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We’ve put on our research hats and found the best men's hiking underwear out there at the moment. Boring we know, but essential.

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Steph C

Best Hiking Underwear for Men in 2021

Shreddies, skivvies, undercrackers… whatever you want to call them, your underwear is probably the last thing you think about when planning a hike. Yet, all great adventures start with the basics, and the one piece of gear you don’t want to overlook is the first thing you put on.  

Wear the wrong underwear for hiking and your trip will be memorable for the wrong reasons. Instead of the fun you had, the trail banter or the great views, all you’ll remember is how much pain you were in from being rubbed raw. Yikes.

The best hiking underwear is the stuff you can put on and forget you’re wearing. It’ll be soft, breathable, quick drying, stay in one place and won’t leave you feeling sore in places you’d rather not mention.

We’ve put on our research hats and come up with some of the best men's hiking underwear options out there to keep your nether regions happy, dry and pain free.

Best Hiking Underwear for Men- Our Top Picks

Best for: everyday use – Smartwool Merino 150 Boxer Briefs

Best for: multi day hiking and bikepacking – ExOfficio Give-n-Go Sport Boxer Briefs

Best for: Fastpackers and weight conscious back packers – Outdoor Research Echo Boxer Brief

Best for: multi activities – SAXX Underwear Mens Ultra Boxer Brief  

Best for: hot conditions – Under Armour HeatGear Compression Shorts

Best for: odor control – Icebreaker Anatomica Boxer Briefs

Best for: best budget buy – Forclaz Trek 500 Merino

Best for: mountain hikes - Minus 33 Acadian Boxer Briefs

Best for: trail runners and faster hikers – Arc’teryx Modus SL Boxers

Men's Hiking Underwear Buying Guide

Material

Underwear for hiking is generally made from either merino wool or synthetic materials. So what’s the difference?

Merino Wool

Think wool and you’d be forgiven for imagining old-fashioned bulky underwear. Merino wool is in a league of its own; it’s lightweight yet super soft and comfortable against the skin. It’s also breathable – it has great moisture wicking abilities and will suck sweat away from the skin, yet it still feels good even when it’s damp.

Merino wool is naturally antimicrobial, meaning you can wear your underwear day after day without washing. There are a couple of downsides of merino wool; it’s usually more expensive and as it’s not as hard-wearing as synthetic fabrics you’ll need to replace it more often.

Synthetic Fabric

Clothing made from synthetic fabrics is usually cheaper and lasts longer. Synthetic hiking underwear generally has good moisture control, is breathable and quick drying. Synthetic fabrics are often treated to make them odour resistant, but this can wear off over time as they’re washed.  

The downside of synthetics is that they don’t feel as soft and comfortable against the skin as merino wool, particularly when they’re wet.

Often manufacturers combine merino with synthetic fabric to get the best of both worlds – super softness and durability. Some products use corespun merino, where the wool is wrapped round a nylon core, while others pair merino up with synthetic fabric for stretch and freedom of movement.

Cut

Men’s hiking underwear generally comes in either brief, boxer or compression boxer briefs. Briefs keep everything supported and in its place, but there’s not much protection if you suffer from chafing. Whatever you go for, try and look for flat lock seams, as these will prevent chafing and make the underwear feel light on the skin.

Boxer

Boxers tend to be looser cut and resemble shorts in style. They offer good ventilation and the best freedom of movement, plus they help prevent inner-thigh chafing. However the looser material can bunch up.  

Boxer Brief

Boxer briefs are fast becoming the most popular cut as they give you the best of both worlds – more coverage and a snugger fit. They’re designed to keep everything in place when you move.

Compression Boxer Briefs

Compression boxer briefs are designed to hug your body close whilst applying gentle pressure. This can help prevent the usual muscle fatigue and soreness that comes after a tough workout or day spent on the hills. They’re also designed to increase the flow of oxygen to different parts of your body, giving greater muscle function and performance.  This can help tired muscles recover as they increase blood flow to the muscle tissue, encouraging it to heal. If you suffer from chafing, compression briefs might be worth a try as they fit tightly against the body so friction isn’t such an issue.

