Best Underwear for Hiking Reviewed
Underwear is the unsung hero in our clothing arsenal. You might not have thought about it much, however, while partaking in any strenuous activities, you need a good pair of functional hiking underwear. If you don't equip yourself with that, then you will experience sweating and painful chafing, which only gets amplified the more you move around.
While out on the hike or any other sporting activity, you need to enjoy yourself and not keep changing your undies every so often. You need hiking underwear that will be comfortable, yet unnoticeable. In our list, we included hiking underwear both for men and for women, ranked in order of their comfort, features, durability, and more. Let's dive in!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 9 hrs of research
Slim Fit Design
Flat-Lock Stitched Seams
Functional Fly Design
1. SmartWool Merino 150
Slim Fit Design
Flat-Lock Stitched Seams
Functional Fly Design
Takes a While to Dry
For over 20 years, this brand has captured a core market, with the best innovations using merino wool, like their excellent hiking socks. With these briefs on, you can ride, run, and hike all day in comfort. For those who use Merino wool fabric, they understand what justifies the high price. For starters, it’s naturally antimicrobial: therefore, you will persistently be fresh as long as these hiking underwear are still in one piece.
The fabric breathes freely and has excellent moisture-wicking properties, ensuring you remain dry in your nether regions. The SmartWool briefs are super soft, yet tough enough to withstand rough use. There are five sizes available to choose from; as a result, you can get a size that forms well to every man or boy.
Even though this soft hiking underwear clings to your body, you won’t experience undue friction thanks to the flat-lock stitched seams. The wide elastic waistband, which reduces abrasion and cutting, also has plush merino wool on the inside. The nylon core provides a consistent stretchiness.
With the right blends of mostly natural and some synthetic fibers, SmartWool has struck a good balance in this pair of hiking underwear. Additionally, the excellent designs - like the unique fly and wide elastic waistband - mean you’re in prime position for high comfort on your travels. These briefs are durable, resist odors, and manage moisture and regulate temperature well, no matter where the road takes you.
2. Adidas Sport Performance Climalite
Many Color Options
Sticky When Wet
Adidas is an unparalleled sporting apparel manufacturer. For that reason, this hiking underwear guide would be incomplete without their Sport Performance Climalite briefs. The well thought out design, like the external, smooth, non-chafing stitching and no ride-up construction, ensure you remain comfortable in them throughout the day.
The combination of polyester and spandex makes them suitable for wicking moisture as they fit snug onto your body. The soft fabric used is stretchy, dries up fast, and wicks sweat away effortlessly. The micro-mesh fabric offers exceptional breathability.
They do not ride up on the leg, like many other briefs with similar materials. This feature is essential to a hiker since they will be moving a lot. Hiking underwear that pushes up on the leg can cause undue stress and creases that stimulate chafing, right under your justly fitting hiking pants.
The outside seam design adds to their aesthetic and durability. You can do all manner of sporting activities in the Adidas Climalite, or unwind with them on their own since they look so cool. There are up to 17 different color combinations to choose from, and the different size options are just too many to mention.
With all the sizes available, you can find a pair of hiking underwear that fits you tight but doesn't constrict. Should you wash them by hand or machine, they will dry out fast and be ready for the next day’s adventure.
3. David Archy Ultra Soft
Many Color Variations
3D Pouch Design
Mesh on the Elastic
Rides Up Leg
If planning to move light, then these quick-drying and breathable hiking underwear will do the trick. You can wash a pair late in the evening, and voila, they’ll be ready to be worn in the morning. This property also gives you an advantage over many others on a hot day, since the sweat dissipates faster to the outside fabric.
The David Archy hiking underwear is made mostly of polyamide, which wicks sweat rapidly, leaving you dry and fresh. The manufacturer also added a mesh design on the elastic and durable material. The 3D pouch design guarantees no chafing on your sensitive areas. You won’t experience any scratching with them because of the flat-locked stitching all throughout.
The design gives the user a high level of flexibility, essentially making these briefs inconspicuous. They still look appealing even on their own, thanks to the 3D cutting which fits snug to your body. You can choose a set from five different colors and a wide array of color options. There are three variations available, with and without mesh or fly, so choose carefully.
4. Under Armour BoxerJock 2
4-way Stretch Fabric
Under Armour has made many strides to become a worldwide name in the sporting world. They have made a name for having some of the best shoes to take on many types of terrains, plus many other types of apparel. Therefore, it is only natural to find them in the hiking underwear field as well. There are seven different size options suitable for the brand's massive fan base.
