wetsuit Guides for a full break down on what to get > We pulled together three Winter Wetsuit Buyers Guides if you’re still a little undecided on what to buy:
*Above $500
*Below $300