What are Board Shorts? What are Swim Shorts?
shorts form

As if women didn't have enough swimwear issues to navigate, enter the board shorts vs. swim shorts debate. Now we've got even more to filter through. So, what's the deal? What's the difference between boardshorts and swim shorts? Well, here's the quick low-down: board shorts are swimming shorts that go over our swim bottoms. They're built for every surf-filled and waterbound adventure. Swim shorts, on the other hand, are a swim bottom and pair of shorts all in one. With a built-in liner, these do it all shorts are great for women who like a little more coverage than a typical bikini bottom or one piece swimsuit. Both pairs are fast-drying and versatile to go from the beach, to the boardwalk, and yup, even brunch.

Wearing the right bottoms all comes down to your beach day activities. Of course, each pair has their own set of pros and cons. But our guide to boardshorts for women and womens swim shorts is here to take the wedgie outta swimsuit shopping for saltwater - (and river water, lake water, pool water...) worthy shorts. Swimming style is no longer restricted just to a swimsuit by itself. Now women have more options to choose to layer their bottom half by adding boardshorts (just don't call 'em swim trunks). Whether you're hitting the surf, running in and out of the water with the kiddos, or taking it chill on your favorite beach chair, we're breaking down which bottoms are best.


Pockets
Drawstring

What are board shorts and swim shorts used for?

Boardshorts are worn as an overshort, such as over a one-piece swimsuit, bikini bottom, or women's swim trunk. Size-specific cuts come in lengths, with short inseams for free legs and long inseams for board rash protection. Whatever your preference, boardshorts are an ideal style for surf-obsessed shore lovers.

Boardshorts are the best summer and warm weather coverage we could ask for in tropical climates or on beach vacations (or backyard staycations!) With four-way stretch, quick-dry materials, and UPF 50 coverage, boardshorts are great in, out of, and around the water. Water skiing, swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, lifeguarding, and margarita-drinking are among a number of non-surfing end-uses for boardshorts of all kinds.

Swim shorts are a stand-alone swimsuit bottom. They may look a bit more like boardshorts than a traditional bikini brief, but they serve the same end-use. Much like a pair of traditional running shorts, swim shorts have a built-in brief. No need to wear swimsuit bottoms if swim shorts are chosen, as the coverage under the inseam is built right in.

Each pair has tons of features that suit all kinds of water-bound women, like:

Comfort: If it's not comfy, you can bet we're not wearing it. Lucky for us, Title Nine's swim and board shorts are all made to fit comfortably on your bod all day long. With an elastic waistband, loose-fitting and free-flowing feel around the legs, and no chance of chafe, it's safe to say women have tons of options for comfortable trunks.

Coverage: Skip the itty bitty bikini bottom, and get coverage where it counts. Whether you like 'em just short enough, mid-thigh, or down to your knees, we've got all the coverage options that'll suit your pursuit without slipping down.

Functionality: Whichever option you choose, you're bound to end up with a pair that can pull off pretty much anything. With quick-drying materials, comfortable waistband, and easy, pull-on styling, swim and board shorts are about as versatile as it gets. Wear them to the pool or to the beach, or take them out surfing, paddleboarding, or cliff diving. Then when the day's all wrapped up, hit the town for some post-surf snackin' without an outfit change.

Durable Fabrics: Title Nine's range of swim and board shorts are all made with durable, high-performance fabrics that won't wear out or stretch out: nylon, spandex, and elastane are just a few of the heavy-lifters that keep our swimwear, swim shorts, and board shorts in good shape.

BACK TO TOP


How do I choose between board shorts and swim shorts?

Deciding which pair to wear all comes down to your preference and water activity. Board shorts and swim shorts can do pretty much anything you want them to, and stay up for it all: swimming, surfing, SUPing, walking, running, and yep, even wiping out.

Are you cool with going commando under your swim shorts, or do you prefer to layer your swimwear with board shorts? Wearing gear you're most comfortable with totally changes the game.

When it comes to coverage, you've got options. Board shorts are typically longer in length, at either mid-thigh or even knee length. Our best-selling Incrediboardie Board Shorts are available in both 2.5" and 4" inseams with a relaxed fit, so there's zero chafe, zero slipping, and zero complaining while swimming (just don't forget that swim bottom!). Swim shorts are typically shorter in length (think running shorts), but still give you the coverage and slip-proof waistband you're looking for. When you want bottoms that do more, go for our Wahine Swim Short: a do-it-all run short-inspired swim-ready bottom with an internal drawstring, built in brief, and secure zip pocket.

