When preparing for a hike or backpacking trip, the first thing to attach itself to you will be your underwear. It’s important to note that your underwear is next to the skin base layer; thus, it needs to function well. This underwear should be breathable, moisture-wicking, fast-drying, and ideally should not feel damp or cold when wet.
It is also good to note that good hiking underwear is designed to prevent chafing, and if your underwear does chafe while you are hiking, your hike can become uncomfortable. This might also cause blisters on your groin. Hence you should choose underwear that is built to avoid.
Additionally, with any technical clothing piece, deciding what is the right underwear depends largely on where you will be hiking and in whatever season.
In this article, we have researched and prepared a list of all things you need to consider when buying hiking underwear; additionally, we have prepared our favorite list as tested by our experts.
But before we dive into the list, let us first discuss different types of hiking underwear fabric in the market today.
Synthetics: These are breathable underwear for hiking made from synthetic fabrics. Examples are polyester and nylon. However, these are not the only ones, as you can find polypropylene, rayon, or a blend of materials. Underwear made from synthetic fabrics has the following features:
- They dry a bit quickly as they efficiently dissipate sweat, thus giving the driest feel
- They are durable
- The synthetic fabric holds onto odors more than other options.
Merino Wool: Soft, ultrafine, itch-free merino wool is an excellent option for underwear. It’s also blended with other fabrics, like spandex or nylon, to enhance fit, flexibility, and durability. Underwear made from merino wool has the following features:
- Wool does an excellent job of pulling moisture off of your skin and into the fabric
- The moisture that is held in the core of merino wool fibers releases when the temperature heats up.
- This underwear is less durable as constant rubbing can eventually wear out
- These underwear are naturally odor-resistant.
What is the Best Underwear for Hiking
Let us now go through our top 10 best underwear for hiking to prevent chafing as prepared by experts.
Smartwool Merino 150 Boxer Brief
Merino underwear keeps you locked in your body heat. It features flatlock seam construction, and this underwear is designed to reduce chafing while the wide elastic waistband is created for the most comfort.
It’s lightweight, and it’s made of thirteen percent nylon core and eighty-seven merino jersey fabric for improved durability that feels good against your body.
Apart from being super comfortable, this underwear gives you a solid foundation that will regulate your body temperature, resist odors, and manage moisture; plus, they come with a fully functional fly.
These underwear are easy to maintain and clean; toss these boxers into a gentle, warm water cycle and then tumble dry on a low setting.
- They are versatile and warm
- It’s great for outdoor adventures
- This underwear resists odors
- They will regulate your body temperature
SAXX QUEST Men’s Underwear
There are various types of underwear under the SAXX model you can pick from; they all have different features that make them unique. Unlike other models, the SAXX Quest model features flat-out seams to keep the flatter side against your body and moisture-wicking material to prevent you from sweat.
This model comes in multiple choices; that is, if you prefer more coverage, there are longer leg varieties of the quest model, which might be better if you’re wearing long pants for winter hiking.
However, shorter versions are perfect to go underneath exercise shorts and keep you more relaxed during hot weather.
Additionally, there are tight-fitting and loser-fitting variations of the quest underwear. It’s also important to note that they all feature the Ballpark Pouch design, they each provide support, and it comes down to personal preference about how you like your hiking underwear to fit.
- It has a relaxed fit and ultra breathability
- It features a moisture-wicking viscose fabric
- They come in eight different combinations of solid color
- It comes in many different patterns
Icebreaker Merino Boxer
These underwear are incredibly soft and lightweight, dry out quickly, and remain comfortable in warm and cold weather, meaning they are excellent backpacking underwear.
You can quickly wear them for everyday boxers as well as outdoor sports and hiking trips. Additionally, they come in a variety of sizes and colors, so whether you like neutral greys or fun, bright colors, there is an option to choose from
They can easily be washed and dried overnight and be ready to go for whatever hikes or trips you have planned for the next day.
- It’s made of soft, non-irritating merino wool with a touch of spandex for stretch.
- It offers very warmth and resists odor naturally
- It wicks away moisture, dries quickly, and breathes well
- The fabric protects from UV light with a rating of UPF
- Its flatlock seams reduce chafing
- It’s machine washable
- It has a slim fit
MERIWOOL Men’s Boxer
These boxers are designed to fit your legs while staying dry all day long. It is made of a hundred percent merino wool that allows you to keep calm and confident daily.
