The Product That Saved Our Best Boardshorts Shoot
BN3TH undershorts are built different.
You might remember our Best Wetsuits test from this past December.
In the 30-minute film, we painstakingly reviewed 11 different wetsuits on their two main performance attributes: comfort and warmth. From those tests, we were able to discern the three best wetsuits of 2020: the Billabong Furnace Natural ($450), the Feral 3/2 Chest-Zip ($385), and the 7till8 custom 3/2 ($580).
Seeing how much our readers seemed to gain from that production (the neoprene-fueled DMs are still coming through to this day), we wanted to do something similar for the other type of surfwear—boardshorts.
As we all know, a wetsuit can make or break your season. But when it comes to boardshorts, people seem to care just as much (if not more) about how they look as how they “perform.” With that in mind, we decided to design this test based on the criteria of comfort (50%) and style (50%), with our readers having the ultimate say on aesthetics (more on that soon).
As far as we were aware, a side-by-side comparison of different surf trunks had never been done before, so we set it out to do it. The testing place was to be the North Shore of Oahu, and the test subject was me.
I came to Hawaii by way of New York, where I’d been living for the past four months. Having spent the previous two years in Costa Rica, and half a decade in California before that, I’d forgotten what an east coast existence looked like.
The playful September surf. The disgusting boardwalks. The crisp fall mornings. The delicious, if artery-clogging food. The kamikaze seagulls who will stop at nothing to steal your delicious, if artery-clogging food.
Then winter sets in, and it’s a different world. The boardwalks close. The mornings are no longer crisp, but frigid. The seagulls head south to harass Floridians (who generally deserve it). And the ocean goes flat for weeks at a time—only to be roused by two days of horrendous onshores, followed by eight hours of glorious tubes, and then followed again by weeks of flatness. Your wetsuits grow thicker by the week, your skin paler by the minute.
And therein lied my first mistake. Your skin doesn’t only grow paler when you’re stuck indoors for weeks at a time. From lack of exposure to the elements, your epidermis also becomes softer. Less resilient. More prone to, say, excruciating ball chafe.
When I lived in Costa Rica, I had constant exposure to sun, salt, and as it were, boardshorts, meaning my skin was tanned and durable all year long. This allowed me to traverse the globe carefree, confident in the fact that I could slap on any pair of trunks and surf without fear of contracting some mortifying STD (scrotal-territory-discomfort) while surfing.
All of which explains how I strutted through Daniel K. Inouye International with a big dumb smile on my face, my thighs softer and whiter than a bag of marshmallows, and no fucking clue what sort of pain was in my future.
Cut to my second session of the trip (the first was a 30-minuter at V-Land, no harm done). Beautiful morning, Rockies running in both directions, all the time in the world to test my new Pyzels. Our filmer wasn’t ready to start working on the boardshorts test yet, so I was wearing an old pair of Banks Journal boardies that had been my go-tos in Costa Rica—nice fit, great texture, never had an issue with them.
About an hour into the session, I started feeling a tinge of discomfort when I transitioned from sitting to paddling. That tinge turned into a burn, and that burn into a fourth-degree chafe on my sack and thighs. If I’m being honest, there was a bit of tip action too.
I endured the pain for as long as I could—the waves were that fun. But at a certain point, riding those waves became more agonizing than it was enjoyable. So I called it quits and crab-walked up the deep Hawaiian sand, wincing with every step.
Halfway to the car, I had a thought that cut straight through the pain: how was I going to test boardshorts if I could hardly walk?
Now, there are a few different options to deal with a chafin’ sitchiation.
- You can apply some sort of lubricant to the affected areas, but that inevitably gets all over everything (hands, shorts, wax etc.) and leads to a very bad time all around.
- You can power through the pain in the hopes that your skin becomes accustomed to the abrasive actions and heals naturally.
- You can wear some sort of soft lining on your delicate sections to mediate all contact between your skin and the offending surfaces (boardshorts, wax, high school girlfriends with dry hands)
Typically I opt for the third option. But this time, I had nothing but cotton briefs to protect my tender nether region. And unless you have a kink for drowning, cotton and water do not mix.
