Some hikers don’t put underwear as a priority when shopping for hiking gear. But picking the best underwear for a hiking adventure can make a significant difference on your trip. When it comes to underwear, you shouldn’t really try to save money because it is directly in contact with your skin. You must acquire the highest quality possible, especially if you’re going on long hiking trips.
We spent a lot of time researching and finding the best underwear for hiking. And we found out that it’s best to choose one that is very breathable, dries fast, has antimicrobial properties, and fits comfortably tight around your skin. With these factors, you’ll be able to walk for long periods without ever feeling uncomfortable.
In this article, we will help you make your buying process much easier by sharing with you the top hiking underwear we discovered from our in-depth research. We’re also going to share a detailed buying guide so you can execute a smart decision when purchasing. Additionally, we’re going to answer some frequently asked questions about hiking underwear.
So, stay tuned because we’ve got your back covered!
Picking a pair of underwear is easy if you know certain factors like the materials used, the odor-resistance, durability, etc. So, to get the best underwear for your hiking needs, here are the things you should keep in mind.
Merino wool and synthetic fibers (e.g., polyester or nylon) are two of the most common materials used to craft hiking underwear. Both of them come with their respective advantages and disadvantages. In terms of main similarities, both are great at keeping you insulated when wet, fast-drying, and have excellent moisture-wicking traits.
When it comes to Merino wool alone, it is soft, has outstanding odor-resistance, and just feels great against the skin even when damp. However, it is quite pricey for some people. As for synthetic fibers like polyester or nylon, they are more durable and cheaper. But compared to Merino wool, synthetic fibers are not as soft, and they don’t feel great against the skin when damp.
Three factors that will decide whether you’ll choose a Merino or synthetic underwear are your personal preferences, durability, and your budget. On the flip side, some brands use both merino and synthetic fabrics for their underwear. This type of underwear is ideal to choose because you get the outstanding comfortability of merino while having the exceptional durability of synthetic fibers.
Usually, manufacturers market men’s hiking underwear as being either boxer briefs or just boxers. Boxer briefs give a better snug fit, especially around the thigh. Boxers closely resemble shorts and have a looser cut. But these descriptions are not always applicable because some manufacturers have different cuts.
Boxers that are a little bit loose can rub and chaff. But keep in mind that chafing issues are very rare. On the other hand, men’s underwear that is too form-fitting doesn’t always work great on multi-day hiking trips since they start to chaff more than boxers due to sweat and lack of washing. The best type of cut that will suit you best will depend on your preferences. As for us, we usually go for a pair of boxers that are pretty snug but also have excellent breathability.
In terms of design, always opt with underwear that has flatlock seams. This feature aids in preventing chafing. It’s also a good idea to avoid seams in places that could rub under your pack’s pressure. For instance, a label or stitching at the middle-back of the waistband can often be bothersome if your backpack is against it.
If odor-resistance is very important to you, then choose underwear that is made from Merino wool because this material has excellent odor-resistance. As for underwear made from synthetic materials, they don’t provide the same advantage. However, some brands treat synthetic fibers with an antimicrobial coating to enhance the odor resistance of their synthetic underwear. But antimicrobial treatments don’t always give good results. In fact, they will fade after a couple of washing.
Durability is an essential factor even for hiking underwear. But this is a factor that you might have to consider a trade-off. Synthetic hiking underwear is undoubtedly more durable than Merino wool underwear. But the latter also offers some excellent pros. So if durability is more important than comfort and odor-resistance, then go for synthetic.
In terms of washing care, Merino wool needs a little bit more attention compared to synthetic underwear. But generally, you can just throw your Merino underwear in your washing machine with your other garments. But make sure you don’t apply too much heat when drying.
You can wash them using warm or cold water and typically a medium spin instead of a fast spin cycle, which could damage the fabric of your Merino underwear. Because of merino’s exceptional odor-resistant traits, it doesn’t need to be washed as frequently as synthetic underwear. But since we’re talking about underwear here, it’s reasonable to wash it every after use.
Both merino and synthetic dry quite fast, so if you have an available day or at least a couple of hours, it’s best to dry your underwear naturally. Just make sure not to dry under direct sunlight. Lastly, make sure to always read the manufacturer’s care directions written on the label for the best results.
When hiking for long periods, we tend to sweat a lot, especially if it’s a hot day. And when we sweat, bacteria grows quicker and causes unpleasant feelings. Pick underwear with antimicrobial properties to guarantee freshness while you’re hiking.
The best option would be underwear made of Merino wool because they have natural antimicrobial properties. Synthetic options don’t have any natural antimicrobial properties, but they are treated with antimicrobial mediums to compete with Merino wool.
