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mens-underwear-guide

The Ultimate Men’s Underwear Showdown

June 08, 2020 0 Comments

While it shouldn’t be too controversial to say your underwear is your single most important piece of clothing, far too many of us don’t act that way. After all, your undies are your first line of defense between the most sensitive parts of your body and the outside world; good underwear must protect against chafing, regulate temperature, move with your body, and maintain a clean and dry environment during a hectic day of activity. It’s a big task, and yet, if you’re anything like most men, your underwear drawer looks like a flea market. You already know what you need to do- throw away the whole lot of them and start from scratch- but suddenly, there’s a confusing amount of new brands showing up in banner ads and podcasts, claiming technological breakthroughs and superior design innovations that seem beyond the capabilities of such a simple garment. Are they worth the hype (and matching price tags), or is it best to stick with the legacy brands that have been cupping your privates since you stopped wearing diapers? Don’t worry- our intrepid team has test driven seven of the shiniest new brands- plus the latest release from a tried and true stalwart- and we’re here to tell you what works, what doesn’t, and which brand deserves your trust…and your money.


The Contenders

For each brand - MeUndies, Mack Weldon, Tommy John, 32 Degree Cool, David Archy, Saxx, and Hanes - we tried to pick a comparable pair of boxer briefs to keep the playing field level. Please note, we are not reviewing full-on briefs or boxer shorts, because we are assuming you are not six years old and that you do your own underwear shopping like a grown up. But in case it needs to be said, if you are an adult that wears overly flowing, bunched-up boxers or constrictive, chafe-inducing briefs instead of their vastly preferable hybrid form, please consider doing your genitals a massive favor and switching to boxer briefs, for your own sake.


32 Degrees Cool – Men's Cool Boxer Brief

One of the most important functions that a good pair of underwear must perform is regulating temperature. Overheated junk is sweaty junk, which can lead to a buildup of the bacteria that causes both odor and itch. 32 Degrees Cool advertises itself as a brand built around temperature control (they also make a Heat line for use in cold climates) with a very lightweight 93% Polyester/7% Spandex blend meant to wick moisture (read: ball sweat) away from the body and dry quickly, keeping you cool in the process. In our testing, we found it to work well- even during long bike rides, the fabric continued to wick away sweat, and the 7% spandex in the blend provided a solid amount of stretch during athletic movement- unfortunately, however, the legs did still tend to bunch up a bit under the legs when worn with jeans. Additionally, the ultra-thin material feels almost too cool, and more than one of our testers remarked that their balls felt chilly when they were just sitting around. For these reasons, we think the 32 Degrees Cool boxer briefs are a good, if not great boxer brief, offered at a low enough price to warrant consideration when retooling your underwear, especially if you plan to mostly use them for exercise.

 Pros Cons

Real cooling effect

Legs tend to ride up under jeans/tighter pants
Great stretch for athletic activity

Ultra-thin material feels more “smooth” than soft, and can be too light for some outfits

Excellent value

RATING: 3.5/5


Mack Weldon – 18 Hour Jersey Boxer Brief

Easily one of the most advertised brands out there, Mack Weldon promises quite a bit, aiming to reinvent the underwear game with “Premium Fabrics, Smart Design, and Simple Shopping.” It’s a bold claim, but after several tests, we admit we’re impressed, at least with the first two categories (their online store doesn’t strike us as any simpler- or less simple- than others). Mack Weldon’s signature 18 Hour Jersey Boxer Brief is, as the name would suggest, made from jersey cotton (47.5%), blended with synthetic micro modal (47.5%), and a strategic amount of Lycra spandex (5%) for some athletic stretch. The blend is genuinely as comfortable as they claim, soft to the touch and smooth enough to not pick up too much extra fuzz. Equally impressive are the small design touches to address areas of concern for most wearers- a double-elastic-reinforced “no roll” waistband does actually work, even when sitting down at your desk with a post-lunch belly, in addition to elastic reinforcements at the end of the legs to prevent them from riding up your leg.. Because this softer material is a bit more substantial than thinner, athletic performance driven underwear, there are specific mesh “cool zones” near the fly designed to increase air flow and minimize sweat, and they work for the most part- however, they don’t quite match the cooling and wicking properties of some of the thinner brands. Still, you’ll do just fine wearing these to the gym. And while it’s not the most important thing in the world, we like the variety of colors and patterns available. Overall, we’d say Mack Weldon’s 18 Hour Jersey Boxer Brief is our favorite of all the underwear we tested- our biggest complaint is that, at $24 a pair, replacing your entire underwear drawer won’t come cheap. 

