Best Hiking Underwear to Stay Cool & Comfortable on the Trail

Hiking-specific underwear offers many benefits, ensuring greater comfort on the trails. In this guide, discover the best hiking underwear for your upcoming trail adventures.

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Written by: | Reviewed by: Kieran James Cunningham
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Wearing the wrong underwear for hiking can result in discomfort, chafing, skin irritation, excessive sweating, and/or poor moisture management. None of these things are going to enhance your time on the trails! Ideally, you’ll want briefs that dry quickly, wick moisture away from the skin, and possess antimicrobial properties to prevent unpleasant odors.

In pursuit of the ultimate hiking undergarment comfort, we evaluated a selection of boxer briefs to curate a list of top recommendations. Leading the way is the Icebreaker Anatomica Merino Wool Boxers, closely followed by the Smartwool Merino Wool 150 Boxer Briefs, Arc’teryx Phase SL Boxer, ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport Boxer Brief, Minus33 Merino Wool Acadian Boxer Brief, SAXX Underwear Vibe Boxer Brief, and MERIWOOL Boxer Briefs.

To aid your decision in choosing the ideal boxer briefs for you, we’ve highlighted the key features to consider. The optimal materials for hiking are synthetics or merino wool. Once you’ve chosen the fabric, pay attention to the fit, construction, and odor control for maximum comfort during your trail adventures.

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What Is The Best Hiking Underwear For Men?

Topping the shortlist for best men’s hiking underwear was the Icebreaker Anatomica Merino Wool Boxers with the runners-up shown in the following list.

  • Icebreaker Anatomica Merino Wool Boxers
  • Smartwool Merino Wool 150 Boxer Briefs
  • Arc’teryx Phase SL Boxer Men’s
  • ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport Boxer Brief
  • Minus33 Merino Wool Men’s Acadian Boxer Brief
  • SAXX Underwear Men’s Vibe Boxer Brief
  • MERIWOOL Men’s Boxer Briefs
Icebreaker Merino Anatomica Men’s Boxer Briefs, Wool Base Layer for Cold Weather - Soft, Durable Underwear with Contour Pouch, Flatlock Seams to Reduce Chafing, Black, Medium

Icebreaker Anatomica Merino Wool Boxers

Editor’s Choice

Winning our editor’s choice award, the Icebreaker Merino Men’s Boxers are everything we could hope for in hiking underwear. Engineered for movement, they are comfortable, regulate body temperature, don’t retain odors, and protect from UVB rays and UV light.

Providing improved strength and durability, these boxers are made with superfine natural merino wool fibers wrapped around a nylon core. This gives you almost skin-like softness along with top moisture-wicking properties. With improved breathability and an incredibly snug feel, you also get added ventilation and the most airflow when you are active.

The Icebreaker Merino Wool boxers feature a contoured pouch that comes with a functional fly while the comfortable elastic waist features a satin-finished label in the back. Soft and stretchy, these boxers regulate temperature based on external conditions, so you stay cool or warm, depending on the environment you are in. They also protect from UVB rays and UV light.

  • PROs

    • They are incredibly soft and very comfortable to wear
    • It doesn’t matter how much you sweat; they will not smell
    • Great snug feel that works well for long hikes
  • CONs

    • The sizes run a little large, especially in the leg area
    • They do not give you as much support as you want

Bottom-Line: Providing a superb fit, the Icebreaker Merino Wool Boxers are super soft and comfortable, plus they will never smell.

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Smartwool Merino Wool 150 Boxer Briefs

Best Insulated

The Smartwool Merino 150 Briefs keep you warm by locking in body heat, earning them our award for the best-insulated hiking underwear.

Using flatlock seam construction, these merino boxer briefs were designed to reduce chafing while the wide elastic waistband was created for the most comfort. With lightweight insulation, this anti-chafing underwear use a 13% nylon core and 87% Merino Jersey fabric for improved durability that feels good against your body.

Versatile and warm, the Smartwool Merino 150 Boxer Briefs are great for outdoor adventures. While they are super comfortable, they also give you a solid foundation that will regulate your body temperature, resist odors, and manage moisture, plus they come with a fully functional fly. Easy to maintain and clean, just toss these boxers into a gentle, warm water cycle and then tumble dry on a low setting.