The UA BoxerJock work exceptionally well as hiking underwear, with their six-inch inseam, excellent materials, broad waistband, and many more features. These UA briefs combine 90% polyester and 10% elastane, making them light and stretchy. They won’t add extra unnecessary weight to your travels because of the fabrics.
The synthetic fabrics in this pair of hiking underwear are treated to prevent odor-causing microbes. Additionally, the articulated mesh promotes breathability. The four-way stretch ensures you move as naturally as possible. Besides wicking moisture, they also accelerate evaporation. They have a working fly, which makes it easy to get on with your business as fast as possible.
5. SAXX Vibe
Mesh on Pouch
Takes Time to Dry
These briefs have many features meant to keep you comfortable no matter your surroundings. They have a distinctive mesh on the pouch to reduce the likelihood of chafing while keeping everything centered. The fabric is 95% viscose, which wicks moisture away fast and regulates odor well. These and many more features make them suitable as hiking underwear.
The viscose feels weird at first if you’re used to conventional fabrics like cotton. However, after getting used to it, you will appreciate how it feels and fits on your body. The 5% spandex keeps it tight to your skin so that the smooth, silky viscose texture can do its work without a glitch.
SAXX did away with the fly to ensure mesh is incorporated into this design. The unique mesh in this hiking underwear also feels awkward on the some and takes some getting used to. Nevertheless, this feature keeps everything neat while promoting breathability.
When it comes to drying, these take longer than other variants in this guide. We attribute this to the mesh and the thick waistband, which also takes some time to dry up. All the same, if washed late in the evening, they will be ready for you in the morning.
6. Icebreaker Anatomica
Merino Wool & Nylon
With or Without Fly
Not Too Insulating
Not for Bigger Hikers
Icebreaker is known for its high-quality outdoor apparel, from tops, sweaters, and jackets, to shorts, gloves and, you guessed it, underwear. The Anatomica is a lifestyle and adventure choice which has all the comfort, support and breathability that you need to take on your next challenge. It is a classic cut with a merino wool combination of materials that will make you feel super comfortable no matter what you’re doing.
The Anatomica is made from corespun fabric for improved durability. There is 5% LYCRA in it for the much-needed stretch and elasticity, and the rest is a blend of merino wool for softness and odor resistance and nylon for even more longevity. The pouch of these boxers is contoured for comfort, and the seams are flatlock, preventing chafing.
The Anatomica comes in two versions - one with a functioning fly and one without, so you can easily take a pick of your preference. This pair of hiking underwear leaves everyone absolutely thrilled at its features and benefits, and you should definitely give it a try as well!
7. ExOfficio Give-N-Go
These briefs take the top spot in the women’s hiking underwear category. Its material is ultra-light and smooth. The mesh fabric design allows ample airflow: thus, you remain comfortable, cool, and fresh throughout the day. Additionally, they have flat-locked seams to keep it all together and antimicrobial treatment to reduce odor in the fabric.
This hiking underwear is a must in your wardrobe if you like to travel light. They briefs wash quickly, and the fabric, made mostly of nylon, dries in a couple of hours. There are five sizes available to give you the best possible fit. They look just as good on their own, and you can choose a pair from up to ten different color combinations.
The ExOfficio Give-N-Go looks just like any conventional pair of thongs: therefore, you can wear them just like a bikini. You can cool off on a summer beach more comfortably, and not just hide them under your hiking pants. By being so versatile in use, you will appreciate their features even more, justifying the relatively high price.
8. Balanced Tech Seamless
This hiking underwear is designed to keep the active woman focused and comfortable. You will hardly feel the disruption of chafing because they are seamless. Additionally, thanks to the four-way stretch design of the multifaceted materials, you will move freely. Nylon is the primary fabric used, making them ultra-light, and giving these undergarments many suitable properties for a hiker.
The fabric in this hiking underwear is super soft, breathable, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying. The tag-less and seamless design ensures comfort while hiding panty lines. Balanced Tech aims at continually improving on their products, and the latest version of this pair hosts many unique features, like reinforced edges to reduce the odds of them rolling up.
There are five different sizes available. You can choose an economical pack with six undies, having different or similar assorted colors. You can take on all manner of errands in this trendy and comfortable hiking underwear.
9. Arc'teryx Phase SL
Phasic SL Polyester
Gusseted Crotch Area
Stretches with the Body
No Fly Opening
From a brand that specializes in outdoor gear, apparel, and footwear, comes the Phase SL design of boxer shorts. This is a pair of underwear meant for a whole array of different conditions and activities, from hiking to climbing to just plain ol’ enjoying the beauties of nature. It is incredibly light in weight, it comes with superior moisture-wicking, and it is a must-have for your next outdoor adventure.
