Gear

Best Hiking Underwear For Women and Men

You’ll find countless discussions about hiking clothes online, but for some reason, not that that many about underwear. Which I find a little strange since if they aren’t comfortable, the wrong underwear can wreck your hike. So in this guide, I’ll break down how to choose the best hiking underwear for both men and women.

I’ve got everything you need to know about underwear for hiking including:

  • What is the best hiking underwear for women? Broken down into all-around, merino, seamless, and budget categories
  • What is the best hiking underwear for men? Broken down into all-around, pouch, merino, and budget categories
  • How to choose hiking underwear: What fabrics, features, and fit should you look for?

Hey there: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission with no extra cost to you. Thanks -Taryn

My Picks

Best All-Around Women’s Hiking Underwear: Exofficio Give-N-Go Sport Mesh

Best Seamless Women’s Hiking Underwear: Patagonia Active

Best Merino Wool Women’s Hiking Underwear: Icebreaker Merino Siren

Best Budget Women’s Hiking Underwear: Under Armour Pure Stretch

Best All-Around Men’s Hiking Underwear Without a Pouch: Exofficio Give-N-Go Sport Mesh

Best All-Around Men’s Hiking Underwear With a Pouch: Saxx Kinetic HD

Best Merino Wool Men’s Hiking Underwear: Icebreaker Anatomica

Best Budget Men’s Hiking Underwear: New Balance Mesh

How I Picked

I’ve been hiking for close to two decades. I’ve also spent three years working in an outdoor store and six years writing marketing materials for a large outdoor retailer. I wrote website descriptions and gear guides for thousands of different products. I spent a ton of time learning from their design team so I got really familiar with the properties of outdoor fabrics and garment construction.

For this guide, I drew upon my outdoor industry experience and my personal experience with trying lots of different types of underwear for hiking. But I also talked to friends, asked the members of my 12,000-member strong Backpacking in BC Facebook group, and read dozens of online reviews. The result is a comprehensive look at the best hiking underwear out there for every person.

Best Hiking Underwear for Women

Best All-Around Women’s Hiking Underwear: Exofficio Give-N-Go Sport Mesh

Price: $15-24

Styles: bikini brief, hipster, boy short

Fabric: 90% nylon, 10% elastane mesh is breathable and lightweight.

Features: Anti-odor treatment, flatlock seams, flat waistband.

Weight: 30g (bikini briefs)

I had heard a lot of positive reviews about these hiking panties but for some reason, I didn’t try them until this year. I was worried that since they aren’t seamless, they might chafe. So far, I’ve worn the bikini brief version on three backpacking trips and lots of day hikes. They are super comfortable, stay in place, don’t absorb sweat, and dry really fast. They also seem very breathable, thanks to the mesh fabric. Also no chafing!

They start to pill a little bit over time, but they seem to be pretty durable anyway. I accidentally washed them with my ankle brace and the velcro from it got caught on them. That section looks a bit scuffed, but otherwise, they survived fine. They are also fairly reasonably priced for technical underwear, and I know I’ll be picking up a few more pairs. And great news for plus-sized women: they come in sizes XS to 3XL.

Where to buy: REI | Amazon | Moosejaw

Best Seamless Women’s Hiking Underwear: Patagonia Active

Price: $24

Styles: briefs or hipster

Fabric: 88% nylon, 12% spandex is soft, lightweight, and stretchy

Features: Totally seamless construction, anti-odor treatment

Weight: 33g (briefs)

Patagonia’s Active Hipsters have been my go-to hiking underwear for years. I love that they are completely seamless so they don’t chafe or rub. They are also really soft. Over time, I’ve also found them really durable: I have some pairs that are nearly ten years old! The only downside with these is that they are frequently out of stock.

They have a wide waistband that doesn’t move and they provide a fair amount of rear coverage. However, if you like a higher rise cut, you may want to go with the briefs since the hipsters sit pretty low.

Where to buy: Patagonia | REI | Backcountry | Patagonia Canada

Best Merino Wool Women’s Hiking Underwear: Icebreaker Merino Siren

Price: $40

Styles: Thong, bikini brief, or hipkini

Fabric: 83% merino wool, 12% nylon, 5% elastane is soft, stretchy, and doesn’t itch. The merino wool wicks sweat while the nylon adds durability and stretch.

