Comfort on the Trails: Unveiling the Best Underwear for Backpacking for Men and Women

Embarking on a backpacking adventure involves meticulous planning and packing. Among the essentials, finding the best underwear for backpacking might seem like a small detail, but it significantly impacts your comfort on the trail. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the best hiking underwear for both men and women, ensuring you’re well-equipped for your next adventure.

Let’s delve into why choosing the best underwear for backpacking is so crucial.

Comfort and Support: Long hours on the trail require underwear that offers optimal comfort and support. Ill-fitting, tight, or loose underwear can lead to discomfort or, even worse, painful chafing and rashes that can turn an enjoyable trek into an agonizing one (Backpacker).

Breathability and Moisture Management: As you hike, your body naturally sweats, especially during strenuous climbs. The best underwear for backpacking should be breathable and able to wick moisture away from your skin. This feature helps to keep you dry, reduces the risk of chafing, and promotes better overall hygiene on multi-day hikes (REI).

Quick-drying Capability: Unpredictable weather or river crossings can get your underwear wet. The best backpacking underwear should dry quickly to prevent discomfort or hypothermia in colder climates. Quick-drying underwear is also easier to wash and dry during multi-day treks (CleverHiker).

Odor Control: On multi-day hikes, you may not have the luxury of changing your underwear daily. Certain materials, such as merino wool or synthetics with antimicrobial treatments, can help control odor, keeping you feeling fresh for longer (OutdoorGearLab).

As you can see, a lot of thought needs to go into choosing the best underwear for backpacking. It’s not just about packing light; it’s also about packing right. Remember, the goal of backpacking is to enjoy the journey, and the right underwear can significantly contribute to that goal.

Our Top Picks for the Best Underwear for Backpacking for Men

  1. ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs: ExOfficio’s Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs are renowned for their superior comfort and durability. Made from a breathable, quick-drying blend of nylon and spandex, these briefs feature an antimicrobial treatment that helps reduce odors. The diamond-weave mesh fabric allows excellent airflow, making it perfect for high-intensity hikes or multi-day backpacking trips.
  2. Smartwool Merino 150 Boxer Brief: Combining the best of nature and technology, the Smartwool Merino 150 Boxer Brief provides unparalleled comfort and performance. Made from 87% Merino Wool, they offer excellent temperature regulation and moisture-wicking properties. The nylon core enhances durability, making these briefs an investment that withstands the rigors of backpacking.
  3. Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers: Known for their use of high-quality merino wool, Icebreaker offers a superb option for those who prefer natural fibers. The Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers feature a soft, lightweight merino wool blend that provides excellent breathability and odor resistance. The contoured pouch and low-profile elastic waistband enhance comfort, making these boxers ideal for long days on the trail.
  4. Patagonia Men’s Essential Boxer Briefs: Patagonia’s Essential Boxer Briefs deliver on both comfort and environmental responsibility. Made from recycled nylon and spandex, they offer excellent moisture-wicking properties. They also feature Polygiene® permanent odor control and a comfortable, anti-roll waistband, making them a popular choice for multi-day hikes.
  5. Arc’teryx Phase SL Boxer Briefs: If you lean towards synthetic materials, the Arc’teryx Phase SL Boxer Briefs offer top-notch performance. Their Phasic™ SL fabric provides excellent moisture management and dries quickly, crucial properties when on multi-day backpacking trips. Plus, the flatlock construction prevents chafing, making these briefs incredibly comfortable.

Our Top Picks for the Best Underwear for Backpacking for Women

  1. ExOfficio Women’s Give-N-Go Bikini Briefs: These ExOfficio briefs are loved by female backpackers for their quick-drying, breathable, and lightweight material. The diamond-weave mesh fabric allows for easy airflow, while the antimicrobial treatment prevents odors, making them ideal for multi-day hikes.
  2. Smartwool Women’s Merino 150 Bikini: These bikini briefs are made from Smartwool’s signature Merino 150 fabric, offering temperature regulation, moisture management, and odor resistance. The flatlock seam construction ensures these briefs won’t chafe even during high-intensity hikes.
  3. Icebreaker Women’s Siren Bikini: These Icebreaker bikini briefs are made from merino wool, providing natural odor-resistance and thermal regulation. They are lightweight, soft, and have a comfortable fit, making them perfect for long days on the trail.
  4. Patagonia Women’s Active Briefs: Patagonia’s Active Briefs are made from a blend of recycled nylon and spandex, making them stretchy and moisture-wicking. They have a seamless waistband that lies flat and won’t roll or bind, providing all-day comfort on the trail.
  5. Arc’teryx Phase SL Briefs (Women’s): The Arc’teryx Phase SL Briefs offer exceptional moisture management thanks to their synthetic Phasic™ SL fabric. Flatlock seams help avoid chafing, and a gusseted crotch ensures a comfortable fit for active women.

Maintaining Hygiene on the Trail

Maintaining good hygiene during your backpacking trip is critical not only for your comfort but also for your health and the health of the environment. Here are a few strategies for staying clean and respectful of nature on the trail:

Personal Cleanliness: Regularly washing your hands, especially before meals, is crucial in preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses. Consider packing a small bottle of biodegradable soap and use sparingly. A small pack of biodegradable wet wipes can also be useful for quick body wipes when a water source isn’t available.

Underwear Management: Try to bring enough underwear for your trip or plan to wash your underwear if you’re on an extended backpacking adventure. If washing, use biodegradable soap and wash at least 200 feet away from water sources to protect aquatic life. Hang your underwear to dry on your pack as you hike to save time (Leave No Trace).

Toilet Practices: If toilets are not available, it’s essential to learn how to properly dispose of human waste. This typically involves digging a small hole (known as a cat hole) 6-8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water sources, trails, and campsites. Be sure to pack out your toilet paper in a sealed plastic bag (REI).

Leave No Trace: Lastly, remember the principles of Leave No Trace. Carry out all trash and make an effort to minimize your impact on the environment. This includes not just physical waste, but also noise and visual pollution. Treat the outdoors with respect and leave it as you found it so others can enjoy it after you (Leave No Trace).

Maintaining good hygiene on the trail doesn’t have to be complicated. With a bit of planning and respect for nature, you can ensure that you stay comfortable and healthy while also preserving the integrity of the great outdoors.

Selecting the best underwear for backpacking can significantly enhance your comfort and enjoyment of the great outdoors. Each person’s preference can differ, so it’s important to try different types and brands to find what suits you best. Remember, a comfortable backpacker is a happy backpacker.

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