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Men’s swim trunks in 2021

Many men’s swim trunks available can be challenging to tell apart from a pair of everyday shorts. This blend of styles makes swim trunks a versatile piece of apparel, some of which are suited both for a lap in the pool and a walk around town. 

There are a few key considerations and qualities you’ll want to look for when purchasing a new pair of swim trunks. These include everything from inseam length to material to UPF rating. Our top pick, the Columbia Men’s PFG Backcast III Water Trunk, is a breathable multi-purpose option that you can wear for several occasions. 

What to know before you buy men’s swim trunks

As with most clothing purchases, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. Still, there are a few main aspects you should look for before making your decision. 


Design and style are vital, considering most of us want to look our best even when lounging by the pool or riding waves at the beach. When picking out swim trunks, you should take the color, pattern, graphics and other stylish elements into account. This is especially true if you plan on wearing your trunks casually. There are both informal and more professional styles available. 


How do you plan on using your swim trunks? If you think you’ll only be wearing your bathing suit a few times a year when on vacation or taking a dip in a pool, you most likely won’t need anything too technical. If you’re a serious swimmer or partake in water sports, you’ll need swim trunks that offer an extended range of motion, superior stretch and won’t slow you down in the water. 


As with ordinary shorts, swim trunks also come in a variety of inseam lengths. The shorter the inseam, the higher the trunks will sit on your legs. You can find everything from mid-thigh to knee-length options. A majority of men’s swim trunks will rest a couple of inches above your knee. 

What to look for in quality men’s swim trunks


Swim trunk material is crucial since it determines how well your trunks move with your body and how quickly they’ll dry. Nylon and polyester are popular options thanks to their ability to wick away moisture and dry relatively quickly compared to materials like cotton. Some swim trunks’ fabric will also feature water-repellent properties, causing the water to bead off, preventing them from staying wet and absorbing too much moisture. 


Men’s swim trunks should fit comfortably. The perfect pair of swim trunks won’t be too tight around your thigh and won’t leave too much extra fabric hanging around the leg opening. The waistband should be secure enough to prevent your tunks from slipping off in the water.

UPF protection 

Swim trunks are most often worn during the peak of sunny summer weather, making it essential that they keep your thighs protected from the sun. Look for options that include built-in UPF protection to ensure that your skin will be protected while spending time outside. 

Interior lining 

A decent pair of swim trunks will have a durable mesh lining. While some people prefer their trunks without an interior lining, for many, it offers extra support and helps prevent chafing. 


The most common type of closures on swim trunks are drawstrings, which allow you to tighten them to your desired fit. There are a few models that feature buttons, zippers or velcro. 


Not all men’s swim trunks’ designs include pockets, so if you’re hoping to carry your phone, wallet or other accessories while not in the water, choose a pair that has deep and secure built-in pockets. You can find swim trunks with side, back and cargo pockets depending on your needs. 

How much can you expect to spend on men’s swim trunks 

Several budget-friendly options can be purchased for just under $20, though more expensive designer swim trunks cost upwards of $100. Most will fall in the $30-$40 range. 

Men’s swim trunks FAQ

Do I have to wear anything under my swim trunks? 

A. If your swim trunks feature a mesh lining, you do not have to wear anything underneath. The lining itself replaces the need for any other underwear, providing the needed support. 

What is the difference between swim trunks and board shorts?

A. The main difference between the two is the inseam length. In general, board shorts are significantly longer than swim trunks and are more likely to forgo an interior lining.  

What are the best men’s swim trunks to buy?

Top men’s swim trunks 

Columbia Men's PFG Backcast III Water Short

Columbia Men’s PFG Backcast III Water Short

What you need to know: An incredibly versatile pair of trunks, you can wear them in the water or for everyday use. 

What you’ll love: Available in a variety of colors, the UV protection, quick-drying nylon and multiple pockets make these a summertime favorite. 

What you should consider: The fit is slightly baggier than some users expected. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods 

Top men’s swim trunks for the money

Speedo Men's Swim Trunk Knee Length Marina Sport Volley

Speedo Men’s Swim Trunk Knee Length Marina Sport Volley

What you need to know: These durable, lightweight shorts are from a well-respected swimwear brand. 

What you’ll love: Utilizing a water-repellent microfiber polyester, these swim trunks will keep you cool all summer long while also blocking 98% of UV rays. 

What you should consider: The interior lining fits tightly for some buyers. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Kohls 

Worth checking out

Amazon Essentials Men's Quick-Dry 9" Swim Trunk

Amazon Essentials Men’s Quick-Dry 9″ Swim Trunk

What you need to know: One of the top budget-friendly options, these trunks are best for casual swimmers. 

What you’ll love: With plenty of colors and designs to pick from, the soft polyester and 9-inch inseam offer an ideal fit. 

What you should consider: These trunks are known to run somewhat small. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Matthew Young is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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