Hiking is fast becoming one of the world’s most popular activities and hobbies, with more and more men choosing to brave the great outdoors and tackle a range of climates and terrains that give you those thrilling adrenaline rushes, stunning vistas and unforgettable experiences.
But when you are out for a long hike that confronts the elements as well as the limitations of your own body, you’ll need underwear that will enhance rather than impede your journey.
When it comes to hiking with the maximum amount of efficiency and comfort, you have to get the right shape and, more importantly, the right material. Merino wool is the most popular choice for hiker underwear, however, synthetic underwear is also very common, featuring polyester and nylon with some added elastane for additional support and stretch in the groin.
Ideally, for hiking underwear you’ll want something that avoids chafing, is flush to the skin, breathable and moisture-wicking, with quick-drying properties that maintain your body’s natural temperature and reduces the risk of chilblains.
But where can you find the best hiking underwear? What basic properties are you looking for when it comes to the ideal hiker’s boxer brief? How much can a decent pair of hiking boxers be looking to set you back?
Lucky for you, we have the answers to all those questions and then some, with our list of some of the best men’s hiking underwear currently available on the market, along with a buyer’s guide that will help you when looking for hiking slacks and some frequently asked questions by hiking beginners and aficionados.
Top 5 Men's Underwear for Hiking
OUR TOP PICK
First up, we have the Smartwool Men's Merino 150 Boxer Brief.
This is a boxer brief that has been adapted especially for the avid hiker, woven from comfortable merino that will ensure that you won’t be chafing, as it gives the wearer a snug and relaxed fit that will remove any excess moisture from those awkward nether regions.
These boxer briefs are very popular in the world of men’s hiking, the hundreds of positive reviews on Amazon is a testament to that. The breathable material means that air will be circulated in and around your sweaty man parts, which will be a godsend during those long and arduous hikes over days.
These smart boxers utilize flatlock seams, which will reduce the chafing that can occur in the more rigid underpants, especially when your heavy pack presses up against your lower back and irritates the skin.
The material of this boxer is breathable and will eliminate those odors that can build up over a long period of hiking. Often you’ll want to reduce the load of carrying extra pairs of pants, so having a durable set of underwear that lasts you a long time will be very important for saving weight and space in your pack.
- The merino material of these Smartwool boxers will really make all the difference when you’re out on a hike, the light and ventilated material will hug close to the skin and reduce the number of irritants that you experience on the trail.
- Aside from the standard black color, these pants also come with a wide range of styles and patterns, so you can hit that trail with some style and flair.
- These pants really will go the distance with you, featuring flatlock seams, they can withstand extra moisture temperatures and dry in super-fast time, which means that you won’t have to worry about chilblains or other moisture-related problems.
- The price - these boxers will set you back a few dollars, so don’t make the mistake of buying them as a replacement for your everyday underwear. These are specifically designed for the mountain trail and the design features are made for more extreme conditions than your office.
Our second pair of boxer shorts is the Icebreaker Merino Men's Anatomica Boxers.
These also utilize merino wool to give you that supreme comfort and durability when out on the trails, absorbing extra moisture that accumulates in humid conditions, with a nylon core that enhances the resilience of this underwear.
The Anatomica certainly lives up to its scientific namesake - the sculpted design of these boxers are a snug fit, with a nylon core that makes them a little more durable than your pure merino wool boxers.
The merino wool is extremely breathable and offers an impressive drying time, making them the perfect option if you’re thinking of wading through water before transitioning to extra dry conditions, which can lead to other materials shrinking and perishing a lot quicker.
- The material of the Icebreakers are ultralight and mold themselves to the shape on your upper thigh while giving you enough wriggle room for your delicate bits, which is ideal for ventilation and being comfortable for longer.
- The merino and nylon combination gives you a boxer short that is not only comfortable but also long-lasting. This will mean that you end up saving a lot more money on buying replacement underwear.
- The waistband of this brand is particularly comfortable, which is useful for hikers who have a heavy backpack or carry camping equipment and experience excessive sweating and heavy chafing from the back being pressed into their back for long periods.
- Despite having a nylon composite, the merino wool can still perish as fast as a pure merino wool boxer short.
Next up the ExOfficio Men's Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs.
This is a brand of hiking underwear used time and time again by outdoor enthusiasts, coming in two different options: standard and sport mesh. The latter option combines nylon with lycra spandex for a lightweight and durable weave. With this unique composition, you might feel like you have no underwear on at all.
When it comes to choosing between the sport mesh and the standard, you will have to ask yourself which you value more - less durable and fast-drying or more durable and absorbent. If you go with the sport mesh, you might find the material bowing a lot more often, however, the performance of this boxer brief will not be affected overall.
These boxers come with varying inseam lengths, with the longest being 9-inches, allowing you that greater level of comfort and durability if you are someone who hikes outdoors over a long distance. These boxer shorts are amenable to most outdoor activities, not just hiking.