Great for all-around comfort, the Smartwool Merino Wool Sports are perfect relaxing at home or hitting a hard trail. You get extra support with the double front panel design. Plus, they keep you fresh in the hot summer months with their breathability and warm in the winter with their blended fabric temperature control.

  • PROs

    • They are very comfortable, and sizing is right on
    • These are perfect for hunting since they don’t gather or bind
    • They stay very dry when you sweat
    • 87% Merino Wool 13% Nylon
    • Moisture-wicking underwear
  • CONs

    • None

Bottom-Line: By locking in your body heat, the Smartwool Merino 150 keep you warm are on the trail with their lightweight insulation and blended fabric temperature control.

Arc'teryx Men's Phase Sl Boxer Short

Arc’teryx Phase SL Boxer Men’s

Best Quick-Drying Underwear

The Arc’teryx Phase SL is a breathable pair of boxers with superb moisture-wicking properties making them our top choice for quick-drying underwear for hiking.

Providing unrestricted mobility, these comfortable boxers are made of a mechanical stretch textile. They include a non-chafing label and a gusseted crotch for freedom of movement, while the anatomical shaping provides comfort and snug feeling. Using advanced technology, the Arc’teryx Boxers were created for day to day use or high-level activity.

Featuring a comfort waistband, these boxers include a soft-brushed laminated finish. Made with flatlock seams, the Arc’teryx Boxers give you a next to skin experience.

Versatile enough to work well in diverse conditions and activities, these boxers create a quick-dry base that you can build your outerwear on top of. They provide excellent moisture management, which is perfect for high-level activities. And, they are constructed of lightweight materials that are easy to pack as well as durability.

  • PROs

    • They keep everything in place, even when you bend over
    • Fast-drying 100% polyester material
    • These boxers are not too tight at all around the waist
    • Moisture-wicking wool prevents chafing
  • CONs

    • They do not come with a fly
    • They do retain odors over time

Bottom-Line: The Arc’teryx Phase SL Boxers conform snugly, giving you a great next to skin experience, and don’t restrict your mobility.

ExOfficio Men's Give-n-Go Sport Mesh 2.0 Boxer Brief 6', Black/Black, Medium

ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport Boxer Brief

Best Synthetic Underwear for Hiking

The ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport Mesh Boxers have an active fit and a supportive low rise, making them our favorite synthetic underwear for hiking.

Easy to maintain, you can wash and dry this polyamide (nylon) fabric quickly. Silvadur technology provides antimicrobial properties to help eliminate odors for the lifetime of the underwear. While the lightweight fabric gives you support that doesn’t weigh you down. With breathable fabric, you get better airflow, especially during intense activity. The Exofficio Give-N-Go are perfect for running, hiking, and cycling, these boxers offer convenience, comfort, and compression.

An excellent choice for a trail runner, the ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport Briefs won’t chafe or leave you raw after a long run. You get all-day support with the specially designed fly panel and the breathable mesh fabric provides additional stretch and ventilation.

  • PROs

    • They are very comfortable with a fantastic fit
    • The fabric is comfortable no matter what temperature it is or how much you sweat
    • Moisture-wicking underwear that reduces chafing
    • Design provides support and comfort
  • CONs

    • The design causes some parts of you to stick out more than some users are comfortable with

Bottom-Line: With no chafing and a great fit, the ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport are soft, comfortable, and ideal for any type of climate.

100% Merino Wool Mens Lightweight Boxer Brief

Minus33 Merino Wool Men’s Acadian Boxer Brief

Best Anti-Odor

The antimicrobial properties of the Minus33 Acadian Merino Wool Boxer Briefs make them our top anti-odor choice.

Providing the ultimate performance and comfort, 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 up.

These breathable and fast-drying wool no-stink underwear feature a flatlock seam that gives you the most comfort and reduces chafing, which allows your boxers to move with you.

Plus, flatlock seams is 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 antimicrobial underwear have great sizes and color options and are perfect for sitting at home or hitting the trails.

