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For a few sweet months each year, we all get to walk around in what basically amounts to our underwear, and no one seems to mind. For this delightful season of pool, beach, sun, and flashing more thigh than we’d normally dare, you want swimwear that checks all the right boxes (pockets? Check. Flattering length and color? Check. Doesn’t become transparent the second it gets wet? Very big check.) We dove deep to come up with the best swim trunks for men, so let’s jump right in.
How to choose the best swim trunks for men
While swimsuits for women have endless variations, men’s swimwear choices seem limited to maybe two variations (shorts or briefs). However, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to finding your best option. “When considering a new swimsuit, you should first consider purpose and mental comfort,” says Retail Executive Todd Hanshaw. “If you want the best tan, the briefer the better; if you’re going surfing, probably a boardshort is best. What fits for the environment you will be in? Looser and longer is better in a more conservative environment and if in a more creative environment, you might prefer a brief or bikini.”
“Comfort, for sure,” says Michael Murray, president of the American Swimming Coaches Association and head coach of Victor Swim Club, of his first consideration. “The suit shouldn't be restrictive, it should feel comfortable and allow for relaxed mobility.”
Whatever you go for, though, you should feel confident in rocking whatever style you like. “In the last few years there have been a couple of big changes in this realm,” says Hanshaw. “The body positivity movements have really taken hold and changed many mindsets. The suit you choose has really come to be about your own comfort level and not a body shape. The single thing that looks best on everyone is confidence!”
Our picks for the best swim trunks for men
The best performance swim trunks: Ten Thousand Set Short
You probably think of insanely durable workout shirts when you think of Ten Thousand, but the brand’s swim shorts are also worth checking out—especially if you have a very active lifestyle. Designed to be lightweight and cling-free so you can go from water to land and back again without breaking stride, they’ll basically make you amphibious (and haven't you always wondered what life would be like as a newt?). The shorts also feature permanent silver ion anti-odor treatment in their compression liner, meaning they’ll stay fresh longer than you will.
- Price: $78
- Sizes: XS-XXL, 5-inch or 6.5-inch inseam
- Fabric: 85% nylon, 15% spandex
- Colors: 6
- Chlorine- and salt-resistant
- “Perfect Pocket” internal storage
- Color options are all very basic
- A few reviews claim the trunks are not as durable as some of Ten Thousand’s other products
The best athletic swim trunks: TYR Mens Hexa Blade Splice Racer Swim Brief
Traditional swim trunks unfortunately produce a lot of drag, so when you gotta go fast, sporty briefs are the right choice—and these are the perfect fit. “I maintain that TYR makes the best quality suits,” says Murray, and considering the number of technical advantages they offer, he’s almost certainly right. As well as being 100% chlorine-proof, they have UPF 50+ sun protection, antimicrobial properties to keep things hygienic after hours spent in the bottom of damp gym bags, and fade-resistant colors so you can show off that eye-catching color flash all summer long.
- Price: $49.99
- Sizes: XXS-XXL
- Fabric: TYR Durafast Elite (94% polyester, 6% spandex)
- Colors: 1, but with 11 options for the colored flash
- Tested for 300+ hours of performance
- UPF 50+
- Drawcord waist
- Will likely only appeal to serious swimmers
Best vintage style swim trunks: Sundek Swim Trunk
For what Hanshaw describes as, “a great, traditional, vintage style suit,” you can trust Sundek, who’ve been making swimwear since 1958. With their classic shape, 5-inch inseam, and signature bright rainbow pattern across the rear, these are the shorts to wear with your Wayfarers while sipping a pina colada and listening to Duane Eddy (ask your grandad).
- Price: Currently $49.99, normally $129
- Sizes: S-XXL
- Fabric: Shell: nylon; lining: polyester
- Colors: 11
- Comes in nearly two rainbows’ worth of colors
- Might look a little too retro for some
The most comfortable swim trunks: Nasty Pig Core Swim Trunk
“Nasty Pig is a small brand, but their trunks are made with the highest quality of fabrics in recreational suits I have seen, and excellent fit,” raves Hanshaw. Their Core swim shorts are stylish in their simplicity, but for those looking for something more exciting, you can try their fun Reveal shorts, which appear to be a solid color, but reveal a pattern once you’re in the water. That’ll do, Nasty Pig. That’ll do.
- Price: $65
- Sizes: S-XXL
- Fabric: Poly-microfiber exterior, poly mesh lining
- Colors: 2
- Interior pocket as well as back pocket
- Great feel and shape
- Only available in two colors
The best swim trunks for surfing: Outerknown Apex Trunks by Kelly Slater
As Hanshaw points out, “Kelly Slater designed these, and he’s a true surf champion,” so you can be confident they’ll stand up to high-level wave cruising/getting dragged, screeching, across the ocean floor, depending on your surfing ability level. Featuring four-way stretch fabric and stitch-free seams to help prevent chafing, they have the bonus of being made from 95% recycled materials. You gotta do your part for the Earth, brah.
