Top 5 Men's Backpacking Underwear

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.

9 thoughts on “Best Men’s Hiking Underwear: Comparison Reviews”

    1. You Sir are indeed a real man. I’m not sure exactly why loose boxers are so uncomfortable for me, but they just don’t seem to work. Do you just wear regular cotton ones or do you wear a special hiking brand like ExOfficio’s?

      Haha I love the hiking kilts, I’m not certain I’m manly enough to pull one off though… I’m pretty impartial to pants and the zip-off Prana pair I’ve been wearing on my recent hikes are pretty comfy.

      1. Just an inexpensive cotton/polyester mix, if I get dunked in a creek in cold weather I figure stripping them off will be just as effective as wearing wet synthetics.

        A lot of people swear by the hiking kilts – not sure I’d venture too far into the backwoods of the Ozarks wearing one though ;-)

        I hate to say this, but my current favorites are very inexpensive Wal-Mart camo boxers 50:50 polyester cotton(probably only available in the Ozarks!) that I bought enroute to a backpacking trip having realised I’d forgotten to put a spare pair in my pack.

        Zip-off pants are a brilliant invention. Again I’ve gone for an economical option, this time from Bass Pro. I’ve a couple of pairs that have lasted me several years thus far.

        1. I guess the benefits of synthetics vice cotton may be a faster dry time. Not that I’ve done any scientific tests to confirm.

          Cotton doesn’t seem to be as terrible for outdoor clothing as long as it’s mixed with a decent amount of synthetic and the camo pattern must help when you’re changing outside (no one can see your shorts, lol).

          I’ve even heard of some hikers that just don’t wear any underwear at all…

          1. The camo underwear would pass as regular shorts at a quick glance.

            Going sans undies exposes your skin to all those seams which could cause some rubbing issues, not to mention exposing your outer clothing to a lot of sweat and what Ginger so politely refers to as ‘stinkage’. Which is probably where the kilts win, with no seams to rub and plenty of airflow.

            I remember reading one Ultralite blogger talking about loin cloths. Unfortunately I didn’t bookmark that one.

    1. I checked out the Saxxs undies. They do look like my style and possibly need to be added to my comparison reviews. Right now it looks like they’ve got a deal where if you order 4 you get 1 free. Not sure that I’d want to jump into 5 pairs without having tried them on. But, I may have to add them to my Christmas list. Thanks for the recommendation!

  1. Definitely try the Saxx; they’re amazing!! The mesh panels prevent ball/thigh stickage. For hiking and backpacking, the “Pro-Elite” versions would be the ones to get. They’re 90% poly and 10% spandex. They’re a good length for chafing prevention and never, ever ride up on me. The Ultra and Vibe are a softer, more comfortable material (Viscose/Rayon), but not as good for the outdoors and they tend to ride up. Great for around the house though. You can find them on amazon or his room.

  2. Great reviews! I have also been spending the last few years trying out different underwear. Your reviews almost exactly summarize my own experience with the Smartwool, Ibex, UnderArmour, and ExOfficio boxer briefs. Never tried MEC.

    Smartwool was my favorite (for the same reasons you mentioned), but durability has been an issue – they just dont last as long as I would like. Durability has been an issue with any boxers I have tried that contained 90+% merino that I liked the fit enough to wear them regularly (Smartwool, Minus33, Icebreaker Bodyfit, I/O Bio). For other brands, I wasn’t a huge fan of the fit. Icebreaker Beast seems to put uncomfortable pressure on my jewels during many movements, or even just sitting. Ibex has a strange fit. Justin Charles didn’t fit great, though the size I purchased is a size too large, so if I had the right size, it may solve this issue. Stoic (93%wool/7%spandex) is ok, but waistband comes up way too high. Rapha’s (94% wool/6%elastine) feel ok (have to order a size larger than any other brand), but I don’t like how high and tight the fly opening is.

    For durability reasons, I have tried a number of wool/synthetic blends and full synthetics. For synthetics, ExOfficio and UnderArmour have been my favorites. For Terramar Body-Sensors, I’m not a fan of how everything hangs – everything gets pushed forward while standing, and doesn’t have a comfortable place to go while sitting. I have a Patagonia Capilene that is ok. I will be trying out Saxx due to the suggestions on this message board.

    For blends, my favorite has been Finisterre (80%wool/20%polyamide). I have found that I like the fit, and I think they have been a little bit more durable than my other wools, but still not nearly at the level of the synthetics. The other blends I have tried, I have not worn enough to speak of durability (haven’t liked the fit enough to wear everyday). Core4Element (50%wool/50%poly) is too tight in the butt and has too small/rigid leg openings.

    In summary: I haven’t yet determined my favorite yet, but at this point in time, it is between ExOfficio, UnderArmour, and Finisterre.

    Also, I’m pretty sure I have a picture from September when I jumped into Lake Superior in just my Finisterres. If I find it, I’ll have to decide if I’m man enough to post it.

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