Choosing the right clothing for hiking can be the difference between life and death. You’ve probably heard the phrase “cotton kills.” Cotton clothing is not the best choice for hiking or skiing because if it gets wet, it stays wet. While cotton underwear probably won’t kill you, it might not be the best choice in undergarments for hiking. Whether you’re just a day hiker or a thru-hiker on a three-month adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail, you’ll want a pair of underwear that’s both comfortable and breathable. So, what’s the best underwear for hiking?

One of our big goals here at The Adventure Junkies is to help make your life easier when it comes to gearing up for the outdoors. In this article, we’ll walk you through what to look for when shopping for hiking underwear and show you our selection of some of the best models available.

For more of our top hiking gear recommendations, check out the Best Hiking Socks

hiking gift guide
Hiking Gift Guide

Quick Answer - The Best Underwear for Hiking

  1. ExOfficio Give-n-Go Mesh Boxers
  2. Patagonia Active Hipster Briefs
  3. Smartwool NTS 150 Micro Boxers
  4. ExOfficio Give-n-Go Sport Bikini
  5. Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers
  6. REI Co-op Boxer Briefs
  7. Under Armour Compression
  8. Arcteryx Phase SL Briefs

 

Comparison Table - Best Underwear for Hiking

PictureNameGenderCutPriceRating
ExOfficio Give-n-Go Mesh BoxersMen'sBoxer Briefs$4.0
Patagonia Active Hipster BriefsWomen'sHipster Brief$$4.9
Smartwool NTS 150 Micro BoxersMen'sBoxer Briefs$$$4.0
ExOfficio Give-n-Go Sport BikiniWomen'sBikini Brief$4.0
Icebreaker Anatomica BoxersMen'sBoxer$$$4.5
REI Co-op Boxer BriefsMen'sBoxer Briefs$4.0
Under Armour CompressionMen'sBoxer Briefs$4.0
Arcteryx Phase SL BriefsWomen'sBikini Brief$$5.0
PictureNameGenderCutPriceRating

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Reviews - The Best Hiking Underwear

ExOfficio Give-n-Go Mesh Boxers

Specs
  • Cut: Boxer Briefs
  • Gender: Men's
  • Material: 92% Nylon, 8% Lycra
Features
  • Aegis Microbe Shield
  • Elastic waistband
  • Ergonomic fly panel

PROS: Lightweight, breathable mesh boxer briefs

CONS: Prone to pilling after washing

Patagonia Active Hipster Briefs

Specs
  • Cut: Hipster Brief
  • Gender: Women's
  • Material: 93% Polyester, 7% Spandex
Features
  • Fast drying fabric
  • Seamless waistband
  • Single-sided bindings on the leg openings

PROS: Great all-around moisture-wicking underwear for women

CONS: Does not contain antimicrobial properties

Smartwool NTS 150 Micro Boxers


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Cut: Boxer Briefs
  • Gender: Men's
  • Material: 96% Merino Wool, 4% Elastane
Features
  • Flatlock internal seams
  • Mid-rise
  • UPF 50+
  • Functional fly
  • Elastic waistband

PROS: Comfortable, natural antimicrobial all-season fitted boxer shorts

CONS: Expensive

ExOfficio Give-n-Go Sport Bikini

Specs
  • Cut: Bikini Brief
  • Gender: Women's
  • Material: 93% Nylon, 7% Spandex
Features
  • Diamond weave mesh
  • Flatlock seams
  • Antimicrobial
  • Odor-resistant

PROS: Great low rise comfortable bikini style bottom that is breathable and odor-resistant

CONS: Prone to pilling after washing

Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Cut: Boxer
  • Gender: Men's
  • Material: 100% Merino Wool
Features
  • Flatlock seams with no center back seam
  • Natural antimicrobial
  • Lightweight 
  • Slim-fit

PROS: This lightweight boxer is naturally antimicrobial and comfortable for all-day wear

CONS: Expensive compared to other underwear

REI Co-op Boxer Briefs

Specs
  • Cut: Boxer Briefs
  • Gender: Men's
  • Material: 92% Polyester, 8% Spandex
Features
  • Elastic waistband
  • Fully functional fly
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Flatseam construction

PROS: Budget-friendly and moisture-wicking

CONS: Does not contain antimicrobial properties

Under Armour Compression


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Cut: Boxer Briefs
  • Gender: Men's
  • Material: 90% Polyester, 10% Elastane
Features
  • Anti-odor technology
  • UPF 30+ sun protection
  • Moisture-wicking compression fabric

PROS: Comfortable, breathable, and great for outdoor activities

CONS: Does not contain antimicrobial properties or have a functional fly

Arcteryx Phase SL Briefs

Specs
  • Cut: Bikini Brief
  • Gender: Women's
  • Material: 70% Phasic SL Polyester, 30% Polypropylene
Features
  • Flatlock seams
  • Elastic waistband
  • Cotton gusset crotch
  • Hydrophobic Phasic SL fabric

PROS: Lightweight, breathable mesh boxer briefs

CONS: Does not contain antimicrobial properties

 

LEARN HOW TO CHOOSE HIKING GEAR FOR YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE

 

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST UNDERWEAR FOR HIKING

MATERIAL

Just like pants or a hiking shirt, you want your underwear to be comfortable. You don’t want your underwear to lead to rubbing or chafing in sensitive areas. You’ll also want a pair that is quick-drying, breathable, and lightweight.

Cotton is neither of these things. The best underwear for hiking is made of Merino wool, Nylon, Lycra, or a combination of those materials. Merino wool is one of the most popular choices because it’s soft and extra breathable. Material is one of the primary things to take into consideration when choosing hiking underwear. 

 

ANTIMICROBIAL

Whether we want to admit it or not, we sweat down there. The best underwear for hiking should be antimicrobial. Antimicrobial material will help keep your undies fresh longer, which is especially important when you’re doing a multi-day hike and packing light.

Merino wool has natural antimicrobial properties making it once again one of the best choices. Synthetic materials, like polyester, are often treated to provide antimicrobial properties. If antimicrobial properties are important to you, make sure you read the label before making any purchases.

 

CONSTRUCTION AND DURABILITY

Nothing is worst than having your underwear fall apart mid hike. The best underwear for hiking should be constructed with flatlock seams because they are more comfort and designed to reduce chafing. Look for underwear that does not have vertical seams going down the middle of your bottom for even more comfort. Hiking underwear should be durable and maintain its construction and properties after regular washing.

 

CUT

The cut of hiking underwear is a personal choice. Choose whatever cut or style you are more comfortable wearing. Most people prefer a more fitted cut, like boxer briefs for men and bikini briefs for women, because they are the most comfortable to wear with hiking pants and a backpack. High waisted underwear may feel too binding and rub against your pack. On the other hand, low cut or thongs may be too skimpy and lead to serious chafing.

 

WASHING CARE

Most people don’t even consider washing instructions when purchasing new clothes, but care requirements for hiking underwear are important. If you are planning a multi-day trek then you want a pair of underwear that can easily be hand-washed and hung to dry. You want underwear that is quick-drying so that you can ensure you won’t be putting on wet undies the next morning. Additionally, it’s also nice to have machine-washable underwear for when you’re not on the trail.

If you end up getting merino wool underwear, have a look at our guide that’s all about how to wash merino wool.

 

 

READ MORE

For more of our top hiking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

Socks for Hiking | Hiking Hats

Trail Running Shoes for Hiking | Convertible Hiking Pants

Waterproof Hiking Shoes | Lightweight Hiking Boots

Hiking Shorts

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