The wearing of boardshorts used to be a great way to distinguish the wave rider from the general population at twenty paces.
To discern the irie shred cat from the unjazzed, to separate the enlightened ali’i from the landlocked.
He or she who had dedicated their life to the global stoke of surfriding, and those whom sadly, would lie down for the eternal dirt nap as oblivious to being spat out of a freight train tube as the earthworm is to the Big Bang, as the over zealous gardener’s spade cuts it accidentally in two.
Our shorts, you see, had velcro and an absence of side pockets and belt loops. But more importantly, they had cultural caché.
“Which trunk will elevate your Indo trip to new heights? Which will help ensure your summer is strictly salad days, rather than one quarter of an annus horribilis?”
Shorts that could only be purchased in a specialist shop/place of worship. A hallowed retail space located very near a beach that sold hand made surfboards, overpriced imported magazines and smelt of coconut wax.
Theirs were wafty volleyball skirts, stiff tennis schoolboys or shiny footy chav feels from JD Sports.
I can remember my own (already heightened) baseline sense of superiority being further elevated in PE, when I’d rock my Billabong triple stitched trunks, which, when hiked up high enough, hid the fluoro green top part and the cool Bong logo jacquard, to just show the black lower leg, in keeping with the rest of the class in their black (or white) standard nylon yuck.
At certain times, distanced enough from Mr Slatcher’s impressive eye for deviation from standard kit, perhaps in the libero role on the opposite flank of the astro turf, I’d let them unfurl as intended and with a bold flourish, somehow channelling a bit of Occy in with my Gazza (what a combo!).
When rumbled, Slatcher would send me in to get changed – and detention.
That’s how deep my shred core ran (I told myself). I was literally too rad for Physical Education.
In the ensuing years, the battle for waist and thigh (and knee & upper shin, circa 99-2006) has largely been won by the boardshort.
Sure, other sporting shorts still exist, and sure, the walkshort has simultaneously gone from strength to strength, but boardies have become ubiquitous.
You can buy what looks like surf trunk from your local supermarket, probably. Rather than niche subcultural kicks, they’re everywhere.
Wearing boardies could mean you shred, sure. But you could also be Wu Tang’s least preferred type of A&R: a mountain climber who plays an electric guitar.
Impossible to tell, either way.
Meanwhile, in our own strange beautiful ecosystem, the radical orthodoxy of boardshorts for surfing, walkshorts for everything else, has loosened its vice-like grip on surf fashion etiquette.
“You can wear a boardie to do almost anything, even with a 40cm outside calf tribal tattoo, and still be allowed to live, even thrive”
Now that they’re not so shiny and parachute-y, you can wear boardies all day and not be judged unfavourably by the surf fashion feds.
Boardies to the gym to take selfies, boardies to bike to the offie for 3pm tins. You can wear a boardie to do almost anything, even with a 40cm outside calf tribal tattoo, and still be allowed to live, even thrive.
But these days, with so much out there on the market, where do you even start? Which trunk will elevate your Indo trip to new heights? Which will help ensure your summer is strictly salad days, rather than one quarter of an annus horribilis?
The good news folks, is that your faithful Wavelength servants have separated the quick dry 4 way stretch wheat from the sail cloth chaff. We’ve shortened the list from choice paralysis to buy one or even all 6 of these, and it’s win/win.
(Hate boardshorts? No worries! Check our Wetsuit Buyer’s Guide)
Volcom Ozzie Stoney 19”
Volcom’s Ozzie Stoney 19” trunk makes an overwhelming argument for inclusion in your beachday satchel. There’s the fact that Ozzie himself is a legit naughties core lord freak who’s still relevant AF. There’s the fact that shredding them is, figuratively at least, shooting fascists in the third eye with rainbows. There’s the charismatic macrofauna print, the hemp/cotton/elastane stretch comfort… more here
Vissla Solid Sets 18.5”
Vissla made one of the best bilingual product promo vids evah, surely securing your affections for years to come. But you don’t need unflinching brand loyalty to fall in love with the Solid Sets 18.5” trunk.
Maybe it’s the novelty patch set way up above the hem, adding a lil’ fruity nuance in a sea of same. Maybe it’s the wee calipher scallop sideseam cuts, the stretch, the coconut eco credentials.
Maybe it’s just the tie dye groove… more here
Vans Era Boardshort
Purveyors of the finest beach-going attire since a time when your nan was a babe, Vans have decided not to restrict their iconic west coast surf styled oeuvre to just your feet; they have the grooviest of designs for your waist to thigh area, too.
Sporting cool large format tropic foliage/stripe print design, these 90% polyester / 10% elastane trunks come in team tested Sturdy Stretch. Just the right amount of performance meets lo fi styling in and out of the water. Whether you intend to rambunctiously layback like a Gudang, or twinkly toe dance to the nose like Al Knost, Vans Era boardshort have got your covered… more here
Protest Limey Surf Project Beach Short
The answer to the questions: How do you like your guacamole?
What’s an American pejorative term for Brits based on the scurvy prevention method of our ancient mariners?
What Miami-vice inspired print trunks from Protest look epic, deliver outstanding performance and also admirably support Dutch charitable foundation www.surfproject.nl helping kids with autism, ADHD and Down Syndrome ride waves?
Yep Limey… more here
Need Essentials 19” Lightweight Boardshort
The good life, the very best life, is life stripped back to the bare beauty of its staple constituents. Moist, fragrant trade winds on a starlit night. The powerful embrace of friend or lover. Red lentil coconut dal with chapatti and Winter In America by Gil Scott Heron.
Elsewhere, surfing accoutrements similarly benefit from a paired back approach. Need Essentials bring you the sweet sweet confluence of performance and comfort with the Lightweight 19″. Quick drying, super stretchy and durable, they even store away in their own back pocket… more here
Animal Tarley Boardshort
Sporting smart nautical horizontal stripe pattern that pairs equally well with a nude torso inside a reef pass tube, or with a polo shirt and fussy G&T (dried blood orange and cardamom pods) at a well-catered marina club apero, Animal‘s Tarley feel as good as they look.
Four way stretch delivers epic performance wherever your surfing takes you… more here
Love our run down of 2019’s best trunkage? Sure you do. Check out the best surf apparel for 2019, too.