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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)

No matter if you prefer boxers or briefs, it’s easy to overlook this next-to-skin layer of clothing. We went out and did the dirty work for you, coming back with three recommendations that should satisfy most folks’ needs for backcountry underbritches. Our contestants were graded in several categories, each with its own set of robust testing criteria:

A) Comfort: Did they feel good? Was there any waistband abrasion under a pack hipbelt?
B) Fit Over Time: Could you wear them for several days straight without getting stretched out? No one likes feeling like they’re hiking with a moo-moo under their pants.
C) Looks: An unbiased jury weighed in on the most aesthetically appealing of the bunch. Briefs typically double as my swimming trunks, and you never know when you’re going to need to impress a backcountry co-ed.
D) Funk Factor: After repeated days of extended hikes sans cleaning, how did they smell? For testing purposes, we didn’t even wash mid-hike (as is sometimes difficult on desert or winter trips). Since I don’t have any of my own interns, I had to blindfold friends and trick them into thinking they were going to do a smell test for new colognes. Needless to say, I had to find a new tester for each pair.


PAGE 1 2 3 4

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Reader Rating: -

ALL READERS COMMENTS

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.

biil
Oct 08, 2010

Bill
Oct 08, 2010

RevLee
Oct 08, 2010

Definitely missed out not including the ExOfficio boxer briefs. I did half the AT this year with one pair and still can't tell them apart from the spare pair I left at home. They withstood everything from March snows to summer heat plus very infrequent washings.

Brian
Oct 08, 2010

Glad to see the Underarmour on the list. I'm not a big fan of Underarmour clothing in general (I think it's for overtestosteroned gym rats) but their baselayers are a different story. I use the boxerjocks hiking, mountaineering, mountainbiking, running, and rock climbing and have never had a chafe or rub and they keep everything cool and where it should be. The Underarmour tights are also great for cold weather pursuits. I have had some pairs for over 3 years and they still fit great and have not torn or frayed.

Jim
Oct 08, 2010

Why no ExOfficio?

Ed
Oct 07, 2010

Allen and Mel, I'm totally with you -- I tried going on a 10 mile "easy" hike without my Exofficios and it took a week for the chafing to go away. I can't imagine ever hiking without them again (they're superb for bike riding too!)

Darrell
Oct 07, 2010

I bought a pair of ExOfficio last week. I didn't change them through four days of high octane hiking and they were phenomenal. Still fit like the day I bought them. Upset they didn't make the list.

Perkus Tooth
Oct 07, 2010

My comfort and performance on trail was significantly improved when I started wearing UnderArmor's boxer-briefs (just the regular $20 pair) last summer. I now use them for running and gym and even mowing the lawn. Supreme wicking and comfort for multiple days at a time....

Allen Smith
Oct 06, 2010

I agree, I tried the Exoffico briefs a few years back on a 125 mile hike and since then bit my wife and I only wear them every day.

Mel
Oct 06, 2010

I'm surprised the Exofficio boxer brief didn't get a mention. I won't hit the trail without them and being a tennis professional I only wear those on days when I know I'm going to be running and sweating all day.

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