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Best Hiking Underwear for Backpacking [2022] BikeHikeSafari

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This is a gear review about the Best Hiking Underwear for backpacking in 2022.

Choosing the best underwear for your next backpacking adventures will make the experience much more comfortable and enjoyable, but there are so many products available on the market. How do you pick the right one for you? 

I’ve put together a list of the best underwear for hiking on the market in 2022. I’ve included an outline of their key features and provided a guide to choosing the best product to suit your needs, and answered some common questions. Keep reading to find out more. 

Best Hiking Underwear for Backpacking 2022

The Best Hiking Underwear for 2022 are:

Best Hiking Underwear – Overall 2022

Smartwool Merino 150 Boxer Briefs

Material: Merino Wool and Nylon
> These boxers are moisture wicking
> Soft and flexible fabric
> Odor neutralizing
> Thermoregulating technology
> Only two colors to choose from
> Loose fit style might not sit well under tight hiking clothes
> Expensive

The Smartwool Merino boxer briefs are an excellent choice for a base layer. They are made from a blend of Merino Wool and Nylon. The merino wool underwear is thermoregulating, keeping you warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather.

It wicks moisture away from your body to keep you dry and prevent you getting a chill. The wool is soft and durable, with natural odor neutralizing properties. The addition of nylon allows for greater flexible movement and durability. 

They are machine washable and suitable for tumble drying which makes them easy to look after. The boxers are a regular loose fit style with an open fly.

The elastic waistband sits on the hips about 2 inches below the naval and is very comfortable. The seams are stitched in a flatlock style to reduce friction against the skin as you walk.  

Overall, the Smartwool Merino 150 underwear are the best available.

Quality Merino Blend Hiking Underwear

Icebreaker Anatomica Boxer Briefs

Material: Merino wool, Nylon, and lycra spandex

> Soft and stretchy fabric
> Thermoregulating technology
> Odor resistant
> Choice of 4 colors

> Sizing can run small
> Only 85% Merino Wool

Icebreaker is a company that makes simple, stylish, high quality outdoor clothing. 

The Anatomica boxer briefs are made from a mixed fabric of merino wool fibers, nylon, and lycra spandex. This makes them soft, stretchy, and durable, so they are suitable for daily life or hitting the trails.

The wool will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable by  regulating your body temperature and keeping moisture away from your skin. The material is also naturally odor free. 

There is a choice of four colors- black, midnight navy, island blue, or jet heather. The boxers are easy to care for as they are machine washable. They have a slim fit style with flatlock stitched seams to eliminate chafing. 

The Icebreaker Anatomica boxers can run a little small so it might be better to buy a size up, but check the size guide first. If you wash them before you wear them for the first time this will help to soften the wool for extra comfort. 

Best Synthetic Hiking Underwear

ExOfficio Give-N-Go Sport Mesh Boxer Briefs

Material: Nylon and lycra spandex

> Breathable an quick-dry
> Moisture wicking technology
> Lots of color choices
> Good price
> Not thermoregulating
> Will not keep you warm
> All synthetic materials

I used the ExOfficioGive-n-Go boxer briefs for several years. I used the synthetic underwear for travel, work, backpacking trips and general wear. They lasted far longer than underwear should last. Several years of daily wear and hundreds of times through the washing machine.

The Give-n-Go boxer briefs are not thermal, and are designed more for hiking and travelling in warmer climates. They are made from a blend of nylon and lycra spandex which makes them lightweight.

The diamond mesh allows for plenty of airflow, making these boxers extremely breathable. The moisture wicking and odor reducing technology allows for ultimate freshness on the road. The stretchy comfort waistband makes them easy to wear for long days of hiking or travel. 

There are 10 colors to choose from including black, charcoal, pink, red, white, and different shades of green and blue. They are machine washable, but are designed specifically to be suitable for hand washing on the go for people who travel a lot.

The quick drying feature is very impressive- wash the boxers, wring them out, lay them flat and roll them into a towel to absorb excess moisture, then hang them up to dry dry. They should be dry enough to pack or wear in 2 to 4 hours depending on the humidity. 

Overall, the synthetic fabrics on the underwear works great making them the best synthetic underwear.

Quality Synthetic Hiking Underwear

Arc’teryx Motus SL Boxers

Material: Phasic fabric

> Flexible fabric
> Lightweight
> Moisture wicking technology
> Odor resistant
> synthetic material
> Not thermoregulating

The Arc’teryx Motus boxer briefs are made from their own trademarked Phasic fabric which is incredibly lightweight and silky smooth against the skin. It is also sustainable and complies with Fairtrade standards. 

The boxer briefs wick moisture away from your body to keep you dry, and the soft fabric stretches with you for ultimate flexibility. The flatlock seams prevent chafing and friction and the gusset crotch is designed for comfort and movement. They also have anti odor technology. 

 You have a choice of six colors-  black, light gray, dark gray, teal blue, lime green, khaki green, and dark purple. 

Best Hiking Underwear for Australia and New Zealand

Macpac 180 Merino Boxers

Material: 95% Merino wool blended with 5% elastane

> Soft and flexible fabric
> Thermoregulating technology
> Odor resistant
> Flatlock seams
> Only 3 color choices
> No fly

If you are living in Australia or New Zealand these will be the best underwear for hiking that is on the market right now. I currently use the same merino wool underwear every single day.

