Coaching and Hiking on the Peralta Trail

Tonto National Forest HikingMy father, Dwaine Souveny, is my mentor for the great outdoors; he taught me to camp, hike, and enjoy the wilderness from a young age. He is also a Psychologist and a Certified Educational Coach with Dynamic Development.

I attended a few of his training sessions recently in order to get a better understanding of what he does and to see how to apply these concepts in improving and getting more fulfillment from my own life.

On our recent trip down to Arizona we decided to put coaching into practice doing an activity that we can both relate to: an awesome hike.

Located east of Phoenix in the Superstition mountains, the Peralta Trail makes a great day hike as it takes you up to Freemont Saddle for fantastic views of Weavers Needle. The length is about 5 miles (8 Kms) with a fair bit of elevation gain that is well worth the scenery.

 

The GROWTH Model of Coaching

 

We used the GROWTH Model (Goal, Reason, Obstacles, Wisdom, Tasks, Hurray!) on our hike along the Peralta Trail as an example of how coaching can apply to everyday life. GROWTH makes it easy to demonstrate how to define a goal, break the goal down into achievable tasks, and recognise and celebrate your success.

It’s about being Intentional (about your intent and what you are giving) and Mindful (about what you are getting) when experiencing the amazing and awe inspiring outdoors.

Filling out a GROWTH worksheet makes it easy to visually display and track your progress to achieving any goal whether it be personal, professional, or recreational: like this day hike on the Peralta Trail.

Hiking Phoenix Mesa

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Best Men’s Hiking Underwear: Comparison Reviews

Top 5 Men's Backpacking Underwear

Over the past few months I’ve written my thoughts on some of the top men’s underwear for hiking and backpacking. These also happen to be the most comfortable boxer-briefs for sports, working-out, and my everyday life.

Comfort is one of the most important things for me when backpacking and that starts with comfortable base layers (the things that actually come into contact with your skin). Underwear is important for hiking because that “area” can get rather sweaty at times and due to the repetition of walking for hours this can cause uncomfortable chafing.

I’ve literally been searching for the perfect pair of underwear for years: ones to wear while in the outdoors, but also ones to wear daily, a pair that does all the functions that underwear is designed for – namely stopping you from coming in contact with your jeans – but, at the same time a pair that does that job unnoticeably.

Fit is First

After trying plenty of boxers that were too loose, causing them to ride-up, bunch-up, twist and tangle. And, after testing out a few styles of old-man briefs, which I find uncomfortable due to the inner leg binding and which provide no protection against chafing, I settled on boxer-briefs.

The boxer-brief is exactly what it sounds like: a combination between boxers and briefs. This gives them the length and leg coverage of boxers with the tight fit of briefs to keep everything in place.

Boxer-briefs come in all shapes, sizes, and designs and it proved a challenge to find the pair that would work for me. I am a fit person and have decently muscular thighs. I’m certainly no speed-skater, but I found that most of the boxer-briefs available at retail stores had short legs and would ride-up, causing uncomfortable bunching. I even tried expensive name brand undies like Calvin Klein and specialty men’s underwear stores to no avail.

This brought my quest for comfortable underwear online, which is difficult as it’s hard to get a sense of what you’re going to be getting from online pics. Even more-so, living in Canada, it’s usually as expensive to ship one pair as it is five from the States.

The Fabric of Your Loin-cloth

 

Next to fit, like all outdoors clothing, the materials your base-layers are made of is of imperative importance. Most every hiker has heard that cotton kills. Once it’s wet it takes a long time to dry and in the mean-time it wicks the heat right out of your body. I once heard a rescuer say you’d be better off naked than wearing wet cotton clothes in the outdoors.

This avoidance of cotton for hiking clothing should go right down to, you guessed it, your underwear. Most retail store underwear is cotton and I’m sure that’s comfortable and sufficient for casual urban life, but it doesn’t cut it in the outdoor sporting world. This leaves two options as far as I’ve seen and tested: synthetics and merino wool. Both have their merits and drawbacks and as you can read in the reviews below.

And, without further ado…

 

The Contestants for the Best Men’s Underwear


ExOfficio Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs are one of the best choices for hiking, backpacking, and travelling underwear. The fit is good, the fabric wicks sweat and dries quickly, and they are durable and easy to care for.

