Believe it or not, hiking underwear is one of the most important pieces of gear in your outdoor arsenal.
Sure, adequate shelter and a water filter may take priority, but be honest — you know how awful improper hiking attire can be. We’ve all been there. Chafing, twisting, bunching, sopping wet, loosey-goosey, the stench — it’s the worst.
Nothing on a hike will agitate you more quickly than an inadequate pair of underwear. Your legs are doing all of the work out there on the trail, after all, and you best take care of them.
That’s why we’ve done the extensive research and testing needed to bring you this list of the best hiking underwear for men. There’s no cotton to be found in these briefs. We’ve looked for underpants that have either natural or synthetic fabrics that wick away sweat, support your equipment in all the right ways, and resist hike-ending chafe.
Keep your hips in motion with the support and athletic comfort of today’s top underwear for hikers. While there are many brands of hiking underwear to choose from, we believe these are the best on the market, and we’re sure you’ll find each of them an improvement over your tighty whities.
Editor’s Choice: ExOfficio Give-n-Go Boxer Briefs
I have personally hiked well over 3,000 miles in ExOfficio Give-n-Go Boxer Briefs, so I can truly attest to their supreme comfort and durability.
2,650 of those miles were during my thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. During that time, the only underwear I wore were two pairs of ExOfficio Give-n-Go boxer briefs which I rotated between on a daily basis for hygienic purposes.
That thru-hike was in 2015, and guess what — I still have and wear those boxer briefs today. Since then I’ve purchased several more pairs of ExOfficio briefs, and I wear them on every backpacking excursion I embark on.
Personal anecdotes aside, ExOfficio Give-n-Go underwear has received nothing short of overwhelming praise in the outdoor community, and rightfully so.
The ultralight mesh material is breathable, quick to dry, and soft on your skin. The waistband is comfortable, and the ergonomic fly panel provides a moderate level of support.
Comprised of 92% nylon and 8% spandex, these briefs cling well to your skin with properly flat stitching that holds everything in the right places without rubbing any part of your body the wrong way. I appreciate that the fabric has been treated with an antimicrobial AEGIS Microbe Shield which noticeably cuts down on odor buildup, something everyone is prone to after hours or days out on the trail.
After extended use of these briefs piling may become an issue. This has started on the older pair I own, but, other than aesthetics, this hasn’t caused me any issues yet.Check Amazon Price Check REI Price
Runner Up: Under Armour HeatGear 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 are in need of 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 that 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 works 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 motions so that your body stays clean and dry.
I’d recommend these Under Armour briefs over the ExOfficio briefs for people who often enjoy fast-paced activities such as trail running or high-intensity backpacking. The muscle compression and HeatGear fabric will perform at their best in outdoor scenarios where excessive heat and friction come into play.Check Amazon Price Check REI Price
Best Wool Underwear: Icebreaker Anatomica Boxer Briefs
The Icebreaker Anatomica Boxer Briefs are the best underwear for those who like to go on a hike after a long day at work. These briefs work two-fold as amazingly comfortable daily use underwear and a practical option for lightweight active pursuits.
Ultralight merino wool is blended with nylon and lycra to bring a bit of stretch to the natural antimicrobial, moisture-wicking, insulating properties of wool.
This isn’t like the itchy wool Christmas sweaters of days gone past. Modern merino wool is soft to the touch and holds a number of impressive attributes beneficial to activities of all sorts.
While these briefs excel in day-to-day comfort, they’re a bit more fragile than many of the synthetic alternatives. Merino wool will perform admirably out on the trail, but I’d suggest wearing them for no longer than a few miles of hiking at a go. The wool will begin to fray at some point, and if you often hike long and hard, you’ll soon find yourself with a few holes where the sun isn’t supposed to shine.Check Amazon Price Check REI Price
Best Performance Underwear: Saxx Kinetic Boxer Briefs
Like our runner-up pick, the Saxx Kinetic Boxer Briefs were designed to accommodate intense, high-performance activities.