Features: Naturally odor-resistant thanks to merino wool

Weight: 31g (bikini brief)

This is the only pair of women’s hiking underwear on this list that I haven’t personally tested. I sweat very heavily and find that merino wool absorbs too much water for me to wear while active. (I do love it for backcountry sleepwear though!) However, tons of people LOVE these merino wool underwear, including many who raved about them in my Backpacking in BC Facebook group.

While the Icebreaker Siren underwear are on the expensive side, they get better reviews than any other merino wool hiking underwear out there. From my years working in the outdoor industry, I can say that the blend of nylon and elastane along with merino wool is the secret sauce here. Often merino wool underwear gets stretched out and baggy over time or develops small holes. But the fabric blend here prevents that from happening.

Where to buy: REI | Amazon | Backcountry |

Best Budget Women’s Hiking Underwear: Under Armour Pure Stretch

Price: $20-30 for a pack of three

Styles: Hipster or thong

Fabric: 68%nylon, 32% elastane fabric with a cotton gusset is soft, stretchy, and very thin

Features: Laser-cut edges mean no seams at waistband or leg openings, anti-microbial odor-resistant treatment

Weight: 20g

For the price, these nearly seamless panties are great for hiking. They dry super-quickly and feel like you’re wearing nothing. However, the fit is a bit hit-or-miss. I find that the hipster style is a bit cheeky and doesn’t have great coverage. They are also a bit more low-rise than I’d like. From reviews I’ve read and my experience, it seems like curvier women may want to size up. I also don’t love the cotton gusset as it absorbs water and isn’t that comfortable.

But if you do like the fit of these Under Armour hiking underwear, they are a great budget option. Tons of online reviewers (and members of the Backpacking in BC Facebook group) love them.

Where to buy: Under Armour | Amazon | Backcountry | Moosejaw

Best Hiking Underwear for Men

Best All-Around Men’s Hiking Underwear Without a Pouch: Exofficio Give-N-Go Sport Mesh

Price: $13-26

Styles: Brief or boxer brief

Fabric: 90% nylon, 10% elastane mesh is breathable and lightweight

Features: Anti-odor treatment, flatlock seams, wide waistband.

Weight: 40g (boxer briefs)

When I was researching the best hiking boxers for men, these Exofficio underwear just kept coming up in recommendations. They are made of the same fabric as the women’s version which means they wick sweat and dry quickly. Reviewers say they fit snugly and don’t ride up or bunch. They are also really breathable so you won’t overheat.

These men’s underwear are available in both briefs and boxer briefs. And the boxer briefs are available in 3″, 6″, and 9″ inseams so you can choose the amount of leg coverage you like. With thousands of positive reviews online, it’s easy to say these are the most popular men’s hiking and adventure travel underwear.

Where to buy: REI | Amazon | Backcountry | Moosejaw

Best All-Around Men’s Hiking Underwear With a Pouch: Saxx Kinetic HD

Price: $35

Style: boxer brief, long leg boxer brief

Fabric: 85% nylon, 15% elastane is stretchy, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying

Features: Anatomical pouch supports the package and prevents chafing, flatlock seams are soft on skin, nine-panel construction creates an ergonomic fit, odor-resistant fabric, anti-roll waistband

Weight: 72g

Pretty much every guy I asked about hiking underwear recommended Saxx (including a bunch in my Backpacking in BC Facebook group). Saxx is the first company to offer under with a game-changing pouch that keeps the package separate from the legs. They are based in my hometown of Vancouver too!

The men I talked to raved about the pouch and the comfortable, quick-drying fabric. Most of my male hiking friends switched to these years ago and said they can never go back to regular underwear. Most people love the regular boxer briefs that have a 5″ inseam, but if you want more coverage, they also come in a long leg version with an 8″ inseam.

Where to buy: REI | Backcountry | MEC | Moosejaw | Saxx Canada

Best Merino Wool Men’s Hiking Underwear: Icebreaker Anatomica

Price: $45-60

Style: brief, boxer brief, long boxer brief

Fabric: 83% merino wool, 12% nylon, 5% elastane is soft, stretchy, and doesn’t itch. The merino wool wicks sweat while the nylon adds durability and stretch.