The Phase SL is made from Phasic SL polyester which dries quickly, transfers moisture away from your skin and makes you feel incredibly comfortable as it stretches with your body. The crotch area is gusseted for freedom of movement and the seams are flat-lock, meaning they won’t rub your skin the wrong way. Finally, the Phase SL is super easy to pack and super easy to carry with you wherever you go.
The Arc’teryx Phase SL is one of our leading pairs of hiking underwear and for good reason - it is high in performance features, it fits comfortably and is quite flexible, and it is outfitted with everything you need out of a product of this type. What a great deal!
10. Kalon Nylon
No Side Seams
Full Bottom Coverage
Many Color Options
No Antimicrobial Treatment
Functionality and aesthetics are what Kalon achieves with these panties. They are designed by women, for women. Just like many other products in this review, this one is also made of synthetics in the form of 92% nylon and 8% spandex. The synthetics bring about excellent features so that you can move in comfort all day long.
They are seamless, thus reducing chafing and irritation when used as hiking underwear. The openings are reinforced to prevent them from riding up. There are six different sizes available, which are sold in packs of six, having the same or diverse colors. They are also true to size, have a low rise, and offer reliable posterior coverage.
These hiking underwear stretch comfortably, ensuring they work faultlessly as they fit snug on your skin. These pants cover your whole bottom to maximize the benefits they offer. They have a modern look and feel so that you can wear them on their own. The only downside to them is that they do not have antimicrobial treatment. Because of this, you might feel a stench, unlike in other hiking underwear in this review.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The right fabrics contribute a lot to your personal comfort levels on the trail.
You need to maintain your temperature, reduce friction, as well as prevent rubbing and chafing. To do all of that, you need the right type of fabrics for your hiking underwear.
Manufacturers combine synthetic blends like nylon and polyester to give your hiking underwear the right characteristics. Here are some of the materials most commonly used and how they affect your overall hiking experience.
This fabric has many excellent features. It is lightweight, breathable, and has natural antimicrobial properties. An advantage merino wool has over many other treated synthetic fabric is that its antimicrobial attribute persevers regardless of the number of wash cycles. However, this material is pricey compared to synthetic types, and it dries out slowly when washed.
Synthetic materials are inexpensive, durable, good at moisture-wicking, and dry quickly. However, the odor control mechanism is weak and they may irritate some wearers.
This material is the go-to for most people. Cotton is comfortable and doesn’t irritate sensitive areas. However, it retains moisture, promoting chafing, rubbing, friction, and increasing the potential for infections. Moreover, it takes ages to dry out. For these reasons, you should avoid cotton, because you are prone to sweating on a long, strenuous trek. Even if you could continuously switch up your cotton base layer, you’d have to carry many of them, further adding to your luggage.
Each material for hiking underwear has its pros and cons. It all boils down to ensuring that the fabric is breathable, quick-drying and that it wicks moisture well. Synthetic fibers and merino wool do an excellent job at that.
If you don’t notice your undergarments, then you’re set for a hike.
If you’re not comfortable in your undergarments, then change them up. Any issue is increased tenfold when on a trail compared to an average day in your life. On a long trek, you will feel any potential chafing, elastic digging, the irritating fabric, or pants riding up even more. A good pair of hiking underwear is comfortable by being unnoticeable.
Hiking underwear should have a comfortable cut because of the persistent activity on a trail. Moreover, your undergarments should be close fitting to promote breathability while preventing chafing. There are numerous styles in underwear on the market, but boxer brief designs are efficient for hiking underwear.
For women, being minimalistic with something like a thong is ill-advised, because your outer garments don’t provide sufficient properties on areas not covered by the hiking underwear. Briefs increase the skin surface area covered, keep you dry, fresh, and comfortable since chafing is reduced. Nevertheless, there are some low cut styles, which still give of a modern type of look.
Look out for flat-lock seams, which cover a smaller surface area and, as a result, reduce irritation from chafing. Vertical seams stand out by rubbing on your skin. You could withstand loose seams on you, if you are not as mobile, but not while you’re taking long walks. If you’re using multiple layers, then the rubbing and chafing will be noticeable because of the added compression on protruding seams.
Other than selecting a style you are comfortable in, you need to have the right size. Your hiking underwear should be close-fitting. If your underwear is loose, then some creases might form, persistently rubbing a particular region.