Though these are compression shorts, you’ll find them to be more forgiving than the Under Armour HeatGear Compression Shorts. The same moisture-wicking and antimicrobial benefits can be found in the Saxx Kinetic Boxer Briefs as in all of our other top picks, but these briefs provide a bit more support than the others by utilizing nine shapely fabric panels to create a flexible structure and the addition of the aptly named ballpark pouch, a comfortable spot for your you-know-what.
Offering compression where you want it and cradling comfort where you don’t, these briefs provide an appropriate balance that makes them a fantastic multisport underwear. If you like to mix up your hiking and backpacking with a bit of mountain biking here and a smattering of downhill skiing there, these are the underwear for you.Check Amazon Price Check REI Price
Best Value: Eyushijia Bamboo Boxer Briefs
For that cotton-like feel with the athletic performance of modern sports clothing, look no further than bamboo. Yes, bamboo! Much like modern merino wool, bamboo fabric is naturally moisture-wicking and antibacterial.
These Eyushijia Bamboo Boxer Briefs are comprised of 95% bamboo and 5% spandex for a fit and feel you’d never expect. Some other great benefits to the bamboo fabric are that it is hypoallergenic, UV-protecting, and relatively eco-friendly.
Excellent for hiking and daily use, these bamboo briefs are quite comfortable in any situation. Unique among the underwear on this list, these Eyushijia Bamboo Boxer Briefs are equipped with dual supportive pouches that separate your bits into their own comfy cradles. That may sound odd if you’ve never tried it before, but user reviews agree that it’s a welcome design that provides surprising benefits.
All of this comes wrapped in a pack of 4 boxer briefs at a price lower than any individual pair of underwear among our top picks. I’ve ordered these myself and I assure you that they are a great deal. I’m not positive about long-term durability yet, but nothing in the Amazon reviewer comments leads me to believe that they’ll disintegrate any time soon.Check Amazon Price
The Best of the Rest
BN3TH Classics Boxer Briefs
Comprised of 95% modal and 5% spandex, these BN3TH Classics Boxer Briefs will likely be the most at-home comfortable briefs on our list. Modal is a newly popular fabric which has yet to be proven as an excellent hiking material, but it’s known to be softer and more moisture absorbant than cotton, which means it’ll at least do better on the trail than your typical pair of Hanes.
Try these out if you prefer interpretive walks and RV adventures to mountain climbing.Check Amazon Price Check REI Price
New Balance Boxer Briefs
Another budget-friendly option that will perform 98% as well as the top picks on our list, New Balance Boxer Briefs are breathable, quick-drying, and unlikely to cause any unwanted chafing. Keep it basic and cheap by ordering an inexpensive multi-pack of this versatile underwear.Check Amazon Price
REI Co-op Briefs
REI knows how to manufacture top-quality outdoor products while keeping prices lower than the competition. Even the most astute outdoor clothing connoisseurs would have a hard time differentiating between a pair of REI Co-op Briefs and ExOfficio briefs based on feel alone. Grab a pair of these briefs if you don’t mind generic retail branding on your high-quality performance underwear.Check REI Price
Saxx Vibe Boxer Briefs
While the Saxx Kinetic Boxer Briefs took our top performance pick award, we think most people will be happier with these Saxx Vibe Boxer Briefs. Why? Because most people aren’t high-performance athletes, even if they wish they were.
The Saxx Vibe is made of more comfortable material than the Kinetic that is softer on the skin, and though it won’t stand up as well to the rigors of extreme outdoor athleticism, it will still fair very well on trail for the average hiker.Check Amazon Price Check REI Price
Smartwool Merino 150 Boxer Briefs
Similar to the previous scenario, the Smartwool Merino 150 Boxer Briefs don’t perform as well as our top wool underwear pick, the Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers, in extreme circumstances. That said, they’re more than capable for a casual hike to your favorite alpine lake. They’re cozy, warm, and won’t chafe. I like these for short winter hikes or a day on the slopes.Check Amazon Price Check REI Price