First thing's first: what are board shorts? Are they the same thing as swim trunks? Nope! Board shorts were created to be worn during intense water activities, like surfing, wakeboarding, water skiing, etc., while swim trunks were made for casual swimming. Board shorts come down to the knee or even lower while swim trunks generally stop above the knee, and board shorts also feature a tighter and more durable waistband than swim trunks' elastic bands. Bottom line: board shorts were built to withstand even the roughest water conditions so that you never have to worry about losing your bottoms in the waves. Meanwhile, swim trunks could go flying when worn during extreme physical activities.

So, when should you wear board shorts? Here are some water activities where board shorts are a must.


This one's a no-brainer, since board shorts were literally made for surfers. Their durable material helps them withstand wear from near-constant contact with a surfboard, and their length was designed to protect surfers' legs from the sticky wax found on surfboards. After all, it's hard to focus on surfing a gnarly wave when your leg hair keeps getting ripped out. Board shorts are an absolute must when you or one of your family members goes surfing, especially because wipeouts are so common. When that really big wave hits, don't let yourself lose your bottoms: wear board shorts.

Body Surfing

If you have kids, or even just a few kids at heart, they're probably going to end up playing in the waves while they're at the beach. Little kids, especially little boys, play rough; board shorts can offer them extra security as they tackle their friends and body surf on the smaller breaking waves. Toddlers might not feel super embarrassed about losing their bottoms in the middle of some high-spirited fun, but dressing them in board shorts could save you the hassle of trying to find their lost swim trunks in the waves while also given them a bit of extra protection from scrapes and scratches.


A sport that's kind of a combination of water skiing and surfing, wakeboarding usually involves being pulled behind a motorboat while standing on a wakeboard and performing intense aerial maneuvers. It's tough on more than just the knees and can tear up flimsier swimsuits. It's no wonder, then, that we'd recommend wearing board shorts for this activity: as intense as a wipeout from a wave in the ocean might be, imagine hitting lake water waves hard and fast from five to ten feet in the air. The security that board shorts' waistbands offer at that moment is invaluable; after all, you can nail all the tricks in the world, but if you lose your bottoms, well… that's probably not the trick you were planning on.


Tubing is a really fun family activity to do while you're at the lake that involves strapping a large tube to the back of a motorboat, loading the kids on the tube, and then pulling them behind the boat and just letting fun happen. Some kids may prefer a smooth ride, but let's be honest, some enjoy a bouncy, rough ride when the tube bounces into the air or even flips. It may be easier to locate lost bottoms in a still lake after a wipeout than it would be in the constantly moving ocean, but finding your pride might be a little harder. Putting the kids in board shorts could save you some extra effort and prevent your kids from getting embarrassed, especially if they're tubing with their friends.

We hope these tips have been helpful, and that you're able to tackle all of your favorite summer activities worry-free. Remember: if there's a chance you may lose your bottoms, go ahead and wear board shorts for a little extra safety and a lot more security.