Best Hiking Underwear of 2021 (Guide & Reviews)

by Julien Heron
Last Updated: January 10, 2021
Close-up on intermediate climber tying her shoelace

It’s so easy to get so caught up in purchasing the right hiking gear and outerwear that you forget something as seemingly minor as underwear. The fact of the matter is, the underwear you wear on the trail can actually make more of a difference on your hike than you may think.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about purchasing the best hiking underwear, and our final review of the top 5 hiking underwear options you’ll want to consider for your gear.

The top 5 hiking underwear we recommend for 2021:

How to Select the Best Hiking Underwear

The best hiking underwear will help you prevent chafing and keep you from getting too uncomfortable or sweaty. 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 best hiking underwear for your next trip.

Moisture Wicking

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.

Style Matters

Of course, style is an important factor to consider when purchasing the best hiking underwear. 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 the best hiking underwear to meet 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

The best hiking underwear options are made for comfort and durability. 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 the best hiking underwear that features 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.

Synthetic Fabric

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.

Merino Wool

Merino wool is another excellent fabric choice to consider if you are in the market for the best hiking underwear. 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 Best Hiking Underwear Styles

Here are the primary best 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

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.

Best Hiking Underwear Reviews

Now that you know what to look for when hunting for the best hiking underwear, it’s time to dive into our top 5 reviews. Let’s go!

Outdoor Research Men's Alpine Onset Boxer Briefs

Outdoor Research Men’s Alpine Onset Boxer Briefs on white background
Outdoor Research Men's Alpine Onset Boxer Briefs
An active pair of underwear that won't climb or hike on you
The Outdoor Research Men’s Alpine Onset Boxer Briefs feature a blend of fabric that wicks moisture away and easily layers while being naturally resistant to odors.
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  • 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

The first best hiking underwear selection 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.
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ExOfficio Mens Performance Underwear Give-N-Go Boxer Brief

ExOfficio Mens Performance Underwear Give-N-Go Boxer Brief on white background
ExOfficio Mens Performance Underwear Give-N-Go Boxer Brief
A quick-drying and breathable underwear with anti-microbial treatment included
ExOfficio Men's Give-N-Go Underwear allows you to stay dry and feel fresh wherever your urban adventures or international flights take you with soft fabric and moisture-wicking technology.
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  • Affordable
  • 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 best hiking 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.
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Icebreaker Anatomica Boxer with Fly

Icebreaker Anatomica Boxer with Fly on white background
Icebreaker Anatomica Boxer with Fly
Icebreaker's boxers seamlessly combine comfort with trail-worthy performance
The Icebreaker Anatomica Boxer with Fly is a blend of merino wool that gives you softness while being quick-drying, moisture-wicking, and thermal-regulating for all-day comfort.
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  • 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.
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SmartWool Mens Merino 150 Boxer Brief

SmartWool Mens Merino 150 Boxer Brief on white background
SmartWool Mens Merino 150 Boxer Brief
The lined waistband and flat seams make these everyday wool boxers
The SmartWool Men's Merino 150 Boxer Brief puts a merino blend next to your skin to resist odors, regulate your body temperature, and manage moisture.
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  • 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 best hiking underwear pick on our list 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.
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Saxx Vibe Boxer Brief

Saxx Vibe Boxer Brief on white background
Saxx Vibe Boxer Brief
Get friction-free support with moisture-wicking fabric to stay comfortable
The Saxx Vibe Boxer Briefs are best-selling boxers that come in a huge range of patterns and prints, and they'll keep you supported and comfortable.
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  • 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.
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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’re betting this pair of best hiking underwear will be on your favorites list in no time for all your outdoor adventures.

Julien Heron
I’m passionate about all things outdoors, bridging the gap between generations and sharing my passion for hiking and camping. My goal is to spread the endless benefits of being outside, always striving for better performance, new challenges, and ways to explore responsibly.
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