 Pros Cons
Extremely comfortable material and fit
Not quite as cooling or stretchy as athletic underwear
Purposeful design really works to avoid common underwear issues
Expensive
Versatile enough for exercise, work, or casual wear

RATING: 4.5/5


MeUndies – Boxer Brief

The other brand you can’t turn on a podcast without hearing about, MeUndies manufactures men’s and women’s underwear made primarily from synthetic MicroModal. Their signature boxer brief, which is 92% MicroModal and 8% elastane for stretch, promises 3x the softness of cotton, along with a flexible no-roll waistband and durable stitching to avoid bunching and the dreaded wedgie. Unfortunately, while it’s a perfectly serviceable pair of underwear, our testing found those claims to fall a bit flat. The fabric is indeed soft, and the cut fits quite well around the butt and legs, but the waistband is, we’re sorry to say, not as good as advertised- it’s oddly skinny, and the extra elastic meant to prevent rollover seems to instead pinch a bit uncomfortably. As for athletic performance, they move and stretch as well as you need them to with minimal ride-up, which is all you can ask for. One final gripe- while they do now offer a version with a fly, their original boxer briefs, which are the ones we tested here, don’t have one. We’re going to strenuously object to this design choice, which seems wholly without a purpose and makes a trip to the urinal in button-fly jeans quite an ordeal.

Ultimately, while we find MeUndies boxer briefs to be totally serviceable, with perhaps the softest material of any we tested, they’re not quite the premium experience of some competitors. And at an identical price point, that makes these hard to recommend without some caveats.

 Pros Cons
Very comfortably soft No fly
Durable fabric Uncomfortable waistband that doesn't prevent rolling as well as advertised
Fun designs and patterns Expensive with less value at the price point as compared to competitors

RATING: 3.5/5


Hanes – X-Temp Lightweight Mesh Space Dye Boxer Brief

It’s not only boutique online startup brands that have gotten into the fancy underwear game- even industry heavyweights like Fruit Of The Loom and Hanes have upped the ante beyond regular cotton, releasing underwear made of advanced materials that they claim give you all the utility of the fancy brands at everyman prices. The X-Temp Mesh Performance Space Dye boxer briefs are among Hanes’ new flagship offerings, promising an adaptably breathable performance fabric suitable for athletics. The good news is, they’re not lying- even in high intensity exercise, the X-Temp Mesh was excellent at wicking away sweat and moisture to keep everything cool and dry. Unfortunately, there’s a catch- X-Temp Mesh, which is a proprietary weave made of 100% polyester, just isn’t particularly comfortable. Instead of the softness of a modal or cotton blend, or even the smoothness of spandex, this mesh is a bit stiff, with a kind of pebbly texture. It’s not uncomfortable most of the time, but there’s a second catch- with no spandex in the blend, it doesn’t really stretch. All of which is to say that, while this didn’t happen every time we tested them, on more than one exercise test this underwear did the one thing underwear really can’t do- it rubbed uncomfortably against the junk and caused some irritation. To us, that’s a deal breaker.

All of that said, the price point is a great value, and during everyday wear, we didn’t encounter anything unpleasant. But if you’re considering jumping on the X-Temp Mesh wagon, we’d strongly advise starting out with one pair to make sure they fit you well. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

 Pros Cons
Great value at $5.99 a pair
Lack of stretch makes motion awkward
X-Temp polyester breathes very well and keeps everything cool and dry
Unsoft polyester can irritate
RATING: 2.5/5

Tommy John – Second Skin Boxer Brief

Let’s get something clear up front- if you’ve just sold your tech startup and you suddenly have too much money to spend in ten lifetimes, you could make an argument that you should buy 100 pairs of these and never even think about another brand. Tommy John Second Skin Boxer Briefs are, ultimately, the best underwear we tested. They’re extremely comfortable, impressively designed, and keep everything right where it should be without generating heat, sweat, or odor. The 90% MicroModal, 10% spandex blend is both pillow soft and extra stretchy, allowing you to move unencumbered with no bunching, and the no-roll waistband is both comfortable and effective. And the design is excellent- the legs are significantly longer than most boxer briefs, which turns out to be quite comfortable and helpful in preventing ride-up. Best of all, your jewels are protected in a reinforced, extra soft pouch that makes the dreaded balls-stuck-to-leg a thing of the past. Even the fly has been rethought with a horizontally-opening “quick draw” pouch that really, truly, does work better. All in all, this is one excellent pair of underwear.

