What Size Board Shorts Should I Get?

For men, among the hardest parts of choosing swimwear is answering, what size board shorts should I get? It seems to be that every brand has its own sizing chart that is different from the next, which makes the process quite confusing.

Nevertheless, you can easily find the perfect board shorts with little effort, as long as you know how to get your measurements.

How Are Board Shorts Designed?

The first question you need to answer relates to how board shorts are made, as not every pair is created equally. Brands use different materials, varying stretches, and differing fits depending on the activities the shorts are made for.

Without knowing the type of board shorts you’re buying, you inadvertently choose the wrong size. Here are things you should know to help you with choosing the right pair:

Board Shorts for Surfing

If you’re choosing board shorts from a notable brand that typically outfits professional surfers, there are two things you can expect: flexibility and a fitted waist.

Surfers require unrestricted movement in the legs to catch the biggest waves. They also need a fitted waist to ensure their shorts will stay in place when in choppy water.

Many people prefer board shorts designed specifically for surfing, as they have the most modern fit. However, if you’re looking for a more flexible waistband, you might want to consider performance board shorts.

Board Shorts for Performance

Performance board shorts are designed to give you the highest level of flexibility in every target area. Not only will your legs be able to move freely, but so will your waist and your groin area. More often than not, people find that performance board shorts are ideal for exercising and water sports.

Performance board shorts are also an optimal choice for men who are bigger around the stomach and hips. You won’t have to worry about the constriction of a rigid waistband, as the shorts will adapt to your specific body shape.

Board Shorts for Everyday Wear

You might not be looking for board shorts for swimming, which is more common than you’d think. Plenty of guys simply like the look of board shorts for casual outings and running errands.

While you don’t have to be as concerned about flexibility with everyday board shorts, you’ll want to focus on size, water resistance, and durability.

The size of everyday board shorts is the most important, as you won’t have the water to help hide if they are too large or too small. You’ll need to pay close attention to the tips below for choosing the perfect size.

Most board shorts meant for in-water and land use will be highly water resistant, helping to keep you dry regardless of how much you sweat. The fabrics that help to wick away moisture will also help to regulate your body temperature. You’ll also find the materials are softer against your skin to help prevent chafing.

Durability is also important to consider, as you won’t have water to protect your shorts from tearing or wearing away. The seams should be sewn with quality thread and should be double- or triple-stitched.

Factors to Consider When Buying Board Shorts

As soon as you have an idea of the type of board shorts you’ll be looking for, it’s time to consider sizing. There are three main areas of focus: waist, inseam, and length. You may also want to pay close attention to the width of the legs, depending on your body type.


You’ll find that the waist of your board shorts will make or break the perfect size. Similar to any other pair of pants you may own, a waist that is too big will cause them to fall off. Shorts with a waist that is too small will be uncomfortable to wear, and at times, impossible to fasten.

It’s essential that you find the perfect sized waist that won’t cause you to have to constantly readjust your board shorts when in or out of the water. You won’t want any accidents to where your undergarments are shown when catching a wave or diving for a volleyball.

To measure your waist, all you need is a fabric measuring tape. You’ll want to wrap it around your waist and tighten to your designed tightness. The tape shouldn’t be too tight or too loose, but it should be just as you would expect your pants to fit.

If you’re a big guy you’ll want a pair of board shorts with an elastic waistband that stretches easily and is comfortable. Kanu Surf makes a pair that is comfortable for big guys and very popular.


The inseam of your shorts has a lot to do with where the shorts are going to fall. This is especially important to find the perfect length for your height.

As mentioned, board shorts that are too long will make your legs look shorter and vice versa. It’s also important to note that improperly sized inseams can also restrict your movement.

If you intend on surfing or swimming, you’ll want an inseam that falls either above or at your knee. This will allow your legs to move freely without being restricted by the tightness of the fabric. Board shorts that you typically wear every day for casual outings are a little more flexible, as they can be worn at any desired length.

To measure the inseam, you’ll want to take your fabric tape and measure from your crotch to your knee. You can adjust the knee measurement based on where you’d expect your shorts to come to.


You’ll find that length is equally as important as the inseam and waist measurements. This will tell you the total length of the shorts from your waist all the way down to your knee. Depending on the brand, length may be used in comparison to inseam, so it’s important to have both measurements written down.

There are two ways for you to get an idea of the perfect length for your board shorts. You can use your fabric measuring tape to measure from your waist to your knee, or you can measure an old pair of shorts. If you already have board shorts with the perfect length, just measure from the waist of the shorts to the bottom hem.

Final Thoughts

Everyone’s body is different, and sizing board shorts is a personal task. After all, not all shorts are created equal, and as such, having exact measurements can help you to choose the perfect shorts.

By focusing on the length, your waist measurement, and the inseam of the shorts, you’ll easily be able to answer, what size board shorts should I get?