  • PROs

    • Antimicrobial properties prevent odor buildup
    • Moisture-wicking for dry comfort and a chafe free hike.
    • They are definitely worth the money with their fit and performance
  • CONs

    • They are a bit itchy at first
    • A little on the expensive side

Bottom-Line: Minus33 Merino Wool Boxer Briefs tend to a higher price point, but the word on the trail says they are worth it for their support and performance.

SAXX Underwear Co. Men's Underwear - Vibe Super Soft Boxer Briefs With Built-In Pouch Support- Woodland Camo,Medium

SAXX Underwear Men’s Vibe Boxer Brief

Best Design

The SAXX Vibe Briefs use ergonomic construction of nine panels, creating 3D support around your hamstrings, thighs, quads, and glutes, leaving you with a barely-there feeling and earning them our best-design award.

Giving you friction-free support, the SAXX Vibe Boxer Briefs use a patented technology that will lessen friction while giving you more comfort. They also use reverse stitching that places the softer and flatter side of the material against your body. 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.

In addition, to further reduce the risk of chafing the viscose fabric has great moisture-wicking capabilities. The SAXX Vibe Boxer Briefs are machine washable and features 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.

  • PROs

    • These are great for support when you are active
    • There is low friction with this product, and they fit like a second skin
    • These boxers are very comfortable and soft with good coverage
  • CONs

    • They don’t wick very well
    • The waistband is too confining

Bottom-Line: Giving you a good amount of support when you are active, the SAXX Underwear Men’s Vibe Boxer Brief offers friction-free support making any activity more comfortable.

Icebreaker Merino Anatomica Men’s Boxer Briefs, Wool Base Layer for Cold Weather - Soft, Durable Underwear with Contour Pouch, Flatlock Seams to Reduce Chafing, Black, Medium

MERIWOOL Men’s Boxer Briefs

Best Mens Woollen Underwear

The MERRIWOOL Boxer Briefs offer breathability, comfort, and odor resistance, making them our favorite woolen hiking underwear.

Perfect for hiking or a day in the office, these boxer briefs are designed to fit your legs while staying dry all day long. This all-natural wool brief is made of 100% merino wool that allows you to keep cool and confident all day long.

Made with ultrafine 17 ½ micron Merino wool, the Meriwool boxer briefs give you the most airflow while wicking away moisture. With a long inseam, they are easy to layer under your clothes to keep you warm and provide a good fit. While wool may seem like a warm material, it’s superb moisture-wicking properties actually help keep you comfortable and clean when you wear them.

Designed to give you all-day comfort, you can wear the Meriwool boxer briefs during the most extreme activities in either winter or summer. Available in either black or charcoal gray, these smooth and silky boxer briefs are quick-drying and breathable. They are also machine washable for easy care and maintenance.

  • PROs

    • They have excellent durability and hold up well
    • They have the feel and length of compression shorts but the softness of Merino wool
    • This product helps you stay nice and warm and doesn’t retain odors
    • Superb moisture-wicking ability
  • CONs

    • They run a little large
    • There is a lot of pilling after awhile

Bottom-Line: The Meriwool Boxer Briefs are a great base layer for a hike that gives you the length and feel of compression shorts.

What Fabrics To Choose For Outdoor Underwear?

Underwear fabric choice is crucial for outdoor activities like hiking. When moving for prolonged periods and in varying temperatures, not just any material will do! Here are the two main types of fabric most suitable for hiking boxers of briefs.

  • Synthetic
  • Merino Wool Underwear

Synthetic

Breathable hiking underwear is typically made of synthetic fabrics, including nylon, polyester, rayon, polypropylene, and some fabric blends. Underwear incorporating spandex will also add stretchiness to the garment and give you a more comfortable and less restrictive fit.

If you choose hiking underwear that uses synthetic fabrics, you will notice the following features.

  • Quick-drying: Providing great wicking elements that dissipate sweat, synthetics are the best material type to give you a dry feeling.
  • Durable Fabric: Able to withstand abrasion, synthetic materials hold up well and are your best option for durability.
  • Odor retention: Since synthetic materials usually hold onto odors more than other fabrics, some underwear manufacturers use an odor-preventing finish that stops odor-causing bacteria from building up. This is the best underwear for backpacking and can be a great feature when you spend multiple days out on the trail.

