The 9 Best Hiking Underwear for Men and Women

It is an interesting thought to contemplate our ancestors never walked. In the absence of roads, pavements and polished cities they hiked to reach the nearest water supply, or join forces holding spears around a mouthwatering deer. Hiking, though, goes far beyond our ancestral needs and reaches into the very core of our undying need to connect with nature. Now, the idea of breathing in the magnanimity of a clear sky at the trail of Montana’s Rocky Mountains can easily turn toxic if you are unprepared. And, when it comes to planning a long journey hiking underwear, for some reason, are delegated into an afterthought.

Most adventurers tend to empty their wallets on footwear, slick carbon filtering water bottles, multi-purpose tools which can fix a latte, and shy away from spending money on hiking underwear. However, something that comes into direct contact with your skin should earn thoughtful consideration. Why is that?

Hiking Underwear Comparisons

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Men:

Women:

Why do you need hiking underwear?

Arduous journeys on a treacherous mountain slope and your garden variety of trails tell a tale of chaffing. You are sweating profusely. Your skin rubs between your thighs. The adrenaline-fueled exhilaration of coming in touch with nature turns into one of unadulterated agony. Hiking underwear has moisture repellent characteristics and will keep your skin dry and content.

The combination of heat, sweat and friction doesn’t only lead to an irritated skin. In that humid pool, bacteria thrive that might turn into a bad case of yeast infection. Although, we wonder if there is any good case to be stated about the infection. And as bacteria are also cordial to long journeys, a urinary tract infection is not that far away.

Of course, hiking doesn’t only involve sweat under the blistering sun. In the cold mountains, with the snow mist glistening at the break of dawn, the right set of underwear might be the defining factor between trekking with stalactites in your nether regions and an enjoyable climb.

What to consider before buying

The activity

The activity you wish to embark on must directly influence your choice in hiking underwear. There are, as a general rule of thumb, three types of activities.

Hiking is a leisure activity taken up by someone who wishes to unwind the tense city life. You might be surprised, but walking and hiking are not that different. Instead of heading to the nearest mall on a sidewalk, you are taking a dirt road on a uneven terrain to a serene lake. Of course, hikes can include the occasional camping and be singing around a bonfire. As the labor intensity of hiking is significantly less than its counterparts, usually lasting a day, you have more options for your undergarments.

Of course, since we have the tendency to amp the stakes hiking can turn into a rigorous trek. Unlike its brother, trekking takes over a period of days through terrains common means of transportation have been rendered absolutely useless.  Some treks might take up to 40 days and climb an altitude of 5000 meters above sea level. The unpredictability of trekking will not only test your muscles but the durability of your underwear.

Lastly, we enter the sphere of extreme sports. The idea of mountaineering springs to mind ice axes, ropes attached to rocks and shimmering glaciers. Why would someone try to climb Mount Everest? Well, is there any better reason other than just being there for the taking? The hazardous nature of mountaineering, though, will require the best in hiking underwear that can keep you warm and light as you try to conquer the world.

Materials

After you have measured your strengths and decided on the activity you wish to take, the next consideration is materials. There are in general two categories to look for, synthetic and merino wool.

In synthetics, the most prominent choices are nylon and polyester. They are both extremely lightweight, which comes handy at the first 10000 miles with a backpack weighing the size of a 10-year-old child.

Merino wool, sourced from fluffy sheep, has an agreeable personality with warm and cold climates, while the sheep fibers are your best chance of fighting bacteria.

Durability

It is important, mostly for your bank account, the hiking underwear you will choose to live through many excursions. Of course, being durable also means you will be able to shed off weight from your gear on those long journeys.

The stretchability of nylon is default proof of its hard-won longevity. Polyester comes barely second, but its fibers have been proven to resist piling better. While piling doesn’t interfere with the underwear’s mission, it does make it less aesthetically pleasing. It comes to a personal preference whether that will have a significant impact on your undergarments.

Unlike the plastic-like fibers, merino wool is prone to heave wear. The lighter the wool fabric is, the more chances your underwear will acquire a few holes after a couple of seasons. Of course, you can always extend the lifespan of your merino wool garments by hand washing them and lining them up to dry. In fact, the further they can be from your washing machine the better.

Fit

As a final note to have in your mind while scouting the internet for hiking underwear, their feelings must suit your personality. Merino wool, for example, usually comes with a looser fitting and a softer touch. Synthetics, on the other hand, are known for their snug fit and plastic like feel.  Understanding your personal preferences will help you avoid unnecessary expenses.

Top Features

Odor Resistance

As bacteria scatter across your overworked muscles they begin to gnaw on the sweat secretions, breaking them apart to release a rancid odor. Sheep fibers are a natural enemy of the particular bacteria. On a long journey across the Pacific Coast Line, merino wool will starve them off for days and resist any unpleasant smells.

Polyester and nylon by themselves can’t fend off these hungry little organisms. They need to be treated with anti-odor substances. Usually silver based, these compounds are toxic to the bacteria and can keep your hiking undergarments smell-free and wearable for days. However, as with most substances, their toxicity will eventually dissipate.