They do have their disadvantages though; underwear that’s too constricting can start to chafe if worn for days without being washed, though boxers that are too loose can ride up and cause chafing too.

Whatever the cut, most hiking underwear has flat lock seams to help reduce rubbing and they're designed to allow for repetitive movement.

The best hiking underwear for you very much depends on what you’re used to and are comfortable with. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to the cut – just wear what feels right for you.

The Verdict

The best men's hiking underwear for you depends on personal preference and what you’ll be doing with it. Going on a multi-day hike? You’ll want underwear that's lightweight, odour repelling and prevents chafing, such as the Icebreaker Anatomica or the Arc’teryx Modus SL Ultra.

The Under Armour HeatGear will keep you cool and dry out there. Into other sports as well as hiking? The SAXX Ultra is a great all-rounder. Looking to shave a few ounces on weight? Check out the Outdoor Research Echo as they’re the lightest men's underwear we’ve found.

Think about what you’re comfy with and go with that. You’ll also need to consider whether you want underwear with a fly or whether you can do without. No fly means fewer seams, which prevents chafing but it isn’t as convenient when nature calls.

Q&A

Can I wear my usual underwear for hiking?

Well, you can, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Everyday briefs are usually made from cotton, which just isn’t breathable or moisture wicking. You’ll end up wet, uncomfortable and possibly red raw from chafing – most unpleasant.

Underwear for hiking is cut specifically to allow for the repeated movement of walking or running, plus it’s made from fabrics that are moisture wicking and quick drying. As for odour control, well, after a few days on the trail your normal skivvies will probably march to the washing machine on their own!

How do I wash my hiking underwear?

If they’re synthetics, they should be fine on a regular washing machine cycle, but anything containing merino needs a cooler cycle.

Don’t use laundry detergent as this destroys the wicking properties of outdoor gear - use liquid soap instead.

It’s not a good idea to put your hiking underwear in the drier, unless you want them ultra tight! Pull them into shape and let them dry naturally – they're quick drying so this won’t take long. Checking the washing instructions on the label before their first wash.

Ok, so how do I wash my hiking underwear when out on the trail?

Great question! There aren’t too many laundry facilities out there on the hills. You may get lucky at some of the larger campsites but otherwise it’s down to you to keep your underwear fresh.

If your skivvies are made from merino wool, you can get away with wearing them several days at a time without washing them, but you’ll want to clean synthetics more often than that, especially if you’re sharing a tent.

Just swish them around in soapy water (you can buy soap that washes everything), give them a rinse, squeeze as much of the liquid out as you can and hang them to dry. If it’s wet, hang them in your tent, and if it’s sunny your undies can be hung on the outside of your backpack. Just make sure you attach them securely so you don’t lose them.

If it’s a decent day you can expect them to dry overnight or within a few hours.

ourComparison

Arc’teryx Motus SL Boxer

High performance, comfort and fair trade – what’s not to love?

Minus 33 Acadian Boxer Briefs

a great base layer for summer or winter

Forclaz Trek 500 Merino

all the benefits of merino wool for a great price

Icebreaker Anatomica Boxer Briefs

ticks all the boxes - breathable, supportive and ethical

Under Armour HeatGear Compression Shorts

the superior moisture wicking technology make these shorts an ideal base layer

SAXX Underwear Mens Ultra Boxer Brief

the BallPark pouch is a complete game changer

Outdoor Research Echo Boxer Brief

We’re loving the cool colour combos

ExOfficio Give-n-Go Sport Mesh Boxer Briefs

An inexpensive and lightweight option for the trail

Smartwool Merino 150 Boxer Briefs

durable yet soft, these remain a popular choice of underwear for many hikers

final score

88

%

final score

86

%

final score

86

%

final score

90

%

final score

82

%

final score

82

%

final score

82

%

final score

79

%

final score

86

%

The Good

  • Gusseted crotch for extra freedom of movement
  • DAO finish for effective odour reduction

