Outerknown’s Swim Trunks Are Making Waves. Which One Is Right for You?

Breaking down the CA-based brand's beachy options

May 6, 2024 12:24 pm
Outerknown Swim Trunk
Which Outerknown swim trunk is right for you?
Outerknown/Getty Images

Nota bene: If you buy through the links in this article, we may earn a small share of the profits.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a Santa Monica vacation on the brain. After all, the rising temps and the modest fruits of my spring cut have me ready to hit the beach. Chances are, the ocean (or lake, or creek, or pool — any body of water will do) is calling you too. The only thing left to do is book your ticket…oh, and grab a pair of swim trunks. Luckily, Outerknown has got your back. I’m not talking about slathering on sunscreen — the CA-based brand is fully stocked for the season, with a variety of baller trunks perfect for every guy with a pulse and a passing ability to tread water.

The Best Swim Trunks for Men This Summer
Make a splash in your new swimmies

Naturally, this begs the question — which pair of Outerknown swim trunks are right for me? Could it be the pro surfer-designed Apex Trunks, or the sporty Nomadic Volley? The casual All Timer Scallop Trunk? Decisions, decisions. As a problem solver (and because it is my job), I just can’t let this query go unanswered, which is why I commandeered and tested all three of the styles. Read on for my findings.

What makes Outerknown special?

Which Outerknown swim trunk is right for me?

Outerknown’s Surf-Inspired Origins

Let’s backtrack for a second. What makes Outerknown so special? For starters, the brand works directly with pro surfer Kelly Slater to produce seriously killer swimwear, chief among them the Apex Trunks. With a vested interest in beach culture (Outerknown was born and is based out of California) and a dedication to craftsmanship, their product is a no-brainer for any guy obsessed with quality (a hallmark of InsideHook readers).

Outerknown surfer
Kelly Slater’s Outerknown is geared towards fellow surfers.

Equally important are Outerknown’s sustainability efforts. The brand frequently utilizes recycled materials for the swim offerings — notably, their gear is made in Fair Trade Certified factories from 100% PCW (post-consumer waste) — and is generally decided to fair labor practices that make me feel good about purchasing a pair.

Which Outerknown Swim Trunks Are Right for Me?

Outerknown’s current selection of swim styles — the Apex, All Timer Scallop and Nomadic Volley — are all excellent in their own right, with different fits and properties that suit virtually every beach bum in the market for a pair of quality shorts. After wearing all three, I’ve noted few things to consider when choosing the right Outerknown swim trunk for you.

  • Material: Outerknown predominantly relies on QuickDry nylons and polyesters for their swim styles, but these products have various blends that imbue each trunk with different properties and stretch levels.
  • Fit: Each Outerknown swim trunk has a different type of fit, ranging from the slim-but-still-accommodating Apex Trunk to the sports-style Nomadic Volley. Weighing the pros and cons of snug versus relaxed should leave you with the ideal fit.
  • Intended use: Ripping waves? Trying to get your tan on? Paying special attention to the intended use of each Outerknown swim style is paramount to selecting the right trunk for you.

Below, you’ll find my takes on each of Outerknown’s swim styles and who they best suit. Scoll on, pick your fighter, and hit the sand.

Materials: 89% recycled polyester, 5% spandex, 6% recycled spandex | Sizes: 28-40″ | Fit: regular | Outseam: 18″ | Closure: drawstring, velco | Liner: no | Colors: 4

Who is this for? Casual beach-goers who appreciates retro flair and responsible craftsmanship.

What makes a good swim trunk? A solid, flattering fit (one with 4-way stretch), quick-drying materials and a Pet Sounds scalloped look are a good place to start. Outerknown’s All Time Scallop Trunks are an investment trunk for everyone in the truest sense of the phrase, with everything you need, no unnecessary bells and whistles and a price tag that makes sense.

Inside Outerknown’s Quest for a Better Cotton Sweatshirt
The upcoming California Series highlights how a set of basics can contribute to repairing the planet instead of depleting it

Materials: 89% recycled polyester, 6% recycled spandex, 5% spandex | Sizes: 28-38″ | Fit: slim | Outseam: 19″ | Closure: drawstring, velco latch | Liner: no | Colors: 14

Who is this for? The serious surfer or swimmer with an eye towards performance.

Any Californian worth their weight in Puka shell necklaces (also: fans of the 2007 animated feature Surf’s Up) should immediately clock Kelly Slater as one of surfing’s GOATS, but not everyone might know that the surfer has a hand in Outerknown’s cutting edge swim trunks. The partnership has culminated in the Apex Trunks, the platonic ideal of board shorts — designed by Slater himself, the trunks combine the CA-based brand’s commitment to sustainability — the trunks are built from a 100% PCW material — with elite performance specs developed and tested by the eleven-time world champ.

With a slightly slimmer fit and drawstring-veclo double closure, the Apex Trunks are snug to the body, meaning you’ll avoid any slippage or chafe, with just enough stretch to move comfortably rip waves. An added benefit, the come with a back pocket and internal key loop, a rarity for pro trunks. There’s no denying that the expense ($145 for a pair of trunks is tuff) but if your summer involves multiple days at the beach a week, they’re well worth the investment.

Materials: 100% recycled polyester | Sizes: S-XXL | Fit: relaxed | Outseam: 17″ | Closure: drawstring | Liner: no | Colors: 5

Who is this for? The sporty citizen in search of a hybrid volley short (or Baggie alternative).

Standard objections to a traditional swim trunk typically fall in one of three camps: complaints about the built-in liner, a wonky fit or a general tendency to make non-shredded Kelly Slater types (read: 99.99% of the general population) look like grade-A dorks. Outerknown’s updated Nomadic Volleys tackle all three problems at once — the shorts, inspired by traditional volley trunks, feel more like your favorite sports shorts than they do a swimsuit. To be clear, the QuickDry polyester material is very much built for sub-aquatic activity, but with drop pockets, an unlined body, drawstring waist and a shorter, more relaxed fit than its Apex or Scallop cousins, it’s the ideal choice for the total chiller.

Tired of Patagonia Baggies? Try These (Possibly Better) Alternatives Instead.
Hot take: there are better styles than Patagonia’s iconic short

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.