One of the main reasons you would need good and comfortable hiking underwear is to minimize friction and chafing on the long hikes. The design and materials of hiking underwear will help prevent chafing and provide comfort by reducing sweat and odors.
I will explain in this article how these features are critical to helping you choose the best hiking underwear, and list a few that are good to get.
What’s the Best Hiking Underwear?
I have gone through hundreds of different products and thousands of reviews from people who used these undies, to give you a run down of the best few.
If you’re unsure what to look for and what’s important to consider when getting new underwear for hiking, I have written an extensive hiking underwear buying guide below. You’ll also find some frequently asked questions answered there.
Fabric: 90% Polyester, 10% Spandex
Number of pairs: 3
These New Balance boxers are my top choice and come in a set of three. Made from 90% polyester and 10% spandex, the fabric blend has a 4-way stretch with a fly opening and pouch to fit comfortably. 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.
- Made from a polyester and spandex blend,
- Wicking design and mesh gusset,
- 4-way stretch making it more comfortable
- Prone to damage,
- Rides up causing discomfort
Fabric: 95% Nylon, 5% Spandex
Number of pairs: 5
I chose this product as the best budget choice on my 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 that is 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.
- Nylon and spandex blended fabric for comfort,
- Seamless and tagless design reduces chafing,
- Comfortable and snug fit
Fabric: 91% Polyester, 9% Spandex
Number of pairs: 3
The 91% polyester and 9% spandex blend is soft and quick-drying for hiking underwear. The product is built for perfomance and the stretch fabric is comfortable with an athletic fit that allows you to move around without constraints.
Although it features a no-ride inseam, users have noted that it bunches and rides up, and the seam stitching is rough, which may cause chaffing in sensitive areas. The fabric is also thin and while that helps in quick-drying, it also develops holes quickly, which reduces durability over time. Unlike the New Balance men’s boxers above, these do not have the mesh gusset on the crotch area, which makes them tight and uncomfortable.
- Polyester and spandex blend,
- Plush-soft tagless and wide waistband,
- Available in different lengths
- Ride up thighs,
- Thin material,
- Rough seam stitching
Fabric: 94% Nylon, 6% Lycra
Number of pairs: 1
The ExOfficio ladies’ underwear is similar to the Reebok undies above but with one advantage. It features an antimicrobial treatment that makes it ideal for hiking trips that are longer than a day. Antimicrobial properties help reduce odor, while its diamond knit and mesh structure help with ventilation to keep you dry.
Its material blend of 94% nylon and 6% Lycra spandex makes the underwear stretchy for easy movement, and the full-cut design provides a snug fit, though they have other styles available. However, the sizes run big, and unlike most feminine underwear, this product does not have a cotton patch on the crotch area. It may be a disadvantage since the material is slick and will not stick to a sanitary towel.
Also, some buyers were disappointed by how the quality of the underwear deteriorated after machine washing. Therefore, I would recommend hand washing this product.
- Nylon and lycra spandex blend,
- Full cut design that is comfortable,
- Antimicrobial features that reduce odor,
- Diamond knit for stretching and mesh structure
- Not machine washable,
- Sizes run big,
- Does not have a cotton patch on the crotch area
Fabric: 100% Merino wool
Number of pairs: 1
Unlike the other products on this list, this men’s hiking underwear is made from 100% merino wool and is the premium choice on my list. This natural material is gentle for sensitive skin as it does not cause any itching and is also breathable to keep you cool on hot hiking trips. It is also the only one on my list with natural antimicrobial properties. It prevents the growth of odor-causing bacteria and is an ideal option for overnight hiking and camping.
These boxer briefs are quick-drying, which is convenient on the hiking trip. However, merino wool naturally takes longer to dry than synthetic fabrics. Just like most of the underwear on my list, users have noted that these also roll-up. These boxers are thin for layering in cold weather, which helps them dry a bit faster, and also reduces their durability. The sizes run big, so you might consider ordering a size smaller.
- Premium quality Merino wool construction,
- Natural antimicrobial properties for odor resistance,
- Ideal for layering in cold weather,
- 1-year warranty
- Rolls up,
- Takes longer to dry,
- Size runs big,
- Thin construction reduces durability
The New Balance Men’s Boxers are my top choice for the best hiking underwear for men. Its material blend offers excellent moisture absorption and quick-drying for long hikes. It is also the only product on my list with a mesh gusset and an open fly for comfortable wear.
For ladies, Reebok Womens Seamless Hipster Panties are the best. Great material and design at a very good price, isn’t that what we want?
What You Should Know Before Buying Hiking Underwear
Hiking Underwear Fabric
The ideal hiking underwear features either Polyester, Nylon, or Merino Wool. Sometimes Spandex or Lycra is blended with either of these fabrics for stretchability which improves fitting and comfort.
