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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Gear Review: Boxers or Briefs?

Although perhaps not as sexy as a brand new Gore-Tex Pro hardshell, the most basic of baselayers is a crucial component of your backcountry enjoyment. We put three mens' styles to the test.

by: Will Rochfort

PAGE 1 2 3 4
Our fearless tester in his Icebreakers (Courtesy Photo)
Our fearless tester in his Icebreakers (Courtesy Photo)
Patagonia Men's Active Boxer Briefs (Courtesy Photo)
Patagonia Men's Active Boxer Briefs (Courtesy Photo)
Under Armour Men's O Series BoxerJock (Courtesy Photo)
Under Armour Men's O Series BoxerJock (Courtesy Photo)
Icebreaker Beast 150 Boxer Brief (Courtesy Photo)
Icebreaker Beast 150 Boxer Brief (Courtesy Photo)

Most Luxurious – Icebreaker Beast 150
If you want to put your lap squarely in the lap of luxury, the Beast is the way to go. There were multiple times during an extended hike through the Sierra’s Minarets that I had to stop and try to remember if I had even put on briefs that day; they were simply that comfortable. I had concerns that the wool was going to be itchy in places I never wanted an itch, but it turned out to be a non-issue.

The pure merino regulated temperature in the summer mountain heat with aplomb, and even after wearing them non-stop for three days, they fit just as well as the day I got them. These also smelled the best of the bunch after days of use; although I didn’t come close to the Icebreaker record of 196 days of consecutive wear, I can at least appreciate how someone gave it a try. As a bonus, the Beast also got the highest marks for looks due to their progressive styling. The only real bummer is the price, but if I could only bring two pairs of underwear on a thru-hike or extended tourist travel, I would splurge for these. Icebreaker Beast 150 Boxer Brief with Fly, 3 oz (Men’s M), Sizes: Men’s S, M, L, XL, XXL, $43, icebreaker.com


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READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
Eric
Nov 04, 2013

Great underwear, but UFMUnderwear.com offers a better alternative. Their underwear has an adjustable pouch that allows the wearer to control the amount of isolation and support they get from their underwear. Not only is it the most comfortable pair of underwear you will ever wear, but it is the most functional.

RockDrMike
Mar 06, 2011

Another Exofficio fan. Good fit, comfortable, and easy to wash out anywhere. Also, they are available at a more reasonable price from Sierra Traders and occasionally Campmor. I've also worn Terramar which are good, but somewhat baggy in the front so support isn't as good.

matt
Oct 14, 2010

ditto on the ExOfficio. why didn't they test these? excellent boxer brief, use all the time in the backcountry.

Jeff
Oct 13, 2010

Typo in my review...i meant "so good"

Jeff
Oct 13, 2010

I am glad to see I am not the only person shocked not to see exofficio boxer briefs represented here. They are no good for active wear that I use them for tennis and hiking. They were also so comfortable that I have ditched all of my other underwear and now have ten pair of exofficio boxer briefs. I tried the patagonia's before the eo's and wore a hole in them after wearing them for one tennis match. Need I say more...exofficio rocks.

Bigfoot
Oct 13, 2010

Been using the UA brief and like them better than the EXO because the did not ride up my legs and give better support.

Jay
Oct 13, 2010

Yet another Ex-Officio fan here. I've also tried UA, REI and other cheaper "no-name" brands, but always find myself going back to the ExO. They are more expensive than I think underwear should be, but they are fantastic. Light, cool, dry quickly and look damn good too.

Scott
Oct 12, 2010

I am not familiar with the Ex Officio underwear, but I have used Terramar for the last 7 years and it holds up quite well.

Scott
Oct 12, 2010

I am not familiar with the Ex Officio underwear, but I have used Terramar for the last 7 years and it holds up quite well.

Iago
Oct 12, 2010

I haven't tried the Icebreakers yet, but the Smartwool microweight boxers are the best I've ever had.

3920
Oct 12, 2010

Jockey makes a "soft + lightweight microfiber" product that should be considered as an active wear in the back country. I have used several of the big name products in the past, but like the Jockey product.

Dave
Oct 12, 2010

I use both the Ex-os and the Icebreakers. Both are great, I prefer the Icebreakers over all. I have used both on over night trips and I find the ice breakers were more comfortable on the trail and afterward at the camp site.

Tony Barber
Oct 12, 2010

This evaluation is irrelevant without the inclusion of ExOfficio.

You guys really missed the boat on this one.

Jim
Oct 12, 2010

I used to swear by Under Armour boxer briefs UNTIL I found the Exofficio boxer briefs at my local outdoor retailer. They are more expensive than the Under Armours but well worth the money. Needless to say I have since replaced all of my Under Armour boxer briefs with the Exofficio. I find that the UA boxer briefs dont hold up that well either. I only get a couple of years out of a pair before they are toast. The material of the Exoffio boxer briefs is much smoother which makes them flawless as a base layer.

Jim
Oct 12, 2010

I used to swear by Under Armour boxer briefs UNTIL I found the Exofficio boxer briefs at my local outdoor retailer. They are more expensive than the Under Armours but well worth the money. Needless to say I have since replaced all of my Under Armour boxer briefs with the Exofficio. I find that the UA boxer briefs dont hold up that well either. I only get a couple of years out of a pair before they are toast. The material of the Exoffio boxer briefs is much smoother which makes them flawless as a base layer.

Draggin Tail
Oct 12, 2010

Add me to the "what about ExOfficio" crowd. I thru hiked the AT this year with 2 pairs and they were the most comfortable and showed no wear after five months. AND..... stylish? Didn't pack a bathing suit and used them for public swimming without any conservative's complaints. BM missed out not even listing them.

Dave
Oct 10, 2010

Ex Officio rocks although for the winter I will sometimes switch to Icebreaker.

Joe Russell
Oct 10, 2010

When I clicked on this review I expected ExOfficio to be at least be part of the 'best list,' if not at the top of it. Their Give-n-Go boxer brief is where it's at. They retain their ideal fit throughout the day and dry quickly, while relegating odor to a minor concern.

Commando
Oct 09, 2010

I am shocked there was no scientific constant involved in the study. You should start with a base line... aka going commando and see how the results are better or worse.

Bill
Oct 08, 2010

I have been wearing Marmot briefs for about a decade only underwear I own moisture control is what they said , the comfort is beyond compare. The only problem is they don't sell them any more. Luckily I have reservo. I ski in them, I hike in them , I live everyday in them. I'm thinking the Exofficio is similar since they have the same parent company now. Please Marmot bring back the mid Weight boxers.

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