Patagonia Active Boxer Briefs
Active Boxer Briefs (courtesy, Patagonia)
Gear Guy

Which briefs are best for chafe-free hiking?

I’ve always made do with cotton briefs when hiking, but I’m tired of the chafe factor and that ensuing wide-legged walk. I’m planning a trip into Montana’s Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and need your recommendation for irritation-free hiking (especially since the well-known brands go for $25 a pair). Suggestions? Brian Billings, Montana

Patagonia Active Boxer Briefs

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Hmmm. I was just checking the forecast for West Yellowstone, not too terribly far from where you’re going, and they expect snow next week! So I’m sure you’ll have a great trip, but as you no doubt know (being from Montana), it’s apt to be chilly.

Patagonia Active Boxer Briefs

Patagonia Active Boxer Briefs Active Boxer Briefs

So, I’ll be brief: You need different briefs. I mean, cotton? They must never dry out when you’re hiking and sweating. I haven’t worn cotton underwear while doing anything except writing Gear Guy columns for years.

You can go into any outdoor or sporting goods store and choose from a wide array of undershorts in synthetic materials such as DuPont Coolmax or polypropylene. All will work well. But a few materials and designs stand out. Ex Officio’s Below the Belt Briefs ($18; are a trimly cut model made from nylon and Spandex that dry fast and are treated with an antimicrobial. Very nice. For something a little warmer, try REI’s Midweight MTS Briefs ($16;, which use a polyester fabric that wicks extremely well so you don’t chafe.

That hot design in men’s underwear, however, is the boxer brief. These are shaped like boxers, but are a little shorter and use stretchy materials so they hug the body. The result is a brief that has plenty of support and that does away with seams around any sensitive areas. Patagonia’s Active Boxer Briefs ($26; are an excellent example of this design. They’re very comfortable and fast-drying, maybe the perfect brief for a trip such as yours.

Check out this year’s more than 400 must-have gear items, including a comprehensive hiking section, in the 2006 Buyer’s Guide.

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
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Lead Photo: courtesy, Patagonia