This is Brah History 101 and if you don’t study up, you’re gonna be left behind kickin’ sand while all the hot doggers carve epic tubes on the reef break! First lesson: did you know that the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution originally stated “You have the right to bare-chestedness.”? It’s true! Most of the original patriots were avid surfsmen and dreamed of a nation where all men were endowed with the unalienable right to “hang ten”.
Unfortunately, one of the founding fathers that nobody remembers thought it indecent of a man to be in public without cover of a waistcoat and pitched a fit until it was changed to “…the right to bare arms.”. Since just about everybody back then was illiterate, this was misspelled as “bear arms” and its interpretation has been the source of confusion ever since. Bummer.
From then until the early 20th century, men’s swimwear was pretty lame. Uncomfortable, full-body woolen garments had to be worn to protect innocent eyes from glancing at the burly barrel chests of that time period’s strongmen. Yes, full-body wool swimwear. Have you ever swum in wool? Of course you haven’t. You also probably don’t have wooden teeth or attach leeches to your temples to cure headaches. Progress!
Something had to give, and finally in the 1930s, men of the United States were allowed to let their pectorals breathe. Parades of shirtless bros danced the Lindy Hop down their city’s shorelines and the swim trunk was born!
The trunk proceeded to go on an epic run of success that left it unimpeded atop the US men’s swimwear throne for decades. Sure, there were some changes to the inseam length and fabrication content throughout the years as style/technology dictated, but for the most part it wasn’t until the 1990s that a worthy challenger appeared; the boardshort. Fueled by angsty alt rock and puka shell necklaces, ‘90s youth shifted away their grandpappy’s swim trunks and gravitated toward something with a little more ‘tude. Boardshorts quickly captured the hearts, minds, and lower bodies of dudes everywhere; but why?
Simply put, boardshorts perform better and are stylistically more modern than trunks. Trunks are normally fabricated from non-performance materials such as cotton, while boardshorts are almost always either quick-drying polyester or nylon. This means that after hopping out of the pool, you don’t get mistaken for a soggy bottom boy--and that’s a good thing!
Boardshorts also typically have significantly more stretch and flexibility than trunks so that you can move freely both in and out of the water. You’ll really only find elastane or spandex in the waistband of swim trunks, whereas boardshorts have fitted waists with surf tie front closures to keep them in place. Boardshorts typically have longer inseams (although shorter inseams are becoming more common these days), UV protection, zippered or hook-and-loop pockets, and bolder prints that speak to those looking for something more eye-catching. They also ditch the mesh linings that swim trunks have so take that under consideration if you’re uncomfortable going commando!
Are boardshorts for you? Well, if you’re under 40 years old or are buying for someone under 40, probably. They’re just so dang rad. They’ve been the go to for casual men’s swimwear for nearly 20 years now for a reason. Try some out and see how you like them! Zappos.com carries boardshorts by popular surf lifestyle brands including O’Neill®, Hurley®, Rip Curl™, Billabong®, and Quiksilver®, so get searching and find some boardshorts you dig. Shibby!