August 7, 2008

ExOfficio Sport Briefs: Exceptional

These briefs are one of my favorite pieces of clothing. They're incredibly comfortable and will last forever. They make up a new class of undergarment: wunderwear.

Jumping off an ice sheet into Snowdrift Lake
Avalanche Canyon, Wyoming
Photo by Brett Whoelber

WARNING: This might be obvious, but don't read this review unless you're comfortable hearing about my experiences wearing underwear.

I bought four pairs of these briefs in 2008 for my 2 1/2 month hiking tour of the UK. I wanted some travel underwear that would dry quickly so I only had to carry a couple of pairs. I used two pairs for the entire 2 1/2 months, rotating them as I needed to wash them. I have used them almost exclusively for the last three years.

They are nylon which wears like nothing else. After three years my original four pairs look like new. In fact, I've bought new pairs since then and once they get mixed in I can't even tell which pairs are three years old and which are brand new. I hope to be buried in these... also, I hope to live many more years so that's mostly a commentary on my faith in the longevity of my underwear.  
Swimming in the Witch's Cauldron
Chia-aig Falls, Scotland
Photo by Ian Campbell

Ironically, my ardent praise of these underwear have nothing to do with my original reason for purchasing them. I wanted underwear that were light and dried quickly. However, they're slightly heavier (by grams) than my light cotton briefs and actually take a little longer to dry. Still, they do dry fairly quickly and pack down as well as I could have expected. As with most base layer clothing, the question of odor management is significant. Nylon is NOT polyester. Polyester stinks but I've found that in general nylon does very well with odor. These briefs are no exception. I haven't had any problems with odors in the backcountry, and that's not because I can't smell in the mountains. For example, my poly shirts reek, these don't. I would go so far as to say that these nylon briefs are noticeably superior to cotton at odor management and comparable to wool. 

They are far and away the most comfortable underwear I've ever worn. I'll try not to be too graphic: they fit... well. These are for brief wearers who wear briefs for reasons of support. ExOfficio also makes regular briefs and boxer briefs. Their Sport Briefs are a little larger than cotton low-rise briefs but normaler than standard cotton briefs. They keep their fit pretty well with only a little stretch even during a multi-day backpacking trip. I've worn them on two 40 mile day hikes in the Tetons. With a hike that comes the serious risk of chaffing. I had absolutely not problem the entire hike, despite the fact that my feet felt like bloody stumps and I probably caused irreparable damage to my knees.

You'll get use to me saying this about the items of gear that I really love: these are not cheap. They run $18 per pair. The fact that I won't buy any more underwear for the next 20  or 40 years is what justifies the expense. It's hard for me to buy a new pair now (I bought the first four pairs on prodeal). I rarely say it, but these briefs over-exceeded my expectations. Bottom line: these are a great pair of underwear and I highly recommend them to anyone who wears briefs. They'll last me a lifetime.

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