In recent years, the surf trunk ‘arms race' has yielded hyper-engineered, high-performance board shorts with price tags as high as $175 bucks. For sure, some of those high-end trunks are bad ass, but it's refreshing to know you can still find a damn fine pair for less than sixty bucks.
Thankfully, much of the technology from the ultra high-performance boardshorts has trickled down into middle-of-the-road offerings like one of our favorites, the Volcom Linear Mod. These 20-inch trunks, which hit just above the knee, are made from a four-way-stretch polyester that provides more than enough mobility as you surf. The fabric is decidedly lightweight, but not too clingy, and is treated with a Teflon DWR (durable water repellent) that causes water to bead on the surface of the fabric and, more importantly, to help the trunks dry very quickly once out of the water.
There's a nicely sized zippered side pocket with a cord for your car key, but probably the most important feature are the stitch-less seams in the inner thigh zone. Rather than use thread, which can gather salt and cause gnarly thigh rashing, the fabric is melded together with what appears to be some sort of glue.
We wore the same pair of trunks for six surf sessions in a row, only rinsing them in the beach shower between go-outs, and had nary a sign of a rash. While this may not sound like a big deal, a bad thigh rash can pretty much ruin a surf trip. But based on our testing, we'd confidently pack these trunks on any tropical surf trip. And at just $55 bucks, we'll have a little extra money left over for a few more post-surf cervesas. [$55; volcom.com]
Days Tested: 6 in a row
Area Used: Various beaches in North Carolina
Conditions Encountered: 72-degree water with waves ranging from shoulder- to knee-high.