The 13 Best Hiking Underwear of 2022

Smartwool’s Merino Boxer Brief will keep you feeling fresh, dry, and odor-free

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

13-best-hiking-underwear-of-2022-tout

Saxx / Patagonia / Amazon

As you prepare to hit the trails for a long hike, you probably spend a fair amount of time thinking about the necessities—hiking boots, bug spray, a water bottle, and sunscreen. But choosing the right pair of underwear for your journey is just as important.

Reviewed & Approved

Made of Merino wool, our top overall choice is Smartwool’s Merino Boxer Brief because it keeps sweat and odors at bay while regulating your body temperature. We also recommend Icebreaker’s Merino Sprite Hot Pants because they offer full coverage in a lightweight fabric.

Made of Merino wool, our top overall choice is Smartwool’s Merino Boxer Brief because it keeps sweat and odors at bay while regulating your body temperature. We also recommend Icebreaker’s Merino Sprite Hot Pants because they offer full coverage in a lightweight fabric.

High quality hiking underwear is designed to help wick away sweat, keeping your thighs dry and comfortable while reducing the rubbing that can lead to chafing. When searching for the perfect pair, avoid 100% cotton products and look for other, more breathable materials. “Cotton fabrics are, in general, not recommended for hiking since cotton retains water and does not dry quickly,” Anastasia Allison, founder of Kula Cloth, a company that makes sanitary hiking products, says. Instead, she suggests looking for “lightweight, breathable, and quick-dry fabrics without thick seams that will not retain moisture or excessive odors.”

To find the best hiking underwear, we asked underwear designers and hikers which features they think every pair should have. Then, we researched dozens of products currently available from some of the most popular brands on the market. 

Based on our research, here are the best pairs of hiking underwear.

Best Men's Overall: Smartwool Men’s Merino 150 Boxer Brief

smartwool-mens-merino-150-boxer-brief

Amazon

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Odor-resistant

  • Quick-drying

Cons
  • May not be as durable

We chose Smartwool’s Men’s Merino Boxer Brief as our top overall pick due to its simple, stylish design and hiking-friendly features. The Merino wool fabric is wrapped around nylon for a soft feel. This lightweight fabric combination also helps control sweat and regulate your body temperature, since it’s breathable, quick-drying, and odor-resistant.

The boxer brief, slim-fit style sits close to the body, with flatlock seams to help reduce chafing. The wide waistband offers a secure, comfortable fit. And we like the 6.5-inch inseam, which provides full coverage. Wearers find that they’re comfortable even after they get wet—however, some note that these briefs may not be as durable over time. 

Price at time of publication: $48

Material: Merino wool, nylon | Style: Boxer briefs | Colors: 5 | Sizes: S to XXL | Care: Machine wash gentle cycle, tumble dry low

Best Women's Overall: Icebreaker Sprite Hot Pants

icebreaker-sprite-hot-pants

Amazon

Pros
  • Won’t show through pants

  • Ultra-lightweight

  • Offset seams prevent chafing

Cons
  • May stretch out over time

Icebreaker’s Women’s Sprite Hot Pants are our other best overall pick because of their Merino blend fabric and full-coverage fit. Merino wool, nylon, and elastane make up a durable pair of underwear that helps control sweat, odors, and overheating. Plus, we like that they come in a range of bright colors and patterns. 

These hot pants fit like a full-coverage brief, hugging the body, glutes, and the hips with off-set seams to reduce the likelihood of chafing. And they’re sleek, so they won’t show through thin, lightweight hiking pants in warm weather. But some wearers have noticed that they tend to stretch out after multiple wears and washes. 

Price at time of publication: $38

Material: Merino wool, nylon, elastane | Style: Hot pants | Colors: 4 | Sizes: XS to XL | Care: Machine wash warm, line dry

Best Women's Budget: REI Co-op Active Hipster Underwear

rei-co-op-active-hipster-underwear

REI Co-op

Pros
  • Wide range of sizes

  • Moisture-wicking

  • Odor-resistant

Cons
  • Seams may feel itchy

Given that performance underwear can cost upwards of $50, we love that this budget-friendly pair of underwear is still high-quality. REI Co-op’s Active Hipster Underwear comes in a wide range of sizes, so finding the right fit is simple. The blend of polyester and spandex mesh is soft, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying—plus, it has an antimicrobial treatment to help fight unpleasant odors. 

