The Best High-Performance Underwear for Women

Making a case for spending $40 on your skivvies

Nov 3, 2015
Outside
Outside Magazine
underwear

Serious athletes need serious underwear.    Photo: iStock

The most important part of your snow kit this season? What you’re wearing underneath it. We took eight of the best women’s performance underwear options on the trail and slopes to see how they stacked up to their cotton counterparts. Here are our results. 

Lululemon Light as Air Hipster ($18)

Lululemon light as air hipster
  Photo: Lululemon
 

Best For: Yoga, traveling, running
These silky-soft panties are extremely lightweight, stretchy, and breathable. Lululemon’s Nakedseam technology eliminates all seams, which reduces chafing and makes these a go-to for wearing under tight base-layer bottoms. 


Tasc Bikini Brief ($14) 

Tasc Performance bikini briefs
  Photo: Tasc Performance
 

Best For: Hiking, traveling 
Made from an organic cotton-and-bamboo fabric, the Tasc Bikini Briefs are soft and stretchy. They’re also highly breathable and odor resistant and have a UPF rating 50+. (Swimsuit bottom, perhaps?) Bonus points: The briefs come in seven different colors and have a nonrestrictive waistband. 


Smartwool PhD Seamless Bikini ($32)

Smartwool phd seamless bikini
  Photo: Smartwool
 

Best For: Backpacking, climbing, skiing, snowboarding 
Smartwool’s PhD line is made for serious athletes. On this model, the knit ventilation zones allow for air movement, while the merino wool feels soft against the skin and fights stink. The midrise cut and wide waistband keep the bottoms in place, but the seams do show under thin tights.  


Icebreaker Sprite Hot Pants ($35)

Icebreaker sprite hot pants
  Photo: Icebreaker
 

Best For: Backpacking, skiing, snowboarding, traveling
We like the full-coverage, boy-short cut, and low-rise waistband of the Sprite Hot Pants. Made from stretchy Lycra and merino, the bottoms are lightweight without being gauzy (like the Lululemon, above). 


ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport Mesh Bikini Brief ($22)

Exofficio give-n-go sport mesh
  Photo: Exofficio
 

Best For: Hiking, running  
The ultralight mesh places these flattering briefs among the silkiest bottoms we’ve ever worn. They wick well and dry quickly, while the active, skin-tight fit with a low-rise waistband meant these never slipped, crept, or bunched up. 


Bergans of Norway Akeleie Lady Boxer ($39)

Bergans of Norway Akeleie lady
  Photo: Bergans of Norway
 

Best For: Skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing
The outer layer of these boxers is made from 220-milligram-weight wool. The inner layer is cut from a polyester blend. Result: Air gets trapped between the two layers for better insulation. The shorts reach about midthigh, so you won’t want to wear them under a tight base layer. The flatlock seams prevented chafing. 


Patagonia Active Briefs ($22)

Patagonia women's active briefs
  Photo: Patagonia
 

Best For: Running, hiking, backpacking
Made from a recycled-polyester blend, Patagonia’s Active Briefs are eco-friendly without sacrificing plushness or stretchiness. The briefs offer full coverage with a midrise, no-roll waistband and seamless legs that won’t chafe or creep up. 


Under Armour Pure Stretch Cheeky ($12)

UnderArmour pure stretch cheeky
  Photo: UnderArmour
 

Best For: The gym, running
The cheapest option on our list, the Pure Stretch Cheeky is seamless and lightweight. Its cut offers the least coverage of any underwear we tried. Bonus points: They come in 25 colors.