For pieces of apparel often dubbed “unmentionables” there’s actually a lot to be said for the right pair of travel underwear. Of course you want something comfortable, something that delivers the proper support (men) and protection (women). But you should also want a pair that doesn’t stink after a few days of continuous use, a pair that prevents chaffing, and—yes—one that keeps you modest if conditions demand they double as a bathing suit. And it should also express your personality, whether than means monotone or wild, colorful graphics. But we’ll let that part remain your dirty secret.
1. Saxx Everyday, $30; 2. Patagonia Active Mesh, $29; 3. Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers Heads Up, $40; 4. MyPakage Weekday, $30; 5. Sock It to Me, $20; 6. Ex-Officio Give-n-Go Sport Mesh 2-Inch Boy Shorts, $34; 7. MeUndies, $20.
Photo: RebeccaVC1, CC-BY
Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).
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With terms like internal mesh, nine-panel construction, and the use of an "ergonomic front pouch," Saxx proudly embraces a more architectural approach to building their boxers, briefs, and boxer-briefs But anyone who's suffered from chaffing while hiking will instantly appreciate the genius construction of that front pocket, which cradles and keeps you cool and comfortable. All the models boast this feature, including their performance pairs, but for travel, go with the everyday Ultra Boxer Fly or Brief, which uses a mixture of spandex and a viscose fabric derived from plant cellulose that's moisture-wicking, breathable, and soft.
Photo courtesy of Saxx Underwear
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Patagonia's Capilene Daily boxers and briefs have long been a travel staple for the intrepid male. But their line of active-mesh women's underwear may make the men jealous. Pairs like the Active Mesh Boy Shorts delivers superior moisture management thanks to a mixture of super-wicking recycled poly (69%), nylon (6%), and spandex mesh fabric (6%), with a low rise, a flat waistband that won't roll or bind, and a shaped leg opening for a no-bunch fit.
Photo courtesy of Patagonia
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The concept of wool underwear may strike you as just as outlandish as spending $40 for a pair of boxer shorts, but that's because you've not work Icebreaker's Anatomica underwear. Recently revamped and built around all the expected anatomical details, the mix of merino, nylon, and Lycra deliver serious comfort—and they also benefit from wool's all-natural features, wicking away sweat, keeping you cool when your hot and warm when you're cold, and never, never retaining offensive odors.
Photo courtesy of Icebreaker
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Similar to Saxx, MyPakage uses a three-dimensional pouch—called a keyhole—to cradle your goods and keep it secure, removing any threat of chaffing during high- or medium-level exertion. A touch of spandex is mixed with modal, allowing for a snug, comfortable fit with four-way stretch and flat-long seams.
Photo courtesy of MyPakage
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As its name implies, Sock It to Me started with the other underwear--socks, all of them crafted with fun, vibrant patterns and colors. And this spring they've unveiled their new underwear line using super-soft cotton with a touch of elastane for stretch. They aren't the most performance-focused on pair on this list, but the patterns are easily some of the most original.
Photo courtesy of Sock It to Me
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Made for both men and women, the Sport Mesh uses a soft mesh fabric that's quick-drying, anti-odor, breathable, and lightweight, with solid chafe protection. It also boasts their proprietary Silvadur, which attacks any lingering bacteria with silver ions to destroy the offending microbes. Available in all cuts, from "hipkinis" to boxer briefs.
Photo courtesy of Ex-Officio
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These boxers are made from all-natural Austrian beechwood tree fiber dubbed MicroModal, which delivers natural odor reduction and a feel that's twice as soft as cotton. Available for both men and women, a touch of elastane adds a degree of flex, with a soft, flexible waistband that contours to your body for optimal fit. Less tech-centric than some of the others on this list, and less expensive as well.
Photo courtesy of MeUndies