The flatlock seams have been kept to a minimum and are slightly offset to help reduce chafing, although some wearers note that they may feel itchy on the skin. The waistband is also wider to provide added support, and the brief cut offers good coverage without being too tight at the thighs. 

Price at time of publication: $19

Material: Polyester, spandex | Style: Briefs | Colors: 4 | Sizes: XS to 3XL | Care: Not listed

Best Men's Budget: Ex-Officio Men’s Give-N-Go 2.0 Brief

ex-officio-mens-give-n-go-20-brief

Amazon

Pros
  • Four-way stretch

  • Odor-resistant

  • Wide waistband

Cons
  • Waistband may lose shape over time

For another budget-friendly option, we also recommend Ex-Officio’s comfortable and effective Give-N-Go 2.0 Brief. Made of a nylon and elastane blend that’s odor-resistant, this underwear is breathable and moisture-wicking for easy, all-day wear. While they’re hand-wash only, the durable mesh fabric dries quickly, so they won’t slow you down on long treks.

These briefs are close-fitting, with offset seams and a wide waistband to reduce chafing. They also have four-way stretch, so they’ll move with you (even when the going gets tough). But some wearers have found that over time, the waistband may lose its shape and comfort. 

Price at time of publication: $28

Material: Nylon, elastane | Style: Brief | Colors: 5 | Sizes: S to 2XL | Care: Hand wash with soap and water, line dry

Best for Hot Weather: UnderGents Men's Modern Brief

undergents-mens-modern-brief

Amazon

Pros
  • Budget-friendly

  • Moisture-wicking

  • Tagless, with a seamless seat

Cons
  • May run big

When it comes to hiking in the heat, you need underwear that’s lightweight, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying. Undergents’ Modern Brief is our pick for any and all hot weather outdoor activities. The ultra-light micromodal and Spandex blend is naturally sweat-wicking and quick-drying, with a silky smooth feel. 

The briefs are also tagless and seamless in the seat to cut down on chafing. Plus, with a wide range of sizes and colors, there are options for all kinds of hikers. Just note that some wearers have found that it’s best to size down for the right fit. 

Price at time of publication: $17

Material: Micromodal, Spandex | Style: Briefs | Colors: 10 | Sizes: S to 3XL | Care: Not Listed

Best for Cold Weather: Black Diamond Solution 150 Merino Baselayer Full Length Bottom

black-diamond-solution-150-merino-baselayer-full-length-bottom

Black Diamond

Pros
  • Lightweight but warm

  • Soft and comfortable

  • Flatlock seams prevent chafing

Cons
  • No built-in fly

  • Only one inseam length

For hikes in freezing temperatures, we recommend a base layer with a barely-there feel, like this pair from Black Diamond. Merino wool threads are wrapped around Nylon to make a more durable pair. And we love that the fabric blend is breathable, sweat-wicking, quick-drying, and odor-resistant for easy wear.

You’ll stay dry, warm, and comfortable from mile one to mile ten in this soft, full-length pair. A close fit and flatlock seams help prevent chafing. However, these are only available in a 29-inch inseam, which may make it difficult to find the right fit. Also, note that there’s no built-in fly. 

Price at time of publication: $110

Material: Merino wool, polyester | Style: Tights | Colors: 1 | Sizes: S to XL | Care: Not listed

Best Merino Wool Blend: Icebreaker Men’s Cool-Lite Merino Anatomica Boxers

icebreaker-mens-cool-lite-merino-anatomica-boxers

Amazon

Pros
  • Comfortable waistband

  • Odor-resistant

  • Temperature-regulating fabric

Cons
  • May ride up at the thigh

Many pairs of underwear are made with Merino wool, but the Cool-Lite Anatomica Boxers from Icebreaker are our top pick for the best blend. A combination of Merino wool, TENCEL, nylon, and elastane creates a boxer you’ll forget you’re wearing. They’re breathable, moisture-wicking, and they stretch. 