Title Nine's swim shorts and board shorts are made for all bodies, designed with adjustable drawstrings and comfortable waistbands that deliver a dialed-in fit—so your bottoms never budge. And with tons of colors and prints to choose from, you'll find a pair to match your swimwear, and your style. Look for those durable, high-performance fabrics, like nylon, spandex, recycled polyester, and elastane for shorts with quick-dry, stay-put powers.

Shopping on a budget? Depending on just how active you are, you might only need one pair of trunks to add to your swim kit. Choosing bottoms made from those durable materials ensures you won't have to keep swapping out pairs, helping you save money in the long-run. Invest in one or two solid pairs of trunks to wear for activities both low and high-impact, and with proper care, you'll have bottoms built to last through whatever you throw at 'em.

BACK TO TOP


How do I care for my board shorts and swim shorts?

If you want to keep your board shorts in good shape, follow the care instructions inside the label. Immediately after getting out of the pool or salt water, rinse off your bottoms with cool, fresh water. At home, wash them by hand with a gentle detergent, or in your washing machine with similar fabrics on a delicate cycle. Heat, either from your hot car or the dryer, can damage the quality of your gear fast. So, skip the convenience of the dryer—it'll fry the elastic, ruin its performance quality, and stretch out beyond repair. Always lay your swimwear and gear out flat to dry and it'll fit and feel like new every time.

BACK TO TOP


Are board shorts the same as swim shorts?

Well...sort of? We don't recommend women wear boardshorts by themselves for a variety of reasons, the #1 being that board shorts do not have a built-in brief. They might be high-waisted, have a pocket, or come in an easy pull-on version, but true board shorts are the best friend of bathing suit bottoms.

Even though you can wear both for pretty much any water activity you're up to, they're designed with different features that may be better suited for your kind of adventure.

BACK TO TOP


Are boardshorts swim trunks?

We usually associate swim trunks with men's swimwear. But, that's not to say women's swim trunks don't exist! We picture knee length bottoms that can either go for a swim, paddle sesh, or hang all day on the beach. Sure, swim trunks may look like boardshorts, and they may kind of act like them, too. But the best time to wear swim trunks is on a low-key, low-impact beach day. Boardshorts are made for performance, with materials that keep men and women powering through the waves. Swim trunks also come in a variety of lengths for men and women to choose from.

Swim trunks also typically have a mesh liner inside (a must-have for men) to add more comfort and chafe resistance. The mesh liner is also super breathable, and when paired with fast-drying materials, you've got yourself some hot weather-ready trunks.

Depending on the brand, women's swim trunks may or may not have that brief built in, so you may have to BYO bikini bottom for those trunks, too.

BACK TO TOP


Can you swim in board shorts?

Paddleboard, hike to the waterfall, dive in the lake, or go off the diving board. While classically thought of as a surf short, surfing is hardly the only thing that can be done in board shorts! If you're in, on, or around the water, pairing boardshorts with a bikini bottom is a great fast-drying choice. And because most board shorts include a drawstring, every body type gets a custom fit.

BACK TO TOP


What do you wear under swim shorts?

Us? We're naked under our swim shorts! That's because our swim shorts are a stand-alone bottom. Women wear them just like we would a bathing suit bottom. Instead of adding shorts, they have the shorts built right on...or rather, the bikini bottom is built right into the shorts.

BACK TO TOP


What should you wear under board shorts?

Swim shorts can splash alone, but board shorts need a buddy. Unlike swim shorts, we don't skip wearing a bikini bottom when it comes to boardshorts, no matter how long the inseam is! Women seeking wipeout worthy coverage will find it's as easy as pulling a pair of boardshorts over one-piece swimsuits, bikini bottoms, or favorite swim bottoms.

BACK TO TOP


Can I wear swim shorts for other activities?

Yes! Title Nine's swim shorts are sorta like the ultimate hybrid shorts: they look like a run short, but act like a bikini bottom. When dry, they're breathable, relaxed around the legs, and secure on your waist — so you can go from a lap swim to a lap around the track in a snap.

BACK TO TOP


How do I know if the shorts fit me properly?

Wearing the wrong size bottom is like jumping in the pool without sunscreen: it's not gonna be a good time. So, always test out your gear before you get in the water. (You definitely don't want to find out your boardies aren't up to the task once you're out there.) If your bottoms are too loose around the waist when dry, they probably won't hold up underwater. Aim for a comfortable, snug fit.

BACK TO TOP


What is the ideal fabric for board shorts or swim shorts?

The best materials for boardshorts and swim shorts are nylon, spandex, elastane, and recycled polyester. These fabrics have all been through the ultimate test, hold up well — even after tons of water adventures —and maintain their shape, fit, and performance with the right care.