Fortunately, I remembered something I’d seen on Instagram a few weeks prior—a large swath of CT surfers had simul-posted about these outrageous undershorts. From Jordy to Conner; Kanoa and Kolohe; Jack Free and Griffin C; the other Connor and even Wade Carmichael, proud owner of quads that boast both the girth and tough outer shell of a Christmas ham, was flaunting a pair of floral-patterned, thigh-length budgy-smugglers on his IG story.
So I asked around. “Who was the brand that gave all those undershorts away. Are you guys actually wearing them? Are they any good?”
The first answer was BN3TH (pronounced ‘beneath’). The second and third answers were a resounding yes. And here’s the thing: for these guys, it wasn’t just about rash protection.
As alluded to earlier, people who spend inordinate amounts of time in boardshorts (ie pro surfers, industry leeches who expatriate to Latin America) aren’t typically chafed by them. Which means these top-tier competitors were wearing BN3TH undershorts for another reason entirely.
Now hold on to your meatball sub, but not so tightly that one of those delicious beef spheres shoots out the backdoor. What I’m about to tell you will flip your world down-side up.
BN3TH undershorts have a scrotum-holder.
That might not be the official terminology, but it’s exactly what it is, so that’s what I’m calling it.
And no, I’m not talking about the extra bit of fabric other underwear brands add to the area where your package “should” be, making even the most Caesarian member appear as a plump protrusion.
This is quite different. BN3TH undershorts have a little pocket on the inside panel that your gear slides into, thus relieving any discomfort that might be caused by contact with your thighs.
When I first heard about this feature, I thought it sounded silly and superfluous. We’ve survived millions of years without a resident ball-holder, why do we need one now?
All I have to say is: try it.
I don’t know what it is or why it works, but when you create a small degree of separation between your body and your junk, it feels like the weight of the world has been lifted.
But please note: it’s not like you’re gonna slide into a pair of BN3THs and instantly feel like a new man. This is more of a cumulative relief system—something you feel and appreciate as the day goes on. To borrow a phrase from BN3TH’s marketing mastermind and the man responsible for their 2020 Hawaiian takeover, Matt Keenan, “it’s like you don’t get ball fatigue.”
Again, I’m not entirely sure how this works, or if it’s just a placebo effect for that matter. But I do know that when it comes time to pick my underwear every morning, I’m turning my drawer inside-out looking for the last clean pair of BN3THs. It’s not even close.
So back to Hawaii. I was fortunate enough to find a pair of XS BN3TH Entourage shorts. They fit like a glove, kept the boys high and tight, and most importantly at this moment, provided a layer of rash protection for my coming surfs. The Best Boardshorts test was saved, barring the six pairs of trunks that didn’t arrive on time, forcing us to extend the operation and finish it at a totally separate locale (viva la Mexico!).
Oh, and before I go, I’d like to share two other benefits of the BN3TH undershorts.
1. These bad-boys are made from 100% recycled bottles, helping reduce the junk that ends up in the sea. So every time you wear a pair, the ocean technically owes you a few waves.
2. If my polling metrics are correct, the ailment I’m about to describe affects roughly 20% of male surfers, myself included.
There’s no subtle way of putting this, but sometimes when men try to perform a modern backside tube stall—ass dragging on the floor, forearm flat against the face—they expose a certain, sensitive part of their anatomy to an unforgiving and turbulent wave face.
Those who know what I’m talking about, know exactly what I’m talking about. It feels like Mike Tyson is doing speedbag practice on your sack—true, gut-wrenching pain. Worst of all, this situation leaves you with two equally terrible options: either release the stall and subject yourself to @barreldodgersanonymous claims from your friends, or fight through the pain and subject yourself to potential infertility.
But if you’re rocking BN3THs? No worries whatsoever. The boys stay tucked and safe, leaving you free to drag that ass to glory.
Mine aren’t coming off, find your own pair here.
And keep an eye out for our 2021 Best Boardshorts test, sometime this summer.
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