These boxers are made from 95% Merino wool blended with 5% elastane. This makes them soft, lightweight, odor resistant and temperature regulating, whilst also allowing for free and flexible movement.

The flatlock seams prevent chafing as you move, making them perfect for long days of hiking. 

These boxer briefs have a fitted style with a wide elastic waistband for extra comfort. You can choose from black, gray marle or classic blue – three very stylish colors.

Best Budget underwear for hiking

REI Co-op Boxers

Material: 87% polyester and 13% spandex

> Soft waistband
> Moisture wicking
> Breathable
> Synthetic material
> Classic fit might not go well under tight clothing
> Only one color choice
> Not thermoregulating

These lightweight boxer briefs are made from a blend of 87% polyester and 13% spandex. The materials are sustainably sourced and Bluesign approved.

The soft fabric is not only flexible, but breathable too. It wicks moisture away from the body, keeping you dry and comfortable on long hikes. 

These synthetic underwear boxers are a classic fit, not too loose and not too snug. They have an open fly at the front and a soft waistband to ensure comfort all day long. They come in a mid-gray color.

Buyers Guide

Now that you know the best products available on the market, how do you choose which one is best for you? 


When it comes to underwear for backpacking and hiking there is Merino and synthetic.

Merino Wool Underwear

Merino boxers are great for regulating body temperature in both hot and cold weather. Merino underwear works better in colder climates than in hot humid jungle type environments.

It is also great at reducing odor due to it’s natural odor reducing properties due to the natural antimicrobial properties. Generally it is OK at wicking but usually it is not as good as synthetics.

Merino is not quite as durable as synthetics so some manufacturers add a blend of merino and synthetics to make the product more durable.

Synthetic Hiking Underwear

Synthetic underwear is generally stronger and will last longer than merino. Synthetics generally dry quicker too so make a great option to give a quick wash everyday when out on the trails on long distance hikes.

They also make moisture wicking underwear as the material does a good job of moving moisture away from the skin and to the outside to assist in evaporation.

By the way, forget cotton underwear. They are the worst backpacking underwear.


As mentioned above Merino Underwear is a little less durable in comparison to synthetics. So you should be a little bit more careful with them. I have ripped holes in merino underwear when putting them on just by getting a sharp toenail scratching the wrong place. Epic fail.


One of the most important features of hiking underwear is how they fit. They should be flexible and a snug fit without being too tight. You want your clothing to move with you, not restrict you. Stretchy waistbands and flexible fabrics are the best choices. 

Washing and Taking Care of your Underwear

You can wash you underwear in a washing machine along with all your other hiking gear but just be aware that they are more delicate and should be put inside a bra bag to protect them.

I recommended choosing underwear with a comfort flatlock seam to prevent chafing and rubbing. If you are walking for hours at a time, even the slightest bit of friction can cause problems. This is why it is also important to choose tagless boxers if possible. 


Overall the best underwear for hiking is the Smartwool Merino 150 Boxer Briefs.

Best Budget Hiking Underwear is the ExOfficio Give-n-Go Sport Mesh Boxer Briefs and the REI Co-op Boxers.

Best Underwear for Australian or New Zealanders are the Macpac 180 Merino Boxers.

Another one of the Best Hiking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is So Special About Merino Wool? 

Merino wool has excellent natural properties which make it perfect for use in the manufacturing of outdoor clothing. It is naturally odor resistant so won’t hold on to the smell of sweat.
It has thermoregulating abilities which means it will keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter, making it an ideal base layer for hiking. It is very absorbent and will draw the moisture away from your skin.
It is also very soft unlike other wools that can be scratchy and itchy. All of these features make it perfect for hiking clothing including underwear. 

Is Merino Wool Ethical?

Merino wool that comes from New Zealand is nearly always ethical and sustainable as they have very good standards of animal welfare. This makes it more ethical than many other types of wool.
The Merino wool that comes from Australia is not always as ethical. If ethically sourced clothing is important to you then you may want to research the individual brand and where they source their Merino wool from. 

Are Natural Fabrics Better Than Synthetic Ones? 

Natural fabrics have some excellent qualities, but they are usually harder to care for and less durable than synthetic fabrics. Synthetic materials have been designed and created from scratch, so can be built to last.
Natural fabrics are made from organic materials which will deteriorate over time. If you look after them well and follow the care instructions, you can still get a lot of wear out of them. We recommended choosing a product made from a natural and synthetic blended fabric to get the benefits of both types of material. 

Why Is Moisture Wicking So Important? 

When you do exercise like hiking, your body will produce a lot of sweat. You can often be out for hours at a time. If that sweat sits against your skin, you could develop a skin rash or even get a bacterial infection in your skin. If you stop moving and the sweat dries against your skin, you can quickly develop a chill.
Moisture wicking fabric draws the sweat away from your body and keeps it in the outer layers of the fabric, where it can evaporate. This keeps your skin dry and fresh, is more hygienic and prevents a lot of discomfort. 

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