When you’re heading out to the beach or to a pool party and you don’t want to bring a change of clothes (or you don’t know what the changing room situation will be like) there’s every reason to pick up a pair of hybrid swim shorts, the latest and greatest invention in menswear. There once was a time when quality swim shorts had to be stiff or uncomfortable, but now you can pick up a pair that not only looks good by the water, they look good all the way to the bar and even a nice restaurant.
Below, I’ve rounded up the best hybrid swim shorts to get you through this summer and many more.
What Is a Hybrid Short?
It’s a swim short that doesn’t look like a swim short. Hybrid shorts look like the same shorts you’ve always worn in hot weather, but they are made from fabrics that are both moisture wicking and quick drying — they perform like bathing suits and board shorts without obviously looking like them.
Board shorts, after all, stand out in a crowd and obviously look like swimwear: bright patterns, drawstrings, textured materials… you can spot them from a mile away. Not so with hybrid shorts, plus the options on this list are not only quick drying, they stretch. So you’ve got ultra comfortable shorts that are as versatile as the day is long. What’s not to like?
1. The Best Hybrid Swim Shorts: Faherty All Day Shorts ($98)
- Looks just like a chino short
- Hidden drawstring for a great fit
- Quieter than most water resistant shorts
- Available in over a dozen colors and 4 inseam lengths (5″ 7″ 9″ 11″)
- Straight up the best hybrid short
These are the best hybrid shorts.
Faherty is a beachy brand that’s known for their ultra soft button downs (I have three), and they also sold me the very first pair of expensive swim trunks that I ever bought. Their more technical All Day Shorts, though, have come to practically define the brand; they sell them in four different inseam lengths, over a dozen colors, and with and without belt loops, so you know you can find anything that fits your style.
But you don’t need a belt with these; there’s a hidden drawstring that allows you to get a firm fit without needing to display dangling strings between your legs.
The first reason it’s the best hybrid short is that it’s quiet. Most quick drying shorts make a “swish swish” noise when you walk, but these both look and sound like regular, flat front, button down shorts that wouldn’t stand out under an oxford button down at a smart BBQ.
The fabric is also a combination of polyester — from recycled plastic bottles for an eco friendly touch — cotton for softness and spandex for stretch. All of this culminates in soft, pool-ready shorts that blend in anywhere and feel great on your skin.
2. Most Lightweight Hybrid Shorts: Free Fly’s Hybrid II Shorts
- Super lightweight and breathable
- Blends easily into casual and even smart casual wear
- Available in 7″ and 9″ inseams
- Velvety soft bamboo-based lining
The second iteration of Free Fly’s Hybrid Short is their best so far. They look like the Faherty shorts at first glance, the main differences are a slimmer fit, no drawstring, the pockets don’t drain as well, and the fabric is much softer and lighter. That means they’re more breathable in the heat, which is a priority for a lot of guys. Personally, I prefer thicker material for shorts I’ll be swimming in so I can avoid the dreaded “clinginess” but if you want lightweight swim trunks, these are a great buy.
The outer shell is part polyester part spandex, so the stretch is terrific, but the lining is 30% polyester and 70% viscose from bamboo. This gives an unparalleled feeling of softness and comfort on your legs, making them ideal for guys with sensitive skin.
3. Best Hybrid Short for Sports: Proof’s Nomad Short
- Thicker material than your average hybrid short
- Fairly slim in the legs
- 9″ and 7″ inseams
- Two-way stretch
This is a little slimmer on the legs than the others, but the material is so thick and robust there’s no fear of it hugging your form uncomfortably.
While Faherty and Free Fly are all about making as lightweight a material as they can get while, of course, remaining functional, Proof is a technical short that is more well rounded — I would feel better going hiking or something in this than the other options.
The previous entries on this list look as much like swim trunks as they do casual shorts or even smart casual shorts, but Proof’s is more of a short that feels like you can take it somewhere tough. More on the “functional” side of fashion, these are made with two-way stretch twill called Japanese Toray, plus it’s got hidden zip pocket to keep your keys or passport secure while you’re running through underbrush and somersaulting into canyons.
4. Toughest Hybrid Shorts: Howler Brother Horizon 2.0 Hybrid Short
- Tough, ripstop shell
- Less stretchy than other options
- Various hidden pockets
- Hard to dress up
- 9.5″ inseam
If you’re Googling around for hybrid shorts, there’s a good chance you came across Howler Brothers’, often named the best hybrid shorts on the market.
I would say are the toughest because they’re made with ripstop nylon. So named because, well, it stops rips, the Horizon 2.0 is made with cross hatched reinforcement threads that mean in the unlikely event you get a hole in them, the rip won’t keep ripping and ripping. The shorts also have a reinforced pliers pocket for an everyday carry knife or your keys.
The nylon mesh pockets are is great for losing water, it’s got that combination of button fly and drawstring that I love, but it has a couple of downsides: they’re not as stretchy as the other options and I don’t personally love all the contrast stitching. I think it makes it look much more outdoorsy than it has to, but to their credit they are trying to make an outdoorsy, do anything kind of short that doesn’t look too bad at a beachside bar, and they’ve definitely succeeded at that.
Best Hybrid Shorts for Working Out: Ten Thousand’s Set Short
- Hybrid gym/swim short
- Six colors
- 6.5″ inseam
- Saltwater and chlorine resistant
- Order a size up
Lastly, if you’re wondering what the best hybrid short for working out is, the answer to that is Ten Thousand’s Set Short.
Everything I work out in is from Ten Thousand: it’s a brand that makes cool workout clothes for the minimalist. Nothing is flashy or reflective or covered in dopey patterns, it’s just robust, well fitting stuff with a lifetime guarantee.
The Set Short looks great, stretches a ton, is saltwater and chlorine resistant, doesn’t cling to your junk, and you can wear it at the gym or in the pool, making it a great short to bring on holiday. The sizing is a little odd, though; in all of Ten Thousand’s shorts I’m a Medium but I had to size up to Large for these.
Hybrid shorts are more than just shorts that dry quickly. The industry has come a long way, and there are now options for dressier situations, more adventurous ones, and even beach workouts. I didn’t use to be confident that hybrid short technology could make comfortable, quiet clothes, but now they’re an indispensable part of any summer wardrobe.
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