Continue reading for the full review…

 

 

Available Online: Amazon Trekt • Backcountry • REI


SmartWool Micro 150 Merino Wool Boxer Briefs are the most comfortable underwear I’ve ever worn. They may not take the top spot for overall utility, but the merino wool is luxuriously soft and the fit is fantastic.

Continue reading for the full review…

 

 

Available Online: Amazon Trekt • Backcountry • REI • MooseJaw


Ibex Balance Boxers are another merino wool offering. Though they’re made of a thicker fabric and have a strange fit. I would avoid these and go with the SmartWool’s above.

Continue reading for the full review…

 

 

Available Online: Amazon • Trekt • Backcountry • MooseJaw


Under Armour Boxerjocks are a light stretchy synthetic affair that comes in 3, 6, or 9 inch inseam lengths. They’ve got a nice mesh pouch for stashing your “gear” and work well for high energy activities.

Continue reading for the full review…

 

 

Available Online: Amazon • Trekt • Backcountry • MooseJaw • Under Armour (US) • Under Armour (Canada)


Hiking Underwear ReviewMEC Synthetic Boxer Briefs were the cheapest pair of underwear that made it into my comparison reviews. They are really stretchy, but lack the structure of the other pairs I tested. They’re no longer available and they won’t be missed, as they could reach up to cover my belly button, but they give some perspective when compared to the other offerings.

 

Continue reading for the full review…

These are no longer available, but similar offerings in the lower price ranges are: MEC Trekt • REI


 

These are the top 5 best boxer-briefs that I’ve had the chance to wear and I feel they give a good cross-section of what’s available. However, there are many other offerings from other outdoor clothing manufacturers.

Let me know if you’ve found your perfect pair or if you’re an underwear manufacturer and think your product has what it takes to be the best boxers please feel free to Contact Me.

ExOfficio Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs: Best Men’s Hiking Underwear Shootout

As ExOfficio puts it, “17 countries. 6 weeks. One pair of underwear.”   ew… oh wait, I was supposed to wash them in between?

The Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs are made of nylon with a bit of spandex and are treated with a “Microbe Shield” to avoid the stinkyness that is often associated with other synthetic boxers.

The body fabric is a tightly woven mesh similar to the crotch of the Under Armour’s I reviewed. They are fairly stretchy, but have more structure than the MEC and Under Armour boxers.

ExOfficio Boxer Briefs1

Are the ExOfficio Give-N-Go’s the best pair of hiking underwear yet?

 

They may have an awkward name, but the ExOfficio’s are an excellent piece of undergarment. The fit and fabric on these is just right for me.

The legs are long enough and have a more substantial structure to them that helps stop that irritating ride up. That means you can walk or bike all day without awkwardly reaching down your pants to straighten out your underwear.

Zoolander Underwear

The mesh fabric in the body isn’t as soft as the Under Armour Boxerjock or some of the merino wool offerings, but it is sturdy. I’ve had some of these underwear for four years of weekly wear and still haven’t worn out a pair. The Give-N-Go’s are also more breathable than the SmartWool boxer briefs I reviewed so if you’re into high intensity workouts they tend to soak up less sweat.

 

The lightweight underwear of choiceExOfficio Boxer Briefs4

 

As their marketing suggests, the ExOfficio underwear work quite well for travel and backpacking. They can easily be washed in a sink or stream and they will dry completely in a few hours. Even though I typically take more than two pairs on any given trip, the ability to wash these means that you can pack less or you’ve got a backup if your trip runs long.

I actually use these as my swimsuit on hiking trips where I’m not likely to be seen by the discerning public or cameras.

 

Best Overall Men’s Hiking Underwear

 

Although the Smartwool Microweight Boxer Briefs are the most comfortable underwear I’ve ever worn, I have to give the ExOfficio Give-N-Go’s the top spot as the best backpacking boxers.

The ExOfficio’s are more durable, they dry quicker, they breathe better, and they cost half as much.

For a long time these were my daily underwear. I have since replaced them with SmartWool boxer briefs, which are more comfortable and I prefer the merino fabric, however the ExOfficios still find their way into my pack every time I head out into the bush.

ExOfficio's Give-N-Go take the top spot. The losers can take a tissue.
ExOfficio’s Give-N-Go take the top spot. The losers can take a tissue.

Head over to my summary page for information on the other contenders in my Best Men’s Hiking Underwear Shootout.

