Guys, don’t overlook your underwear selection for running. Choose the wrong type and you could be dealing with unpleasant chafing and painful skin irritations in an area where you really don’t want to experience those issues.
Luckily, there are many options for underwear that can keep you and your family jewels comfortable. Our team researched and tested an array of underwear options with a focus on those made with fabrics that are breathable and able to wick away moisture effectively in order to protect sensitive areas from chafing and irritation.
Runners have many options for underwear, including thongs and going commando, but we focused our testing on boxer briefs and briefs. Use this guide as a tool to select the best options for you.
Since having a fly with your undies is up to personal preference, we tested both options for this guide.
For those who choose to wear underwear under their shorts or compression garments, here are our favorites. We’ve selected the top-of-the-line performers, options specific to hot and cold weather, and those that are simply great value.
Here are links to each of the top recommendations:
- Best Overall: Patagonia Men’s Sender Boxer Briefs – 6”
- Best Overall Runner-Up: ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go 2.0 Sport Mesh 6” Boxer Brief
- Best Budget: T8 Men’s Commandos Running Underwear
- Best for Hot Weather: Saxx Underwear DropTemp Cooling Mesh Boxer Brief
- Best for Cold Weather: Smartwool Men’s Merino Sport Boxer Brief
Best Overall: Patagonia Men’s Sender Boxer Briefs – 6” ($35)
The Patagonia Men’s Sender Boxer Briefs – 6” are extremely lightweight, allow for plenty of movement, and feel good whether you’re relaxing, running, or biking. Their comfort and versatility have landed them at the top of our list of the best men’s underwear for running. Our testers have worn them in moderate and hot temperatures and did not experience any issues with chafing. In fact, these briefs set the standard for performance in essentially all the categories we used to evaluate different pairs of underwear. For us, these were the ones to beat, and no other brand could match them.
The fit is true to size, and the only downside we found to this underwear is that they don’t have a fly, which may take them out of the running for some.
Material: Recycled nylon (89%) and spandex mesh (11%)
- Incredibly comfortable
- Patagonia’s reputation for quality
- Pretty basic colors and design
- No fly
Best Overall Runner-Up: ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go 2.0 Sport Mesh 6” Boxer Brief ($32)
The ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go 2.0 Sport Mesh 6” Boxer Brief is not specifically made for running, but its comfort and breathability make it a go-to for running, hiking, and other adventures. It’s also incredibly lightweight. It comes with a fly and is a great option for those concerned with the fly-free design of the Patagonia Men’s Sender Boxer Briefs – 6”, which we reviewed above.
There is a lot to like about this boxer brief. The comfortable mesh fabric works hard to keep you cool and a wide waistband maintains its shape and keeps the briefs in place. All in all, this is a quality product that will provide comfort, breathability, and freedom of movement whether you are running trails, hiking mountain passes, or cycling around town.
Material: Nylon (90%) and elastane (10%)
- Very soft
- Keeps you dry and chafe-free
- Potential sizing issues
- Larger than normal waistband may not appeal to some runners
Best Budget: T8 Men’s Commandos Running Underwear ($21)
The T8 Men’s Commandos Running Underwear, priced at just $21, provides an outstanding value for the cost. As the name implies, they are light enough to be barely noticeable but offer just enough support. They are the lightest of all the options we tested. The company, based out of Hong Kong, uses Asian sizing for their products, so you should consider sizing up by half a size for optimal fit.
Do note that the Hong Kong-based company has various rates for shipping based on where you live and the exchange rate. For example, in the United States, a consumer would have to buy three or four pairs to receive free shipping. A chart on the T8 website is very easy to follow to determine what, if any, shipping charges will be incurred.
Material: Polyamide (90%) and elastane (10%)
- Inexpensive with comparable quality to top options
- Trail runner and ultrarunner designed
- Super lightweight
- In the United States, you would need to buy three or four pairs for free shipping
- No fly
Best for Hot Weather: Saxx Underwear DropTemp Cooling Mesh Boxer Brief ($38)
The Saxx Underwear DropTemp Cooling Mesh Boxer Brief, like the name implies, is designed for keeping things cool. With a five-inch inseam and specific cooling and drying technology, they will keep you cool and comfortable during hot summer training runs and hikes.