But- and you knew there was a but- keeping yourself in fresh Tommy John for the rest of your life is going to seriously cost you. First, there’s the price itself- an eye-popping $34 dollars a pair. And even once you’ve talked yourself into that, be ready to spend again to replace them, as these are as fragile a pair of underwear as we’ve ever tested. While they’re extremely comfortable even with vigorous activity, Tommy John says on their website that they’re not intended for exercise, and we can see why- a day of running and cycling led to two tears in the material only the second time they were ever worn. As incredibly great as this underwear is right out of the bag, that simply has to count against it in the final score.

 Pros Cons
Soft, stretchy, and extremely comfortable
Very expensive
Great unique design features including longer legs and horizontal fly
Not very durable

RATING: 4/5

David Archy – Men’s Breathable Boxer Briefs Bamboo Rayon Trunks with Fly

It’s not easy to pinpoint the exact category that David Archy boxer briefs fit into: on first glance, their marketing, their bamboo rayon construction, and their premium design features such as a “3D” pouch and no-roll waistband would suggest this is a premium-tier underwear meant to compete with brands like Tommy John and Mack Weldon, but the emphasis on value (they’re sold in 3 or 4 packs that cost the same as one pair from a premium brand) suggest something else is going on as well. And the more you look into the brand, the deeper the mystery, as their glossy marketing hides some truly odd copywriting that looks like it’s been run through Google Translate and a host of customer reviews that make it seem like contacting the company is nearly impossible. As best we can tell, this is mass produced Chinese underwear with a not entirely convincing presentation that claims to be a premium, US-based brand.

Of course, none of that is disqualifying if the underwear can hang with the prestige brands, which David Archy comes surprisingly close to doing in some respects. The waistband is well-designed and mostly avoids rolling, while the pouch does indeed separate your privates to avoid sweat and stickiness in much the same way as several of the premium brands. Most importantly, the bamboo rayon material is by far the softest, most breathable, and most comfortable of any value-priced brand we tested.

But with extended wear, it’s not hard to see some areas where David Archy falls short of the mark. The cut and sizing don’t seem to conform to universal standards, and many testers reported that their standard sizes were way off- their medium, for example, fits much more like a standard small, while the XL was all over the map, with our XL tester reporting a close to perfect fit but many online reviews saying they needed an XXL when they run between L and XL with most American brands. A reinforced seam on the bottom of the crotch caused uncomfortable chafing for some (but not all), making this a brand they couldn’t comfortably exercise with despite the breathability of the material. And pilling and tearing after the first few washes indicates a durability issue that, while not a dealbreaker given the price, makes it tougher to wholeheartedly recommend. Still, with four pairs selling for the price of one premium brand pair, we do give David Archy a conditional recommendation for those looking to refill their drawer with multiple pairs of soft, comfortable underwear without breaking the bank. Just make sure to do your homework on sizing before you order.

 Pros Cons
Comfortable, breathable material
Inconsistent Fit
Premium features (3D pouch, no-roll waist)
Badly placed seams can chafe
Great value
Not durable
RATING: 3.5/5

SAXX - Ultra Boxer Briefs with Fly and Built-in Ballpark Pouch Support

As one of the bestselling premium underwear brands on online, Saxx has a devoted following and a long list of reviews from people who swear by their boxer briefs. And if these were the only premium pair of underwear we had, we’d be satisfied- overall, these boxer briefs are comfortable, breathable, well-designed, and vastly superior to what we all grew up wearing. We find them particularly suitable for the gym, as the “tri-blend” material wicks moisture, moves without riding up, and dries quickly, while cleverly-placed mesh vents further enhance airflow to prevent overheating and sweat. Thoughtful flat-seam stitching is also appreciated for the way it minimizes chafing during movement. And while “colorful designs” isn’t a major consideration, we do like the touch of fun it brings to the underwear drawer.

On the other hand, there’s not a single thing that Saxx completely excels at, which limits the breakout potential. The tri-blend, while soft enough, can’t compare to the comfort of other similarly priced brands, and even some value brands like Archy are noticeably softer. While we didn’t notice it in our weeks-long testing, lots of reviews point towards durability issues after a few months of use, which is disappointing given the price point. And while we like the Ultra line that we tested, many online reviews note that with an exhausting variety of options and styles, it’s easy to accidentally order the wrong pair- some of which don’t feature a fly or have less comfortable waistbands. All in all, however, there’s no too much to complain about- Saxx is a very good choice for a premium underwear that does almost everything with above average quality. It just falls a touch short of “top of the line.”

Pros Cons
Premium design: BallPark pouch, flat seam stitching, anti-roll waist
Not a great value with some durability issues
Great for the gym- breathable, dries quickly
Confusing amount of options 
Fun designs available
Not as soft as other premium pairs

 RATING: 4/5




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