As with many Merino wool and Merino wool blends, this material is naturally odor-resistant and quick-drying—but it also regulates your temperature and features an ultralight feel. Hikers love that the flatlock seams and the waistband are comfortable and don’t leave marks, even after long trips. But others noticed that the fit at the thigh can be loose, causing the boxers to ride up while walking. (Sizing down can help prevent this.)

Price at time of publication: $50

Material: Merino wool, TENCEL, nylon, elastane | Style: Boxer briefs | Colors: 4 | Sizes: S to XXL | Care: Machine wash warm, line dry

Best Synthetic: Patagonia Women's Active Briefs

patagonia-womens-active-briefs

Patagonia

Pros
  • Seamless waistband lies flat

  • Single-sided leg seams prevent chafing

  • Fair Trade Certified sewn

Cons
  • Tag may feel stiff and uncomfortable

  • Waistband may roll over

If you’re searching for a synthetic pair of hiking underwear, we recommend Patagonia’s Women’s Active Briefs. Soft and breathable, they’re made with nylon and Spandex (some colors also include polyester). The result is a breathable, moisture-wicking fabric that also controls odors, giving them the ability to stand up to the demands of tough hikes. 

The seam-free waistband lies flat, and the single-side leg seams are designed not to chafe. But some hikers note that the waistband may roll over during long periods of wear. Others have also found that the tag feels stiff and uncomfortable against their skin.

Price at time of publication: $26

Material: Nylon, Spandex, polyester | Style: Briefs | Colors: 4 | Sizes: XS to XL | Care: Not listed

Best Anti-Chafing: Saxx Drop Temp Cooling Cotton Boxer Brief

saxx-drop-temp-cooling-cotton-boxer-brief

Saxx

Pros
  • Built-in fly

  • Cotton is soft and moisture-wicking

Cons
  • Inseam may be too long for some

Cotton blends aren’t typically the go-to for hiking underwear—but Saxx’s Modal, cotton, and elastane blend offers the protection from chafing that you need when you’re on a hike. These lightweight boxer briefs are moisture-wicking and quick-drying. Plus, the cooling cotton is designed to regulate your temperature and prevent overheating. 

Flatlock seams and a pouch in the front are specifically designed to cut down on unwanted friction while you walk. And four-way stretch moves with you to stop any rubbing that can lead to irritation. However, the 5” inseam may be too long for some. 

Price at time of publication: $32

Material: Modal, cotton, elastane | Style: Boxer briefs | Colors: 18 | Sizes: XS to 2XL | Care: Machine wash cold, tumble dry low

Best for Thru-Hiking: Smartwool Women’s Merino Sport Seamless Hipster

smartwool-womens-merino-sport-seamless-hipster

Amazon

Pros
  • Seamless

  • Full-coverage fit stays put

  • Breathable mesh vents

Cons
  • Rise may be too low for some

When it comes to thru-hiking, we recommend a reliable, durable pair of underwear that will keep you cool and dry—like Smartwool’s Merino Sport Seamless Women’s Hipster Underwear. The seamless construction prevents chafing, while the full-coverage hipster cut stays put without riding up. Carefully placed mesh vents also help enhance the Merino wool’s natural breathability, so you stay comfortable even on hot days. And we like that they’re odor-resistant to keep you feeling fresh. 

Just note that these have a lower rise than other pairs on our list. While it comes down to personal preference, some may prefer a waist that sits higher up. 

Price at time of publication: $40

Material: Merino wool, nylon, elastane | Style: Hipster | Colors: 7 | Sizes: XS to XL | Care: Machine wash warm

Best Men’s Size-Inclusive: Duluth Trading Co. Men’s Go Buck Naked Performance Short Boxer Briefs

duluth-trading-co-mens-go-buck-naked-performance-short-boxer-briefs

Duluth Trading Co.

