Hey Kristin, this doesn’t seem to come up very often but should I be wearing a different kind of underwear in the backcountry than I do every day? Any recommendations?
Submitted by - Bobby, Wilmington, NC
It depends on what you wear everyday. If you favor thongs, for instance, I would steer you in a different direction. (Something about thongs and backpacking just doesn’t gel.). But wisecracks aside, a lot of people make the mistake of layering run-of-the-mill cotton Fruit-Of-The Looms under high-tech synthetic or wool fabrics that they paid a small fortune for. You paid up for those fabrics because they wick well, don’t smell, and dry fast. Layering cotton skivvies underneath defeats the purpose, you know?
Let’s say, for example, you’re a few days into a trip and you want clean undies. You can wash out your synthetic or wool ones, tuck them into your bag at night, and you’ll have a fresh pair in the morning. (Not the case with cotton, which will never dry out and just get your bag damp.)
My favorite undies are wool, personally. And oddly enough, they’re unisex. Ibex Balance Runner Shorts, ($45; ibexwear.com) which we reviewed in our Fall Gear Guide-- and is on stands now-- are snug fitting “boy shorts” that both men and women testers love for their comfy fit, seamless construction, and the café protection they offer between the thighs. These shorts can be worn alone for trail running or warm-weather hiking, and they add a bit more warmth to your butt if your plan on riding the chairlifts.
If this style isn’t for you, there’s plenty of good briefs out there as well. Just look for flat seams and waistbands that won’t bind or chafe under your pack’s hipbelts. And whatever you do, stay away from thongs. —Kristin