Underwear Style for Hiking
Typically, the style of underwear that you’re going to wear will be of personal preference. Your decision must be dictated by what makes you feel the most comfortable. Here are some underwear styles for both women and men.
Men’s Underwear Styles
Boxers – boxers’ looser fit and extra coverage are favorite to some hikers and can aid avert inner-thigh chafing. But be sure the looser fit won’t result in bunching, which can cause discomfort.
Briefs – this style of underwear usually gives excellent support but not that great coverage. That’s why if you experience chafing, then boxers or boxer briefs might be the best options.
Women’s Underwear Styles
Thongs – thongs provide minimal coverage. They are lightweight and trim. They are also the quickest drying of all underwear styles.
Bikinis – bikini styles typically give less rear coverage with a thinner, higher cut for the leg, and low-rise waistband.
Boxer Briefs – similar to men’s, boxer briefs for women give the most coverage due to boxer briefs’ longer cut that extends down to the top of the thigh. Boxer briefs’ extra coverage can sometimes aid in reducing inner-thigh chafing.
Briefs – briefs are not just for men. Briefs for women give good coverage, and they usually sit above the hips. Within this category, you are going to find hipsters and full-cut briefs. The latter gives plenty of coverage in the front and back. Meanwhile, hipsters look like bikini because they give medium coverage in the front and back but have a little bit higher rise with more coverage on the hips.
Sports Bras – they give great comfort and support during activities like hiking. When looking for sports bras, you must consider features and fit, strap type, the construction style, and the level of support you need.
Here’s a quick comparison table to show you a preview of what our gathered hiking underwear has to offer.
|Smartwool Merino 150 Wool Sports Active Boxer Briefs||56% Merino Wool, 44% Polyester||3 inches||Boxer Briefs||No||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||$$|
|BN3TH CLASSICS BOXER BRIEFS||95% Modal, 5% Spandex||6.5 inches||Boxer Briefs||No||5/5||5/5||4.5/5||$$|
|ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Sport Mesh 6” Boxer Brief||94% Nylon, 6% Spandex||6 inches||Boxer Briefs||Yes||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||$$|
|Minus33 Merino Wool 702 Acadian Men’s Lightweight Boxer Brief||100% Merino Wool||6.5 inches||Boxer Briefs||Yes||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||$$$|
|SAXX Underwear Co. Men’s Kinetic Boxers||95% Viscose, 5% Spandex||5 inches||Boxer Briefs||No||5/5||4.5/5||4/5||$$|
|EYUSHIJIA Men’s 4 Pack Comfortable Bamboo Fiber Modal Boxer Briefs||95% bamboo and 5% spandex||3.5 inches||Boxer Briefs||No||4/5||5/5||5/5||$|
|Icebreaker Men’s Anatomica Boxers||83% Merino Wool, 12% Nylon, 5% Lycra Spandex||4.6 inches||Boxer Briefs||No||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||$$|
Smartwool crafts some of the best baselayers for hiking. Their products made from merino are comfortable against the skin and very durable. And obviously, the Smartwool Men’s 150 Sports Active Boxer Briefs are not an exception.
These are our favorite underwear for backpacking and hiking. These brief boxers use a slim fit but also provide proper ventilation so that your private parts can receive some air when you’re on an intense trip. Its airy fit is also perfect for multi-day backpacking trips.
Additionally, Smartwool utilizes flatlock seams throughout the boxer briefs. This aids in reducing the chances of chafing. The brand also uses merino lining and a wide waistband. This particular design means that the waistband will not rub and irritate your back due to your backpack pressure.
Aside from that, you get the added benefits of merino wool like outstanding odor-resistance and wicking capability, making the boxers dry fast. Even though many people are not sure about the durability of merino products, the Smartwool Merino 150 Boxers are different because they are very durable. Smartwool also uses a nylon core with merino wool around it, enhancing the durability of the boxers.
These brief boxers have a default design of plain black. However, if the default color is not enough, don’t worry because Smartwool offers this underwear in a range of other colors and prints. Keep in mind that these brief boxers are a little bit expensive. But for what they have to offer, you won’t regret buying the Smartwool Men’s 150 Sports Active Boxer Briefs.
If you want underwear that can give you long-lasting comfort, then the BN3TH Classics Boxer Briefs is an excellent option. These boxer briefs are incorporated with MyPakage Technology, a 3-dimensional pouch that will provide a man with complete support. With this technology, you don’t need to worry about frequent shifting or readjusting throughout the day.