Pros
  • Overlapping fly

  • Shorter leg length

  • Wide range of colors

Cons
  • Waistband may feel stiff and uncomfortable

For a wide range of men’s sizes, we recommend these boxer briefs, which are available up to 4XL. These underwear also have all the performance features you need, like odor-resistance, breathability, and sweat-wicking, quick-drying material. And we like that they’re available in a wide range of modern, neutral colors.

An overlapping fly helps you avoid annoying readjustments, while a shorter leg length won’t get in the way while you’re on the trails. However, some wearers have noticed that the waistband feels stiff and uncomfortable. 

Price at time of publication: $23

Material: Nylon, spandex | Style: Boxer briefs | Colors: 12 | Sizes: S to 4XL | Care: Wash with soap and water, hang to dry

Best Women’s Size-Inclusive: Kula Cloth Pyka Pants Hybrid Undershorts

kula-cloth-pyka-pants-hybrid-undershorts

Kula Cloth

Pros
  • Three ways to wear

  • High-rise waistband won’t roll down

  • Waistband pocket

Cons
  • Only one inseam length

For inclusive women’s sizing up to 5XL, Kula Cloth’s Pyka Pants Hybrid Undershorts are our pick. Specifically designed for hiking, they can be worn as underwear or shorts. And we love that the sweat-wicking, quick-drying material also makes them suitable to wear as bathing suit bottoms when taking a dip in a trailside river or lake.

A long inseam and high-rise waistband add comfort and protect against irritation. The waistband offers a supportive fit without rolling down, and even has a pocket that’s large enough to store your phone. But there’s only one inseam length available, so they may be too long or short for some. 

Price at time of publication: $54

Material: Polyester, spandex | Style: Biker shorts | Colors: 1 | Sizes: XS to 5XL | Care: Machine wash cold, gentle cycle, tumble or line dry

Best Absorbent: Puma x ModiBodi Active Boyshort

puma-x-modibodi-active-boyshort

ModiBodi

Pros
  • Moderate to heavy absorbency

  • High-rise waistband won’t roll down

  • Breathable mesh panels

Cons
  • Seams may feel uncomfortable

For days when you don’t want to cut your hike short to change your pad or tampon, we recommend these Active Boyshorts. They’re built for moderate to heavy absorbency, so you won’t have to worry about leaks. The soft material is moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and odor-resistant.

The wide, high-rise waistband won’t roll down. And the longer boyshort style helps keep them in place, preventing chafing. Mesh panels promote airflow, even in hot weather. However, some wearers note that the seams can cause slight irritation. 

Price at time of publication: $33

Material: Polyester, spandex, nylon, Merino wool, polyester, polyamide | Style: Boyshorts | Colors: 2 | Sizes: XS to 2XL | Care: Machine wash cold after rinsing, hang dry

How We Selected the Best Hiking Underwear

First, we spoke with Anastasia Allison, a hiking gear designer and founder of Kula Cloth, to get her expert opinion on which features to look for when shopping for hiking underwear. We also got input from frequent hikers TJay Gerber and Erin Lucey

Then, we researched dozens of pairs of underwear from the most trusted and popular retailers. We considered design, fit, material, performance features, price, ranges of colors and sizes, and more. 

What to Look For in Hiking Underwear

Material

Hiking underwear can be made from a variety of materials, each with different benefits. “My preference in underwear is something breathable and quick drying,” TJay Gerber, an avid Colorado hiker who has also hiked the Appalachian Trail, says. “When you’re hiking for multiple days, a quick dip in a river or alpine lake is refreshing! And having a pair of underwear that will dry quickly is important.”

Natural materials, like Merino wool and bamboo, are soft, quick-drying, and moisture-wicking. They’re also naturally antimicrobial and odor-resistant. Cotton, on the other hand, tends to hang onto moisture, which generally makes it a poor choice for hiking (unless it has been treated and blended with other fabrics, as with Saxx’s Drop Temp Cooling Cotton Boxer Brief). 

