When it comes to the best underwear for travel for men there are quite a few companies vying for your business.
With so many options for such a simple item of clothing it’s hard to determine which ones are most ideal for your travel situation.
Sure, if you head to your local big-box retailer and grab a 10 pack for $30 then you probably don’t think it’s such a big deal if they don’t dry quickly, rip after just a few uses or aren’t the most comfortable.
Underwear that has been designed with travel in mind can cost quite a bit, sometimes up to $40 per pair. If you’re in the market for reliable, comfortable and durable underwear that will last you at least a few weeks backpacking across Europe, or whatever other travel adventures you have in mind, you’ll want to pick the right pair.
Over the past few years I’ve gone through quite a few different pairs of underwear. Some of them have worn out within a few days of putting them on for the first time but others have lasted two to three years of regular use.
- If you’re looking for underwear that is worth traveling with there are a few different questions that you want to ask yourself before making the purchase:
- How easily can they be packed?
- How fast do they dry?
- Are they comfortable?
- Are they odor resistant?
Choosing the right underwear ultimately comes down to personal preference but in this post I’m going to tell you what I believe to be your best options when it comes to underwear that’s worth traveling with.
Do I Really Need a Dedicated Pair of Travel Underwear?
If you read a lot of travel publications, or spend time reading through travel blogs, then you’ve probably seen an advertisement or two regarding travel underwear.
A few years ago they might not have been as popular but today specifically designed travel undies are must for anyone traveling abroad.
What is Travel Underwear Exactly and Why is it so Expensive?
Travel underwear are basically a pair of undergarments that has been designed to meet the rigors and demands that traveling brings.
When you’re abroad and spending time checking out new cities, exploring new places and just doing typical travel things you likely don’t have time to do laundry. It’s also expensive having to pay for laundry every few days and this problem point is where travel underwear comes into play.
The underwear is made of fabric and materials that tends to be quick drying and easily hand washed in the sink. Since these fabrics are also quick drying you’re able to leave out your underwear to dry for a few hours and come back to a fresh, ready to wear pair.
The fabrics are also odor resistant and antimicrobial so even if you can’t wash them right away it’s still possible to get a few more days of use without worrying about them getting too smelly.
These same pairs of underwear tend to be lightweight and easily packable. This way you can quickly stuff them into your backpack or suitcase and not have to sacrifice any additional space.
Cotton underwear tends to be more bulky and less forgiving when it’s not washed as often so travel underwear is really the best bet for people doing any significant amount of traveling.
I’ve come across a few travelers that tell me that the polyester or nylon fabric that travel underwear is made from is less comfortable and more chaffing than regular cotton but in that regard I completely disagree.
Not only do I always bring underwear that has been specifically designed for traveling with me but it’s actually all I wear these days. I haven’t worn cotton underwear in more than three years and I doubt I’ll ever go back to wearing it.
The Different Types of Underwear for Travel
As with regular underwear there are three main types of travel underwear that people wear:
Many men, myself included, opt for boxer briefs since they offer the most comfort, support and practicality.
They are also the best choice for traveling with since they help to prevent chafing and keep everything down there in place when you’re walking around and moving a lot throughout the day.
Since they are the only type of underwear I have experience with wearing boxer briefs are what I will be taking a look at in this post.
There are also three different fabrics/materials that you can expect travel underwear to be made from:
- Merino wool
Some of the most popular underwear for non-travelers is made from cotton but it’s really the worst choice if you’re going to be traveling or spending a lot of time outdoors. It’s thick, heavy and holds a lot of moisture rather than dispersing it.
This means that if you sweat a lot or it’s warm outside you’re going to have to deal with soggy underwear. Cotton is also more likely to break down when you’re washing your underwear by hand and isn’t really the best fabric for wearing for long-term, travel-related use.
Merino wool is a wonderful choice for both socks and underwear. Actually, if you’re looking for the best travel socks, I recommend taking a look at only the merino wool options.
Unlike cotton, Merino wool is very breathable and actually wicks moisture away from your skin rather than holding it in the fabric.
It’s very comfortable to wear on a regular basis and merino wool underwear can be easily hand washed. After washing it will dry quite quickly so you’ll never have to worry about putting on wet undies or sweating through a pair halfway through the day.
For underwear, merino wool is typically the most expensive option but it’s definitely worth it in the long run if you’re planning on doing a lot of traveling in all weather conditions and seasons.
