Paddleboarding is gaining popularity, fast. Naturally, as the sport gets more competitive, so does the gear. Bluesmiths, a new Maui-based company, is charging into the waterman clothing scene with a pair of the freshest performance shorts we've ever tested. We took them standup paddleboarding on a recent sweltering Saturday, and were amazed by their functionality – stretchy enough for uninhibited paddling, and soft enough to eliminate the chaffing that can occur while wearing normal shorts when you're in and out of the water. Quality performance is no surprise once you take a look at the high-tech materials used in the construction of these puppies.
The Spartan shorts are essentially a conglomeration of all the best qualities of other board shorts. Treated with ecologically friendly NanoSphere – a textile technology modeled after plant leaves that uses ultra-microscopic particles to create a nonstick surface – the shorts are water repellant and self-cleaning since anything that spills on them simply rolls off. It's almost impossible to stain them – we tried with some red wine and it wouldn't hold.
Replacing the standard zipper fly with a well-designed one that folds over and closes securely and automatically when you lace up the shorts is a clever move, too, since the absence of any corrosion-susceptible components, like Velcro or metal, means you'll never need to retire a pair due to a rusted-out zipper. This also makes them entirely soft and comfortable, especially in the front, where it counts. The multi-stretch fabric allows for total freedom of movement when crouching or adjusting your footing in tumultuous water.
Did we mention that they are laced with silver? Since silver ions inhibit the growth of microorganisms, Bluesmiths added it to the fabric to make the shorts odor-resistant. Throw a wet pair into a beach bag, and, when you take them out three days later, they'll still smell fresh. They also offer UPF 30 sun protection, so standing on a paddleboard for hours at a time won't leave your under areas burned from particularly powerful sun.
The shorts come in three colors: almost black, pacific blue, and saltwash red. The hems drop just around the knee, so you're not showing off the quads, but the slim fit offers a lean, athletic look. [$175; bluesmiths.com]