The Best Swim Trunks for Men This Summer

Make a splash in your new swimmies

Updated May 16, 2024 11:53 am
a collage of swim trunks on a pool background
Your old mesh shorts don't hold a candle to the best swim trunks for men.
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If you had an unhappy childhood experience, or, even worse, a recent swimming-related fiasco, swim trunks can conjure up embarrassing images of water-bloated mesh shorts, unflattering post-pool problems or, worst of all, the dreaded disappearing trunks debacle. Very much the opposite of the laid-back vibe you were going for, right? Whereas most summerwear, like luxe vacation ‘fits or serious sunglasses, prove nothing but a thrilling perk of warm weather, picking out a swimsuit that doesn’t suck can feel like a chore.

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But you can breathe easy this summer. The best swim trunks for men probably aren’t like you remember. With new flattering and well-designed fits and improved tech like anti-odor fabrics or hidden zip pockets, we’re pleased to report that the state of swimwear is, by all accounts, pretty damn excellent.

What to Look For When Buying Swim Trunks

Material: The most important factor in swim trunks is undoutably the material construction — a trunk that’s light and moveable in water and quick-drying upon exit is essential to a PBSE (positive bathing suit experience, naturally). Much like hybrid shorts, synthetics like water-repellant nylon and polyester blends are preferred to untreated cotton.

Length: Ah, the age-old question: how long should your shorts be? While we think that this question alone warrants copious amounts of speculation, here are the bullet points: shooting for an inseam between 4″-8″ should cover most guy’s bases. As a rule of thumb, keep your swim trunks above the knee and below mid-thigh — any longer or shorter and you’re temping fate.

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Fit: Though they might seem similar, we’d suggest that, unlike length, fit is less concerned with the amount of leg and more concerned with overall tightness or lessness your swim trunks possess. This will look different for every guy, and while drawstrings and side tabs are a great way to manage fit, selecting a pair that are snug (that’s the word here, snug) is critical — loose shorts could slip off, and tight is not something anyone really wants to see.

Style: Of course, you’ll want to grab a pair of trunks that actually look good. You can never go wrong with a pair of neutral solid trunks — blacks, navys, olives, what have you — and the pool is the perfect place to lean on patterns. Just be careful to not overdo it…and no banana hammocks.

In preparation for the upcoming pool season, we’ve spent the past months examining, exploring and testing a variety of swim trunks from Orlebar Brown to Fair Hairbor to Outerknown for structural soundness, on-body feel and general vibe, and concluded in a list of top picks that should gift every guy the security and confidence he needs for a hot cannonball summer. From surprise inclusions to fan-favorite features, these are best swim trunks in 2024.

The Best Swim Trunks for Men

Key features: 5″ inseam, built-in BreezeKnit liner, 4-way stretch, hidden zipper pocket

Why we like them: Fair Harbor’s swim shorts aren’t the most luxe or fastest drying trunk we’ve tried, but they are undoubtably the best fitting, and that automatically makes them top dog…at least in our book. The BreezeKnit liner keeps everything in place without pinching or crushing, and the four-way stretch tech ensures the trunk will move with you, in the water and out.

Key features: tailored fit, adjustable waist tabs, back-zipped welt pocket, side slits

Why we like them: Orlebar Brown’s premium trunks are the epitome of what swimwear should be in 2024. A tailored, slim cut — with an even more customizable fit via the adjustable side tabs — reads beachy and fun, and with all the amenities that a $300 short affords, there’s no reason (other than the hefty price tag) not to splurge.

Key features: 7″ inseam, 100% recycled polyester material, 2-way stretch

Why we like them: The value-to-sustainbility ratio Everlane provides is unparalleled, a fact on full display with the ReNew Swim Short. Featuring the San Francisco-based retailer’s patented ReNew technology (a fully-recycled polyester blend that is good for the environment and great for pool parties) and a loose 2-way stretch, they’re a steal of a swim trunk.

Key features: quick-dry nylon, adjustable drawstring, pockets

Why we like them: Outerknown’s nylon shell and mesh lining make their sporty Nomadic Volley Shorts a viable swim trunk, too. If the opportunity for a spontaneous dip should arise, we can only hope you’re wearing these guys .

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Key features: 7.5″ inseam, VCycled recycled fabric, anti-odor tech, 4-way stretch

Why we like them: If you prefer a longer inseam and drawstring waist, a board short should be your swimwear of choice, and Vuori’s Cruise offering is unequivocally the best out there. Using the same stretch and anti-odor tech as their award-winning athletic shorts, these bad boys can handle anything you throw their way.

Key features: Key chain loop, drawstring waist, back button pocket

Why we like them: Between causal features and nylon material, J.Crew’s 6″ Swin Trunk feels just as much like a beachy bottom as it does a pair of waterproof shorts. If a quick dip and a long lounge (or maybe a trip to the tiki bar) is more your speed, there’s no better choice.

Key features: Two-way stretch, UV protection, stretch polyester blend

Why we like them: Bugatchi’s Max Trunks aren’t flashy or funky — quite the oppisite. They fit like a flattering, if modest, trunk should, come in seven nuetral colors and will last you for years. Consider them a minimalist’s dream pair.

Key features: Discreet internal pocket, shaped pouch, jersey-knit Econyl nylon fibre

Why we like them: As we said in the intro, we’re strickly anti-banana hammocks, but if you just need to sun the thighs and show of what you were blessed with, CDLP ‘s Box Cut Swim Briefs are the way to go. Cut old school — Paul Newman would’ve loved these — and with enough coverage that you won’t be scarring children and the elderly, they’re the only briefs we’ll confidently recommend.

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