(Use case: A hike to heated waters--hiking with only swimwear for lower attire is not an option.)

I find most swimwear is not exactly suitable for wearing under clothing, speedos would work but I'm hoping for some middle ground--snug fitting but not quite so skimpy.

  • @TomasBy I live in America, not Europe. Changing by the water in unknown mixed company isn't a viable plan. Commented Dec 25, 2019 at 2:41
  • @TomasBy Swimwear dries pretty quickly. I do agree a towel is an option. Commented Dec 25, 2019 at 3:05
  • Don't frogmen wear wetsuits under cammies? Why not a full-body swimsuit? Commented Dec 25, 2019 at 11:40
  • 1
    Have you considered bike shorts?
    – A C
    Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 4:35
  • 1
    Aside from NA modesty issues, I would strongly consider an extra light underwear to change into afterwards. I absolutely loathe wet underwear and unless it's summer nothing will dry quickly. Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 19:03

3 Answers 3


Mesh lined running shorts. Roughly equivalent to boxers in coverage. I routinely use these on canoe trips and hiking trips under my wind pants. Morning starts with longs, and as the day warms up, they come off as the day warms up. I often put longs back on immediately on hitting camp for bug protection.

That said: From years of outdoor activities, I'm used to being wet.

If you get ones that are 100% nylon/polyester they dry very fast. Blotting as much water as possible with a towel then 10-15 minutes of lounging about nearby will leave you dry enough to put your over clothes on.

The difficulty is the differential temperature. If you have been in hot water, you are likely flushed, certainly damp, and acclimated in part to the heat. Coming out into cold will result in lots of heat loss initially. You may not want even damp shorts on.

Changing in the wild

Comment on the question said that changing in unknown mixed company isn't viable. Consider:

  • Put on a wind parka, or any other garment that comes down to mid thigh. Fasten the bottom two snaps, withdraw your arms, and drop your underwear and put on your swimwear.

  • Any place this popular likely has some form of bathroom facility. Change in the outhouse.

  • Walk a hundred meters into the bush, put a large tree between you and the group and change there.

  • I figured this warranted a followup: The closest bathroom is 1/3 mile, given the weather I would not have wanted to wear swimwear. There is no bush anywhere nearby sufficient to provide coverage, and no vegetation of any kind nearby (it's in a slot canyon.) The "changing area" on the approach we used was where it widened out to maybe 20'. There was one woman who came unprepared and was quite unhappily changing behind a jacket their partner was holding. Commented Feb 19, 2020 at 22:59

I regularly cycle to the pool with limited time, and have found that the best option is trunks, but they don't have to be as skimpy as we tend to think of as speedos. Mine (similar to these but a little longer) are like close fitting short shorts, and feel much less exposed than some styles.

Unpadded cycling shorts would also be good. Unpadded because cheap foam padding holds water and good padding is the wrong shape for walking.

I've found the proper term for what I had in mind; they're fairly popular at my pool: Triathlon shorts (or tri shorts). The linked article says they're not for chlorinated pools, but many brands claim at least some chlorine resistance. Triathlon kit can be expensive, but for mainly swimming a cheap brand would do.

  • This sounds like the sort of thing I was after, it's just I haven't seen anything of the sort that you're describing. Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 23:22
  • At least one of my two pairs was bought in a supermarket in France so that's not much help. Pools there don't tend to allow shorts for various reasons, so there's more choice of trunks
    – Chris H
    Commented Jan 3, 2020 at 9:13
  • Since answering I've bought some cheap triathlon shorts for river swimming. They're good both on the bike and for swimming, but I haven't had the chance to try them in a pool.
    – Chris H
    Commented Sep 13, 2020 at 20:23

Even the fastest-drying shorts will not get completely dry in a reasonable amount of time. If the weather is cold enough, wearing damp shorts for the return hike might be dangerous.

If that's the case, I suggest using a rain kilt for coverage while changing out of the wet swim trunks. Rain kilts are lightweight (2-3 oz), inexpensive ($10-20), small enough to fit in a cargo pocket, and provide more complete coverage than a towel. Be sure to get a colored kilt, as the uncolored ones can be see-through.

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You can hedge your bets by wearing swim shorts to the pool, and carrying a rain kilt and change of underwear just in case (or plan on going commando for the hike home).

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