Meriwool underwear briefs give you the most airflow while wicking away moisture. They are easy to layer under your clothes with a long inseam to keep you warm and provide a good fit.
As if that isn’t enough, this underwear is superb moisture-wicking properties that help keep you comfortable and clean when you wear them.
- This underwear is designed to give you all-day comfort
- You can wear it in the most extreme activities in either winter or summer
- It’s available in multiple colors
- This underwear is moist wicking
- It dries very quick
- It’s breathable
- This underwear is machine washable and easy to maintain
Saxx Men’s Underwear
The SAXX Vibe Boxer Briefs use a patented technology that will lessen friction while giving you more comfort. These functional and high-performing boxer briefs are great for day-to-day wear or weekend adventures.
Helping you to stay fresher longer, these use super-soft fabrics that give you the most breathability.
With a barely-there feeling, the SAXX Vibe Briefs fit uses an ergonomic construction with nine panels.
This creates 3D support around your hamstrings, thighs, quads, and glutes. They are designed to reduce friction and provide functional comfort. They also use reverse stitching that places the softer and flatter side of the material against your body.
Also, to further reduce the risk of chafing, the viscose fabric has great moisture-wicking capabilities.
The SAXX Vibe Boxer Briefs are machine washable and feature a patented BallPark Pouch that gives you friction-free support while keeping everything in place.
Perfect for long hikes, you get all-day comfort with fabric that quickly wicks away sweat, so you stay comfortable and dry.
- It comes in a regular fit
- Its BallPark Pouch provides friction-free support
- It comes with a three-D fit with nine-panel construction.
- It has flat out seams
- It’s very soft
- It features moist-wicking
Minus33 Merino Wool Boxer
The Minus33 Merino Wool Boxer Briefs are lightweight men’s briefs that keep you dry and cool. Perfect for the office, running, hiking, or biking, this comfortable and supportive wool men’s underwear can become a part of your day-to-day routine. They are machine washable and come with a great selection of colors.
With an athletic fit, these skin-tight boxer briefs have a compression-style sensation. They work the best as a base layer when layering your garments. If you plan to use them for regular activities and need a relaxed fit, you will want to choose the next size.
These breathable and fast-drying wool boxer briefs feature a flatlock seam that gives you the most comfort and reduces chafing, which allows your boxers to move with you.
Plus, flatlock seams are not only stronger but also helps your boxers last longer. They are also machine-washable boxers that do not lose their shape or fade, remaining comfortable and soft for their entire lifetime.
Using 100% 17 ½ microns Merino Wool, these boxer shorts only weigh 3 ½ ounces. Wools’ natural antimicrobial properties mean odors are nothing to worry about.
The Minus33 Boxer Briefs have great sizes and color options and are perfect for sitting at home or hitting the trails.
- It prevents chafing
- It comes in a regular fit
- It’s very soft
- It features moist-wicking
New Balance Men’s 6″ Boxer Brief
Polyester has excellent moisture-wicking abilities and quick-drying, though it may not be comfortably breathable.
The boxers also have a mesh gusset that helps with better movement and makes these boxers ideal for hiking.
However, the fabric wears out quickly, and some users noted that their boxers developed holes after a couple of washes.
The waistband is wide for comfort, but it also tends to roll down the waist area. The no-ride inseam is equally ineffective, with some users noting that the thin material construction causes the boxers to ride up the thigh, which causes chafing and skin irritation.
- It’s made of 87% polyester and 13% spandex
- It features a 360-degree stretch
- It has a 6-inch inseam
- Has mesh gusset for breathability
- It’s odor resistant
- It’s wide and soft waistband for comfort
- Fly opening
Reebok Women’s Seamless Hipster Panties
We chose this product as the best budget choice on our list because it comes as a pack of five undies at a better price than any other on this list. This ladies’ underwear is made with 95% nylon and 5% spandex soft, absorbent, and quick-drying.
The panty’s hipster style design covers the hips to reduce bunching, while the spandex gives it a snug fit and comfortable movement for hiking. However, its edges are not seamless, which results in outlines showing through your hiking pants.
- The tagless label delivers softness without irritation
- It’s perfect for busy women
- This underwear keeps you comfy while hiking or in the office
- It’s machine washable
Under Armour Men’s Compression Shorts
Compression shorts aren’t for everyone, which is one of the reasons why the Under Armour HeatGear Compression Shorts didn’t take our top pick, but for those who need muscle support and increased circulation, there’s no better choice than these stellar undergarments.
