The 20 Best Swim Shorts for Men & Women [2021]

Maui Rippers surfboard

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A good pair of swim shorts offers a practical and protective alternative to a regular bikini, a pair of briefs, or a bathing suit. Designed to stretch while you move, these shorts are perfect for wearing while swimming, surfing, playing games on the beach, or even just working out back on dry land.

Things To Consider With Swim Shorts

While your swim shorts need to feel comfortable and fit well, there are some other things for you to consider when buying.

Material

Your swim shorts will need to be durable enough to see you through many days in the water. They should also be high-quality enough to be able to withstand many machine washes without going see-through or pilling.

Most swim shorts are made from synthetic fabrics that offer a high tolerance to water, such as nylon, spandex, and polyamide, and even the tightest of board shorts feature some stretch in the waistband, if not all over.

Length

Some shorts are far longer than others, and depending on where you are wearing them and what you plan to do in them, different lengths may be better suited to you.

Longer-length shorts can come down as far as your knees and offer a practical alternative to wetsuits for surfing or paddleboarding, while some other shorts can be super short and are designed to look and feel more like a full-size brief than a traditional pair of shorts.

Bottom Line: Whether you are looking for shorts to sunbathe in or are looking for increased protection from the sun, sand, and other irritants, there will be the right length of swim shorts to suit you.

Fit

Whether you prefer tight-fitting shorts or something a little bit looser, your swim shorts should not restrict your ability to swim or move. Some shorts are designed to sit high on the thigh and close on the butt, while others are looser and longer.

Many women’s swim shorts also feature a higher waistband that helps to smooth out lumps and bumps, and some wider designs come with v-splits on the legs to accommodate larger thighs.

Purpose

If you are purely looking for a pair of shorts to wear in the water with your bikini top, short-legged, high-stretch options will look and feel better. However, suppose you think of them as a bikini brief with extended coverage. In that case, these little beauties can be worn with a bra top or tankini and are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and other sunshine activities.

On the other hand, if you are looking to get a little more active out on the water, you may want a longer length short of offering your greater protection. Traditional board shorts also come with pockets for keeping your smaller essentials close at hand back on dry land, and many of them are conservative enough to be worn with a t-shirt for a more casual summer look.

Lining and Support

Some swim shorts come complete with a mesh liner that is designed to offer increased support and keep you comfortable in the water. These types of shorts can be worn without underwear for both men and women, as they are designed to be worn in the water without the need for anything extra.

Hot Tip: Shorts that do not feature a liner or built-in brief can also be worn without additional undergarments, especially if they are tight and short, but some swimmers may want to pop on a pair of briefs for increased comfort in the water.

The Best Swim Shorts for Men

Great Choice for Active Swimmers

Kanu Surf Men’s Barracuda Swim Trunks

These gorgeous men’s swim trunks are made from 100% polyester that feels soft against the skin and is designed to dry quickly after a swim.

Available in a wide range of colors, these trunks come in sizes S through to 5XL and are durable enough to be worn year after year. With an elasticized waistband, you can find the perfect fit using the internal drawstring, and with an 11-inch seam, they are long enough to offer an excellent level of protection in the water without getting in your way when you swim.

In addition, the cargo pockets at the sides are useful for keeping your wallet close at hand on the beach and the boardwalk, and the machine-washable construction means you can easily keep them clean between uses.

What We Like

  • The longer length looks great on the beach

What We Don’t Like

  • The mesh liner isn’t very soft

Exceptional Color Choices

SILKWORLD Men’s Swim Trunks

Made from soft and water-repellent nylon fabric, these swim shorts are lightweight and breathable to keep you feeling comfortable both in the water and back on the beach.

With a mesh liner for increased support and an elastic waistband that can be adjusted using the drawstring, these board-style trunks are designed to help you cut through the water without any restrictions.