Dry time

As we mentioned, having soaked underwear will drive a wedge between you and nature. The increased friction, though, is not your only problem. Heat always transfers to colder surfaces, in this case, your wet garments. And, losing your body heat on the glacier slopes adds an unwelcome hazardous challenge.

The drying time of your hiking underwear is tightly associated with their ability to repel water. Polyester fibers absorb only 0.4% of their weight allowing them to dry off at amazing speeds. Similarly, nylon’s water absorption is minimal. Wool, on the other hand, has the tendency to soak in your sweat up to 30% of its own weight. However, as the material is a natural insulator your body heat is not affected to a large degree by your wet underwear.

Breathability

The more breathable is the material for your hiking underwear, the chances of infectious bacteria colonizing your skin decrease. The plastic-like synthetic fibers tend to fall short in allowing the atmosphere in your skin. Woolen fibers, though, are more breathable.

One important element in the construction of hiking underwear that allows them to be comfortable and breathable is the way they are seamed. Flatlock seams prevent your skin from rubbing against the fabric and suffocating into an inferno of moisture.


Reviews

Synthetic Types for Men

ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Sport Mesh 6″ Boxer Brief

ExOfficio Give-N-Go Mesh 6

With ex officio deriving from Latin to mean by virtue of one’s power, the clothing retail company couldn’t have chosen a more apt name to assert themselves as leaders in the market. Their Give-N-Go line embraces synthetic fibers to produce one of the most popular hiking underwear. These lightweight champions carrying only 2.4 oz will be most appreciated by the casual hiker and trekker who prefers a snug fit. Also, their nylon fibers make them durable for those who want to make their journeys light.

What we like about it:

  • 921 customer reviews on Amazon
  • An ergonomic fly that comes in handy
  • Despite being mostly nylon based, its mesh type allows it to breathe in hot climates
  • The 92 % nylon is complemented by 8% Lycra for extra stretchability
  • They are seamed with a flatlock pattern for comfort and a smooth waistband to minimize chaffing
  • They come with antimicrobial treatment for those rancid odors
  • They come in 12 different color combinations

Cons:

  • Some users have complaint about pilling after use

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Under Armour Men’s ISO-Chill Mesh 6″ Boxerjock

Under Armour ISO-Chill Mesh 6

Under Armour is another heavyweight in the market. You might have come across the sports apparel brand in the big screen, from Any Given Sunday to the Replacements, as their design usually lends itself for the flashes and the lights. The ISO-Chill Mesh Boxerjock doesn’t veer from the brand’s character. The snug fitting underwear is created with a blend of nylon fibers and elastane with a performance waistband to minimize skin irritation. Under Armour prefers their boxers light, placing only 2 extra oz on your body. And since we are talking about a brand that constantly sings up celebrities to promote their products, hikers and trekkers who enjoy a little style will find them ideal.

What do we like about them:

  • Under Armour equipped its Boxerjock with a  an ISO-Chill mesh that enables them to disperse heat and allows your skin to breathe
  • With 90 % nylon and a moisture transport system in their seams to repel water, the Boxerjock dries off in no time
  • 7 different color combinations and a stylish design
  • The fabric can be stretched at 4 different points allowing you to have comfortable mobility

Cons:

  • They don’t have a fly
  • Some users complaint that the fabric has a short life span

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Arc’teryx Phase SL Boxer

Arc’teryx has been creating disruptive and evolutionary equipment for outdoors activities since 1991. While that statement might sound a bit vague, the company has the products to back it up. There is fervor behind the production of every line in their arsenal and it should come to no surprise the Phase SL Boxer are one of the best hiking underwear in the market. One of the lightest and quick drying protectors of your nether regions, the Phase SL will be the best option for adventurous mountaineers who want a tighter fit.

What do we like about them:

  • The next-generation Phasic™ SL polyester yarns help the super light garment to dry off in a matter of hours
  • With 100% Polyester  the Phase SL line is definitely stretchy
  • They fit tighter than their counterparts, allowing them to support your rigorous mountain climb
  • The flatlock seams give enough space to your skin to breathe
  • They come in 11 different color combinations

Cons:

  • Their lack of a fly
  • From the synthetic bunch, they are the most expensive with prices starting at $30

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Wool Types for Men

Apex Men’s Merino Wool Boxer Briefs

Apex Merino Wool

APEX MERINOWEAR have invested in 100% Australian merino wool for their hiking underwear. Now, we don’t know if the great continent produces fluffier sheep, but we can assert with confidence the premium natural fibers will keep you insulated in the cold mornings. They will also keep you fairly ventilated as your glans begin to sweat. The breathable comfort of Apex’s boxer briefs are suited for mountaineers who like a tighter fit on their woolen base layers.