The Good

  • Athletic fit for close to the skin support
  • Merino covered waistband for comfort

The Good

  • Merino wool surrounded by polyamide yarn for extra durability
  • Added elastane gives elasticity and freedom of movement

The Good

  • Lycra content for good stretch and mobility
  • Mesh panels for extra ventilation

The Good

  • Strategic stretch mesh gusset and inseam panels for great ventilation
  • Ergonomic design keeps seams clear of high abrasion areas to avoid rubbing and chafing

The Good

  • Flat Out seam construction keeps the raised seam away from the body
  • Anti-roll moisture wicking waistband holds things tight no matter how much you move

The Good

  • Anti-chafing flat lock seam design
  • AirVent moisture wicking technology

The Good

  • Ergonomic diamond-knit mesh fly panel gives support where it’s needed most
  • Odour resistant Silvadur technology keeps things fresh

The Good

  • Flatlock seams minimise chafing
  • Fully functional fly for convenience on the trail

The bad

  • Designed to be lightweight rather than durable
  • Pricey

The bad

  • Too tight around the leg for some users
  • High merino wool content means they’re not as durable as other brands

The bad

  • The waistband is prone to rolling up
  • Some users have found the waistband to be too tight

The bad

  • Lots of seams in the crotch area which could cause problems
  • Not as durable as other hiking underwear

The bad

  • Not as durable as other underwear
  • Some users find that they don’t offer as much compression as other brands

The bad

  • The fabric can ride up into wedgie territory
  • The BallPark pouch design can take some getting used to

The bad

  • Thin material means legs are prone to rolling up
  • Not great for odour control

The bad

  • The material is prone to pilling after being washed
  • Users report that the thin material can cause the legs to ride up

The bad

  • The fit can be a bit too snug for some users
  • Extra thick waistband can feel uncomfortable round the waist

Comfort

90

%

Odour resistance

80

%

Breathability

85

%

Eco score

95

%

Comfort

80

%

Odour resistance

95

%

Breathability

90

%

Eco score

80

%

Comfort

85

%

Odour resistance

85

%

Breathability

80

%

Eco score

95

%

Comfort

90

%

Odour resistance

90

%

Breathability

85

%

Eco score

95

%

Comfort

85

%

Odour resistance

85

%

Breathability

85

%

Eco score

75

%

Comfort

90

%

Odour resistance

75

%

Breathability

85

%

Eco score

80

%

Comfort

80

%

Odour resistance

70

%

Breathability

85

%

Eco score

95

%

Comfort

85

%

Odour resistance

75

%

Breathability

80

%

Eco score

75

%

Comfort

80

%

Odour resistance

90

%

Breathability

85

%

Eco score

90

%

Material

100% Phasic FL polyester

Colours available

glade, black, binary, limitless

Price

$$$

Cut

boxer

Material

100% merino wool

Colours available

black, navy, azure blue, desert sand, zephyr green, mossy oak

Price

$$$

Cut

boxer brief

Material

86% merino wool, 10% polyamide, 4% elastane

Colours available

black, whale grey

Price

$

Cut

boxer brief

Material

83% merino wool, 12% nylon, 5% Lycra

Colours available

black jet heather, midnight navy, metro heather, coyote, serene blue

Price

$$

Cut

boxer brief – also available in brief cut

Material

98% polyester, 21% elastane. Netting: 92% polyester, 8% elastane

Colours available

black, carbon heather, white, royal, academy blue, graphite, Mediterranean, red

Price

$

Cut

compression shorts

Material

95% viscose, 5% elastane

Colours available

as well as the usual black, navy and grey there’s a whole load of funky colour combos

Price

$$

Cut

boxer brief – also available in brief cut

Material

100% AirVent polyester

Colours available

blue/ purple, blue/ red

Price

$

Cut

boxer brief

Material

92% Nylon, 8% Lycra Spandex

Colours available

phantom, black

Price

$$

Cut

boxer brief

Material

87% merino wool, 13% nylon

Colours available

black, pacific stripe, black marble wash, military olive, light grey heather, deep navy stripe, black stripe, light grey heather stripe, deep navy

Price

$$

Cut

boxer brief - also available in brief cut

Arc’teryx Motus SL Boxer

Best for: trail runners and faster hikers

Why we like it

High performance, comfort and fair trade – what’s not to love?

