The right hiking underwear can make the difference between a comfortable hike and a miserable one. You need something that will keep you comfortable and protected while on the trail, and you also want something that will last.
To help you out, we compiled this roundup of the best hiking underwear. Our selection includes both briefs and boxer briefs, along with a variety of materials, so that you can find the right one. And be sure to check out our buying guide below for more tips on choosing the right hiking underwear.
After spending hours researching the right underwear for hiking, we've concluded that the Outdoor Research Men's Alpine Onset Boxer Briefs are the best overall. They offer a quality fit that feels great, have a comfortable waistband, and are highly durable.
Additionally, we included other options so that you can find the hiking underwear that best suits your needs.
Let's get started!
The top 5 hiking underwear we recommend for 2023:
Best Hiking Underwear Reviews
Now that you know what to look for when hunting for the top hiking underwear, it’s time to dive into our top 5 reviews.
Outdoor Research Men's Alpine Onset Boxer Briefs
- Quality merino wool fabric
- Wards off unpleasant odors
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Good moisture wicking capabilities
- A little on the pricier side
- Do not offer as much support as some other products
Our first hiking underwear on our list is by Outdoor Research and is in a class of its own in terms of comfort, odor resistance, durability, and breathability. You can enjoy the best of both worlds with these boxer briefs, featuring merino wool and an amazing fit. They fit close enough to the body to catch moisture and keep you cool and dry without being uncomfortable or overly snug.
We really like the fact that these boxer briefs are made from merino wool. They ward off unpleasant odors for days at a time, making them the perfect choice for long hiking trips where you’ll face a range of weather elements.
The only real downside to this pair is the fact that they are a little on the pricier side, but you really can’t beat the quality, fit, or feel of these boxer briefs. They also feature a durable fly, so if that’s an add-on you like with your boxer briefs, you’re in luck.
ExOfficio Mens Performance Underwear Give-N-Go Boxer Brief
- Dries super fast
- Easy to wash
- Good stretch
- Not as effective at controlling odors as some
- May not be as durable for longwear use
Our next underwear review pick is this exceptional choice by ExOfficio, made from a 94% nylon and 6% Lycra blend. If you want a simple but dependable pair of hiking underwear, this option could be for you. The ExOfficio Men’s Performance Underwear Give-N-Go Brief is not only cost effective, but very comfortable and breathable.
The underwear definitely does a good job of controlling odors, but we especially like the fact that it dries super quickly after each wash. You can depend on these boxer briefs to last you through a long day in the great outdoors without riding up or causing discomfort. They have enough give and stretch too.
These boxer briefs do control odors, but definitely not to the same extent as a merino wool option would. However, unless you plan to be outside for days on end without a shower in sight, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Icebreaker Anatomica Boxer with Fly
- Comfortable and stretchy with great support
- Quality waistband
- Very soft and breathable fabric
- Dries very quickly
- So many seams could cause chaffing and annoyance for some
- Fabric is a bit thin
The Icebreaker Anatomica Boxer is a good choice if you’re going to be doing light to moderate hiking and want a pair of hiking underwear that is soft, breathable, and fits well. Made from merino wool, the Icebreaker is highly durable and features added nylon for extra longevity of use. It is very light on the skin and stretchy enough to be really comfortable.
The Icebreaker hiking underwear also offers a quality level of support. One thing to note is that this hiking underwear features a lot of seams throughout the design, so this could cause annoyance and chaffing if you tend to wear multiple layers.
That said, the Icebreaker has a light and stretchy waistband and wards off excess odor really well. The fabric of this hiking underwear is on the thinner side, so it dries out pretty quickly when compared to other merino wool products.
SmartWool Mens Merino 150 Boxer Brief
- Highly durable material
- Not scratchy and very comfortable
- Offers quality support
- Good moisture wicking and odor control
- Very thick waistband might not be to everybody’s taste
- Takes a while to dry
The next recommended underwear is this boxer brief by Smartwool, featuring merino wool material that is soft and light. The fit is good, and you won’t notice any scratchy seams which is another plus. The SmartWool Mens Merino 150 Boxer Brief doesn’t have quite as much stretch as other options available, but it is highly durable and will stand up well against long hikes.
We really like how breathable this hiking underwear is, helping to keep you cool and regulate sweat through good moisture wicking. The merino wool material of this underwear also does an excellent job of controlling unseemly odors.
One aspect that bears mentioning is the fact that these boxer briefs feature a fairly wide waistband. It’s a matter of personal preference, but that could be an annoyance for some. They also take a pretty long time to dry when washed.
Saxx Vibe Boxer Brief
- Quality support with a pouch and meshing
- Dries pretty fast
- Durable material
- Not as good at reducing odors
- Less moisture wicking capabilities
The last selection on our list is this highly supportive pair of hiking underwear by Saxx. They are a super comfortable pair of underwear, made from viscose fabric and processed wool pulp that offers a silky feel against the skin. The Saxx Vibe Boxer Brief also features a supportive pouch with mesh webs to keep you comfortable even on very long, strenuous hikes.
The viscose fabric doesn’t breathe quite like merino wool might. The Saxx Vibe Boxer Brief is also a bit lacking in the odor control department, as its smooth material gathers sweat and bacteria more easily. However, this hiking underwear is very durable and dries in just a few hours after being washed, making it a quality choice if you’re out on the trail for a few days.
How to Choose Hiking Underwear
Choosing the right hiking underwear will prevent chafing and keep you comfortable and dry. So, how can you make sure you’re selecting the right hiking underwear?
We’re so glad you asked. Here’s how to select the right hiking underwear for your next trip.
You should always pick hiking underwear that features moisture wicking technology and dries quickly. Cotton fabrics will leave you feeling gross and clammy, so you definitely want to stay away from these materials when purchasing the best underwear for hiking.
