The great men’s active underpants review #1

Getting the right pair of underpants is one part personal and one part trial and error. Most men just go in to the local store and purchase whatever set of inexpensive cotton boxers (or briefs) happens to be on sale. A few have preferences and then there’s people like me that don’t want to own 6 different styles of underpants for different things.

As always I want a single pair of boxers I can comfortably wear all day on casual days and still perform well when working out or on multi-day backcountry trips.

Today we’re going to look a bunch of the pairs of boxers I’ve tried in the last year to meet those requirements.

I’m going to talk just a bit about the materials that each of the pairs of these underpants are made from. If you want much more depth on the differences between Modal and Lyocell and Rayon, I’ve got a long post dedicated entirely to base layer materials.

2UNDR SwingShift


First I want to say that the 2UNDR fabric is the most comfortable fabric I’ve ever had in underpants. They call it SwingShift and it’s a blend of Modal and Spandex.

When I looked at materials for your outdoor garments I said that Modal absorbs a bunch of water and also dries slower than other options on the market. This means that while the SwingShift is comfortable, it’s not a great option for working out or backcountry trips.

2UNDR also has a ‘joey pouch’ which is basically a compartment for your junk to sit in so it doesn’t stick to your legs. All stitching is flat and comfortable, I’ve never had an issue with the stitches chaffing.

Fit & Function

The pair I’ve had the longest is the 6″ version (they measure on the outside of the leg). They fit pretty good, though they do ride up a bit during just normal use, let alone hiking biking or working out in them.

While I love how the fabric feels I simply can’t justify getting a bunch of these given the riding up tho 6″ set does and the water absorbing properties of Modal.

2UNDR PowerShift


The PowerShift uses ColdSkin fabric which they say is perfect for the highest levels of activity. I’m not sure I’ve noticed any difference in heat removal between these and the pair of 2UNDR GearShift I own which only use ColdSkin around your junk.

Fit & Function

These fit great and feel great throughout the day or in a workout. I’ve got the ‘long’ version which is a 9” seam and I love the longer leg on them. Unlike the 2 Under Armour pairs I’ll talk about a bit later, these don’t have the same long waist issue with band fold over.

The issue is longevity. I’ve had them for around 6 months and the seams are starting to come out on them. Specifically at the back where the fancy black panel is right where you put your thumb to pull them up properly. That means you’re stressing the seam every time you put them on and my thumbs have created a hole in them.

The seams through the legs are also showing some separation. The sticking looks fine, it simply looks like they didn’t leave enough material extra and thus as I’ve worn them it’s stretched and separated permanently.

Neither of these issues have affected fit or function though.

2UNDR GearShift


According to the 2UNDR site, the GearShift uses a ‘compression fit blend of Polyester and Spandex’. That means it’s a hang dry garment and that it won’t retain a bunch of water. The GearShift also has something called ColdSkin by a company called Garmatex which is supposed to promote extra cooling. This ColdSkin is used in the Joey Pouch (around your junk) on the GearShift.

Fit & Function

These fit just like the PowerShift and have performed similar. They feel great all day and don’t pick up any smell. The big benefit is the slightly different cut on the panels means they’re lasting better as well. They don’t have that funny panel at the back that you naturally pull apart with your thumbs. The seams through the legs haven’t started to show any separation either in the 6 months I’ve been wearing them.

Now I have purchased a few other pairs and at least one of those had seam separation issues the first day I wore them. The leg seam actually came totally out and I returned the pair in hopes of getting a new set that won’t fall apart on day one.

I feel that the verdict is still out on the long term durability of the 2UNDR GearShift. I’ll have a few more days of wear and hiking trips in them by the end of the summer and have a better report on durability.



The pair of Saxx I own are of the Pro Elite variety which means they are a blend of 90% Polyester and 10% Spandex.

Fit & Function

When I first got these I found them uncomfortable on either side of my nuts. The little pouch that everything sits inside was great for stopping ‘stick’ but was just to rough and tight which led to discomfort.

After a month or two though this problem largely went away. As the material relaxed a bit the comfort of the pouch improved such that it’s a non-issue now.

Now these are a short pair of underpants measuring the inseam at 6″ but unlike the 2undr pair at the beginning of this post they don’t ride up much at all. They stay in place all day without constant adjusting.

