If you think boardshorts are just for surfing, you're missing out on some of the most incredibly functional and fashionable beachwear of the summer. Whether you swim, sail or surf, Roxy, Quiksilver and Billabong offer some of the most visually creative and incredibly comfortable designs under the sun, especially if you do a bit of research before you buy.
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Knowing what you want in a boardshort is as essential as putting on sunscreen before heading to the beach. Almost all boardshorts offer fast-drying fabric in a variety of names like Super Suede and other nylon and polyester blends. Think about how you'll be using your boardshort and size up the durability according to fabric weight. If you're sitting for hours in an open cockpit sailboat like a Laser, you might want to consider fast-drying boardshorts with extra durability. If you're usually standing and doing stuff like windsurfing or wakeboarding, shorts made from lightweight fabrics work fine, although you may want to consider material with a mechanical stretch or gusseted panels for added mobility.
Not long ago some boardshort manufacturers opted for Velcro fly designs, but the combination of unlined shorts and tiny Velcro hooks were never comfortable for hairy guys. Unless you make liberal use of your razor on a regular basis, you'll find comfort in checking out what sort of fly is featured with your boardshort. Some manufacturers use a longer drawcord closure (newcomers often find that the lace closures require a little bit of practice) while other designers like Quiksilver opt for innovations like a neoprene Neo-Fly for better comfort. If you're determined to wear Velcro closure boardshorts, try wearing them with a fast-drying lightweight liner like Patagonia's Silkweight Boxers.
Another boardshort purchase consideration is pockets. If you're going to be in the water for hours, you probably don't need to worry about extra storage potential, but fast-draining eyelets and mesh pocket liners are important. If you're wearing your boardshorts around town, you'll probably want storage space for your wallet and SUV keys.
Choosing the right boardshort fabric color is more than aesthetics--it might save you some embarrassment. Boardshorts with light hues and lightweight fabric can be a little more revealing than you like--especially after you emerge soaking wet from the surf. Some boardshort manufacturers are aware of this and double up the fabrics, but others assume that you'll either come up with a liner or just swim around your closest friends. If you have doubts, boardshorts in basic black will always serve you well
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