The Good

  • Gusseted crotch for extra freedom of movement
  • DAO finish for effective odour reduction

the bad

  • Designed to be lightweight rather than durable
  • Pricey

Material

100% Phasic FL polyester

Cut

boxer

Colours available

glade, black, binary, limitless

Price

$$$

Made for movement, the Modus SL boxer is designed for pushing it hard on long hikes and tough trail runs. Superlight Silkweight Phasic FL fabric technology will wick moisture away which speeds up drying time. It’s also stretchy and gives next to the skin comfort.

Arc’tery have created the Modus SL with backpackers and trail runners in mind - they’ll give a great performance in a variety of conditions and temperatures. The Phasic FL fabric has also been treated to give a degree of odour control for back-to-back days on the trail.

You’re buying ethically too - they’re produced in a Fair Trade facility as part of Arc’teryx’s commitment to transition 80% of their products to Fair Trade certification by 2025.

Comfort

90

%

Odour resistance

80

%

Breathability

85

%

Eco score

95

%

No items found.

final score

88

%

Arc’teryx Motus SL Boxer

Check latest price

Minus 33 Acadian Boxer Briefs

Best for: mountain hikes

Why we like it

a great base layer for summer or winter

The Good

  • Athletic fit for close to the skin support
  • Merino covered waistband for comfort

the bad

  • Too tight around the leg for some users
  • High merino wool content means they’re not as durable as other brands

Material

100% merino wool

Cut

boxer brief

Colours available

black, navy, azure blue, desert sand, zephyr green, mossy oak

Price

$$$

The merino wool used in these boxers is graded ultrafine which means they’ll feel good against the skin, even when slightly damp. Although the wool’s fairly thin at 170gm, they’re still thicker than other merino briefs, which makes them more hard wearing but they do lose some of the softness. Designed to be worn as a base layer, they’re a good choice for summer hikes as well as winter adventures as they’ll help regulate temperature in hot or cold weather.

The Minus 33s are equipped with a fly and the flatlock seams means they’re less likely to rub. They’re made using Total Easy Care technology; the wool is treated so that the colour and shape is kept after washing and drying. Unlike some merino briefs they can even be tumble dried on a low setting.

Comfort

80

%

Odour resistance

95

%

Breathability

90

%

Eco score

80

%

No items found.

final score

86

%

Minus 33 Acadian Boxer Briefs

Check latest price

Forclaz Trek 500 Merino

Best for: best budget buy

Why we like it

all the benefits of merino wool for a great price

The Good

  • Merino wool surrounded by polyamide yarn for extra durability
  • Added elastane gives elasticity and freedom of movement

the bad

  • The waistband is prone to rolling up
  • Some users have found the waistband to be too tight

Material

86% merino wool, 10% polyamide, 4% elastane

Cut

boxer brief

Colours available

black, whale grey

Price

$

These merino boxers by Decathlon are a great option for hikers on tough extended trips. Tried and tested in the mountains, the Forclaz Trek are super light, weighing in at around 80g so you don’t need to worry about adding extra weight to your pack. At this price and weight you could pop in a couple of spares, although the merino content means you won’t need to wash them too often so you could save the weight for beer instead!

Ultrafine 18.5 micron merino wool is soft and comfy plus you benefit from merino’s natural breathability and moisture wicking properties to keep you dry.  Decathlon only use ethically sourced and cruelty free wool, making them a great budget option for fans of merino wool.

