Comfortable high-performance underwear is super important for a good time on the hiking trails. I’m not aware of anyone that likes to experience hours of chafing and discomfort. Comfy underwear is just as important as a comfy pair of hiking shoes, hiking boots, or hiking socks. One should take care of those sensitive areas when out on the trails. Read on for our list of the best hiking underwear that money can buy in 2020! Below, you will find the best and newest options for both men and women.
What to look for in a pair of hiking underwear
There are a number of factors that you should consider when buying underwear for hiking. Many newcomers to hiking simply opt for a regular pair of boxers, briefs or undies stashed in the drawers. Don’t do this. It is highly recommended to wear a more athletic type of product if you want to stay comfortable for hours of hiking.
Alrighty, then let’s get to know what you should consider when making a purchase.
Style + Fit
For male hikers, we recommend boxer briefs with a 6-inch inseam.
Of course, if you know that a certain style works best for you, go with your intuition or experience.
To avoid chafing and discomfort look for underwear that is snug, but not too tight of a fit.
The materials used in any article of hiking clothing is super important. Avoid 100 percent cotton. Cotton underwear is not a moisture-wicking fabric. It will get damp from perspiration, start to bunch up, and most likely lead to chafing or some form of discomfort. No thanks!
Look for underwear that is made of synthetic materials. The best hiking underwear is made of lightweight polyester, nylon, with a small percentage of spandex aka lycra. These are the most popular synthetic fabrics and will wick moisture away from the skin while you hike.
Some underwear has a blend that includes merino wool. This can help with odor control naturally, but it is not as lightweight or as comfortable as underwear made from synthetics.
Durable elastic waistband
Take a good look at the waistband when purchasing underwear. Stretch it if you can. You definitely want a comfortable yet durable elastic waistband. We suggest a wider waistband to garner the most comfort. Narrow waistbands have a tendency to cut into and put pressure on your waist over time.
Choose a pair of underwear for hiking that is lightweight. As mentioned, the best bet is underwear made of synthetic materials.
If you are hiking in the Summer or hot climates you are going to want underwear that is super breathable. The more breathable and airy means you will sweat far less during your hike. Look for hiking underwear that is lightweight mesh (perforated) and you shall be a happy hiker.
Sometimes, you can’t avoid getting damp or wet. If you are an aggressive, fast-moving hiker you will sweat, and you may also encounter water and get splashed.
Thus, you want quick drying underwear. The best hiking underwear is fast drying and made of synthetic fabrics. Simple, right?
Merino wool offers natural odor resistance. This is one option to consider in colder conditions.
Some brands manufacture synthetic underwear for hiking that has an antimicrobial treatment applied that will help for days in between washes.
Chafing is the worst on a hike. Right up there with blisters on your feet.
Just say no to cotton underwear.
Go for synthetics. They are super silky smooth and feel like air. If you haven’t already tried synthetic underwear go for it. Once you try it you will never go back to cotton.
To help narrow down your search, we recommend starting with these top quality brands.
Best Overall Men’s Underwear For Hiking
Below you will find the best new pairs of hiking underwear that you can buy today. We have broken down the best options by category.
Extra comfortable hiking underwear
You can’t go wrong with a brand like Patagonia. These are our top pick for the most comfortable and luxurious hiking underwear. Most of the underwear we looked at are entirely made of mesh. The Essential A/C Boxer Briefs by Patagonia are mostly constructed of soft spandex jersey fabric for comfort but has airy mesh fabric in the hot zones.
The Patagonia Essential A/C Boxer Briefs have flatlock seams that are chafe-free and very comfortable. The mesh gusset and contoured pouch provide incredible breathability, comfort, and quick-dry performance when you are working hard on the trails. These boxer briefs have an anti-rolling, wide, comfort waistband that hugs your waist.
Made of soft, breathable, stretchy fabrics: 95% TENCEL lyocell/5% spandex jersey; 89% recycled nylon/11% spandex mesh pouch with HeiQ odor control.
Best overall men’s underwear for hiking (for most hikers)
We’ve tested out several styles of ExOfficio and think this pair is the best option for hiking.
The Give-n-go Sport underwear is made of lightweight, synthetic (92% Nylon 8% Lycra Spandex), odor-resistant, and has an ergonomic fly panel for extra support.
ExOfficio can seem expensive, but our tests have shown that they can last for up to 5 years of regular daily wear plus hikes. So we give them a thumbs up for value.
Best performance underwear for aggressive hikers and trail runners
This pair of underwear has an innovative design that is perfect for hikers (or trail runners) that move quickly on the trails. The Saxx Vibe boxer briefs have a special “ballpark pouch” that helps to prevent skin against skin friction and chafing. Basically, you have a hammock shaped area to keep your junk in place and away from your legs and groin. This pair of underwear is constructed of 9 panels to provide you a 3-D fit and support. The unique shape and design will help moisture to dissipate away from the skin. Awesome wicking capabilities, unlocked. The Saxx Vibes are made of viscose fabric (95%) and spandex (5%), has a 5-inch inseam, and a 1 3/8 inch waistband that is anti-roll. Sold as a package of two pairs.
