CAMPING & HIKING

Best Hiking Underwear: Getting the Most out of Your Base Layer

Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

If you’re wondering what’s the number one piece of clothing that you should be in the market for when planning your next outdoor adventure, think of getting the best hiking underwear. That’s the base layer that you wear, which should provide protection and comfort.

Without this layer, the other ones will become totally inefficient on their own, which is why we’ll let you in on our secrets to buying topnotch underclothes. To do that, we’ll start with some (hopefully) helpful advice, and then end up with a list of great products to consider.

The ins and outs of choosing right

Getting the right stuff for your private parts can make the difference between a successful, fun hiking trip and a total fiasco. That’s because you can’t have fun without feeling totally comfortable on the trail. Besides, if you choose the wrong underwear, you may even get injuries or burns. So how do you choose something appropriate?

Material

The number one rule to watch out for is less cotton. The reason is that cotton absorbs moisture instead of wicking it, and that leaves you feeling wet and uncomfortable.

hanged underwear

If you happen to walk for hours at a time with wet underwear, you can get nasty rashes, some of which may even become infected. So the best materials to choose from are moisture-wicking, like polyester and wool. Of course, you should make sure these feel nice and soft on your skin because cheap ones will also cause rashes.

Breathable materials should also be a top priority for you, considering that something that doesn’t let your skin breathe will ultimately cause more chaffing. To sum up, look for stuff that:

  • Keeps your skin dry.
  • Lets your skin breathe.
  • Feels smooth.

Size

Selecting the right size is another factor that influences your choice of underwear, whether we’re talking about the best underwear for hiking or for everyday life.

  • Don’t get something too small: Seems obvious, doesn’t it? However, it’s hard to find the Goldilocks zone of underwear if you’re planning to wear your daily ones on the trek. The reason is that something you normally wear for your desk job might feel a bit tight when you’re walking 10-12 hours per day.
  • Don’t get something too big: That’s the other trap of selecting your underwear, so try not to fall in it. Getting boxers that don’t fit quite right will lead to them bunching up your leg. So an obvious solution to solve both the problems of too big and too small is a pair of nice boxer-briefs.

Camouflage underwear

That’s a combo between the two types of underwear, and with the advantages of both meaning they:

  • Will be tight enough.
  • Won’t ride up your leg.
  • Will cover your legs and buttocks just the right amount to prevent chaffing.

Good fitting long johns are another way you can go, especially when you’re hiking in very cold weather, provided they allow easy layering.

Comfort

Comfort is mainly a very subjective, personal experience since what might feel right for you, might be totally awkward or even painful for someone else. However, there are a couple of things to look out for:

The right seams

Normal seams aren’t so good when we’re talking about a longer hiking trip because they’re one of the main reasons for thigh chaffing.

man reading in underwear

Conversely, flatlock ones are much better as they produce a flat stitching. This sort of stitching is the best one since there’s no lump to bother you while walking. And to get an idea of how good this sort of seam actually is, remember it’s used for making baby clothes. Basically, your skin will be as protected and comfortable like that of a baby.

Kill odor-causing bacteria

The ability of your undies to be somewhat resistant to odor is what truly differentiates them from everyday lingerie. That means you’ll be able to use them for longer than you normally would, without stinking up the whole place.

The obvious advantage is that you won’t add up to the bulk of your backpack with a lot of underwear to frequently change. However, the question is: should you choose a fabric that wicks odor on its own or a fabric that has been chemically treated for that?

To solve this dilemma, let’s compare a couple of materials. Merino wool, for instance, will repel unpleasant smells on its own, but that leaves the question of bacteria. On the other hand, polyester has to be treated in order to make you less smelly, but the treatment also kills bacteria in the process, which is even better.

Grade A undies on the market

That being said, it’s time to look at some great products that meet these above characteristics. Researching the market is one of the best ways to start prior to making a buying decision, so browse through what we’ve come up with before making up your mind.

At The Buzzer Thermal Underwear

buzzer

Dimensions: Small – 3XL

Specifications: long johns; gray; 40% polyester; 60% cotton; thermal; breathable

Best use: short hiking trips

The “At the Buzzer Terminal Underwear” is a 3.8 stars product that has a price range of $9.99 – $14.99, depending on the size you’ll choose. And the good news is that options aren’t limited in that regard.

With a huge 78% fit as expected rate, you can get your very own set from a size Small to a 3X-Large. And you’re not limited in colors either since you’re able to choose between Ecru, Black, Navy, Grey, and Charcoal.

At The Buzzer retails these types of long johns that are good for hiking since they’re thermal undies.

That means they’ll keep you warm enough thanks to the fabrics used for manufacturing them: with 40% polyester and 60% cotton, you’ll get the benefits of both materials for warmth. So you’ll be able to wear this as an underlayer no matter how cold the weather gets.

We know we’ve said that cotton is a big no when choosing a base layer for hiking, but since it’s mixed with polyester, you won’t have to worry about it absorbing moisture. Instead, it will protect you and make you feel comfortable. This mix of fabrics has the advantage of durability, which is precisely what you should be looking for when choosing hiking gear.

