[Updated: March 17, 2017. Originally Posted: May, 2013.]
Whether it’s in Europe or Southeast Asia, a comfortable pair of underwear is essential when you’re traveling. You don’t want to be stuck on a long flight or walking around a city with a pair of constrictive drawers. Luckily, there is a new breed of high-tech underwear made specifically for travel. We’ve reviewed the best travel underwear for men and women here.
Why You Need Travel Underwear
Travel underwear is great because…
- Quick Drying – The high-tech synthetic material dries extremely quickly so you can wash your underwear at night and they’ll air dry completely in just a few hours. This means you can bring fewer pairs — which will save you space in your bag. For reference, a pair of cotton underwear can take 24+ hours to air dry (and even more in high humidity climates).
- Breathability – Normal cotton underwear doesn’t breathe well and cotton holds in sweat. This leads to that swampy feeling we’ve all experienced. Travel underwear allows more air circulation and it also wicks sweat away from your body. These high-tech fabrics allow you to stay cool and dry in all conditions — and this is a huge benefit for travelers.
- Also, breathability is crucial during the winter. Remember that you still sweat when it’s cold. That sweat will chill you down — even if you are bundled up. High-tech materials will wick the sweat away from your skin and it will help keep you warm and dry.
- Odor Control – Many of these fabrics have natural anti-odor properties or a special antimicrobial coating. I think those benefits speak for themselves.
- Lightweight – Travel underwear is made up of extremely lightweight material, which means less weight in your bag.
- Great at Home – Even though they’re made for travel, these underwear are so comfortable that they’re great for wearing long after your travels are over (which helps justify their price). I know many people who have replaced nearly their entire underwear collection with travel underwear.
Drawbacks of Travel Underwear
- The Price – At around $8-$45/pair, travel underwear isn’t cheap. Luckily, you only need 2-3 pairs. This price does dissuade some people, but experienced travelers constantly rate their travel underwear as their favorite purchase.
- Air Dry Only – This is actually a benefit when you’re traveling, but make sure you don’t throw these in the dryer when you’re using them back at home. High heat can shrink or completely ruin some (but not all) of these high-tech materials. Luckily, they do air dry in just a few hours so it isn’t a huge deal.
Our Vote For The Best Travel Underwear
Exofficio Give-N-Go Travel Underwear
Exofficio is the undisputed leader in travel underwear and their ‘Give-N-Go’ line of travel underwear is the top choice for many travelers. I’ve heard of multiple people who’ve worn these for a week straight without changing them. They are made out of synthetic material that dries incredibly quickly. The Give-N-Go line has multiple designs and colors for men and women.
Women’s Models (the ‘lacy’ version is a new addition to the line that adds a bit of femininity)
ExOfficio Women’s Give-N-Go Bikini Briefs
ExOfficio Women’s Give-N-Go Boy Cut Brief
ExOfficio Women’s String Bikini
Exofficio Women’s Give-N-Go Thong
ExOfficio Women’s Give-N-Go Lacy Low Rise Bikini
ExOfficio Women’s Give-N-Go Lacy Thong
ExOfficio Women’s Give-N-Go Lacy Bikini
Smartwool Microweight Underwear
If you’re one of the people who doesn’t like synthetic material, then you should look at the Smartwool Men’s Microweight Boxer Brief. They are made out of super-fine merino wool (which doesn’t itch and stays cool in the summer) but at $50/pair they are really expensive. They are incredibly nice but are probably too pricey for budget travelers.
Smartwool also has a line of women’s Microweight underwear that is more affordably priced than the men’s version.
Don’t let the Icebreaker name fool you… these can be worn all year round. These soft merino wool underwear wick away moisture and naturally resist odors. They’re also breathable and dry quickly. Icebreakers are around half the price of Smartwool, so they are a good option if you prefer natural fibers.
Tommy John Underwear
I’m a really big fan of Tommy John underwear. They’re super comfortable and they’re quickly becoming my favorite underwear [see our Tommy John review]. The main downside is the price as they run anywhere from $29-$45. They only have men’s styles (sorry ladies). They also have socks and other clothing items.
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Thanks! — Susan and James