In addition, the double-sided deep pockets are useful for keeping your wallet, keys, and cell phone close at hand on the beach, and the back Velcro pocket is perfect for stashing cash. Available in a choice of eye-catching colors and designs, these trunks come in sizes S through to 3XL.

What We Like

  • The shorter design gives more flexibility in the water

What We Don’t Like

  • The sizing runs a little small

These Shorts Offer Excellent UPF 50+ Protection

Kanu Surf Men’s Flex Swim Trunks

These stunning machine washable swim shorts offer UPF 50+ protection, helping to keep your skin safer in the sun. Lightweight and incredibly durable, they come in a range of colors and designs and can be worn by men wearing sizes S up to 5XL.

Made with triple-needle side seams, these shorts have an upscale look and feel, and with side seam pockets and cargo pockets built-in, they offer useful storage out of the water. The mesh lining helps your skin to breathe both in and out of the water, and the elasticated waist with drawstring makes it easy to find the perfect fit to suit your shape.

What We Like

  • The deep pockets

What We Don’t Like

  • It may not be comfortable for swimmers with a shorter inside leg measurement

Quick-Dry Swim Shorts

Maamgic Men’s Slim-Fit Quick-Dry Swim Shorts

These stylish swim shorts have been designed to dry super quickly, and the 100% polyester fabric will repel water to feel more comfortable against your skin. With a range of high-quality prints to choose from, these shorts have a built-in mesh lining for increased breathability and to help prevent the shorts from ballooning in the water.

Measuring just 7 inches in length, they will help you to cut through the water, and the elastic waistband comes with an internal drawstring to provide a customized fit. The slim-fit design sits close against the skin, and the 2 side pockets and back pockets offer useful storage when you are back on dry land.

What We Like

  • The shorter length is super practical

What We Don’t Like

  • Can feel a little tight when sitting or driving

Big Brand Swim Shorts for Serious Swimmers

Speedo Men’s Swim Trunk

The swim giants at Speedo make these knee-length swim shorts, and the practical and stylish design is perfect for wearing both in and out of the water. Made from water-repellent polyester material, they are available in a choice of stylish colorways with contrasting seams and drawstrings.

Perfect for use on hot summers days, these shorts have built-in UPF 50+ protection, and the quick-drying design makes them perfect for wearing in the water and back on dry land. In addition, the inner mesh liner ensures that your skin can breathe, even when wet, and the cargo pocket features a Velcro closure to keep your most valuable items close at hand back on the beach.

What We Like

  • The Speedo quality and choice of colors

What We Don’t Like

  • The waist is quite tight, but the legs are quite loose

An Affordable Option for Men Who Like To Take to the Water

Amazon Essentials Men’s 7″ Swim Trunk

These brilliant swim shorts are anything but basic and are designed to offer an affordable and extremely practical solution to more expensive branded alternatives.

Made from soft and water-repellant polyester material, they feel nice against the skin, and the breathable design helps to prevent chafing and uncomfortable dampness back on dry land. They can easily be adjusted to perfectly suit your frame with a drawstring closure, and the full elastic waistband sits flush against the body without digging in.

Available in a choice of colors and designs, these shorts come in sizes XS through to 2XL, and with 2 on-seam side pockets and a back pocket, they are just as useful for wearing around the pool as they are in the ocean.

What We Like

  • The good value design

What We Don’t Like

  • They are a little tighter than others

These Swim Shorts Are Perfect for Everyday Wear

TACVASEN Men’s Quick-Dry Swim Trunk

Be ready to hit the bar straight out of the water with these quick-dry swimming trunks. With an elasticated waistband, these trunks offer a customized fit, and the inner drawstring ensures that they stay flush against your skin even in the choppiest of water.

Featuring a mesh lining to keep you cool and help your skin to breathe, these trunks are extremely practical, and the longer-length legs make them suitable for swimming, surfing, diving, and a wide range of other water-based activities.

