When you’re pushing the limit in a difficult workout, your underwear should be the last thing you’re thinking about. But if you’re wearing the wrong underwear, it might be hard to ignore: Your average boxers or boxer briefs have a propensity for bunching, scrunching, and chafing during workouts, and they can derail your entire routine. To stay comfortable and focused, you’ll need quality athletic underwear.
Men’s Athletic Underwear: Features to Look For
There are a few different features to consider when selecting men’s athletic underwear. Freedom of movement is paramount, so look for pairs that have a four-way stretch fabric (usually made with elastane) that can move with your body rather than scrunching up. Breathability is also essential, so look for pairs made with a mesh construction or pairs that utilize performance fabrics like polyester or merino wool, which offer breathability to vent hot air and moisture.
Choosing underwear with a seamless construction or streamlined flatlock stitching will help you avoid the painful chafing that often comes with normal seams and stitches. Flatlock stitching is when the edges of two pieces of fabric are lined up side-by-side (rather than one piece on top of the other) and sewn together, creating a smooth, flat seam on both sides of the garment.
Finally, a supportive internal pouch to house the crown jewels can make a big difference during a tough workout by separating the boys from your thighs, which prevents chafing and discomfort. It’s not for everyone, but don’t knock it until you try it.
How We Selected the Best Athletic Underwear for Men
With firsthand experience of how cheap underwear can ruin a workout, we take these selections seriously. Using a combination of personal testing, extensive research, and real-world customer reviews, we pared down dozens of potential candidates to the 15 options below.
While overall performance is the most important factor, the list is curated to include a variety of price points, features (pouch vs. no pouch), and fabric materials (synthetic vs. natural), so you can find the pairs that best fit your preferences. It’s also worth noting that we only included the best pair of underwear from each brand, so you get a wider variety of options.
When it comes to increasing your overall performance, the right underwear makes all the difference. To ensure you’re at your peak during your next workout, consider these options from top brands including Saxx, REI, Path Projects, and more.
The Best Men’s Athletic Underwear of 2023
If you’re looking for a straightforward pair of athletic underwear, the Boxerjock is an excellent choice. The lightweight poly-elastane blend stretches easily and wicks sweat, so you can keep charging without discomfort down below.[$20; amazon.com]
When it comes to performance underwear, the Saxx Hot Shot offers best-in-class comfort down under. The supportive BallPark Pouch is a game-changer, while the four-way stretch fabric and flat seams eliminate discomfort or chafing during strenuous activities. Better yet, the unique fabric structure helps naturally distribute and evaporate sweat—keeping you cooler and ready to charge.[$38; saxxunderwear.com]
Lululemon stays true to its reputation for high-quality athletic apparel with the Always in Motion Boxer. The ergonomic pouch supports and protects your sensitive areas; the modal fabric with added Lycra is a quick-drying, four-way stretch material that won’t get in your way during tough workouts.[$28; lululemon.com]
Don’t let the affordable price tag fool you—the Neleus Compression Shorts offer a premium value. These shorts offer all the features you’d expect on a pricier pair of athletic underwear: They’re made with a lightweight poly-spandex fabric, they’re stretchy, they offer mild compression, and they wick moisture to keep you feeling good.[$24; amazon.com]
Many cyclists wear bike shorts when they ride, but for those who prefer looser-fitting shorts (or maybe a pair of linerless MTB shorts), they pair well with this padded liner from REI Co-op. The liner shorts include a built-in chamois pad for a comfortable feel in the saddle, and they’re made from a polyester-spandex blend that offers four-way stretch properties, so they won’t constrict your movement. They even feature convenient storage pockets on the legs—perfect for stashing small valuables during your ride.[$24 (was $35); rei.com]
The Tommy John Sport Boxer Brief provides superior comfort and performance. The 360-stretch fabric and secure waistband eliminate uncomfortable scrunching or bunching during intense activity, while the contour pouch keeps the boys comfortable and prevents chafing. Additionally, an anti-microbial/anti-odor treatment tempers even the worst sweaty smells.[$28; tommyjohn.com]
During intense workouts, athletic underwear is expected to keep the swamp away. Nike passes this test with flying colors thanks to its proprietary Dri-FIT technology. Beyond moving sweat away from your skin for quicker evaporation, the bonded-seam construction on these briefs prevents painful chafing, and the poly-spandex fabric blend provides superior comfort and stretch.[$48; nike.com]
The ideal pair of athletic underwear regulates temperature, vents moisture, and reduces odor—all things that merino wool does well. Smartwool embraces the natural performance fabric with its Merino Boxer Briefs, which are made from 88 percent merino wool and a touch of recycled nylon for added durability. The slim-fit design and flatlock seams combine to minimize chafing, while a merino-lined elastic waistband creates all-day comfort.[$48; smartwool.com]
One pair of performance underwear for less than $20 is a bargain, let alone three pairs for that price. This New Balance three-pack is an excellent value buy. These boxer briefs are made from a stretchy polyester-spandex fabric, and mesh panels on the legs vent sweat vapor and heat to keep you cool during hardcore workouts. Flatlock seams reduce chafing and bulk, and a built-in pouch creates a supportive fit.[$19; amazon.com]
Path Projects makes some of our favorite activewear, and the Tahoe CL Base Liner is no exception. Designed to pair with the brand’s running shorts (also great), this base liner includes some notably high-tech fabrics. The waistband is made with nano-fiber elastic for superior stretch and shape retention (it’s also anti-microbial to ward off odors). The body is made from a blend of polyester mesh and spandex “birds-eye” knit mesh (there are small holes throughout the fabric) for superb breathability, moisture wicking, and freedom of movement.[$27; pathprojects.com]
Tracksmith is renowned for producing premium running gear, and the brand’s Brighton Boxer Briefs are a runner’s delight. A soft and stretchy fabric blend of fine gauge merino wool with nylon and a hint of elastane creates a snug-yet-comfortable fit, while open stitching throughout the leg enhances breathability. Better yet, these are made without seams to deliver long-lasting comfort for long-distance runners.[$48; tracksmith.com]
An activewear brand with a reputation for producing high quality gear, Rhone delivers again with its Essentials Active Boxer Trunk. The nylon and elastane fabric blend offers impressive stretch, the breathable jacquard mesh waistband stays put during intense activity, and the comfort pouch adds some support where you need it most.[$38; rhone.com]
Chafing is the enemy of every runner, and these Runderwear boxer briefs will help you avoid it. They’re designed specifically for running, and they’re made without side seams or interior labels for an irritation-free fit. Additionally, the recycled nylon-elastane fabric breathes well, wicks sweat, and has plenty of stretch, so it’ll move with your legs and won’t bunch up as you run.[$30; amazon.com]
Tired of drawers that quickly develop holes or tears? Grab a pair of Buck Naked briefs from Duluth Trading Co. Reviewers on Reddit rave about these hardy boxer briefs that fit muscular thighs and can survive years of washes and wear. The Buck Naked briefs are made from a durable nylon-spandex knit fabric, and they’re built for active days: The knit construction helps them breathe, so you stay cool and comfortable, and they’re coated with an anti-odor treatment to ward off foul smells.[$23; duluthtrading.com]
Uniqlo’s AIRism boxer briefs are a standout because of how they’re constructed: They’re crafted from one continuous piece of fabric and there are no seams. That means you get a buttery smooth feel without irritating bumps or stitches, and the novel design also saves weight. The AIRism’s knit nylon-spandex fabric also boasts good durability—it’s engineered to resist fraying—and has plenty of stretch, too.[$15; uniqlo.com]