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Gear Guy

Does anybody make synthetic briefs?

This past summer I started running and now have continued into the winter. On the longer runs my privates get awful cold. Is there any underwear out there made of microfleece and/or windproof fabric? I run in tights and wear cotton briefs under them. The cotton is the problem. I don't like wind pants or wearing shorts over my tights, but are they the only answer? Tom Faherty Scituate, Massachusetts

A: Thousands of men who read this column are wincing in sympathetic pain, Tom. I read an account somewhere of a winter race where it was so cold a number of the participants actually got...frostbitten (you know where). They were running to the men's room with paper cups full of warm water, into which they dipped their half-frozen members.

Fortunately, your problem is fairly easily solved: Ditch the cotton briefs. Go to a running store or an outdoor store and buy some synthetic briefs designed for outdoor activities. Patagonia already makes something like this —- that company's Capilene Briefs ($17) are fine; so are Duofold's Coolmax briefs ($11), which in spite of the name are a good insulating layer. Buy a few pairs, so you're sure to have some clean ones handy.

One other step is to buy briefs with wind-repelling panels sewn over the strategic location. RoadRunner Sports, a web/catalog retailer of running shoes and apparel, sells something it calls the RRS Tech Windbrief, which are Coolmax briefs with a wind-resistant front panel. In REALLY cold conditions, you could double these up over something like the Patagonia briefs. You might also try a little heavier tights than you're wearing, or double-up the tights with a light outdoor long-underwear tight, then a Lycra running tight over that.

Stay warm, bro. Your genetic future depends on it.

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