- These boxers are extremely lightweight and are made from a cheaper nylon weave, meaning that you won’t have to spend as much on these as you would on more expensive merino-made boxer shorts.
- The two separate options make this brand a lot more flexible, allowing you to adapt your underwear to your particular level of activity. If you are more active on the trail, you’ll probably want to opt for the sport mesh, which is more lightweight and can support increased leg movement.
- The sport mesh range also dries in super-quick time, making it perfect for aggressive hikes combined with camping, where quick drying will be essential for repeated usage over a few days.
- What you might be saving in dollars, you might be sacrificing in quality. If you think that you’ll be less active out on the trail, we recommend purchasing the standard design.
Our next pair of boxer shorts is the Minus33 Merino 702 Acadian Men’s Lightweight Boxer Briefs.
These boxers provide the wearer with a premium level of support and comfort, giving you top-notch performance, particularly for active hikers that might be combining long walks with other activities such as cycling or quad-biking. Using 100% pure wool material, this underwear is both durable and lightweight.
These underpants are very thin, manufactured from pure merino wool and come in at 17.5 microns in diameter, grading the wool as Ultrafine. But don’t worry that these boxers might not be durable, they are moisture-wicking, well ventilated and are odor-resistant - all the ingredients you need for those multi-day hikes.
They also come with flies and flatlock seams for enhanced comfort, great if you are thinking of combining your hiking with more strenuous activities.
- This is one for those who want to maximize flexibility and endurance from their boxer shorts, ones that are fast-drying and will not impede performance when out on the trail.
- These lightweight boxers are ultra-thin, giving that almost transparent quality to your underclothing.
- These are slightly more expensive than some of our other brands.
Our final pair of hiking undergarments are the Arc’teryx Phase SL Men’s Boxer.
These ones are crafted from something a little different: a silk-weight Phastic material which is 100% polyester material that draws the moisture from the skin and across the surface of the material for quicker drying. This pair of underpants are certainly not restrictive, increasing the amount of natural airflow that gets to your lower regions.
The extra-fast drying capacity of these underpants is their best feature, with a membranous material that disperses the moisture quicker, allowing you to have longer and more comfortable hikes. Phase Technology is breathable and gives the user greater freedom of movement.
These boxers are specifically adapted for more humid conditions and is a great option for anyone that gets involved with aerobic activities in warm weather such as running and hiking.
- With flatlock seams and a stylish, comfortable waistband, these boxers are perfect for more vigorous forms of outdoor activities. The breathable and ultra-thin mesh will ensure that sweat does not accumulate in the upper thigh region, which can often result in chilblains.
- Not only is the material super-thin, it is also very durable, with quick-drying properties that will ensure that moisture is transferred speedily through the material.
- We would recommend that these boxer shorts be used for more strenuous exercise, such as speed hiking, running or cycling, as they are lighter and better suited for shorter distances and higher speeds.
- The material of the Arc'teryx is not antimicrobial, so they will require frequent washing in between uses.
Best Best Men’s Hiking Underwear Buying Guide
There are many different things to consider when buying a good quality pair of hiking underpants, mainly the material, the cut and design, as well as the odor-resistant qualities and how durable they are on longer hikes.
What Material Are They Made Out Of?
There are traditionally two materials used for hiking underwear, that is natural wool like merino or synthetic material, mainly nylon and polyester.
Both of these materials have great moisture-wicking properties, which is essential when it comes to reducing sweat and chafing. If you are hiking in cold weather, these materials will also keep you insulated, whereas in hot weather they will also keep you well-ventilated.
Merino wool is softer and eliminates odors a lot more easily, although it can be expensive and much less durable than polyester or nylon fabrics. However, some underwear combines merino wool with synthetic materials in order to get the best of both worlds.
What Are The Cut And Design?
Boxer briefs more resemble shorts and usually cling snugly to the upper leg. You want to avoid having a boxer brief that is too tight to avoid sweat build-up, however, you also want boxers that aren't too loose as they can snag and rub against your body, which may chafe over a long period, although this is rare.
In terms of design, you want to make sure that the seams are in places where the body doesn’t naturally rub against itself, as this might cause discomfort.
How Durable Is The Material?
Synthetics are generally considered to be more durable than merino wool, however, some hiking underpants have nylon cores to strengthen the durability of 100% pure merino.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does ‘Antimicrobial’ Mean?
Antimicrobial will simply mean that you won’t need to wash your hiking underwear as much, enabling you to wear it for longer without accumulating smells and bacteria.
Merino wool is naturally antimicrobial, whereas synthetic materials have to be treated with antimicrobial covers.
What Does ‘Moisture-Wicking’ Mean?
Moisture-wicking material is that which draws the sweat away from your skin and disperses it through the underwear quicker to keep it dry.
Merino wool has natural moisture-wicking properties.