Features: Naturally odor-resistant thanks to merino wool, contoured pouch, flatlock seams

Weight: 80g (boxers)

Lots of people love merino wool underwear since it is really stink-resistant. Merino wool also wicks sweat and is soft on the skin. If you look up reviews of merino wool men’s hiking underwear, you’ll find lots of people complaining that they get small holes on the inner thighs from rubbing against pants. However, that doesn’t happen with these Icebreaker ones since they have nylon and elastane blended in with the merino for increased durability. If you want merino wool boxers for hiking, you’ll love these. The boxer briefs are available with or without a fly and they come in briefs too.

Where to buy: REI | Amazon | Backcountry | Moosejaw

Best Budget Men’s Hiking Underwear: New Balance Mesh

Price: $17 for a pack of three

Style: boxer brief

Fabric: 90% polyester, 10% spandex mesh is soft and lightweight

Features: Wide elastic waistband, supportive pouch, flat locked stitching, available either with or without a fly

Weight: not available

If you’re looking for some basic and inexpensive men’s hiking underwear, these New Balance boxer briefs fit the bill. They are fairly lightweight and wick moisture. The flatlock stitching and wide waistband reduces chafe. Hundreds of online reviewers and a few members of the Backpacking in BC Facebook group raved about them.

Where to buy: Amazon

How to Choose Hiking Underwear

When I first started hiking, I didn’t think I needed to worry about what underwear to wear. But then things got hot, sweaty, and…. uncomfortable. I learned that for me (and for lots of other people), underwear choice can make or break a hike. So what should you look for when shopping for hiking underwear?

Which Fabric is Best?

Cotton underwear is great for everyday use. It’s soft and comfortable. But it absorbs water and dries really slowly. When you’re hiking, that’s a great recipe for rubbing, chafing, and being generally uncomfortable.

The best fabrics for hiking underwear are synthetics like nylon or polyester or merino wool since they wick sweat and dry quickly. You may also see underwear for hiking made of rayon or Tencel. Both of those fabrics are incredibly soft, but unfortunately, that means they aren’t that durable and may not stand up to inner thigh rubbing.

To ensure a good fit, look for hiking underwear with stretch. That means that the fabric should have some elastane. (It’s also sold under the brand names Spandex and Lycra.)

Moisture-Wicking

Hiking is sweaty, so choose underwear that is moisture-wicking to move wetness away from your body. Avoid cotton which absorbs water. Synthetic materials like polyester and nylon are great at wicking moisture. Merino wool also wicks well.

Quick-Drying

The last thing you want is to sit around in a pair of wet underwear. That makes quick-drying fabrics key, especially for backpacking underwear. Nylon and polyester dry the fastest. Merino wool wicks moisture but holds some of it in the core of the fibres. That means it doesn’t dry quite as quickly as synthetics, but as a bonus, it will keep you cooler in hot weather.

A Comfortable Fit

You want to make sure your underwear isn’t moving around while you are hiking. Choose hiking underwear that fit well. You want them to stay in place, but you don’t want them to be too tight. You also don’t want them to be too loose because then they will bunch up and rub. Keep in mind that in order to wick sweat, the fabric needs to be in contact with your skin.

Prevents Chafing

Seams, tags, waistbands… they can all dig in, get wet, and then chafe your skin until it’s red and angry. Close your eyes and run the underwear through your fingers before you wear it. Really FEEL it. Look for hiking underwear with no tags and with comfortable flat waistbands. Seamless underwear or ones with flatlock seams will also prevent chafing.

Durable

Hiking underwear isn’t cheap, so you want to choose a pair that won’t fall apart. Super-thin material is appealing since it’s lightweight, but it may also fall apart faster. Merino wool is also MUCH less abrasion-resistant than synthetics so it can develop holes easily.

Odor Resistant

Butts and crotches get smelly, especially on multi-day trips. Some synthetic underwear for hiking comes with antimicrobial treatments that reduce odors. But they do wear off over time. Merino wool is naturally antimicrobial.

A Style You Like

Hiking underwear comes in many different styles. For men, you can choose between briefs, boxers, and boxer briefs. Women’s underwear for hiking is available in seemingly endless cuts from tiny thongs to full-cut boyshorts and everything in between. Choose a style that is most comfortable for you. If you find that you experience inner-thigh chafing, opt for boxer brief or boy short styles that provide some protection in that area.

So that’s everything you need to know to find the best hiking underwear. If you have questions or alternative recommendations, leave them in the comments.

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