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Updated June 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for best men’s swim trunks

A well-fitting swimsuit is a staple item in most wardrobes. Whether you’re headed to the beach, venturing out to catch some waves, or swimming laps to stay in shape, you need one or two (or maybe three) great pieces of swimwear in your closet to be prepared for your next adventure. Men’s swim trunks are one of the most comfortable options and an excellent choice for nearly any water activity.

Swim trunks are what most people think of when they picture men’s swimwear. Men’s swim trunks resemble shorts and offer a relaxed fit that doesn’t cling to the body. Although they tend to be somewhat loose, they don’t have an abundance of excess material, either. This allows you to maintain your speed in the water.

With good coverage and a comfortable fit, swim trunks are suitable for everything from wading to swimming to surfing. You’ll find an abundance of styles to choose from, including those with lining, those with pockets, and those with an array of colors and prints.

men's swim trunk
Choose trunks with a length proportional to your height. If you’re short, longer trunks can make you look even shorter. On the other hand, wearing short trunks if you’re tall can make you look lopsided.

Key things to consider when choosing men’s swim trunks

Your preferred water activities

Before shopping for swim trunks, think about the activities you’ll wear them for. For example, if you just want to lie on the beach or float in the pool, your swimsuit doesn’t need to be particularly rugged or supportive.

However, if you plan to be active, your trunks shouldn’t slow you down. For swimming laps and surfing, for example, you’ll want a pair of swim trunks designed and stitched to withstand rigorous activities. Some styles are cut to reduce drag as you move through the water. A snug fit also translates to less fabric getting in the way during water sports.

Keep in mind that if you will be walking around in a wet swimsuit, trunks with a slim fit are better than looser-fitting shorts. The reason: Wet trunks with extra fabric can chafe your skin as you move around.

Your preferred swim trunk style

Although men’s swim trunks all have roughly the same shape and cut, there are a few distinct styles to consider.

  • Classic swim trunks have an elastic waist and a relaxed fit. They resemble the shorts you’d wear every day. Though inseam lengths vary, they usually hit a few inches above the knee. They also have a fitted lining to provide support. Classic swim trunks work well for all body types. They’re ideal for light activity at the beach or pool.
  • Square-cut shorts offer a much snugger fit than classic trunks. Often, they resemble boxer briefs. The lightweight design typically stretches from the waist to the tops of the thighs. Square-cut swim shorts offer excellent freedom of movement; they’re a suitable choice for swimming and other water sports, but they also provide enough coverage for sunbathing and hanging out at the pool.
  • Board shorts are similar to classic trunks but are longer, hitting the leg at or just below the knee. They usually don’t have an elastic waist. Instead, board shorts usually feature a tie waist. These trunks were originally designed for surfing, paddleboarding, and other water sports, but some people prefer the extra coverage and sun protection they provide.

Your preferred swim trunk materials

Swim trunks are typically made of polyester, nylon, or a synthetic blend.

  • Polyester swim trunks are popular because polyester is soft, wrinkle-resistant, and durable. These trunks dry quickly and don’t lose their shape with regular chlorine, saltwater, and sun exposure. They’re easy to clean, too.
  • Nylon swim trunks are more absorbent than polyester styles, so they take longer to dry. The fabric has more stretch than polyester, making it suitable for water sports and activities. Like polyester, nylon is soft, durable, and easy to clean.
  • Synthetic blend swim trunks are generally made with a polyester/spandex or nylon/spandex blend. Adding spandex to polyester or nylon gives the trunks added stretch to move with your body. This stretchiness makes them suitable for water sports and activities.

Fit

As with any apparel, you want your swim trunks to fit properly so they’re comfortable and last as long as possible. The proper fit for swim trunks varies from style to style because the cuts are slightly different.

Classic swim trunks typically have a relaxed fit. They aren’t snug, but they don’t have too much extra material in the thighs. Square-cut shorts have a snug fit. They cling to the thighs. Board shorts aren’t as relaxed as classic trunks, but they don’t hug the thighs like square-cut shorts do.

If you opt for a snug-fitting style, make sure the trunks include a stretchy material like spandex. You want some give so the shorts don’t inhibit your movement.

Some swim trunks have a built-in key-chain loop to prevent keys from drifting out of your pocket when you’re in the water.

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What features do men’s swim trunks have?

Leg length

Swim trunks are available in multiple lengths or inseams. The inseam impacts where the hem of the suit hits the leg.

  • Inseam of 4 to 5 inches: These short swim trunks offer the least amount of coverage. However, they work well if you’re on the shorter side or have toned legs you want to show off.
  • Inseam of 5 to 6.5 inches: These medium-length swim trunks work well for most people of average height. They’re suitable for multiple activities because they offer an excellent range of motion.
  • Inseam of 6.5 to 7.5 inches: These long swim trunks work well if you have long legs. You may also prefer the longer length if you want to wear your trunks away from the pool and beach.
  • Inseam of 7.5  to 9 inches: These extra-long trunks are usually called board shorts. They work well if you’re extremely tall or prefer more coverage.

