Best Overall Travel Underwear
Smartwool NTS Micro 150 Boxer Brief
Waistband is soft and has offset seams
Wool fabric resists odors
If you've got to have the best underwear in the world, then the Smartwool NTS Micro 150 Boxer Brief
are it. In the most important category, comfort, they were the clear winner with a superior fit and softer waistband than any of the others. From fly to tuckus, the seams are thoughtfully located and flat-locked to prevent chaffing. They are the only pair where the waistband stitch has been offset to the side, away from the center of the back where a backpack might rub. Like all merino wool garments, they are naturally resistant to odor, with better performance than the proprietary coatings on all the synthetics tested. However, nothing is perfect; they do have a few deficiencies. In our air dry test they finished in the middle of the pack. Though with a total time of four and half hours, they can still surely dry overnight. The more practical weaknesses are durability and cost. Merino wool is a delicate fabric and it's unlikely these will last as long as the synthetic options. At $48 per pair they are also the most expensive option in an already overpriced field. We do believe, however, that the added comfort they provide warrants the slightly higher cost. Overall, these are an exceptional piece of clothing. The price is outrageous, but if you have a wallet that allows, this Editors' Choice award winner is a great luxury to have.
Best Bang for the Buck
ExOfficio Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs
More affordable than competition (and frequently on sale!)
Not the quickest to dry
Big, heavy, and less comfortable than others
Our testers could not confirm the popular sentiment that the ExOfficio Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs
are the ultimate travel underwear, but they did appreciate them as a comfy and functional option at a less obscene price. Don't get us wrong, $26 is a lot to pay for a pair of undies, but it's 45% less than the exorbitantly priced Smartwools. We like the durability of the ExOfficio's blend of spandex and nylon and the sturdy construction. While not as comfortable as many of the others tested, they are still a huge improvement over the regular cotton stuff you're probably wearing. The Aegis® Microbe Shield™ anti-microbial treatment is effective at combating odor and its forth place finish in our air dry test was still completed in under 5 hours—quick enough for them to dry overnight. There is a reason these are getting so popular. Actually, there are a few reasons.
Top Pick for Active Use
Arc'teryx Phase SL Boxer
Supportive enough for sports endeavors
Lacks a fly
Too snug for comfortable lounging
For a company that takes its naming conventions so seriously (Phase Series: Moisture wicking base layer, SL: Superlight
) Arc'teryx messed up a little bit here. Although they call these a 'boxer', they are the snuggest pair tested, and we'd definitely classify them a 'boxer brief'. Arc'teryx is excused though, they're Canadian. Regardless, we're glad we still gave these a shot because they ended up being the best option tested for active pursuits. Whether it's hiking, biking, running, or team sports, fast-paced activities can jostle your most delicate parts. The fit on the Arc'teryx Phase SL Boxer
is snug yet cozy and gives the most support of any pair tested. Credit for this should probably go to the stretchy 70%-30% polyester-polypropylene blend and the unique fabric dart sewn in to the crotch. This tailors the fit to provide space and support for your body parts that need it most. It doesn't look very stylish, and it eliminates the possibility of a fly, but it did the best job at keeping the boys in place. In addition, it is the lightest option by a large margin and the second fastest to dry. This wouldn't be our first choice for 'backpacking through Europe', but is our favorite for hiking through the woods with heavy objects strapped to our backs—i.e., actual 'backpacking'.