Underwear is an important part of an everyday wardrobe and can make or break the comfort of any activity. I’ve tried out quite a few new pairs of underwear over the past year or so, and I’ve made a change to what my go-to pairs are. While this is nowhere near an exhaustive list, this roundup includes all the technical boxer briefs I’ve tried.
A few commonalities
Across all the boxer briefs I tried, there are a few commonalities across the two main pain points — rolling of the waistband and riding up of the leg.
It seems to me that rolling of the waistband is a thing of the past (at least across all the brands I discuss here). This is something that can be very annoying, and something I haven’t had to deal with since I switched away from my cheap Hanes underwear.
On the other hand, having the leg ride up is not something that has been solved (except for maybe the new Wool & Prince Boxer Briefs 2.0, I haven’t given them a try though). I find that all of my pairs of underwear can ride up under the right conditions. Two features that help mitigate riding up include a proper fit (tightness and length) of the leg.
Lastly, I’ve yet to find any underwear that I can wear more than once (even with an antimicrobial treatment or merino content). That’s fine with me as I don’t find it appealing to wear underwear more than once. This makes drying time important for travel.
The Give-N-Go Boxer Brief was my first foray into the performance underwear market. A few years back, they were the ones everyone talked about, but since seem to have declined in quality.
The fabric is 94% nylon and 6% Lycra with an antimicrobial treatment and a diamond knit. This makes the fabric have a rough handfeel and more likely to get caught on your pants.
These do not have a structured front panel and have a somewhat baggy fit.
The fit and fabric kill the appeal here.
The Buck Naked Performance Boxer Briefs were next. They are still popular and are the most heavy/durable of those I’ve tried.
The fabric is 93% nylon and 7% spandex with an odor resistant treatment and a diamond knit. The knit here, while not smooth, doesn’t seem to get caught on my pants.
These also do not have a structured front panel and a similar fit to the ExOfficio pair.
Again, the fit and fabric make these uninteresting, unless you’re going for durability.
Once I got tired of the heavier fabric of the previous two brands, the AIRism Boxer Briefs seemed the natural way to go. Also very popular in the travel/performance community, these are hands down the lightest pair I own (in both fabric weight and packability).
The fabric is 89% polyester, 11% Spandex with an extremely smooth finish that feels like silk. No matter what fabric you wear on top, these never get caught.
The structured front panel adds to the comfort, and the tighter fit (and shorter leg) makes you forget you are wearing them. These are a good example of how the right fit helps keep the leg from riding up.
These are my favorite overall.
The Merino pair is 90% 17.5 micron merino wool, 5% metallic, and 5% spandex. The fabric is luxuriously soft and is quite thick. There is a custom leg grip system on each leg band that definitely helps keep these from riding up even when the legs aren’t quite as snug.
The Ultralight pair is 50% nylon, 35% Modal, 10% Spandex, and 5% metallic with an open-knit. Just like the name says, the fabric is very lightweight and has an excellent silky feel. While there are no leg grippers here, the legs fit a bit tighter so I didn’t feel like I was missing out.
I find the structured front panel in both of these pairs to be the most comfortable of all on this list.
Overall, can’t beat the luxury of the Merinos and the Ultralights are right up there with the UNIQLOs. The fit is spot on here.
The fabric is Pistol Lake’s custom Lightweight Eudae fabric, which is 76% polyester, 19% Tencel, and 5% Lycra. The fabric looks and feels similar to a cotton t-shirt.
While a snug fit, these do not have a structured front panel.
Overall, these are great if you’re looking for cotton-like comfort and are willing to sacrifice performance.
All of the boxer briefs perform well in all conditions with two exceptions.
The SilverAir Merino feels a little heavy with a lot of sweat, just like any merino piece, but dries quickly as the moisture evaporates from the core of the fibers.
The Minimalist Boxer Briefs feel heavy and moist with a lot of sweat. This was a surprise after trying their shirt made from the same fabric, but these are the only pair that I don’t really enjoy wearing for exercise.
Hands-down I prefer the AIRism Boxer Briefs for travel. Their extremely light and silky fabric and shorter length makes them pack down to nothing and dry quickly after a sink wash. Also, if they do ride up, they are the least noticeable.
The most comfortable of the lot are of course the SilverAir Merino, nothing beats the luxurious soft feel of high quality merino. When combined with a great structured front panel, these will be hard to beat in the comfort department.
The Minimalist Boxer Briefs also up there in comfort because they have a cottony feel and the long length helps keep the legs in place.
After wearing most of these boxer briefs for at least six months, if not longer, the UNIQLO AIRisms have become my top pick. Not only are they lightweight and comfortable, they are a great value at just $10 (and often can be had on sale for $5). At that price, there is no reason not to stock up. If the cost wasn’t involved, I would say the Y Athletics SilverAir Ultralights would be my top pick, as they are a bit more comfortable than the AIRisms. Finally, for comfort above all else (while still maintaining excellent performance), I haven’t found anything more comfortable than the Y Athletics SilverAir Merinos.