The Best Hiking Underwear in 2021

Smartwool 150 Merino Boxers

Underwear is probably one of the most underrated pieces of hiking apparel. Hikers and mountaineers usually spend a lot of money on other clothing but become penny-pinching when it comes to underwear. However, we don’t think that underwear is something where you should try to save money as it is in direct contact with your skin and therefore very important for comfort and performance. This is especially true for long hiking trips where anti-microbial underwear will help you to pack lighter and smell better. In this review you will find a selection of the best hiking underwear for men, although most products are also available in a women’s version. We have chosen the best five hiking boxers currently available and reviewed them to make your buying decision easier.

We regularly update our reviews and selections to always recommend you the best products on the market.
This selection includes primarily men's products. For women's products check out the Best Hiking Underwear for Women.

1. Buying Hiking Underwear – What is important?

Material:

Hiking underwear should be made of a comfortable material which doesn’t cause rubbing or chafing. Furthermore, it should be also breathable, moisture-wicking and quick-drying so that it efficiently maintains your body’s natural temperature. To achieve these qualities hiking underwear is normally made of natural materials such as Merino wool or synthetic materials such as polyester or nylon. Elastane might be added to these fabrics for better stretch and comfort while a small percentage of nylon fibers is often added to Merino wool fabrics for better durability.

Many hikers face a dilemma whether to buy Merino wool underwear or underwear made of synthetic materials. Merino wool underwear has several advantages in comparison to synthetic underwear – it is naturally antimicrobial, pleasant to the touch (not itchy like ordinary wool), provides warmth even when wet (soaked with sweat or rain) and offers better breathability. Also note that Merino wool underwear is not only suitable for cold weather as Merino wool can be knitted into very thin fabrics which are suitable for warm summer days. However, synthetic underwear is less expensive and more durable than Merino wool underwear. Furthermore, it also dries slightly faster. For more information about underwear materials read our article Comparison of Base Layer Materials.

Flatlock seams:

Hiking underwear should have flatlock seams because they offer great comfort, unlike normal seams which can chafe your skin by rubbing against it repeatedly. Learn more about flatlock seams in our article What are flatlock seams.

Antimicrobial:

It’s a great advantage if hiking underwear is antimicrobial. This means your underwear will remain fresh after days of use. Some materials, like Merino wool, have natural antimicrobial properties. Other materials, like polyester and nylon, are usually treated with antimicrobial agents such as Polygiene to provide antimicrobial properties. Antimicrobial treatments will, however, get washed out eventually.

Durability:

Hiking underwear should be machine washable and maintain its properties after regular washing.

Style:

For activities such as hiking boxer briefs are recommended as they offer a tight fit and thus efficiently transport perspiration from the skin to the outer layers. A tight fit also protects your thighs from the chafing that looser styles can entail. If you often have problems with thigh chafing, we recommend wearing very long (knee-length) boxer briefs which will cover your thighs better

Expert Selections
We only list top-tier products. Read how our selections of best hiking products differ from others here.
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2. The Best Hiking Underwear in 2021 Review

Best Hiking Boxers Shorts

The Best Hiking Underwear in 2021 – List

  1. Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers
  2. SmartWool 150 Boxers
  3. Patagonia Sender Boxers
  4. ExOfficio Give-N-Go Mesh Sport 2.0 Boxers
  5. Arcteryx Motus SL Boxers

Comparison

Scroll Horizontally
Feature/Product Icebreaker Anatomica BoxersSmartWool 150 BoxersPatagonia Sender BoxersExOfficio Give-N-Go Mesh Sport 2.0 Boxers Arcteryx Motus SL Boxers
Material83% Merino wool, 12% Nylon, 5% Lycra87% Merino wool, 13% Nylon89% recycled nylon, 11% spandex90% Nylon, 10% Lycra100% Polyester
Cut/Inseam lengthBoxer Briefs (4.5 or 6 in.), BriefsBoxer Briefs, Boxer shortsBoxer Briefs (6 in. inseam)Boxer Briefs (3, 6 or 9 in.), Briefs Boxer Briefs
FitSlim Slim Slim Slim Slim
FlyAvailable with and withoutYesNoYesNo
AntimicrobialYesYesYesYesNo
WashingMachine WashMachine WashMachine WashMachine WashMachine Wash
Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers

Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers

1. Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Running
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use
  • Use in cold weather
  • All-year-round use

The Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers provide great comfort. They are made of a corespun fabric with Merino wool (83%), nylon (12%) and Lycra fibers (5%). The fabric has the best qualities of Merino wool (it’s breathable, moisture-wicking and soft to the touch) while the durability and stretch are significantly better than that of Merino wool – nylon fibers provide the durability and Lycra fibers provide the stretch. The density of the fabric is 150 g/m2 which is perfect for aerobic activities such as hiking and mountaineering. The Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers are made with flatlock seams and a branded elastic waistband, and are available both with and without a fly as well as in a longer or shorter version (4.5 in. or 6 in.). They are definitely a good choice for every hiker who wants a pair of durable, comfortable and odor-resistant boxer briefs.