BACK TO TOP


What should I look for in the waistband of board shorts or swim shorts?

The best way to get your fit right and keep your bottoms from slipping is to choose bottoms with an adjustable waistband. Either a drawstring on the outside, or an internal drawstring will be your best bet. If there's no elastic waistband (like in our Incrediboardie Board Short), then double-check there's a drawcord to adjust the fixed waist.

BACK TO TOP


Are there any specific washing instructions for board shorts or swim shorts?

You betcha. Proper washing will change the game for your boardies and swim shorts over time. Everything from the elastic waistband, liner, and feel of the materials can be impacted by improper washing and drying. So, always wash your swimming gear either by hand or on a delicate setting with gentle detergent. If you notice your gear starting to stink up a bit, soak it in cold water with one cup of baking soda overnight.

As tempting and convenient as it may be to throw your gear in the dryer, it's the fastest way to kill your swimwear. Plus, you'll just have to keep buying new gear, which is way more expensive in the long-run. Always lay your boardshorts and swim shorts out flat, or hang them to dry.

BACK TO TOP


contributing T9 Swimsuit Expert

Kristina Casey

Mom, open water swimmer, paddleboarder & trail runner, KC has been the resident Swimsuit Expert at Title Nine for over a decade. In addition to leading and managing wear testing across the entire line of Title Nine and other swimsuit brands we have in our assortment, she works hand-in-hand geeking out with our in-house product development team making sure we're at the cutting edge of swimsuit design when it comes to maximizing both our performance and enjoyment in the water.


SHOP WOMEN’S BOARD SHORTS & SWIM SHORTS
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color
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What are Board Shorts? What are Swim Shorts?

shorts form

As if women didn't have enough swimwear issues to navigate, enter the board shorts vs. swim shorts debate. Now we've got even more to filter through. So, what's the deal? What's the difference between boardshorts and swim shorts? Well, here's the quick low-down: board shorts are swimming shorts that go over our swim bottoms. They're built for every surf-filled and waterbound adventure. Swim shorts, on the other hand, are a swim bottom and pair of shorts all in one. With a built-in liner, these do it all shorts are great for women who like a little more coverage than a typical bikini bottom or one piece swimsuit. Both pairs are fast-drying and versatile to go from the beach, to the boardwalk, and yup, even brunch.

Wearing the right bottoms all comes down to your beach day activities. Of course, each pair has their own set of pros and cons. But our guide to boardshorts for women and womens swim shorts is here to take the wedgie outta swimsuit shopping for saltwater - (and river water, lake water, pool water...) worthy shorts. Swimming style is no longer restricted just to a swimsuit by itself. Now women have more options to choose to layer their bottom half by adding boardshorts (just don't call 'em swim trunks). Whether you're hitting the surf, running in and out of the water with the kiddos, or taking it chill on your favorite beach chair, we're breaking down which bottoms are best.


Pockets
Drawstring

What are board shorts and swim shorts used for?

Boardshorts are worn as an overshort, such as over a one-piece swimsuit, bikini bottom, or women's swim trunk. Size-specific cuts come in lengths, with short inseams for free legs and long inseams for board rash protection. Whatever your preference, boardshorts are an ideal style for surf-obsessed shore lovers.

Boardshorts are the best summer and warm weather coverage we could ask for in tropical climates or on beach vacations (or backyard staycations!) With four-way stretch, quick-dry materials, and UPF 50 coverage, boardshorts are great in, out of, and around the water. Water skiing, swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, lifeguarding, and margarita-drinking are among a number of non-surfing end-uses for boardshorts of all kinds.

Swim shorts are a stand-alone swimsuit bottom. They may look a bit more like boardshorts than a traditional bikini brief, but they serve the same end-use. Much like a pair of traditional running shorts, swim shorts have a built-in brief. No need to wear swimsuit bottoms if swim shorts are chosen, as the coverage under the inseam is built right in.

Each pair has tons of features that suit all kinds of water-bound women, like:

Comfort: If it's not comfy, you can bet we're not wearing it. Lucky for us, Title Nine's swim and board shorts are all made to fit comfortably on your bod all day long. With an elastic waistband, loose-fitting and free-flowing feel around the legs, and no chance of chafe, it's safe to say women have tons of options for comfortable trunks.

Coverage: Skip the itty bitty bikini bottom, and get coverage where it counts. Whether you like 'em just short enough, mid-thigh, or down to your knees, we've got all the coverage options that'll suit your pursuit without slipping down.