Synthetic blends can be a good choice and are often less expensive than natural fibers. Polyester, nylon, and elastane are also usually moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and odor-resistant. 

Fit

Choosing underwear with the wrong fit is the fastest way to end up with chafing. “Even seamless underwear will cause chafing if it doesn’t fit correctly,” Allison says. She adds that well-fitting underwear won’t roll up the thighs, bunch up in the back, or give you a wedgie. It also shouldn’t rub around your waist.

“It should actually help cushion the ‘pain points’ from your hiking pants or backpack,” she says. Most importantly, if you find the right pair of underwear, you won’t even think about them as you hike. “They will move with you and enhance your hiking experience, not detract from it,” Allison explains. 

Style

There are a wide range of hiking underwear styles on the market. Popular women’s styles include briefs, hipster-briefs, boyshorts, and biker shorts, while men’s styles range from briefs to boxer briefs. Each style has different inseams and rises that may vary between brands. 

“The most important thing is that, whatever style of underwear you choose, it maximizes your comfort while moving for longer periods while wearing a backpack,” Allison says. “Many women prefer a boxer brief style, since it can be worn as shorts and helps to reduce inner-thigh chafing. For men, boxer briefs tend to be the most popular hiking underwear because boxer shorts are too loose, and briefs tend to be too restrictive.”

Hiker Erin Lucey prefers wearing men’s boxer briefs while hiking for this same reason: “On the Colorado Trail, I wore a UPF sundress with a pair of men’s 5-inch Merino wool boxer briefs underneath,” she says. “Typically I chafe between my legs, so the material provided a soft but durable barrier with no chafe. I’ve turned a lot of female-bodied hikers onto wearing men’s underwear under dresses and skirts—the airflow is a huge draw!”

Additional Features

Hiking underwear sometimes comes with additional features that set it apart from conventional pairs. Some are designed to double as shorts or a bathing suit, which can help cut down on your need to pack extra items. Also, consider the construction: “Look for underwear made with flat seams and for underwear that has a gusseted crotch,” Allison suggests. “Avoid those with a ‘legging fit,’ which have a seam running directly up the front of the underwear—this seam, in particular, can cause discomfort.” 

Tags can be troublesome, too. “Look for underwear with a heat press label on the inside, instead of a tag, so you can avoid rubbing or chafing from any unnecessary tags or embroidery,” she adds. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is microfiber underwear good for hiking?

    Microfiber is typically made of a blend of nylon, polyester, rayon, and other synthetic fibers. “If the microfiber is a synthetic, quick-drying fabric and the fit is comfortable, then it would be a great option for someone to try [for hiking],” says Allison. But she notes that, ultimately, the best hiking underwear is up to personal preference: “Each person and every body is different, so experimenting with different types of underwear is highly recommended until you find what works best for you.”

  • Can I wear a bathing suit as underwear for hiking?

    Bathing suits and underwear are constructed differently, so it’s not always a good idea to wear a bathing suit as underwear. “Most bathing suit bottoms have a multi-layered crotch area, which would hold moisture against your body,” Allison says. “You want your underwear to provide ample airflow."

    Material is also important to consider. “Bathing suit material tends to be much less breathable and wicking than hiking underwear material. When you’re hiking, you want something that will dry very quickly—bathing suits tend to be a little bit heavier than you would want to wear while hiking,” Allison says.

  • What’s the best cut of underwear for thru hiking?

    When it comes to thru-hiking, think about your overall needs for your trip. Look for underwear that’s comfortable—seams that might not bother you for a several-hour hike may start to cause irritation after three or four days. Also, look for pairs that are easy to wash while you’re on the go, so you only have to pack one or two. A high-rise waistband feels supportive and won’t budge, while a longer inseam cuts down on irritation. But the exact cut and style depends on your personal preferences.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

Laura Williams, MSEd, ACSM-CEP, has years of experience in exercise and sport science, including a master’s degree in the field. She has also spent extensive time hiking and trail running long distances. When making her selections, she prioritized underwear made from lightweight, comfortable, and breathable materials that help regulate temperature.