Saxx Underwear uses proprietary fabric technology that can wick sweat away faster, allowing your body to cool you down quicker. In our testing, we found their wicking claims to be true. On hot summer runs, the undies kept us cool and chafe-free on long running adventures.
But that’s not the only unique technology in these boxer briefs. Sax appeals (yeah, we went there) to us because of its BallPark Pouch. Two mesh panels separate your balls and thighs, which means you need not worry about rubbing, chafing, or similar issues.
Since these boxer briefs tend to fit tight, the brand recommends sizing up if you are between sizes.
Material: Recycled polyester (85%) and elastane (15%)
- Sweet colorful designs
- Hot weather is no problem for its cooling technology
- Saxx website is easy to navigate and offers lots of useful information
- The undies can ride up on the backside from time to time
- Can be tight-fitting for some
Best for Cold Weather: Smartwool Men’s Merino Sport Boxer Brief ($35)
Thanks to its merino wool-polyester blend, the Smartwool Men’s Merino Sport Boxer Brief is a great option in any kind of climate. With a four-inch inseam, the briefs help keep you cool when it’s hot and provide insulation when temperatures dip. A double-front panel provides extra support but lacks a fly. In our testing, we found they perform just as well in the summer as other boxer briefs that are designed to excel in the heat, but we definitely grab these for our colder morning runs. You can trust the merino wool-polyester blend to keep you dry and odor-free.
Material: Merino wool (56%) and polyester (44%)
- Comfortable in any temperature
- Quick drying
- Waistband made of mostly merino wool
- Slim fit
- No fly
How to Choose: A Buyer’s Guide for Men’s Running Underwear
Briefs, Boxer Briefs, Thongs, or Commando
The first consideration for guys when selecting running underwear is the style: briefs, boxer briefs, thong, or commando. Going without undies is becoming more popular now, as makers of running shorts frequently include quality liners in their shorts.
For those seeking an extra layer of protection and support, both briefs and boxer briefs are great options, with boxer briefs generally being a tad longer than regular briefs. Don’t think of running boxer briefs as being like regular boxers. They fit snugly instead of being airy and roomy. They are very similar to standard briefs. It’s more of a personal preference as to the fit, length, comfort, and style.
A more important decision for some is whether they prefer their running underwear to have a fly or not. It’s an entirely personal choice based on how easy you want access to be when nature calls. We’ve included both types in our list of recommendations.
Whether you are choosing boxer briefs, briefs, or thongs, read on for some things to consider as you make this all-important selection.
Comfort, Support, and Fit
Once you have a style in mind, it’s time to explore some of the options in order to determine which underwear will provide the best comfort, support, and fit. You don’t want the undies to sag, so selecting ones with a solid waistband is important.
You also want to make sure you’re getting the right size. The fit should be snug but not restrictive in the legs so that they don’t ride up when you are busting out the miles on the roads or trails. Check out the retailer’s website and online reviews — they may offer some hints about whether the fit is generally on point, or if it is recommended to size up or down.
Underwear made with synthetic material will stay in place better than many other options and wick away sweat, keeping you dry no matter the distance you are running.
A quality pair of undies will also provide an extra layer of protection against chafing — and that’s something we can all embrace.
Avoid any running underwear that is made out of cotton. Since cotton absorbs moisture and holds onto sweat, it is prone to causing chafing. Instead, look for options that are made with polyester or nylon, fabrics that stretch, wick away sweat, dry quickly, and work to keep you dry and chafe-free.
Keeping Warm in Winter
Running in the cold presents a tough challenge. As you pile on the layers, choosing the right fabrics to place next to your skin is important. For warmth, look for underwear made with merino wool. It will keep you warm and comfortable without being scratchy. Our pick for the top underwear for cold weather running is the Smartwool Men’s Merino Sport Boxer Brief. Its merino wool-polyester blend will keep you warm, dry, and odor-free.
Designing with Flair
While it has nothing to do with performance, don’t overlook the appearance of underwear. Some brands stick with a basic design and color scheme, like black or gray, while others produce undies with vibrant colors and eye-catching designs that will raise your stoke level.
Among our selections, the Saxx Underwear DropTemp Cooling Mesh Boxer Brief offers the most colorful and creative options.
Why You Should Trust Us
The iRunFar team is composed of road runners, trail runners, and ultrarunners with a collective 150-plus years of running experience. We began this men’s running underwear guide with extensive research in this rapidly changing line of clothing before selecting a range of brands and styles for testing.