Functionality: Whichever option you choose, you're bound to end up with a pair that can pull off pretty much anything. With quick-drying materials, comfortable waistband, and easy, pull-on styling, swim and board shorts are about as versatile as it gets. Wear them to the pool or to the beach, or take them out surfing, paddleboarding, or cliff diving. Then when the day's all wrapped up, hit the town for some post-surf snackin' without an outfit change.

Durable Fabrics: Title Nine's range of swim and board shorts are all made with durable, high-performance fabrics that won't wear out or stretch out: nylon, spandex, and elastane are just a few of the heavy-lifters that keep our swimwear, swim shorts, and board shorts in good shape.

BACK TO TOP


How do I choose between board shorts and swim shorts?

Deciding which pair to wear all comes down to your preference and water activity. Board shorts and swim shorts can do pretty much anything you want them to, and stay up for it all: swimming, surfing, SUPing, walking, running, and yep, even wiping out.

Are you cool with going commando under your swim shorts, or do you prefer to layer your swimwear with board shorts? Wearing gear you're most comfortable with totally changes the game.

When it comes to coverage, you've got options. Board shorts are typically longer in length, at either mid-thigh or even knee length. Our best-selling Incrediboardie Board Shorts are available in both 2.5" and 4" inseams with a relaxed fit, so there's zero chafe, zero slipping, and zero complaining while swimming (just don't forget that swim bottom!). Swim shorts are typically shorter in length (think running shorts), but still give you the coverage and slip-proof waistband you're looking for. When you want bottoms that do more, go for our Wahine Swim Short: a do-it-all run short-inspired swim-ready bottom with an internal drawstring, built in brief, and secure zip pocket.

Title Nine's swim shorts and board shorts are made for all bodies, designed with adjustable drawstrings and comfortable waistbands that deliver a dialed-in fit—so your bottoms never budge. And with tons of colors and prints to choose from, you'll find a pair to match your swimwear, and your style. Look for those durable, high-performance fabrics, like nylon, spandex, recycled polyester, and elastane for shorts with quick-dry, stay-put powers.

Shopping on a budget? Depending on just how active you are, you might only need one pair of trunks to add to your swim kit. Choosing bottoms made from those durable materials ensures you won't have to keep swapping out pairs, helping you save money in the long-run. Invest in one or two solid pairs of trunks to wear for activities both low and high-impact, and with proper care, you'll have bottoms built to last through whatever you throw at 'em.

BACK TO TOP


How do I care for my board shorts and swim shorts?

If you want to keep your board shorts in good shape, follow the care instructions inside the label. Immediately after getting out of the pool or salt water, rinse off your bottoms with cool, fresh water. At home, wash them by hand with a gentle detergent, or in your washing machine with similar fabrics on a delicate cycle. Heat, either from your hot car or the dryer, can damage the quality of your gear fast. So, skip the convenience of the dryer—it'll fry the elastic, ruin its performance quality, and stretch out beyond repair. Always lay your swimwear and gear out flat to dry and it'll fit and feel like new every time.

BACK TO TOP


Are board shorts the same as swim shorts?

Well...sort of? We don't recommend women wear boardshorts by themselves for a variety of reasons, the #1 being that board shorts do not have a built-in brief. They might be high-waisted, have a pocket, or come in an easy pull-on version, but true board shorts are the best friend of bathing suit bottoms.

Even though you can wear both for pretty much any water activity you're up to, they're designed with different features that may be better suited for your kind of adventure.

BACK TO TOP


Are boardshorts swim trunks?

We usually associate swim trunks with men's swimwear. But, that's not to say women's swim trunks don't exist! We picture knee length bottoms that can either go for a swim, paddle sesh, or hang all day on the beach. Sure, swim trunks may look like boardshorts, and they may kind of act like them, too. But the best time to wear swim trunks is on a low-key, low-impact beach day. Boardshorts are made for performance, with materials that keep men and women powering through the waves. Swim trunks also come in a variety of lengths for men and women to choose from.

Swim trunks also typically have a mesh liner inside (a must-have for men) to add more comfort and chafe resistance. The mesh liner is also super breathable, and when paired with fast-drying materials, you've got yourself some hot weather-ready trunks.

Depending on the brand, women's swim trunks may or may not have that brief built in, so you may have to BYO bikini bottom for those trunks, too.

BACK TO TOP


Can you swim in board shorts?

Paddleboard, hike to the waterfall, dive in the lake, or go off the diving board. While classically thought of as a surf short, surfing is hardly the only thing that can be done in board shorts! If you're in, on, or around the water, pairing boardshorts with a bikini bottom is a great fast-drying choice. And because most board shorts include a drawstring, every body type gets a custom fit.

