The Best Men’s Underwear of 2018

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The last thing you want when you’re miles from nowhere is underperforming underwear. Your underwear should keep up with your active pursuits, delivering comfort and performance in hard-charging activities, extreme conditions and far-flung travel destinations.

Unless you want to exfoliate a layer of sensitive skin to chafing, endure swamp-like misery in hot weather or risk hypothermia with a damp undercarriage in cold weather, don’t even think about subjecting yourself to department-store-variety tighty whities. Today’s best underwear boasts durable, technical fabrics that wick away moisture, dry quickly, stretch, support, keep you cool when it’s hot (or warm when it’s cold), combat odors and breathe. Whew, breathe.

I gathered input from the greatest experts short of Captain Underpants: REI product manager Tim Brown and Megan Marvin, REI’s buyer for men’s fitness and underwear. They group men’s underwear into three basic categories: synthetic, wool and cotton blends.

Learn more about the differences between the categories and what to consider when buying men's underwear below our top picks. Without further ado, here are our choices for the best men’s underwear:

Best Synthetic Underwear

Saxx Vibe Boxer Briefs

Saxx Vibe Boxer Briefs

  • MSRP: $31.95
  • Fabric: 95% viscose/5% spandex
  • Key Features: Made from soft, moisture-wicking fabrics with a slim, supportive fit for smooth, against-the-skin comfort

 

Best Wool Underwear

Smartwool Merino 150 Pattern Boxer Briefs

Smartwool Merino 150 Pattern Boxer Briefs

  • MSRP: $45.00
  • Fabric: 87% merino wool/13% nylon
  • Key features: Merino wool helps regulate body temperature, manage moisture and resist odor

Icebreaker Anatomica Boxer Briefs

Icebreaker Anatomica Boxer Briefs

  • MSRP: $40.00
  • Fabric: 83% merino wool/12% nylon/5% spandex
  • Key features: Ideal for both everyday wear and active pursuits, with ultralight merino wool for warmth and all-day comfort

Best Cotton-blend Underwear

ExOfficio Sol Cool Boxer Briefs

ExOfficio Sol Cool Boxer Briefs

  • MSRP: $25.93
  • Fabric: 52% cotton/42% nylon/6% spandex
  • Key features: Travel fresh and dry with the cool feel of cotton and the moisture-managing performance of high-tech fabric

Best for Hike/Multisport

REI Co-op Boxer Briefs

REI Co-op Boxer Briefs

  • MSRP: $22.50
  • Fabric: 92% polyester/8% spandex (bluesign® certified)
  • Key features: Soft, moisture-wicking fabric makes them a comfortable choice for hiking or everyday wear

Best for Fitness

Saxx Kinetic Boxer Briefs

Saxx-Kinetic-Boxer-Briefs

  • MSRP: $36.95
  • Fabric: 85% nylon/15% spandex
  • Key features: Moisture-wicking and quick-drying performance and an all-around supportive fit for high-output activities

Best for Travel

ExOfficio Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs

ExOfficio-Give-N-Go-Boxer-Briefs

  • MSRP: $26.00
  • Fabric: 94% nylon/6% spandex
  • Key features: Breathable, quick-drying boxer briefs with ultralight mesh to keep you cool while traveling, cycling or trekking

Best Under $20

REI Co-op Briefs

REI Co-op Briefs

  • MSRP: $18.50
  • Fabric: 92% polyester/8% spandex (bluesign® certified)
  • Key features: Blend of polyester and spandex breathes well, moves moisture away from skin, dries quickly and offers 4-way stretch

Types of Men's Underwear and Buying Advice

Synthetic

Tim favors lightweight synthetic/spandex blends that move well and manage moisture. “Synthetic versions offer wicking and quick-dry properties and are made with performance in mind, though they also work well for everyday wear and travel,” Tim says. He points out that this fabric blend is also great for washing and drying quickly when you’re traveling and camping.

Saxx is one of the current innovation leaders in synthetic men’s underwear. The patented BallPark Pouchä offers comfortable, friction-free support, while Saxx’s modern 3D fit places the flat, soft sides of seams inward against your skin.

Wool

Tim says, “Many people like wool versions for the natural feel as well as natural anti-odor properties.” Merino wool is a top choice for its warmth, soft feel, itch-free comfort and natural resistance to odors. It also manages moisture and regulates temperature.

Smartwool and Icebreaker are at the top of their games for wool underwear. Smartwool’s Merino 150 fabric incorporates a nylon core to increase durability while keeping merino wool next to your skin. Icebreaker uses ultralight, Corespunä merino wool fabric for durability and all-day comfort.

Cotton Blends

When it comes to cotton blends, it’s all about a cool, breathable, natural feel combined with moisture-managing and odor-controlling performance. ExOfficio, a longtime favorite for active travelers, is a great choice for cotton-blend underwear.

No matter which category you’re shopping for, Megan says key features to consider are a moisture-wicking, non-roll waistband, flat seams, anti-chafe and breathability.

Learn More: How to Choose Base Layers

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