If you’re a guy, especially if you live by the coast, you can divide contemporary men’s fashion into two eras when it comes to casual wear.
The first is before board shorts. The second is with board shorts.
The first era is a dark time. Swim trunks were for in the water, while ordinary shorts or pants were for out of the water. People who spent their lives with their feet in the sand and jumping into the waves were left to deal with the constant need to conform to the attire of those around them.
But as the second half of the twentieth century continued, this line was blurred. Surfers led the way, due to their desire to accommodate surf days with appropriate fashion, but everyone who lived by the water was involved. And gradually, the board short emerged.
The beauty of board shorts comes in their versatility, which derives from their quick-drying capabilities, perfect for both in and out of the water. Made from a strong, smooth polyester and nylon blend, board shorts (also known as swim shorts or surf trunks) are the peak of men’s summerwear.
However, with board shorts being such a recent takeover of the casual and beach wear, it begs the question of proper undergarments. What’s the best underwear option for guys hoping to keep it casual at both sides of the beach? What about for guys who like the look and feel of board shorts but are not likely to be hitting the waves anytime soon?
If you’re itching to get your new board shorts on and want to make sure you’ve got the right underwear situation going, this article is for you.
Before we head into the actual list of the best underwear for board shorts, here are a few considerations to keep in mind when shopping for underwear.
What To Look Out For When Choosing Underwear For Board Shorts
Never forget, board shorts began as a substitute for traditional swim trunks. They are therefore swimwear to begin with, leaving you with the option to go commando as always. However, most people who wear board shorts tend to stray away from the underwear-less approach to board shorts, for a variety of reasons.
For surfers, for example, underwear is a near-must, as the alternative can involve strong waves leaving you half-naked, or the wax of your surfboard leaving your legs half-bare. Meanwhile, most people electing to wear board shorts in non-marine environments tend to prefer having that second layer of cover provided by underwear – though of course it is a personal choice.
Tight & Packed
Assuming you’d like to keep your downstairs under an additional layer of protection, you’re faced with a variety of options. The first regards just how tight and packed you’d like your nether regions to be. Many surfers and beachgoers elect to go for ultra-tight, spandex-based underwear. The benefits range from preventing chafing and accidental surfboard waxing where you don’t want waxing, as well as preventing any heavy amounts of sea salt or sand from irritating your tender regions.
Here, compression shorts are understandably the go-to selection for underwear. Form-fitting and designed to absorb muscle movement, these are ideal for any athletic activities in board shorts, from surfing to jogging. They’re also good out of the sports realm, however, since their tight, packed form, created from spandex material, is a good default underwear option for comfort.
- NEW! Ecoinn (Eco-friendly + Innovation) Dry-Thru Technology.
- Wicking only means air flow, DD compression shorts wick and provide moisture control.
- Performance compression short/swim liner provide athletic support. Wear with Dry Dudz Hydro-Tech Walker boardshorts (sold separately).
- Anti-chafing, Irritation free comfort during any fitness activity.
- 4-way stretch, perfect baselayer for all outer garments.
That being said, spandex is in no way the only option for comfortable underwear. You can also pair underwear of other materials, including cotton, Modal, Micro Modal, nylon, and bamboo with your board shorts. Each of these bring their own perks and drawbacks. Perhaps the most important element though is that your underwear needs to be able to dry quickly, or else the board shorts lose some of their value.
Cotton is king in terms of textiles, as we all know, and this is still the case when it comes to underwear. Soft and malleable, you cannot go wrong with organic cotton, though synthetic cotton can grow irritating after many hours. Modal, Micro-Modal, and bamboo, which feature ultra-soft microfibers, are similar to spandex; they are great options for board shorts, though admittedly will lose their signature softness after enough time spent in constant seawater.
Due to its quicker drying time, cotton emerges as likely the best option for board short underwear.
- Material: 95% Cotton / 5% Spandex boxer briefs.
- Size: S=28"-30", M=31"-33", L=34"-36", XL=37"-39", XXL=40"- 42". Find your perfect fit.
- Quality: Breathable material keeps you dry and fresh, comfortable to wear all day long.
- Features: 3D pouch with a U-shape convex design for a body defining fit. Double stitched for durability. Wide(1.2'') elastic waistband is soft and stretchy. No ride-up Legs
- Wide Choice: Several colors ranges from basic black and gray colors to the stylish patterns, perfectly match your styles. Won't fade and shrink after washing.
Finally, due to board shorts being a predominantly male fashion product (we give it ten years before the ladies are joining in, though), there’s naturally the question of build. Men’s underwear generally falls in one of three categories: boxers, briefs, and boxer briefs. Men of all ages and sizes are almost evenly split in thirds on which category they prefer, but we find that one is best when it comes to wearing under board shorts.
While there are certainly perks to both boxers (comfortable shape) and briefs (minimalist protection of what matters), boxer briefs have emerged as the best option in terms of underwear to wear under board shorts. Their sleek, soft design is perfect for comfort, while the shape means you’re both protected and stylish. Meanwhile, their great-looking waistband is a match made in heaven for the more relaxed crowd interested in wearing their board shorts more low, as has been a fashion trend this decade.