Polyester is a synthetic material that is durable and lightweight. It is also quick drying and ideal for high-intensity activities like hiking. However, in comparison to natural fabrics such as Merino Wool, it is less breathable. It may result in odor and moisture retention and cause infections. Therefore, it is ideal for short hikes.
Nylon is a synthetic material that is stretchy when blended with spandex. It is ideal for hiking because it conforms to your body profile and is more durable due to its strong threads. It is also moisture-absorbent, which means it is better at moisture wicking. However, as a synthetic material, it has low breathability and takes more time to dry.
Merino Wool is a natural and highly breathable fabric, and it may be the best option for hiking underpants. It has a high moisture-wicking ability to keep you dry. However, it takes longer to dry when wet, and you may not be able to wash your Merino Wool skivvies while on a hike. On the upside, it has antimicrobial qualities that help keep odor and infections at bay. This quality makes it ideal for long excursions.
Merino wool is also more gentle on the skin, and it makes an excellent base layer because it is warm when cold weather and cool on hot days. However, as a natural fabric, Merino Wool is considerably more pricey than synthetic fibers. On the other hand, synthetic materials are more abrasive-resistant which makes them more durable.
Underwear comfort is an essential consideration because it is an intimate garment. Some of the features that enhance comfort include flatlock seams to prevent chafing for synthetic fabric. Another feature is the antimicrobial properties that inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Merino Wool is naturally antimicrobial, and it helps to keep your underwear odor-free and prevent yeast infections. Moisture-wicking fabrics keep your skin dry by absorbing sweat, while the style you choose will provide a comfortable fit.
Although cotton underwear is ideal for everyday wear, it is not the best choice for hiking purposes. Its ability to absorb sweat is an excellent feature. However, once it has absorbed the moisture, cotton will retain the moisture and remain wet until you remove it to dry. Generally speaking, comfort is a subjective condition. Therefore, always go for what makes you feel comfortable.
Loosely fitting hiking underpants will have more breathability than tightly fitting ones. However, moisture-wicking works better when the garment is snug against the skin. If you are unsure of how breathable the material is, hold it up in the light. The more the light comes through, the more breathable the fabric is. Synthetic materials are not very breathable compared to wool and are not suitable for long hikes.
To minimize odor, consider hiking underpants that have antimicrobial treatments that prevent the growth of odor causing bacteria. Merino Wool is naturally antimicrobial, while synthetic underwear will have treatments applied to reduce odor.
Breathability is another factor that affects the odor control ability of the underpants. As shown above, Merino Wool is the most breathable and the most ideal for long excursions.
Hiking underwear made from quick-drying material is ideal because hiking is a strenuous activity with lots of sweating. When going for overnight hiking trips, synthetic underwear will dry faster after washing compared to wool.
Style is yet another necessary and subjective consideration. For men, some of the common styles include briefs, trunks, and boxers, while full-cut, boy-legs, hipsters, and bikinis are some of the typical female types.
Most female underwear (except boyshorts) do not roll up the legs, so there is less risk for thigh chafing. For males, the briefs are above the thighs and maybe the best option to avoid chafing from the in-seam. However, if your thighs rub together while walking, long briefs or boy shorts may reduce the friction.
Good fitting and comfortable underwear will reduce the likelihood of infections and decreased sperm count, as tight underwear tends to increase the temperature around the scrotum. You should be able to figure the style that is most comfortable from the underpants you already own.
Moisture-wicking ability keeps you cool and dry while hiking because it absorbs all the moisture from your genital area. It will reduce the bacteria that cause odor and build up yeast that will lead to yeast infection.
Antimicrobial features found on some hiking underpants help keep odor under control by preventing the development of bacteria. It is a necessary feature to consider, especially when your hiking trips last longer than a day.
Mesh gusset is another feature found in boxers that increases comfort by reducing the discomfort caused by tight-fitting underwear. This feature also protects against friction that can be irritating and uncomfortable.
No ride inseam helps to stop underwear from rolling up and causing irritation. While hiking, the last thing you want is your underwear to roll up your crotch. This feature is common in male underpants such as boxers and trunks.
Questions and Answers About Hiking Underwear
How can I wash my hiking underwear and keep it in a good condition?
I would recommend hand washing in warm water to keep your underwear in good condition. The fabrics used to make hiking underpants are typically thin for quick drying and breathability. But, it also makes them delicate, and they wear out quickly. If you prefer machine washing, use the delicate cycle with mild soap. Tumble dry on a low setting, and do not iron them.
Do I have to always wear underwear while hiking?
Generally, it is about personal preference. Hiking commando can also be uncomfortable for most people because undies are designed to prevent the garment from irritating your sensitive parts. The advantage of hiking underwear is that it will help keep you dry by absorbing all the sweat.