Underwear

Best Hiking Underwear

Written by: Dave NartinJanuary 3, 2020Updated: March 20, 2020

Guide Overview

You may not think your choice of underwear is that important when you’re packing your gear for a hike.

But take the wrong underwear just once and you’ll quickly realize its importance. 

Hikers put a lot of time, consideration and resources into proper gear. Underwear isn’t the place to try and cut back. 

Underwear is key as the first layer of your gear. It’s in direct contact with your skin every hour of your hike, so you want to be sure it fits properly and doesn’t rub against your skin. You don’t want it to retain moisture, which can create chafing or make you cold.  

It’s something you’ll wear every day, no matter what the weather is like. You may even need to wear it overnight. On long expeditions, you may need to wash it, or pack several pairs. Just any department store underwear won’t cut it. 

So there’s a lot more to hiking underwear than you may think. Here’s what’s important when choosing the best underwear for hiking.

Things To Consider

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Style and Cut

Everyone has a personal preference for style of underwear, and men’s underwear is different than women’s. What’s best for hiking is a higher cut for women, and a boxer style for men, both with a relatively snug fit. Here’s why.

A looser style could result in chafing from the material rubbing against your skin. A boxer style will allow men flexibility but enough compression to sit flat against your legs. Those who are regularly bothered by chafing can even choose a longer cut. Boxers will also wick perspiration away from your skin. For women, a higher cut adds comfort and support, without the grief of having your bikini style underwear ride up while hiking. 

These styles will also lay flat under your hiking pants, and not ride up against your backpack. 

Seams and Durability

The seams on underwear can also cause chafing issues when you’re on a long hike, so choose those with flatlock seams that won’t rub against your skin. Flatlock seams are made by sewing the edges of the fabric directly to each other, without an overlap that creates a fabric ridge on the inside of the seam. Therefore, nothing to rub against your skin.

Flatlock seams are also strong enough to make the underwear more durable. There’s nothing worse than ripping your underwear midway through a hike! And while you may hand wash your underwear when you’re on an overnight hiking trip, you want to ensure the material of your hiking underwear is machine washable and durable enough that it doesn’t break down with regular washing.

Material

The best underwear for hiking is made of material that’s moisture wicking, to transport sweat away from your skin and keep you comfortable. It’s also ideal if it’s quick drying, so you can wash it on the hike and be able to wear it again in short order. 

And whether it’s men’s hiking underwear or women’s hiking underwear, an antimicrobial material is best, to reduce odors and ensure it stays fresh even after using it for several days. 

So, you can choose merino wool underwear, which is a natural antimicrobial product that isn’t itchy like regular wool. It can provide warmth even when wet, or knitted into thin fabrics suitable for hot weather. 

Or, you can opt for synthetic materials with similar properties. Synthetic underwear is treated to be antimicrobial, so those properties will eventually wash out. But it tends to be more durable, and dries slightly faster than merino underwear.

Men’s Vs. Women’s Underwear

There are some clear differences between the best hiking underwear for men and the best hiking underwear for women. Size, cut, and style can all vary greatly, depending on the size of the hiker. Men will want to decide whether they want a fly opening. Trying to make hiking underwear into a unisex product is difficult, so it’s best to seek out underwear specifically for either men and women.

Colors and Patterns

Colors or patterns may not be that important to everyone, but some people prefer to have clothing in colors they like, or in color patterns that suit their lifestyle. For instance, if you have light colored hiking pants, you won’t want a pair of black hiking underwear. The best hiking underwear for women would be lighter colored with no patterns, if they wear white pants or shorts. Or, if your gear is all in a similar color style, it’s easier to throw in the washing machine than worrying about mixing colors, darks and whites together.  

Now that we know what’s important to consider when buying underwear for hiking, let’s look at our top choices for the best hiking underwear, including some for men and some for women.

6 Best Underwear for Hiking

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ExOfficio – Give-N-Go Printed Boxer Briefs – Men’sExOfficio - Give-N-Go Printed Boxer Briefs - Men'sExOfficio - Give-N-Go Printed Boxer Briefs - Men'sExOfficio – Give-N-Go Printed Boxer Briefs – Men’s

This men’s underwear is a boxer brief style that’s made of 94% nylon and 6% spandex, and treated to be antimicrobial to reduce odors. It’s a breathable mesh style of fabric that provides airflow and wicks moisture away. 

They’re lightweight yet durable, and fast drying so you can wash and wear quickly. The inseam is 5.5 inches and there is a fly opening. They fit snug but not too tight on the legs. Sizes range from small to 3XL to fit every body type.

Pros:

  • Easy care, antimicrobial material.
  • Wide range of sizes for every hiker.

Cons:

  • May not be tight enough on the legs for some users, causing bunching and chafing.
  • Easy care, antimicrobial material.
  • Wide range of sizes for every hiker.
  • May not be tight enough on the legs for some users, causing bunching and chafing.
Icebreaker – Anatomica Boxer Briefs – Men’sIcebreaker - Anatomica Boxer Briefs - Men'sIcebreaker - Anatomica Boxer Briefs - Men'sIcebreaker – Anatomica Boxer Briefs – Men’s

This is a boxer brief style of underwear with a snug fit on the thighs. Made of mostly merino wool (83%), with an added blend of nylon and lycra spandex. Merino gives it the antimicrobial properties, along with a moisture wicking quality and a soft touch. Nylon adds durability and lycra gives it some stretch.