Merino Wool

Ultrafine, itch-free, and soft, merino wool is an excellent choice for hiking and camping underwear. It is usually blended with materials like nylon or spandex to enhance durability, fit, and flexibility.

If you choose hiking underwear made from merino wool, you will notice the following features.

  • Wicks well: Pulling moisture away from your body and into the material, wool can often retain moisture in the core of its fibers. This can make yarn seem wetter than synthetic fiber, but it won’t make you cold. Plus, it takes longer to dry than other fabrics.
  • Keeps you cooler: When temperatures rise, the moisture that is held inside the core of merino wool fibers is released, helping you to feel cooler in warm weather.
  • Keeps you warmer: When the mercury drops, then there are few fabrics that can compete with merino wool in cold weather.
  • Moderately durable: If the material experiences constant rubbing, you can eventually wear through merino underwear. So, you may notice that the material is becoming thin in some places.
  • Odor-free: Naturally resistant to bacteria due to its anti-microbial properties wool helps to keep you odor-free, even if you wear it for several days at a time.
 

What Features To Look For In Hiking Underwear?

Aside from fabric choice, the following factors need to be considered for the ultimate hiking underwear comfort.

  • Fit
  • Construction
  • Odor control

Fit

Well-fitting hiking underwear will keep you comfortable on the trail with proper support preventing chafing and enhancing moisture-wicking. Here are some tips to get the right fit.

Find a comfortable but snug fit: Find an underwear size that is formfitting, but not that tight that you aren’t comfortable. Also, make sure they aren’t too big so that they don’t rub and bunch, which can be uncomfortable and irritating to your skin. If you like to work out or run, you may prefer to wear compression shorts, but after a few hours on the trail, that consistent pressure can cause your hiking underwear to become uncomfortable.

Improves wicking: You may think that a looser fit can give you better ventilation, but a material that wicks well actually needs to touch your skin to work effectively. With that in mind, look for more formfitting hiking underwear when choosing the best pair for wicking.

Longer cuts can prevent chafing: If you want to reduce inner thigh chafing while hiking, look for a pair of underwear that has an extended cut that will cover the spot where you have experienced discomfort.

Construction

How your briefs are constructed greatly impacts your comfort and your brief’s longevity. The ideal pair can withstand heavy use and won’t fall apart after a few machine washes. They should look the same and retain their properties after regular washing. Features indicating your briefs will last the distance include flatlock seams, the waistband, or having an integrated fly.

Look for products that have flatlock seams, these are wide and flat seams that give additional strength to the garment. They also cut down on chafing since you won’t have that thick seam rubbing up against your skin all the time. A scratchy tag can be just as annoying as an underwear seam. With tagless underwear, your trip will be a lot more comfortable without the constant irritation.

Another vital consideration is a waistband that will sit comfortably around your waist. If you wear a backpack, your waistband can end up getting pressed into your skin. This can turn a little annoyance into a significant irritation when you are on the trail. Keep in mind that flatter waistbands are more comfortable than those that are bulky and thick.

Finally, whether or not you have a fly is a personal preference. If you need a fly, make sure you pay attention as you shop and don’t pick up a pair that doesn’t have one.

Odor Control

When you hike, you sweat, and this can lead to odor. If you’re wearing materials that tend to retain odors, your clothes will start to stink, especially your underwear! To alleviate this, look for hiking underwear with an antimicrobial treatment to lessen odors, so you should still smell fresh after a few days of use.

Since these treatments can wear off over time, you need to find materials that have natural antimicrobial properties. For example, merino wool underwear is already naturally odor resistant, so it will never wear off. You can also check out nylon and polyester that have been treated with Polygiene or other anti-microbial agents that provide antimicrobial properties. But, as we mentioned, anti-microbial treatments can wash out eventually.

Last update on 2024-03-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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BrianBioAvatar

Brian has been an avid hiker and backpacker since he was a small kid, often being taken out into the wilderness on trips with his father. His dad knew everything about nature and the wilderness (or at least that's how it seemed to a ten year old Brian).

After high school, he went to university to read for both a BS and MS in Geology (primarily so he could spend his time outside rather than in a classroom). He's now hiked, camped, skied, backpacked or mapped on five continents (still need to bag Antarctica) & 30 of the US states.

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