Manufacturer’s Site: ExOfficio Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs 

Available Online: Amazon • Trekt • Backcountry • REI

 

SmartWool Merino Wool Boxer Briefs: Best Men’s Hiking Underwear Shootout

Most people wouldn’t jump in excitement about the prospect of wrapping their jewels in wool, but these are not your grandpa’s wool undies; these SmartWool underwear are made of svelte merino wool. They have a nice soft feel to them that is more akin to the smoothness of silk and less like the steel wool that you use to scrub dishes.

 

Magical Wool

 

Similarly to the Ibex boxers I reviewed, the SmartWool’s are made from the almost magical wool fibres of the hearty merino sheep. But, unlike the Ibex Balance boxers, these were actually cut to anatomically fit the human body, which is fairly important for underwear.

Merino wool is probably one of the best base layer materials out there and it is all natural. It provides excellent temperature regulation, wicks sweat, retains warmth when wet, and is naturally antibacterial and odor resistant.

They sure sound good, but are they?

SmartWool Boxer Briefs1

SmartWool Boxer Briefs: The Most Comfortable Men’s Underwear.

 

These are, without a doubt, the most comfortable pair of underwear I’ve ever owned and as I mentioned in my underwear comparison review post, I have tried a lot. The combination of an excellent fit along with a great material make these my favourite undies.

Fit

The SmartWool boxers are designed with enough room for everything to fit comfortably, but still fit snug enough to provide support. The almost 5″ inseam means they provide adequate chafing protection and most importantly they stay in place and don’t ride up.

They are also a medium rise, which works perfectly for me, so they won’t reach up to your bellybutton like the MEC boxer briefs I tried, but they also don’t leave you exposed when you’re fixing a leaky sink.

Comfort

SmartWool Boxer Briefs5

The merino wool used in the SmartWool boxer briefs is much softer and lighter than the material that Ibex used to make their Balance boxer. Rather than the almost sweatshirt thickness of the Ibex underwear, the Smartwool’s are more similar in material to the other lightweight merino wool t-shirts that I own.

I’ve owned a few different versions of SmartWool’s boxer briefs and they have improved throughout the past few years. Most notably the waistband has gotten wider and is backed with a soft material making them even more comfortable. I also own a couple pairs of the Lightweight boxer briefs by SmartWool, they are basically the same with a slightly heavier fabric, possibly better for winter activities, like skiing.

 

The most comfortable underwear, but maybe not the best?

 

There are a few downsides to the SmartWool Micro 150 boxer briefs and I have to bring these up as it means that, while I feel they are the most comfortable boxer briefs, they may not be the best suited to backpacking and travelling.

Durability

A few of the pairs that I own are starting to get holes or runs in the material. Considering this is after at least two years of weekly wear I would say this is acceptable. However, when you compare them to the synthetic Under Armour and ExOfficio pairs, those are not showing any real signs of wear and I’ve had them for even longer.

Price

Although this is not my main concern, it certainly factors in, especially if you have to replace them more often than other pairs of underwear. In comparison to the above mentioned synthetic boxer briefs, the Smartwools are almost twice as expensive. This makes sense, as merino wool garments do typically cost significantly more than their synthetic counterparts, but a $45 MSRP can be difficult to justify when there are other options available.

Useability

Although the SmartWool’s are my favorite pair of boxer briefs for everyday wear. For backpacking and travel, ExOfficio’s underwear is the better bet. On my recent trip to Paris, I packed both  SmartWool and ExOfficio pairs, I tried sink washing both, and while the Smartwool’s were still damp the next morning the synthetic pair was dry and ready to go. The same principle applies on the trail, so if you’re on a long trip and want to carry less I would choose a synthetic boxer brief and wash them along the way.

SmartWool Boxer Briefs4

Still my favorite pairs of underwears

 

Despite their limitations, SmartWool’s Micro 150 boxer briefs are the most comfortable underwear I own. All of my other boxer briefs have been relegated to lightweight travel, extended backpacking trips, and laundry days. I highly recommend getting yourself a pair, or five.

Head over to my summary page for information on the other contenders in my Best Men’s Hiking Underwear Shootout.

