The Best Men's Swim Trunks Are the Only Shorts You Really Need

Yang-Yi Goh

Look, we get it: summer’s here, but we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic. The best men's swim trunks might be the last thing on your mind. You might not be planning on doing all that much swimming right now, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need a new swimsuit, necessarily. Fact is, these days, the very best men's swim trunks are designed to double as the very best shorts, period. From the fit to the fabric to the details, they're meant to work seamlessly with the rest of your wardrobe, and won't look a hair out of place whether you're hanging out at home, heading out for a jog, or running the occasional errand. And if the opportunity comes up to take a dip in your buddy's sun-drenched pool, or spend the weekend at a beach house? You'll already be perfectly dressed and ready to go. Here are 29 of the absolute finest all-purpose, next-generation, all-around best men's swim trunks to buy right now.

The Best Swim Trunks, Period

Bather striped swim trunk

$50.00, GQ Best Stuff Box

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Here’s everything we want from our trunks in 2020: a comfortable, above-the-knee fit that shows off just the right amount of thigh; plenty of pockets, because duh; a sturdy fabric that performs well in the water, dries quickly out of it, and won’t raise any eyebrows if you’re wearing it more than a few miles from the beach. The signature model from Bather, a tiny independent label out of Toronto, hits all of those marks and then some. They’re the ideal length and silhouette for just about every body type, and will hold up like a champ through beach days, workouts, weekend hangs, and heavy wash cycles. Oh, yeah, and they also come in dozens of colors and patterns—from plain-jane navy to trippy tie-dyes to ferocious animal prints—so it’s damn near impossible not to find one that works for you. In our humble opinion, the best of the bunch is this preppy striped number, which will sync up well with just about everything in your summer wardrobe. We’re such big fans of these Bather joints, in fact, that we made them the star of our Summer 2020 Best Stuff Box, which means that you can grab them right now (along with a handful of our other favorite things) for just $50—a full $35 off the regular price.

The Best Elevated Swim Trunks

Orlebar Brown Bulldog Sport swim shorts

$195.00, Orlebar Brown

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It’s tough to establish a new gold standard in menswear, to rejig something familiar so perfectly it becomes the baseline by which all future versions are judged. A.P.C. did it with their aptly-named New Standard jeans, bringing stiff selvedge denim to a whole new generation. Common Projects managed it, too, with the Achilles Low—their luxed-up, Italian-made take on a classic white tennis shoe. And just over a decade ago, Orlebar Brown pulled that same trick off for swimwear with the Bulldog. They’re as precisely tailored as suit trousers—with fetching buckled side tabs to keep ‘em extra snug in the waves—with the same convenient pockets and zip fly as any regular bottoms, all cut from lightweight, high-quality nylon that won’t fade dramatically over time. Add that up, and you get a pair of trunks so definitive and intuitive it’s hard to believe no one had ever thought to make them that way prior.

The Best Affordable Swim Trunks

Patagonia Baggies 5" shorts

$55.00, Backcountry

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If any one pair was responsible for launching the swimwear-as-shorts movement, it’d be Patagonia Baggies. For close to 40 years now, they’ve been the signature warm weather bottoms of hardcore mountaineers, deep sea fishers, camper van lifers, dedicated Deadheads, and backyard-grilling dads the world over. More recently—as the fashion world has gravitated toward practical, outdoorsy gear—they’ve also been adopted as the summer uniform for a certain strain of stylish young fella. It’s easy to see the appeal across all those demographics: they’re tough but lightweight, laidback but presentable, affordable as hell, trend-proof in fit and form and function. And, because they’re made by Patagonia, you can rest assured knowing you’re supporting a company that’s almost always on the right side of history.

The Best Painterly Swim Trunks

Missoni Mare abstract-print swim shorts (was $347, 40% off)

$347.00, Matches Fashion

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Ever sipped an ice cold negroni on the tranquil shores of Lake Como? Us neither. But just looking at these lush, watercolor, Call Me By Your Name-length trunks from Missoni make us feel like we have. If your idea of a perfect vacation hews closer to “reading on a dock in a linen shirt” than “performing aerial jumps on water-skis,” these might be the trunks for you.

The Best Old School Swim Trunks

Birdwell Beach Britches nylon board shorts

$80.00, Amazon

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Way back in 1961, Carrie Birdwell Mann started sewing heavyweight nylon shorts for surfing—"beach britches," as she called them, the very first of their kind—from her living room in Southern California. Six decades later, her original two-ply, triple-stitched design is still as handsome, practical, and impossible to wear out as ever. If you're after some serious throwback, hang-ten, shaka-hand energy, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better pair of boardies than these.

The Best Yacht-Lolling Swim Trunks

Frescobol Carioca printed swimming shorts (was $189, 50% off)

$189.00, Farfetch

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Brazil’s Frescobol Carioca specializes in a sub-genre we like to call “extremely-rich-guy resortwear.” There’s just something about their signature prints that feels tailor-made for a flawlessly overtanned Most Interesting Man-type stepping off a private chopper onto the helipad of his 200-foot megayacht in St. Tropez. You’ll probably never have that guy’s lifestyle, but you can at least have his trunks. These ones, in particular, will look as killer by the pool with a polo as they will dressed up for dinner with a sport coat and loafers.

23 More Trunks We Love

Saturdays NYC "Timothy" striped polka dot swim short

$115.00, Saturdays NYC

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Polo Ralph Lauren Traveler swim trunk (was $80, 20% off)

$80.00, Verishop

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Nike solid 7" Volley swim trunk

$48.00, Amazon

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Odyssee "Valbonne" geometric-print swim shorts (was $210, 50% off)

$210.00, Matches Fashion

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Onia "Calder" 7.5" swim trunks

$225.00, Onia

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Lacoste solid elastic waist swim shorts

$60.00, Amazon

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Burberry "Greenford" swim trunks

$330.00, Nordstrom

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Daily Paper x Van Gogh Museum shorts

$104.00, Daily Paper

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Stussy mid-length logo-print tie-dyed swim short

$75.00, Mr Porter

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Commas art-print technical swim shorts (was $272, 40% off)

$272.00, Matches Fashion

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Banks Journal Produce board shorts (was $55, 40% off)

$55.00, Verishop

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Hartford "Kuta" seersucker swim trunks (was $198, 50% off)

$198.00, Todd Snyder

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Acne Studios slim-fit mid-length striped swim shorts

$190.00, Mr Porter

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Sundek elastic waist swim trunks

$98.00, Amazon

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Heron Preston ripstop branded swim shorts (was $285, 60% off)

$285.00, Farfetch

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Noah double snap board shorts

$188.00, Noah

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Mr P. mid-length printed swim shorts

$115.00, Mr Porter

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Quicksilver Cosmic Vibrations board shorts

$45.00, Amazon

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Dries Van Noten "Phibbs" floral swim trunks

$300.00, Nordstrom

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Jacquemus Le Double swim shorts (was $285, 30% off)

$285.00, Ssense

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Outerknown Apex trunks by Kelly Slater

$125.00, Outerknown

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Marané "Cielo" technical swim shorts

$203.00, Matches Fashion

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Far Afield recycled plastic printed swimshorts

$70.00, Huckberry

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Originally Appeared on GQ

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