Available in a range of colors and sizes S through to 2XL, these swimming trunks come with 2 slanted pockets and 2 side cargo pockets that make them just as useful on dry land as they are in the water.

What We Like

  • The quick-drying fabric is very impressive

What We Don’t Like

  • Some of the colors aren’t as vivid as they appear in the pictures

These Super-Stretchy Swim Shorts Will Help You Cut Through the Water

Speedo Men’s Swim Trunk Short

Made from 100% polyester material, these swimming trunks have a 4-inch inner seam and a 14-inch outer seam, making them just the right length for enjoying a wide range of activities both in and out of the water.

With UPF 50+ protection built-in, you can enjoy extended protection against up to 98% of the sun’s harmful rays, and the 4-way, comfort stretch design ensures that you remain comfortable no matter how active you are in the water.

For extra support when you need it the most, these trunks feature the Speedo Eco mesh basket liner, and with a durable coating that repels water, they are fasting drying, too.

What We Like

  • They are an excellent length for all kinds of water-based activities

What We Don’t Like

  • The pockets aren’t very deep

Big Pockets for Useful Storage

NITAGUT Men’s Swim Trunks

Available in a choice of eye-catching colors and designs, these swim trunks are designed to dry super quickly, making them perfect not just for use in the water but also for playing sports back on dry land. Stylish and incredibly practical, these shorts have a specially designed inner mesh triangle that offers superior support and comfort while you swim.

The high-quality fabric will not stick to your skin when wet, making them as comfortable on the beach as they are in the water, and with inner pockets on both sides, you can keep your most personal items close at hand while you relax around the pool.

What We Like

  • These shorts dry off super quickly

What We Don’t Like

  • If you like your shorts a bit baggy, it would be best to size up

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Offering the Practicality of a Gym Short Both in and Out of the Water

Nike Men’s Solid 7″ Volley Swim Trunk

These short-length swimming trunks offer an increased range of movement in the water and are perfect for those who like to enjoy a wide range of activities on the beach. They are made from soft and skin-friendly polyester material and have a pull-on closure with a stretch waistband and an internal drawcord for a custom fit.

With on-seam pockets that are lined with mesh for easy drainage, and a water-repellent finish, these are an awesome pair of men’s swimming trunks for active water lovers.

What We Like

  • The shorter design makes them feel more like gym shorts

What We Don’t Like

  • The material doesn’t offer much stretch

The Best Swim Shorts for Women

Longer-Length Swim Shorts for Women Who Love To Swim

Firpearl Women’s Swim Shorts

These longer-length swim shorts have been designed to protect your modesty while still allowing you plenty of movement in the water. Made from a soft and comfortable mix of spandex and nylon, they look super stylish, and the UPF 50+ will protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun.

In addition, the high-rise elastic waistband sits just above the belly button to help smooth out imperfections for greater confidence on the beach, and the soft mesh insert triangle brief ensures increased comfort both in and out of the water.

Available in a choice of colors and sizes 8 through to 26, these brilliant swimming shorts look incredible paired with your favorite bikini top or tankini.

What We Like

  • The longer length and close-fitting design

What We Don’t Like

  • The high-rise waistline can roll down if you are super active

Board Shorts for Beach Lovers

ATTRACO Women’s Long Board Shorts

These women’s board shorts sit just above the knee, and the high-waisted design covers the belly button and offers incredible support for your stomach area. With a soft insert triangle brief, these shorts have been designed to remain comfortable and prevent irritation, and the elastic closure sits flush against the skin.

Made from a blend of nylon and spandex, they come in a wide variety of solid colorways, are available in sizes M through to 2XL, and have been designed to fit women of all shapes and sizes.

Featuring UPF protection in the fabric, they will help keep your upper legs protected from the sun, and the close-fitting design makes them as practical for use in the water as they are for running, cycling, and sporting activities back on dry land.