Just like with the pouch, this was not the case at the beginning. When I first got them they did creep up a bit and I had to keep adjusting them but within a month or two this problem went away and they just stay in place now.

The biggest knock against the SAXX is smell. Even just wearing them casually for a day you get smelly. When I took them on a 3 night backpacking trip I was stinky on night one and even with some stream washing and drying they just smelled not nice. It wasn’t bad enough that we needed to keep them outside of the tent, but it wasn’t a great smell.

I’ll admit the pair I own are an older style and the material seems to have been updated. I’d like to get my hands on a set of their newer Kinetic long leg boxers to try. Then maybe we’ll find that the smell issue is no longer an issue.


Icebreaker is one of the leading names in merino wool base layers. I have a number of their socks and one of their dress shirts. I’ve generally been very happy with the build and life of Icebreaker products.


Like all things Icebreaker these are made out of Merino Wool. Merino is awesome since it does a phenomenal job of preventing smells and is warm when wet. For some people Merino absorbs to much water (though nowhere near as much as cotton does) and can occasionally ‘sag’ a bit with that water weight.

I’ve never found that to be a huge problem with my Merino products so maybe I’m just not that picky.

Fit & Function

Unlike many men I have an actual butt, not a back with a crack. Maybe this is why the back of the Icebreaker underpants feel more like ladies booty shorts or a thong than actual men’s boxers.

Actually a thong would be much more comfortable since it would have less fabric jammed up in my nether regions.

All of the Icebreaker boxers when I purchased were of the 3″ variety which is really short and super uncomfortable.

Noting that fit issue, I’ve only ever worn these around the city. I just can’t stomach the thought of getting out on a hike and playing with my junk every 2 seconds to pull my underpants out of my…

So to say I don’t like these at all would be entirely accurate. I’d be very interested in trying a 6″ or 9″ version of the Icebreaker boxers if they ever have them. It’s all about a terrible fit here, the material is great. It lives up to its ‘anti-stink’ properties well.

Lulu Lemon


These are made of a Lycra fibre which is what they call Spandex in places like Israel so it sounds fancy in North America. It’s stretchy and should retain shape well.

Fit & Functon

These are pretty stretchy so my 34″ waist (and large cycling/Crossfit thighs) get in to a medium just fine. The come in pretty long with a ?? inch inseam.

No the pairs I have are not compression shorts, they’re just tight underpants.

I love these for Crossfit, they keep everything in place and comfortable while I’m jumping around or running or lifting weights. Where the don’t excel is in all day wear. Every time I’ve worn these for more than just a few hours working out (or running) I’ve had issues with chafe.

Once I’ve extended past a couple hours they simply don’t wick the sweat away well and the salt builds up on your nether regions creating discomfort. It also seems that they want to creep down a bit and then create more rub between my legs and at the bottom of my cheeks than wearing nothing would have done.

This ‘creep’ was not a problem initially but after a 6 months of wear my Lulu Lemon boxers have been retired to a pair of Crossfit only boxers.

Under Armour Heat Gear Boxerjock 9″ and Original Boxer Jock 9”

I’m lumping both of these together because ultimately I can’t really tell the difference in their performance.


The original boxer jock is made of 99% Polyester (for hard wearing) and 1% Elastane (for stretchy). There is a bunch of stuff written about the HeatGear but it really just amounts to regurgitated marketing information. In theory HeatGear is designed to keep you cool when it’s warm out.

Ultimately HeatGear is some blend of synthetic and feels pretty much like the Original boxer. It may have some coating, or be just a bit thinner to allow for faster heat dissipation than the Original Boxer but obviously that’s just a guess at how it’s made.

Fit & Function

Both of these boxers are long which I like but they have one big fit issue for me. The band always folds over. Now I’m in good shape but I’ve always had a bit of a tummy and in the case of these boxers that causes the band rollover which adds to chafing on longer trips as the band is now doubled under my hip belt.

The second draw back to these underpants is that they get a bit of a smell going on. Not so much that you can’t walk by the drying rack as they hang dry, but enough that by the end of the day you can tell you’re smelly where the sun doesn’t normally shine.


For now my favourite pair is the 2UNDR GearShift. I’ve purchased 3 other pairs to really test them out over the summer. My biggest concern is the issues I’ve seen so far with the seams pulling apart. If they last well then I’ll probably stop my search for now.

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