Fortunately, the brands in this list have a wide range of sizes, and all you need to know is your waist size to get the right pair. Hiking underwear must also be light at all times, and not weigh you down.
Why buy underwear that cannot withstand the rigors of a demanding trek?
If your undergarments lose their properties, they will be of no help and may even make things worse for you. It is okay to spend more than usual for something that will last much longer. It’s okay to spend two times more for something that will last three times longer. Sewing quality matters a lot in hiking underwear, besides the fabric.
Synthetic fibers withstand rough and extensive use much better than other fabrics. However, you need to maintain them properly, especially the treated type.
Merino wool needs special care too, for you to get the best and extensive use out of it. Merino wool is softer than standard wool, but it isn’t cheap.
On a hike, you need to carry as light as possible, and that includes your hiking underwear. You won’t have the privilege of tossing your undies into a washing machine in some of the more remote places you visit. Note that you can still wash most of the undergarments in this review with a washing machine. However, you have to follow the directions on how to maintain them because the treated fabrics might lose their properties with some cleaning agents.
Other than that, the materials used in hiking underwear only need a good old hand wash. Besides, they dry out fast, so you can wash them late in the evening and have them ready to wear the following day, making them suitable for long trips.
If you take proper care of your undergarments, then they should serve you well for a long spell. Hiking underwear in this list uses synthetic fibers, merino wool, or a combination of both. They have thick waistbands that don’t wear quickly, and the sewing is of high quality.
Your skin needs to breathe.
Breathability is essential for your skin, more so when on a hiking expedition. On the trail, you will do vigorous physical activities, making you sweat even more. Add the fact that you may need to pile thicker clothing on you, the sweating increases even more. That’s why you also need breathable hiking underwear.
If air passes through, your undergarments will dry faster. When your skin is soaked, that creates an uncomfortable feeling and gives rise to many risky health problems.
Merino wool beats all other variations in breathability, and synthetic fibers win over cotton in the same scope. Some brands have designs with ventilation holes in them to promote breathability.
No one appreciates being drenched in his or her sweat, and thus you should definitely look out for designs which are more breathable than others, and which make proper ventilation a priority.
Take stock of where you will be traveling and what to expect there.
What makes a hike fascinating is the thrill of not knowing what to expect. However, you can be sure of sweating a lot, making your undies soggy. This moisture creates many problems, which these products try to counter in various ways. Below is how some of the different attributes and properties affect your experience in your chosen hiking underwear.
A prerequisite for hiking underwear is for it to be antimicrobial. This feature prevents the buildup of bacteria that might cause itchiness and bad odor. Germs thrive in moist conditions, and countering this will keep you fresher for longer.
Merino wool is naturally antimicrobial, so it doesn’t need treatment like other fibers. Even though wool eventually takes up the scent of what it’s covering, the smell doesn’t build up fast. Additionally, this smell dissipates when the fabric is dried out and disappears when washed. Merino wool is covered with lanolin, an antimicrobial substance, and it’s rough on a microscopic level, making conditions inapt for bacteria to breed.
Synthetic fibers lose antimicrobial properties after many cycles of washing. Nonetheless, you can improve the duration of these properties by cleaning the treated synthetics as per the manufacturer’s guidelines.
While on a trek, it’s best to be agile. In this case, you could do with only two pairs of hiking underwear. Because of this, you need each pair to dry quickly after washing them after use. You should remain dry around your nether regions to prevent chafing or nappy rash.
Moreover, a pair that dries quickly will dry up comparatively fast even when on your body. However, synthetic fibers are usually uncomfortable on you when moist. Merino wool dries slower when compared to synthetic fabrics. Synthetics also wick moisture efficiently and are the fastest drying fabric when used for hiking underwear.
When in tropical environments, rain can be unpredictable. Moreover, humidity is high in the tropics, and this affects the dampness in your undies. Merino wool handles moisture much better but takes ages to dry when exceedingly wet. You need to clean synthetics after use, but take solace in the fact that they dry up very fast.
As mentioned so many times in this review, you should try to be dry in your nether regions while on a hike. Moisture-wicking is whereby the chosen fabric pulls sweat from your body towards the outer surface of the cloth. On hot walks, this can do you a lot of good. The synthetics and merino wool fabrics used typically promote this flow of moisture.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
While hiking, it’s best to have only the most essential gear. You definitely don’t want unnecessary luggage inside your backpack weighing you down. Seasoned hikers usually only need one pair, during their stay. Some like to have two pairs, one to wash, and the other to wear.
