Patagonia’s Men’s Light & Variable Boardshort are the brand’s go-to short when it comes to surfing. With some stretch, Patagonia’s environmental and social considerations, and a reasonable price point, they’re a solid option for a semi-tech short that works great as an all rounder.

Patagonia say of the short that:

“With no inseam, the stripped-down, travel-savvy Light & Variable® Boardshorts offer chafe-free performance in the water and take up barely any space in a bag. Providing the best in functional simplicity with a trim silhouette and sleek, low-drag waistband, they’re made from superlight, fast-drying 100% recycled polyester with 2-way stretch, a DWR (durable water repellent) finish and 50+ UPF sun protection. Fair Trade Certified™ sewn.”

Patagona Trunks Review


Made of quick-drying and superlight 100% recycled polyester with Fair Trade Certified™ sewing.

2-Way Stretch

2-way mechanical stretch with a durable water-repellent finish.

Packable Style

The flat-lying fly has a ladder-lock drawstring closure, and the pared-down back pocket is self-draining, has an internal key loop and can pack away into itself.


This is a great option for those who want a no-frills boardshort that works, won’t rash your ball bag, break the bank, or the spoil environment. It's super comfortable to wear and will pack up small wherever you take it.

It’s not the most technical short getting around, however, so if you want something that’s going to make you feel like Surfing Superman swathed in Kryptonian Lycra, there are better (and more expensive) options out there for you.

The draw of this short is all about the material - easy two-way stretch in a weight that feels like you’re wearing a feather duster around your loins, plus the fact that a turtle is a little less likely to choke on plastic because it’s made from recycled fabric.

Patagonia Boardshort Review



The fit and cut of this short is spot on. 18’’ legs means it sits just above your knee without getting into mad Tom Carrol nut hugger territory. The weight is amazing too. Initially I thought it was too light and was going to get torn to shreds when I used it. I also had some reservations that the light blue colour I was testing would go all sheer and show off my little slug. Neither of these things happened. I even hit the reef in Sumatra and tore up my ass cheek a little, but did no damage to the short itself. A great vote for durability in something that’s feather-weight and feels great.


Patagonia pays a premium for every item that carries the Fair Trade Certified™ label. That extra money goes directly to the workers at the factory, and they decide how to spend it.

This is not a top-down program. In each factory, a democratically elected Fair Trade worker committee decides how the funds will be used. Workers have chosen to use the premiums to fund community projects, like health care programs or a child care centre; to purchase products they could otherwise not afford, like a TV or a stove; or to take a cash bonus.

You can read more about Patagonia and their Fair Trade program here.


Overall this short does the trick. The cut means it doesn’t get caught at all and there’s plenty of movement to nail old man cutdowns or try to contort yourself into small pits. The only drawback of the Light & Variable is that it’s not as stretchy as other tech shorts I’ve surfed in. Given the price, I’m likely asking too much here but this is a review so I have to be picky. Often I think some shorts are too stretchy and lose shape or snag on your knees because of that, so it’s not about being the most flexible, but finding the right balance. This is a tad on the stiff side of perfect balance for me.


This short is readily available on the Patagonia Website for just $69.95 AUD.

Considering Patagonia is often a brand that gets called out for being expensive, that price is wild. The fabric is recycled, has some stretch and is Fair Trade Sewn and it’s STILL competing with any other surf brand’s entry-level options.

Buy from Patagonia’s Online Store
Check Patagonia’s Stockist list

Patagonia Trunks Review


You’d be hard pressed to find a better all-round boardshort than the Light & Variable. Comfortable, light, environmental considerations and an amazing price.

What more could you want? Well, you could want Ferrari stretch for Holden pricing, but then you’d be a bit of a peanut wouldn’t you?

The Patagonia Light & Variable trunk comes in a good cut with clean block colours, so is something that will last forever and do you justice without looking like you’ve taken style cues from the age of Def Leppard.

If you’re after something more expressive, or want the top performance that’s available it won’t be for you. But, if you want something you can surf all day in and feel comfortable both literally and morally, then this is an epic option.

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If you enjoyed this review you can visit our Product Reviews page for more, including a recent run of Winter Wetsuits. More Boardshorts review coming soon 🙂

Again, if you’re interested in buying the Patagonia Light & Variable Boardshorts hit the links below ::

Buy from Patagonia’s Online Store
Check Patagonia’s Stockist list