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Look, we get it: The best men’s swim trunks might not be exactly top of mind at the moment. Temperatures are just barely on the upswing, you’re positively bursting with excitement to bust out that new jacket, and the harrowing chill of winter is an all-too-recent memory. But even if you’re not doing all that much swimming right now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat yourself to 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. (And make no mistake about it, shorts weather is imminent.)
From the fit to the fabric to the details, the right pair of swim trunks should pair 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 hitting the bodega down the street. And if the opportunity comes to take a dip in your buddy’s sun-drenched pool, or spend the weekend at a beach house in the not-so-distant future? You’ll already be perfectly dressed and ready to go. So with all that in mind, here are 27 of the absolute finest all-purpose, next-generation, all-around best men’s swim trunks to buy right now.
Here’s everything we want from our trunks in 2021: 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. A silky soft mesh lining wouldn’t hurt, either. The signature model from Bather, a tiny independent label out of Toronto, hits all of those marks and then some. They’re the ideal inseam 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 solid colors and wild 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 slyly colorblocked number (note the yellow back pocket), which will sync up well with just about everything in your summer wardrobe.
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, quick-dry 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.
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.
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 bathing suit. 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.
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 Marané 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.
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 drawstring waist boardies than these.