We’ve all heard, “It’s what’s on inside that counts,” right? Well, I hate to break it to you, but that saying isn’t about your morals, or values, or ethics.
It’s about your underwear.
Packing in just a carry on requires you to streamline your packing list, make sacrifices when you can, and ask articles of clothing to either work hard, or do double duty. Packing the right travel underwear might just be the best way to keep your bag light and your… junk dry.
So, to make sure you have the best bits for your bits, I personally took a look at three of the best travel underwear on the market today. I wore ’em, I biked in ’em, and I showed ’em off to my friends.
Here’s what I found:
Men’s Travel Underwear Reviews
I’m a long-time boxer brief fan, especially when it comes to travel underwear. Boxers are too big and bulky—especially in hot climates—and while it might not seem like that big of a deal, any extra fabric is exactly that—extra. Briefs, however, are just too damned small. “Tighty whities” will always make you look like you’re still in junior high. Unless you’re European. You guys play by different rules.
I like a pair of underwear I can walk around a hostel in if I have to, or a pair I can feel comfortable sleeping in without showing off too much sexy man thigh. Boxer briefs are also a great stand-in as a makeshift bathing suit in a pinch.
Boxer briefs are the Goldilocks of men’s travel underwear, that’s why I opted for this pair. However, Ex Officio offers the full range of men’s travel underwear. They might even have some old-timey long johns if that’s your thing.
Ex Officio built their brand on the somewhat bold claim, “17 countries. 6 weeks. One pair of award-winning underwear. (Ok, maybe two.)” It’s a ballsy claim that you can wear a single pair of underwear for 42 straight days of travel (please NEVER actually do this), but everyone who hits the open road has to do at least a few days without rotation, so I put it to the test:
Three days, same underwear. No changing. (Hot, right?)
I biked, I worked, I walked the city streets of New York. Heck, I even took a swing dance class, and surprisingly, these underwear held up.
When you first put the underwear on you notice the mesh feel of the fabric. I’ve worn plenty of underwear in my time, but this was a novel experience. They felt like tech fabric. The flex and give of the “diamond mesh weave,” combined with the…durability of the overall garment, was a welcome surprise.
The waistband is also surprisingly reinforced. I doubt that these underwear will sag after a few washings, which is a solid feature for a pair of underwear you’re going to wear day in and day out.
- Treated for odor resistance
- Breathable, lightweight, and long-wearing
- Stretchy, diamond mesh weave
- Quick drying
- Moisture wicking
They are a little snug in the waist (that reinforced waistband is a double-edged sword). If you’re a little on the husky side maybe bump up a size. I’m 6’1” 170 pounds and even though the sizing chart says a 33-inch waist is a “medium.” I wish I had the large.
Conclusion: Buy (1) Pair
For $20, you won’t want to replace all your underwear with these bad boys, but you’ll definitely want at least one pair, possibly two. Not particularly stylish, these underwear do the heavy lifting. I’m going camping this weekend, and these are the only underwear I’m bringing.
Uniqlo Men Airism Low-Rise Boxer Briefs Travel Underwear ($3.90 – $9.90)
I’ve been a fan of Uniqlo tech garments since before I started rocking their stretchy men’s jeggings (heck yeah, they’re a thing). As far as your budget options go, Uniqlo is almost always going to come out on top.
As one 5-star review from 2013 simply says:
“Quick-drying, light, cool comfort. Everything you need for a pair of travel undies.
Beyond that, though, these are 1) the best-fitting pair of undies I’ve ever had, and 2) the best-looking pair of undies I’ve ever had. Uniqlo Airism, you’ve done it again.”
Pretty resounding endorsement, and for $3.90 a pair (sale price), you can swap out your entire roster of outdated He-Man underoos and that leotard you keep insisting goes with everything. It’s time to upgrade, my man.
Uniqlo’s Airism travel underwear definitely feel silkier than the ExOfficio line of travel underwear, but that’s a good thing. I don’t like clothing that feels too “travely,” and that includes underwear. Sometimes decent moisture wicking is all you need. You don’t need every single pair of travel underwear to look like they belong on the junk of a space marine.
- Mesh construction
- Quick-drying DRY technology
- Anti-microbial, anti-odor self-deodorizing properties
- Low-rise design for a stylish fitted feel
The looser mesh fabric can bunch up a little around the crotch—not particularly awesome if you do a ton of hiking. Again, Uniqlo is a great budget travel underwear option. They never claim to be the best, just way better than your typical cotton underwear that takes three days to dry. If you’re going on a 6-week Amazonian trek, maybe splurge for two pairs of ExOfficio and leave Uniqlo for salsa dancing in the city before your flight home.
Conclusion: The Best Budget Option
Upgrade your entire underwear collection.