Top budget pick: affordable hiking underwear
Our test on this product is early on. However, after 6 months, the 32 Degrees underwear are proving to be extremely comfortable, are showing no signs of wear and tear, and are super affordable. A 3-pack is cheaper than one pair of ExOfficio.
These underwear are synthetic (88% Nylon, 12% Spandex), breathable, anti-odor, quick-dry performance nylon mesh.
I definitely would rate these our top pick if we had been testing them for more than a year. However, we haven’t hit that threshold yet.
If you can get them in your location, I would recommend picking up a pack and trying them out. You can’t really go wrong at this price point.
These are currently my favorite go-to pair of underwear. Super high-performing, soft, breathable, and comfy.
Best men’s hiking underwear for hot weather
If you hike often in hot climates you will want some high performance, highly breathable, moisture-wicking, micromesh fabric underwear. The Sender Boxer Briefs by Patagonia are the full mesh version of the Patagonia Essential A/C Boxer Briefs above and will keep you comfy and cool all day long.
At just 68g (2.4 oz) in weight, the Sender Boxer Briefs are the lightest on this list. They are made of 89% recycled nylon and 11% spandex mesh, have a wicking finish and provide odor control. The waistband is also anti-roll and super comfortable. An awesome pair of hiking underwear for long hot hikes.
Best hiking underwear for cold weather
If you are hiking in very cold climates you might find synthetic underwear too cool and breezy. A great option to keep warm in cool temperatures is a pair of underwear that is made of a blend of soft merino wool and other synthetic fabrics.
This pair of hiking underwear is made of 87% merino and 13% nylon. A nice comfy pair of underwear that would be great for long winter hikes. You get the warmth and natural odor-fighting power of merino wool and the stretchy comfort of synthetic fabric. The flatlock seam construction helps to eliminate chafing on long hikes. This pair has a 1.5-inch waistband that won’t roll over or slip around on your waist.
The Sport 150 boxer briefs are another great option for cooler days.
This pair has a lesser percentage of merino with 56% merino wool and 44% polyester as the blend. The extra polyester makes this hiking underwear more durable and provides a faster drying time. The merino wool takes care of moisture management, temperature regulation, and odor resistance. This would be a great pair of underwear for cool Fall temperatures or cold Winter hiking.
Best vegan (bamboo) hiking underwear
Looking for a pair of underwear that isn’t 100% synthetic?
Check out the Boody Eco Wear underwear made of sustainably sourced bamboo, ethically made and are certified vegan by PETA. Underwear you can feel good in and good about!
This underwear is 80% viscose from bamboo, 13% nylon, and 7% spandex. The bamboo viscose is grown organically, breathable, and wicks moisture.
This pair of underwear is seam-free, mid-rise, and is flat in the front (no pouch), and has a wide ribbed waistband.
Best Women’s Underwear For Hiking
There are many different styles for women to choose from. We recommend going for more coverage to prevent undesirable rubbing or chafing. Thus, we shall focus primarily on boxer briefs (aka boy shorts), and briefs (full-cut and hipsters).
Best overall hiking underwear for women
ExOfficio underwear is well known to be durable and last a long time. As mentioned, you can expect to get years of service from one pair of underwear. The ultralight mesh that the Give-n-go Sport hipkini is made of is ridiculously comfortable. They are perfect for high energy hiking. The flatlock seams and fabric waistband prevent chafing. The mesh fabric keeps you cool. And the antimicrobial treatment reduces odor over the long haul. The synthetic blend consists of 93% Nylon and 7% Lycra Spandex. Try them, you’ll love them.
Top performance hiking underwear for women
The Patagonia Active briefs are another top performer that is great for trekking, backpacking or long hikes. These super lightweight briefs are made from a breathable, stretchy, moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics and feature Polygiene permanent odor control. The single-sided leg binding won’t chafe or creep making these undies super comfortable. They are sustainably made out of recycled polyester and are also fair trade certified sewed and thus are feel good in more ways than one!
Best women’s hiking underwear for cold weather
The Smartwool Seamless bikini underwear is great for cooler hiking temperatures or winter hikes. This pair is a blend of 77% merino wool for warmth, temperature management, and anti-odor capabilities and 23% nylon for durability.
If you want more coverage, go for the hipster version. Same blend, different shape.
Best women’s hiking underwear for hot weather
Stay cool and comfortable with the Kuhl Hipkini underwear for hiking. This pair of underwear is made of super breathable Adventure Mesh fabric. Incredible ventilation, check! These undies feature a breathable waistband and very soft leg binding. The synthetic blend is 92% nylon and 8% spandex. Special ionic treatment helps keep this underwear fresh all day long.
The Odlo Performance Light SUW underwear for women features seamless technology and ventilation zones that will keep you cool on hot hiking days. The synthetic blend is 69% polyester, 27% polyamide, and 4% elastane and delivers ultra fast-drying properties and breathability.
Top budget pick: women’s hiking underwear
If you want a more affordable pair of hiking underwear, go for one of the REI Co-op Active Underwear options. This model comes in all styles and shapes and will help you save some money.
So, now you know where to start. Do pick out a couple of pairs of high-performance hiking underwear. You will love any of these options if you have been wearing your regular underwear on hikes. Hiking underwear keeps you cool, free moving and super comfortable.