Since these long johns are a good fit, that makes layering on top of them quite easy. They aren’t too tight to cause rubbing and irritations, nor too loose as to add to the bulk of your equipment.

They’ll let your skin breathe, thanks to the fabrics used, but you should be wary that the seams aren’t the best on the market. They might come undone after a few uses, but making the necessary repairs may seem a small hassle at this low price.

Check the price on Amazon

Just Love Thermal Underwear

just love

Dimensions: X-Small – XX-Large

Specifications: 2-piece long johns; black;40% polyester; 60% cotton; thermal; tapered leg; elastic waistband

Best use: hiking in cold weather

The ” Just Love Thermal Underwear” is a 3.6 stars product that is specifically designed for women and can be purchased in various sizes, at a price range of $9.99 – $14.99. From X-Small to 2X-Large, you’ll get plenty of options and a decent fit as expected rate of 64%.

Apart from the black color, this model can also be found in various other colors like coral, lime, pink, white, gray and purple. So you can stay warm, comfortable and look good on your hiking trip.

The warmth factor is ensured by a mix of polyester and cotton used for the fabric. Apart from keeping you safe from low, freezing temperatures and able to withstand the elements, this fabric is very soft on the skin.

It will also let you feel quite comfortable and prevent all sorts of chafing. This product is a long john made out of two pieces, which is another reason why you can wear it when hiking in cold weather.

Since it’s a good fit, you can easily layer on top of it and maintain a supple appearance, whether we’re talking about the clothes you wear during the day or pajamas. Their tapered leg is amazing because you can even slip this on under leggings, and that tells us it’s been manufactured after specifically considering what women need.

Therefore, the utility is blended with comfort and that can likewise be seen in the waistband, which is elastic and meant to keep these long johns in place. So the feminine cut is obvious, and the stitching really holds, so you can rest assured you’ll get a durable, comfortable underwear set.

Check the price on Amazon

Texere Long John Pants

texere

Dimensions: Small – XX-Large Tall

Specifications: long john pants; black; 100% cotton; ankle length; double thermal layer; flatlock seams; tagless labels

Best use: low-impact activities

The Texere Long John Pants are a 4.3 stars product  have a price range of $21.99 – $24.99 which is influenced by the size you’ll get.

Speaking about sizes, we really like that TexereSilk is one of the brands which has finally understood that size is influenced by height too, not just weight.

So for instance, you can opt between a Medium or a Medium Tall, depending on how tall you are. That’s really amazing and we’re sure it’s one of the main reasons why the fit as expected rate is so high at 80%.

On the other hand, the plethora of choices regarding size isn’t matched by an equally vast array of choices when it comes to color. That means your only choice apart from this black model is gray, but that’s not so bad for people who are interested in a comfortable wear, not a fashionable one.

The fabric used is 100% cotton, which is why you may be wondering why we’re recommending this product. The fact that it’s cotton and therefore not moisture wicking doesn’t mean it’s automatically wrong for all outdoor activities. It just means it’s not recommended for high-impact ones, like constant walking and climbing, but they’re perfect to wear around camp.

These ankle-long pants are the perfect base layer for improved warmth and insulation when you’re not exerting yourself because their thermal layer is doubled. So you can easily wear them under your everyday pants, or even under pajamas for a warm, comfortable feel.

The comfort of it all is also courtesy of the flatlock seams that won’t let your skin chafe. The tagless labels are a big plus in that regard too, as is the all-cotton manufacturing.

Check the price on Amazon

UFM 1.0 Underwear

UFM

Dimensions: 28 – 42

Specifications: black; boxer briefs; 10% spandex and 90% polyester; adjustable drawstring; 6 inches inseam

Best use: athletic activities; medical conditions

The UFM 1.0 Underwear are a 4.4 stars boxer briefs for men and have a price range of $19.95 – $24.95, depending on the size you’ll choose. With a wide range of possibilities to get between size 28 and size 42, the 82% fit as expected rate can easily be explained.

You should choose the right size depending on your waist measurement, seeing as these briefs run small. Be sure to check the UFM website for additional input regarding how to choose the right fit, and you’re bound to get a good product.

The materials used for manufacturing these briefs are 10% spandex and 90% polyester. That means they will wick moisture so you’ll be dry and not prone to chaffing and eventually irritations during your hiking trip.

Besides, this mix will also adjust well to your thighs and buttocks, without sticking. In that regard, there’s a support system specially designed by UFM, which awaits patent approval, that’s based on an adjustable drawstring.

Plus, they’re breathable so they won’t let you get excessively warm and sweating when wearing these boxer briefs, making sure they’re not rubbing and sticking to your skin. And the 6 inches inseam is another reason why these undies won’t cause irritation and chaffing.

Unlike normal underwear, the UFM ones provide increased support no matter how intense your activity is, and you won’t lose this support even after you’ve washed them repeatedly. But what we truly love about this product is that it doesn’t come with a pre-sized pouch.