Worn like a second layer of skin, the Under Armour HeatGear Compression Shorts stretches every way it should with its four-way stretch fabric.
It supports every lump and bump in your hip area with its performance-enhancing compression and keeps you cool with its moisture-wicking properties.
The 90% polyester and 10% elastane combination work well to hold your skin tight while virtually disappearing from thought as it seamlessly molds to your figure.
The HeatGear fabric is designed to move with your body, preventing heat buildup and chafe as you move. Smartly designed channels push away moisture and salt with your emotions so that your body stays clean and dry.
- It’s made from polyester and elastane
- It dries fast
- It absorbs sweat
- It’s lightweight
- Inseam panels deliver strategic ventilation
- This underwear features four-way stretch construction that moves better in every direction
David Archy Performance Hiking Underwear
They’re also an excellent choice for versatility – they come in three different structure options: mesh with no fly, mesh with the fly, and solid with no fly.
Because these are more affordable, they are, of course, built with lesser quality. They aren’t Merino Wool. Instead, they’re made with polyamide and spandex.
Even though they’re of slightly lesser quality, they still perform surprisingly well for the price point. They’re breathable, they’re fast-drying, and they have a roomy crotch. They have a snug fit, and the build is pretty good at stopping you from getting too sweaty.
There are no antimicrobial properties here, and they have a habit of bunching up, which isn’t great for a hike, wildly if you’re scrambling. The sizes are also a little off.
- The 3D pouch is extra roomy for allowing more excellent lower-body movements
- The stitching is flat and seamless to keep chafing at bay
- The seamless hip design embraces your hips completely
- Provide total comfort
- fast-drying fabric
- It’s the high-technology
Buying Guide for Best Underwear for Long Hikes
You need to make sure the underwear you’re buying is comfortable! If your underwear is uncomfortable, so too will be your walk. Many new hikers underestimate how hugely important underwear comfort is – don’t make the same mistake!
You need to ensure that your underwear doesn’t chafe or leave you sweaty. It’s therefore essential that you go for materials that are breathable and have a quick drying time.
Here are factors you need to consider:
You don’t want your underwear to tears while you’re hiking. And you don’t want to keep replacing it. You want to ensure your underwear can withstand heavy use and heavy washing. If your underwear is well-constructed, it will be much more durable.
It’s important to wash clothes as instructed. If you don’t, they’ll fall apart. So don’t buy underwear with precise washing needs.
Instead, you want something that can be hand-washed and simply machine-washed. You also want to go for the best hiking underwear, which is quick-drying, so you can dry your smalls during the night while you’re mid-hike.
Cut And Construction
Some people prefer boxers; some people prefer briefs. Neither is objectively better than the other from a hiking perspective, but you should wear whatever you find most comfortable.
You also want to ensure that you buy underwear that’s well constructed. Well-constructed underwear won’t slip around, and it won’t chafe.
You might also want to consider the type of fly opening you like. A good fly opening is handy, so you can take a pee without pulling your underwear down.
This is similar to what you would find when it comes to regular underwear that you buy, but it is still important to figure out whether the underwear has a fly.
Some guys do not care whether there is one or not, but it can be a make or break feature of their underwear for a lot of guys. If you want a fly, make sure to check that before you go ahead and buy a pair.
With almost all types of hiking underwear, you’re going to find that the material will dry a lot faster, which is great because if you happen to get wet, you need them to dry out rather quickly.
If you buy quick-drying underwear, you’ll have a much easier time washing your garment while on the go and have complete confidence that it will dry in no time.
While this might not be an essential consideration for a lot of people, it’s something you need to consider if you are backpacking and want to try and take as little with you as you can.
While most of the difference is going to be minimal, it’s worth noting the underwear’s weight if it matters to you. Fortunately, most of the materials used for this underwear are lightweight, so that it won’t be much of an issue.
Our favorite underwear from this list is the SmartWool 150. Yes, they’re a little pricey, but they’re otherwise fantastic. And the price point is justified in performance and quality. They’re comfortable, they’re durable, and they’re crafted from Merino Wool.
After reading everything there is to read about the best hiking underwear, you’ll have no problem finding the best underwear to meet all your needs.
You will not only know what you need to look for when it comes to finding underwear, but you’ll also have some of the best product recommendations that you can find, so you get a great pair.