The briefs have flatlock seams and a contoured pouch, but no fly opening. Sizes range from small to 2XL and the inseam is 4.6 inches. Hikers will appreciate that the wool is certified to the Responsible Wool Standard.

Pros:

  • Merino wool makes these great for hot or cold conditions and naturally antimicrobial.
  • Nylon and spandex add to the versatility of the merino material.

Cons:

  • No fly opening.
  • Merino wool makes these great for hot or cold conditions and naturally antimicrobial.
  • Nylon and spandex add to the versatility of the merino material.
  • No fly opening.
Smartwool – Merino 150 Boxer Briefs – Men’sSmartwool - Merino 150 Boxer Briefs - Men'sSmartwool - Merino 150 Boxer Briefs - Men'sSmartwool – Merino 150 Boxer Briefs – Men’s

This wool performance underwear is made with 87% merino wool and 13% nylon. The merino ensures odor resistance and moisture management and the nylon adds durability.
This boxer style brief fits snug around the thighs. It has flatlock seams, a waistband that’s lined with merino, and a fly opening. Size range is small to 2XL.

The Smartwool brand started with sock production out of merino wool, so they’re known by many outdoor enthusiasts.

Pros:

  • Merino wool makes these great for hot or cold conditions and naturally antimicrobial.
  • Comes with the Smartwool name.

Cons:

  • Needs to be washed on the gentle cycle.
  • Merino wool makes these great for hot or cold conditions and naturally antimicrobial.
  • Comes with the Smartwool name.
  • Needs to be washed on the gentle cycle.
RAB – Merino+ 120 Boxers – WomensRAB - Merino+ 120 Boxers - WomensRAB - Merino+ 120 Boxers - WomensRAB – Merino+ 120 Boxers – Womens

Made with 65% merino wool and 35% polyester, these boxer style briefs combine the qualities of merino wool with the performance of polyester. Lightweight, breathable, and snug fitting with moisture and odor control properties. The wide elasticized waistband sits low on the hips.

Pros:

  • Brings together the qualities of merino with the added durability of polyester.
  • Lightweight and snug fitting.

Cons:

  • Boxer style isn’t amenable to all women.
  • Brings together the qualities of merino with the added durability of polyester.
  • Lightweight and snug fitting.
  • Boxer style isn’t amenable to all women.
Runderwear – Briefs – Women’sRunderwear - Briefs - Women'sRunderwear - Briefs - Women'sRunderwear – Briefs – Women’s

These briefs are actually performance running underwear but that gives them all the properties ideal for hiking. While they are a synthetic material, they’re also moisture-wicking, lightweight and breathable.

They have a waistline that sits a bit higher for added support, and are made with flatlock seamless technology that means no side seams or tags. Designed for runners on the road for long periods of time, the kind of comfort that makes them perfect for long hikes. They are also durable and machine washable.

Available in small through XL sizes.

Pros:

  • Award winning as a runner’s brief.
  • Has the qualities needed for long hikes: seamless, lightweight, moisture-wicking.

Cons:

  • Synthetic, not merino wool.
  • Award winning as a runner’s brief.
  • Has the qualities needed for long hikes: seamless, lightweight, moisture-wicking.
  • Synthetic, not merino wool.
ExOfficio – Give-N-Go Full Cut Brief – Women’sExOfficio - Give-N-Go Full Cut Brief - Women'sExOfficio - Give-N-Go Full Cut Brief - Women'sExOfficio – Give-N-Go Full Cut Brief – Women’s

While these are synthetic, they do provide all the features desired in hiking underwear. Made of lycra, nylon, and spandex, the mesh style of fabric has an odor-reducing antimicrobial treatment known as Silvadur technology. They are also breathable, quick drying, and wick moisture away. 

The waistband stretches to fit but still retains its shape. The full cut brief sits high and provides full coverage, but the Give-N-Go is also available in the following styles: bikini brief, bikini, thong, and hi cut brief.

Pros:

  • If you don’t want the full cut brief, you have four other styles from which to choose.
  • Performance fabric has the qualities needed in hiking underwear.

Cons:

  • Synthetic, not merino wool.
  • If you don’t want the full cut brief, you have four other styles from which to choose.
  • Performance fabric has the qualities needed in hiking underwear.
  • Synthetic, not merino wool.

Winning Product

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When it comes to picking the best hiking underwear in the women’s styles as well as men’s, we chose ExOfficio Give-N-Go. While they aren’t made of merino wool, they have all the qualities in both men’s and women’s versions that will be ideal for hikers:

  • Odor protection: treated to be antimicrobial to reduce odors. 
  • Breathable: the mesh style of fabric provides airflow and wicks moisture away. 
  • Lightweight yet durable: the synthetic fabric provides extra durability and they’re fast drying so you can wash and wear quickly. 

Something for everyone: Men have a variety of sizes to fit every body type, and women have the option of 5 different styles of brief.

Dave Nartin
Founder at Mountain Leon
Hi. Im Dave. Mountain Lion is the name of this travel blog. It came from my love for both the English and Spanish language, my favourite animal (Lion), and my favourite activity (mountain climbing). Enjoy!
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