The drawstring we’ve mentioned before will create an individualized pouch, thus making this product perfect for a variety of medical issues and one of the best underwear for hiking.

Check the price on Amazon

Give-N-Go Sport Mesh Tank

mesh tank

Dimensions: X-Small – X-Large

Specifications: tank top; punk pattern; 94% nylon; 6% spandex; mesh; antimicrobial treatment; lower rise; flatlock stitching; elastic waistband

Best use: high-impact activities

The Give-N-Go Sport Mesh Tank is a 4.2 stars product that can be bought in various sizes between X-Small to X-Large, at a price range of $19.94 – $36.00 and with a fit as expected rate of 85%. That’s pretty huge considering how picky most internet reviewers are, so you’ve got that going for you.

Apart from the punk pattern, there’s a variety of colors and models to chose from, so many we can’t even begin to write them all up. The tank top is manufactured from good materials that keep you warm and dry because they’re great insulators: nylon and lycra spandex.

Nylon is present in the biggest percentage, 94%, but the properties of spandex are also visible since this top is elastic and very well fitted regardless of your body shape. We also love the mesh used, because it’s truly lightweight and breathable, therefore dries quickly and doesn’t let you get sweaty.

Furthermore, this product has undergone antimicrobial treatment which kills bacteria responsible for producing afoul odor. That means you can wear it for longer than you would normally wear a tank top, without getting stinky or adding to the bulk and weight of your luggage. And there arefewer bacteria too, which is always a plus.

Last but not least, we like the lower rise that’s perfect for various high-impact outdoor activities. And you won’t get irritations or chaffing either, thanks to both the flatlock stitching and the waistband that’s really smooth.

Check the price on Amazon

Woolx Wool Base Layer Bottoms

woolx

Weight: 1 pound (shipping weight)

Dimensions: Large; XX-Large

Specifications: black; merino wool; thermal; flatlock stitching; non-roll waistband; double panel front seam fly; wide bottom cuffs

Best use: hiking in extreme temperatures

The Woolx Wool Base Layer Bottoms are a 4.9 stars long john pants that have an almost perfect score because of their proficient manufacturing.

At a price range of $59.99 – $109.00, you can only get them in two sizes, though: large and XX-large, but the fit as expected percentage is 100%. Yes, you’ve read correctly, 100%.

The color options are quite limited two since apart from the Black model you can only choose New Black, which is basically the same thing. But the thing that’s brought them all the praises and makes them the best underwear for hiking in our perspective is their manufacturing.

Being made completely out of merino wool with a thickness of 18.5 microns and a density of 400g/m², they’re some of the warmest bottoms on the market. That means you can wear them in extremely low temperatures and really bad weather conditions, including freezing winds and lots of snow.

The ability of these thermal pants to keep you warm and dry is courtesy of the interlocking natural fibers of merino wool that insulate and retain heat. The downside to this is that they’re quite on the heavy side too. However, since merino wool is a natural moisture wicking fabric, keeping you dry and preventing sweat may be a small price to pay.

Plus, they’re really soft and comfortable. The flatlock stitching prevents chafing, the non-roll waistband keeps them in place, the front seam fly is adouble panel and the bottom cuffs are wide. All that furthermore prevents itching and makes these bottoms easy to layer on top.

Check the price on Amazon

Set Top & Bottom Fleece Lined Cotton

cotton

Dimensions: Small – X-Large

Specifications: 2-piece long johns; pink camo; thermal; 100% cotton; fleece lining; 210gsm; spandex coveredwrist collar and ankle bands

Best use: low-impact activities

These Set Top & Bottom Fleece Lined Cotton 3.5 stars long johns for women are in the low range of the price spectrum, costing just between $10.49 – $14.99. The sizes you can choose are between Small and X-Large, but the fit as expected rating is only 55%.

Some online reviewers complain of a size difference between the top and the bottom parts, the top one running small, while only the bottom remains true to its size.

Apart from the fashionable pink camo pattern, you can choose the other models: Baby Blue, Soft Pink, and Lavender Camo, all of which look really nice and feminine, especially for the younger buyers. The price is also quite appealing for young people who don’t want to spend a lot on good hiking underwear, but still get most of the benefits.

As such, this is a thermal set that will keep you warm and dry. Made 100% from cotton, this underwear set is great for low-impact activities around the camp, since it’s not that good in absorbing the moisture created by higher-impact hiking.

However, the cotton and fleece lining are soft and comfortable, providing enough insulation and warmth to make this product a good choice. The 210gsm keeps you warm without adding too much to the overall weight of the long johns, and it’s a flexible fabric that allows a perfect fit.

You can either wear this as stand-alone pajamas or as a base layer when hiking. That’s because it’s not too bulky as to prevent layering on top, plus the wrist collar and ankle bands are covered in spandex so there won’t be any shifting, bunching or rolling.

Check the price on Amazon

Your ultimate choice

After reviewing all these items, what will you choose? Which sort of outdoor activities do you generally get involved in? Where will you take your next hiking trip? Is there an underwear you’ve tried and loved or one you’ve hated to the core? Let us know in the comments!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis Owens
Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

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