Comfort

85

%

Odour resistance

85

%

Breathability

80

%

Eco score

95

%

No items found.

final score

86

%

Forclaz Trek 500 Merino

Check latest price

Icebreaker Anatomica Boxer Briefs

Best for: odour control

Why we like it

ticks all the boxes - breathable, supportive and ethical

The Good

  • Lycra content for good stretch and mobility
  • Mesh panels for extra ventilation

the bad

  • Lots of seams in the crotch area which could cause problems
  • Not as durable as other hiking underwear

Material

83% merino wool, 12% nylon, 5% Lycra

Cut

boxer brief – also available in brief cut

Colours available

black jet heather, midnight navy, metro heather, coyote, serene blue

Price

$$

New Zealand based Icebreaker are one of the best-known manufacturers of merino wool-based gear, and these briefs are a worthy addition to their brand. Like the Smartwool Merino, the Icebreaker uses ultralight and breathable 150 corespun merino wool for extra strength without sacrificing softness.

The blend of merino wool and nylon makes them comfy, yet durable, and the touch of Lycra gives a generous freedom of movement. Icebreaker use wool that’s ethically sourced from local merino sheep so you know you’re buying ethically.

A contoured pouch supports the boys nicely and flat lock seams help prevent rubbing and chafing. Of course, you also get merino’s natural antimicrobial properties and great moisture wicking abilities.

Comfort

90

%

Odour resistance

90

%

Breathability

85

%

Eco score

95

%

No items found.

final score

90

%

Icebreaker Anatomica Boxer Briefs

Check latest price

Why we like it

the superior moisture wicking technology make these shorts an ideal base layer

The Good

  • Strategic stretch mesh gusset and inseam panels for great ventilation
  • Ergonomic design keeps seams clear of high abrasion areas to avoid rubbing and chafing

the bad

  • Not as durable as other underwear
  • Some users find that they don’t offer as much compression as other brands

Material

98% polyester, 21% elastane. Netting: 92% polyester, 8% elastane

Cut

compression shorts

Colours available

black, carbon heather, white, royal, academy blue, graphite, Mediterranean, red

Price

$

Featuring Under Armour’s innovative HeatGear fabric, these super-breathable shorts are designed to suck the sweat away so you can dry out fast. The fabric is also 4-way stretchable to allow for full freedom of movement. These are compression-style shorts which fit close enough to move with you and feel like a second skin.

Net inserts in the gusset and the inseam panels allow for extra ventilation to keep things cool down there. A broad waist band helps them sit comfortably and stops the material from riding up.

UPF 30+ helps protect skin from harmful UV rays. They have a better odour control than other synthetic underwear for hiking, so your mates will appreciate them too.

Comfort

85

%

Odour resistance

85

%

Breathability

85

%

Eco score

75

%

No items found.

final score

82

%

Under Armour HeatGear Compression Shorts

Check latest price

SAXX Underwear Mens Ultra Boxer Brief

Best for: Multi activities

Why we like it

the BallPark pouch is a complete game changer

The Good

  • Flat Out seam construction keeps the raised seam away from the body
  • Anti-roll moisture wicking waistband holds things tight no matter how much you move

the bad

  • The fabric can ride up into wedgie territory
  • The BallPark pouch design can take some getting used to

Material

95% viscose, 5% elastane

Cut

boxer brief – also available in brief cut

Colours available

as well as the usual black, navy and grey there’s a whole load of funky colour combos

Price

$$

Made from the same wicking material as SAXX’s Vibe, the Ultra is designed for a more relaxed fit for greater freedom of movement. It’s looser around the leg and has Saxx’s unique three-D fit – fabric panels are shaped around the glutes, quads, thighs and hamstrings. Their philosophy is fit, feel and function and the Ultra ticks all three boxes. There’s a choice of pretty cool designs too.

SAXX briefs are equipped with their patented and rather wittingly named BallPark pouch – a 3D hammock-shaped support keeps everything in place with sport mesh panels preventing friction from skin rubbing against skin. All this and they still manage to include a functional fly.

