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What are Board Shorts?

Updated May 21, 2024
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Board shorts are not just for surfing anymore. They started as the swimming trunks of choice for surfers, but now virtually anyone involved in an active lifestyle has embraced them. Surfers, skaters, windsurfers, and kayakers have fallen in love with these lightweight, durable, comfortable, and fast drying trunks. Even those who simply want to look like they just came from the beach are buying these shorts, and many people who live in warmer climates opt to wear them as everyday attire.

The board short style evolved from the more traditional style of swimming trunks, but they are not gathered or elasticized at the waistband. Modern versions are more like a combination of swimming trunks and walking shorts. Board shorts are unlined, have a flat, trim line, and close with Velcro, laces and eyelets. Many brands use reinforced stitching to cut down on splitting seams during strenuous physical activities, and also add a small pocket that closes with Velcro for carrying keys or cash.

These shorts are popular with men, women and children, and many of the most popular clothing companies now produce them, inclusing L.L.Bean, Billabong, Hurley, Quicksilver, and Ocean Pacific, among others.

Board shorts are available in a wide range of colors, styles, and fabrics, although the majority are made of nylon for its durability and drip dry quality. They come in a variety of lengths — from short to knee-length. Many feature a contrasting side panel; these panels are often prints that complement the solid color of the main body of the shorts. Hawaiian prints are popular in board shorts, sometimes appearing only on the contrasting panel, and other times, over the entire article of clothing.

If you are going on vacation, this style of shorts are ideal because they take very little space in your luggage, while providing you with casual beachwear options. Whether you plan to challenge the waves, or simply walk along the shore, you will be right in style while wearing your board shorts this summer.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon946377 — On Apr 19, 2014

I also have three boys, ages 7, 10 and 11 and we live on the East Coast close to the beach. During the summer months, they wear board shorts just about every day. They never wear underwear under them. They are also circumcised and it doesn't seem to bother them.

Actually, they never wear any underwear anyway. I gave up fighting that battle a long time ago when my oldest was around 5 or 6. Less washing and saving money not having to buy it.

By anon339782 — On Jun 27, 2013

I also wear a swimmer's jock under my board shorts. They are quick drying and give me the support I need and stop the chafing. And no one knows I'm wearing them.

By anon296166 — On Oct 10, 2012

I too have a son just turned 10 and he loves his board shorts. He wears them all the time except when he's at school. He recently asked me if there was anything he could wear under them to stop the shorts rubbing his boy bits, as he calls them. He showed me one night after he had spent the day at the beach and cycling with his friends.

I suggested speedos like he wore when he was younger, and then I spotted the Aussiebum brand on the internet, and showed my son the nylon ones. He liked them and we ordered them. I was a bit worried at the size he is quite small but they start at 26" waist which is just about his size. They arrived last week and he loves them. He says they dry just as quick as his board shorts so none of the other boys notice he is wearing them. He also wears them as underwear now to go to school and he swims each lunchtime at the pool. He says they dry so quickly he hardly needs to take a towel. He puts his uniform back on top and goes back to lessons.

I have now ordered him another two pairs and some for myself to use under my board shorts.

By anon285058 — On Aug 13, 2012

All my three boys: ages 14, 12 and 9, wear board shorts, but they have taken to wearing Aussiebum nylon speedos under them to stop rubbing. They are all circumcised and they find the aussiebums dry just as fast as the boardshorts. They all swim two or three times every day and dry in the sun between swims.

By anon229135 — On Nov 12, 2011

When my nine year old son wears board shorts (with no lining), he often pulls on his package. The first time I asked him if he needed to pee and his reply was no mom, it's these shorts, they're scratching. I assume he means chafing as he is circumcised and the part where the Velcro fly sits and touches his package, is hard. Anyway, I suggested he wear underwear with them, but he said it is not cool to wear underwear under board shorts. Boys!

By anon147080 — On Jan 28, 2011

My son wears an undershort specifically designed to be worn under his boardshorts. I bought them online. So far he likes them a lot.

By anon57314 — On Dec 22, 2009

No, there's no need for boys to wear underwear under board shorts. They will just remain wet after the shorts have dried and keep their penis soaked, which is not very comfortable.

By anon37169 — On Jul 17, 2009

My son wears a quick-dry, tight-fitting undergarment specifically made for wearing under board shorts. Almost like boxers, but no cotton and form fitting. They add support and prevent chafing. Got them at a surf shop at the beach.

By anon24813 — On Jan 18, 2009

You should wear a swimming jockstrap because underwear will take too long to dry and if you wear nothing, your privates can be seen.

By anon16220 — On Jul 31, 2008

no. no need to wear underwear underneath. part of the reason board shorts became popular is because of the added comfort of not having a lining (or underwear) bunch up underneath.

By anon14572 — On Jun 19, 2008

Need help as a mom: Do the boys wear underwear under the board shorts, especially when swimming, because there is no mesh liner?

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