You should always purchase hiking underwear in more lightweight, breathable fabrics that dry fast such as merino wool or a synthetic option like polyester. Synthetic and wool fibers wick excess moisture on your skin so you won’t gather pools of sweat and unwelcome odors.
When purchasing hiking underwear, style is certainly important to consider. You want to pick a style that you like and works with your personal preference. Men’s hiking underwear options come in an array of styles, including boxer briefs, boxers, and briefs.
Choose the style you are most comfortable with and know you’ll wear without feeling constricted or uncomfortable.
The Right Fit
Fit is a critical element to bear in mind when hunting for hiking underwear that suits your needs. Hiking underwear should fit so that you are comfortable. It should not be too loose, but it also shouldn’t be so tight that it pulls or rubs against the skin.
Comfort Is Key
It is important to choose hiking underwear that is comfortable and durable. Look for underwear components such as flat seams and tagless waistbands that won’t scratch or irritate your skin after many hours spent outside. You also should look for odor resistant fabric, so you won’t have to worry about nasty smells gathering after a sweaty hike.
The Best Underwear for Hiking Fabrics
There are a number of fabric options at your disposal when purchasing the best underwear for hiking. Here’s what you need to know.
Most lightweight hiking underwear that dries quickly and breathes well is going to be designed from synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester. Other synthetic materials include rayon, polypropylene, or a blend.
Certain brands feature spandex for that extra touch of stretch and comfort. Hiking underwear with spandex also helps ensure a good fit that won’t be too tight or uncomfortable.
There are several good reasons why you should consider purchasing hiking underwear made from synthetic fabric. For one thing, synthetic materials are fantastic at moisture wicking, helping to eliminate excess sweat and keep you cool and dry. Synthetic fabrics are also very durable and reduce the likelihood of odors gathering.
In fact, some brands include a special finish in their hiking underwear that reduces bacteria buildup (and therefore unpleasant odors). Of course, if you’re going to be hiking for days without a shower, you’ll have to deal with a certain level of odor, but this could help reduce the overall scent.
Choosing merino wool as your hiking underwear fabric is another excellent choice. Merino wool is soft and light on the skin, without causing any unwanted itchiness or discomfort. Most merino wool hiking underwear features a blend of other materials like nylon or spandex for an optimal fit and freedom of movement.
Merino wool moisture wicks well, soaking up excess moisture from your skin and absorbing it into the material. Wool fibers tend to retain a modicum of that moisture, but not enough to make you feel chilled or clammy. Merino wool does take longer to dry than synthetic materials, so this is definitely something to bear in mind.
Hiking underwear made from merino wool also keeps you cool by emitting some of that moisture buildup, which is good news if you’re going to be hiking in steamy temperatures.
Frequent use can cause merino wool to wear down, but overall it is a fairly durable fabric that will serve you well on hikes. It also naturally wards off bacteria and odors, helping you avoid unpleasant smells even after wearing the same underwear for multiple days in a row while on a hike.
The Different Hiking Underwear Styles
Here are the primary hiking underwear styles you can pick from.
Briefs will offer you plenty of support while on the trail, but they do not provide quite as much coverage as a choice like boxer briefs do. If you are prone to chafing or discomfort in the area around your thighs after long periods walking and hiking, you might prefer hiking underwear that offers a bit more coverage.
Boxer briefs are a great compromise between the coverage of boxers and the comfort of briefs. They fit nicely and give plenty of support too, making them an excellent option for long trips.
Hiking underwear shouldn’t be so tight that it’s ill-fitting, but it also shouldn’t be so loose that it bunches. Boxer briefs are a fantastic way to eliminate this quandary, especially because you won’t enjoy the same moisture wicking results if your underwear fits too loosely against your skin.
Boxers fit quite loosely, which means they can definitely help reduce the amount of chafing you experience while on a hike. The only area where they could fall short is if your boxers start to bunch out on the trail. If you don’t like that extra bunching of fabric, you might be better off with a compromise like boxer briefs.
Our award for the best hiking underwear unequivocally goes to the Outdoor Research Men's Alpine Onset Boxer Briefs. Not only do they offer a quality fit that feels great, they have a comfortable waistband and are highly durable. We loved that these boxer briefs by Outdoor Research are made from exceptional merino wool blended with spandex and nylon.
The underwear not only breathes and supports, but reduces odors and wards off bacteria. Plus, you won’t have to worry about unpleasant chafing from too-large seams or bulky waistbands. The fit and feel of the Outdoor Research Men’s Alpine Onset Boxer Briefs is nothing short of exceptional. We bet you'll be grabbing these hiking underwear for all your outdoor adventures in no time.
Hiking Underwear FAQs
Here are our answers to your most commonly asked questions about hiking underwear:
Are boxer briefs good for hiking?
Briefs generally provide good support, but they may cause thigh chafing. The looser fit of traditional boxers often results in bunching, which can be uncomfortable when hiking. Boxer briefs are probably the best combination of briefs and boxers. Boxer briefs provide good coverage and reduce skin-to-skin rubbing, while also being more snug and supportive than boxers.
Is modal underwear good for hiking?
Modal fabric is just beginning to gain popularity, but it has yet to be demonstrated as an excellent hiking cloth; nevertheless, it's known to be softer and more moisture absorbing than cotton, which means it will at the very least perform better on the trail than your usual cotton brief.
Is bamboo underwear good for hiking?
Similar to polyester tech fabric, bamboo fabric underwear is breathable and moisture-wicking, making it a good choice for hiking in both summer and winter. This material has some interesting properties, including being able to wick sweat, resist odors well, is fairly durable, and is more comfortable than cotton.