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Don’t Get Your Panties in a Wad!

It’s happened to all of us at one time or another. Maybe you have a tough workout, and sweat so much that you look like you took a shower (even though you don’t smell like it!); or maybe you’ve been hiking all day, and it’s warm enough that your pack has saturated your backside in sweat; or perhaps you got wet when you weren’t really planning to.

Whatever the case may be, you’re out there and there’s no going back. But that’s no problem, you’re wearing nylon pants, a super wicking shirt, and your boots shed water like an alligator’s back. Oh wait … wet cotton underwear—no fun. Suddenly you know what it’s like to wear a wet diaper.

So as I sat on the rail of a sailboat this weekend, and waves splashed across my body, I thought to myself, “I sure am glad I don’t own any cotton underwear.”

Then I started to wonder why I was wearing mostly cotton pants, and remembered the big pile of laundry at home. In spite of wet pants, my hindquarters were remarkably dry and comfortable.

I’ve found some great underwear to keep you dry, but as with many other products, they key remains the same—avoid cotton. Now, this can be a little tricky, especially for the ladies. For us, some cotton is usually good, especially over an extended period of time. Not to worry, there are perfectly good synthetic and natural remedies out there.

Patagonia makes my favorite undies in a variety of shapes and colors. I was disappointed to discover that they no longer offer a thong as of this year, which after most activities ends up describing most underwear anyway. Never the less, the brief stays in place as well as any I’ve found by offering good coverage in the seat. The briefs are lightweight, dry fast, and stay comfortable even when wet because they pull moisture away from the skin. They feel great against the skin, and have a close but not-too-snug fit. These are a worthwhile investment for overnight trips and adventures on the high seas. Patagonia Active Brief.

If it’s a thong you’re seeking, then EMS is the place to go. While they have only offered one style, like most of their products– it does the job, and doesn’t leave you asking for more. The price is more reasonable than Patagonia, and the feel is very similar. The fit is a bit more snug, though not tight. I find these are great when weight and space are at a premium, or for your afternoon run on the trails. EMS Techwick E-String.

Icebreaker offers options for men and women in wool. For those who don’t like synthetics, but want something that will dry fast and remain comfortable, here’s another option for you. I’ve found the waistbands lie flat against the body; however, there appear to be too many seams in some of the women’s styles. I welcome your input on these! Icebreaker.

Men … not to be forgotten here. Let’s return to Patagonia where you will find a number of great options. Where Patagonia failed our ladies, they have come through for the men. I believe the best boxers can be found in this one place. If spending $30 on one pair of briefs seems irreconcilable, then buy just one. Before you know it, you’ll have a drawer full of them. The active classic boxers are a great place to start. With a loose fit and flat waistband, they are comfortable anywhere. Take note on these: the waistband is made of a tight elastic that doesn’t have much give, so make sure you order the correct size. While the boxer brief is not as loose in the legs, it does have a gentler fit with a less binding waistband. Opt for the active boxer brief if you want a more relaxed fit. Patagonia Men’s boxers.

One last thought … when all else fails, there are always department store options. As with many of the items I recommend, there is always a more affordable and readily available option when you simply can’t spend $30 for one pair of undies. Here in Virginia, I’ve had great success at Dillard’s. Their in house brand offers a nylon and spandex brief, thong, and hipster all with a cotton crotch. These have lasted very well, and offer a great fit. While they are less technical than the other products I have mentioned, they still do a good job. Check out your local department store for something similar!

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