The most popular material for underwear designed for travel is synthetic material. Nylon and polyester are the two most common options and exhibit many of the same properties as merino wool.
Synthetic underwear is breathable, easy to wash by hand and quick drying. It’s also a little cheaper than merino wool but some people find it to be less comfortable. I prefer wearing synthetic underwear but I also use merino wool pairs in very cold or very humid situations.
Now that I’ve got the basics out of the way let’s take a look at the top options for the best underwear for travel.
The Best Travel Underwear
You might be surprised to see that there are only two choices here on this list.
There really isn’t any need to go over the huge list of travel underwear that are available since these two are what I would say are the only choices that you should consider.
Under Armour Original Boxerjock: My Personal Favorite
In all honesty the first pair of underwear I wore that were designed for travel were actually the ExOfficio Give-n-Go. After looking for a backup pair I settled on the Under Armour Original Boxerjock and they have since grown to become my favorite pair.
I think they’re the best for a few reasons.
First, they’re made from synthetic materials (90% polyester and 10% elastane) and they’re very comfortable for regular, daily use.
I found that many boxer briefs didn’t have a long enough leg and would end up rolling up my thighs throughout the day but I never noticed this problem with the Under Armour Boxerjocks. The long leg helps to prevent chafing as well and seems to absorb a lot more sweat than I have found with other travel boxer briefs.
Another reason why I like these so much, and highly recommend them, is the thick and firm waistband.
The problem I have with the ExOfficio is that the waistband seems a bit thiner and somewhat more flimsy but with the Under Armour Boxerjocks you get a nice, thick waistband that holds up the boxer briefs throughout the entire day.
Finally, they are very lightweight and easy to hand wash. The Boxerjocks roll up into a very small size and hardly take up any space in my backpack or suitcase. I’ve actually started to bring more pairs of these since they take up so little space and I hate doing laundry more than I need to.
For handwashing I typically bring them into the shower and just give them a quick rinse with some Dr.Bronner’s bath soap.
Any time but I have hung them up to dry at night they’ve been completely dry and ready to wear the next morning. If you’re camping or you’re spending time outdoors in direct sunlight they’ll dry even faster.
One more issue that I’ve noticed with other boxer briefs that I haven’t experienced with these is any additional stretching. Sure, they’re not as tight as they were when I bought them a few years ago, but they stay tight on my legs during the entire day of walking around and keep everything down there in place.
When it comes to moisture-wicking I don’t think that these can be beat. Even in the heat of the summer, with temperatures humid and in the lower 40°C, I never found them to be too wet or soggy. After a long day of walking around in the heat I’ll notice that they’re a bit damp but since they dry so quickly it has never been an issue.
Overall, these are the best underwear for travel in my opinion and I give them my personal recommendation.
If you’re looking for travel underwear that is durable, comfortable and will keep you warm and dry regardless of the temperature or weather then I definitely suggest you take a look at the Under Armour Original Boxerjock.
Runner Up: ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Boxer Brief
The ExOfficio Give-N-Go were the first pair of underwear that I actually bought for travel. I bought them specifically for my first trip to Europe in 2012 and have been in love with them ever since.
Check out my ExOfficio Give-N-Go review!
There’s only one reason why I prefer the Under Armour Boxerjock’s over the ExOfficio Give-N-Go’s and that’s how tight they stay during the day.
To be upfront with you, I found that the Give-N-Go’s tended to get a bit loose on my thighs during the day. They didn’t roll up or anything but I could definitely feel the extra material rubbing around in my pants and at times it felt a bit uncomfortable. Other than that, I believe that these are also some of the best underwear for travel that you can get.
Since I went over the things that I love about the Under Armour Boxerjocks let me tell you more about the ExOfficio Give-N-Go’s as well.
ExOfficio is probably the most popular and well-known brand for travel related undergarments, especially when it comes to underwear. It’s likely their marketing combined with the fact that they offer a strong and reliable product but, nonetheless, the Give-N-Go boxer briefs are my second recommended choice.
It’s surprising that they’re not as tight fitting considering they’re made of 94% nylon and 6% Lycra. Despite their fit, they are an ideal choice to bring along with you wherever you plan on traveling.
The one benefit of the Give-N-Go boxer briefs over the Under Armour pair is that I found them to dry slightly quicker. They are just as easy to hand wash but the material seems to dry out in a shorter amount of time.