Our primary tester hails from the U.S. Midwest, so his late spring and summer testing occurred in all sorts of conditions: cool mornings, hot and humid days, and everything in between. And trust us, when it comes to underwear, he knows his stuff: he’s never once gone commando.
Frequently Asked Questions About Men’s Running Underwear
What are the top factors to consider when choosing underwear for running?
Choosing underwear for running isn’t as simple as grabbing the cheapest package off the store shelf or virtual cart. Whatever you choose needs to be able to protect you from chafing in the most sensitive of areas.
First up, look for options that are made with merino wool, polyester, or nylon. These will wick moisture away instead of trapping it like cotton does. Another major factor to consider is whether you want undies with a fly or without. There are lots of good options in both varieties, but you may have a strong personal preference for one style or another. Running in thong-style undies has become increasingly popular in hot and humid climates where you want to reduce the layers of clothing on your body. Or you can choose to go commando and rely on the built-in liner that most running shorts come with.
Once you narrow down those particulars, consider whether you would like a colorful design to add some flare.
Which type of underwear is best for running?
The best type of underwear for running is the one in which you are most comfortable. For most men that means underwear that is not too tight, wicks away moisture, and provides support. It also has to keep you cool in hot weather, and provide insulation when temperatures plummet.
As far as materials go, we support merino wool for running in a variety of temperatures. The fabric works extremely well for the runner, regardless of whether he is working through a furnace-like canyon, battling bitter cold temps at high altitude, or pushing through a rainy training run on hometown trails.
Our selection for the best overall pair of underwear is the Patagonia Men’s Sender Boxer Briefs – 6”. The six-inch boxer briefs are extremely lightweight, allow for plenty of movement and protect against chafing. For those who prefer having a fly, the ExOfficio Give-N-Go 2.0 Sport Mesh 6” Boxer Brief is a great alternative. A lightweight boxer brief, this underwear also stands out due to its comfortable and cooling mesh fabric.
How do I prevent chafing from my running shorts?
No one wants chafing, especially down there. Remember that chafing is caused by a combination of heat, moisture, friction, and fabric. The best way to protect yourself is to seek out quality underwear that is made with technical fabrics such as merino wool, polyester, or nylon. These materials work to combat friction by being breathable and wicking, and they are able to reduce irritation and chafing.
How do I ensure I will get a good fit that is comfortable?
Of course, the best option is to try on a pair at your local retailer. But we get it, online shopping is easier and your preferred pair of underwear may not be readily available where you live.
Without actually trying them on, the next best option is to turn to online research. Visit the brand’s website and look for their sizing information. These charts are usually quite helpful in deciding between similar sizes — small or medium? Or large or extra large?
We also would highly suggest visiting the brand’s website and reading through their recommendations and those of online reviewers. Most companies will state whether their garments are true to fit, or should be sized one way or another.
What should I consider when selecting underwear for hot weather?
High-quality fabrics will help keep you as cool as possible in hot weather conditions and help protect against chafing. You want underwear that is made with material that wicks away sweat and other moisture. When skin is hot and damp, the chance of irritation and chafing grows. The best underwear we found for running in hot weather is the Saxx Underwear DropTemp Cooling Mesh Boxer Brief. Not only are these made mostly of polyester, but they also offer a unique cooling system with mesh panels on the sides that increase airflow in high-heat areas.
What should I consider when selecting underwear for cold weather?
During the cold weather season, runners will need to wear multiple layers to protect themselves from cold-related ailments. In addition to cold temperatures, it’s also important to consider wind chill.
There are some models of underwear that claim to resist the wind, but the trick is to dive deeper and see what materials are used to manufacture the underwear. Seek out options like merino wool, polyester, and others that are designed to wick away sweat and provide warmth.
And you really do not want to experiment with cotton underwear. The material fails to wick away sweat, which can create issues for the runner ranging from a minor irritation to a crisis.
You also should consider whether you will be wearing tights on these cold days. If so, you don’t want bulky underwear that could bunch up and create discomfort.
Call for Comments
- Hey guys, do you prefer briefs, boxers, or commando style? Tell us why.
- Do you select different pairs of underwear for running in different climates? What’s your go-to during hot weather, and what do you prefer in the colder months?
- What is most important to you when selecting running underwear?