What We Like

  • The flat seam waistband is very flattering

What We Don’t Like

  • The inner brief can show through

The Most Beautiful Swim Shorts

WILLBOND Women Swimsuit Shorts

Get ready to impress on the beach with these stylish swim shorts that come in a range of bold and beautiful colorways.

Made from soft and breathable polyester and spandex material, these board shorts come with a breathable inner liner for increased comfort on the beach. The V-slits on the legs allow for an increased range of movement, and the drawstring waistband can be adjusted to suit your size exactly.

Available in sizes S through to 3XL, these shorts sit loosely against the thighs for a more comfortable swimming experience, and the quick-drying fabric means that they are just as practical for sports and activities back on dry land.

What We Like

  • The V-slits are genius

What We Don’t Like

  • Some colors seem to run smaller than others

High-Waisted Swim Shorts for a More Flattering Design

Tournesol High Waisted Women’s Swim Shorts

These stunning swim shorts are made from a soft and skin-friendly polyamide and spandex blend of incredibly quick-drying material.

The high-waisted design sits neatly against the body, and the smoothing inner brief helps you feel more confident on the beach. With an elastic waistband, these shorts have an excellent amount of stretch, and being available in sizes S through to 2XL, they will easily fit most swimmers.

For colorways, choose from solid black, solid blue, or black with a blueish-green stripe to suit your preference. Designed to be worn with your own choice of a bikini top, bathing suit, rash guard, or t-shirt, you can enjoy a full range of movement in these soft and stretchy swimming shorts.

What We Like

  • The high-waist design is really flattering

What We Don’t Like

  • They do run a little small, so you may want to size up

Feel Tropical in These Awesome Floral Board Shorts

G and PL Women’s Flora Beach Boardshorts

Snazzy and sexy, these brilliant board shorts have a distinctly tropical feel and are available in a choice of bold and bright designs. The shorter length makes them as suitable for use in the water as they are for a walk on the beach, and the soft polyester fabric feels nice against the skin.

With a pull-on closure and a discreet drawstring, they will fit your form like a glove, and the elastic waistband gives them just enough stretch to stay comfortable as you move.

Cute little pockets on each side give you somewhere to keep your hands or small essentials, and the wide leg design is practical and pretty on wearers of all sizes. Perfect for creating a super cute outfit with your bikini top, bathing suit, or t-shirt, these beautiful shorts come in sizes S to 2XL.

What We Like

  • Beautiful to look at and super fashionable

What We Don’t Like

  • The fabric is quite thin and can stick to your skin when wet

Boy Shorts for Fashion-Conscious Swimmers

Lecieldusoir High Waisted Bathing Shorts

These supercute boy shorts are not just suitable for use in the water, they can also be worn while running, cycling, working out, or even enjoying yoga.

The high-waisted design with an elastic waistband will discreetly cover your stomach area, and the square legs with adjustable ribbons help to enhance your curves and contour your butt. Made from soft and stretchy spandex and polyamide, these shorts offer an incredible amount of movement, no matter how active your get, and with UPF protection to keep your skin safe in the sun, they can easily be worn all day.

What We Like

  • The flattering design

What We Don’t Like

  • They can be prone to riding up in the water

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For Women That Love to Surf

Maui Rippers Women’s 4-Way Stretch Swim Shorts

Offering a traditional surf look with a modern twist, these awesome 9-inch women’s board shorts are a firm favorite.

The comfort-fit design with string-tie closure lets you concentrate on catching the waves, and the longer length helps to keep your skin protected from the sun and saltwater. The durable and lighter weight comes in a range of vibrant patterns, and the 4-way stretch in the fabric ensures that they fit you like a glove.

With a higher waist for a more flattering fit and quick dry technology, they are practical enough to work both in the water and back on the beach, and the cute little side pocket with a built-in key ring offers a safe space for your smallest essentials in the sun.