Temperatures change depending on your environment. These hiking underwear are not supposed to assist you in regulating your temperature since they are breathable and don’t offer sufficient coverage. Nevertheless, their properties ensure your sensitive regions breathe, as they should so that you remain untroubled. The first line of defense on your skin is essential, though often overlooked.
Other Factors to Consider
Nothing beats a pair of anti-microbial, fast-drying, moisture-wicking, odor-resistant, durable, and breathable hiking underwear in remote locations. These are the exact features you require when you’re far away from civilization and resources are scarce. It would be difficult to enjoy nature if you have to change your clothing frequently.
Each of the hiking underwear designs in this review features some similarities, all geared towards making them unmemorable and comfy. On a hike, you need to be focused on what you see, hear, and experience, and not what you’re wearing.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What is the best material for hiking underwear?
It is best to choose synthetic fabrics like nylon or polyester. The only exception to synthetics would be merino wool, which offers similar properties. Some synthetic materials in your hiking underwear might also include polypropylene, rayon, and spandex. You will find spandex on most of the fabrics, to bring about some stretchiness to your hiking underwear.
Synthetics, as has been said many times in this review, are quick-drying and durable. The only downside is that these materials retain odor, sometimes even longer than cotton, which you should steer clear off. Manufacturers use chemical treatments on synthetics which inhibit the manifestation of odor-causing bacteria in your hiking underwear. However, this chemical finish wears off after numerous cycles of washing.
Merino wool is the crème de la crème material for hiking underwear. It’s ultra-soft and naturally antimicrobial, unlike synthetics. However, the initial cost is high but well worth it in the end.
q: Which style of underwear is the best for hiking?
Regardless of your gender identity, everyone has a preference when it comes to their underwear. For women, you will find full-cut briers, thongs, bikinis, boy shorts, or hipster briefs. For men, there are boxers or briefs. There’s no one type of hiking underwear that is the best for everyone. Therefore, choose a style that you are already used to wearing.
Here, you will find a general bias toward the common types of undergarments. For men, you will see boxers mostly. This style is customary for men, as it provides a more extended cut which covers the inner thigh. This design also reduces the probability of chafing in the thigh area.
For women, you will find bikinis or briefs. With bikinis, women can wear them as swimwear too, and appreciate how fast they dry up. Using boxer briefs like the Kalon Underwear will offer similar advantages like men’s briefs.
q: How fitting should hiking underwear be?
A good fitting undergarment should fit snug on your skin without causing tight discomfort. If your pair is loose, then you won’t experience the benefits like moisture-wicking, which is essential on a trail. Additionally, a size that’s too big will cause the hiking underwear to bunch and rub against your skin, becoming an irritant.
It is counter-intuitive to worry about breathability in your hiking underwear while sacrificing on moisture-wicking. A loose-fitting undergarment won’t effectively wick moisture. Choose a longer cut like briefs, which adds extra coverage to your thighs, maximizing on moisture-wicking.
q: Is cotton bad for hiking?
Sure, cotton is cheap, comfortable, and readily available for use as underwear. However, when used as hiking underwear, it will cause more problems rather than solutions. The price of alternatives with fabrics like merino wool and synthetics might seem too steep, but then again, you don’t want a pair that will keep you slacking on the trail or have you visiting your medic.
The main reason why cotton is a big no is that its moisture-wicking capabilities are non-existent. Moisture on your skin is a breeding ground for bacteria. Because of these reasons, you increase the chances of getting an infection in your nether regions.
Cotton absorbs and retains a lot of moisture: as much as 27 times its own weight. Comparatively, polyester holds only less than half its weight of water, whereas merino wool holds only a third.
During high-intensity activities on a hike, you will sweat profusely onto your hiking underwear. Consequently, this will add undue weight and reduce the warmth of cotton required in cold regions. Actually, you will feel the effects of the ambient cold more, because of induction as your garments are soaked in sweat.
Cotton also takes ages to dry. While on a trail, two pairs of hiking underwear should be more than enough in most cases. After washing cotton, there’s no guarantee that the washed pair will be ready to use in a convenient time. For all these reasons, the disadvantages of cotton for hiking underwear overshadow the advantages many times over.
q: What about bras? Don't they belong in the underwear category?
They do indeed! When it comes to bras, your best bet for a hike is definitely a sports bra. They provide all the necessary support you need to feel comfortable during your hike. However, sports bras come in a variety of shapes and styles. You should consider what style you like, what type of straps you need, what fit would be best, and definitely the level of support that is required before investing your money in a sports bra.
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