The Best Beach and Surf Gear: Towels, Totes, Coolers & More

If you want board shorts with all the features you’d expect from normal shorts, for use on land and in water, consider hybrid shorts. They have belt loops and a standard four- or five-pocket design (just as you’d expect with walking shorts), but they are made of fast-drying board-short material, and their mesh pockets immediately shed water. After testing six pairs, we found that the O’Neill Reserve Heather Hybrid Shorts are the best around. This is because, in addition to looking and performing great, they’re the only hybrids that have a completely hidden drawstring, so you can wear them in heavy surf without a worry and without a belt. When it came to surfing, this gave the O’Neill pair a leg up against otherwise-great options from Volcom, Hurley, Dakine, Patagonia, and the classic Birdwell. In addition to the drawstring, these shorts have all the relevant features: good looks; a proper, 21-inch length; a (thin) key loop; a recessed, strap-secured front button; tough zippers on three pockets (to further reduce drag when you’re paddling a surfboard); secure Velcro on the fourth, rear wax pocket (wax can particularly clog a rear zipper because it gets squished into it); and material that dries quickly.