Waist style

Many swim trunks have an elastic waistband, making them easy to pull on and off. Some also have a drawstring that allows you to tighten or loosen the fit of the waist.

Other trunks don’t have an elastic waist. Instead, they have a snap closure that provides a secure fit.

If comfort is your top priority, consider trunks with an elastic waist. For style points, though, you may prefer a snap closure waist.

Lining

Most classic trunks have a liner that provides support and reduces chafing. You can choose from mesh and compression liners.

A mesh liner is the most common type of liner. It provides effective support when swimming, but it can sometimes irritate or chafe the skin.

A compression liner isn’t as irritating as mesh. However, it can take longer to dry than a mesh lining, which in turn can lead to the possibility of chafing.

Pockets

Most swim trunks have at least one pocket, which you can use to carry essentials at the beach or pool. Plenty of styles have side pockets, and some have back pockets. Still other trunks are similar to cargo shorts with multiple pockets on the thighs.

Color and pattern

Some people find solid colors the easiest to wear. You can choose from neutral shades, such as black and navy, and bolder colors, including red, cobalt, orange, and green.

If you’re interested in patterned trunks, you may wish to stick to small-scale prints, which tend to be more flattering than large patterns and color blocking.

men's swim trunks
DID YOU KNOW?
Most swim trunks require between 30 minutes and three hours to dry completely.
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How do you accessorize men’s swim trunks?

Rashguards for men

Pair your swim trunks with a rashguard to protect your upper body from the sun. Rashguards are made of stretchy material with a snug fit that moves with your body, no matter how hard you’re playing at the beach.

Sports sunglasses

Sports sunglasses don’t just look cool — they protect your eyes from the sun’s glare and UV rays. The best sports sunglasses are built to withstand rigorous activity, so you don’t have to worry about them breaking if the waves knock them off.

Flip-flops for men

Protect your feet from hot sand at the beach and hot pavement at the pool. A quality pair of flip flops offers significant cushioning or padding to keep the feet comfortable and prevent fatigue.

How much do men’s swim trunks cost?

Inexpensive

The most affordable men’s swim trunks are typically made of nylon with a mesh lining. They may or may not have pockets. These trunks generally cost between $10 and $25.

Mid-range

Mid-range men’s swim trunks are usually made of polyester or a synthetic blend with spandex. Most have mesh liners, and pockets are common. The price range for these trunks is $25 to $60.

Expensive

The priciest men’s swim trunks are usually made by designer brands. They are typically made of polyester or a synthetic blend with spandex. Most have soft mesh liners, but some have a compression liner. Look for other features as well, such as multiple pockets. These trunks generally cost between $60 and $95.

Avoid drying your swim trunks in the dryer. The high heat could affect the elastic and fabric, causing the materials to break down more quickly.

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Tips

  • Avoid swim trunks that are too loose at the waist. They can easily slip down when you’re in the water, putting you at risk for revealing more than you’d like at the beach or pool.
  • Remember to empty your trunk pockets before getting in the water. No matter how secure the pockets may seem, it’s easy for items to fall out when you’re moving around in the water. You definitely don’t want to take a dip with your phone in your pocket!
  • Rinse your trunks in cold water after swimming. Even if you don’t plan to wash your swimsuit, rinsing the trunks helps remove chlorine and salt water, which can cause fading. Pro tip: Soak the shorts in water for 30 minutes to remove residue.
  • Speed up the drying time of wet trunks by laying them flat to dry. Increasing the surface area exposes the amount of air flowing around the shorts. Place a beach towel beneath your shorts to catch any additional moisture.
men's swim trunk
Some swim trunks are treated with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) coating, which provides additional protection from the sun. Look for swimsuits with a UPF rating of 40 or higher for adequate protection.

FAQ

Q. What’s the best way to wash men’s swim trunks?

A. Some trunks are machine washable. Check the care label to determine the proper way to clean them. If they can go in the washer, use the cold cycle and a mild laundry detergent to help keep them in good condition.

That said, to extend the life of your trunks, it’s best to hand wash them. Use cold water and a mild detergent in the sink. Swish the swimsuit around in the mixture for a few minutes. Then, rinse well. Carefully squeeze the excess water out of the material, and allow the trunks to air dry.

Q. How long do swim trunks usually last?

A. It depends on how often you wear them and how well you care for them. Most trunks can last several years if you wash them regularly. You can usually tell that it’s time for a new swimsuit when the color starts to fade, the fabric develops snags, or the elastic at the waist becomes stretched out.

Q. How do I prevent chafing when wearing men’s swim trunks?

A. Look for trunks with flat, smooth seams. Swimsuits with rough, textured seams are usually the cause of chafing and other irritation. Don’t choose trunks that are too baggy, either. When the excess fabric gets wet and heavy, it can rub against and irritate the skin.

 

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