Hard-won insights on gear and skills
Perfect (but pricey) underwear for long days on the trail
After my first trip last spring, I cut out the boxer-brief liner of my favorite hiking attire, a pair of running shorts I’d scored at Marshalls for $15 a few years earlier. The elasticized liner had stretched out, resulting in an imperfect fit and insufficient support.
The shell was still in good shape, however, so I thought I’d try pairing it with performance underwear before I shopped for a full replacement. I took this opportunity to thoroughly test the Saxx Kinetic boxer briefs.
Last summer I hiked in the Kinetic for about 50 days, including two-week blocks in both the Rockies and High Sierra. The boxer briefs cost $37, and I probably should save them for important days and outings, but I reach for them whenever they’re clean, so casual, everyday use has at least doubled my time in them.
For hiking and backpacking, I have found the Kinetic to be just about perfect, and I have no suggestions for improvement (aside from working on the steep price tag). The fabrics are breathable and dry quickly. They fit very well, and the legs don’t ride up. The BallPark pouch provides support without being constrictive. And after extensive wear, they show few signs of use.
Saxx divides its underwear into seven collections. The Kinetic is the most suitable for athletic activities, due to its moisture management and semicompressive fit. The boxer briefs are available with a five-inch or eight-inch inseam.
Saxx launched its brand on the power of the BallPark pouch, a hammock-like cup that keeps the male anatomy nicely organized and supported. Other brands have tried tweaking their fits to similar effect, but it should not have taken until now for someone to develop underwear that keeps your bits separated from your legs.
The BallPark pouch is not hype. I wish all my underwear had it.
The Kinetic is made of a meshy, four-way-stretch blend of 90 percent nylon and 10 percent spandex. The BallPark pouch has two layers, providing additional support.
The fabric is highly breathable and dries quickly. Heat and moisture will build up during high exertion, but the Kinetic performs at least as well as any other underwear I own.
Despite its anti-odor treatment, the Kinetic will get ripe, as underwear do. When backpacking, I wash and wear-dry my pair every day or every other day. Saxx also makes odor-resistant merino underwear, the Blacksheep ($25), which I’ve owned for three years. But I’d recommend the Blacksheep for casual use only—it doesn’t breathe or dry as well, and, with only 5 percent spandex, it doesn’t fit snugly enough for prolonged athletic activity.
The Kinetic waistband is quite wide, at 1.75 inches. This helps the briefs stay put and distribute pressure.
Fit and Sizing
The Kinetic briefs fit as if they were tailored. They’re snug all around, without ever pulling or constricting, and the legs don’t ride up.
Pay attention to the sizing chart. For me it feels odd to be considered a XS/S with a 30-inch waist.
After more than 100 uses, my Kinetics are still in excellent shape. The spandex in the main fabric, waistband, and BallPark pouch has lost some rebound but not yet enough to affect fit or performance. The seams are entirely intact.
I’ve noticed some odd spotting in the mesh—areas where the fabric is thinning. I can’t explain it, but I suspect it’s either a quality issue, or was either exposed to stove fuel or abraded against something like Velcro.
Budget Option: Jockey Sport Cooling Mesh Trunk
If you’re on a stricter budget, or balk at $37 underwear, I recommend the Jockey Sport Cooling Mesh Performance Trunk ($18) as a more economical option.
I’ve worn these for years and would consider them a reasonable runner-up. The fabrics, fit, and durability are as good as the Kinetic’s. For all-day use, however, they’re not as comfortable; they support well, but without the BallPark pouch, the anatomy does not stay reliably in place.