- Price: $145
- Sizes: 30-inch through 40-inch waist
- Fabric: 89% recycled polyester, 6% recycled spandex, 5% spandex
- Colors: 12
- Tested by an 11-time surfing world champ
- Fold up neatly into their own back pocket, which doubles as a tiny bag!
The most stylish men’s swim trunks: Commas Surfer-Artwork Print Swim Shorts
Show some leg this summer, guys! You should, of course, go with whatever makes you feel comfortable, but it’s true that the days of most shorts trailing past the knee are long gone. It’s time to bare those thighs, so for best results, try these flattering and beautiful Australian shorts, fitted at the waist while hanging a little looser over the legs and hips. They might not have all the bells and whistles of some of the other trunks on this list, but who needs flashy features when you’ve got the only accessories you need—flip flops and a smile. Get ready to turn some heads.
- Price: $280
- Sizes: XS-XXL
- Fabric: Polyamide
- Colors: 1
- Made from recycled materials
- Very expensive
The best sustainable men’s swim trunks: Fair Harbor The Anchor
Since you love being in the sea, how about investing in some shorts that do their part to help clean it up? Every pair of Anchor shorts means 12 fewer plastic bottles in the ocean, since that’s what goes into the material they’re made from. Quick-drying, odor-resistant, and with comfortable, four-way stretch fabric, they’re good for the environment, and they’ll be good to you. It’s almost like there’s a lesson we should learn here!
- Price: $68
- Sizes: S-3XL
- Fabric: 88% recycled polyester, 12% spandex
- Colors: 28
- Insane number of color and pattern options
- With an eight-inch inseam, may be a little long for the current style/trends
The best patterned swim trunks: Bather Multi Garden Floral Swim Trunk
Just look at these! They’re a legit work of art that’ll make you stand out on your beach towel. If bright, tropical garden-inspired shorts aren’t for you, though, don’t worry—Bather offers a mind-boggling 52 prints, ranging from simple stripes to garish, attention-grabbing leopard print in multiple colors. The shorts themselves feature a flattering 5.5 inch inseam, deep side pockets and a closable back pocket, four-way stretch mesh lining, and a quick-drying outer shell. And again, just look at them! The only thing you’d have to worry about in these shorts is being chased by hungry bees.
- Price: $100
- Sizes: XS-XXL
- Fabric: Shell: quick-dry recycled polyester; lining: 90% nylon, 10% spandex
- Colors: Depends on print
- Insane number of patterns
- Reinforced pockets
- Most prints only come in one color option, but with so many patterns to choose from, it’s really not that big a deal
How we selected the best swim trunks for men
We made our picks based on expert opinion, personal swimming experience, and overwhelmingly positive customer reviews.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Why do swim trunks have mesh?
“Mesh is really a modesty and support function,” explains Hanshaw. “When you wear swim trunks or shorts, the mesh holds the jewels in place so that they don't reveal themselves to the outside world.”
“It’s certainly okay to cut out the mesh, and most male lifeguards will do this,” adds Murray. “Mesh allows for some support in the suit, but it's definitely not a requirement.”
What is the best length for a men's swim trunk?
This all depends on what feels good for you. “There isn’t a best length for a swimsuit unless it’s for a function—this again goes back to the comfort level of the person wearing it,” says Hanshaw. That said, he recommends taller guys “might want to avoid a mid-thigh length,” as showing more thigh actually looks good on most tall guys. Likewise, he suggests shorter guys will likely want to “stay away from anything too long, as it only makes you look shorter.”
What is the best color for men's swim trunks?
“The best color of the suit really depends on your own skin tone and what looks best with it,” says Hanshaw. “This is a personal choice for each person. However, as a rule, brighter colors look better on darker skin tones and paler or muted colors look better on paler tones. I have olive and light blue for the beginning of the season and pink, orange, and neon for when I have a better tan. I also have black for all season long.”
What is the difference between a swim trunk and a swim brief?
“A trunk is a looser fit,” says Hanshaw. “It’s styled to look more like a traditional short and has a much more varied length. A brief is a more body-conscious, tighter-fitting swimsuit that just goes over the hip. It’s basically always the same length with the only variation being to the rise.”
What is the difference between swim trunks and swim shorts?
“The difference between swim trunks and shorts has become a lot more muddled,” says Hanshaw. “But a swim trunk is more for recreation and a swim short for function, where you need a sturdier short to hold up for surfing and the like. In the past, that was always a knee-length short, but that also varies now.”
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