Women's Version: Available - Icebreaker Sprite Hipsters

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Breathability
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Naturally antimicrobial
  • Stretchy
  • Comfortable

Cons:

  • /

 

Smartwool 150 Merino Boxers

Smartwool 150 Merino Boxers

2. SmartWool 150 Boxers

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Running
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use
  • Cold weather use
  • All-year-round use

The SmartWool 150 Boxers  are made of a similar fabric (87% Merino wool, 13% Nylon) as the Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers above. However, the Smartwool 150 boxers don’t contain Lycra fibers and are thus not as stretchy. Nevertheless, they offer great durability and efficiently wick moisture away from the skin. Furthermore, due to the nylon fibers, they also dry fast. They are also available as more roomy boxer shorts. In terms of construction, the Smartwool boxer briefs are equipped with a stylish elastic waistband and stitched with flatlock seams which prevent chafing.  These comfortable, naturally antimicrobial and durable boxers are highly recommended for hikers and mountaineers who need high-quality underwear for their demanding adventures.

Women's Version: Available - Smartwool 150 Merino Bikini Briefs

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Breathability
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Naturally antimicrobial
  • Comfortable

Cons:

  • /
Patagonia Sender Boxers

Patagonia Sender Boxers

3. Patagonia Sender Boxers

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Running
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

The Patagonia Sender Boxers are very popular among hikers and mountaineers as they offer great comfort and performance. They are made of a very thin and lightweight (116 g/m2) micro mesh fabric, which consist of no less than 89 % recycled nylon and 11 % spandex for optimal stretch. The fabric has a wicking finish and has been treated with the HeiQ® Fresh durable odor control treatment to prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Unlike most of the other products in this selection of the best hiking underwear for men, the Patagonia Sender boxers only come in one inseam length and do not have a fly but merely a contoured pouch to avoid any seams chafing you in the groin. All seams are, however, flatlock seams for optimal comfort. As the boxers are Fair Trade Certified sewn, you can rest assured that those who made those seams have been paid and treated fairly!

Women's Version: Available - Patagonia Barely Hipsters

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Light-weight mesh material from recycled elements
  • Sustainable production
  • Ergonomic cut and flatlock seams
  • Comfortable

Cons:

  • /

Where to buy?

Also available at:

REI | Backcountry

 

ExOfficio Give-N-Go Mesh Sport Boxers for Hiking

ExOfficio Give-N-Go Mesh Sport Boxers for Hiking

4. ExOfficio Give-N-Go Mesh Sport 2.0 Boxers

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Running
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use
  • Use in warm weather

The ExOfficio Give-N-Go Mesh Sport boxers have long been a bestseller from the brand, but have now been updated to a version 2.0 which is four times more breathable, 50% more moisture-wicking, and dries 24% faster than its predecessor. The mesh fabric now includes even more Lycra (10 % total), which has furthermore improved the 4-way stretch. Synthetic hiking underwear is prone to smell, and thus the ExOfficio Sport 2.0 boxers have been treated with an improved anti-microbial technology to eliminate odor-causing bacteria,. We recommend them to those who want superb underwear for hiking in summer – while Merino wool underwear is to be preferred in other (colder) seasons as it maintains its warmth even when soaked with sweat. The ExOfficio Give-N-Go Mesh Sport 2.0 underwear is available as briefs as well as with a 3, 6 and 9 inch inseam, so you can choose exactly the coverage you prefer.

Women's Version: Available - ExOfficio Give-N-Go Mesh Sport 2.0 Women's Boy Shorts

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Light
  • Quick drying
  • Breathable

Cons:

  • /
Arcteryx Motus SL boxers

Arcteryx Motus SL boxers

5. Arcteryx Phase SL Boxers

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Running
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use
  • Use in warm weather

The Arcteryx Motus SL Boxers are made of the advanced silk-weight Phasic material (100% polyester) which pulls the moisture away from the skin and disperse it across the entire surface for faster drying. Because the material is super thin, the Arcteryx boxers also provide great breathability and freedom of movement. To mitigate odor, the Phasic fabric has been treated with DAO(Durable Anti-Odor). Like the Patagonia boxers, the Arcteryx Motus SL underwear is not equipped with a fly, but does feature a gusseted crotch for extra freedom of movement. Another thing the two products have in common is sustainable production as the Arcteryx boxers are made in a Fair Trade Certified facility as a step on the way to have 80 % of the brand’s production fair trade certified by 2025. The Arcteryx Motus SL boxers are a great option for hiking in warm weather and highly aerobic activities such as running and mountaineering.

Women's Version: Not available - see the Women's Hiking Underwear instead.

 

Pros:

  • Thin but durable fabric
  • Quick drying
  • Breathable
  • Sustainable production

Cons:

  • Price (for synthetic underwear)

3. Questions and Answers

What is antimicrobial underwear?

Antimicrobial underwear doesn’t get smelly even if you wear it for days without washing. Antimicrobial underwear is typically made either of Merino wool or synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon. Merino wool is naturally antimicrobial while synthetic materials must be treated to become antimicrobial. These treatments will eventually be washed out and the antimicrobial properties decrease accordingly.

What is moisture wicking underwear?

Moisture wicking underwear pulls the moisture from your skin and transfers it to the outer layer where it evaporates or gets absorbed by your pants. Merino wool is known to be very moisture-wicking. However, other materials such as polyester and nylon are also moisture-wicking.

What is the best underwear to workout in?

For working out we recommend wearing underwear made either of Merino wool or synthetic materials like nylon and polyester. These materials are quick-drying and moisture-wicking. Therefore, they prevent discomfort and chafing.

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Author Information

Blaz

Outdoor enthusiast with experience in all types of hiking and mountaineering. Hiked in the Alps, Iceland and other countries. In love with via ferrata trails and snow-covered slopes. Check out my hikes.