What We Like

  • The comfortable and extremely flattering design

What We Don’t Like

  • The string-tie closure bunches up if pulled too tight

For Those Who Like To Swim in Style

Alex Vando Women’s Beach Shorts

Super short and incredibly comfortable, these brilliant swimming trunks are made from nylon and spandex for a closer fit. Soft and breathable, they offer UPF 30 protection to help keep your skin safer in the sun, and with a drawstring closure, they are designed to sit neatly on your waistline.

With slits on both sides of the legs, they are gently flared to accommodate women with larger thighs, and being available in sizes S through to 2XL, swimmers of all sizes can wear them. Choose from bold colors or vibrant designs, and pair these shorts with your favorite bikini top or bathing suit.

What We Like

  • Easy to wear and incredibly comfortable

What We Don’t Like

  • The drawstring tends to come loose when washing

Funky Designs and Quick-Drying

Nonwe Women’s Swim Trunks

Pretty enough to be worn every day, these beautiful swim shorts come in a wide range of vibrant patterns and designs.

Made from polyester and spandex, they are flattering and easy to wear, and the quick-drying material makes them perfect for use both in and out of the water. The mesh lining offers extra protection and support, and the full elastic waist comes with a drawstring closure for a tailor-made fit.

With a longer and wider leg design, these shorts offer discreet protection from the sun, and the machine-washable fabric means these should be a staple piece for vacations, beach days, and warm weather.

What We Like

  • The shorts are very versatile

What We Don’t Like

  • They run quite small

Quick-Drying With Sun Protection

BALEAF Women’s Quick Dry Mesh Summer Shorts

Made from super quick-drying, breathable mesh polyester and spandex material, these fabulous swim shorts come complete with a built-in liner for additional support.

The sporty aesthetic makes them practical enough to be used in the water, while the eye-catching mesh design makes them just as suitable for days spent sunbathing around the pool. Offering UPF 50+ protection and chlorine resistance, they will keep your skin well-protected, and the anti-slip design ensures incredible flexibility and a full range of movement.

With a useful left front inner pocket, you can keep your valuables safe on dry land, and available in size XS to 3XL, these are stylish and snazzy pair of swim shorts suitable for wearers of all sizes.

What We Like

  • The eye-catching designs

What We Don’t Like

  • They are quite short, which may not suit everyone

Final Thoughts

From board shorts for surfers to tight-fitting bathers for serious swimmers, there is a wide range of swim shorts out there for both men and women. Made from high-quality water-resistant materials, some can help to protect your skin against the harmful rays of the sun while others feature deep pockets and longer length legs.

If you want to hit the beach, the bar, and the shops without worrying about getting changed, these quick-drying swim shorts look just as good with a t-shirt and sneakers as they do in the water.


Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between swim trunks and swim shorts?

The words are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Compared to swim shorts, trunks usually have a mesh liner inside. How comfortable these feel really depends on the brand, material, and personal preference.

Can you use regular shorts for swimming?

Regular shorts make poor substitutes for swim shorts. They don’t let water flow through them easily, so they will drag in the water. They’ll also become heavy to wear and will take a long time to dry.

Do you need to wear underwear under board shorts?

There are lots of different thoughts on whether you should wear underwear with board shorts. It really does come down to personal preference. Usually, if the board shorts come with a liner, then underwear is not required. However, some people don’t like the way underwear can bunch or chafe and skip it altogether.

Are board shorts the same as swim shorts?

Board shorts are longer in length compared to swim shorts and are popular with surfers. The benefit of board shorts is that they can be used both for swimming and as casual shorts out of the water, whereas swim shorts might look out of place in some situations.

Amar Hussain

About Amar Hussain

Amar was born and raised in England, UK, embarked on an 11 country round the world gap year after graduation and then became well and truly hooked. The first gap year inspired a second which ended up being a 23 country down-the-world trip from Canada to Antarctica. Since then Amar has endeavored to turn his gap year into a ‘gap life’ and has spent the last 10 years traveling the 7 continents.

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