Manufacturer’s Site: SmartWool Micro 150 Boxer Briefs

Available Online: Amazon • Trekt • Backcountry • REI • MooseJaw

Ibex Balance Merino Wool Boxers: Best Men’s Hiking Underwear Shootout

The Ibex Balance Boxer Briefs were the first merino wool offering that I tested in my search for the best hiking underwear. I was excited to give them a try as I’ve loved all of my other merino wool stuffs: socks, shirts, and long underwear. Ibex’s Balance Boxers are made of 85% merino wool and 15% nylon/spandex to add some stretch.

Merino wool is from a specific breed of sheep and, when woven, provides a much softer and lighter cloth than standard wools. It offers excellent temperature regulation, wicks sweat, retains warmth when wet, and is naturally antibacterial and odor resistant. Essentially it is hiking’s Mithril.

 

Does Ibex’s Balance Boxer have what it takes to be the best pair of hiking underwear?

 

The first thing you notice with the Balance shorts is the strange shape they take when you are not wearing them. They look like they were made for Charlie Brown, with no butt or hips to speak of and two legs that come straight down from the torso.Charlie Brown

The next thing you notice, before you even put them on, is the way they feel. They do have a nice stretchy-ness to them, but they are significantly thicker than any of the merino base-layers I’ve felt previously. Rather than the usual silky smoothness of a light merino t-shirt, they have a slightly rougher hand and a thickness that is more fitting for socks and sweatshirts.

As these were just my initial observations I figured all would be redeemed once they were on and given a chance to actually perform. After wearing them around for awhile: taking them out hiking, biking, skiing, playing sports in them, and just sitting on the couch, I can say without a doubt that they feel exactly like I expected them to after my first inspection.

There is no gap between the two leg openings, which means there is no room for my youknowwhat. The rise is very low, which means they are far from flattering when bending over. The legs are short, which means they ride up your thighs instantly and suffer from the same problems as the shorter Under Armour Boxerjock. And, the fabric is rough and hot.

The cut of the Balance boxers is strange and I’m not sure what male body shape would fit these comfortably. Interestingly though, they seem to fit women quite well.

 Wool Men's Boxers for Hiking

Don’t look under here for your underwear

 

Hiking Underwear Wool

For an outdoor clothing company with a focus on cycling apparel I would expect that Ibex’s underwear would be designed for high intensity movement and fit great for guys with muscular thighs. It is not so.

Ibex does make another pair of boxers called the Woolies and they do have a more traditional looking shape, however I’m hesitant to try them as they are apparently made of an even thicker wool blend. I do own an Ibex t-shirt and it is my favourite merino shirt, so they do make other excellent products, but at $50 a pair for the Balance boxers I can’t endorse them as a good underwear option.

For a merino wool option check out my review of SmartWool’s boxer briefs and head over to my summary page for information on the other contenders in my Best Men’s Hiking Underwear Shootout.

 

Manufacturer’s Site: Ibex Balance Boxer

Available Online: Amazon • Trekt • Backcountry • MooseJaw

Sometimes life turns you upside down…

Four-wheel low, locking diffs, and a winch don't help with this situation.
Four-wheel low, locking diffs, and a winch don’t help with this situation.

These past few months have been some of the busiest and most critical of my entire life. Imagine fourth year university finals, but ongoing for months and with direct career and salary implications. Then imagine hitting black ice and crawling out of your upside down truck on the highway in the middle of it all. Not exactly a stress relieving situation.

The Destination Outside Mobile is a heavily upgraded 2004 Tacoma TRD Double Cab. ARB bumper, winch, suspension, tires, rock sliders, topper, roof rack. It’s got everything you could need to escape into the wilderness on a weekend and these pictures still make me cringe. Though, four-wheel drive, locking rear differential, and a winch don’t help much with this situation.

Toyota 2004upside down

Luckily no one other than my truck was hurt. Thank you Toyota for making a sturdy truck: it may not be a Hilux, but my Tacoma could give one a run for the money. My truck has taken me on many adventures in the outdoors and always brought me back safe. Auto body magicians are working on it as I type and hopefully humpty dumpty will be back together again soon.

So, the writing was put by the wayside for a little while and now that I’m through with the busiest I hope to get back to the site. I’ve got a few reviews in the works to finish up my overdue series on the best men’s undies, my thoughts on a Hoo Rag bandana, as well this winter has provided me with plenty of snow for a thorough testing of UGG’s new Barklay Snow Boots.

Stay tuned for these reviews in the coming weeks and more pics of my Tacoma once it’s back on the road.