- Classic Fit
- Soft elastic waistband
- Embroidered heritage logo detail
The 7 Best Pairs of Underwear for Board Shorts
1. Hollister Men's 2 Pairs Classic Fit Briefs/Boxer Shorts
Pro: Tried & true quality.
Con: Few color choices in this particular design.
The OGs: It should be absolutely no surprise at all that Hollister’s classic boxer briefs top our list. Featuring their signature elastic waistband and sleek, comfy design, these are the originals for surfers and beachgoers. Hollister has been making quality underwear for decades, and all but pioneered the board short trend in its early years. Understandably, then, these boxer briefs are the peak choice for any modern man in board shorts.
2. Dry Dudz Men's Hydro-Tech Compression Short Navy
Pro: Eco-friendly, anti-chafing.
Con: Can be less comfortable for long days.
Compression Paradise: Dry Dudz, true to their name, has crafted an optimal pair of aquatic compression shorts here. Hugging your legs with just the right amount of tightness, the Hydro-Techs are ideal for surfers or anyone spending plenty of time in the water with their board shorts. They prevent unwanted movement in your downstairs, as well as provide a great filter for all of the salt and sand floating around. Finally, while they can get a bit uncomfortable in their drying process, there’s no better fit for while you and your board shorts are out swimming.
3. Turq Performance Underwear for Men
Pro: Elastic flexibility, guaranteed.
Con: Rigid waistband.
From Jogs on the Beach to Hours on the Board: Another great choice for those looking for a tight, athletic option to their underwear dilemma, the Turq Performance compression shorts are nearly unmatched in the athleisure realm. With these on, you’ll have plenty of good flow-room for ventilation in your board shorts, while still ensuring your sweat is absorbed by your underwear. The waistband may be slightly less than ideal, as its rigid end can scratch your waist after a few hours, but make no mistake: the Turq compression shorts are among your best options for anyone hoping to do any activity in their board shorts.
4. Eyushijia Men's 4 Pack Comfortable Bamboo Fiber Boxer Briefs
Pro: Ain’t nothin’ softer than bamboo.
Con: Slower drying time.
Try Not to Fall Asleep Forever in These: If there’s one thing you should know about bamboo fiber underwear, it’s that it’s soft, ridiculously soft. Couple it with a 5% spandex composition to ensure maximum flexibility and malleability, and you’ve got a pillow hugging your best zones all day.
For the crowd trying to steer clear of all things compression shorts, Eyujshijia has got you covered with these ultra-soft, ultra-comfy bamboo boxer briefs. They won’t ride up your leg, due to the build, but they also won’t slip too low and show off bad tan line. A firm waistband and diversity of color (not to mention that absolute steal of a price) are just icing on the top for this four-pack, which has a sole problem of drying slower than its competitors (due to the composition).
5. ADOLPH Men's Boxer Briefs 5 Pack No Ride-up Breathable Comfortable Cotton Sport Underwear
Pro: Colorful, fun designs.
Con: Unnecessary pouch hole.
Best of Both Worlds: Are you a man hoping to combine the sleek, form-fitting design of compression shorts with the breathability and comfort of boxer briefs? Do you love the waistband on traditional underwear but want the leg length of athletic underwear? Well, do I (and the folks over at ADOLPH) have good news for you.
With the exception of small pouch hole for easy access (that can be a bit useless and even annoying when spending a lot of time in the water), these boxer briefs are the ideal underwear for board shorts. They’ll match your shorts’ color variety, in case you wear them low, just as they’ll look clean and kept if you prefer to hide them away. A cotton and lycra spandex composition means you’ve got quick-drying comfort all day long, while a double-stitched durable seamline means you never have to worry about rips, tears, or holes.
6. GEEK LIGHTING Mens Boxer Briefs Underwear Modal Camouflage Short/Long Leg 4 Pack
Pro: Choice of leg length.
Con: Soaks up sweat.
Ready for Action: One of the biggest things many people do not realize about men’s underwear is how important leg length (the amount your underwear descends down your thigh) is. It’s the difference between comfort and discomfort when sitting, just as it’s arguably the deciding factor of whether you need to constantly adjust or pull down your underwear when walking around or doing a physical activity. Clearly, the geniuses over at GEEK LIGHTING understand this, as they give you the controls when it comes to leg length.
This affordable four-pack, which provides half a week’s worth of underwear for the price of one pair from many of its competitors, is a versatile choice for any athlete wanting to keep their board shorts as comfortable as they should be.
7. New Mens Compression Shorts Camo Running Base Layer Shorts Escape Quest Cool Dry Sports Tights
Pro: Perfect for leaving leg room.
Con: Can grow itchy after ~8-10 hours.
Personality in Underwear: Rounding out our list are these eclectic, fun compression shorts, which are a dynamic fit for any board shorts. With just enough breathability, and just a strong enough waistband, you can commit to any activity with the knowledge you are going in well-equipped. They can grow itchy after half a day or so, but are an incredibly good option for anyone knowing they’ll be spending some time in the water.
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