This also makes them a bit more comfortable to wear in warmer and more humid climates so take that into consideration if you’re planning on traveling somewhere that’s going to be muggy.
The Give-N-Go boxer briefs are also great at fighting odors and controlling any unpleasant smells. I read on their website that the boxer briefs are treated with a special Aegis Microbe Shield that helps to fight bacteria and keep the boxer briefs from taking on any bad scents so you’re sure to get a few more wears before needing to wash them.
The waistband is thick enough, although not as thick as with the Under Armour Boxerjock’s to keep up the boxer briefs during a long day of walking around or when you’re participating in any rugged outdoor activity. It also doesn’t fold or bend over like you sometimes experience with cheaper, cotton pairs.
It’s hard for me to say which of the two pairs pack down smaller but the Give-N-Go can be rolled up or folded into a very small and portable size. Again, they pack down so small that I recommend bringing two or three extra pairs so that you don’t have to do laundry as often.
Overall, I definitely recommend the Exofficio Give-N-Go boxer briefs if you’re looking for reliable, comfortable and practical underwear for travel. I can’t say for certain but I think ExOfficio makes other styles of underwear as well so you’ll have to check them out if boxer-briefs aren’t your preference.
Tips For How to Hand Wash Your Underwear When You Travel
(This is just a quick guide, for a more in-depth guide on washing clothes while you’re traveling I recommend checking out this post by Expert Vagabond)
If you’ve never wondered how to hand wash clothes in the sink then you’re either traveling with too much stuff or you haven’t traveled for long enough.
When you’re abroad and try to spend as much time as possible exploring new cities and enjoying the sights it’s a pain in the butt having to look for a place to do laundry and carrying extra clothes just to avoid doing laundry can really bog you down when you’re in transit.
Knowing how to wash your underwear by hand in the sink will keep you smelling fresh and your travel partners will thank you for not smelling like a dumpster.
I actually even recommend washing your underwear by hand when you’re at home since washing machines can be quite harsh on the thin fabrics that travel underwear are made from.
To wash your clothes or underwear by hand when you’re traveling here’s all you need:
- A pile of dirty underwear or clothes
- A shower, sink or tub
- Detergent or washing liquid that’s suitable for hand washing clothes with
The hardest part about hand washing anything is finding a place for it to dry. Thankfully, travel underwear dries quickly and I recommend washing your undies right before you go to bed. That way they’ll be dry and fresh in the morning.
Step 1 – Fill the tub or sink with warm water and then add your soap
Use water that’s very warm to the touch but not too hot, you don’t want the colors to run. Once the tub or sink is half full of water at your washing liquid or detergent.
For washing your underwear, and other clothes, I recommend using Dr.Bronner’s. It’s a concentrated soap and made from completely natural ingredients so it’s perfect for traveling with and using to wash your clothes.
Step 2 – Add Your Clothes to the Sink/Tub and Spin Them Around With Your Hands
Once the sink is full of the water/soap mixture it’s time to add your underwear. Once you’ve added them spin them around in the soapy water and, if they are dirtier than usual, scrub them together to get out any of the stains or dirt.
If you don’t have access to a sink or tub then you can add your underwear to a Ziploc bag, add soap and shake it around as kind of a rinse cycle.
Step 3 – Rinse Your Underwear
After you’ve scrubbed your undies you can drain the soapy water and rinse them with fresh water.
You’ll know they are properly rinsed when the water is no longer soapy and runs clear.
This is a key step as if you leave too much soap in your underwear after washing them you could get a rash or experience some chafing once you wear them when they are dry.
Step 4 – Dry Your Underwear
Once you have finished rinsing your underwear it’s time to hang them out to dry, but there’s one more thing you’ll want to do.
Rather than hang them to dry soaking wet it’s a good idea to wring out each pair as best as you can. You can wring them with your hands but an easy way to wring them that’s more effective is to add each pair in a towel and wring the towel instead.
This will give you a more effective wringing and will cause your underwear to dry faster.
Once you’ve wrung out each pair it’s time to hang them out to dry. If you’re in a hostel or hotel there probably isn’t much space to hang up your underwear but any flat, bar-like surface will do.
If you can, try to hang them up near a window, fan or over a radiator to help them dry even faster.
This is where having wool or synthetic fabric is the best choice. A pair of cotton underwear will take forever to dry but wool or synthetic pairs will definitely be dry within a few hours, or overnight at the latest.