You’re too old to be wearing saggy ill-fitting underwear everyday. Forget about travel. Obviously, these are the best budget travel underwear option today. I’m talking about the rest of your life.
You’re better than that. Stop wearing bad underwear. Upgrade to Uniqlo, add a few expensive pair of travel underwear as your go-to travel underwear and you’ll never be in doubt over what to pack for any occasion.
Saxx Quest 2.0 Travel Boxers ($29.95)
Imagine a pair of men’s travel underwear that keeps your junk… separate from everything else. Saxx has made that dream a reality. The patented BallPark pouch of Saxx (seriously, they have a design patent) claims to make chafing a thing of the past.
At the risk of sounding too blue, the pouch design of the Saxx travel underwear make a huge difference. It’s a sea change in the way travel underwear function, and honestly I’m a fan. As a rock climber and cyclist, taking that awkward friction zone out of the equation makes active travel much more enjoyable.
- Comfortable Modal fabric
- Moisture wicking waistband
- Patented BallPark Pouch
- 3D Fit
Other Saxx Travel Underwear Options
The best part about Saxx travel underwear, is that you can customize the pair to your needs. They feature several different lines of men’s underwear including:
- ($43.95) — extra warmth and windblocking design for winter activities
- Kinetic ($36.95) — high performance wicking and aerobic stretch for athletes
- Force ($41.95) — muscle compression underwear for peak athletic performance
- Blacksheep ($44.95) — 85% merino performance wool
Honestly, not a whole lot of complaints on this one except for the steep price. If you’re an active guy on the go, Saxx travel underwear get the job done in a way that other underwear simply doesn’t.
Conclusion: Start Slowly Upgrading to Saxx
Try Saxx once and see how it treats you. The high price tag and unique design might scare you away from getting a few pairs at once, and rightly so. $40 is a lot for a pair of travel underwear. Keep your eyes peeled for online sales and snag a discounted pair when you can.
MeUndies are definitely the least “techy” of all the travel underwear. Honestly, aside from the comfortable materials (92% modal, 8% elastene), I’d barely categorize MeUndies as travel underwear.
The Fit & Complaints
MeUndies feel like cotton underwear, which is good for anyone that’s not a hardcore traveler. I appreciate the comfort of traditional boxer briefs, but I guess I was hoping for a little bit more. True, MeUndies aren’t marketed exclusively as “travel underwear,” but the implications of lightweight, comfortable undies that wick moisture is undeniable.
The waistband is also extremely snug, something that will hopefully fade (but not too much) in time.
Conclusion: Good for Everyday, Not Awesome for Travel
It’s tough to give MeUndies a strong travel recommendation since I’m unconvinced the modal fabric will dry as quickly as other more advanced travel underwear. They are super comfy though, and the range of colors and designs is fantastic, so maybe treat them as a budget supplement to your hardcore travel underwear.
Women’s Travel Underwear
Spoiler Alert: I don’t know a lot about women’s travel underwear. So, to get the firsthand scoop on how women’s travel underwear perform in the real world, I had another avid traveler friend of mine, Elaine, try out two top-rated pairs of women’s travel underwear.
Here’s what she said:
“As someone who travels practically every weekend, fit and performance are very important to me.” (She just got back from a two-week trip to Europe and has trips booked for nearly every single weekend left in 2016). “My first impression of ExOfficio Women’s Give-N-Go travel underwear was super comfy, soft, and I liked how the waistband didn’t cut into me.”
- Treated for odor resistance
- Breathable, lightweight, and long-wearing
- Stretchy, diamond, mesh weave
- Quick drying
- Moisture wicking
The cut of even the low rise bikini brief was a little high, even in her size (XS). “If I wore this with jeans, I’d be worried about the underwear poking out at the waist in the back.” She went on to say a, “Simpler cut would be more practical,” and she was, “Unsure how the lace will wear over multiple washes over time aka stretching.”
Conclusion: Keep it Simple
Get the base model Give-N-Go Women’s travel underwear without the lace, and make your peace with the high waistband, even on the low rise style.
Much more comfortable than ExOfficio, although at the expense of some functionality. “The low-rise cut is actually low-rise—which is nice—and I’d be more likely to wear these as my everyday underwear.”
“Not a whole lot actually. These underwear look fantastic—not at all like travel underwear—and the comfort level is exactly what I’m looking for on long flights and all-night bus rides. The slower drying time is a bummer, but I’d definitely pack a few of these for a long trip.”
Travel underwear is important. Take the time to try on a few options and get it right before going all in on expensive underwear that aren’t what you need.
- All travel underwear is “quick drying” — look for the right fit
- Modal feels amazing and is a nice budget alternative to Merino
- Saxx are a game-changer
- Uniqlo makes nice budget travel underwear
- Ladies: Go with ExOfficio for function, or MeUndies for form
Photo Credit: Paul Hershey, Unsplash