What do we like about them:

  • The 100% Australian merino wool is highly breathable
  • Apex had the foresight to add an ergonomic fly
  • The sheep wool naturally fights off odors
  • Despite being wool they have a tight fitting form that helps you avoid the irritation of chaffing

Cons:

  • Users have complain the material can be delicate to washing machines
  • You need to dig deep in your pocket and spend $29.99
  • The design comes only in black

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Ridge Merino Men’s Ridge Boxer Brief 

Ridge Merino came recently into the limelight. Only in 2014, the company was created by Jeff and Susan Russel. However, do not let the infancy of the company distract you from their evident quality.  Jeff Russel, who previously worked in the design and production for performance underwear for Armada Skis, decided the market was missing something. Here enters the Ridge Boxer Brief. Unlike most woolen underwear, it incorporates nylon fibers in its core to blend the best of both worlds. As the inspiration behind this lovely blend of fibers were professional skiers, it seems only fitting that the Ridge Merino boxer brief will be enjoyed by those who prefer the cold of winter. Also, the company gives 1 % of their proceedings to the environment, so the environmentally conscious can find a home here.

What do we like about them:

  • The fabric fibers incorporate 18% nylon core that improves its durability
  • There is a fly
  • The 78 % Merino Wool gives this blend the natural antimicrobial coverage

Cons:

  • With 180 grams, Ridge Merino is the heaviest of the category
  • Users have complaint the fit is looser than expected
  • They come only in an asphalt color

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Helly Hansen HH Warm Boxers

Helly Hansen HH

From the northern regions of Europe, Helly Hansen stems out as a leading player in ski and sailing apparel. Of course, their product lines have been inclusive to the hiking enthusiasts. The Norwegian company builds their boxers with its signature technology HH. The technology gives better temperature control, by allowing warmth to be stored in air pockets. In combination with their Lifa® Stay Dry Technology, this base layer will be best suited for any kind of activity in the cold weather.

What do we like about them:

  • Helly Hansen reduces the weight of their boxers by mixing a 57% of merino wool with 43 % of Polypropylene
  • The synthetic compound also allows the fabric to stretch for those sharp inclines
  • The Lifa® Stay Dry Technology allows sweat to move from the skin and dries off the woolen material faster

Cons:

  • Helly Hansen omitted from including a fly
  • They come only in black

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For Women

When it comes to women’s hiking underwear, or simply underwear, the industry has a tendency to set comfort and utility aside for the sake of aesthetics. However, when trekking the New Hampshire White Mountains the least of your worries are appearances.  You will need to be comfortable, protected and above all fresh. Here goes then our list for the three best hiking underwear for women.

Icebreaker Merino Women’s Sprite Hot Pants

Icebreaker Merino Sprite

Icebreaker is based New Zealand and has made their name through their premium products that incorporate merino wool sourced from the sheep of New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Now, if you want to track down that fluffy sheep which keeps your nether regions warm and comfortable, Icebreaker has a BAACODE on their products that leads straight to their sheep stations. If their spectacular turn of phrase for their barcode has not convinced you, then their soft touch will.

What do we like about them:

  • The 96% merino wool is supplemented by 6% Lycra that gives the hiking underwear a touch of elasticity
  • They come in 17 different colors and designs
  • A motion stabilizer keeps the leg hem from rolling up

Cons:

  • Some users complaint the leg holes are small
  • Their prize range reaches up to $40

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ExOfficio Women’s Give-n-Go Sport Mesh Bikini Brief

ExOfficio Give-n-Go Mesh

This is the female counterpart of the ExOfficio’s attempt to conquer the hiking underwear market. The materials used are a combination of nylon and spandex, 93% and 7% correspondingly. Their mesh has a diamond weave with low rise and a flatlock seam which makes these bikini briefs the perfect companion for women who tend to feel swampy on their hikes.

What do we like about them:

  • They barely weight 2 oz
  • The silver based antimicrobial treatment reduces rancid odor significantly
  • They come in 7 different colors
  • They are friendly to your wallet with prices starting at $11

Cons:

  • Users have complain the fitting might be tricky
  • They are prone to piling

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Ibex Outdoor Clothing Women’s Merino Wool Balance Briefs

Ibex Merino Wool

Ibex came to life in 1997 with the sole purpose of creating the best wool based material for outdoor use. Their balance brief line is the cumulation of that effort. They have a seamless body mapping construction that blends a 72% merino wool with Nylon and Spandex. These impressive briefs will be adored by women who prefer more coverage.

What do we like about them:

  • The merino wool minimizes the rise of bacteria
  • Their design makes them extremely comfortable to wear

Cons:

  • Users complain the sizes are small
  • They come in only3 colors

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Final thoughts

As the different companies produce hiking underwear for a specific activity in mind, we decided our top pick should bond in a holy matrimony the best of all worlds. For both men and women, the ExOfficio line has passed the test of durability, odor resistance, drying time and breathability to produce a stellar underwear for any kind of excursion. Also, the fact their product line comes in a variety of colors and designs adds a bonus.

With that in mind we will leave you with two points of consideration before diving into your wallet and spending on the much-needed hiking underwear:

  • What is the kind of activity you want to do? If you are planning to climb Kilimanjaro, then a merino wool base layer will most likely keep your nether regions in a cozy world.
  • How much are you willing to pay? The price range of these underwear varies greatly, depending on the fabric and quality. Perhaps, spending a few more lolly on an established brand will save you up money in the process.
Scott Moey
 

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