Comfort

90

%

Odour resistance

75

%

Breathability

85

%

Eco score

80

%

No items found.

final score

82

%

SAXX Underwear Mens Ultra Boxer Brief

Check latest price

Outdoor Research Echo Boxer Brief

Best for: Fastpackers and weight conscious back packers

Why we like it

We’re loving the cool colour combos

The Good

  • Anti-chafing flat lock seam design
  • AirVent moisture wicking technology

the bad

  • Thin material means legs are prone to rolling up
  • Not great for odour control

Material

100% AirVent polyester

Cut

boxer brief

Colours available

blue/ purple, blue/ red

Price

$

Outdoor Research have produced a whole range of outdoor gear made from their Echo fabric; it’s designed to be both light and breathable and the Echo brief does not disappoint.

Weighing in at an incredible 2.2 ounces, they’re amongst the lightest underwear we’ve seen – you can easily throw in an extra pair or two when you’re packing. They’ll appeal to fastpackers and weight conscious backpackers although the material feels very thin, so we do wonder how durable it’ll be.

The synthetic material feels soft against the skin, and the seams are flat lock to reduce risks of chafing. The thinness of the material means that they’re quick drying even in the sweatiest conditions.

Comfort

80

%

Odour resistance

70

%

Breathability

85

%

Eco score

95

%

No items found.

final score

82

%

Outdoor Research Echo Boxer Brief

Check latest price

ExOfficio Give-n-Go Sport Mesh Boxer Briefs

Best for: multi day hiking and bikepacking

Why we like it

An inexpensive and lightweight option for the trail

The Good

  • Ergonomic diamond-knit mesh fly panel gives support where it’s needed most
  • Odour resistant Silvadur technology keeps things fresh

the bad

  • The material is prone to pilling after being washed
  • Users report that the thin material can cause the legs to ride up

Material

92% Nylon, 8% Lycra Spandex

Cut

boxer brief

Colours available

phantom, black

Price

$$

These breathable boxers are great for any outdoor activity. The antimicrobial properties in the fabric helps keeps unwanted pongs at bay; they’re not as effective as merino wool underwear but that’s to be expected. The Give-n-Go have a breathable mesh which allows air to circulate, meaning they’ll keep you dry through the most strenuous of activities. The thin fabric means they’re quick drying - Just throw them in the machine or the sink, and they’re dry in no time.

They’re lightweight which makes them a great choice for backpackers or those looking to shave some weight. The active fit gives you all the support you need, and although synthetics aren’t usually as comfortable as merino, these come pretty close.

Comfort

85

%

Odour resistance

75

%

Breathability

80

%

Eco score

75

%

No items found.

final score

79

%

ExOfficio Give-n-Go Sport Mesh Boxer Briefs

Check latest price

Smartwool Merino 150 Boxer Briefs

Best for: everyday use

Why we like it

durable yet soft, these remain a popular choice of underwear for many hikers

The Good

  • Flatlock seams minimise chafing
  • Fully functional fly for convenience on the trail

the bad

  • The fit can be a bit too snug for some users
  • Extra thick waistband can feel uncomfortable round the waist

Material

87% merino wool, 13% nylon

Cut

boxer brief - also available in brief cut

Colours available

black, pacific stripe, black marble wash, military olive, light grey heather, deep navy stripe, black stripe, light grey heather stripe, deep navy

Price

$$

Super soft and comfortable merino wool means next to the skin comfort. Lightweight with great moisture wicking properties, the Smartwool Merinos are a great base layer for warm conditions. They’re tough - merino fibres are wrapped around a nylon core for added durability without sacrificing comfort. Smooth seams and wide, elasticated merino covered waistband let you move freely without chafing.

Merino wool comes into its own for keeping smells at bay thanks to its anti microbial properties, meaning you can wear these bad boys day after day with confidence. They’re a nice fit – not too loose but not too constricting and the leg length is just right to avoid irritating roll ups.

Comfort

80

%

Odour resistance

90

%

Breathability

85

%

Eco score

90

%

No items found.

final score

86

%

Smartwool Merino 150 Boxer Briefs

Check latest price

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