BACK TO TOP


What do you wear under swim shorts?

Us? We're naked under our swim shorts! That's because our swim shorts are a stand-alone bottom. Women wear them just like we would a bathing suit bottom. Instead of adding shorts, they have the shorts built right on...or rather, the bikini bottom is built right into the shorts.

BACK TO TOP


What should you wear under board shorts?

Swim shorts can splash alone, but board shorts need a buddy. Unlike swim shorts, we don't skip wearing a bikini bottom when it comes to boardshorts, no matter how long the inseam is! Women seeking wipeout worthy coverage will find it's as easy as pulling a pair of boardshorts over one-piece swimsuits, bikini bottoms, or favorite swim bottoms.

BACK TO TOP


Can I wear swim shorts for other activities?

Yes! Title Nine's swim shorts are sorta like the ultimate hybrid shorts: they look like a run short, but act like a bikini bottom. When dry, they're breathable, relaxed around the legs, and secure on your waist — so you can go from a lap swim to a lap around the track in a snap.

BACK TO TOP


How do I know if the shorts fit me properly?

Wearing the wrong size bottom is like jumping in the pool without sunscreen: it's not gonna be a good time. So, always test out your gear before you get in the water. (You definitely don't want to find out your boardies aren't up to the task once you're out there.) If your bottoms are too loose around the waist when dry, they probably won't hold up underwater. Aim for a comfortable, snug fit.

BACK TO TOP


What is the ideal fabric for board shorts or swim shorts?

The best materials for boardshorts and swim shorts are nylon, spandex, elastane, and recycled polyester. These fabrics have all been through the ultimate test, hold up well — even after tons of water adventures —and maintain their shape, fit, and performance with the right care.

BACK TO TOP


What should I look for in the waistband of board shorts or swim shorts?

The best way to get your fit right and keep your bottoms from slipping is to choose bottoms with an adjustable waistband. Either a drawstring on the outside, or an internal drawstring will be your best bet. If there's no elastic waistband (like in our Incrediboardie Board Short), then double-check there's a drawcord to adjust the fixed waist.

BACK TO TOP


Are there any specific washing instructions for board shorts or swim shorts?

You betcha. Proper washing will change the game for your boardies and swim shorts over time. Everything from the elastic waistband, liner, and feel of the materials can be impacted by improper washing and drying. So, always wash your swimming gear either by hand or on a delicate setting with gentle detergent. If you notice your gear starting to stink up a bit, soak it in cold water with one cup of baking soda overnight.

As tempting and convenient as it may be to throw your gear in the dryer, it's the fastest way to kill your swimwear. Plus, you'll just have to keep buying new gear, which is way more expensive in the long-run. Always lay your boardshorts and swim shorts out flat, or hang them to dry.

BACK TO TOP


contributing T9 Swimsuit Expert

Kristina Casey

Mom, open water swimmer, paddleboarder & trail runner, KC has been the resident Swimsuit Expert at Title Nine for over a decade. In addition to leading and managing wear testing across the entire line of Title Nine and other swimsuit brands we have in our assortment, she works hand-in-hand geeking out with our in-house product development team making sure we're at the cutting edge of swimsuit design when it comes to maximizing both our performance and enjoyment in the water.


SHOP WOMEN’S BOARD SHORTS & SWIM SHORTS
Wahine Swim Shorts - Solid Wahine Swim Shorts - Solid
$62
Paddle Board Swim Shorts Paddle Board Swim Shorts
$59
Nalu Paddle Board Swim Shorts Nalu Paddle Board Swim Shorts
$59
Incrediboardie Board Shorts 4" Incrediboardie Board Shorts 4"
$69
Boyshort Adjustable Bikini Bottom Boyshort Adjustable Bikini Bottom
$59
Tideturn 2.0 Paddle Shorts 4" - Solid Tideturn 2.0 Paddle Shorts 4" - Solid
$65
Tideturn 2.0 Paddle Shorts 4" - Colorblock Tideturn 2.0 Paddle Shorts 4" - Colorblock
$69
Nalu Low Rise Paddle Board Swim Shorts Nalu Low Rise Paddle Board Swim Shorts
$59
Tideturn 2.0 Paddle Shorts 2.5" - Colorblock Tideturn 2.0 Paddle Shorts 2.5" - Colorblock
$65
Tideturn 2.0 Paddle Shorts 2.5" - Solid Tideturn 2.0 Paddle Shorts 2.5" - Solid
$59
Surf Rock Board Shorts Surf Rock Board Shorts
$58
Incrediboardie Board Shorts 2.5" Incrediboardie Board Shorts 2.5"
$65