Unlike women and their wide range of swimwear options, we dudes have much less to consider when it comes to suiting up—and you may find that a pro or a con really depends on how extra you want to be at the beach. So, unless your preferred method is skinny dipping, here's the field guide you need to find a perfect pair of board shorts.
Different brands call them different things, but we like the walkshorts name for board shorts which don't look like board shorts. They come in proper seafaring material but without the loud colors and come disguised in the shape of chinos or normal casual shorts. Actual chinos do a terrible job of drying off and repelling butt sand though, so walkshorts are best for days at the beach when you don't plan to get wet, but want to come prepared for a spontaneous dip.
2) Short Board Shorts
There was a dark time when all board shorts seemed to come only in knee length, making us all look like stubby legged dudes on the beach. No longer! Many brands now carry models which are cropped to much more moderate lengths. Look for labels like “mid-knee” or outseam measurements in the 18 to 17” range. They also come with side pockets to make chilling out in them much more convenient.
3) Athletic Board Shorts
The trade-off in going with short shorts is they aren't the best for actual watersports purposes. If it looks intense out and you don't want to float back to shore bare-assed after wiping out then OG board shorts are what you need. They come in full thigh-protecting length and are made with thinner and stretchy tech fabric, making them less heavy and highly mobile in the soak. They have more secure lacing systems compared to the rest, but most importantly, they have no side pockets, which makes them the worst for casual use because you have to hold all your shit in your hands like a sad boi.
4) Swim Trunks
If your goal is having a storng tan game—aka getting rid of pasty thighs—a mankini is never the answer. Short board shorts won't cut it either, so reach for a pair of classic swim trunks. Hike them up even more as you lay on the beach for max exposure. Unlike boardshorts, these often come with an inner lining for a little more comfort. The downside is they are also the most likely source of wardrobe malfunction since you can never quite get their waistbands as snug as boardshorts due to being part elastic rather than stiff.