We expect the best performance out of our wetsuits. Why not expect the best out of board shorts? Yes it's true, bad board shorts won't affect your performance as much as a bad wetsuit. But that doesn't mean you should surf with any kind of shorts. As of recent, there has been a flood of "high performance" board shorts. Most of these shorts promise two things, reduced chaffing and improved flexibility/comfort. Among the masses is the Phantom 60 by Hurley. Overall, the Phantom 60 does a good job accomplishing both promises. But the best part, the Phantom 60 runs about the same price as other standard board shorts $40-60. So if you're going to be surfing 4+ hour sessions, you should check out the Phantom lineup by Hurley.
We tested the Phantom 60 which provide 60% stretch. If you want even more stretch, the Phantom 120 provides 120% stretch, but runs double the cost - $80-100. We found the 60's already had plenty of stretch, so for us the 120's were not worth the extra cost. The shorts come with a small side zip pocket with key chord on the right leg. There's enough room to keep a small key or stack of credit cards/cash. The shorts are considerably lighter and thinner than standard board shorts. The inside of the shorts have the same feel as the outside of the shorts, with no discernible softness compared to normal board shorts . Also the inside front has a small inseam, designed to minimize irritation. The waist band is made of a stiffer material to keep the shorts locked to your waist, but the inside of the waist is lined with a soft material.
Compared to standard board shorts, you'll feel like you're not wearing shorts at all. The light fabric and flexibility allow you to move with no resistance. The difference in resistance is very apparent when squatting. The Phantoms naturally flow with your movement and don't catch as you squat. On the other hand, standard board shorts may hang up on you and prevent a full squat without readjustments. Depending on how you like your board shorts to fit, the Phantoms may not be ideal. The Phantoms run a little tight compared to standard, loose board shorts.
In the Water
The Phantoms stretch a little in the water. It's important that the shorts fit snuggly dry, otherwise they may slip off when they get wet. But other than that, these shorts are great in the water. The Phantoms are flexible and unnoticeable (in a good way) when surfing or swimming. The shorts also greatly reduce chaffing, which is a life-saver if you plan to surf 2+ hour sessions. On 4+ hour session there may be some minimal chaffing, but it's a lot better than full on chaffing with regular board shorts. The Phantom material is light and will sometimes ride up a little when sitting up a surfboard. Even when they do ride up, leg movement is not hindered, so you'll be able to easily readjust. When you're surfing or swimming, you won't notice these shorts at all. But in fairness, I've never noticed any board shorts once I was surfing, I've never had to move in a way where regular board shorts affected my movement. But if you've felt your movements restrained by your shorts, the Phantoms will definitely be an improvement.
We can't attest to the durability of the material since we've only used them for a couple months. But from what we've seen, there's no discernible wear on these shorts.
Surfing in warm water requires a good pair of board shorts, especially for long sessions. The Phantom 60 by Hurley are great performance shorts for surfing that won't break your budget. The fitting runs a little tighter than standard board shorts, which may not mesh with your style, especially if you want to just lounge on the beach. But as surfing shorts, the Phantom offers great comfort and flexibility, which allow you to focus on the next set and not on your shorts.