BN3TH Classics Boxer Briefs’ 95% modal fabric is soft and breathable against the skin, with the added quality of being wrinkle-resistant. Their comfortable knit waistband, along with the no-rub tag, guarantees outstanding comfort. If you are worried about them showing through your pants, don’t worry because there will be no visible seams. Aside from that, its soft fabric settles ideally to the contours of the user’s body.
Apart from its 95% modal fabric component, they are also incorporated with 5% spandex for added comfort. Modal fabric is a newly popular material that is known to be effective at wicking moisture and softer than cotton. Overall, the BN3TH Classics Boxer Briefs offer excellent value for your hard-earned money. Aside from hiking, you can try them on mountain climbing.
This underwear is very popular among many outdoor enthusiasts, especially hikers. The ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Sport Mesh Boxer Briefs are crafted from nylon with a small percentage of lycra spandex. They also come with a more breathable and lightweight weave.
Compared to the ExOfficio Boxer Brief standard model, the ExOfficio sport mesh model’s fabric tends to pill a bit. But this small issue doesn’t really affect the overall performance of this underwear. The sport mesh model is also fast-drying compared to the standard version.
Additionally, the manufacturer offers these boxer briefs in three different inseam lengths. Of course, our favorite is the one that has a 6-inch inseam. If you like the added durability of synthetic, or if you don’t want to spend a lot on merino, then the ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Sport Mesh 6-inch Boxer brief is a perfect choice. It’s not only ideal for hiking but for different kinds of outdoor activities as well.
If you’re searching for ultimate performance and comfort, then you’ve hit the jackpot with the Minus33 Acadian Boxers. These boxers are made of a 170g/m2 100% merino wool fabric, making them ideal for all-year-round use. The merino fabric used to craft them is 17.5 microns in diameter, which classifies the wool as Ultrafine.
This means that these boxer briefs are very comfortable and soft against the skin. Additionally, they offer exceptional odor-resistance, moisture-wicking ability, and breathability. Furthermore, the Minus 33 Acadian Boxer Briefs are incorporated with flatlock seams and a fly.
These are simply an excellent choice for outdoor enthusiasts who want great performing underwear for intense activities such as hiking, biking, running, or even just going to the office. In particular, their flatlock seams allow for exceptional comfort, preventing chafing, and enabling your clothes to move simultaneously with you.
These boxer briefs are also easy to wash and maintain. Even after consistent washing, they still look good as new. Their color won’t fade, won’t lose shape, or shrink.
The SAXX Underwear Co. Men’s Kinetic Boxers were also crafted for intense, high-performance activities. These boxers are also usually categorized as compression shorts. They have excellent antimicrobial benefits and moisture-wicking ability.
Moreover, these boxers provide excellent support by using nine shapely fabric panels to make a flexible structure as well as the addition of the ballpark pouch for added comfort to your private parts. Offering good compression, these boxers provide the right balance that makes them ideal multisport underwear.
If you prefer to mix up your backpacking and hiking with a little bit of mountain biking or downhill skiing, then these are the perfect underwear for your needs. The SAXX Underwear Co. Men’s Kinetic Boxers’ fabrics are very soft, and provide great ventilation and a snug-fit feeling. Meanwhile, their 3D fit provides excellent support around your hamstrings, quads, thighs, and glutes.
If you want underwear that can provide athletic performance and cotton-like feel, then the EYUSHIJIA Bamboo Fiber Modal Boxer Briefs are what you’re looking for. Similar to modern merino wool, bamboo fabric has excellent antibacterial properties and moisture-wicking abilities.
These bamboo boxer briefs from Eyushijia are composed of 5% spandex and 95% bamboo for an excellent fit and feel that you’ll never expect. Aside from comfort and antibacterial properties, these boxer briefs are also eco-friendly, UV-protecting, and hypoallergenic.
The Eyushijia Bamboo Boxer Briefs are suitable for hiking as well as daily use. These bamboo underwear are pretty comfortable in any conditions. Compared to other underwear in this list, they are unique, mainly because they are incorporated with dual supportive pouches that separate your bits into their respective comfortable cradles.
All of these excellent benefits come wrapped in a pack of four boxer briefs at a price range lower than any solo pair of underwear out there. The Eyushijia Bamboo Boxer Briefs offer great value for your hard-earned money.
Smartwool is not the only one that offers top-notch merino clothing. New Zealand’s Icebreaker, a renowned competitor of Smartwool, is among the most prominent brands when it comes to manufacturing merino clothing. And the Icebreaker Men’s Anatomic Boxers won’t disappoint you.
These boxer briefs are a high-quality pair of merino underwear that offers comfortable waistband, snug fit, open fly, and flatlock seams. Like Smartwool Merino 150 Boxer Briefs, the Icebreaker Men’s Anatomica Boxers use a breathable and ultralight 150-weight merino. They also utilize core-spun merino along with a nylon core to enhance durability.
The Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers were also redesigned for improved breathability during intense activities. Aside from the naturally breathable properties of merino wool, Icebreaker added panels of core-spun eyelet mesh in key areas to give optimal airflow during high-output activities.
These boxer briefs are the best underwear for those who prefer to go on a hike after a long day. They are on par with Smartwool Merino 150 Boxer Briefs, so undoubtedly, they offer great value for your hard-earned money.
What Is Antimicrobial Underwear?
Underwear with antimicrobial properties doesn’t produce foul odor even if you wear them for days without washing. Though, of course, washing frequently is crucial because they are directly in contact with your private parts.
Underwear with this type of technology is usually made of synthetic materials like nylon, polyester, or Merino wool. The latter is naturally antimicrobial, while the former must be treated first to become antimicrobial. The bad thing about applying antimicrobial treatment is that these treatments will gradually be washed out, which significantly reduces the antimicrobial properties of the underwear.
What Are Moisture Wicking Underwear?
Underwear with useful moisture-wicking capabilities pulls the moisture from your skin. It transfers it to the outer layer of the underwear where the moisture will get absorbed by your pants or evaporate. Merino wool is famous for having excellent moisture-wicking abilities. But some materials like nylon and polyester can also effectively wick moisture.
What Is the Best Underwear to Workout In?
If you’re always working out, we recommend buying underwear that is crafted from synthetic materials or Merino wool because these fabrics are moisture-wicking and fast-drying. Thus, they prevent bad odor, chafing, as well as discomfort.
How Many Underwear Do I Need for Backpacking?
Typically, two or three pairs of underwear will suffice. Make sure to rinse out a couple of underwear as often as possible because, again, they are directly in contact with your skin and your private parts.
Does Wearing Underwear Affect Size?
Absolutely no. Wearing tight underwear does not affect the size of a human male’s genitalia. It’s entirely a matter of heredity and genetics.
Is It Fine to Wear Newly-Purchased Underwear Without Washing First?
It’s better not to wear the new underwear. It’s advisable to wash them first to dilute the potentially thousands of chemicals used in manufacturing them.
Should Underwear Be Loose or Tight?
Underwear that fits appropriately must practically feel like nothing at all. They should be lying smooth under your clothes, with their waistband lying flat against your skin.
How to Know If the Underwear Is Too Small for Guys?
If the underwear’s leg bands dig into your thighs, you will most likely wear small underwear. On the other hand, if your waistband keeps slipping each time you bend over, you are either wearing a size too elastic or too big.
Each hiking underwear we discussed above comes with its respective advantages and disadvantages. And which one is the best underwear for hiking depends on when and where you plan to wear one. For hikers that generally find themselves hiking in colder conditions, then Smartwool and Icebreaker underwear are most likely the best choices.
Aside from helping in regulating your temperature and keeping your private part insulated, merino wool underwear is also well-ventilated to prevent things from becoming stuffy—moreover, merino’s natural moisture-wicking abilities aid in keeping you comfortable and dry all day long. The main drawback of merino underwear like Smartwool and Icebreaker is that they might be a bit expensive for some people.
That’s why if you don’t have that much to spend, or perhaps don’t need any insulation, then a less expensive synthetic underwear could be the ideal option. Even though they don’t have a premium price range, the synthetic underwear on this list doesn’t sacrifice comfort.
One good example is the ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs that offer all the premium perks you must search for in hiking underwear. These include excellent moisture-wicking properties and great odor-resistance abilities, all thanks to the antimicrobial treatment applied to them.
Now, if you’re really tight on budget but want to get the best value for your money, then the Eyushijia Bamboo Fiber Modal Boxer Briefs are your best bet. Like merino wool, bamboo underwear also offers great antibacterial abilities and moisture-wicking properties. Additionally, the Eyushijia Bamboo Fiber Modal Boxer Briefs are hypoallergenic, UV-protecting, and environment-friendly.
These boxer briefs also come with dual supportive pouches for added comfort. Lastly, you get all these benefits to come wrapped in a pack of four boxer briefs at a price range lower than some solo pair of underwear out there. So these boxer briefs have excellent value for your money.
If you’re still having a hard time choosing the best underwear for your hiking needs, even with all these suggestions, you just need to think of which buying factors are the most important for you. For instance, if you want the best protection against chafing, then choose underwear with a longer boxer silhouette for additional coverage. Or, if you want the best odor control, then pick one that comes with excellent antimicrobial properties. Hope you get the best underwear for hiking. Stay comfortable!